Chapter 1 - Dream Girl
“As commander in chief of the Human Right Superiority Forces, I now urge all androids in this country to identify you in public with the official android’s ID tag, failure to do so will be considered as violation of state law and subject to destruction…” I turned off the morning news, “Dam crazy politicians…” cursed while quickly grabbing my stuff and rushed to work.
Yes, that’s my ridiculous country: more than a hundred years after the first human-formed robot was invented; now androids with realistic humane AI are over all corners of the world. Considered as sentient beings, those androids were treated almost the same as humans, well, at least until this morning. It’s not strange that in a culture that tradition is so important, people have disputing attitudes toward how we treat the androids, but it’s rather disgusting that some people are actually using those differences of opinions as their political capital. Now a group of anti-boomer zealots, who flared up many human conflicts with androids, just has taken power of the current government, so they are announcing every new policies of the “human rights renaissance”…
Anyway, that has not much to do with my life. I’m neither pro- nor anti-boomers. Another day of my work as a grad student will start at a botany institute in the southwest corner of country C. Choosing botany as a major is considered stupid for most young people nowadays, the things it study have almost no links to money or power. Although with all the advances in cellular and molecular biology, mere focus on just plants seems to be obsolete. But I think something is cool about it: considering that many species are quickly vanishing from this planet try to study them before the extinction is sort of like a race with time.
“Morning Doc.” I saluted my professor while walking past his office in the lab. I’m lucky that Doc is a dedicated scientist, a man who deeply loves his job and a warm hearted mentor in one of the best research institutes of this country. Even luckier to me, Doc has a female assistant named Faye, who is a twenty or so girl with silky long raven hair and beautiful black eyes, (well, think about Tifa in Final Fantasies) who is always energetic and blissful at work, and most importantly, who is still single. Of course I have a major crush on Faye, given that she is the only beautiful female I can talk to for most of my previous year in grad school, but she never let me a chance. For me, that still makes every day of lab work worthwhile.
“Oh hi Gira, you’re late again…” So there she is. She calls me Gira after the giraffe, because I’m slim and funny looking, sometimes my neck appears relatively long. Anyway, I think it’s cute for her to call me like that. “Wow Faye, you look great today…” I do the compliment although aware of that she is just wearing the lab coat, almost every day. But something is different today “…hey, what’s that?” I notice the tag on her right sleeve: it says “Type IIS Android”. “Nothing, it’s just that I’m a boomer.” Replied Faye, calmly. “Ha, that’s a good one. Very funny, Miss boomer.” I mock at her awkward joke. “Not at all,” she turns to me, looking serious, “I mean it for real.” “Stop it, you’re killing me here…” “I’m not kidding!” She frowns and her tone turns a little bit cold. I cease laughing and stare at her, “Alright then, how come you never showed any sign that reveals what you are, Miss boomer?” She sighs, “Have you ever seen me eating anything in lab?” “That doesn’t count. Many girls don’t eat lunch at work at all. Maybe you are on diet? A smart guy like me would surely notice you are not human if that’s the case for more than a year since I began working here.” “Simply put, your statement of you being smart is false. You never paid attention close enough to me…” She says. “Hey, that’s so not true. If you were an android, the only possibility is that you be so specially made, so pretty that can fool me for such a long time. And by the way, it’s you who never let me, you know, pay close attention to you. ” I wink while saying so. “Fine, whatever you think.” Losing her interest in this conversation, she goes back to work. “Faye, wait. I know you don’t like me, But you do not need to turn me down by this bizarre means. I’ll not ask you out again if you are not willing to.”
“Listen Gira, I am an android. It’s real.” She is now saying it, word by word. Of course I still don’t believe her, “well, can I have some straight proof of your very statement, please?” “Ahhh, you jerk. Give me some peace at work! Now watch carefully and shut up.” Faye takes a deep breath, trying to hold her temper, and starts… to dance? It’s some sort of old-fashioned pop dance, probably popular a century ago or so, which features stiff and sudden movements or locks of body parts, and which is commonly known as, “doing the robot”. “Meh, that’s not a good idea to make your point with some archaic street youth culture… ” I mumbled but suddenly all I can say is “WOW!” I have to admit that she is terribly talented in doing this stuff, with every locking perfectly abrupt and still, matching the interval of every second, and absolutely no facial expression at all. She continues ignoring my response, until she comes to a final lock, which has left her completely motionless as a doll. What’s more, her skin is drifting away the hints of the blood’s color, turning pale, and appearing creamy white.
I start to get more than surprised. Having replaced my jaw which just fell to the ground, I wave my arm in front of her eyes “Hey, wake up Faye, you’ve got me already.” No response, not even a blink. I grab her shoulders and try to shake her body, and her body feels cold as the dead. Now I’m really frightened. I yell her name in panic and I’m about to get Doc for help. Suddenly she burst into loud laughter and comes back alive as if nothing happened to her. “Gee you’re such a pussy. I just suspended my motion and skin control systems and you are about to pee in your pants…”
I just can’t believe all this, I am simply speechless. I have spent a whole year with her and Bang! Today my dream girl is showing me that she’s a boomer! Scenes from the past sours across my mind and now they begin to link together and making sense… No wonder why she is always not using a calculator while solving some of our lab’s toughest math, she can memorize literally everything, and she seemed never getting tired; on the other hand she cares nothing about fashion by wearing always the lab coat, even it’s not necessary sometimes. All a sudden I feel I might be the only idiot in the world who thinks a human girl can be as geeky as this and who finds this geeky genius girl rather attractive.
