"Are you alive?" They are the first human words Wall-E has heard since he was left behind on this planet. He blinks his eyes open, adjusting to the dim morning light - he can see the sun is peeking over the edge of the horizon. As his mechanic vision focuses, he sees a tall woman in front of him, slender in a way no human has been in many years. He blinks his eyes again, uncertain of what he's seeing. Another woman joins her, shorter, but just as lithe.
"Waaalll-eee." The noise he emits makes the two women look at each other in concern. The taller one, the blonde, bends down, her hand reaching out to gently touch his head.
"Wall-eeee," he breathes again, coming out like a purr, and his eyes close as he relishes the feel of another being - it's been so long he'd almost forgotten. She feels different, too. Mechanical, like him. He can almost imagine he hears the whirring of her body, the connections forming as her wires fire off different signals.
"He's a machine, Caprica," the other woman says. Caprica. Wall-E rolls the word around in his head - it's a new grouping of syllables, foreign to his mechanical mind. "I wonder if he made this city." She looks around in wonderment - or is it disgust. "Humans never could deal with the consequences of their actions." There is more to her words than what she is saying, Wall-E can hear it in her inflection. His curiosity piqued, he rolls slightly towards them, examining them with a quiet aloofness.
"We've left that behind, Boomer. There are other things at stake now,” the blonde’s tone is impatient – they’ve had this discussion before. “This was once a great planet - these piles of refuse are merely hallmarks of what once was. This could have been the land of our ancestors. It was something to behold, I’m sure." She stands again, turns to look at her companion and Wall-E can only blink his confusion. His mechanical arm reaches nervously for the play button - he longs to hear the strains of "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" - it's been almost a full day since he last listened to it, it calms him. He can hear Hal making nervous noises, though the small cockroach is hidden under an old candy wrapper, afraid of these newcomers. He doesn’t blame him, they are so unfamiliar to everything they’ve ever known.
"And what a legacy they left us. This is what New Caprica would have become. This is nothing." Wall-E can hear the anger, the disappointment, the bitterness in her voice, and he anxiously shifts back and forth, his curiosity overruling his desire to flee. He is proud of this city, this place he built, this reminder of what once was. He wishes they could see it through his eyes, the beauty of the morning sun through the smoggy air, the way it softly filtered through the buildings. "Wall-eee," he murmurs softly, and attention is drawn to him again.
"He's clearly sentient." It's said as a statement, irrefutable fact, and Wall-E enjoys the sounds of these words, so many of them foreign to him, unfamiliar and new. He lets them clink around his head, piecing their meanings together, acquiring new information every second he is in contact with these people. "But I don't think he can speak."
The blonde one again bends down, examining him with curiosity and something akin to glee. He can sense that she has not been surprised by anything for a very long time. He feels a connection to her, in a way he has never felt with a human before. "Do you understand us?" she asks, clearly, enunciating carefully.
"Walllllll-e," he answers, hoping his affirmation is understood. He offers a nod as best he can. The blonde one smiles encouragingly. "My name is Caprica Six. And this is Boomer," she says, pointing to her companion. Wall-E blinks, his finger reaching for the play button once more. He thinks she would like the music. He think she probably has never heard it before.
"Wall-E," he says. He points to himself. He wants to introduce Hal, but the cockroach has burrowed even further, the noise of conversation deafening to a creature who had not been exposed to any for so long.
"Wall-E." The blonde one - Caprica Six - stands once more. "Sentient. And he has a name." She looks pleased and Wall-E decides that yes, he should play the music for her. He wants her to smile again. He wants to see if the other one will smile too. She seems distant, less inclined to experience the new, cynical. He presses Play and the strains of the song begin to filter through the air. Caprica Six looks down at him, her face awash in wonderment. Boomer closes her eyes and Wall-E thinks he can see the hint of a smile on her face, as if she is remembering a distant past, where things weren't this way. He likes to think of that distant past as well.
"Show us your world, Wall-E," Caprica Six says. "I'm sure there are wonders to behold."
"Wall-EEE," he agrees happily and, with the music playing loudly, begins to guide his new friends through the streets of the forgotten planet.
“Too much garbage in your face? There’s plenty of space out in space!” The advertisement plays over and over again. Caprica has developed a fascination for the human voices of people she will never meet. “BnL StarLiners leaving every day. We’ll clean up the mess while you’re away.” Her face is always sad while she watches the images of thousands of Wall-E’s, cleaning up the mess that others couldn’t be bothered to deal with. He thinks she feels sorry for him, that he’s the last of his kind. He thinks she knows what it’s like to feel that loneliness.
