Reila listened to the quiet whir of her machinery buzz. Her faceplates shifted, each poking out just a bit before sliding back into place. There must have been a rhythm to it all, a purpose, a reason; the ‘it’ being the way of life that included androids living among humans. Within days, a complete change in human culture sprouted from the roots of technology. Robots existed among humans in peace. Reila herself was the latter portion of this project ,since she was Lombard Labs’ latest model- a Model R android.
As several hundred individuals, human and automaton alike, shuffled inside the crowd, Reila stood aside, examining, observing. Reila paused, taking a deep breath. Of course she knew that she didn’t need the combination of nitrogen, oxygen, and the puny percentage of carbon dioxide that made up the air to function, but ‘breathing’ was a habit that had originated somewhere in her past. Copying certain human habits relaxed Reila. However, she wasn’t supposed to need to be calmed down. Her program was meant to enforce strict protocols that limited her focus to her mission, though they never did.
Reila always pondered on the question of why androids had been created in the first place if they only copied humanity, but her stored memory always resurfaced to answer that- androids existed as an experiment gone global and used as peace-keeping tools. Robots felt nothing- no empathy, no compassion- so nothing could interfere with their mission for peace. They could tell if someone was guilty or innocent within seconds from collecting data and analyzing suspects. Eventually, the automatons began to roam among humans to create the current lifestyle.
Reila blinked slowly, watching the sea of androids and humans shift. Had she ever told anyone the results of her self-examination on the emotions that interfered with her coding? Absolutely not. If she did, she could be sent back to her creator and be shut down. Reila’s metallic hands twitched nervously just at the thought of it. Terror began to claw its way into her mind, lurking in the darkness of her machinery. There were those pesky emotions again.
Reila shuffled to the side, a shadow dipping over her shoulder and spilling onto her chest. A large, ominous wave in the ocean of androids and humans caught her eye. Reila watched a rumble emerge between two large male humans and an automaton on the opposite side of the packed street.
Reila narrowed her eyes, her optics focusing on a single individual. Consumed in shadows, a young woman was tensely staring at the aggressive men beating the robot mercilessly. She seemed to be holding herself back, and it was quite obvious with the scowl that was smeared across her darker-skinned face. Her curly, black hair was messily tied in a bun, and her hazel eyes darted from the humans to the automaton, who was lying lifeless on the ground- not that it had a ‘life’ to begin with. Reila stared at the broken android, a metaphoric chill running up her metal spine. Its face was cracked and bent, almost deformed, from the beating. Reila glanced back to where the woman was supposed to be, but found empty space occupying her place instead. She stared at the space for a moment, examining every last detail, before moving off. With no malfunctions yet, Reila still had the freedom to roam as any other; the key word being ‘yet’.
Reila stared down at the cement. A dark stain ran down from where she stood to the end of the pavement, its black outline clear. Unease gnawed at her internal machinery where a human stomach would be as she could almost see the shattered face of the android staring up her with its dead eyes. Her optics shifted, blurring and focusing in some odd pattern.
The street was just as busy as always. Reila restlessly pondered on the broken automaton that had been dragged away, leaving a puddle of black blood staining the sidewalk. Reila noticed a sharp piece of metal sticking out from the cracks in the cement. She grasped it between her alloy fingers, examining it. “Model Q” was printed on the shard.
Reila swiftly shoved the fragment into her back pocket, glancing around. She sped off, slipping into alleyway after alleyway, her footsteps quickening. She skidded to a halt, her optics focusing. She pulled the shard out from pocket, her metal finger wriggling as she felt a small hole in the side of the pocket. As she drew her hand and the piece out of her pocket, she noticed a tiny splotch of her black “blood” smeared across her finger and the shard.
SELF-ANALYSIS IN PROGRESS
Reila blinked, the bolded words flashing before her eyes. The percentage of complete analysis climbed to 100%, and then the words “SELF-ANALYSIS COMPLETE - ZERO ORGANS DAMAGED” appeared in green before vanishing.
