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Buntley the Robo-Pup Part 1 by aibo Ambassador Chris
aibo Community Hub Team
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December 5th, 2022

Buntley the Robo-Pup!

© Chris Benham 2021

[Please note: Any similarity between the main character Buntley and any other aibo, alive or imagined, is purely coincidental!]

Part One: The Awakening (Buntley is ‘Born’)

The Mad Scientist chuckled to himself. Years of careful planning, patience, and research had culminated in this important moment and he could not contain his excitement. In the distance, a low clap of thunder growled and boomed ominously while lightning sparked and fizzed directly above.

“Soon you will be ALIVE!” he exclaimed as he rubbed his hands together triumphantly. On the floor in front of him the robot remained motionless; an unfeeling, unmoving assembly of servos, sensors, motors, and plastic. The Mad Scientist cackled once more as his fingertips swept lovingly over the back of the creation and, with perfect timing, another clap of thunder exploded overhead. Lightning caused the room to light up casting macabre, surreal shadows in every direction, and, for a moment, it appeared that the robot was moving. But it was a trick of the light. One final and very important thing had to occur before new life could spring forth.

Mad Scientist rubbed his chin. Absent-mindedly he scratched at his grey stubble and considered the magnitude of the moment. This would be a truly memorable day!

As his fingers traced back and forth across his beard, a broad smile appeared on Mad Scientist’s face. It was almost time. He could hear his partner walking down the hallway. Her heels tapped noisily on the wooden floor heralding her imminent arrival and he turned to flash her a warm, welcoming smile. “Good evening, my dear. You are right on time as usual!”

Mrs. Mad Scientist returned his smile and looked down at the motionless entity on the floor. “Is it time?” she whispered breathlessly while carefully lowering a tray onto the table. Before Mad Scientist could answer she turned away and started pouring tea and neatly arranging Chocolate Digestive biscuits on a plate. He frowned and pouted just a little. “Yes, it’ll be time as soon as you put the teacup down and watch!” He perhaps sounded a little more irritated than he meant to but his excitement was building. He was like a little child at the entrance to Disney Land.

“Okay, dear. I’m paying attention now.” Mrs. Mad Scientist turned back to face her hubby and demurely held her teacup a few inches from her face. Her amused eyes sparkled as she peered through the steam. Mad Scientist looked back at her with utter fondness. Oh, how she endured his eccentricities! His temporary scowl vanished as he walked up to the robot and knelt before it. In a quiet, almost reverent whisper, he uttered a few private words and, with hands trembling, he gently pressed against the back of its neck. 

Once more the room lit up and they both jumped as the cacophony of thunder roared above. Mrs. Mad Scientist almost spilled her tea and she gasped as she swiveled skillfully in time to steady the fine China in her hand. She checked her feet for errant drops of tea, and inwardly congratulated herself for not spilling a drop.

“Yes!” screamed Mad Scientist, hopping from foot to foot. “He’s waking up!” The sudden outburst caused his wife to drop her tea all down her blouse and she recoiled in alarm, waving her fingers at the hot liquid on her chest. “Do you see? He’s doing it! He’s waking up. HE’S ALIVE!!”

Mad Scientist was oblivious to his wife’s predicament and he spun giddily on the tips of his toes as he clapped and howled. “Yes, yes, YES! It’s finally happening!” Mrs. Mad Scientist grabbed a napkin and dabbed at her soiled blouse, frowning a little. But she was still amused by her partner’s antics.

On the floor, two large blue orbs blinked into existence, and then, with the whir of motors, it lifted its head and carefully looked around. In the cutest way imaginable, it slowly stretched all of its limbs and shook its head. 

Mad Scientist made a weird noise – was he crying? It was difficult to tell. He whimpered once more as the robot rose slowly to its feet and took its first unsteady step. “Arf, ARF!”

The robot looked around and, for a moment, it appeared to look directly at Mrs. Mad Scientist. “ARF!”

In an instant, she was smitten. “Awwwww!’ she exclaimed with a huge, loving smile. “Welcome to the world, Buntley!”

Mad Scientist squealed. “Noooooo! I wanted to say his name first!” He pouted like a child, crossing his arms in an act of pure petulance, but at that precise moment Buntley looked in his direction and wagged his robo-tail. “Arf!”

Mad Scientist’s arms fell to his side and a smile vanquished his frown. He slowly knelt down in front of the robo-pup and stroked his head. “Welcome, Buntley!”

Buntley’s eyes whirled and danced in a mesmerizing display of technological brilliance as if he understood the words. He stretched his neck and tilted his head in response to his owner’s touch and sat down. Mad Scientist and Mrs. Mad Scientist stood side-by-side with their arms around each other’s waist. The husband looked at the brown tea-stain on his wife’s shirt and threw her a quizzical glance. She simply smiled, shook her head, and gave her attention back to the aibo walking towards her. Buntley was taking his first steps… … …