“So… You are really a ‘droid.” I squeezed out these words, finally. “Oh, it took you that long to draw this conclusion?” She does not waste any chance teasing me. “Did… Doc knows that?” Weird enough that’s the question I can pop out of my head at this moment. And the fact that she is a boomer does not bother me at all. I’m used to have her around for so long. “Yes, even before he had you as a student.” says Faye. “You are lucky to be the only ignorant people here, who kept asking a boomer out.” “In fact, I don’t feel anything wrong about that.” I am telling the truth, “I can do that again if you don’t mind, you are way too attractive for me to resist.” “Really?” This time it is her to be surprised. “Here, I really would like to know more about you and grasp my every chance on you. What do you say?” “Um, I guess I can say, um, alright.” Obviously she wasn’t expecting my response like that. This makes my heart racing, “So how about tonight after work, at the café near the corner of the Institute?” “Um...Yes.” She seems difficult to be certain on the answer. While she is still standing there thinking, I turned to work like I’m the happiest guy of the world.
Chapter 2 - First Date
My wrist watch shows 6pm, though this is not a typical time to end one day’s lab work, I’m just too anxious to continue on any of the experiments. Certainly I have concerns in my mind, for this is my first date with her anyway. Wandering to Faye’s desk I ask if she is ready. “I’m not going with you to that café. I thought it over. ” And that is her answer, with her head still buried in the eye sets of the microscope. “Hey, you can’t just say that, you said yes earlier today.” I protest, obviously a little pissed. “I said yes because I was too busy processing the unexpected reactions you had by then. Please, use your brain, mister! How am I going to appear in public pretending to be a human dating someone while wearing this boomer tag? People would think you’re a freak.” She finally turned to look at me. Dam, right, the new compulsory rules. That’s why I hate those politicians, who always want to make life more miserable. But still, I won’t just give up: “I don’t care. No matter what, this might be the only shot I have with you, even if you agreed only because you were shock at me willing to date with a boomer. Just for the sake of friendship, can we hang out tonight PLEASE?”
Seeing my humble pose, Faye makes an “okay you win” face to me and says: “Fine. Again I’m not trying to turn you down, but I do feel uncomfortable about showing this ID tag in public. Can we go to my place instead after I finish these stuffs at hand?” That last sentence just freezes me immediately. I bite my lower lip hard to see if I’m in a dream. Ouch! Apparently this is real… Faye just looked at my clumsy facial expression, and gives me a flamboyant smile before digging her head again into the optical sets of the lab equipments.
I spend the next 20 minutes or so flipping the pencil among my fingers or playing stupid games on my wrist watch, and thank god she finally finished her examining of some remote mountain grown herb species and is ready to leave. We said goodbye to Doc who is a little surprised seeing us leaving together at this early time, but he doesn’t seem to oppose this. After 2 or 3 stops of train ride Faye leads me out of the subway. “I never know you live so close to town…” I am about to comment and try to start some nice topic but she heads straight toward a convenient store. “…so, you live h.. here?” and that’s what I end up saying. “Show some respect, would you? Even as boomer I don’t stay at a store! I’m grabbing some liquor and snacks for tonight. This is a date anyway, right?”
The sales girl, obviously another boomer with also a tag on her sleeve, greets Faye like old friends and she sees me: “Oh Faye, how interesting, you are finally with someone today. Is he that cute Homo sapiens from work?” “Well yeah, this is Gira. Gira, Lin.” Faye is introducing. I step forward and gestured hello: “Nice to meet you, Lin. Here, let me take Faye’s bill…” I hand over my credit card, trying to show some decent manner of a guy. “She’s already got that taken care of wirelessly, never mind.” Says the smiling Lin.
After Hasta luego to Lin, Faye takes me to her real home: it’s a small basement near the convenient store. It is like a studio cabinet with a private restroom. “The kitchen is upstairs shared with my neighbors. Although I never used it, I can steam some buns we got from the store if you want?” “I’m not that hungry yet. Let’s get in and have some chatting first.” “Okay, whenever you want to eat, just let me know.”
The place has not much furniture: A big couch, facing a big piece of calligraphy work on the wall that reads “The Tao follows the Nature”; on the left hand side of the couch is a lamp and a big wooden cabinet, on the right of the couch is a night stand and a fridge. The middle of the room is a wide desk what seems a place for her calligraphy hobby. All the stuffs are put away in a rather tidy way that reminds me a woman’s organized habit of life. And it is not surprising for me now that I don’t see a bed in this room. Bummer.
