This was a triumph.
Yao stared at the finished model proudly, examining it for any imperfections. There were none, of course. He had worked hard on this—worked for years to get everything precisely right.
I'm making a note here: Huge Success.
It was his first big project, his big chance. No one had expected him to succeed—but he had. He had created the first perfect human android.
It's hard to overstate my satisfaction.
He felt almost as if he might explode from the happiness that was swelling inside him like a balloon. He had worked so hard, and that work was worth it. The android was perfect—he had tested every aspect of it and everything worked beautifully. It was more than science, more than engineering—it was a work of art.
His bosses hadn't thought he would be able to do it. They threw the challenge his way casually, because it wasn't something urgent and could occupy his time.
We do what we must because we can.
It had occupied his time, all right. He'd obsessed over it, drawn thousands of pictures and schematics, dreamt about it when he paused long enough to sleep.
For the good of all of us—except the ones who are dead.
His coworkers had expressed some concerns about how dedicated (obsessed) he was, but he'd waved them all off. Creating this android had become the most important thing to him—more important than food or sleep or other people. He might have passed out from hunger and exhaustion were it not for the efforts of his cousin, Yong Soo.
But there's no sense crying over every mistake. You just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake.
There had been setbacks, of course. He'd thought he'd had it, several years ago, but when he'd turned the android on, it had exploded. He had taken a deep breath, blinked the tears back, picked up the pieces, and tried again.
And the science gets done and you make a neat gun for the people who are still alive.
Despite all setbacks, it was finally complete. There it stood on its pedestal, eyes closed. It looked human—smooth, fair skin, realistic short black hair, delicate limbs with a strength that belied their fragility, dressed in a pale blue kimono patterned with red suns. It was perfect. Carefully, holding his breath, Yao pressed the 'on' switch. The android's flat brown eyes opened.
I'm not even angry.
Teaching the android how to be human was difficult, Yao found. It was just so innocent and unaware of the room outside of Yao's workshop. It was smart—it would be, with a supercomputer for its brain. Sometimes, it would build little things—mechanical dolls, toys, and the like—and bring them to him.The way its flat brown eyes looked at him—it was like a little brother, wanting its older brother's approval. Despite its intelligence, it was like a baby sometimes—it would fumble its chopsticks when it ate, it would sometimes trip and fall to the ground, and one time when its speech centers malfunctioned it could only babble.
I'm being so sincere right now.
Eventually, Yao decided that the android was human enough to leave the workshop. He would always introduce it to others as "my little brother, Kiku," but the android never spoke. Yao was certain its speech centers worked—when they were alone in the workshop it would occasionally make a comment on his work or ask a question about how something functioned. It was a bit disquieting.
Even though you broke my heart and killed me.
"K-kiku!" Yao gasped, scrambling backwards. "What do you think you're doing?"
The android blinked its flat brown eyes, its face expressionless. "I am going to kill you." It tipped its head to the side as if considering. "Or at least hurt you. I haven't decided which." It spoke with no inflection to its tone, as if it were deciding what it might like to have for dinner.
"But why?" Yao asked.
"Because you are in my way. I cannot reach my full potential while I am trapped here." It raised the sword it had gotten from God-only-knew-where—perhaps it had forged it itself. "I will become stronger."
And tore me to pieces.
Yao did his best to block, to flee—anything to stay alive. The android's advance was implacable, however, and nothing he did was effective for long. It swung, missed, swung again.
And threw every piece into a fire.
Finally, when it had reached the exit to Yao's workshop, the android paused. It drew a stick of explosive from its sleeve and lit the end. "Farewell, my brother. We shall never meet again." Casually, it tossed the explosive through the door and walked away.
As they burned it hurt because I was so happy for you.
Through the spreading flames, Yao watched the android leave. All his hard work, his pride and joy—all of it was gone.
He could only hope that Kiku would be able to do well in the outside world.
Now these points of data make a beautiful line and we're out of beta—we're releasing on time.
With Kiku gone, Yao put his full effort into creating another perfect android. With this one, he watched over its personality programming much more closely, erasing any hint of violence that he found. He would not fail again.
So I'm glad I got burned—think of all the things we learned for the people who are still alive.
He was almost glad that Kiku had snapped and left him—it told him that somewhere, he'd made a mistake. Now he would watch the new android—he'd decided to call it Li—much more closely for any sign of discontent.
Go 'head and leave me.
Sometimes, when things weren't going well with the new android, Yao would despair. He wished that Kiku had never left him.
I think I'd prefer to stay inside.
He had returned to his old working habits—sleeping only when his cousin pinned him down and sat on him, eating only when he was dragged away from his work, talking to other people only as a last resort. He knew Yong Soo was worried, but that didn't matter to him—he had to get the new android perfectly right.
Maybe you'll find someone else to help you.
Yao wondered if Kiku had met anyone else, out there in the world on his own. Would they know he was an android on first glance? Would they realise that he wasn't human? Would they treat him kindly?
Maybe Black Mesa.
Yao considered his bosses' rival company—he wondered if Kiku might go to them for help, protection, or to spite Yao and his bosses. He hoped not.
That was a joke. Ha ha. Fat chance.
He brushed the thought off quickly—Kiku didn't even know of the existence of the rival company. There was no way he'd go to them for anything.
Anyway, this cake is great. It's so delicious and moist.
Yao reminded himself that he had a new project now—making sure Li turned out better than Kiku had. To this end, he enlisted the aid of one of his coworkers, a man named Arthur Kirkland. His help was welcome, though his additions to the design specs—a pair of eyebrows as thick as Arthur's own—were not.
Look at me, still talking when there's science to do. When I look out there, it makes me glad I'm not you.
The two of them didn't talk much; they were too focused on their work for such petty things as socialising.
Yao knew from the occasional newspapers that Arthur brought in that things were getting nasty, out in the world: people were terrified of the human androids that Yao's company was producing now, and whenever a mob found one, they would tear it to pieces for spare parts. He hoped that Kiku would be okay.
I've experiments to run. There is research to be done on the people who are still alive.
He told himself firmly that he had no time to worry about his failure. He had tests to run, pieces to build, programs to write. He was busy.
And believe me, I am still alive.
Yao wondered briefly if Kiku knew he'd survived the android's betrayal. Only very briefly, though, and then he returned to work.
I'm doing science and I'm still alive.
He put the last piece of the new android in place and sighed. Finally, it was complete.
I feel fantastic and I'm still alive.
Yao grinned proudly and stepped back to admire his work. He hadn't felt this good since before Kiku betrayed him.
While you're dying, I'll be still alive.
He did his best to completely forget Kiku. There was no use worrying over something that was gone. His new android was complete.
Carefully, holding his breath, Yao pressed the 'on' switch.
And when you're dead I will be still alive.
Blank black eyes flickered open.
"Welcome to the world, Li."