K-2SO the 8L08-K1tt3h
The Custom Steamwork Ontra
Age: 1 year, 3 months, 5 days
Born: March 31st, 2019
Adopted: 1 year, 3 months ago
Adopted: April 5th, 2019
- Level: 2
- Strength: 14
- Defense: 10
- Speed: 10
- Health: 13
- HP: 13/13
- Intelligence: 55
- Books Read: 53
- Food Eaten: 0
- Job: Candy Maker
They didn't speak my language, or any of the languages of my people. My ship doesn't have translators, it doesn't even have life support. I don't need it, my bionic and mechanical body runs on radiation. I do not require food, or sleep. I wonder if they know that.
I was sitting in the corner when one of them came back. She had another one of those weapons trained on me from the moment she opened the door. I put my hands up, which as far as I'm aware is the universal sign of surrender. This seemed to satisfy her. In the hand not carrying the weapon she had a handheld computer. She held it up and said something in her language. She tapped something on its surface and I could feel information being downloaded on my hardware.
"Can you understand me now?" She asked.
I was surprised to find that I could. Whatever patch she'd sent me must have contained the language somehow. "Yes," I replied, finding the right word in her language easily, "How did you do that?"
She shrugged. "Surprised it worked myself. Your hardware is like nothing I've ever seen before. You are like nothing I've ever seen before. We keep our language download at the ready in case we run into a ship without a universal translator, but I had no idea if it would work with a robot."
"I'm not a robot. At least, not in the sense that my people had robots. Those were unthinking, unfeeling. Machines. I have a soul."
"Sorry," she replied, "I didn't mean to offend. My name is Jira, I'm the captain of this ship. Can I ask your name?" She lowered the weapon and holstered it at her side. Her dark eyes softened and she looked much less threatening than before. The transformation happened so quickly I nearly got emotional whiplash.
"I believe the closest translation of my name in your language would be Yore. You may call me that if you wish."
"Good to meet you, Yore. Can I ask where you came from? I don't mean to be rude, but with the war so shortly ended, well, you can never be too careful."
"My planet was called Shirayan. It's gone, now."
"I'm sorry to hear that," she seemed a little taken aback, "I hope you don't mind if we keep you here a little longer. When we scanned your ship we found no lifeforms aboard, just a bunch of radiation. I'm not reading anything radioactive on you now, but the ship's doctor wants to keep you quarantined for a bit just to be sure."
"My cores are well-shielded," I said, self-consciously touching my chest, "But I understand the caution. I do not mind the wait. This is a lot for me to take in, actually. My people knew there were other intelligent species out there, but we had never had the chance to meet any of them."
"Of course. Where are my manners, is there anything I can get you? Food? Water?"
"That won't be necessary. Time is all I need for now."
The captain nodded. "Here," she said, and she handed me the small computer she had used earlier to send their language download. "It responds to voice commands, so if you need to talk to me just ask it. You can also download anything else interesting you find in there, so long as it's compatible with your hardware."
"Thank you, Captain," I said.
She nodded and left, leaving me once more, though not nearly as alone as before.
I spend many hours going over the various files I was able to download from the computer. I learned their ship was a salvaging unit. Their people had fought in a terrible war that left their galaxy strewn with debris that needed to be cleaned up by ships like theirs. That explained why they had taken in my ship. It was so small and built so hastily it likely looked like a broken piece of a larger ship.
I also learned they had a crew of just four people. The Captain, who I'd met, a pilot, a doctor, and a mechanic. They had all been soldiers in the war. They had all suffered loss. I can't relate to war, but I can relate to loss.
I was engrossed in an article about the end of the war and the clean up effort after when the door to my room opened again. This time a young man with short black hair and a bag slung over his shoulder entered. He didn't have a weapon that I could see.
"Sorry to disturb you," he said, "I'm Neek, I'm a doctor. I'd like to examine you, if that's okay?"
"I can answer any questions you have, but I'd prefer if you didn't open me up. My insides are radioactive, as well as fragile," I offered by way of explanation.
The doctor looked a little uneasy at the mention of radioactivity, but he pulled a small computer like the one the captain had given me, and after tapping in a few commands, he seemed to relax. "I'll have to take your word for it. My scanners aren't picking up any radiation, which is good. Just a whole lot of energy. You're warm to the touch, aren't you?"
I looked down at my body, the moving metal parts. "I suppose. I don't feel temperature anymore, not like you do, but my body vents excess heat through the chassis, so that stands to reason."
"May I, um, feel?" he asked. He held out a hand to hover in front of my chest, palm out. He seemed flustered, and his cheeks flushed with heat of his own.
I took a small step forward, until his hand was flush on my chest. I could see him give a small involuntary gasp. He pulled his hand back and stared at me with renewed curiosity. "You really are amazing," he said breathlessly.