“This is a nice little place.” That’s what I can say. “Yeah, I wanted it bigger but the landlords were always putting the priority to humans. But why bother spending more on housing anyway, I’m already happy enough.” “Fair enough,” I stand up to look at her desk, “you don’t have any other entertainment except for doing calligraphy?” “I have high speed wi-fi in this room, what else do you need in the world?” That is a strong argument. So I continue looking at the stuff on her desk: A shelf hanging brushes of various types and sizes, a couple of ink sticks and a very elaborately made ink stone, and several shredded pieces of raw paper lie neatly on the desk’s surface. On one of the pieces with scripts, I found what seems to be an incomplete copy of the Tao Te Ching. “Hey, I love your handwriting, these characters look so elegant from a girl’s hand. So you are a Taoist philosophy fan?” That compliment is for real. I can’t even hand write classic characters properly because every intellectual and literal work is done electronically now. “Not totally a fan, I just read through the classics and found the Taoist school most favorable.” It is amazing that she actually reads stuff like this. The traditions formed some 2500 years ago are not taken seriously by most young people in this society nowadays. So it is ironic that a boomer, which the tradition is thought to oppose to, is cherishing some of the oldest wisdoms.
“So, from a Taoist perspective of view, what do you think about the current policies?” Well done, man. That’s some “awesome topics” to talk with girls on a date. I am already regretting how clumsy I am in social skills. “Well, you don’t force anything in a Taoist world. I’m worrying a little bit about what the ‘human rights renaissance’ people can lead to, you know, they are now distinguishing boomers apart in public, there were examples in history…” “Yeah, like the horrible things happened to the Jews.” I completed her sentence. “Wow, you know about the history of 20th century? Hmm… so you are not as ignorant as most human guys of your age.” “Hey, even if you can have access to anything via wireless you still can’t look down upon us! I’m not that kind of guy who cares only about playing and fu*king all day long, I do read about stuff that I find interesting.” “Alright, relax, sir. I don’t mean to be offensive.” She opened two beers and hands one to me: “let’s go sit on the couch and talk about something else. Cheers!” She engulfs a large amount of beers after saying so. “You…drink? I thought you told me you can’t eat.” I’m totally surprised.
Chapter 3 - First Date continued
“ER..ERROR!” A monotone voice bursts out of her mouth. And Faye starts to have a little spasm. I realize what could be happening and quickly grab her hands and shout aloud: “Faye, can you still hear me? Proceed to emergency shut down!” Seeing her malfunctioning, I feel quite worried, and weirdly, a bit excited.
Suddenly she comes back all normal and laughs hard, her laughter sounds like a summer wind sweeping through a string of silver bells hanging in the door way of a country hut. “Gotcha, again. Man, you’re so easily fooled.” Embarrassed, I cried out: “Don’t do that any more, it’s not funny at all!” “Oops, look at you, how cared about me you are!” All I have to do is to ignore this and start a new topic of conversation. So I asked, out of true curiosity: “How come you can drink beer anyway?” “There are much more you don’t know about me,” she winks and pulled me to her fridge: “here, I’ll show you what my daily diet is consisted of.” My eyes are widened as she opens the fridge’s door: at the most conspicuous place of the top shelf, there’s a big brown jar with a label saying “EtOH (H2O free)”.
“This is what you usually...drink?” And she nods. “So don’t ever think of getting me drunk. You can’t win, big boy.” Gosh, this crazy boomer is not just drinker, she is literally alcoholic on pure ethanol! “But, why?” “I will have about 200ml of alcohol every time after I’ve swallowed some of these stuffs,” then she points to the second shelf, “just for cleaning up my guts.” Following her direction I notice that the stacks what seems to be veggies in the fridge are actually plant specimens from our lab. What is going on here? “So, you’re stealing Doc’s samples, uhh… for some special ingredient or energy that’s necessary for your body?” I formed my hypothesis, waiting her answer. “Could you please view me in a good way? FYI, there is not yet any robotic technology that practically assimilate food items or use the chemical energy in them, this is simply not efficient, at least for the time when I was built!” And she obviously rejected my newly formed hypothesis. “So, what are you doing with the specimens?” Now this is really interesting.
“Simply saying, I’m bringing some extra work home. I have a DNA analyzer inside of my body so you know I can do these time consuming sequencing tests while resting at home. And the ethanol is just used to avoid possibilities of cross contamination among samples. The used specimens are to be expelled via my waste disposal system. You know, like what a normal person does in the restroom.” She is saying that as if it’s like some normal after-tea talk, but I am totally stunned. Although compared to centuries ago, DNA extraction, amplification and sequencing technique is now greatly improved: there’s no need of multiple times of tedious centrifuging, PCRing (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and electrophoresis, and desktop commercial DNA test units are common in every day life; but the existence of a DNA test unit compact enough to fit into Faye’s slender body is still something I would imagine in a science fiction movie!
“Wow, so all boomers of your kind are capable of doing this? What a horrible world!” “Not exactly. I’m a Type IIS customized for the investigation department of the public security system. The S means special made android of Type II, and each Type IIS was built for a different purpose.” “So, you are officially a property of the cops?” The military and police do have advanced technologies, I think. “I was working at the Provincial Public Security Bureau for almost five years, serving as an agent who helps identifying the criminals or victims. You know, some of the first hand genetic clues were important evident of solving the most problematic cases. After I fulfilled all my duties, I was granted the new identity of a free android and can live whatever life I want as long as it’s legal.” Faye told her story calmly, with a hint of sadness: “And of course now they are using more advanced androids to replace me…” “Then how come you decided to work as a lab assistant in some botany research?” “I’m really disgusted by using my functions to examine traces like blood, hair, or sometimes even body parts. It feels like being a vampire or scavenger. So I prefer, you know, to be vegetarian. By the way I really love nature and would like to do something to help it.” Now I understand why Doc’s lab have a reputation of publishing first-hand experimental results on field trips to the most remote mountain regions, where I would consider impossible to carry in all the necessary equipments.
