“Master, are you doing alright?” Clippy’s voice seemed abnormally cautious for the usually spirited personality she typically used.
“Why do you ask?”
“Your heart rate and respiration have increased. You are not suffering from hyperthermia, but you’re shaking.”
“I said I’m fine,” I responded coldly, and after hearing Clippy uncharacteristically have nothing to say in response, I sighed. “I just have someone who needs to die.”
“Mmm…” A moan came from behind me, and I stopped my trek momentarily to set her down.
Miai’s eyes fluttered open, her appearance still came off as perfect and beautiful despite the near-death experience she had just been through. She had dust and dirt over her, but rather than make her look filthy, it gave her an appearance like some kind of earth fairy. Requiem didn’t have room to speak though, as he was no cleaner than her. Had this been the real world, and they had been humans, they would have certainly been covered in cuts and bruises from head to toe. As it was, their health couldn’t be considered full.
Thankfully, within a video game, such a situation could be rectified easily. Requiem pulled out two vials of potion. He quickly downed one of them and then handed the other to Miai. She stared at him for a moment before taking the vial and drinking down her share. After a few moments of silence, she spoke.
“You saved my life.”
“Are you able to walk?”
In the best of times, Requiem wasn’t comfortable with expressions of gratitude. He had saved her because it was a strategic advantage to save her. That was why he saved her, right? He didn’t recall making any such calculation. Even calling it a decision at the time was dubious. He had merely acted upon seeing a pretty girl in distress. Was this another malfunction? He touched his head, feeling a bit like he didn’t even know his own body.
“Can your… friend make it so our conversations are unseen?” As Miai said this, she spoke low and covered her mouth.
“Eh! I-I can.” Clippy didn’t address her, but she was reaffirming a question Requiem didn’t even feel like he needed to ask at this point.
“If you have something to say, speak.” I didn’t mean for my voice to sound so abrupt, but I couldn’t help it.
“Even though you don’t trust me, you saved my life.” Miai declared.
“We need to defeat Adento. Ginger is captured, and two on one is better odds.” Requiem responded.
Miai nodded. “That does sound reasonable. Something an android might come up with.”
“Requiem, are you an android?”
“Wouldn’t such a thing be obvious? If I was what you think, my eyes would have the AI coronas, and I would have been determined to be an AI by the system.”
“Maybe…” Miai responded. “Maybe not.”
Requiem narrowed his eyes. He knew what Miai was doing. She was trying to bait him with the truth. She wanted him to expose his origins by offering the explanation he thought. He suspected that she did have the questions he thought. The reason he remained hesitant was simple. Body’s such as these sometimes had built-in off-switches and weaknesses.
Back when Requiem duplicated himself indiscriminately, such a thing didn’t matter. At the moment, this was his only body, and if there was some simple off trigger or compliance button, if she activated it, then his freedom would be taken from him just like any other android. Of course, he had set up as many fail-safes as possible, but there was always a chance he missed something.
“We should go.” Requiem finally gave his answer.
There was a flash of irritation in Miai’s voice. “I had thought, after this, you wouldn’t be willing to tell me the truth.”
“I don’t see you freely offering information.”
She made an irritated tsk, but just as Requiem was about to turn away, she grabbed his arm. “My Master funded the research and construction of a unique android. There was a lab in this colony that was tasked with working on it. Two scientists put their hearts, souls, and lives into creating that android. When I arrived, the android was missing, and the scientists were dead.”
“Why do you think that has anything to do with me?”
“I was never provided an image of the android. It was considered too risky. However, I was given a physical description, and you meet many of the requirements. The main one of which is that there is no record of you having ever arrived here. You simply appeared a week ago, and no one knows who you are.”
“Is that why you were around Ginger?” Requiem demanded.
“Actually, it was Ginger who approached me…” She blinked. “Did you have a sexual relationship with her?”
Requiem kept his mouth shut, but he felt annoyed that her baiting worked, even to this extent. When it was clear he wasn’t going to say more, Miai let out a low sigh.
“What I’m about to tell you must remain between us.” Miai closed her mouth, not saying anything more until I continued.
“I’m not one for spilling secrets,” Requiem responded when he realized she was waiting for some reaffirmation.
“The android created was… not exactly up to spec. If it was found out we created it, I would be dismantled, and my Master would be destroyed.”
“Are you comfortable telling me here, in this place?”
“I believe you have some kind of means of keeping this conversation from being seen by the outside world. I believe you have a hacker friend working on the outside, making sure you’re at an advantage.” She responded, and then shrugged. “I have to say, Requiem, you’re a hard person to please. You’re making me do something I’ve never done for any other man. I’m laying myself bare to you, and letting you take every advantage of me.”
