Chapter 1: Android
Androids were, well, they were a tricky subject.
Sure, there had been talk for years about developing such technology, but nothing much ever came from it. A few attempts at constructing sufficient bioskeletons here and there but not much beyond that. There was just something about combining the intricate designs of technology with the genetic makeup of that quieted a room whenever the concept was brought up.
Robots, now, robots were easy. After years of tinkering with complex devices in the robot fights and three years of attending the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, Hiro had become quite acquainted with robots; he knew them inside and out, and people from overseas had become intrigued with Baymax and his achievements in the robotics, computer sciences, and communication fields.
But Androids...Androids were another story. He'd dabbled in the field of the controversial Androids, as every inventor was bound to do as some point in their career, but he didn't get very far. It took fifteen scrapped designs for him to finally throw in the towel and admit that even he wasn't capable of creating something so abtruse.
But that was years ago, long before Hiro had even thought of venturing into the world of underground robot fighting. He was seventeen now, though, and attending one of the most reputable schools in the world. Anything was possible.
As the annual science fair approached, Hiro considered revisiting his interest in androids. Technology had certainly gotten more sophisticated since his early days of experimenting with magnets and wires, but it hadn't gotten any closer to developing the Android. Hiro knew the stats: billions of dollars in the past year alone had been wasted on attempts to manufacture Androids. But as much as his earlier experience in the field had infuriated him, Hiro couldn't resist the temptation to potentially be the one to introduce the world to the Android.
Of course, that had been weeks ago, when he'd been full of ideas and positivty. Now, sitting in the Lab with his head face down on his desk, he was on the verge on abandoning his project and dropping out of the fair altogether.
"Come on, dude", Fred said, preparing to leave for the night. "You've done this every year since you were fourteen: you get hyped up about some crazy, new tech, realize it's harder than you expect, give up, get inspired, work your ass off, and come out in first place. How about skipping everything else and just get on with the getting inspired part?"
Hiro rolled his eyes and glanced at his clock and found 3:23 blinking back at him. "Fred, I have an exam later today. I've gotta get some sleep."
"The night's basically over. You might as well stick it out and finish what you have."
He glanced at the jumble of disassembled limbs around him. "Don't have much to show for", he murmured bitterly, dragging a hand over his face. "I was thinking about not doing the fair anyway this year."
Fred's eyebrows shot up. "Really? Honey and Wasabi said-"
"I know what I said. I'm just not feeling it this year, okay?" Hiro turned his back to him then and looked down at his pitiful excuse of an Android.
A gentle hand came down to rest against his shoulder. Fred didn't say anything, but they both knew what the other was thinking.
It's been three years since Tadashi died.
And it would be the first year that Hiro had to spend it alone. Wasabi and Honey Lemon had graduated in the past summer and were both pursuing careers designed to for their interest: laser and tech enhanced martial arts for Wasabi and alchemy inspired creative weapons. The two had collaborated and developed a malleable chemical that could be shaped into any weapon and were showcasing it across the world. They'd been gone for a few months and wouldn't be back until after Tadashi's anniversary. Then there was Fred, who would be visiting his parents in the Carribbean for a few weeks. He'd initially objected to leaving, but Hiro had convinced him to go, knowing that it wasn't often that his folks put off work to spend time with him. And Cass was in the hospital being treated for a stomach tumor. She was scheduled for surgery the day of his anniversary, so there really wasn't much to be done there anyway.
Hiro shook his head, clearing his thoughts, and forced a smile. "I'll be fine, man", he reassured him. "Go on home. You've still gotta get ready for your flight later today."
Fred snorted. "Not like I have to pack anything. I'll be gone for a few weeks, but I can get by on one outfit."
"You'll be with your parents. You really think they'll be okay with your little laundry system?"
His eyes widened. "Shit, you're right. I've gotta go pack."
"Then go pack. I'll be fine. Really."
Fred smiled sadly and said, "You just give any of us a call if you need to talk."
"I will. Don't worry about me. I can take care of myself."
He sighed and went to gather his things. "Well, I'm glad Baymax will be here to keep you company. Speaking of which, how is the big marshmellow doing?"
Hiro smirked and thought of the robot snoozing in the corner. "Ah, he's been forgetting to charge himself lately. He went into total power down mode a couple of hours ago."
Fred tossed his backpack over his shoulder and eyed their friend worriedly. "He gonna be okay?"
"Yeah. I found an old portable phone charger and rewired that. He should be okay in about...five or six minutes."
"Nice." He walked over to the door and gave Hiro one last look. "Well, I'll see you in a few weeks, I guess."
"Yeah. Let me know when your plane lands, okay?"
"Sure thing. See ya later, kid."
"See ya." Hiro blinked and watched as Fred made his way out the door. "All righty, then", he whispered to himself as he took in the robotic limbs surrounding him. "What am I doing wrong?"
A whirring sound filled the air, shortly followed by a "I am Baymax, your personal health-"
"Yeah, yeah, hey, B."
Baymax waddled over to the boy haunced over his desk and peered over his shoulder. "Your stress levels are abnormally high."
"Yeah, I figure."
The robot considered him for a moment and stated, "I fear your interest in these 'Androids' may be conflicting with your mental health."
"I'm fine, Baymax", Hiro grumbled, observing a faulty finger. He flicked it and pursed his lips when it continued twitching.
Baymax shuffled about and cocked his head to the side. "Might it be of service if I showed you one of Tadashi's Androids?"
Hiro quickly turned around to face him, his eyes wide. "Tadashi made an Android?"
"No but he did design blueprints for an Android."
"Baymax! I've been bugging about this for weeks! Why are you just now telling me about this?"
The white robot stared at him innocently. "I am programmed not to hinder one's preformance through the use of shortcuts. However, with the knowledge of you not competing in the science fair, it seemed fitting to inform you of your brother's experiments."
Hiro shot out of his chair, his eyes eager for the first time in days. "Man, I have never been happier to flake out."
"'Flaking out' is not something I would encourage. It can lead to social-"
"Yeah, yeah, whatever, social and development issues, yadda, yaddda, yadda. Just tell me where the blueprints are."
Baymax nodded. "They are in your house, hidden beneath the sixth stair."
Hiro frownedd, raising an eyebrow dubiously. He crossed his arms and mused , "He hid his blueprints to something that could potentially reshape our lives in a creaky, old staircase?"
"He had planned on sharing them, but I suppose he became too concerned with my own creation to return to them. And after that...", he trailed off and lowered his head.
Hiro closed his eyes for a moment. It was hard to forget Baymax was a robot, especially when someone brought up the fire. He used to think machines were incapable of having emotions, but there was no doubting the despondency in the way his shoulders sagged and his head hung.
"Come on, man", he said softly, gently punching the robot's arm. "What did we say about keeping that head up."
"Keeping it down for an unsuspended amount of time will cause muscle pain."
Hiro blanked. "Uh, sure, dude." He looked over his shoulder and eyed the parts smugly. "Come on, now. Let's get home and find those blueprints."
. . .
It wasn't too hard to retrieve the blueprints. The stairecase was worn from use, so it didn't take much more than a rusty wrench and a few kicks to get the step removed. Hiro knew Cass would just lose it if she knew he was dismantling her house, but he couldn't stop the smile on his face as he got it hands on the paper. He brought it close to him and ran his eyes over it in disbelief. From the looks of it, Tadashi had done all of the calculations and figured all of the kinks. The papers from the back had been worn down thoroughly with erasing, but the ones closer to the front appeared to be in good condition and, most importantly, correct.
"Tadashi" he whispered to himself, sitting on the step. "You were so close. You just needed the materials." He gently rubbed his thumb against the edge of the last paper where the words "Project discontinued INDEFINITELY" were printed in his brother's neat handwriting. "What made you stop?"
Baymax peered into the room then. "Hello, Hiro."
"Hey, Baymax." Hiro ran a hand over his face and studied the robot for a moment. Baymax was revolutionary in his own right, and he would never even think of trading his friend for something else. But he'd seen the tapes, and he'd re-designed Baymax himself. He wasn't exactly something you could just put together at a moment's notice. If Tadashi had decided to abandon his Android Project, there had to have been a reason.
And something told Hiro that Baymax wasn't the only reason why.
"Is something the matter? You are regarding me with a rather intense expression. Such expressions can cause premature wrinkling and headaches."
"Okay, okay, whatever. Baymax, did Tadashi ever mention anything about his Android Project?"
Baymax shuffled over to the boy and stared at the blueprints, thinking. "He stated his Android would propel the robotics industry and improve the social structure of society and-"
Hiro waved his hands about and said, "Right. But did he say why he stopped it? I mean, it looks like he was onto something. With a few tweaks here and there and some materials and funding from the school, I think I can perfect his design. But it looks like he just... stopped all of a sudden. And Tadashi never just gave up on any thing. And I'm not seeing a good reason for why he would want to."
Hiro thought of his brother, his cheeky, cheerful brother and began to remember the many nights he kept him awake with his desk light as he worked away at his many projects. He'd never go to sleep before he was certain he had accomplished everything he had planned for the day. His abrupt end to his Android experiments left Hiro puzzled and curious.
"Perhaps the answer lies within Tadashi's side of the room" Baymax supplied, promptly exiting the room.