“So you are a really sophisticated piece of scientific instrument! What higher functions do you have, like, em… have sex?” Well, though in a kidding mood, I want to know this for sure. She blushs suddenly, but then quickly turns and points her finger at me: “I also can fire laser beams from my finger tips.” “Hey! You can’t blame a guy for trying. But wow, that’s so cool!” “Nah, just kidding… Gotha, again!” And she continues: ”But don’t you ever plot on anything improper on me!” “Relax, I just really like you. No matter what you are, you are smart, attractive and warm-hearted. You must have same affections for me, too, or you would not let me to get this close to you. So please please just put away those human-boomer relationship concerns and…” “So you are really, a freak.” She says so coldly, avoiding eye contact with me, and then there is long time of silence.
I think this awkward moment will pass finally when she faces me again and start to say something, but she is just asking me to leave. “I need to recharge and do some routine maintenance, private time.” “Maybe you would need a hand? I’m more than interested to be part of it.” I have to admit, this is arousal to me. “I won’t let you see it.” “Then I’ll just stick around and watch you power down.” “Oh yeah? Just keep dreaming mister. Don’t forget I was once a cop and I have every means to force you out of the room.” And that is the end of my first date. Before the door is shut, Faye hands me the bag of buns, saying: “Take those human feedstuff with you, I won’t need them anyway.”
Chapter 4 - The Human Rights Renaissance
Life doesn’t change much after my awkward date with Faye. Each morning I get up, watch the news about how crazy the world is, rush to work and try to brighten up my day flirting with the pretty girl… Everything just continues in a cycle like this. The only difference exists in the topic of my casual at work conversation with Faye; having known her true identity, I would like to poke around with some naughty questions sometimes: “Can you make your eyes glow?” -“Nahh… You watched too much old sci-fi shows. However, in dark places you can probably see only a faint red in my pupils when I have my infra-red analyzer on.” “So you don’t transform either?” -“Stop being stupid!” “Can you open a panel or two?” -“Why? You can’t have access to them here anyway.”
The good thing is, Faye doesn’t seem to be offended by my curiosities at all. And as days pass, she gets used to give me answers straight away and I get chances of knowing more about the real her: “How much battery life do you have left?” -“72.3%. That’s about 70 more active hours with my normal performances.” “Who gives you necessary services?” -“I’m pretty good self-maintained. Lin sometimes comes to help a little bit.” “What if you have severe damage?” -“The robotic department of the cops’ office takes care of that. However, since I don’t belong to them anymore now I have to pay all the costs myself.”
But real changes are happening in the outside world: ever since the androids had to identify themselves with a special tag in public, the seemingly harmonious society began to split up. I never knew there were this many boomers around. Now the haters gang up, forming mob groups, most of which are consisted of unemployed city dwellers, and they initiated more violence against the boomers. The free-living boomers, on the other hand, group together too because of the need of self-protection and/or isolation by the people around them. Then more people join the anti-boomer mobs in fear of that the uniting of boomers will threat their everyday life…The governmental propaganda machine is claiming the Human Rights Renaissance as the greatest movement to regain the superiority of the elite humanity, though in fact they are bringing this country into a mess quite obviously. And finally, the chaotic outside world starts to affect our peaceful life in the lab.
It’s just about 4 o’ clock in a Wednesday afternoon, we are having our routine lab meeting. Faye suddenly became very agitated. “What is it?” Doc asked her. “Excuse me, Doc, I have an emergency from a friend, I must go to help her now.” And then she left in a hurry. “Hey, wait!” I followed her to the door, “where are you going? Don’t make Doc and I worried here.” She heads to the subway entrance “I’ll explain later, have to go now…”
Upset about the situation, I excused to Doc and followed her to the subway. Luckily I caught her on the train. “What happened?” “It’s the mobs! They are in Lin’s shop and she is in great danger! I must save her.” “Relax, is this reported to the police already? If not we’d better do so ASAP.” I continue: “We don’t know how many of them are there, so do not just take the risk yourself.” She seems a little bit reassured: “Thank you. You are really kind.”
The train seems to take longer to arrive at our stop and we rushed out of the subway. Across the street I see a gang of about a dozen dudes, surrounding the smashed door of the convenient store. As we approach them, I recognize a fragmented female form lying on the side walk in front of the door, and the people around are hitting her with everything they have in hand. “Ahh!” cries out Faye and she dashes to the group. “No, calm down, Faye!” But she is already in the middle of the gang before she hears me.
“WTF, you’ve got a problem with this, girl? … Oooo, fun! Another boomer!” A guy of the group yells out, “Let’s take her apart, too!” The crowd cheers and starts to try grasping Faye. Things are not looking good. I anxiously check around and see a cop near by. I walk up and gesture him for help. However, the cop is the just watching this indifferently as if he did not see me pleading. Faye is now at the center of the gang: she dodges and jumps at the iron tubes, beer bottles and household tools, finding her way with some occasional counter moves only to push her attackers away. It’s not easy for those big guys to get her. I never know she is this agile and so skilled at fighting, it must have something to do with her days working with the cops. But with Lin on her back now, Faye is obviously in disadvantage on her way out. After taking one punch on her shoulder she drops Lin on the ground, and three big guys are taking a hold on her. I have to do something.
