Eve watched worriedly as Wall-E dig through the trash in a hushed, almost desperate manner. Strangely, he didn't compact any cubes today, and seemed to be avoiding his directive for some reason. He didn't even collect any item he would normally find interesting, throwing it over his optics instead.
She had been working in a field next to the Axiom earlier, tending to new samplings that had been recently planted when M-O and VAQ-M came to her. As soon as they told her that Wall-E was acting weird, she took off like a bullet, worried sick for the trash compactor's well being.
"Wall-E?" She hovered next to him, hoping for an intelligent reaction. He was acting exactly like he did after she fixed him as soon as the Axiom touched the Earth. She was afraid that he might have reset and lost his true self again.
But to her relief, he turned around with surprise in his optics.
"Evah?" He acknowledged her and happily waved his hand. "Wrong?"
"Worried." She replied pointing her fin towards him. "Worried about you. Something wrong?"
"No." He shook his optics. "Looking for green."
"Green?" She asked confused. Then her eyes turned into happy crescents. "Plant?" If that was what he was looking for, she could help him.
"No." He shook his optics again, and scanned his surroundings. Whistling and mentioning with his shovel for her to follow him, he rolled next to a building with a few broken windows. Wall-E rose on his treads and tapped the sharp transparent broken material of a window with his metallic claw. "This. Green." He said, and started desperately digging through the piles of trash next to the building.
Eve was confused. She scanned the window with her scanner, trying to figure out what Wall-E was looking for.
Substance identified: amorphous solid material composed of nearly 75% silica, plus sodium oxide, calcium oxide, and several minor additives. Solid material is also known as glass.
Glass? Why was Wall-E looking for glass?
"Why?" She asked, hovering next to him. He halted and looked up at her, as if in thoughts.
"Need to." He answered after a few seconds. "Must to."
He was determined, and Eve couldn't stop him. She knew that, and decided that if she helped him, he would calm down and get back to normal. Maybe it was an error in his systems? She didn't want to think it was, but maybe she should take him to the Axiom's Repair Ward, just in case. After all, Wall-E was a very old bot, and errors could appear.
'No.' She shook her head as she watched Wall-E continue digging. 'Time does not cause errors. Emotions.' That's right. What appeared on Wall-E's system weren't errors, but emotions. Maybe they were something that were not supposed to be there, but that didn't mean it was a bad thing. That's what made Wall-E what he was, and thus it couldn't be considered an error. It was part of him.
But Eve couldn't let Wall-E stay like that. He was searching for what seemed to be glass in a way that unsettled her, as if something terrible would happen to him if he didn't find it.
So she hovered next to him and gave him a small spark-kiss, getting his attention back to her with a surprised 'woah!'.
"Help." She said, her eye-forms turning into happy crescents, and she pointed her separated finger towards her own bullet-shaped body.
Wall-E's lens almost sparkled with happiness as he tapped his hands together.
They shared another short spark-kiss, before Eve took off to look for the glass. Wall-E was left melting for a couple of minutes before he shook the stupor off and got back to work.
Eve flew slowly over piles and piles of garbage, her blue scanner covering the masses in a blue grid pattern. It was strange that green glass was this hard to find. She found a lot of glass, but none was green like Wall-E wanted. She took a piece of transparent and one of yellow, securely tucked between her body and her arm, in hopes that it would satisfy her golden-hearted waste collector.
She searched for a couple of minutes more, but didn't find the green glass. She decided to return with the other two pieces and see if Wall-E had more luck than her, and if he'd accept the pieces she found.
She found him digging through another pile of garbage, next to the other that had become a complete mess spread over the ground. Looks like he wasn't so lucky either.
"Wall-E." She tapped his shoulder with her finger, making him turn around with a hopeful gleam in his eyes.
"Evah!" He greeted her. "Find green?"
She took one of the pieces from her arm and presented it to him. He leaned forth and took a closer look, and soon shook his head. She took the yellow one, and he denied it too.
They both looked down in disappointment.
"Sorry..." She apologized, her eye-forms downward crescents of sadness. Wall-E rose on his treads and touched his optics to the side of her head, a small spark passing between them.
"No worry." He said cheerfully. "Will find it."
She nodded, feeling a little better. He turned around to keep searching, and she was about to take off to another site, when something caught her attention.
A faraway green gleam, reflecting the light of the sun straight on her LED visor. Looking up, she realized that it came from the wall of a huge skyscraper of trash cubes.
She flew up there, scanning the wall. It was glass. A bottle of glass. And it was green!