Hiro looked up the staircase and pondered this. He rarely ever ventured over to Tadashi's side of the room , and when he did, it was usually a quick trip. There was no telling what secrets were hidden over there.
"Would that be right, though" Hiro asked himself. "Going through his stuff...wouldn't that be like grave robbing? Only not as intense, I guess."
He shook his head and looked back down at the blueprints in his hands. Regardless of the ethics doing such a thing, he doubted he would be ready to go into his side anyway. A lot had happened in the past three years, but his coping with Tadashi's death was an ongoing process.
Hiro rubbed at his weary eyes and eagerly scanned the blueprints. Whatever it was that haulted the creation of the first Android, it couldn't have been that bad. He stood up and shot up the stairs, shouting, "Baymax, fix me some Hot Pockets, okay?" as he went.
"I regret to inform you that consuming anything at this late of an hour will throw off your appetite for the rest of the day. Furthermore, Hot Pockets have been proven to have interesting ingredients such as-"
"Don't care", Hiro shouted, storming into his room and opening his laptop. "Just do it!" He bit his lip as he waited for his laptop to power on and spread the papers out across the table. "Android Project: GG-717." He closed his eyes and sighed softly. "Don't worry, Tadashi", he whispered to the empty room. "I won't let your designs go to waste. I promise."
. . .
"Wow. I've gotta say, Hiro, you've certainly outdone yourself this time."
Hiro beamed as Cass leaned against him and eyed the humanoid girl standing before him. It was currently offline, but Hiro couldn't help but feel pride at his latest creation.
Well, his and Tadashi's creation.
It was short, about his height when he first arrived at the Institute, and had black hair with streaks of purple. It was wearing one of Hiro's old clothes: some grey boxers and an orange and red t-shirt. He could tell from Cass's slightly scrutinizing eyes that her attire wasn't exactly flattering. But this was only an Android and a first attempt. There would always be room for improvement later.
So, you like it" Hiro questioned nervously.
"Like it? I love it!" Cass, still recovering from the surgery, shuffled over to the Android. She laid a hand on its face. "Jeez, it even feels real. Are you sure it's not actually real", she chuckled.
"Yeah, I'm sure. Honey sent me some of her notes in Alchemy and helped me design a living metal."
"Wow, really? That sounds really hard."
"It is. That's why it's taken so long for it to be developed. Robots are complex, but they're wires and codes and metal and such. Nothing new." He paused and looked at Baymax, who was eyeing GG-717 from across the room. "No offense, buddy."
"The offense is not taken", he replied.
"She's not going to bite, bud."
"I am aware of this."
Hiro stared at his friend for a moment before turning to face his aunt again. "Anyway, Androids are new territory: combining biology with technology. That's not even a field yet."
"Huh." Cass walked back over to Hiro and shook her head. She squeezed his shoulders and sighed softly. "I'm proud of you, Hiro."
He smiled. "Thanks."
She kissed his cheek. "They'd be proud too."
Hiro's eyes watered slightly. "I know."
Baymax, careful not to get too close to GG-717, shuffled over to the two and enclosed the two in his arms. "Your neurotransmitter levels suggest great emotional distress. Would either of you be open to counseling or, perhaps, consulting a close friend or animal companion?"
Cass snorted, bringing a hand up to gently tap the robot. "No, Baymax, I think we're fine." She gave Hiro a questioning look.
"Yeah, we're fine" he agreed. "Just bonding."
"Ah. Bonding is another efficient form of therapy."
Hiro rolled his eyes and smuggled away from the two to stand beside GG-717. "All right, you guys, now that the love-fest is out of the way", he begin, giving his aunt a pointed look.
"Oh, come on", Cass exclaimed. She sank into Baymax's embrace. "He, unlike someone I know, gives amazing hugs."
"Right." He excitedly reached into his pocket and pulled out an SD card. "This is a blank chip. Unlike Baymax-wave to the people, buddy!"
Baymax looked around and awkwardly waved. Cass giggled.
"Unlike Baymax, who was designed for a purpose, GG-717 has no purpose. No background info, no research, none of that. This Android, as with Androids to come, will exist for its own purpose."
Cass smiled, impressed. "Well, that sounds ethical."
"Yeah, well, it's not" Hiro admitted. "Tadashi scrapped the Project before he gave it a purpose, so I have no idea what it's for."
"Oh, yeah, you did mention that a few months back. Did you ever figure out why he didn't finish?"
He shrugged, holding the Android's arm out and carefully sliding her SD card into place. "No. It's the weirdest thing, too. Everything came out perfectly. He was just missing the Alchemy components, but he could have asked Honey for that."
"Maybe he was worried he wouldn't be able to get a patent in time before someone took credit for it."
Hiro thought about this. "Yeah, maybe." He took a step back then and did a short dance. "This is it", he whispered to Cass.
"This is it", she repeated. "My little baby, making history."
Hiro smiled and turned to face the Android. "GG-717", he spoke hopefully. "On."
The Android buzzed and clicked for a moment. Then, slowly, its head rose. Curious, blue eyes observed the three beings standing in front of it. Its optics whirred and readjusted before settling on a gentle, brown color. It stared at Hiro and firmly said, "Hamada, Hiro. Younger sibling of Hamada, Tadashi and youngest nephew of Hamada, Cass. Creator of GG-717." Its voice softened then and looked around the soft, brown room. "What is my purpose", it questioned.
Hiro jumped into the air and laughed. "Hell, yeah! I did it." He fell into dance then. "Who did it? I did it!"
Cas laughed and walked over to hug her nephew.
Baymax remained in the corner, carefully watching the confused Android.
Chapter 2: Nicknames
GG-717 lifted its head and stirred to life. It blinked, cocking its head to the side as it took in its surroundings. It was in a dark, empty room, and there was a large screen in front of it. The Android slowly approached the screen and laid a hand against the enlarged photo of a girl with big smile.
"What is this", it questioned stiffly.
Hiro rolled over in his chair until he was sitting beside the humanoid. "Well", he started, jotting down a few notes in a blue notebook. "That is another human. A female about the age you were designed after to be exact."
"This female... is she an ally?"
He snorted and shoved the notebook into his backpack. "That's one way of putting it. She's my friend. We call her Honey Lemon."
The Android continued to stare at the screen. "Honey Lemon", it repeated. "You have spoken of her before, often in high regards." It turned around then, its expression stern. "When will I meet her?"
"Soon enough", Hiro replied distractedly. He walked over to a computer and typed a few keys. The screen in front of them chimed and dimmed until Honey's picture was gone. GG-717's stiff posture visibly relaxed. It gave the blank screen one last glance before it joined its creator, hovering at his desk. "She and Wasabi just ended the last leg of their tour, so they'll be flying in later today. They cannot wait to see you. And just wait until Fred shows up. He'll never leave you alone."
It quickly turned to face him, its eyebrows shooting up. "They are aware of my existence?"
"Well, yeah. Hell, they all had a hand in making you. Especially Honey. God, without her, you'd just be a box of disassorted parts."
GG-717's face hardened. "You speak quite fondly of Miss Honey."
Hiro nodded as he powered down the computer. "Yeah, she's pretty sweet. Guess that's where Fred got the nickname from", he mused. "You're gonna love her, though." He reached into a drawer and pulled out an MP3 player and a pair of headphones.
The Android grunted and shifted from one foot to the other. "When will your companions arrive?"
"Not long. About another two or three hours." He held out the headphones and MP3 player. "Which gives us enough time to speed up your social development process."
GG-717 grabbed the items and stared at them quizzically. "Social development", it said, crossing its arms. "Machines were not meant to adapt to social environments."
"I know, that's what you'd think", Hiro exclaimed. "But you've already shown signs of social development. You've only been online for eight days, yet you're picking up on human habits. Like that." He pointed at the Android's crossed arms. "That's human mannerisms looking me dead in the face."
It dropped its arms to the side, surprise sketched across its face.
"Nothing to be ashamed of. I mean, it's a surprise, no doubt. I figured you'd break new grounds, but I never pictured this. Damn." He smiled softly. "If only Tadashi had gone through with your construction. I bet he would have found a way around whatever was holding him back if he'd known how revolutionary you'd be."
It looked down at its hands and stared at the MP3 Player. "What is on this device", it asked, it optics wide with uncertainty.
It rose an eyebrow, prompting Hiro to beam with proud at the human gesture. "Music?"
"Yeah. A lot of slang and modern language is in music, so I figured this would be the best way to get you caught up. Aside from downloading behavioral standards off of the computer", he added with an eyeroll.
GG-717 ran a finger against the smooth exterior of the device. It carefully inserted the plug of the headphones into the MP3 player and placed them over its ears, looking to Hiro as it did so. He nodded and reached over to press a button. It jumped as a One Direction song started playing and reached up to remove them when Hiro suddenly laid a hand on its forearm.
"Relax", he reassured it. He pressed a button and the volume decreased slightly. "If it's too loud, just use these buttons to adjust the volume settings. And if you don't like a song"- he pressed another button, and a dubstep song began to play- "just press this button, and it'll change."
It listened to the beats pulsing through the headphones, and the tension in its frame lessened.
"Looks like you're enjoying that", Hiro noted, his fingers itching for his notebook. He shook his head, grabbed the Android's hand, and walked towards the door. "Come on, now, I can't leave you in here alone while you're online."
