She had to sit down. She couldn't believe it. Yet how could she not? All the clues had been handed to her she had just refused to accept them. Her lack of pain and strength, her blackouts, and the way people had treated her should have made her wonder. Even Larry had questioned her humanity. Now, with this woman standing in front of her and with the Boss telling her to her face that she was an anthropoid, she could not deny it any longer.
She still wondered exactly how this could be real. After all she needed air to breathe, she bled, bruised, and she even thought independently. From this side of her anthropoid eyes it seemed she saw the same as everyone else. She didn't have infrared vision nor did she think in quantum bits (qubits) as the bots do. Of course the report mentioned the anthropoid utilized a unique AI system. Could it be sophisticated enough to trick her into thinking she's human? The reality of the concept of her being an anthropoid was so unreal.
Cynthia studied this Linda Aldin. Linda was a reflection of her, except she seemed very confident and smug now that she was no longer in constant pain. Perhaps we are not exactly alike, Cynthia thought.
Estevez too looked very smug. They seemed confident this anthropoid was working perfectly. Their confidence might be misplaced. As it is, she believed Estevez mistook her look of repulsion for confusion. "You are probably thinking: work on humanoid robots stopped over a hundred years ago. They were deemed impractical. The variety of bots we have today serve all our needs. What could be the possible use of an android?" The Boss' posture and hand motions looked as if he were giving a presentation. Perhaps he was. After all she was the only one he really had to convince. "That's the beauty of it. See, you're not a robot created to do menial tasks of fighting a fire or scheduling appointments. You have the most advanced AI in the world. You can design thrusters better than any human I've seen. You are capable of doing any job a worker can, and even some done by middle class citizens." He glanced Linda's way and she wondered if Linda didn't create her own replacement, literally. "You are not just a robot. You are the future."
It was as if he knew her thoughts. No, he must have been listening to her conversation with Sally. There was still something that bothered her. "Why make me so lifelike? Couldn't you just put my AI into a pedbot?"
"Of course, and we probably will. It will certainly be cheaper and the cost of repairs will go down. Look at all the trouble you went through to repair yourself. However, we needed to prove that the AI works flawlessly. It does; you didn't even know you were an android. True there is still much work to be done. This appearance will only make it easier for the populace to accept you and the others."
"You do not think I'd commission only one prototype did you?"
Cynthia wasn't sure how an anthropoid could have cognizance of right and wrong. Perhaps she didn't, but her processors or whatever she had, told her something was seriously amiss.
She was not going to just sit here and let them rule her like some bot whether she was anthropoid or not. She would not be a slave.
Cynthia abruptly stood and took a step closer to Linda. Linda backed off slightly in surprise but was otherwise unfazed. Linda pointed to the chair and commanded: "Sit down."
Cynthia did not obey. Instead she kicked backwards and knocked the chair over. She confronted Linda in a harsh voice. "What are you going to do now I know what I am. Turn me off and give me a new identity?"
The question went unanswered. The anger and resentment built up inside her. She had known when she first opened that folder that what they were doing was morally and ethically wrong. She knew that the proliferation of these anthropoids would destroy the human population.
Even now, knowing that she knew her true nature, she felt this more deeply. Not only was it wrong for all the people around her, but it was wrong for her. For the past couple months she had been living a false life. One that was not hers. She only could assume that the life she had been leading was that of the woman who stood in front of her now.
She now hated her life as much as she hated the woman for giving it to her. Cynthia resolved right there that she would no longer take part in this wrongdoing, this destruction of humanity.
"What is this? What's she doing?" Estevez previously amused by this drama grew serious. He began to act worried once she had been standing utterly still for almost two minutes. He played with a small control device in his hand for a moment. "Why isn't she responding?"
Linda shook her head. "I was afraid this would happen."
Linda gently took the control from him and studied it without anymore success than he had. "When your troubleshooting team went inside her, they forgot to replace the override system. When she returned to the lab a bot got in, and during a fight to get it out destroyed the override." She furrowed her brow in disgust. "I've never liked bots. They always got in the way. That's why I designed her."
"Are you saying we have no control over her?" The Boss reached to his desk for the swatter.
Linda grasped for her words nervously. "We can. I'm in the process of constructing a new device. In the meantime, I can deactivate her and leave her in the lab."
Even as her words left her mouth, she knew nothing would be good enough for him. The swatter, as it came around, grew brighter and more vivid. The blow from the energy could be enough to overload her nervous system and kill her.
Cynthia knew everything that was going on around her. Though she would take great pleasure in seeing this woman die, she could not allow it.
Surprising both Linda and the Boss, Cynthia stood between them. She was just at the right angle that would not allow the Boss to fire without moving or hitting her. Judging by the way they had both been acting; she would guess attacking her would be ruled out by the Boss. They needed this anthropoid. She was the first step in some ghastly project.
The Boss laughed, the swatter glowing angrily in his hand. He did not seem afraid to use it on either of the Aldins. He raised it aiming directly for her chest. She now was scared for her life, artificial as it may be. She needed time and room to think and therefore had to escape from this room.