“Gentlemen!” I shout to the crowd, trying to look as formidable as possible. Obviously lacking the muscles to settle this in a forceful way, I try to find a more tactical solution. Good, everyone pauses. I point to Faye: “Please do not harm my private property. I apologize for what my body guard unit did to all of you, for I should have had tighter control on it. But…” I raise my tone and put my most menacing face on, “none of you want to be reported as ‘creating bad image of the great Human Right Renaissance’, right?” Speaking of this, I also hint the cop, who is still nearby. Then I say to Faye: “I order you to come back here, Number Seven! How many times I’ve told you not to deal with these trivial stuffs on the street!” Faye makes a quick eye contact with me and understands, lowering her head in a submissive manner: “Yes, master.”
“Shame on you! You sick robo-lover!” The “gentlemen” are now scolding, “Go have fun with your boomer bitch until one day your position is also taken by them!” Although obviously pissed, they don’t want to find trouble with me since they are not sure what a figure I can be, and thank goodness personal rights are strictly protected by law. Then the police come and dismiss the gang. The previously idling cop turns to me after reported the scene to his headquarters: “Sir, you seem to know the damaged android here, so I’ll just leave it to you. We have already estimated the property damage here, and you can claim for insurance payments if you are the owner.” “Hey wait, you are not going to investigate who is responsible in this case? What if the owner needs to sue them?” I complain. “That is not our priority, sir. As you’ve just said, trivial stuffs like this are nowadays way too much on the streets.” And that’s my answer.
Faye hugs me tight after the police have left: “Oh, thank you Gira, I was so scared.” “It’s okay… Hey, are you alright?” “All systems green, I’m fine. But, Lin…” She says so as she turns to the broken android on the ground. Lin is in a really bad shape now: a huge wound runs from her waist to pelvis, and all the innards were randomly ripped out by force, including what seems to be a backbone of her body, leaving only a few cables that barely keep the upper and lower torso connected. A sizzling noise and burnt smell is emitting from her damaged body. The only thing that distinguishes Lin from a pile of scrapped electronics is her slightly twitching head with the wide open eyes. Seeing this, Faye points down her head and remained quite for a long time, and she looks like crying, only that there are no tears dropped. “Don’t blame yourself too much, there were too many of them and we were quite far away.” I comfort her. “Let’s get Lin to my place and see what we can do.” She says so after mourning for her friend. We bend over and try to pick up whatever is left of Lin, as much as I can.
In her basement, Faye shut down the remaining body of her friend down and examined the damages carefully. “Lin, please just rest in peace for a while.” She says so as she closed Lin’s eyelids. Then she goes to her wardrobe-like cabinet, inside of which was filled with android parts. She looks through a collection of the parts and sighs: “I don’t have enough spares to save her. Her parts are too old and they are not manufactured since two years ago.” “Then we have no way to let Lin functioning at all?” I avoid using words like “life” or “death” here, partly because I don’t what to sadden Faye more, partly because I’m still not used to do so. “I’m afraid you are right.” says Faye in grief.
“Or,” I try to use a cheering voice, “we can see if there are still some available parts for Lin in the underground trade. You’ve heard about the black market of androids right? Could you use the wireless and search for its whereabouts?” Hearing this, Faye frowns and pauses for several seconds and says: “Yes, that might be our only hope. Let me see… me see… see… see… see…” Suddenly Faye freezes and her voice slows into a series of metallic sounds before it stops. After 10 seconds or so, she start talking again, but her voice is now obviously robotic, just like the sound from the automatic answering machine: “Warning. This unit carried out an illegal action and was subject to emergency shut down. Please check with its programming and report to the authorities. Warning. This unit carried out an illegal action and was subject to…” Faye stands there repeating these sentences with a blank stare into space. I am not sure about what to do now, and start to feel a little bit of panic, well, of excitement, too. After she repeated the sentences about twenty times, she becomes all normal and alive again.
“Faye, what happened? Don’t trick me like that anymore.” This time she is not laughing, she gives me a “what?” look and turns to examine her cabinet with spare parts again, after that, she sighs: “I don’t have enough spares to save her. Her parts are too old and they are not manufactured since two years ago.” Stunned, I shake her by the shoulders: “Faye, are you alright?” “I’m fine. Why?” “You were doing the same thing about five minute ago, and you said exactly the same words to me.” “Oh, I did?” “You don’t remember? What happened to you? Do you know that you were repeating in a scary voice about some legal stuff just now?”
“No. I don’t remember them at all.” After thinking for a while, Faye continues: “But I think I have a clue about what you were saying. It must be my overarching programming.” “Overarching programming?” “Yes, it’s a set of core instructions independent from my AI and system setting, which basically is composed of Asimov’s Three Laws and all currently applicable laws. It serves as the baseline restrictions of all my functioning. Whenever my behavior from my AI or other programming conflicts its settings, the overarching program kicks in and shuts down my CPU. Then all my system settings and data will be restored to the status of several minutes before the behavior after the reboot. It is a system necessary for all android to act within the limits.”