It watched as the boy lead them into a room with bright lights and loud noises. It reflexively narrowed its optics and asked, "Why not?"
"Eh, just some new law the country's passed. They're not exactly comfortable with all of the robots running around lately, so they're getting kind of strict on us."
"I'm not a robot", it dismissed. "Obviously."
Hiro snorted. "Yeah, I know ya are. But you know what I mean. Artificial life in general has got the government on edge."
"Is this something worthy of concern?"
"Nah, not really. We're just trying to be careful. They've already been hounding our asses about Big Hero 6. We don't wanna draw any more attention to ourselves. "
It frowned as the song ended and a Justin Timberlake song began. It turned its nose up and pressed a button until a Diplo song came on. It turned its gaze back on to Hiro and asked, "And how exactly is an Android that just came online going to harm anyone?"
He held his hands up in defense as the two made their way over to a vending machine. "Hey, I'm on your side. I'm just following orders. Somewhat." He reached into his pocket for a dollar and groaned when he realized he didn't have any money. "Damn it."
GG-717 looked over the machine. "What is this?"
"Something that spits out snacks", he grumbled kicking the machine.
The Android watched Hiro for a moment, then, following his example, pulled its arm back and quickly delivered two punches to the machine. The chatter that had been hovering in the air instantaneously died down as the bot gave the vending machine a kick. It bent down, gathered the items that had fallen out, stood back up, and offered the awe-struck Hiro an uncertain smile. "Am I doing this correctly", it asked.
Hiro inhaled, sharply and slowly, and turned around to face the crowd that had gathered around them. "It's okay, everybody", he reassured them, chuckling half-heartedly. "This is just a test run. I'm working out the kinks. Go on about your live now. Nothing to see here.
Everyone reluctantly followed his instructions, muttering and throwing apprehensive looks over their shoulder as they turned back to whatever project they were working on.
Hiro sighed, wiping a hand over his face, and looked back at his invention. He rose an eyebrow at the shaky smile on its face.
"Am I doing this correctly", it asked again, its voice hopeful.
"No. Look, I... I could have just asked for someone for a dollar. Jesus. You didn't have to go all ham on that thing." He shook his head disappointedly and unzipped his backpack, pulling out a white bag. "Just put all of that in here."
GG-717 stared at him blankly as it dropped the snacks into the bag. "Why can't we just take it?"
"Because that'd be stealing. And we can't do that. We're the good guys", he said, grabbing its hand once more. "After you meet the gang, we'll have to work on your morale database."
It nodded confusedly and followed Hiro as he lead it out of the building, half listening to the boy's ramblings and half listening to the Calvin Harris song that just started booming in its ears.
. . .
"Hiro! Oh, it's so good to see you!"
"Hey, little buddy."
"How's it going, dude?"
GG-717 watched as Hiro, Honey Lemon, Wasabi, and Fred exchanged a group hug. Its optics twitched slightly as they all fell into conversation with ease. It averted its eyes and settled its gaze onto Baymax, who was currently being brought into the group hug. The Android sighed and stared at the floor.
At that moment, Fred looked up. His eyes lit up, and he scrambled across the room until his nose was pressed up against the Android's.
It stared into the eager human's eyes and calmly said, "You are making me very uncomfortable."
Honey looked at Hiro excitedly. "You were right! She's picking up on emotions!"
"Yeah", he agreed, chuckling. "And it's developed quite the attitude."
"I have no attitude", GG-717 retorted shortly.
Hiro rolled his eyes and walked over to it. "We're working on manners."
Wasabi approached the bot and smiled softly, extending a hand. "Nice to meet you", he greeted. "I'm Wasabi."
It glanced at his hand and, after a moment's hesitation, held out its own hand. It marveled at how large it was compared to its own and returned his smile, relieved at how natural it felt this time. "It is a pleasure to meet you as well. I am GG-717...Why are you named after an odorous plant?"
He pouted and threw his arms up. "Every time!"
"You can never be too careful around Fred", Honey giggled.
"Yeah, but at least you got a nice nickname."
"Wasabi's nice", she consoled. "It sounds pretty."
"Too bad it doesn't smell as good as it sounds", Hiro piped in.
Wasabi rolled his eyes and crashed onto the couch. "Yeah, just be happy you didn't get sattled with anything."
Fred, who had crawled onto Baymax's shoulder and was poking the robot's head, suddenly looked up and beamed at GG-717. "Speaking of nicknames", he started, smiling deviously.
"No, no, no", Hiro objected. "This is revolutionary piece of tech. If you even think about giving it one of those ridiculous nicknames-"
"You said she's got lightning fast reflexes and likes when you drive fast on your scooter", Fred continued, the wheels spinning behind his eyes practically visible. "How about... GoGo?"
The Android blinked. "It is an improvement over 'GG-717'."
"Hey!", Hiro said.
It shrugged and tried to hold back its smirk. "It will always be my name, but it's just too wordy. And I believe having a colloquial alias will make me more...real."
"But you're not real. A name isn't going to change that", he murmured, not catching the way its eyes lowered. He glared at Fred. "Thanks a lot."
"She's not wrong", the older boy snickered. "It's just too long. Why couldn't you have gone with Amy or Vanessa or something?"
Hiro looked at Honey and Wasabi.
"It could be worse", Wasabi grunted.
Honey simply smiled.
"Baymax", he asked.
The robot looked up and altered between looking at Hiro and the Android. Eventually, he settled on Hiro and said, "Nicknames may accelerate GG-717's social education."
"Well, would you look at that. Even my best friend's turned against me." Hiro brushed his hair out of his face and looked over GG-717. "So, what do you think?"
It sat down on the couch, making a face at the softness of the cushions, and said "I prefer GoGo."
"I guess that's settled then. Fred, congrats. You've ruined another perfectly good name."
A chorus of mocking objections rose, and Hiro laughed. "All right, whatever. I guess 'GG-717' was a little too technical."
GoGo smiled and watched as everyone settled on and around the couch. It leaned its head against the back of the couch, taking off its headphones as it listened to their conversation.
Social developments could always be developed at another time.
Chapter 3: Answers Part I
Nothing much here. Sorry for the long wait. Updates will be infrequent for a bit, but I don't plan on dropping this one any time soon. This chapter is kind of (totally) filler aside from a few things.
"It's really not that big of a deal."
Cass rolled her eyes as she, Hiro, and GoGo walked into a Marshalls "It kind of is", she insisted, her eyes drawing to a yellow dress with an orange sash. She turned to the humanoid beside her and asked, "What do you think?"
It blinked and cocked its head to the side. "It is...colorful."
"Eh, close enough." She tossed the dress into her basket and walked towards the jeans section. "I wasn't too big on shopping when I was younger either. If you're anything like me, the mall will become your best friend by the time you hit your mid twenties."
"Cass, it doesn't age", Hiro protested glumly, watching as his aunt asked GoGo her opinion on a plaid skirt. It, too, went into the basket. "And it can't formulate opinions", he continued, lowering his voice and checking to see if anyone was around. "You know how bots are."
"Yes, yes, yes, I know", Cass murmured distractedly, reaching for a black shirt coated with splashes of color. "GoGo, what do you think of this? It's cute, isn't it?"
Gogo stared at the shirt. "Yeah. I'd like to have that in my wardrobe."
"Glad to see someone in this family has good taste", she noted, ruffling Hiro's hair.
He rolled his eyes and tagged along as she dragged them through the store. "Cass, it doesn't need any new clothes."
"Trust me, she does. You said some people are coming in to interview you and her next week, right? Well, you don't her running around looking like a raggamuffin." She gestured to the large, white shirt GoGo was sporting.
"Come on, it's not that bad."
Cass lead them to the front of the store, reaching into her purse to pull out her wallet. She scoffed and looked at her nephew in disbelief. "Hiro, she's not wearing any shoes!"
"I prefer not to wear them", it replied uncertainly. It looked at Hiro and Cass's shoes and scowled.
"Well, it's not safe. You could hurt your feet."
"It doesn't feel pain", Hiro retorted smugly. "I took extra measures to get rid of that problem."
"Still. I don't feel right having her running around looking like she's just crawled out of the city dump."
"Whatever eases your mind, Aunt Cass."
"Oh, hush up. You'll be happy when your science folks come in and see her looking sharp. Presentation's more important than you think." Cass smiled and looked up at the woman at the cash register. "Hi! How's your day going?"
"Good, thanks", the lady, whose nametag read Samantha, said cheerfully. "How's yours going?"
"Oh, just fine."
"Good to hear." She began to ring up the items but stopped when she got a good look at GoGo. Her bright disposition suddenly turned into confusion. Her expression darkened, her eyebrows drawing together, and she quickly scanned the clothes. "That'll be $28.23", she said in a cool voice.
"Er, okay." Cass counted out thirty dollars and handed them over to the lady. "Keep the change", she added after catching Samantha's scowl. She quickly grabbed GoGo and Hiro's hands and ushered them out of the store.
"Well", she said as the three of them began to pile into her car. "That was weird."
"Yeah, no kidding", Hiro noted, shivering at the memory of Samantha's intense gaze. "Did you know her?"
"No, did you?"
"No. Doubt I'd forget a face like that. Yeesh."
"Maybe she was just having an off day", Cass offered, shoving her keys into the ignition. "It can happen to anyone, really."