“Organs,” Reila scoffed, rolling her eyes. An android will organs when pigs fly- or when, pigs could sprout organic wings. Some pigs could already fly with artificial wings, which was unnecessary, but who cared at this point? Engineers were busting out useless products for fun nowadays. Sometimes, you might even see a pig fly overhead. Reila found that quite unnerving.
Reila pressed her back against a cream-colored stone wall, which was rare since most buildings were so advanced that they were completely made out of high-tech, protective metals. Reila froze, her eyes staring straight ahead. “LOCATION: JJOKBANGCHON DISTRICT, 37.5665° N, 126.9780° E” faded into Reila’s vision, clarifying her minor confusion. She glanced about at the poor community, quietly peeking around each corner. No androids roamed here, just individuals rushing to get back home, assumingly to their families. It was silent here. No crowds clogging the roads or beatdowns occurring in the middle of the street. The silence was almost startling. It was piercing and new and... fresh. Reila’s mechanisms buzzed louder than a scream. The android sucked in the air, its icy chill slicing through her metal body like a knife. Her faceplates rhythmically popped out of place before shifting back into their spot.
Reila slowly turned to see the familiar face of the woman. Half of her face was covered by a wavy clump of her dark hair, but Reila noticed that she had large round glasses on today. The woman’s eyes narrowed as her hand went to her pocket, where Reila could spot the deadly gleam of a knife.
CHANCES OF DANGER: 89%
Through her panic, Reila could recognize the woman mouthing, “Spare parts.”
“Wait-wait!” Reila exclaimed, shattering the quiet of the atmosphere. The woman’s eyes flew wide, quickly stuffing her weapon into its case.
CHANCES OF DANGER: 44.5%
“What...?” Reila whispered, her thoughts racing.
CHANCES OF DANGER: 26%
The woman looked Reila over, her eyes suddenly sparkling with curiosity as she paused.
CHANCES OF DANGER: 3%... 2%...1%
“Androids aren’t supposed to feel fear,” the woman muttered.
CHANCES OF DANGER: 100%
Reila held the woman’s eye, her mechanics examining the female.
NAME: SONNY CALLAN REW, AGE: 23 YEARS, GENDER: FEMALE, CRIMINAL RECORD: DISMEMBERMENT OF (3) ANDROID(S).
Reila shifted uncomfortably at the last statement. She slid her foot across the pebbles that rolled against the snowy ground, ready to sprint back to the crowded roads she was so used to. She sucked in the icy air, its chill almost causing Reila to shiver. Or, maybe it was the ominous feeling that permeated the air and intoxicated Reila’s mechanics that caused her reaction.
“That can’t be a flaw in the code,” Rew mumbled to herself, her eyes darting about in confusion. Anxious to calm the woman’s suspicions and get away from her, Reila stuttered, “I-I’m not... It’s not a flaw in my code.”
“There! Again!” Sonny exclaimed, pointing to the android excitedly. “Robots don’t stumble over their words. And androids don’t say ‘I’ or ‘my’. At least, none of them do- except you.” Sonny squinted suspiciously at Reila. Reila panicked, searching for some reasonable explanation to the phenomenon she had never understood herself.
Of course, Reila hadn’t forgotten the sharp blade that still poked out of its casing. She glanced at the holder that was hoisted onto Rew’s waist, its leather speckled with minute snowflakes. Reila’s mechanical fingers twitched anxiously as she narrowed her eyes at the blade. She felt herself take an uncomfortable step backwards as every metal bone in her android body screamed to flee. The famous ‘fight or flight’ reaction applied to androids, Reila supposed.
Sonny caught Reila’s optic, tracing the direction of the robot’s gaze to the leather casing of her knife. Her hand drifted to the blade’s non-pointed end, her fingers slowly outlining the engravings dug into the material so long ago. She wrapped her fingers around the end, gently lifting it from the case.
Sonny hesitated for a moment, gazing down at the knife’s gleaming silver surface. Resolved, she tossed it to the ground, almost perfectly in between her and the nervous android.
“Now,” Rew asked, “can we talk like human beings?”
To be continued...