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A Beating Heart Within An Empty Shell

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“Swan! New shipment!”

Emma looked up from the prosthetic arm she was fiddling with and raised a hand in acknowledgement to one of her workers across the warehouse. “Start unloading. I’ll be there in a sec.”

After a few minutes, and once she was certain the arm was in working condition, she left her station and attended the new crate of faulty products. She stood beside August, one of her programmers, as the crate was unloaded. It was packed with large metal boxes about her size and, frankly, looked like coffins to her.

“More and more each day,” she murmured, a worried frown tugging her lips down. “What the hell are people doing to them?”

“The dolls are getting more like humans. At least physically.” August shook his head when one of the workers dropped one end of the boxes and the sharp sound echoed loudly. “Humans break other humans but normally face legal ramifications. But these are dolls. They can break them without much reprisal. At the most, it’ll cost them money to buy new ones.”


“Yeah,” he agreed, pulling out his datapad and consulting it. “New shipment’s mostly domestic models, merc- and security mods...and one companion model.” He whistled low, arching a brow. “And apparently one of the latest ones, too.”

“Which one? Glam Life or Bluebloods?”

“Bluebloods.” He tapped a few times and brought up a holographic image of a Blueblood model. There were actually a female and male one, both custom made to look elegant and beautiful. The tagline beneath the image was ‘made for royalty: only the best and beautiful’.

Emma looked away with a snort. “Royalty, yeah right. Pretentious assholes.”

August tapped the image away with a wry grin. “One of these days, you’re gonna have to tell me about your hatred of them.”

“Maybe,” she said. “Anyway, they’re about done. Which ones are you taking first?”

“Thought I might take a crack at the Blueblood. I’ve only ever worked on one model.”

“Alright, well, I’ll take the merc and security. Any problems, you give me a shout.”

“Same to you, Emma.”


She was doing the finishing touches on the final security mod when she noticed August standing near her station. His left wrist was wrapped up and he was grimacing. “What the hell happened to your wrist?”

“Blueblood model,” he said, pulling out his datapad. He winced from his jostled arm. “I turned her on for a general check and she lashed out before I could override her system.”

Emma narrowed her eyes. “You did secure her before you did the check, didn’t you?”

“Uh, I forgot,” he said, sheepishly, ducking when she threw a wad of paper at him. “In my defense, nothing in the report stated she was prone to violence.”

“Doesn’t matter, Booth. Protocol states you need to secure her before attempting any maintenance or repair check. Did she break it?” Emma indicated his wrist. He nodded. “You’re lucky it wasn’t your face. Pretty sure a broken jaw would hurt more.”

“Yeah, yeah. Could you take over for me? I need to head to the medi-centre to get this fixed and you know the wait line is hideous.”

She groaned piteously. “Oh come on, Booth. I just finished three mods. I wanna go home.”

“Please? I’ll owe you dinner.”


“One. You eat like a starving pig.”

“Three.” She crossed her arms and glared at him.

“Two and I’ll give you the bag of mints in my car.”


“Of course.”

“Fine. Two dinners and a bag of peppermints. Now get the hell out of here or you’ll be waiting all night.” She made shooing gestures at him.

He handed her the datapad with a broad smile. “Thanks, Emma. Report’s on here as well as any pertinent information regarding her make and model. Everyone’s gone except for Ivan and he said he’d be heading home in about an hour. You alright on your own?”

“I’ll be fine. Not the first time I’ve worked long hours.”

“Alright. I’ll see you later then.” He said goodbye and left her poring over the report and making notes.


She stood beside the android, staring down at her with a furrowed brow.

The model was a little shorter than her own height with smooth tanned skin. A skin hugging pair of black shorts and an equally black breast band kept the more private body parts covered. Long legs, flared hips and a decently small waist. She had strong arms, well-muscled, even when resting. Emma’s observing gaze moved up to her face, noting the rounded chin and strong jaw and smooth cheekbones. She was well-made even for a Blueblood. Emma found it interesting that, despite being off, the android gave of a distinctly regal air.

“Time to turn you on, eh?” She made sure the titanium bonds were in place, locked carefully around each limb, before tapping away at the datapad. “Initiate android activation. Model number one oh eight.”

There was a quiet beep and a bland female voice spoke up. “Security code?”

"Seven six six nine E-V-A."

Two beeps followed. "Android activated."

There was a brief silence as the machine worked until Emma heard the android beginning to breathe. It was a facsimile of actual human breathing but it made for a more realistic behaviour, especially for a companion droid. Emma kept a careful eye on the droid as she began to open her eyes. The report said era eyes would be brown but in the harsh work light, they were more like a dark amber. Like honey or whiskey, she thought then shook herself out of her stupor. She cleared her throat. She had a job to do.

"Please state your model number, your production line and personal name."

When the droid began speaking, a warm shiver ran down her spine at the husky drawl. "One oh eight, Blueblood..."

Emma waited for the last answer, a little surprised the droid had paused. "Personal name, 108?"

A warm shudder crawled down her spine when those eyes met hers. She could have sworn they glittered with actual emotion.

"My name is Regina."