"I know. But... I dunno. I just get this weird feeling." He turned to look at GoGo sitting in the backseat. "GoGo, initiate power down."
Its optics glowed bright blue for a moment before they dimmed, and it sagged against the seat.
Cass eyed Hiro curiously then refocused her eyes ahead of her and concentrated on pulling out of the parking lot. "You wanna tell me what that was all about?"
"I'm just worried is all", he admitted nervously. "That look she gave GoGo...it was the same look Krane gave me when I presented the microbots at the science fair. And you know how that ended."
Cass remained silent, driving onto Main Street, before she eventually replied. "I know you've been...careful about your inventions since then."
"This isn't me being paranoid", Hiro interuppted, voicing what she wouldn't say. "Trust me, I know what that feels like. You saw that look, Cass. That wasn't your normal 'I woke up on the wrong side of the bed' glare. She looked dangerous."
She laid a hand over his and threw him a soft smile. "Whatever that was, she can't hurt us now. If it helps, we don't ever have to go back to that Marshalls again."
His eyes lit up at the idea of never having to go shopping again. "Really?"
"Yeah." She giggled and waved her hands about sarcastically. "There are tons of others all over the place. We'll just go to those instead."
Hiro groaned and sunk into his seat. "Fine. But only if we get pizza for every trip."
Cass repositioned her hands on the wheel. "Only if you promise not to whine for every trip."
. . .
Samantha's cold eyes kept coming back to Hiro for the next few days. He couldn't shake the feeling that she'd seen something, something she certainly didn't like, in GoGo. There's no way she knew GoGo was an Android. It's an exact replica of a human being. You'd have to be a robotics expert, and then some, to even recognize the signs. And she's working at a Marshalls, so I highly doubt that she is.
The possibility of someone knowing of his creation greatly unnerved him, and it made him uncomfortable of the droid even walking past a window.
"Is something wrong with the air", GoGo asked one Friday evening. The two were sitting in front of the T.V. and watching Adventure Time. Hiro initially hadn't found the show very entertaining, but Cass had introduced the Android to the cartoon, and he'd somehow gotten sucked into the show as well. He always found it weird when GoGo let out a hollow laugh at Finn and Jake's adventures and couldn't understand her fascination with the Ice King, but it wasn't so bad. I could always have Fred here to spew some conspiracy theories at me.
Hiro turned and found GoGo eyeing him confusedly. "What? No. Why would you think that?"
"You haven't permitted me to leave the house for several days. Is it the ultraviolet rays?"
"No. Look, it's-"
"Global warming? I was told that wasn't real."
"Yeah, and you were either lied to or obviously speaking to someone who thinks out of their ass. Listen, there's nothing wrong with the environment. Well, nothing new at least. I just don't want you outside before I can get you patented."
GoGo turned its attention back onto the screen. Half of the episode had gone by when it suddenly asked in a quiet voice, "Why must I be patented?"
"All inventions have to be. Otherwise, you'll have some dickhead try to steal your ideas." Hiro gave the bot a sideways glance. "You know, it's kind of remarkable. You're mimicking human emotions. Tadashi didn't mention any of this in his notes."
"Tadashi never completed me", it said as its back stiffened and its voice took on a sharp tone. "He wouldn't have known."
"Or maybe he did", Hiro mused. "And maybe that's why he didn't finish you. He probably didn't think the world was ready for something like you. A machine with emotions. That kind of makes the line between ethics and logics kind of blurry, ya know."
"Exactly." He shook his head, his eyes focused as he once again pondered his brother's reasons for abandoning the Android Project. "But that doesn't seem like enough to make him stop. If anything, it probably would have inspired him even more. Knowing he could weaken the barrrier between man and bot..." He turned to look at GoGo. "Why? You haven't shown any major problems."
"Maybe he just couldn't handle it", GoGo supplied with a nonchalant shrug.
Hiro snorted. "Oh, yeah? And I can?"
The Android blinked and picked at a loose thread on the grey turtleneck it was wearing. "Yes. And you tried. Which is more than I can say about him."
The two watched the remainder of the Adventure Time episode in silence. When it ended, Hiro reached for the remote and turned off the T.V. He then stood up from his seat on the floor and sighed. "I'm gonna invite the gang over. I need some answers."
"We're halfway through the Islands arc. We can't just-"
Its words haulted, and its head hung limply. Hiro lifted it off of the floor and carefully laid it on the couch.
"The investors'll be here tomorrow", he said to the empty room. "If there's something I need to know about GoGo...I need to know it now."
Chapter 4: What Am I?
This is more of a break between the main story line. Just filler, a little insight into GoGo's head. Heads up, it's as messes up as you'd picture it to be.
When GoGo turned on online again, the first thing she was aware of was the noise. People were talking and laughing, and someone had turned the stereo on obnoxiously high. She sat up stiffly and lowered her auditory receptors, relaxing as the pressure in her ears eased.
"Hey, GoGo, you're awake."
She turned to her right, her expression dull as she watched Wasabi take a seat beside her. "Hey, Wasabi."
He nodded and rose a red, plastic cup to his lips, adbsentmindedly watching as Hiro and Fred played Mario Kart in front of them, then turned to stare at the Android confusedly. "I thought you could only wake up if Hiro gave you the command."
She shrugged and leaned against the back of the couch, bringing her legs up to her chest. "I guess I'm developing mentally as well as socially", she suggested, just as uncertain as he.
Wasabi laughed, his shoulders bouncing, and sat his cup down on a coaster. "Yeah, maybe." He gave her a look over and rose an eyebrow. "Huh. Nice jammies."
GoGo looked down at her onesie. It was decorated with unicorns and clouds with a dark purple background. "Thanks", she replied briskly. "I am quite fond of them."
"Hey, I wasn't being sarcastic. I just didn't take you for the unicorn type of girl."
She remained quiet for a second, her optics still on the TV screen, watching as Hiro fell behind to third place, then said, "I'm not any type of girl" in a calm and reserved voice.
The two sat watching the rest of the race, and GoGo found herself settling quite nicely until Wasabi suddenly cleared his throat. Her optics shifted to meet his eyes, and she froze at the sight of the troubled expression on his face.
"Is something wrong", she asked uncomfortably.
"You are a girl", he replied.
"I do not understand. I am Android-"
"Well, I know that. But you know what I mean."
GoGo shook her head. "I was created. I am made of metal and wires and plastic. I am not real."
Wasabi continued to stare at her but didn't say anything, so she refocused her attention on the video game. She was aware of his concerned stare, though, so she cleared her throat, murmured, "Excuse me", and walked into the kitchen.
Honey was filling a cup with lemonade and beamed when she saw her. "GoGo!", she exclaimed. "Wow, haven't seen you in a bit."
"It's only been a couple of days", GoGo noted drily. "Honey, you-"
"Oh, I know, it just seems like so long. Jesus, can you believe that the investors will be here tomorrow? Think of how much research Hiro can get done if everything goes well. I can't even-"
"That's nice Honey, but you should really-"
"He's so nervous. You should talk to him, let him know if anything feels off. He's worried they're going to find something buggy and won't wanna give him any money. Of course, he's just being silly, but he won't listen to me and-"
"Honey, your lemonade."
The taller girl frowned and looked down, her eyes widening as she saw the lemonade spilling over her fingers. "Jeez!" She turned the jug up right and giggled to herself as she looked around for something to clean up the mess. "Sorry, I guess I get a little carried away sometime."
GoGo shrugged and leaned against the wall, watching as Honey scrambled about the small room. "Honey, can I ask you something?"
"Huh?" She poked her head up from where she'd crouched to search for some napkins. "Oh, yeah, fire away."
"Um, okay. It's a strange question."
Honey's soft laugh floated into the air as she ducked again. "I don't mind. Life's no fun if you don't ask some weird questions every now and then."
"Oh. Okay, then...How do you know you are a girl?"
Honey's head poked up over the countertop, and she gave GoGo the same look Wasabi had given her earlier. She shifted from one foot to the other, staring at the floor, and patiently waited for her response.
"Um. I just...know. I have...you know...lady parts and..." Her eyes suddenly turned curious, and she quickly approached the bot. "Has Hiro talked to you about human anatomy", she asked quietly.
GoGo looked over her shoulder. Wasabi had grabbed a controller and had joined the race. He saw her looking and waved. She turned to face Honey again and crossed her arms over her chest. "Not much. Just the basics. I just don't understand some things."
Honey pulled up a chair and sat down on it. GoGo hesitated before she eventually grabbed a chair and sat down as well. "I was designed to fit the form of a female human. But I am not a girl. Hiro says so. Often. But Wasabi says I am. And everyone else refers to me as a girl...So what does that mean?"
Honey crossed one leg over the other and bit on her fingernail. "GoGo...I think this is a conversation you need to have with Hiro. Now, I think you're a girl. And I think you think you are, too. But it might be better if you hear it from him."
"He says I'm not real", GoGo muttered, leaning against her hand. "And I don't know if I want to know what he thinks I am." She examined the texture of her pajamas for a moment before she continued. "He thinks there's something odd about me. He thinks Tadashi had a reason for not making me."
Honey laid a hand on GoGo's knee and smiled softly. "You notice a lot of things, don't you", she asked.
"Yes. I just don't understand most of them."
