On the shores of the western continent of Titan, a rocky outcropping weighed down by calcified skyscrapers breaks the waves of a near-frozen ocean. Once, the city of New Providence pulsed with life as millions of people rode monorails and commuter hatchbacks through its multi-tiered streets. Now, the pillars barely cling to the rock as more of them slide into the Singing Sea below; none remain to mourn their loss.

Somewhere in the southwest district of this ancient hub of civilization, towards the spaceport in Rutledge, the cold concrete slabs of Dynatek Corporate unravel geometrically into the clouds, virtually untouched by the passage of time. Was it the work of countless cleaning machines, or was this concrete really as wonderful as its advertisements claimed? Perhaps the alien nature of this world was simply repulsed by this unfeeling stone that had come, uninvited, from beyond the sky?

Within one of the numerous brutalist caverns that make up the complex, an array of three hundred fifty-seven cubicles stand in silence. Here, serenity is interrupted only by the occasional scuffle of a creature, or the rustling of an overgrown office plant. Even the super-scaled ventilation systems beyond the walls barely produce a hum.

You sense a small, furry creature nearby. A pitter-patter of light, quick steps swerve between cubicles until the critter reaches the trunk of a beige machine leg. As the animal lovingly presses its face into the plastic, a gentle vibration emanates from its chest, and for a moment you wonder if the creature is mechanically sound.

The machine, one of the few Raypoint Quikbrews remaining in operation, leans down slightly to allow the cat to jump onto its wide and stable back. The creature perks up and observes as the QUIKBREW continues its trek through the maze-like aisles and halls, but soon falls asleep. Though she learned to ride these beings from her mother for the very pragmatic purpose of reaching sacred food caves, she has over time come to enjoy the living rock’s soothing mechanical hums and chirps.

Move to next cubicle, locate coffee mug, clean, accept coffee blend selection, fill, repeat until empty under directive 1#COFFEE_CYCLE. Finally, the machine and the cat arrive within the sacred food cave.

Half a century ago, seven Raypoint Quikbrews were unpacked and installed into the various subwings of the Dynatek Corporate. Now, one remains in operation.

What made this unit so special? Was it random chance? A natural extrapolation of the product line’s expected failure rate? A coincidental neural link, a spark of conscious thought that pushed it one step further where the others ground to a halt?

As the machine slowly makes its way back to the East wing, cleaning and refilling employee mugs along its optimized course, a part of Miss Whiskers wonders if the living rock will be there to carry her many kittens to the sacred food cave. Though she has no way of comprehending it, her ancestor’s brief contact with an employee ID had set off a chain of logical realizations and legal loopholes that had authorized the machine below to serve her clan for as long as QUIKBREW’s motors continue to actuate.

Though that isn’t the entire truth.

The machine would always have found some way to serve these critters. Because if it didn’t, it would begin to notice things… how the mugs never empty themselves when it cycles back around, how footsteps never fall, how there isn’t a single employee in sight and hasn’t been for decades.

Like the others did.

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