“The jewel of BnL fleet; The Axiom! Spend your five year cruise in style: Waited on 24 hours a day by our fully automated crew, while your captain and autopilot chart a course for non-stop entertainment, fine dining; And with our all-access hoverchairs, even grandma can join the fun! There's no need to walk! The Axiom - Putting the ‘star’ in executive StarLiner! Because at BnL, space is the final ‘FUN-tier’!” Boomer always walks away in disgust when she sees this advertisement. Wall-E hears her muttering about a people without foresight. He wonders how people treated robots, how they treated her, where she came from. Caprica watches the ad with curiosity, always a small smile on her face whenever space is labeled a “fun-tier.” Jokes are not lost on Wall-E, but he’s heard this one over and over again for many years.
They watch his movies, and Wall-E catches Caprica humming the melodies as she wanders around the planet’s surface. He enjoys the sound of someone else creating the tunes he’s heard for so long coming only from his television set.
Days pass on the planet, days full of discovery for the women. They have told him they are Cylons. This means nothing to Wall-E. They tell him they are machines. This makes Wall-E feel less alone in the world. They tell him where they come from, there are many multitudes of robots. This makes Wall-E want to see something besides the confines of this city of waste.
"We have a ship. We could leave." Boomer always seems anxious, unwilling to stay in one place too long. Caprica is in direct contrast, always looking to discover new things, leafing through pages of magazines from many years ago, faded portraits gazing blankly up from worn pages. She lets her fingers linger over them, a callback to something she can't quite remember.
“Not yet,” is always Caprica’s response. She is still excited by this world, still feels there are things to discover. Whereas this race of humans has instilled in her a curiosity, Boomer feels nothing but distaste for this people without concern for the world they inhabited. “Just look at what they had,” Caprica says often, pointing out the computers, the cars, every piece of technology that augmented human life until human life had no more meaning. Boomer spends more time looking over the forgotten teddy bears, the dolls with dirt on their faces. This, to her, says more of the lives that once inhabited this city than any hard drive or remote control.
Wall-E surprises them one day, bringing home a plant that he found in the landfill. He has carefully put it in a pot, knowing that this frail green stem will impress them.
“Life can grow here, Caprica.” And for the first time, Boomer sounds excited. Caprica gently fingers the leaf of this fragile plant, uncertainty on her face.
“It’s not enough,” she says, and in that moment, Wall-E knows she’s reached a decision about his planet. There is a sadness in her face – for the first time, she realizes that these people treasured the wrong things, valued technology over life, made the same mistakes she’d seen before. “In all this time we’ve been here…only one plant. I think we’ve stayed too long.”
Boomer’s face falls, then hardens. She had begged to leave for so long, it wouldn’t do to dig in her heels now. “I’ll get the ship ready.” She turns to leave when Wall-E rolls forward to block her.
“Wall-eee?” he questions, uncertain of where he stands with these people. If they let him, he would leave this place, but he doesn’t know if they will take him.
Caprica turns to look at him, as if she had forgotten he was there. “Can we take him?” she asks, her voice hopeful, and Wall-E looks to Boomer expectantly.
“What would he do?” Boomer is skeptical – she sees Wall-E only as a music-playing garbage compacter. He wishes he could convince her of his utility. His fingers nervously reach for the play button, but he resists, knowing it won’t help matters. He thinks of Hal – could he sneak his cockroach friend along too? The bug never made the acquaintance of the two Cylons, fearing for his safety, and Wall-E doesn’t know if the small cockroach would enjoy living on a spaceship.
“He would do what we all do. It would simply be adding one more robot to our fleet. He’s shown us his home these many weeks – why shouldn’t we return the favor?” Wall-E lets out a low hum of pleasure.
He boards the Cylon ship, a new piece of technology to his mechanical mind, and feels the hum of its robotic nature thrum through him. Boomer places her hand in something, and the ship begins to move. They are connected, somehow, and Wall-E feels a sense of belonging that he has never felt before. He often wants to place his hand in the same goo, to see if the ship will respond to him.
As days pass in outer space, Boomer begins to warm up to him, to tolerate his presence in her life. When he sees her smile at him, he makes a decision. He opens his now-unused garbage compactor and pulls out the small plant he rescued from the waste on the planet. He gives it to her, shyly, with only a small, “Wall-eeeee” to accompany it.
Boomer gently takes the plant from him, a peaceful expression coming across her face as she stares down at the little plant. “We’re all survivors here,” she says quietly, her free hand coming to rest on Wall-E’s head. He hums happily and thinks tomorrow he’ll see if he can steer the ship.