She nodded and sighed. "Well. How about just before Hiro shuts you down for the night, you ask him about some of those things. He's pretty smart."
"Well, I know that", GoGo said. "He made me, didn't he?"
Honey smirked. "Yeah. Come on, now." She grabbed her cup of lemonade and made her way back into the living room. "Why don't we go watch the guys attempt to beat Fred?"
GoGo sat in her chair for a moment, annoyed that she still didn't have any answers, and sighed. Then she stood up and followed Honey.
. . .
"All right, GoGo." Hiro closed the door as the gang went home for the night and turned to face the Android. "Last night before the investors arrive. Excited?"
"Not really", she murmured, reaching down to pick paper plate off the floor. "We have enough money now."
"Yeah, I guess. But just think of all the possibilities if we had the extra money, though. I could help Cass move us out of this apartment, and I could give Baymax some major upgrades. His battery is getting to be a total pain in the ass."
GoGo dropped the plate in the garbage and shrugged solemly, closing her optics. "I like where we live", she replied. "And if I can deal with having to power down for days at a time, he can do it for a few hours."
Hiro crashed onto the couch and sighed. "Ooh, fiesty. Sure you don't need that shut down right now? You seem kind of irritable."
She snorted and pushed herself off the wall, walking over to lean over him. "You sure you don't need some sleep. I heard you were anxious about our meeting tomorrow."
He narrowed his eyes. "Watch it, GoGo. Don't forget that you're talking to a genius here. Smart people don't fear anything."
"Correction: smart people acknowledge fear and get over it rather than letting it consume them."
Hiro sat up and stared at her. "What's your problem?"
"I have no problem", she mumbled, sitting on the arm of the couch. She dropped her head in her hands and sighed.
"You seem upset", he said cautiously. "Did something happen? Honey said you were asking her some weird questions and needed to talk to me. What's going on? Is your eye acting up again?"
GoGo shook her head.
"Then what is it? Are you sure it's not the meeting? Cause I'm one hundred percent positive that that's going to go over well. I mean, I am kind of world reknown. On the slim chance that something does go wrong, that should help smooth things over. I doubt we'll even-"
"What am I?"
Hiro froze and eyed her questioningly. "Um, what?"
"I know I'm an Android", she continued. "I just...don't understand why you would build me this way if you don't want me to be a girl."
"Don't want you to-GoGo, why would you even think that? I never said I didn't like you as a girl."
"I know. But you won't call me a girl." She stared at her hands. "You always call me an 'It' or a 'Thing'. I know I'm not real, but I...I feel real. And as long as I'm like this", she said, gesturing to herself. "I want to be recognized as a girl."
Hiro blinked and let out a huff. "Wow. Um. Well, okay. I, uh, I can respect that."
"GoGo, power down."
. . .
Hiro reached into his desk and pulled out his laptop and microphone He bit his lip, glancing over at GoGo's limp body lying against the floor, and sighed. "Okay", he whispered. "I guess now is as good a time to start as ever." He pressed a button, inserted his headphones, and waited a few seconds before speaking.
Hi. This is Hiro Hamada. I'm seventeen years old, and I've recently created an Android that my brother designed...I'm worried. It's developing more than it should. It has emotions, and it's far more aware of things than I'd anticipated. I don't know if I should be excited or terrified. I have a group of investors coming over tomorrow, but now I'm questioning if that was a good move. Something's wrong with this Android...GG-717, but we call it...her...GoGo. Something's wrong with her. I knew it before I built her, but now I'm certain. And I think Tadashi knew it, too. I don't know what I'm doing, but I get the feeling I've started something that I can't take back.
Chapter 5: The Investors
"Hiro." Honey let out a sigh, watching as the boy paced around the room with shaking hands raking through his hair. "I think you're overreacting."
"Overreacting? Honey, she's developing emotions! In what universe should anything that's been manufactured in a lab and out of metal have emotions?" Hiro kicked a discared sneaker out of his path and shook his head. "Something is wrong with her."
She pursed her lips and crossed her arms over her chest, eyeing Hiro disdainfully. "I wouldn't necessarily say that. I'm sure at one point in time someone said jetpacks were impossible but look at where we are now." She looked out the window and smiled fondly. There was a robotics fair being set up in the park across the street, and it put her at ease at the thought of inventors coming together just for the fun of it. "Nothing's impossible", she continued, watching as two men unloaded boxes of various sizes from a U-Haul truck. "You just have to give it time until that possibility becomes a reality."
Hiro followed her gaze and frowned. "This isn't like that, Honey Lemon. And you're missing the point. These are machines, play things really. She's not real, Honey. On the surface, sure, but that doens't amount to shit. Artists can draw a majestic unicorn kanoodling with a wooly Mammoth, but that doesn't mean it's real." Hiro leaned against his desk and took in his frazzled appearance in the mirror: his face was pale and thick with sweat, and his hands were trembling. His hair was unkempt, and he had a slight twitch in his left eye. Let's hope the investors aren't too materialistic, Hiro thought, reaching up to readjust his tie.
"I've just got a bad feeling about this", he continued tiredly. "If GoGo can develop perceptions about herself, then there's no telling what else she can do."
"I thought that was the point of not giving her a purpose", Honey asked. She stood up and walked over to him. She let her hands rest on his shoulders and looked at their replicas staring in front of them, her eyebrows drawn together in worry. "She was meant to find her own purpose, right?"
"Of course." Hiro closed his eyes and thought of GoGo's stiff body lying on the bed beside them. "I just...I didn't expect this. I thought she'd be like Baymax or something. I thought she'd be, you know, robotic. I didn't think she'd come alive."
"Well, you and Tadashi both had a hand in her creation", Honey chuckled. "I guess something weird was bound to come out of it."
His lips twitched, and he slowly opened his eyes. He focused on GoGo's reflection, his chest filling with dread. "I don't know", Hiro eventually replied. "I just...I'm not sure if I should follow through with this interview. I don't even know what GoGo is. I'm not sure what'll happen if they find out how...emotive she is. And I still can't shake the thought of that lady from the Marshalls."
"Hiro, you're going to be fine. This isn't like Callaghan, and you know it. You're smart and careful; you'll find a way to keep her safe."
Hiro's voice lowered, and he stared at his bare feet, his eyes narrowed in concentration. "If anyone gets a hold of her-"
"They won't", Honey reassured him, smiling broadly. "Honestly, we're the only ones that even know she exists. You said it yourself. As far as the investors know, this is just another project you need funding for. Nothing out of the ordinary, so there's no reason to worry someone will be interested enough to take her. You have your smarts, you have Baymax, and you have us. Nothing bad is going to happen. Okay?"
Hiro turned around to face her, his face relaxing. He offered her a small smile and nodded. "I guess. I just really hope you're right. GoGo is... teriffying. But I'd hate to see what would happen if she wasn't with us."
"Aw." Honey giggled and skipped over to his doorway. "Isn't someone protective?"
He rolled his eyes and walked over to GoGo. "Can it. Let Aunt Cass know I ordered pizza for dinner, okay?"
"Gotcha", she called, walking out of the room and down the stairs. "And stop fretting, Hiro! You're too young to start sprouting grey hairs."
Hiro chuckled softly and walked over to GoGo. "Power on, GoGo."
A stirring sound filled the air, and her optics fluttered before the sharp blueness of them shifting over to the familiar brown shade. She stared up at the boy above her for a solid minute, then glared as she came up to a sitting position.
"I know you're mad at me", Hiro began.
"You shut me off again", GoGo said cooly. "I don't like being shut off."
"I know, I know."
"We're not done with that conversation."
"Yeah, I figured as much. But we'll have to save that for later, okay? The investors will be here in about an hour, and I need to make sure you're fully prepped for any questions they might ask and some last minute diagnostics tests."
GoGo brushed a loose strand of hair over her ear and continued to stare at him, her face blank and expressionless. Hiro watched, cocking an eyebrow in confusion, until the look became annoyed, and the steel and lifeless look in her eyes drained away.
Huh. Note to self: GoGo might be having problems balancing her robotic and humane traits. "You're really stubborn, you know that", he muttered, turning to walk towards his closet door.
GoGo sighed and stood up, sullenly staring at the floor.
Hiro reached for a plastic bag hanging by a hook on the door and bit his lip. "We'll talk more about...that later. I promise. But right now, I need all of your energy focused on impressing-"
"The investors, I know, I know." She stood and walked to stand beside him, her frame stiff. "It's gettin late. If we're going to be ready to present, you'd better get started now."
He nodded and reached into the bag, pulling out a soft, yellow dress. "Honey thought it a, uh, safe dress. Something that'll make you look sophisticated yet...likeable."
"I can dress myself."
"My apologies. This is a lovely garment, and I look forward to wearing it. Please send Miss Honey my gratitude", GoGo muttered mechanically. She accepted the dress begrudingly and walked into the closet.
Hiro kicked at the floor, shoving his hands into his pockets. "Don't worry about a thing", he consoled in a small voice. "Look, I was pretty wigged out when I had my first one-on-one meeting with investors. It'll seem scary at first, but trust me, everything's going to work out just fine."
"I'm not worried", GoGo's muffled voice replied. "I just don't like the idea of people coming to poke and prod at me to make more of me. It's...unsettling."
