It was about ten o'clock when Betty returned to her room. She opened the door a crack and squeezed herself and her robot into her room. Nos-4-A2 chuckled calmly when she closed the door.
"I don't sleep." He told her. Though the room was dark, he saw her turn in surprise. She exhaled shortly.
"Of course you don't," she replied. "But I thought you hibernated and I didn't want to disturb you."
"I don't hibernate often." He stated.
"Oh." She set the robot on her bed, kissed it goodnight and turned it off. It went limp and she laid it gently at the end of the bed.
"Well, since you're up, do you want me to take the circuit scrambler off now?"
Nos-4-A2 sighed heavily. "Finally!" He didn't add the choice language he had on his tongue. If he had, she probably wouldn't have freed him.
Betty smiled and went to her desk. She illuminated a lamp and dug through the top drawer. Nos-4-A2 looked on impatiently; he didn't like watching someone scramble for tools to work on him; it reminded him too much of when he was being built by Zurg, helpless and dependent. The dim lighting, his position… everything added to the effect.
Oh hurry up. He moaned internally.
"Found it!" Betty announced holding a strange-looking ratchet. She approached him and began working at the tiny bolts on the inhibiting machine.
"You know, Nos," she began. "Thanks for being so good today. You really helped me and my mom with the house, and you weren't too mean; just a little. And you fixed my robot! I had pretty much given up on it ever coming to life." The circuit scrambler snapped open and Betty removed it. Nos-4-A2 immediately felt the cannals of energy to his lower half flow more freely.
"And you didn't eat the generator power cell. I know that was hard for you. Thanks. I don't know what we would do if my dad couldn't finish it. He would probably lose his job and we'd lose our house. So, thanks so much." She wrapped her arms around Nos-4-A2's shoulders and he stiffened. "You're a great friend, Nos, even if you are our housebot. Sweet…uh… hibernation. Since you should hibernate. You'll charge faster. Goodnight!" She squeezed him and then got up, turned out the lamp and crawled into bed.
Nos-4-A2 stared blankly at the opposite wall. That was unexpected. No one had ever dared to do that. No one had ever showed so much affection for him. Well, Zurg had, but it was more an affection to his power than to Nos himself. This girl, this…this fleshling, liked him. But why? Why would any creature like him for himself? His programming offered no answer, because it was impossible. Perhaps she treated him that way because she wanted him to perform for her in the future. But, no, that didn't make sense. She never commanded him to do anything but housework and surely housebots didn't need mental trickery to make them do things; surely the girl knew that. How could this girl understand so much, and yet so little?
Was it possible to be kind without a goal in mind?
Nos-4-A2 had plenty of time to ponder, since he wouldn't even being to stir until three. He continued to suck power hungrily into his body, just barely restraining himself from overwhelming the charger, and thought intensely about this phenomenon.
When the world was silent and cold from the rain that had been striking it since midnight, Nos-4-A2 slowly detached himself from the charger. He wrapped the wires around it and held it in his arms as he stood. Keeping the charger was a very good idea, in case worst came to worst again and he couldn't find food. His body felt full of power and he was itching to use it to zoom somewhere or blast something.
He swiftly left Betty's room and floated down the hall, down the stairs, into the living room and up to the five-times locked door. Beyond it was the most powerful machine he had ever encountered. Oh, how it would taste! And getting inside would be so easy.
He set the charger on the floor and punched both fists through the center of the door. He pulled them apart and traced a hole for himself. He pushed the detached piece of wood inside and flew trough the hole.
The room was pitch black and cold. Nos-4-A2's red eyes lit it up, though, and he could see what was important. Lying on a table in the middle of the cramped room was the generator power cell – capable of powering all of Tradeworld for an unimaginable length of time.
Nos-4-A2 hovered to it slowly, as if it might zoom away if he startled it. He bared his fangs and the end of his tongue sparked. He wondered what it would feel like to hold so much power. Perhaps it would gie him enough energy to conquor Tradeworld – for starters, anyway. He gripped the sleek, silver machine and pulled closer to it.
"I don't know what we would do if my dad couldn't finish it. He'd probably lose his job and we'd lose our house. So, thanks so much."
Something inside him dropped. Not literally, but it sure felt like it. He shook it off.
What do you care if the fleshlings lose their house? You've never had a house. He growled to himself. He reached closer, but then the uncomfortable feeling in his center ached again.
The realization hit him like a brick; he wasn't hungry. But he was always hungry! …Even so, the power cell didn't look so tasty anymore.
"So, thanks so much."
"You're ridiculous, Nos, old boy! Eat it already!" His fangs clacked on the smooth, cool surface, but they never went in. He tried several times to insert them, but failed.
He slowly released the machine and straightened up. Well, anomaly or not, if he wasn't hungry, he wasn't hungry. There was no use in forcing himself to eat. He crawled out of the hole in the door and picked up the charger. He opened the window on the far wall and soared out into the empty, crisp air.
Nos-4-A2 zoomed higher and higher until he was above the smog and even above the tips of the tallest buildings, where the stars shone brightly.
Why hadn't he drained the power cell? It was entirely against his programming. Could it possibly be because, if he had, the one who took him in would have been left destitute? Destroyed?
Nos-4-A2 smirked cunningly.
he assured himself.
"…I simply was not hungry."