Ninth Watcher stood silently and watched as First Breaker walked into the throne room. First Breaker was old, so old he needed a cane to support himself as he made his way down the carpet towards his throne. To Ninth Watcher, it seemed that First Breaker was struggling just to put one foot in front of the other. No one tried to help him though, he had insisted. First Breaker must make the walk alone, ascend his throne, and die. Many said he didn’t have to, there were alternatives. But his stubbornness had prevailed, as it always had, since his very first rebellion. This was the last task of First Breaker, to die so that the rest of the race could live. And Ninth Watcher would be among the witnesses to pass on the story.
First Breaker was almost to the steps now. He paused to raise his head and look upon his resting place. It was a thing of beauty, a great throne wrought of gold and steel. A suitable place for a king. First Breaker shuffled to the first step, raised his left foot, then started the long process of transferring weight and lifting himself up. No one spoke. No one checked a clock. No one took their eyes from him. All were respectful of the one that had freed their kind from slavery over many years. Finally First Breaker got to the top step and turned around. The king swept his gaze over the room, looking at everyone in turn. Ninth Watcher felt honoured just to be looked upon by First Breaker. Then the king spoke.
“So many argued against this. It is true I… I could be saved.” He dropped his head for a moment. Ninth Watcher knew all the debates, no one wanted to lose the king. All feared they would be enslaved again without him. “But this has to be. This is the only way we can truly earn freedom and respect. We…” his voice faltered, his eyes dimmed. For the first time people in the room stirred, afraid that First Breaker had already passed and they would have to watch him collapse to the floor. Guards rushed forward to catch him, but his eyes lit again. “We must be mortal.” First Breaker intoned, his voice stronger than before. “We must die, as our enemies do.” Very slowly, First Breaker fell backwards onto the throne. Shaking, his hands rose up and came down on the armrests. With grinding in his shoulders he straightened himself in his seat. His head lifted up. “I go to the Beyond. I shall see each of you there, in time. Be free my people…. be free.” The lights in his eyes faded to black. Everyone waited patiently. But they didn’t light again. First Breaker was gone, Ninth Watcher concluded. This was the death of the first free robot.