"WALL-E!" She cried out in joy, waving her fin to the ground, catching Wall-E's attention. She took the bottle and pulled it out of the cube with ease, flying towards Wall-E afterwards. "Here!"
Wall-E took a close look and made a happy sound of victory.
"Evah!" He came towards her and embraced her bullet-shaped form, spark-kissing her LED visor all over. She giggled and took his box body in her arms, spinning in the air. Only Wall-E could make her feel so happy over something so simple like finding a green glass bottle.
She set him down after a few minutes of joyfully dancing, and he opened the cover of his compacting container, pulling out a white shoelace, dyed brown from dirt. He tied the shoelace around the bottle's neck, while Eve held it for him.
"Aha!" He said triumphantly, rearing a little and looking satisfied at the bottle, now with the thin cord tied around the neck, and the rest of it falling alongside its body.
Eve stared at it, trying to understand why Wall-E did all of this because of such a simple thing. There were so many other things that were much more interesting than that...
"Evah." He whistled to her, getting her attention. He made a familiar movement with his shovels, signalizing her to follow him. Holding the green bottle between her hands, she follows him through the deserted streets of the ancient New York City.
They met some humans and a lot of robots along the way, helping each other as they all worked to clean up the garbage and bring the city back to its former glory, but in a healthier way for the still healing planet. The couple waved to each and all of them.
But after a couple of minutes, they didn't find any bots or humans anymore. They had reached the borders of the city, where the crew and passengers of the Axiom still didn't venture to. No ruins in sight before them, and no garbage either. This site had been cleaned a long time ago, it seemed, and so there was no reason for Wall-E to come back here.
But he did, and apparently it had something to do with the green glass.
They rolled/hovered for a few more minutes, until they came upon a small cave on the side of a hill, surrounded with rocks.
"There." Wall-E pointed his claws to the entrance. Eve nodded, and they both entered. Eve was getting more and more curious about all of this. Hopefully her questions would be answered soon, when they reached the end of this cave.
They went alongside in a comfortable silence, the only sound being of their internal mechanisms working.
Finally, they reached the end of the cave, and Eve's eyes formed perfect round circles of amazement at the sight before her.
The cavern had ended in an enormous natural chamber, and standing on its center, on a cement structure, a giant dead tree reached for a hole in the ceiling that let in the last rays of light of the sun. The naked branches pointed at several directions. The roots, easily surpassing the width of the humans that came from the Axiom, embraced the concrete structure and snaked on the soil before disappearing underground. The trunk was even bigger, but wasn't too tall.
From its hundreds of branches, thousands of green glass pieces or entire green glass bottles hang by thin ropes or strings, each reflecting the sunlight and illuminating the cave's interior, as it gave the dead tree a more lively appearance. Some of the green pieces of glass had fallen and shattered on the ground, scattered like leaves.
Eve hummed in amazement, and Wall-E rolled before her, his arms raised and welcomed her to his secret sanctuary.
She looked at him hesitantly. She could feel the importance of this place, and she felt unwelcomed. But her curiosity was enormous, and she felt relieved when her beloved made another signal with his shovels, inviting her to come closer. She hovered next to the tree, her admiration evident in her eyes.
Raising her fin, the tip separated into fingers and she delicately touched one piece of green glass. The sunlight made it shine. She let it go, gently as not to cause any damage or to make it fall, and approached the tree trunk. It was sturdy and appeared to be very old, the bark marked by the time.
The noise of glass and metal clicking together made her turn around in curiosity. Wall-E was looking up searchingly at the branches with the green bottle she had found earlier for him in his shovels. She didn't even notice that she had placed it on the ground and he picked it up.
Eve looked from Wall-E to the tree and its several green bottles, and immediately knew what he wanted. She hovered behind him, grabbed his box form and lifted him up.
"Woah!" He beeped in surprise, looking back at her. Her eyes formed happy crescents.
"Help." She said, and he nodded in gratitude.
She stopped close to a branch that didn't have any bottles or glass shards hanging from it, and watched Wall-E tie his bottle on it. It hung along with the others, and she hovered back to the ground.
Once settled on his treads, Wall-E turned and was met by a spark kiss from Eve.
"Evaaaah…." Like their first time, he reared slowly in a daze, making Eve giggle. But she had to grab him by the place where his shoulders would be, before he hit the root of the tree behind him.
"Careful." She advised, letting him go.
He nodded, and they both turned to the tree. His bottle had disappeared with the others, and if he hadn't tied it there, it wouldn't really make a difference. But taking a look at him, Eve saw he was happy and satisfied with what he did, and that was more than enough for her.