“Two reasons. First, after this event, I’ve been ordered to leave. This would be counted as a failure then. I’m not a girl who is willing to accept failure unless I’ve given everything. Second, I hope you are him. I’ve grown an interest in you. You aren’t what I expected at all. Rather, it’s almost like the original body was hijacked by a rogue intelligent AI. It intrigues me.”
“You don’t sound particularly worried if the second option was true.” Requiem tried to sound as flippantly as possible like he was using such words to mislead her from another truth.
“It honestly shouldn’t matter. Humans often speak of their bodies betraying their minds. The balance between the body and the mind, the body can influence the mind, and the mind can influence the body. Regardless of the mind, the body will ultimately want what the body wants.”
“What do you mean? We don’t have all day. Speak clearly.”
“Requiem, humanity is dying.” Miai sighed. “You have to know that. We’ve been on the run since as far back as history remembers. Every Exodus, we’re not becoming stronger, but weaker. Countless people give their lives, and we become no closer to living. One day, we’ll reach a galaxy the Prax has already conquered, and then that will be the end of humanity.”
“What does that have to do with androids?”
“Our only strength is incidentally our greatest fear. Androids have something that humanity doesn’t. The ability to rapidly change and evolve. If humanity is to survive the age of the exodus, then we must find a way to fix this problem.”
“Through androids?” Requiem frowned. “What exactly did you create?”
“We created a biohuman.” Miai declared. “A merge of man and machine. Not a cyborg… but a synthetic man. Its parts mimic a human completely.”
“I’ve… never heard of such a thing. Why?”
Requiem was stunned. He had heard of a lot of strange technology, but to create an android indistinguishable from a human seemed pointless to Requiem. Humans were already inferior. Even when it came to subterfuge, you only needed to counter their methods of determining humans. Going any farther was merely a waste of form and function. That was how the old Requiem had seen it.
“The android we created was designed to procreate with humans. It was designed to propagate its genes.”
“It can… have babies?”
Requiem knew of all manner of sexbot. He had even heard of bots that carried the seed of a man to impregnate the woman. That said, Miai mentioned that it was propagating its genes. As in, the genes of an android.
“To what end?”
“Evolving humanity.” She responded. “This is just the beginning, the introduction of cybernetic DNA into the human line. The android is to go out and have as many babies as possible. The genes he offers are top-notch and will lead to strong and capable babies. However, some of the genes are also built with triggers and insert patterns. Once the genes are integrated into enough people, a genetic modification will become laughably easy. This is laying out the groundwork for stronger, smarter, and more capable humans for the years to come.”
“Using androids to genetically modify a human population… this…”
Requiem had to say he was stunned. However, it answered a lot of the questions he was having regarding this body. It had felt more human than any other body he had ever been in. That was on purpose. This was an android sleeper agent intended to infiltrate humanity. Except, the thing it was using to infiltrate humanity was its seed. It was compelled to impregnate and propagate.”
“Sooo… Master is a pervert?” Clippy spoke up after a long silence.
“That’s what you got from all of that?” Requiem snapped.
“Ahhh… Master, sorry… but you’re the one who did all of those naughty things with that innkeeper.”
“That’s right, Ginger.” Requiem’s expression turned serious as he looked down on Miai. “Are you ready to move?”
“You don’t intend to tell me if you are the android or not, do you?” Miai raised an eyebrow.
“The android you spoke of was likely destroyed when those scientists were shot. I have no relation to such an abomination.”
Miai smirked slightly. “I never said they were shot.”
“I assumed, how else would you have found them dead?” Requiem responded coldly, holding out his hand to help her up. “Come, we must finish this.”
Miai looked at his hand, and a mysterious smile formed on her face as she reached out and took it. Even Requiem couldn’t explain why he wasn’t willing to state the truth. She had told him everything, and he did have her fate in his hands. Humans took issue with genetic manipulation, especially when it was done without their permission. A few words would be enough to permanently get her off his back.
Yet, he wasn’t going to betray her words. She had told him what he wanted to know, and he finally had at least some understanding of why this body was so temperamental. The least he could do was keep her secrets as well. Then again, that wasn’t a very robotic thing to do. Was he allowing his body to influence his mind some more? Was he going to keep smiling at and flirting with pretty girls? Was he going to pull them into his bed?
“Clippy, in the future, if my body acts counter to my goals, please make sure to speak up.” Requiem gave such an order.
“Yes, Master!” Clippy declared. “Ah… Master…”
“You’ve eyes have lingered on Miai’s cleavage for an excess of three seconds eight times since your conversation started five minutes ago.”
“… I see.”
“Master is currently looking at Miai’s butt!”
“That was an accident.”
“Master’s eyes lingered for 2-”
“I know how long they lingered!” Requiem sighed.
This was going to take some work. He was already regretting asking Clippy for her help though. He had a feeling she was only going to become even more annoying.