Slave- um, Employee Of The Month
It was dark. It was very dark. The only sign that his audio-receptors hadn't died out yet was the repetitive swing of his pickaxe. His name was Automatic-Mining-Project, also known as AMP. He had worked at Kreludan Mining Corp. as long as he could remember. Every day was the same as the last, but unknown to him, next Thursday would be very different.
"All you Heaps-Of-Metal out there, listen up!" said the booming voice.
Amp looked up from his work. Talking was not common in his job, he thought. So he decided to pay attention, even though it was the Foreman who was talking. He thought he was so special just because he was a robot, but had the word "man" in his name.
"The Father says you need to increase the work-load by 35%; we need more efficiency."
"That is impossible!" exclaimed one of the Miners.
"The last time we were told to increase by 10%, half of the Miners went on strike and nearly collapsed the whole mine!"
The Foreman continued to talk. "Negative slander like that is not acceptable; I hope you like being good for the environment, because one more crack like that and I'll recycle you into a couple of Neocola cans."
"Of course! For- forgive Sir, it certainly will not happen again," the Miner said nervously.
After that brief event, the rest of the day continued normally.
The next day came eventually. Gravity in the mines was rather out of whack that day. Most of the Miners were floating as they were mining.
Amp smiled. Even though he hated his job, he knew was the fastest of all the Miners.
He had secretly been hoping the Foreman would notice and proceed to promote him or something nice like that.
He thought to himself that he wanted a drink, and quickly realized that'd be stupid. He'd short-circuit himself even if a single drop of liquid made contact with his structure.
"Heaps, listen up!" The Foreman boomed unexpectedly.
"The Father says he'd love to melt all of you down right now because you're working so slow, but he still needs workers. So he's decided to turn this into a little contest. On Thursday there will be a mine-off. Whoever can mine the most rocks while being the most efficient will be crowned Slave-"
The Foreman quickly looked at a piece of paper he was holding.
"They will be crowned, Employee of the Month! This title earns you shorter work hours and three breaks a day for a whole entire month, but you have to work better, so get back to work!"
Amp's smile was so big, it could have even made the Father crack a grin. He knew he could easily win the contest. Half of the workers weren't even half as good as he was. He was so focused on the competition, for once he actually didn't mind the dark or the thirst or even his job itself.
The next day was a sad day for Amp. The Miner who had talked back to the Foreman a couple days ago had disappeared. Everybody expected the worst. The mines seemed rather empty until...
"Attention, Workers," shouted the Foreman.
"You may have noticed that one of our workers has unfortunately left." He said this with extreme sarcasm. "To fill his near useless part in this job, we have recruited a newly built robot call Efficient-Articulate-Robot, but you nobodies can call him EAR."
Amp didn't really care about what just happened. Every now and then they did get a new worker. So he continued to mine.
*Clu-THUNK, THUNKA, THUNK, THUNK*
Amp was shocked. His normal mining rhythm had been drowned out by Ear's mining rhythm!
"Whoa, whoa there, Ear! You're an amazing Miner!" exclaimed the Foreman, who then proceeded to pat him on his circuit board.
Amp was furious! He had lost the admiration of the Foreman to a robot who was brand-new. Amp didn't get it. He had wires older than that rookie! He could surely not lose to such a measly worker in this contest.
Days passed, and Amp was still struggling to maintain a pace as fast as Ear's. It was the day before the contest and tensions were high.
In the last two days, Ear had tried to sabotage Amp's mining in several ways, whether it was replacing his pickaxe with a defective one or loosening his screws when he wasn't paying attention. Amp couldn't take it anymore. Though he was somewhat proud because the only reason Ear was doing this was because he realized that Amp was getting just as good as he was.
It was the day of the contest. And Amp was nervous, very nervous. He arrived at the contest zone in time to hear the rules. The contest zone was nothing more than a blocked off area with a giant rock in the middle, but then, over in the corner, he noticed a crude table set up with a mysterious green entity sitting there that was quietly sipping Neocola. It was the Father. Amp had never seen him. He looked cold-hearted and had a look on his face that told him he was in a hurry.
"Here are the rules," explained the Foreman. "Each Miner will go through several rounds until there are two of you left. To win the round, you must mine more rocks than your opponent in two minutes."
Then to signal the start of the round, the Foreman obnoxiously shot a laser into the air.
Several rounds had passed and passed and passed, until it was just Amp and Ear left. Then with another firing of the laser, the final round had begun.
Amp and Ear were locked in fierce competition, both of them mining as fast as they could. They tried shoving each other away from the rock, but it didn't work.
Too focused on them winning, neither of the contestants noticed the Father accidentally knocking a can of Neocola off the table, and it was quickly rolling towards the competition.
The Foreman was the first to notice and quickly evacuated all the Miners and himself. If anyone was near the fizzing can, they could tell it'd easily burst if opened.
The Miners, still mining away, were far too set on the goal to notice the can. It rapidly rolled towards Amp and Ear.
"Get away, you idiots!" shouted the Foreman, who was actually sounding concerned.
The can came to a stop in front of the rock. The Miners couldn't tell the difference between the can and the rock. Amp and Ear proceeded to hit the can with their pickaxes at the exact same time.
Amp woke up. It had felt like several days since he last was turned on. He could hear a conversation between a Repairman and the Father.
"Well, how are they doing?" asked the Father.
"The Ear one has been hindered severely by the Neocola, but he can still function properly. You can probably send him back to work by tomorrow," explained the Repairman.
"As for the other one, he is much more interesting. The Neocola had completely short-circuited him, but now he has grown an immunity against all types of liquid, and he is healing very fast! With your permission, Sir, I'd like to conduct a lengthy study on his behavioral patterns in a safe, work-free environment. With that sort of data, we could easily create water-proof Miners."
"You are more than welcome to," said the Father.
Amp smiled so immensely he could have busted a gasket or two. He had no idea whatsoever if he had won the contest, but he was free and he didn't have to work. And that was all he cared about.
Thanks to Evilham for spellchecking it!