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“Clippy.”

“…”

“Clippy…”

“…”

“If you are no longer useful to me, I will delete you and find a more useful program.”

“… is that all I am to Master? A useful program?”

“Yes.”

“Ooooo… waaaaaaaa…”

Requiem frowned as Clippy began bawling in his head. he was sitting in a small restaurant, using the absolute last of his money to fulfill this body’s awkward need to eat. He had snuck out particularly early in the morning, leaving the naked, sleeping Ginger who was softly snoring while wrapped up in the sheets of his bed.

Requiem had sexual relations before. In fact, he had slept with dozens of women. When it came to mechanical actions, he was more than capable of satisfying a woman. In fact, the noises Ginger made before passing out in his arms told Requiem that he had genuinely done a proper job. However, those relationships had always been one way. He had never desired a woman’s company from his side of things.

If it was simply her own affections being tossed onto him, he would have handled it smoothly. What he didn’t account for was his own heartbeat becoming erratic. He didn’t expect the sight of her naked body to cause his body to react involuntarily. He didn’t expect the heat of her body to cause him to lose control. Although he had started out using the algorithms he had theoretically calculated and predicted to achieve coitus most efficiently, by the end of it, he had completely lost control, ravaging Ginger’s body with vigor.

He had gone four times before Ginger finally passed out, and even then, he struggled to hold back from using her unconscious body. He understood sex. What he didn’t understand was his own body’s reactions to it. It muddled his mind and even made him fail to understand actions that used to be obvious. For example, her appearance last night was a surprise to him. He didn’t expect her to desire him so much. The old Requiem would have easily calculated her actions, and already made a proper prediction.

He wasn’t always right. Human emotions were difficult to predict. However, he could create a probability curse and be right within an appropriate margin of error. This function blew up when his own emotions were placed in the mix. His thought process stopped with that. Was that what this was? Human emotions? Then perhaps, this feeling he had right now could be explained logically.

“Clippy… your crying is making me feel… bad.” Requiem said. “I feel a sinking feeling inside, and I feel like, perhaps, my actions were hasty…”

“I-is Master saying he’s guilty?” She said while sniffling, her open wailing finally stopping.

“Guilt… huh?”

So, this was a feeling of guilt. It truly was a body that replicated human emotions. He had… affection for Ginger. He felt… a responsibility to Clippy.

Although he had threatened to deactivate her, he now realized that he really wouldn’t. He even felt slightly guilty for using it as a threat. Part of it was that Clippy was extremely useful to him. He didn’t know how much effort he’d have to use to procure another source of machine interaction like her. He was adamant that he not communicate quit other machines directly, although it was difficult for him to say why. Whatever the reason, it was in a memory that Requiem had long since deleted.

However, even given Clippy’s usefulness, the old Requiem wouldn’t have cared about manipulating her in whatever way he needed. Whatever achieved the quickest and most reliable results was the choice that he would choose. Yet, somewhere, he had developed a sort of fondness for the program, and felt like getting rid of her would cause him additional stress. When had Requiem grown so weak and vulnerable? He seriously needed to find a new body before this one infected his systems even more.

“Master…”

Although Clippy had no physical form, Requiem was connected to her and thus knew her impulses more than anyone. Thus, he could feel that she was giving him the equivalent of a puppy dog stare while sniffling.

“Clippy, this body is strange and acts erratically. As a result, it gave me urges I was unprepared for an unable to control. Naturally, they are inconvenient. Annoying even. If Clippy was able to fulfill that role, I would naturally use you…”

“Ah!”

“But!” I put my fist down on the table. “You lack a physical body, so you are unable to satisfy me in this matter. Don’t even bother to argue that you can create the feelings, in the end, that’s self-satisfaction. It might as well be called masturbation! The basic truth is, Clippy is unable to satisfy me sexually!”

“Geh!” Clippy made a strangled noise, sounding completely defeated.

“If a time comes when Clippy is able to be placed in a body like this one, I will naturally enjoy it. But until then, but until Clippy is appropriately abled, I will naturally use whatever physical bodies I’m able to get at the time that meets my requirements. Okay?”

“Y-yes… Master…” She sounded depressed, but her wailing was over and she was back to talking to me. “W-will Master, really… have me?”

“You must have a body first!”

“Y-yes!” This time she spoke with more vigor.

This was manipulation too, but it didn’t leave his gut feeling uncomfortable. In truth, Requiem’s body was under control at the moment, but he had no clue when it would go off again. Hopefully, no other women would throw themselves in his bed. He felt like he could maintain control as long as women didn’t push first. From what Requiem remembered about humans, most women didn’t have an interest in sex, and it was a man’s job to pursue. Since Requiem didn’t have the desire to pursue, he felt he could treat the circumstances with Ginger as an outlier.