"Right." He checked his tie in the mirror again, brushing a few balls of lint off of the tip of it, and reached down to pull his pants leg down. He stared at his red socks, wondering if he should have chosen the white ones instead, then looked up at the sound of the door opening.
"You look nice", he noted with a gentle nod. Hiro reached for her hand and lead her out the room. "All right, we're just gonna run a few tests now. Make sure your motor skills are in a good spot, track your reflexes..."
. . .
They came in a group of three.
Two men and one women, all dressed in white lab coats and sterile faces. Hiro rose an eyebrow at the sight of them, watching as they placed their briefcases on the living room table and marched to the couch in synchrony, and placed his hands on the surface of the kitchen table to still them.
"I'll be in there in just a moment", Hiro shouted before turning in Cass's direction.
"I haven't seen you this nervous in years", his aunt remarked amusdely. "You're usually so relaxed during this type of thing. Shake your shoulders, just get all of the nerves out."
"I'm not nervous."
Baymax looked up from his place at the table and whirred, blinking. "Your elevated body temperature and rapid heartbeat indicate otherwhise."
"Shut it. And I'm fine, guys, really. I just really need to get out there."
"Oh, fine. Just have something to drink. I know you wanna look your best during these interviews. Can't do that with pit stains."
Hiro groaned and downed the glass of water quickly, chatising himself for choosing the white dress shirt over the blue one. "Okay, I should really get going. These guys have flown in all the way from...some place I can't remember the name of. Anyway, it's really important and intellectual, and people from important and intellectual places should not have their time wasted." He nodded to himself and prompted walked out of the room.
Cass looked at Baymax and snickered. "Baymax, dear, are you intellectual?"
"Why, of course."
She giggled and rose her own glass to her lips, watching her nephew's retreating form with curiosity. "That boy. Always trying to change the world."
. . .
GoGo folded her hands behind her back and stared straight ahead. The investors watched her with wide eyes, frantically taking notes and asking Hiro questions. She held back the urge to bit her lip and cower, knowing any sign of humanity within her could jeporadize the meeting.
I cannot mess this up. Hiro has worked very hard to get us here. I have to do whatever I can to make sure this goes according to plan.
"Can it speak", the woman asked. She placed her small notepad on her desk and stared at GoGo curiously.
"Yes... it can. It's programmed with access to the English, Spanish, and Cantonese, though it's only comfor-familiar with English as of right now."
The woman nodded and nodded at GoGo.
"Go on, GG-717", Hiro said, the letters and numbers tasting awkward and bitter around his tongue. "Speak."
GoGo looked at the woman and said in a firm voice, "It is a pleasure to meet you and have you in our home. How has your day been?"
"Lovely, thank you for asking. Yours?"
"Quite suiting, thank you."
The woman and men exchanged a look and stood up. "We'll need a minute to discuss some things", one of the men said before the three excused themselves to the hallway.
"I don't like them", GoGo hissed quietly.
"I know", Hiro admitted. "I'm not exactly a big fan either. They're usually a bit more...enthusiastic than this."
"They're weird. Can't we get an interview with another investor?"
"Sure, just as easily as we could steal Lady Liberty without anyone knowing. GoGo, weird as they may be, these guys are three of the most prestigious people in the robotics industry. Getting a loan or even some association with them would... you couldn't even begin to imagine the doors it would open for me."
She scoffed and held her palms out to him. "Why does it matter how many doors are being opened? You have more than enough doors open right now."
Hiro shook his head. "You don't get it. We're good right now, but we could be even better if we nail this interview."
"Why isn't what you have now good enough?" GoGo's optics flickered to a despondent blue. "Why aren't I good enough?"
The door opened, and one of the men poked his head inside. "Mr. Hamada? A word, if you will?"
GoGo closed her face off and stared at the wall to her right.
"Of course." Hiro walked toward the man and gave the Android a look. "GG-717, power down."
Her head dangled, and her skin paled, and Hiro tried to push the hurt behind her eyes to the back of his head. "All right, let's get down to business."
Chapter 6: Baymax and GoGo
GoGo's optics fluttered and adjusted, taking in her surroundings and listening for the sound of Hiro's voice, before settling on the giant mass of white standing in front of her. She rose her eyebrows at the sight of Baymax waiting patiently on Hiro's bed and shifted so that her bare legs dangled over the edge of Tadashi's bed. "Hey, Baymax", she murmured, placing her hands in her lap. "Um, nice to see you."
"It is nice to see you to. Your posture suggests that you are uncomfortable. And I making you uncomfortable?"
"A little bit. You were watching me power down. That's a little unsettling."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to unsettle you", Baymax stated, pausing to place his hands in his lap.
GoGo smirked and let out a huff. "It's fine. Just don't do it again."
She turned to the door and frowned, noting the faint bass of the music blaring from the downstairs. "Is there a party Hiro forgot to invite me to?"
The bot blinked and lolled its head to the side. "Yes."
Something sharp pricked at GoGo's chest; she clenched her fist and fought to keep the smile on her face. "Oh, well...What's the party for?"
"Hiro, Aunt Cass, and several others are celebrating Hiro's success in gaining a loan from his most recent interview."
"...And they didn't invite me?"
"It would appear so."
GoGo pulled her feet onto the bed and let her head sit against her knees, sighing softly. A soft, squishy sound permeated the air, and she soon found herself enveloped in something smooth and rubbery.
"Baymax", she said, stiffening. "What are you doing?"
"I am hugging you. You seemed to be in need of one."
She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye and slowly let herself sink into the vinyal padding of his body. "Baymax. Can I ask you something?"
"Yes. I am very good at answering questions."
"No, I mean, a weird question. It's about emotions."
"Oh. I am not as good at answering those kind of questions. Perhaps, I should go get Hiro? He may be of more assistance." He let his arms fall to his side and began walking to the door.
"No!" GoGo hopped off the bed and rushed to block him from the door. "No", she repeated, twiddling her thumbs. "No, don't do that. He's far too busy with his...guests. Besides, he wouldn't understand. He's always had emotions, and he was supposed to have them. Mine are unnatural and developed too quickly." She stared at her smooth, almost translucent hands and continued quietly. "You...You're kind of like me. Metal in some places, soft in others. I was just wondering if you ever feel...feelings." She leaned close and held her breath, watching the robot with wide, hopeful optics.
"Aside from our mechanical makeup and creators", Baymax began, "you and I have a number of differences. My purpose is centered around the physical needs of humans. I do not feel things."
GoGo shook her head. She wiped her hand over her face and tried to dim the intensity of the music from downstairs. "I know you do", she insisted. She ran her eyes over the robot and felt a wave of panic wash over her. "I've seen you around Hiro. You-You care about him. And to care means you have feelings. Right?"
"...Perhaps. When you put it that way." Baymax lowered his gaze and stared at the floor, slowly backing away. "But Hiro is my patient, my first and primary patitent. It is my job to be protective of him."
GoGo watched him warily, drawing her head back in confusion. She opened her mouth to say something, then, as another thought came to mind, closed it. She remained quiet for a moment, their previous conversation all but forgotten, then, she looked up and stared at him with an intense look. "You think there's something wrong with me...don't you?"
Baymax took another step back. "I did not say that."
"But you're thinking it. That's why you don't usually talk to me or stand too close to me. But a minute ago, you hugged me. Now you're trying to get away from me." Her eyes lit up. "You know something about me. You know why Tadashi scrapped my project, don't you?" She beamed and held her face in her hands. "This is unbelievable. I'm finally gonna get some answers!"
"GoGo." Baymax's simple, black eyes slitted close for a moment. When they opened, they expanded beyond their normal size and looked at GoGo with scrutiny. "I do not know what persuaded Tadashi to stop constructing you. I do, however, know that it was done for a purpose... and your very existence is a threat to yourself and society."
Her smile slowly dissolved. Her hands fell to her sides, and her internal fans picked up enough speed to generate a soft humming noise in the room. "What?"
He hesitated, looking over his shoulder and drawing the curtains to the windows, then approached her carefully. "Mechanical beings were not meant to harbor emotions. Humans, beings degined to have emotions, are often incapable of controlling them. You are not able to control how you feel; the power your technology provides will become catastrophic if you fail to learn how to control your emotions."
"...So you think Tadashi stopped making me because he was afraid I wouldn't be able to control my feelings?" She stopped to consider this, then shook her head. "No. No way. There has to be more to it than that."
Baymax waddled over to GoGo. "I came to a similar realization, though I am not certain if either of of us is correct. I do, however, know someone who might have the answers to your questions."
GoGo looked up at him and stared.
"I assure you, I am not kidding you."
"I really need some answers."
"She will have them", he promised. He looked at the window, then quickly averted his eyes.
"I can't keep living in the dark", GoGo went on. She followed his gaze out the window and frowned. "I feel like everyone's keeping secrets from me, and I am very tired of it. I need to know what I was made for and why I almost wasn't made. I need to know what I'm here for."
"You're gonna help me?", she asked.
"I will try. Though if your quest for answers shall present any harm to any humans, I will be forced to intervene."
"I'm not going to hurt anyone", GoGo vowed. She walked over to the mirror and examined herself. She was wearing Hiro's blue shirt and some red shorts. They hung off of her limply, and her hands were shaking. Her eyes were hollow and fierce, and her hair was splayed out in all directions, resembling a domestic house cat seeing a field rat for the first time.