"Thank you," I said, not sure how to respond.
Neek shook his head, seeming to break himself out of revere. "Sorry, just not everyday we encounter someone like you. Actually, I've never seen anything like you before. You might literally be one of a kind. Yore, wasn't it? I have to know, Yore, who made you?"
"My father constructed this body," I said, "but my mind is my own. I was born once, just like you. My natural body was dying, and my father built this body to save to my soul from death."
"That's incredible. I'd love to meet your father and pick his brain some time."
"My father is dead."
Neek winced. "Sorry. Mine too. Two years ago. Still hurts to think about."
"Was it in the war?" I asked.
Neek looked at me in confusion. "How did you know about…?"
I held up the computer where I'd downloaded the information about the war. "Your captain gave me this."
"Oh, right. Yes, it was the war. We lost a lot of people."
"My planet was destroyed shortly after I left it. I know it's no consolation, but I do know how you feel, to have lost so many."
"I'm sorry, that's awful. Your whole planet? Wow." Neek looked devastated. I could relate.
I reached out and put a hand over his. This time he didn't pull away. "Did you need anything else for the examination?" I asked.
Neek shook his head again. "No, no, you're good. I'm not reading any foreign particles or diseases. You should be free to join the rest of the crew once I give the captain my report. Hill, our mechanic, is just dying to meet you. Don't worry though, I'll make sure she's respectful."
"Thank you, Doctor."
"Please, call me Neek." He squeezed my hand and smiled at me before turning to leave. "I'll see you again shortly," he promised.
"Until then," I said, and watched him go. It was strange, as soon as he was gone, I missed him. These people were the first ones I'd met since leaving my planet behind all those days ago, so it made sense that I would be lonely, but it seemed like more than that. Neek was different, I could feel it. I no longer have a physical heart, but I know better than most, that's not where emotions live.
A short while later, the door opened again. It was the captain again, instead of the doctor. I felt strangely disappointed at that. "Doc says you're clean. He seems to trust you too, which means even more to me than his medical opinion. Trust is in short supply these days."
"Can I see him again?" I asked.
Jira looked surprised. "The doc? Sure. Yeah, you can come meet everyone. There's not many of us, but the others are waiting in the kitchen. I've told them about you, from what little I know, and I'm sure Hill is pestering Neek for more details as we speak, but it's probably best if you come introduce yourself. Just let me know if you get overwhelmed. Hill in particular can be a bit...much. Sometimes."
"I will prepare myself as best I can," I assured her.
"Good luck," she said with a wry grin. She turned and beckoned me to follow.
She led me down a short and narrow hall, which had hatches on each door we passed. We got to the end of the hall after maybe 15 paces, and climbed a short series of rungs up into a wider room overhead. The soft voices inside stopped talking all at once when I stepped off the last rung.
"Holy fudgsicles, he's beautiful," said the owner of the voice closest to where I now stood. The girl, a head shorter than I and with a head of bright red hair, looked at me with hungry eyes. It made me a little wary, and I took a small step backwards, almost falling down the hole I'd climbed up out of. Neek rushed forward to grab my arm.
"Careful, mind the hatch!" he said to me. "This is all new to him, you promised you'd be cool," he said in a scolding voice to the girl who had spoken before.
"All I did was say he's pretty! And he is! Look at him, he's a work of art!" She said, waving her arms at me as if in explanation.
"He's a person, not an object!" Neek pulled me to a chair around the table that was bolted to the middle of the floor, "Sorry, I tried to warn you. That's Hill, our mechanic. She has no manners."
"I still don't see how that's an insult," Hill said, and she took one of the remaining seats at the table. Neek sat to my left, Jira, the Captain, sat to my right, and across the table sat an old man with a gentle face.
"My name is Amon," the man said. "You must have a lot of questions. Would you join us for a drink?" He gestured to a pitcher with brown liquid and small cups that were set out on the table.
"Thank you, but I do not drink. My mouth and teeth are for speech, not eating or drinking. But, I would not be offended if you drank in my stead. Please do not abstain on my behalf."
"Wait, so you talk the way we do? Like with a voice box and air and mouth shapes? That's so cool! I assumed there was just a speaker in there somewhere," Hill said. She leaned forward as if to better look at my throat.
"Let Yore ask the questions for now, Hill," Amon said patiently, "You don't want to be rude."
Hill shut her mouth instantly and busied herself pouring drinks for the rest of them.
"I guess my only question is, what are you planning to do with me? It is lovely to meet all of you, but only some hours ago I was alone and on my own ship. Now I'm here, and I don't know where my ship is."