The swatters shining tip loomed towards her. She had to act fast. With reflexes and agility she didn't realize she had, she lunged for him. Her left hand went for the swatter aiming it towards the opposite wall before it could do any damage. Her right forearm connected with his neck. She held it there as she shoved him back into the side wall. He was pinned, unable to move and hardly able to breathe.
From behind her Cynthia heard movement. She couldn't tell if the movement was directed towards her or away. She really didn't care. Either way, the woman could be trouble. Linda could be able to deactivate Cynthia or she would call security. She couldn't take any chances. She stole the swatter from Estevez and swung around shooting out while she held the Boss in place.
The beam sliced across Linda's legs. She screamed and fell to the ground. She had been approaching the anthropoid and still gripped at the carpet trying to claw her way to Cynthia.
Cynthia unalarmed for the moment looked back to the Boss who was getting a little blue in the face. She could kill them both and put a stop to this lunacy. However, she couldn't do that. She realized that killing would not help her. Besides she may need them to carry out the plan that was forming inside her.
She noticed that the Boss was now unconscious. She let him drop to the floor with a thud. She turned her attention back to Linda who was still grappling for her a pitiful sight. Cynthia couldn't help wondering if that's what she had looked like when Estevez assaulted her.
She weighed her options as she looked around the room and stepped over the poor woman on the floor. She reduced the energy level of the swatter and shot out at the woman. She no longer moved, fast asleep in dreamland, Cynthia supposed. Cynthia calculated they both would be out for ten to fifteen minutes at best.
It wasn't much time. She would have to initiate her plan quickly; beginning with the destruction of the swatter. She examined it quickly and determined how to set it to its highest setting for a prolonged period. She set it on the Boss' desk pointed at the opposite wall and stepped away. Almost immediately she could smell the burning circuits. Soon the energy pack within made a small explosion as it was breached, the destroying the dangerous weapon and a part of the desk.
She was halfway to the door when she turned back and began to think of the opportunity that lay before her. She knelt over her sleeping twin and began to undress her.
The door opened. She walked out calmly and confidently. 10NUD turned toward the door when she heard it open. "How did it go, Ms. Aldin?"
"Perfect. The Boss couldn't find words to describe it." She smiled as she noticed that the bot went back to work, never noticing the difference.
She moved through the door to the outside. The doorman floated aside to give her plenty of room. Obviously, Linda was a respected and feared individual. She was just outside the door when she heard it. A commotion arose on the inside. She looked back to see several security bots speeding down the hallway. She had to move fast. Applying speed she hadn't known before, she sped around the building and out of sight. She watched from behind a waste disposal unit as the bots fanned out in different directions in search of the lost worker. The Boss awoke sooner than she had expected. A bot moved right past the alley. It would not be long before another searched the alley itself.
She had to move on. She would take the back road home, collect Larry, and find a place of refuge. She knew there would be bots waiting there for her, but she was certain she could handle them. She moved to the back of the building and when she arrived, she was surprised at the sight.
Julion and a security bot stood there staring upward, seemingly at the sky. She had thought, according to the Boss' monitor, that they had already gone inside the building. She approached them cautiously. The security bot did not seem assigned to the search for her. Since she dressed the part she might as well play it.
"What is this?" A hard cold voice demanded.
Julion started then swiveled around. Of all the people in the city he least expected to see Linda Aldin here. At first he fumbled. When the words came, they came forcefully. Perhaps it was because she looked vulnerable; her uniform was torn and bloody in several places.
"You have a lot of nerve to confront me." She stood there pompously as if he didn't know what he talked about. "What, you didn't get enough of me last night? You just want to come back and hurt me to prove your higher class?" Julion figured he stunned her into silence he continued while he could. "Forget it Linda! I won't come crawling back to you this time. Your plan to destroy us with those freaks you created won't succeed. My friend and I here," he gestured to the bot who watched with fascination, "won't allow this to continue."
She smirked as if she were holding back laughter. "Oh, I quite agree."
Now Julion really didn't have any response. Was she toying with him?
The bot clarified the situation when he floated towards them. "Julion, this is not whom you believe it to be."
"What?" Julion leaned forward as if the closer view would help him examined the middle class woman better, perhaps the uniform was deceiving? After all Linda probably wouldn't be able to walk if there were wounds under that bloody uniform. "Cynthia?" Julion wasn't sure if he was somehow hallucinating, or if she really was the android and offering her help.
She nodded, almost sadly. Julion figured because her disguise did not deceive him for long.
Cynthia addressed the bot. "What is your designation?"
The bot didn't hesitate. "You of all people should know; I am Larry."
"Larry? What are you doing here? What happened you?" She seemed quite pleased.
"We were attempting to rescue you."
"Well, forget about that. I have a plan. First, since you obviously know my innards better than I, Julion, you have surgery to perform."
He couldn't believe it. "You know?"
Now she did laugh. "If I didn't, why would I be dressed like this?" She placed her hands on her hips emphasizing her uniform.
He had to admit he had wondered why she was wearing a that uniform. She must have had a mighty adventure before she came here.
"What do you intend?" Now he was interested in the rest of her plan. He realized if she were really on their side, then it would be a great irony to use the Boss' own android against him.