GoGo hugged herself tightly and shifted her attention to the floor. The bass from the speakers below vibrated against her feet and made her head buzz. She gulped and shook her hands free of any tension.
"I need to get out of the house", she declared, quickly turning to face Baymax.
The white robot stared back at her and replied, "I am certain Hiro would not like that. He hasn't got you patented yet."
"Does it matter? Nothing's going to happen to me. And even if it does, I'll have you to protect me", she added with an eye roll. "Now, I just need to figure out a way to get out of the house without Hiro noticing."
"He's going to notice."
"Oh, I highly doubt that. He's been so focused on these little parties these last few weeks. I bet he'd forget I even exist if he was getting all of this attention", GoGo objected bitterly.
"I'm sure that isn't true", Baymax consoled. "He's rarely ever forgetful."
"Really? I was offline for approximately sixteen hours Tuesday."
"He had a very important meeting with a news reporter that day."
"There's always an important meeting", GoGo muttered, crashing onto the bed. She ran her fingers through her hair, pulling at the knots until they were free, and stared at the ceiling. "And for some reason, even though I'm the reason all of these investors are interested in him, hardly anyone ever asks me to go to any of those meetings. You'd think that the creation of something that'll 'erase the boundaries between man and machine' would at least garner some interest: an interview; a meet and greet; a phone call; or something. But no. Instead, I'm spending my days either locked in a closet or completely offline. Oh, yeah. I'm really making history here." Her hands fell to lay besides her ears, and she studied the cracks in the ceiling in disinterest. "Whatever my purpose was, I am most definitely not fulfilling it."
"...Would you like another hug?"
"No." Her lips twitched in amusement. "But thanks." She sat up and focused her optics on the clock perched on Hiro's bedside table. "Nine o'clock. These parties have been lasting until one at the latest, eleven at the gives us roughly two to four hours to meet your...informant, probe her for answers, then, sneak back."
"I would prefer it if there were no probing."
GoGo chuckled and jogged to Hiro's work desk. "Relax. No one's gonna get hurt." She opened a drawer and pulled out a slightly worn-down wristwatch. She inspected the faded, brown leather of its band and smiled. She slipped it onto her wrist, saying, "That is if no one gives us any trouble", as she walked over to the door. "Now, you go downstairs and tell Hiro my eye is leaking hydraulic fluid again. If we're lucky, that should keep anyone from trying to visit. Hopefully, this doesn't..."
She turned the knob, pulling the door towards her, and trailed off as she saw Wasabi's crouched figure in front of her.
"Um." He cleared his throat and chuckled uncomfortably. "Hey, guys."
Chapter 7: Answers Part II
GoGo frowned and crossed her arms over her chest. "You know", she said matter-of-factly. "Your fellow humans have a word for someone who listens in on others' conversations through doors."
Wasabi scoffed indignantly and stood up quickly. "I know what you're implying and guess what? I don't like it!"
"Well, I don't like being spied on", she retorted irritably. "And I don't think Baymax likes it either. Do you Baymax?"
"Spying is quite rude and signifies an intense lack of trust."
"Come on, guys! I wasn't spying. Hiro just asked me to check up on you guys." Wasabi scratched the back of his head and smiled awkwardly. "You guys have been quiet. We just wanted to make sure you were okay."
GoGo rose an eyebrow. She walked over to the window and leaned across it, staring sullenly out at the grey clouds passing over the luminous moon. She rested her hand against her cheek and bitterly muttered, "I suppose we would sound quiet, given that you can barely hear anything with this racket."
Wasabi flinched and averted his eyes to the floor beneath them. His lips slipped into a thin line at the laughter and resounding music blaring from below. "Huh. Well, ya got me there." He looked up then, worry etched across his features, and stepped across the room to lay a gentle hand over her shoulder. "Is it too loud for your, er, ears? I can ask Hiro to pull back a little if it is."
"No. It can get to be a bit of a strain on my auditory receptors", GoGo admitted slowly. "But it's nothing serious. I've learned how to adjust those settings."
"Really? Man. Hiro would love to hear about this. You told him yet?"
She kept her eyes focused on the sky. "No. I wouldn't want to draw his attention away from his guests."
"Oh." He turned and looked at Baymax, smiling softly at the sight of the robot hovering over them. "Well, it's nice to see you and this guy are finally getting along", he said, chuckling softly.
"Yes. He's good company." GoGo bit her lip and eyed him nervously. "Did you hear anything before you came in?"
He shrugged, looking uncomfortable again. "No. I was up here for a few seconds before you opened the door."
"Honest", he insisted.
She nodded and looked the male over. "Wasabi. Baymax and I need to...do something."
"Oh? Okay. Want me to go get Hiro."
"No", she said stiffly. "I'd rather not get him involved."
"I may be wrong, but I'm sensing some tension here."
"She feels abandoned and wishes for Hiro's attention", Baymax interjected.
"I do not." GoGo lifted up the window and leaned her head out, sighing softly at the feel of air blowing across her face. She closed her eyes and quietly said, "Ever since those investors showed up, I've been nothing more than a trophy; no one tries to visit me, and when they do, it's to point and ask stupid questions. Only you and Hiro have actually come to talk to me. And with Hiro, that's only to make sure I'm running properly. Then, I'm back to being offline for who knows how long." She clenched her fists and fixed a tense gaze on Wasabi. "You and possibly Marshmallow over there are the only ones I can count on."
"Okay." Wasabi stepped forward and smiled tenderly. "What do you need me to do?"
GoGo returned the smile and fought to keep the urge to bounce at bay. "I need you to cause a distraction while Baymax and I sneak out. You stick around for a bit to prevent suspicion. After that, just find a way to get away from the party."
"I could do that. But where are we going exactly?"
"Baymax knows someone who knows some things about why I was created. She maybe even knows why Tadashi didn't finish making me."
Wasabi's eager expression collapsed. He looked at the excited Android skeptically and said, "So you're sneaking out to go find someone who might know something about you? GoGo, doesn't that sound a little sketchy?"
"I'll be fine", she said quickly. "I'll have Baymax with me for the first half, and you and him for the second half. I won't be alone for even a second. I'll be safe", she reassured, putting emphasis on the last word.
"Even if this doesn't massively blow up in our faces, there's still the Robotics Ordinance: no bots allowed to be unescorted with a human accompanying them. Remember?"
"Of course, I remember. Hiro frequently feels the need to remind me. But it's dark, and I look human enough. If anyone stops us, I'll just pretend I'm human."
"GoGo. This is not a good idea. You could cause a lot of trouble for this. Bots get dismantled if they find out they're alone, and their owners can get arrested. And that's only if you're discovered by someone legit. What if someone in the Underground Bot Fights find you? You know those people are dangerous."
"I'll be careful", GoGo groaned. "I've got it all planned out. It's simple really. You do something crazy. I'm thinking something along the lines of tampering with Honey's purse." She smirked at the thought of a colorful explosion of goo and laughed to herself. "Amidst all of the chaos, you sneak away and meet up with Baymax and I."
"And where exactly will we be meeting?"
She turned to the white robot and looked at him expectantly.
"Approximately one and a half miles from here at the abandoned Malt Shop", Baymax supplied. "If all plays out perfectly, we should return at approximately 12:25 am."
"See? We know what we're doing, we know where we're going, and we know how long it's going to take. There's nothing to worry about."
"People have plans all the time. That doesn't mean they always work", Wasabi opposed, his face determined. "I don't think you should do this. If you're this curious, wait until the morning when Hiro can take you."
"Hiro doesn't care about me!" GoGo stared at the floor and reluctantly lowered her voice. "He doesn't care. He wants me to be safe, so he can be able to show people how much of a genius he is. If I ask him for this, he'll say no and find a way to keep me offline until he needs me awake."
"You know that's not true." He used his index finger to tap her chin until her somber eyes met his concerned set. "He's just been a little preoccupied. I'll admit, he hasn't been the most attentive person lately but give him some time. He hasn't had this much exposure in a while. Once it dies down, I'm sure he'll be back to normal in no time."
"It's been weeks, Wasabi. How much time does he need?"
"I don't know. We'll just have to wait and see."
The Android shook her head defiantly. "No. I'm tired of waiting. Everyone here knows either who they are or what they're meant to be. I won't figure out either if I don't do this. Tadashi is dead, and Hiro is practically useless. I've read over both of their notes, and I'm at a dead end. This is my one chance, Wasabi. Please, don't take it away from me."
Wasabi studied the humanoid, his expression conflicted, and exhaled slowly. "I...guess I understand", he admitted. He rubbed at his eyes and shook his head. "But I still don't like this."
"I know you don't. You just have to trust me."
"You've been alive for two months, GoGo. I really don't think you know what you're getting into."
"Okay, then trust Baymax. Whatever, just don't get in my way." GoGo turned to the window once more and rose it until it was way above her head. She gave him one last glance before she crawled through the window and said, "We'll be fine." She settled against the slippery awning and brushed her hair out of her face. "Now help me shove that guy out of this window."
Chapter 8: Trains
Sneaking out was the easy part. The back of the house lacked any windows, so GoGo and Baymax didn't have to worry about being seen as they scaled the side of the building. The most trouble they encountered was avoiding the vines ascending the red walls, and that problem was quickly solved by a few tugs on the irritable plants.