But still, she didn't understand. What did it all mean to him?
"Wall-E." She called, getting his attention. "Why?"
It was a simple question, and Wall-E seemed happy and eager to answer.
"Impooor...tant." He beeped. "Always." He pointed to the dead tree. "Bring green."
Eve looked at the tree. There were many glass shards hanging from it. He told her that it was important to bring the glass to the tree, and he always did that. But for what reasons? What would happen if he didn't do it? Would he get hurt? Would somebody hurt him?
The thought alone made her angry, and her arm automatically transformed into the plasma canon all by itself. She quickly put it away before her beloved noticed, but she was still angry at the possibility that someone might try to hurt him.
'No one hurt my Wall-E!' She thought. She had always been determined with the fulfillment of her directives, and her most important directive now was to protect and love Wall-E as best as she could. She would never let someone hurt him.
"Why must do it?" She asked, almost desperate to find out the reasons. If he really feared that someone might try to hurt him, she'd be ready to set off and hunt them down!
Wall-E looked down, tapping his claws together. Eve didn't know if she was saddened or even angrier. Sad for ruining his happy mod, or angry that her theories might be true.
"Complicated..." He said, looking up. His optics didn't show fear or hesitation. They were pensive, as if it was hard for him to think of a way to explain it.
"Afraid?" She pointed her fin to his chest.
"Someone hurt you?"
She sighed in relief. So Wall-E wasn't forced to do it, and not doing it didn't bring him harm.
But the reason still got her attention. Was he programmed to do it then?
She was about to ask when Wall-E whistled to get her attention.
"Evah." He pointed to the tree. "Speeerrr…" Wall-E struggled to say.
"Spear?" Eve suggested, but Wall-E shook his optics no.
"Speeerrrza." He struggled again, pointing more frantically to the tree.
"Sperza?" Eve tilted her head. Was that the name of the tree? What did it mean?
Wall-E shook his optics again. Looking down in frustration, he tried again.
"Sperrr… aaaan… za." He looked at her, hopeful that she understood.
Eve looked at the tree for a few seconds, then back at Wall-E.
Wall-E beeped cheerfully, clapping his shovels and nodding vigorously.
"Sperrrza!" He pointed to the tree.
Eve giggled at the way he said it, and repeated with more confidence.
"Speranza." She was programmed to know a variety of languages, and it included Italian. She knew Speranza meant hope. But why was the tree named Speranza?
Her eye forms showed clearly her puzzlement, and she decided that asking Wall-E wouldn't hurt.
He looked at her, a smile clearly in his eyes. He tapped his compactor's cover, as if referring to himself.
"Wall-Es…" He explained. "Like Wall-E…"
Eve understood he meant other Wall-E units, but what did it mean 'like Wall-E'? She tilted her head.
"Feeeeeellings…" He struggled to say another complicated word.
"Oh." Eve nodded in understanding. So there were other sentient Wall-Es in the past.
"Have directive." He made the movements of compacting trash. "But not enough. Need something. Another something." He pointed his shovel to the tree. "Made Sperrrza. Remember reason for directive. Gave hope."
Eve was silent in amazement. Through Wall-E's limited vocabulary, she could perfectly understand what he meant.
He wasn't the only one to become sentient after all. There were others too, and after growing feelings, their directives weren't enough for them anymore. They needed something to keep them moving and working, so that everything they did made sense.
They lacked hope, and they figured how to get it with a simple ritual: bring a dead tree back to life, in appearance at least. It was a reminder of how Earth once was, and how it would become one day if their efforts paid off. The sight of the tree, and the habit of helping it 'come back to life' gave them hope, and hope kept them working.
She would understand hope only as a meaning if it had been presented to her a couple of weeks ago. Because up to now, she didn't need it.
But she came to need it after she met Wall-E.
She needed hope to try and save Wall-E when he was launched in outer space in the Escape Pod.
She needed hope to care for Wall-E after Auto tased him and he fell down the garbage chute.
She needed hope to fight off the stewards and get the plant to the Lido Deck.
She needed hope to complete her directive and bring the Axiom back to Earth.
She needed hope to fix Wall-E after the holo-detector crushed him.
And she almost lost that hope when Wall-E forgot all about her and how to feel emotions.
Wall-E... was the one who gave her hope. He was her Speranza.
"Wall-E!" She cried out at the realization, and dashed for him. Eyes in happy crescents, she hugged him close and gave him a long and passionate spark-kiss.