"That's a fair question," Jira answered, "Your ship is in our hangar bay. You can have it back, of course, but the way it was running when we scooped you... It only has a short while before it breaks down completely and you're dead in the water. We talked about it, and actually we wouldn't mind taking you at least as far as the next planet with a repair center. Then you could get your ship fixed and be back on your way."
The others nodded in agreement. "We're only a few weeks away from the port at Carminia," Amon added. "You could get your ship refitted there. We are heading there ourselves to refuel and exchange supplies."
I looked around at the four faces around me. Neek smiled encouragingly, and it put my mind more at ease to see. "Alright," I finally said. "I don't know yet what I will do after that, but, it sounds like as good a plan as any."
"Yay!" Hill said and clapped her hands together.
"We don't know where we're going after Carminia yet either. We'll figure it out together," Neek said, and he squeezed my hand again. I decided I really liked the way his hand felt on mine.
"Welcome aboard," Amon said.
"I'll show you to your quarters," Jira said, standing up. "You'll still have free range of the ship except for the cockpit, but you've had a long day. Some rest might do us all good."
"I'll be in the engine room, if you want to come say hi later! I still have so many questions for you." Hill said, Amon shot her a glance and she added, "When you're ready, of course." She left down the same hatch where Jira and I had entered earlier.
"I can show Yore his room, Captain. If you don't mind? I need to get something out of my room before returning to sick bay," Neek offered.
Jira nodded. "That's settled then. We can reconvene at 18:00 hours for supper. Until then, crew dismissed."
"It's this way," Neek said, taking my hand once again. I allowed him to lead me to the hatch, and we climbed down into the lower hall.
"I don't actually need to get anything from my room," Neek said quietly once we were out of earshot of the others, "I really just wanted a chance to talk to you again."
"Oh," I said, unsure of what else to say.
"I hope I'm not being too forward. It's just, it's been a really long time since we've had anyone but the four of us to talk to, you know, face-to-face. Long-distance communication sucks, and I don't really have anyone else out there I want to talk to, besides."
"I don't know anyone else in the universe but now the four of you," I said.
Neek looked at me, with understanding sadness in his eyes. "Yeah. Sorry again."
I shook my head. "Don't apologize. It happened, we move on. We never forget."
"You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to, but, if you ever needed to, they say I'm a pretty good listener," Neek offered.
"Thank you, Neek." I paused and looked into his eyes. He was surprisingly easy to talk to, even after only having known him less than a day. "I may just take you up on that sometime."
Neek smiled. "Good. We're here, by the way," he reached out and pushed open a hatch, smaller than the one into the kitchen. "This will be your room, for as long as you need it."
I glanced inside. It had a bed, a sink, and some shelves built into the walls. Small, but tidy.
"It's not much, but it's home, you know?" Neek said.
"Home," I said. I hadn't used that word to mean anything but my planet where I came from, now destroyed and floating dead in space light years away from here. I looked at Neek, and he pointed to the hatch across the hall from mine.
"That's my room. You should come by sometime, maybe after supper? We can play cards or listen to music, or whatever you'd like to do for fun."
"I'd like that."
"Good." Neek smiled and waved. "Well, I have to get back to sick bay. That's where I do all my research. I'll have to show you sometime. Oh, and I wanted to give you this." Neek reached into his pocket and pulled out a data stick. "It's wireless, don't worry. If it doesn't work on your hardware, it'll work with the computer the captain gave you. It contains everything I could find about your planet. There's not a lot there, but I thought it might be helpful."
I took the stick in my hand and nodded. "Thank you. This really means more to me than you know."
"Anything I can do, right? Um, it was nice to see you again!"
"Likewise," I assured him. "I'll see you later."
Neek nodded and left the way we had come. I entered my room and shut the hatch. Laying on the bed and staring at the ceiling, I couldn't help but think, could I really be home? I thought about my family, about my father, and my uncles, about my mother who died when I was barely old enough to walk. They were all dead now, young, old, it didn't matter. There was just me now.
I stared at the data stick that Neek had given me. I didn't open it, instead I set it on one of the shelves for later. I thought about Neek's face, as he gave it to me. Or when he smiled. He didn't have to care, none of them did. But they cared anyway. I wasn't one of them, but they helped me anyway.
Sleek Augmented Arm
Void Lord Vapor Cartridge
Sleek Augmented Leg
Rift Queen Hydroponic Seedling
Android Assassin Ocular Device
Rift Queen Utilirobo
Gray Circuit Card
Rift Queen Spanner
Targeting Reticule LED Mask
Void Lord Holographic Schematic
Fragile Radiator Key
White Single Goggle
Rift Queen Code Cracker
White Hover Bike Ignition Key
Accounts from the Pandemic
History of Philosophy
History of Survival