Author: Hiya readers! I so fell in love with WALL-E when I watched it, and beheld the romance between WALL-E and EVE as a Lost in Translation-like achievement. I'm normally a Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles fanficker, and I saw so many John/Cameron parallels in the robot romance of WALL-EVE! So cute!
Anyway, this is my first WALL-E fic, and I strive to work with minimalist "dialogue" here since so much of the main characters' interaction is based on wordless action. Hope you like it!
Well, it was still brown. The Earth, that is.
But one month into cleaning up a mess that took a couple of centuries to accrue under uncontrolled conditions? Based on an extrapolation of the amount of work that the humans and automatons were aggregately performing, the figure that represented time until the Earth was fully cleaned-up was pegged at more or less thirty years.
At least the plants were growing better now; with a lot of low-orbit debris cleared out alternately by spaceborne WALL-A's and the efforts of scavenged orbital cleanup units, photosynthetic reactions were taking place under more efficiency. It really had been that substantial, all the space-based flotsam – enough to lower the average global temperature by two degrees – and the sunlight degradation was one of the main causes of flora failure.
The thirty-year figure had been determined based on the human/robot population figure from the first Axiom -class vessel that landed on Earth, after the revelation that the Auto unit was blocking the original mission, acting on BNL CEO Shelby Forthright's directive against Operation Recolonize. In retrospect this was a bad idea, obviously; there was definitely enough in the way of automated machines to clear out orbital detritus and then clean local environmental damage. The motivation behind the cancellation of the project was actually cost-effectiveness; Forthright had acted still believing that economics (and by transitivity, ecosystem valuation) operated in such a crisis, when ironically, the socio-economic systems that he'd created aboard the Axioms for their occupants were patently free in nature – while no one had any money, everyone had what they needed and wanted. Because everyone lived so freely in these closed biospheres, Forthright believed that he'd circumvented the "pricelessness" issue with valuating the Earth (i.e., the Earth cannot be assigned a value because it cannot be replaced with current technology), and it was no longer efficient to regenerate the planet with whatever materials were at hand.
Of course, if it were up to the citizens, no one would have, for all the comfort in the world, traded the tradition and beauty of Earth for the artificiality of the Axioms. But it wasn't up to them – it was up to a man who was still immersed in the illusion that money was an object when it came to fixing the mess that humanity had gotten itself into. Really, Earth was fine. Well, not quite fine. It was still brown.
Thirty years is a long time, but it wasn't the correct time. A single Axiom did not carry the population of the world; in fact, 130 of them, varying in population density and culture but not in basic structure, were launched to sundry points across the galaxy. Each had their own Auto, and each Auto was still operating under Forthright's 700-year old message. When Captain McCrea sent off the mass message to all other Captains, however, none of them experienced the problems that he had encountered when trying to set the ship to manual control. Most of the time, it was a simple matter of flipping that switch when the red HAL-like eye was staring at them.
Within a span of three weeks, 130 Axioms had made it home and the population of Earth was immediately restored. Numerically, that is, to eleven billion blobs. Plus about a hundred million babies. They weren't quite the better-built bodies of old, and in Earth gravity could barely sustain their weight on their underdeveloped legs, but the minds were still good for planning, and they came with a huge complement of robots too. Within a span of three weeks, thirty years became two.
A month into the task, and the microgravity-accustomed blobs were starting to lose weight. Bone mass started off very weak, but synthesized calcium infusions accelerated the process of growth adaptive to Earth gravity. Of course, it helped that the blobs began eating real food again; they'd been so habituated to the fully-featured CHON shakes of the future, that the "old is new again" solid foods and diet tablets were almost like alien artifacts to them.
Much of the so-called "symbolic" work was done directly by human hands. Simple but meaningful tasks such as seed planting were mostly done by the blobs, who were still ill-equipped to handle heavy loads and live in the more toxic regions of Earth. The effects of their little works, though, were quite the morale booster, and even though living on Earth meant a lot of problems, the first scoops of dirt out of a landfill, or the tiny shoots of foliage breaking free from the once-unlivable soil, made these problems worth it all. (It should be noted, though, that at this point, people still lived inside their respective Axioms, what with Earth still being polluted and uncomfortable and all)
While the People continued on with their self-aggrandized "symbolic" tasks, the Machinery soldiered on with the restoration of living conditions. Menial tasks, especially when done by robots, often received decidedly non-commensurate recognition for their apparent importance, but it was now rarely taken for granted how much the bots were doing for humanity. Those robots that did not have the "personal" capacity to receive compliments were nonetheless regarded with respect, and those who could were treated as equals.
There were some robots who were treated otherwise, though – in a positive fashion, that is, and more than equals – and no one could deny them the praise and honor that was bestowed on them by those who knew what they did. Few remembered their names as designative acronyms that described their functions; few really knew that those who returned humanity to their homeland comprised a generic, mass-produced Waste Allocation Load Lifter, Earth-Class, and a generic, mass-produced Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator.