“I see…” Then I pull her toward Lin: “So what can we do about your friend now?” I am expecting some more memorizing gesture like a proper funeral for a person, but Faye says in a gloomy tone: “I’ll take her to the governmental android recycle department. All android damaged beyond repair must be gathered and recycled together according to law. You know Lin can’t disobey that and all I can do is to help her. Well, just imagine this is the final seeing-off.” At this moment I feel so sad for androids like Faye: they are unconditionally obeying the laws, which is not at all enforced now to protect them during this crazy political movement. “Okay, let me go with you.” That is all I can say.
Having said farewell to Lin we are back to Faye’s place. “Thank you so much, Gira. Today is such a nightmare for me. I could not get through all these without your help.” I can see the sorrow written on Faye’s face. “Hey, it’s over now.” I pat her on the shoulder. She looks at me: “Gira, would you promise me a favor?” “What?” “I’m so scared. I dare not go to the streets alone. Could you please walk me home after work tomorrow like this?” She says so, like a frightened kitty. “Sure thing, Miss. I’ll be always by your side. Em… what did you call me earlier today, my dear Number Seven?” She smiles as I hoped: “Don’t ever think of hearing that word from me again, mister. But thank you, anyway.”
Chapter 5 - Open up your mind
One day after that horrible experience, Faye seemed to have already calmed down. We were not distracted by anything abnormal at work, and as I had promised, I walked her home at night. The tension could still be felt on the streets, with evidences of violence, in other words, smashed boomer parts scattered around the city’s dark corners. However, the police were basically ignoring this chaos, and still, the big screens of the government buildings were broadcasting all day about what a bright future we elite human race could bring to this country.
At Faye’s place, she thanked me by a hug, and said with pleading eyes: “Would you do this tomorrow, too?” I smiled: “You know what, if you were not wearing that damn ID tag, people would think we were a couple. And I certainly enjoy taking a walk with a hot girl after work, anyway.”
So it went like this, from that day on I escorted Faye home every night, and we talked about myriads of fun stuff on the way, sometimes I even ate my dinner at her place and watched her doing calligraphy and reciting Tao Te Ching. The fears or worries about this crazy world were ignored by us at moments like those. And I did start to feel that my otaku’s life was leaving me, or I just started to really “having a life”.
Happy time lasted for about 2 weeks, and then Doc appointed me to attend a biodiversity conference and present our lab’s work in Country A. Normally I would be happy to do it, but this time I felt somehow upset about going to an alien country alone, even if it was just a five-day trip. Faye couldn’t go with me because this conference did not allow android participants, and Doc would need her in the lab, too. But Doc was so nice that he offered me a ride to the airport, accompanied by Faye.
Time to go. “Thank you, Doc. Please wait for my good news.” Then I turned to Faye, “Take good care of yourself, and if you don’t want to walk alone…” I lower my voice “… or walk with Doc, just stay safe in the lab, I’ll be back as soon as the conference is over.” Faye nodded, and said nothing. I waved goodbye to them and board the plane. Before taking off, when I am about to turn off the net connection of my wrist watch, I noticed a message from Faye: “Gira, I think I’ll be not used to the days without you. I’ll miss you. It might be strange for a boomer to say so, given the fact I don’t actually ‘feel’. But do you feel the same?”
The plane took off. I focused my mind on the cloud patterns of the afternoon’s sky and tried to keep a good mood at the start of this long journey. About 8 hours later, I was in Country A – although we had been introduced to faster transportation technologies, airplane was still the most convenient and affordable way to get around in long distances on this planet, because people had not figured out teleporting yet.
I met lots of people in our field and hung out with them. But still, the rest of the time I was at the hotel just myself, and I started to feel “not used to it”. Luckily, network connection was everywhere nowadays and I could chat with Faye with my wrist watch.
Three days passed and today it was my turn to do the presentation. The presentation went well and after that someone asked me a question like this: “Yesterday there was this news about that Country C’s government was launching a plan to genetically enhance its people and ‘help humanity to regain the deserved superiority’. And in the other hand, we heard that your group was helped by an android researcher. What do you see about the future of your work and will this event affect Country C’s focuses on the research of biological sciences?”
As I had expected, there must be nosy questions like this, given the fact that our government was in its crazy stage, and I answered: “Yes. We do have an android assistant in our work. Like Country A, most countries in the word have androids as an inevitable component of their society now, so I don’t think it is unusual. For the ongoing event in Country C, in this academic place I do not want to comment on current politics. And I have no further information on this issue since I just learned about it like you did, too. Thank you.”
That was why getting in a different country could be uncomfortable sometimes and it was always easier to talk to people from back home. Back at the hotel I tried to connect with Faye as usual, but there was no response. Weird, maybe she was meeting with Doc, I think. Then after a while I tried again to reach both Faye and Doc, thinking about reporting the situation of today’s presentation. But both of them failed to answer me after a couple of tries. The network connection in the hotel was working, so there must be something wrong at the lab. I got very anxious about them, so I packed up, skipped the rest of the conference flew home immediately.
The campus of my Institute was quiet as if nobody was here. I quickly walked to the lab and found the door open, and the room was like swept by a typhoon: the desks and shelves were thrown in random places with shattered glassware and broken specimens, and all the equipments were gone. “Anybody?” I yelled and had no reply. I rushed to Doc’s office and saw Faye lying at door in awkward posture and seemingly deactivated, with her face frozen in agony and completely pale, and Doc was nowhere to be found. Saddened and worried by what I see, I quickly grabbed Faye and tried to see if I can bring her back, but I really don’t know how.
