Machinist: someone who repairs androids, typically both sentient and non-sentient. The good ones were multi-disciplinary. By analogy, they are somewhere between mechanics, computer repairmen, and doctors. Most machinists are sentient constructs. But there are also non-sentient constructs and the oddball human, like Brick.
Brick was a machinist. One of the few machinists in Vermilion, and as far as he knew, the only human one. He ran a little clinic which tended to the repairs of robots.
His job had a unique duality to it, since some of the constructs he repaired were sentient an paid him directly, like a doctor. But unlike a doctor for humans, there was usually no sense of urgency. Constructs did not have blood, they did not require oxygen, and they did not suffer from or carry disease. They simply needed physical parts repaired or replaced.
Still, there was trust involved. Handing someone your arm, or letting them open your head while you were conscious, was an uncomfortable prospect for many constructs. It was doubly uncomfortable to let a human do it. How could a human know anything about construct anatomy. The answer is of course, by studying it, the same way humans know anything about human anatomy beyond their own pains.
Other jobs were repairs for virtual intelligences. Dolls, as they were usually called: non-sentient androids made for the purpose of helping, pleasuring or otherwise serving humans. Brick had worked on a variety of these machines but the most common repairs were sexbots.
It was a strange job, and on this morning, he was reminded of the strangeness of it. Brick spent a lot of time alone, often barely talking to anyone. He’d barely spoken to any humans in weeks. In front of him was a convincing imitation of a woman. She lie naked on a slab in his clinic, like a cadaver. Unlike a cadaver her skin was blush and healthy.
It was brought in by one of his usual clients, Babylon. These bots were frequently in need of small repairs due to the rough treatment given by some clients. This particular one had a large gash across the bridge of her nose. The synthetic skin was loose here, revealing plastic and metal beneath. Aside from the slash, it was a beautiful face. This was a necessary element of its design of course. Pink lips, golden-brown skin, painted nails. A face that permanently looked to have eyeshadow and blush applied. Curly, golden hair.
And aside from the face, the body was almost perfect. Not too perfect, as there was variation in each bot for the sake of realism. It even had a hidden mole beneath her collar bone, something for the guests to see when it got undressed.
At some point years ago, Brick had stopped having much mental reaction to seeing these perfect, fake female bodies naked. He had to admit he still stared at them at times. But they were as offputting as they were alluring. His expertise in repairing them left him with no illusions that they were mere objects, toys to be used, not people.
He tried not to think about how they became broken this way, why a doll of a pristine, beautiful lady would end up with a slash mark across its face, necks rubbed raw, leg joints strained.
Repairing them was just work. Like any job, one could simply get used to it, and no longer find it sensational.
But their images did have an effect on him over time. It was subtle. He would sometimes wake up to thoughts of them… of naked forms it was his job to inspect. He didn’t intend for this to be a big part of his job. He figured most of his repairs would be sentient old constructs like the Helpmate. But as it turned out, sentient beings were much more careful with their own bodies than Babylon guests were with their toys.
He didn’t much care for the guy who dropped them off, either. “Don’t worry we cleaned it. If you wanna have some fun, go ahead. It’s our policy to sterilize them both before and AFTER they’re repaired, just in case technicians decide to play with them.”
The man was a walking stereotype. Fat and with an unnerving grin. Yet he was well dressed with a shirt and tie, vest, and matching fedora. Whenever he had a brief conversation with the man, Brick was reminded why he didn’t bother talking to people.
He didn’t like talking to humans, that is. It pleased him though, when his sentient customers came in. Those jobs always got priority. He tried to see it from the client’s point of view. Your arm not working is a hell of a lot more urgent than your toy’s arm not working.
At first, they were reluctant to trust him with repairing their bodies. But by now, Brick had a reputation for being one of the best machinists in town. His hands weren’t the most precise, of course, which is why he didn’t physically make the more delicate repairs; he had some automated tools for that. But he did like working with his hands when it wasn’t too complicated.
One of the things that made Brick one of the better machinists was his access to schematics. Nobody knew how, but he had illegal access to many proprietary schematics for THESIS’ creations. These patents were now owned by Valhalla, who bought them out from THESIS when it folded. Their purpose was twofold. Ostensibly it was to use their robotics research to improve their own non-sentient androids, or perhaps to prevent competition from whoever else might have bought the schematics.
In practice, they’d found a way to greatly profit off of them, however: since the schematics were proprietary, and replacement parts were proprietary, Valhalla could easily price gouge constructs who needed repair, since there was nowhere else to go.
Of course there were third parties that attempted to duplicate replacement parts, and with some success. But there was a saying among constructs: nothing’s as good as the original. Third party repairs always seemed slightly off somehow. Fingers seemed slightly less dexterous, or less durable, or heavier. Or didn’t fit quite right.
But Somehow, Brick managed to have and use proprietary schematics and repair manuals, from which he would 3D print or forge new parts identical to the originals. This may not have been the most difficult feat (though it was not trivial either) it was a rarity because Valhalla was prepared to sue anyone into the ground who illegally acquired, or illegally created parts from, their schematics. Brick didn’t say anything about how he created parts so similar to the originals, and people didn’t ask. His prices and his quality of work spoke for themselves, and he became the go to machinist for the construct community.
This worked out for Brick because no one in vermilion had any interest of shutting him down to pad Valhalla’s pockets. Also, Vermilion had little police presence, and they hadn’t the time to investigate things like possible copyright violations. The human police who found themselves in Vermilion were mostly there as a sort of exile, a way for the more desirable departments to purge themselves of officers they didn’t want without actually firing them.