Most only remembered their names as WALL-E and EVE.
They weren't quite generic, though. This particular WALL-E unit had spent seven hundred years endlessly performing the ultimate in menial tasks, creating skyscrapers of trash in Towers of Hanoi-like repetition. He also had many of these seven hundred years alone, with an ancient VHS tape of Hello, Dolly! and the sundry chattels he'd collected over time with which to fashion himself a personality. An irrepressible curiosity rounded off a lot of behavioral quirks in this caterpillar-tracked trash compactor, and his eyes were really cute too. Who knows how much more interesting he'd have become if he'd obtained the Blu-Ray of that movie and seen the Cast and Crew Interviews?
Meanwhile, the EVE had become EVE, who was quite like Eve. Her name was ironically appropriate; she'd become analogous to the Biblical woman in that she'd become the first robot female or approximation thereof, if such sexual attributions were possible at all. She'd enhanced her own personality after a few days of attachment to the yellow disposal unit with big goggly eyes, and now had quite the amiable disposition – very much unlike the default EVE patterns which were notably PMS'd up in nature, so to speak; their plasma weapons were kept very handy in times of irritation and frustration.
Together, the two shared a bond that transcended directive, and could almost be called love, if it wasn't already designated as such. It was this love that led them to look out for each other as they scaled the Axiom, trying to get a little plant to the Captain. It was this love that led EVE to rescue WALL-E many times from destruction at the possible risk of major damage.
It was also this love that kept EVE half the time away from her duties for almost the entire month since they arrived, alternating between spending time with her beloved WALL-E, and rebuilding his memories at the Axiom's computer.
The last physical crush on WALL-E resulted in enough damage to him that his mainboard was cracked. Everything that he was rested in a neat little package within a solid-state drive that had been badly damaged, and as EVE had frantically sought out replacements, she swapped out his broken memories with a new, fresh drive from an old, abandoned body. With that, he reverted to his original programming as he woke up, being a perfectly good, almost fresh-off-the-factory…Waste Allocation Load Lifter, Earth-Class.
Love solves all things in the end, though, and a "kiss" from EVE was enough to save the day and restore his mind. The resulting electrostatic discharge caused elements of a RAID array to activate fault tolerance mechanisms: backup drives stored in various parts of WALL-E performed a "rebuild" function on the new drive, which seemed to solved everything!
But to solve everything was a fantasy. The reality was a little less sunny; parity had not been fully maintained across the board over the years, and WALL-E emerged from oblivion with a lot of missing memories. True delight had come to EVE when she saw the restoration of her loved one, but she knew that things weren't going to be the same for a while.
The first thing she noticed about WALL-E was that, while indeed he still liked holding hands, he couldn't remember why. He remembered much of the classic VHS that he never failed to watch, but not that lovely scene where 1964 lovers played by Michael Crawford and Marianne McAndrew held hands to It Only Takes a Moment. As she showed this scene to him over and over again, transitory flashes of recognition would somehow flick across his eyes, in the form of minute lens adjustments or curious little sideward tilts, but nothing complete would ever surface. Of course, after many viewings of this scene in the movie, he grew to like it very much, even starting to clasp his hands together after watching it, but that meant EVE had to teach him everything that he had lost-
And there she had a most marvelous idea. WALL-E had spent so much time teaching her when they first met; now it was time for her to return the favor, somehow.
So every day, after her shifts in the irrigation fields or the atmosphere processing plants were completed, EVE would take WALL-E out for a trip into the junkyard, and show him new things that were once quite old to him. Each artifact she brought out to him – be it a Rubik's Cube, a picture frame, or a matchbox – he held and examined with such curiosity, that for all his robotic exterior he looked very much like an innocent child. It was indeed like showing a child endless new toys, and he seemed very happy as he darted from relic to relic, taking them in as though they were the most interesting things in the world to him.
Come nightfall, WALL-E would curl up into his easy-storage, low-volume form and drift off to sleep (mode), and EVE, watching over him lovingly, would clandestinely deactivate him and take out his storage drives, and she would spend the night at the Axiom computers interfacing with them, working hard to rebuild his memories from parity fragments. Contrary to what most people believed, EVE actually did need "sleep," for the complexity of her mental framework required a few hours' worth of memory analysis and optimization every few days. Without this equivalent of sleep, she would grow restless and inefficient; two things about which internal diagnostics never failed to remind her whenever she engaged in all-nighters on her partner's memories.
But even with this irritating degradation of mind in mind, EVE would always persist in her self-assigned task of recovery, and she'd work on WALL-E's memories until the sun arose and more field work was to be done. Her efforts rarely yielded substantial results; the file system was old and mostly incompatible with the Axiom's, so everything had to be done literally bit by bit, and it was a horribly slow and arduous process by itself which involved a lot of arbitrary hit-or-miss. Sometimes, she'd find a piece of a piece of a memory that she could restore, but that usually meant WALL-E would just remember how to fold an origami crane or something. To her, though, such little remembrances were strong steps towards reclaiming him again, and these small victories inspired her to keep going.