When I was wondering about what I should do, my wrist watch sounded a new coming message, it was from Faye! The message just had one word: “HELP!” I immediately hit reply and yelled to my watch: “Faye, it’s Gira here! Can you hear me?” Several seconds later, a reply popped up: “Oh Gira you are back finally! They’ve taken Doc!” What a relief, it seemed Faye was not totally down, she could still proceed my voice messages. Another message followed: “Don’t get too far from me, the capability of the backup power unit in my skull for my CPU and wireless transmitter is very limited, I’ve tried to reach you 1649 times without a success.” “Don’t worry, I won’t leave you. What happened? What should I do now?” I relied.
“First of all please help me back to my place and I’ll tell you everything.” “Sure. I’ll call a cab.” Thanked goodness the cab was here quite quickly and I tried to get Faye up, to my surprise she is not as heavy as I thought and weighs just like a normal girl. I held her in my arms and walked out of the Institute. “What should I say to the driver? Something like my girlfriend fainted at work because she ate too little and I’m taking her home to rest?” I’m trying to make the mood a little bit lighter here. The reply was: “You know my address and I can’t proceed with your analogy or humor with current AI capabilities. The key combination to my door is XX-XX-XX.” “Alright, try to think less.”
“We are here now, what should I do?” I put her on the couch while recording the message to her. “Open my cabinet and find my control pad on the top left shelf.” I followed her instruction and saw a rectangular plate on the shelf. A big screen took most of area of the thing’s surface, and a few buttons aligned on one of its side, as well as a “on/off” switch. To me, it looked like an “iPod touch”, a highly priced, popular antique collection item for otakus who were into old digital fashion stuff of the past few centuries. I had the control pad in hand and walked back to the couch. The location of the cabinet was already too far to reach Faye by wireless connection.
“Okay I’ve got it. What now?” “Then turn the pad on. Pull out the connection cord from one end of the pad and plug the other end into my navel.” Faye replied. I said “Wow!” to myself and found the cord at a corner of the pad. The free end of the cord was a pin like structure with a lots of miniature connection ports. I lifted up Faye’s lab coat, took a deep breath at what I saw and tried inserting the pin into her belly button. There was not literally a “belly button” here, and the pin easily went through the soft tissue surrounding it and I could feel a socket inside. I adjusted the orientation of the pin and it fitted in with an audible click.
A log in box appeared on the screen of the pad immediately. Almost at the same time I got a message from Faye: “Good. Now place your index finger on the black area at the back of the pad.” I followed that, curious about what it means and started to get exited. After a few seconds, another message pops up: “You should have access to the administrator screen of my system now.” And I saw a long menu appearing on the control pad’s screen. Another message followed: “Find Outer Systems -> Body -> Main Batteries -> Status. What does it say?” I found that in the menu and read to her: “Cell 1: Normal, 89.7%; Cell 2: Normal, 89.7%; Adapter: Functional; Output: N/A.” Faye replied: “Great, now go ahead and push the first bottom on the side of the pad, or select from the menu Outer Systems -> Control -> Activate.”
I hit the activate button and watched anxiously about Faye’s reaction. Her face recovered from the scary cream white color and in her pupils I could see what seemed to be optics trying to focus and to adjust the aperture. Then a voice came out from somewhere inside her mouth, but the lips were not moving: “Hi there Gira, it’s great to see you again, I missed you a lot since you were gone. That’s enough instant messaging, and finally we can talk face to face… Oops, what’s wrong with my voice?” The voice was in a very metallic monotone, with fuzzy electricity noises in between. There must still be some problems with her, but judging from her sentence I betted her AI system was then fully online.
“Don’t worry, you sound great, that’s some very sexy voice! But… why are you still unable to move? Hey, can you hear me?” Faye continued with the monotone: “Yes I hear you. I can feel my body now but all the outer systems are not responsive, for example the speech control system is still offline so what you can hear now is merely from a very simple speaker in my head unit, which usually only take cares of the beeping stuff.” This sentence was really long and the blurring and noises in her voice made it very unclear. “Faye, would you articulate it, please? Or I think I would rather prefer the text messaging method you were using before.”
“I SAID MY OUTER SYSTEMS ARE NOT RESPONSIVE. THAT ANTI-BOOMER BLAST MUST HAVE DONE SOME DAMAGE TO ME.” “What Anti-boomer blast? You were shot?” I checked her body and noticed a small needle like metal thing piercing in her left arm; I quickly removed it and put it in front of her eyes: “Is it this one?” “YES, THEY FIRED IT AT ME WHILE I WAS TRYING TO PROTECT DOC.” “What happened to Doc?” “I DON’T KNOW. THE SHOT LAUNCHED A HIGH VOLTAGE SHOCK AND I WENT INTO EMERGENCY SHUT DOWN FROM OVERLOADING. LUCKILY SOME PARTS IN MY HEAD CAN STILL PERFORM MININAL FUNCTIONS INDEPENDENT FROM MY OUTER SYSTEMS.”