She looked to Larry and back to Julion to ensure both were paying attention. "Any time now, Linda will be returning to the lab and from there she will be able to control me. I want you to deactivate my recall circuit and any thing that will allow them to track me. But first we need to get someplace safe. They're looking for me."
Julion knew what she was talking about. He knew he could easily deactivate it. Julion turned to Larry.
"Prepare an area out of sight where we can have a little privacy. You do still have your tools from the medical clinic, don't you?"
"Of course, a bot never parts with his tools." He almost sounded offended. Larry moved off farther down into the alley.
After the bot moved out of earshot, Cynthia took hold of Julion's arm. "I have a favor to ask you. It may be hard for you but you have to do it."
"What is it?" He may not tell her out right, but after speaking with Larry and to her for a short while, he was starting to like her attitude, though just a little. She was friendlier and more confident in him than Linda. She reminded him of a woman he once had been romantic with. He shook himself out of it, before the memories started to come back.
"Once we're finished with my plan, and I'm sure that everything is under control: all anthropoids, including myself must be destroyed." She said it with such calm. Did she realize she was talking about suicide? She may be mechanical, but she was alive. Wasn't she? Cogito, ergo sum. She thinks there for she is, right? This woman was smart; he had read up on her designs, she made her own decisions; what she asked of him was proof of that, she seemed to care about others; Sally had told him how Cynthia defended her the other day, and she was self aware now. How couldn't she be alive?
He nodded but deep inside him he rebelled. He could not tell her he wouldn't be able to kill her. He may be strong and willing to destroy bots, but bots weren't alive. If he didn't see her as a real person, he may have agreed without hesitation, but now he wasn't sure.
Larry returned saying "There is a radioactive containment unit that should shield us from the bots' sensors for the time being."
Julion reluctantly led her over to the spot Larry selected. After she lay down, she looked up to him in concern. He knew she had no idea what to expect and he felt for her. He thought about deactivating her, but it was not necessary now. It only had been to keep her identity a secret from her.
Julion moved his hand tentatively forward. When she was just an android lying on the table, he didn't give a second thought to opening her up and exposing her circuits. His fingers brushed lightly against her breasts and jumped back immediately. She frowned. Her expression obviously asked him why he was hesitating. He looked her in the eyes, in what he hoped revealed total honesty.
"It's not often that I undress females willingly." He said with a sly smile. "You, ah, don't mind do you?"
She understood and with one swift motion ripped her blouse open. "Is this better?"
He rubbed his chin and shook his head. He found her boldness somewhat enduring. He motioned for Larry.
The bot floated forward and held out his scalpel, anticipating its need.
"It should only hurt when I make the incision." Julion told her. He had nothing that would numb her sensors.
Julion took the scalpel and the small beam made a precise incision and cauterized at the same time. Cynthia flinched, she may be a machine but she still had a nervous system that registered pain. He gave her a look that said "I'm sorry" but continued cutting. He cut quickly to reduce the pain. When he finished there was a cavity just below her breasts.
Small semiconductors, cables, and other components became visible beneath the area where her skin had been. Though using the same principle as their ancestors of the twentieth century, these components were smaller, had a higher function capacity.
Now to choose the right cable that provided power to the recall circuit; there were five of them. The circuit had several hundred connections to it most were address and data lines. Only the five cables reached to different boards that could not connect directly with this one. He took a moment to decide which was the power cable then he simply unplugged them all.
No lights turned off nothing indicated that anything had changed. He looked at Cynthia's face that also went unchanged. It was obvious she didn't feel anything. A good sign. With the scalpel he severed the chip's connections to the board.
Larry leaned over his shoulder examining the "surgery." He asked with a lower volume. "You are sure that was the right chip?"
Julion looked over his shoulder offended; he was an expert in his field. "Of course. I studied her schematics exhaustively."
"Albeit, you did not know which was the power connection."
"Smart ass." Julion said under his breath. Cynthia laughed at their exchange. Julion moved on as if nothing had happened. He plugged all the cables back in, as not all of them went only to this one chip.
"Hand me the stitcher." The bot handed him a long, cylindrical device with a glowing tip. For an instant, Cynthia registered a look of utter terror. Julion paused not understanding. He would ask about this later. Her panic subsided as he moved it along her abdomen and closed her skin mending it molecularly together with energy and not the cat gut that was so popular years ago.
"All done." He exclaimed as he tossed the stitcher into Larry's took kit.
Cautiously, Cynthia felt her torso. There was no blood, no scars, and absolutely no indication that she had been intruded.
She closed her blouse and sat looking around surveying the area. There was no security cameras here, but a patrol would come by sooner or later. "We need a place to stay until nightfall. Is your place secure?"
"If you mean, will they look there?" Again he shook his head. "I doubt it. I was kind of fired last night after telling Linda where she could put this secret project of hers."
Cynthia stood and brushed off the back of her legs. "We better take the alleys. The bots should search here last and the radiation containers will keep us partially shielded."
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please send me any comments you might have, good or bad. Copyrighted 2008 by Christine Schnell. Go ahead and share it with others just keep my name with it.