Whenever the sun rose to wake up the citizens of Earth and signal the time for renewed work, she would return WALL-E's drives and wake him up, so that they could work together again. Afterwards, she'd again take him to the junkyard, or maybe to the inside of one of the more stable skyscrapers, and there she'd show him many of the things that he'd shown her just weeks before, when they'd first met.
EVE loved the sunset that she saw through her security camera logs, while she was inactive and under WALL-E's care, and so one day she brought him to one of the highest floors of the tallest skyscraper that she could find, that wouldn't collapse when they went up, and there they simply sat for hours, waiting until the glowing orb in the sky came low over the horizon. She didn't pick the roof for them, so that the golden rays of the sun would come streaming through the rusting superstructure of the building, and when this effect finally came to pass, the result was breathtaking.
Lances of yellow light came through gaping holes where windows and walls once stood, and bathed the two watchers in a sea of beautiful fire. EVE's pristine white body sparkled with the brilliance of the sun, while WALL-E's natural color was emphasized with the sunset glow. It was all gold; lavish tints blasted the place in a way that wasn't overwhelming but not quite understated either. The color bled into every nook and cranny of the derelict structure, somehow making the drab, industrial-decay motif a paragon of magnificent art.
EVE made the synthetic equivalent of a sigh as she floated by WALL-E, watching the sunset again with him. She'd wrapped herself in the same Christmas lights that he'd used on her that time, in order to try and piecemeal reach out to him, somehow ignite a few more lost memories within. Her fin-like arms left their alcoves and floated at her sides, their ends forming hands, while WALL-E gazed eagerly at the shining disc hovering over the cityscape. No words or sounds passed between them.
Then EVE felt a light touch on her hand, and turning to the source of this she saw a little metal hand grasping her own. She looked to her partner, who still stared into the Sun, and her blue eyes formed little crescents, the closest she could come to displaying a smile, and threaded her fingers between his, so that their hands were interlocked in a happy embrace. She adjusted her gravity boosters so that she leaned slightly into him, and there they remained even as the stars in the night sky began to bloom.
When it was already late, EVE brought WALL-E back to his WALL-A home, and there stayed with him until he found it appropriate to recede into his shell and sleep. She needed that sleep too, but there was still so much more she could do than rest idly. Rubbing his shell gently with her hand, she quickly removed his drives and flew off to the Axiom, where another night of work at data recovery awaited her. It was the same old stuff over and over again, looking through tedious bitstreams that took a lot of work to make sense out of, and her lack of sleep and optimization was very evident in the way she aimlessly wandered around the ship in between processing cycles.
On the fourth hour of tonight's analysis, though, she came across a low-level function written in some kind of assembly language. It was a directive tag! Every robot ever made would have these in one form or another, to determine what their directives and objectives were. Whenever EVE asked WALL-E his "directive," he'd respond with his name, which was pretty much correct, since the term "WALL-E" itself described a function and a purpose.
But this directive tag did not implicate Waste Allocation, and nor was it some derived objective that had surfaced over the past several hundred years. This was actually a very recent release from WALL-E's mind, created sometime over the past – month…
EVE quickly retrieved the directive and started going over it, rebuilding it and analyzing the heck out of it until it was like a dry sponge that stored no water anymore. When she finally saw the full content of the directive, it puzzled her.
DIRECTIVE – EVE
What did that mean? Directives usually stated a purpose and function, not a subject. Why would her name be there, overriding the primary trash-collecting code?
It was then that EVE remembered that WALL-E had, after a while, started saying her name instead of his in response to "Directive?" It was a strange development that she originally attributed to some malfunction, but now she understood.
She was his directive, plain and simple. He was entirely devoted to her, as the term "directive" signified.
And at this, she determined to reciprocate.
EVE slept for the first time in weeks, and woke up feeling optimized. She then went to the Captain, who supervised the environmental efforts in their region, and submitted a typed-up document that requested indefinite leave from tasks for her and WALL-E. Reason? Maintenance operations, she cited. The Captain obliged; how couldn't he? Few had done as much work as they had, and there was no reason why she didn't deserve a break, after all she and WALL-E had done.
To work for the renewal of Earth was a noble cause, but in her it was secondary still to the renewal of her friend.
When she got back to the old WALL-A husk, she restored WALL-E's drives and woke him up. His head gently popped out of his cubic form, and they tilted in EVE's direction, gazing quite intently.
EVE seemed to hesitate for a while, moving her arms about in a manner that could be perceived as uneasy, and then:
"Directive," she said, putting a fin to her chest, before pointing it at him. "You."
And she hugged him.