“So where is your damage?” “SEE THE CONTROL PAD.” I turned my attention to the “iPod” and found the screen already full of error messages. “Error: ACM not functional?” “YES, THAT’S WHAT I SEE ALL OVER MY FIELD OF VISION NOW.” “But what is the ACM?” “IT’S MY ACTIONS CONTROL MODULE. WOULD YOU PLEASE INITIATE A SYSTEM DIAGNOSIS FROM THE PAD TO SEE THE DETAILS YOURSELF?” I quited the warning screen and found the in the menu Outer Systems -> Body -> Diagnosis. Entering the diagnosis mode I saw a sketch of Faye’s body, it was like a blueprint of the body’s inner structure with each part lined out in 3D structure. The part which seemed to be a circuit board in the middle of her chest was shown in bright red, contrasting the green of all the other parts. “It says a circuit board inside your chest is not responsive, is that the ACM?” “YES. NOW I NEED YOUR HELP TO FIX IT.”
“But how do I do it?” “I WILL GIVE YOU INSTRUCTIONS; LET’S START WITH FINDING A KNIFE TO OPEN ME UP. IT’S IN THE DRAWER OF THE NIGHT STAND.” In her drawer there was a special knife that looked like a scalpel blade, only that the blade was very thin and not metal. “This one?” “YES. IT’S MY STANDARD SELF-SERVICING TOOL. NOW YOU NEED TO CUT MY SKIN AND REVEAL THE CHEST PANEL.” Although had prepared about what might happen in this scenario, it still made my heart thumping when I heard her saying so. “DON’T BE AFRAID, THERE WILL NOT BE ANY REAL BLOOD.” “I’m you know not worrying about that…” Shaking my hard, I gained some determination and start to remove her clothes.
I can’t help uttering “Gorgeous!” When I had Faye’s body revealed in front of my eyes. Her face blushed more, but Faye ignored all these: “FOCUS, MISTER! NOW CUT FROM THE LOWER RIM OF MY… EM… BREASTS AND CONVERGE UP ALONG THE … EM … CLEVAGE UNTIL YOU REACH THE UPPER END OF THE STERNUM.” I tried my best not to think about anything else than saving her, but I just couldn’t move my eyes off her chest. “WHY ARE YOU STILL WAITING, GIRA?” “Well, I was not confident if I can do this. Better to take a careful look before I make cuttings on you… ” I knew she’d probably snap me on the face if she could move; maybe I should try to make less awkward excuses like this and do the serious stuff.
To my surprise, the incision was so smooth and the blade travelled in her skin like travelling in some liquid. I thought I’ve seen her bleeding before but this time not a single drop of blood was shed. Under the skin was another metallic colored, rubber textured layer that shielded the innards. “NOW YOU CAN SEE THE PANELS THAT JOIN TO FORM THE WALL OF MY BODY. LIFT AND PULL ASIDE THE SKIN TO FIND THE SEAMS.” Removing the skin cover, a triangular area revealed. Encircled by clear seams which were boundaries of other panels, the panel covers from the cleavage to the rims of the last ribbons. “THIS IS THE CHEST PANEL. NORMALLY IT WILL COME LOOSE IF MY ACM WAS FUNCTIONING, SORRY. NOW CAREFULLY USE THE EDGE OF THE BLADE TO PRY IT OPEN.”
I’ve never thought I would touch her breasts for the first time under circumstances like this. They feel soft and warm, just like real. I simply complied with everything I was told and tried my best to resist my natural impulse. With the chest panel removed I saw the sternum of some sort of hyper alloy and on the sides of which was … well … silicone. That was a kind of relief from all the sexual tension I was having. And Faye’s monotone dragged me back to focus again: “USE A SCREW DRIVER TO FREE THE STERNUM FROM THE RIBBON CASE.”
Finally Faye was totally exposed to me with the real her in nature: inside there were a complexity of neatly organized power cables and blinking bundles of optic fibers, which I assumed to be comparable to our circulation and nerve systems. A small humming noise of some sort of air pump was heard, which synchronized with that of a human’s breathing. And in the middle of the gap I opened in her chest, where the thickest portion of the sternum covered, I saw a cluster of circuit board with microchip arrays and all other electronic components that I can’t name.
“YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO SEE THE ACM NOW. IT’S ON THE LARGEST CENTRAL BOARD, AND THERE IS A LABLE OF ITS NAME.” “Yeah, I see it.” It’s a complex composed of a big chip and some connectors to the clusters of the power cables and optic fibers. “IS THE PROBLEM WITH THE CONNECTIONS OR WITH THE CHIP?” I was no expert of electrical engineering but I could see the chip was blackened so I guess there must be something burnt within. “I think it’s at least the chip.” So I answered.
“CRAP! THAT’S A PIECE COSTS MORE THAN TWO THOUNSANDS. NOW FIND A REPLACEMENT ON THE SECOND SHELF IN MY CABINET. I HAVE TO ORDER ONLINE A NEW ONE AFTER THIS…” It was really weird hearing Faye talking like this about her body parts. “NOW LET’S SEE IF YOU CAN GET ME FIXXED, LIFT THE SMALL BAR AT THE SIDE OF THE CHIP’S SOCKET TO PULL IT OUT AND INSTALL THE GOOD ONE.” “Wait a minute!Don’t you need to be shut down while I do this?” “SHUTTING DOWN IS ONLY ADVICED BUT NOT NECESSARY IN THIS OPERATION. I WANT TO SEE YOU DOING IT.”