Far to the north a tremor of the earth dislodged a slab of fallen concrete, and a sift of dust closed a circuit now exposed to the air. Ten metres below the ground power flowed to a niche; the ancient robot in the niche began to return to service. R-10-T's body ran through checks and power-up routines and then, satisfied that R-10-T was fit for action fed power to his electronic brain.
R-10-T began his checklist, as he had done a dozen times before when wakened after a period in reserve. First he checked his sensors and finding them functional attempted to connect to the command net. Attempt after attempt failed and suspecting a failure of his wireless systems extruded a cable and using one massive finger and thumb jacked the cable into a socket on the side of the niche. The command net was still unavailable. Jumping to the next series of routines R-10-T began to prepare to leave his niche and move to seek out a connection to the network; only then could he find why he had been wakened, what was the nature of the threat, and what was his role.
Stepping forward from the niche R-10-T slotted one arm into the straps of the massive shield, the other into the rings of the telescopic baton. He noted that the station in which his niche stood was partially ruined. The roof had collapsed so that it formed a ramp to the outside; a layer of sand and dust nearly a metre thick lay on the floor, and all the few workstations that had power seemed to be carrying out repeated and unsuccessful restart tests. His first assessment was enemy action, making connection to the command net still more urgent.
R-10-T cautiously waded through the dust to where he could see the sky at the top of the ramp, and scanned the area using his inbuilt visual, IR and UV sensors. He noted that his perception was much reduced by the unavailability of external sensor data drawn from others in his squad, drone swarms and the command net. He also experienced a strange sensation, as if an un-used circuit had come to life. He paused for a moment to search his memory for something similar; finding nothing he searched the reams of data not of his experience that were uploaded to his deep memory. He found something that seemed to match. It had a word attached - "Regret".
Finding nothing dangerous within his sensor range R-10-T made his way up the ramp through the thinning layer of dust. Emerging into the light his sensors adjusted and he looked around. He mapped what he saw, overlaid the map from his memory; separated them, checked both data sets, extended scanner radius to its maximum and overlaid them again. The entire city had gone, with only a few pillars of concrete remaining. The presence of certain geographical features - hills on which the city had been built, and mountains to the south at the limits of his scanning ability- confirmed that he was where he had thought he was, but that the city he had patrolled before returning to his niche for maintenance had vanished. Another un-used connection was made. A word rose to the surface - "Confusion" - and sank. R-10-T checked the electromagnetic spectrum from end to end, searching for something familiar - commands, the chatter of his human colleagues, even the carrier hum of a reserved frequency. Nothing.