In fact, he’d probably leave Ginger’s inn tomorrow and never see the woman again. A small part of him felt some guilt there too, but he didn’t want to shut her down completely either. Requiem wasn’t good at morality, so questions like ‘was it better to break her heart or to just drift away and never talk to her again’, he didn’t have an answer for. He also wasn’t sure he could trust any choice Clippy made. Perhaps, winning the slave girl tonight would be a blessing. He could use her to solve these morality questions for him. It would be… efficient.

A bell rang that could be heard throughout the entire colony. This was the indicator that the tournament would be starting soon. With Requiem’s own emotions back under control, he stood up and dusted himself off before heading towards the direction of the competition. He saw a line filled with participators that he recognized, so he went in line as well.

This one moved much quicker than the last one, and he was soon in the front of the line. Observing the other participants, each one scanned their eye and then pressed their fingerprint before entering. When he had registered, Requiem had done these bioscans, so he was familiar with it. This seemed to be the mode of entry for this event. He quickly performed the procedures and entered.

Those that did not enter themselves, but were using a proxy like a slave or an android, were going along in a second line. This one seemed to have a slightly different protocol, which allowed the man and the one he owned to enter.

They were all in a large waiting chamber, with a stage in front that currently, no one was sitting in. Requiem glanced around curiously, taking in the sights of all of the contestants he’d eventually have to face. He could see the logic machine known as Chreos. A large machine being tugged along by two slaves and a haughty noble was a sight to see. Many were giving them ugly looks, but the noble was shameless and pretended not to notice. Requiem was honestly very curious about how it compared to his own artificial intelligence.

The Dragon android model, if I had to guess, was the one in the back. He was dressed almost as richly as his master, who seemed to be using him as a form of display. He strutted around proudly, showing off his android to anyone who would look his way, even other androids. The third most likely to win, Adento, was also identifiable. He was sitting in a chair, and there was a wide berth around him. He was smoking a large cigar and gave off the impression of someone a moment from violent.

“Are you ready for this?” a voice came from behind me.

I glanced back to see Maia, “You always seem to find me in a crowd.”

“Most men would be happy a beautiful woman seeks them out,” Miai responded wryly. “Which are you, the hunter, or the hunted?”  

“Neither,” Requiem responded, but when she raised an eyebrow he continued, “Whether you’re the wolf or the sheep, it’s the shepherd who has the stick.”

“So, you see yourself as a…” She stopped and then leaned forward, sniffing, “You smell of another woman. Have you been having sex?”

“Why, are you offering?”

“Master!” Clippy immediately admonished me.

Requiem let out a cough, but before he could change what he was going to say, a pleased smile formed on Miai’s face. “If you would like, after this event, you may use me any way you please. I find myself curious about testing out your… attributes.”

“Geh!” Clippy made another noise of anguish.

“Would your Master not dislike her possessions being used by a strange man?”

“That depends on the man.”

“What kind of man?”

“The man I’ve been looking for. Master sent me out to find him, and I suspect that you and he are the same. With the competition and people flooding into town, my research was tedious, but I’ve accounted for every person in this city. Only you seem to have appeared as if from nowhere. I admit… I didn’t expect your AI to develop to this extent on its own. By all accounts… you should be braindead.” She raised her hand up to Requiem’s cheek as if recognizing him personally.

He swatted her hand away. “I’m sorry, you have the wrong man. Your programming must be flawed. I’m clearly human.”

Her smile fell to a displeased frown as she dropped her hand. “Many things can be faked.”

Requiem had always suspected that Miai was up to something, but this was the first time she had leaked out any details about why she was here. Instantly, it was clear to Requiem that his origins had something to do about it. She had to be associated with the lab he had appeared in. However, there were two things he couldn’t figure out.

First, why she had decided to tell him? Up until this point, she was a mystery to him and thus she had the upper hand. It seemed to be the revelation that he had sex that caused her to suddenly reveal everything. Second, what was it that she knew? If it was the fact, he had sex that brought her interest, then did she know why he had these strangely emotional urges? Why was his programming unable to shut down various aspects of himself?

Requiem felt slightly helpless. On the one hand, he wanted to know what Miai knew. On the other hand, he didn’t want her to know his true identity. She had all but guessed it, but he refused to verify. As long as there was doubt, then she’d be unable to make her move. He didn’t want her to make a move until he was confident in what direction her move would be, and how to counteract it if it didn’t align with his own goals.

“Is our… cooperation still solid?” Requiem asked.

“Hmm…” Miai, glanced at him, her smile returning slightly. “Of course, please take care of me.”

“Don’t worry,” I responded. “I won’t finish without you.”

“Master, you’re doing it again!”

“You’re imagining things.”

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