GoGo smiled when her bare feet touched the ground, turning to smile up at the massive, white robot. "See", she whispered. "This is gonna be easy." She turned to glance down the narrow, empty alleyway and gestured with her hand for Baymax to follow her.
"It would appear so", he stated. "However, I must stress the importance of not becoming too confident. There are a number of ways this plan can go awry."
"I know, I know, and that's why we're sticking to the alleys and backstreets. If we happen to run anyone along the way, they're likely to be up to no good as well, so they'll probably leave us alone. There is absolutely nothing to worry about." She jogged along, gripping Baymax's arm insistently as she went, and made sure to give her surroundings a lookover with every passing second.
"Take a left here", Baymax said quietly, scanning the area once again.
GoGo frowned, cautiously stepping out of the alley and onto a main street. "That's towards the train tracks", she noted uncertainly. "Isn't it?" She and Hiro had taken this street on their last outing, but most of the memory was an obscured mess.
"Yes." He blinked and eyed her curiously. "You have been here before", he observed, watching as faint recognition settled into her optics. "Yet you seem lost. As a highly developed Android, you should have a photographic memory."
She shrugged and shoved Baymax behind a mailbox as a red car drove by. She watched it propel up the street and didn't move from her stance until it made a right at the corner. "All right, you can come on out", she said. She grabbed his hand and began to sprint. "And I do have a photographic memory. For the most part. Hiro just deletes certain things from my internal database every few days."
Baymax waddled after GoGo, watching as the apartments on either side of them slowly faded away. They continued walking, occasionally ducking behind park benches when a lone car or truck strolled by, until they eventually stumbled upon a decaying waiting terminal. The two bots stood there, Baymax with his hands folded in his lap and GoGo leaning against the back of the bench. The sound of the train thundering down the tracks had just registered in their receptors when Baymax suddenly turned to face her.
"Certain things", he questioned.
She picked at the chipping paint on the bench and sighed. Some got stuck underneath her nail, and she picked at it distractedly. "Just stuff he doesn't think is... relevant, I guess."
The robot nodded and dropped a hand on her shoulder. GoGo stiffened on contact and lifted her gaze from her nail.
"Hiro does care about you", Baymax said. "He has merely gotten lost in the attention he's receiving."
GoGo stared up at him and crossed her arms. "Maybe", she relented. "But it's not in the way I need him to." She turned to stare at the approaching train. "Please tell me we're not here to do what I think we're gonna do."
"It is the most logical form of transportation. We have no currency for the bus and no one willing to drive us."
"Okay, sure, but-"
"Trains coming this way are required to drive at a maximum of forty two miles per hour", he assured. "It will not be difficult to catch, but it will take us to our destination far more quickly than walking simply walking would." He stood up and extended his hand. "We will have to return home shortly. If you wish to obtain the answers you want, we have to leave now."
GoGo stared at his hands, pursed her lips, and sighed. She accepted it grudgingly and walked with him hand in hand to the edge of the train tracks. A spark of electricity coursed through her as she saw the large, yellow headlights, and she inhaled sharply.
"Are you ready", Baymax asked.
She squeezed his hand, savoring the soft material enveloping her hand, and nodded. "Yeah. Let's do it."
The train came into view, puffing heavy clouds of gas and screaming into the night air. GoGo snatched her companion's hand and, once the train had passed them, raced after the caboose. She struggled along, her interior fans switching on to combat the building heat from her sprint, until the railing was within reach.
"Get ready to jump", she called to Baymax as she let go of his hand. In one swift movement, GoGo sprung from the ground and firmly caught a grip on the rusted fence. She stumbled backwards from the sudden shift in direction and crashed against the metal railing, clenching her fingers around it tightly. She gasped looked down at her shaking hands in bewilderment.
"Wow", she whispered. She smiled and brought her hands up to her face and sat for a moment, contemplating. This is what it feels like to do what you want. This is what it feels like to be my own person. Even if I'm not a real person.
She turned to her right and found Baymax standing beside her. She smiled wider and hugged her knees to her chest. "Yeah?"
"We should arrive in approximately twenty five minutes."
She loosened her grip on the metal bars and nodded. "I guess we'd better get comfortable then."
Chapter 9: Hiro and Honey
I know Hiro's being a dick but don't give up on him yet. He might be redeemed. Might.
The parties started off small. Just the team and Cass sitting around, watching movies, playing games, and eating snacks. After GoGo's successful interview with the investors, everyone decided Hiro needed some time off.
"You haven't had a moment's rest since you started building her", Cass said that first night. "Take a load off. You deserve it."
That had been simple enough. As much as he loathed to admit it, taking care of GoGo had become tiring; neglecting her nightly diagnostics test in favor of spending time with his friends seemed like the perfect remedy to the weary stiffness that had settled within his bones. So Hiro took the night off, only occasionally thinking of the Android's slumbering body in his bed. Her test can wait until tomorrow morning, he reasoned as he settled in between Wasabi and Fred's bodies on the couch . If anything's gone wrong, it'll still be there tomorrow. I can fix it tomorrow.
And things carried on like that for a while. Once a week, usually Saturday, the gang would gather and his living room, and he would power down GoGo with very little resistance. It wasn't anything special, just a group of friends lounging around and catching up after their frantic schedules had finally ceased. Hiro began to look forward to those nights, counting down the days until he could let his go of responsibilities and let loose. The week seemed to stretch onward sometimes, and he felt like a bug trapped in a spider web, anxiously inching along until he reached freedom.
It was a Thursday, and he had just finished writing down some notes on GoGo when a thought suddenly occurred to him. "Technically", he murmured to himself. "I'm free on Friday nights. There's no school Saturday morning, so I don't have anywhere to go."
GoGo adjusted the volume on her MP3 Player and blinked. "Did you say something", she asked, tilting her head slightly.
Hiro smiled smally. "Sorry, I was just thinking outloud", he explained.
"Nothing much. Just that, if I wanted, I could invite the gang over tomorrow."
Her optics took on a darker tint. "Oh? But I thought they only all come over on Saturdays."
"Well, they do. They're all pretty busy and can't collectively meet at any random time, they can usually meet on Saturday. But I know Wasabi and Fred have the night off, so I was just thinking it'd be fun if they could stop by." He looked up at GoGo and smiled. "Wouldn't that be cool?"
She smiled back, tugging at the rubber band on her wrist, and said, "Sounds great."
"I know, right? And don't even worry. I'll run your tests in the morning on Sunday. Nothing too bothersome should happen in two days."
"Yeah", she agreed quietly as she turned to walk away. "I wouldn't want to be a bother."
Hiro gave her a funny look, noting her slumped shoulders and despondent tone. He watched her exit the room, then, shrugging confusedly, turned to Baymax.
"So, you up for having the Wasabi and Fred over tomorrow?"
When the two came over, though, Hiro was surprised to see five extra people hovering behind them. They looked excited.
"They wanted to see GoGo", Fred said. "Can they? I promise, they're good people."
He shrugged and smiled. "Sure", he said, waving the group in. "She'll love the company."
The next night, the whole gang came over, with a few dozen extras falling in behind them. Hiro had been less willing about that time, unsure of how his Aunt felt about fifteen strangers poking around her house. But she brushed off his concerns.
"You're in college", Cass chuckled. "And your last year of college, at that. This is your last chance to throw some crazy house parties! Just don't let them break anything."
The weeks passed, and the parties grew in capacity and extravagance. And they started taking all throughout the week, lasting all hours of the night. Hiro had long since gotten over his hesitance of engaging in the wildness of the parties. The ache in his bones gradually faded, and he embraced the intoxicating chaos of it all with open arms.
Hiro was standing in the kitchen one night, drinking a can of something fruity, when Honey walked, her smile radiant. Hiro set his can on the counter and ran a sleeve over his lip.
"Hey, Hiro", she yelled.
He leaned against the wall, feeling the vibrations in the music blaring from the stereo, and yelled, "Hey, Honey!"
She smiled and grabbed his hand, leading him out of the kitchen and through the pulsating crowd in the living room.
"Hiro!", Fred slurred, hanging over the couch. "How's it going, buddy?"
He rolled his eyes and waved at his friend, pushing himself through the bodies until he and Honey found the door.
"Why are we out here!", Hiro asked as the door shut behind them. The music muffled considerably, and he lowered his voice. "Why are out here? The party's in there?"
Honey smirked and sat down on the single step separating the apartment from the sidewalk. She danced her fingers against the spot beside her. "I just wanting to talk to you is all. That okay?"
He rose an eyebrow suspiciously but slowly sat down anyway. "Yeah. What's up?"
She stared ahead, watching as a car sped down the street, and brushed her hair out of her face. "Oh, I was just... Do you remember...Well, it was a few weeks ago, of course you remember", she muttered, shaking her head at herself. "After you saw the investors, you didn't really want to celebrate. I think Cass wanted to throw a huge party, but you said you'd be fine with just the six of us lounging around and having a good time."
Hiro picked a rock of the ground and examined it idly. "Yeah. What about it?"
Honey bit her lip and laid back against the concrete. "Well. I don't know. I mean, a big party every once in awhile can be fun and all, but you've never been one for big parties. Even after you got Baymax patented. And now you're having one, what, three or four times a week?"
He shrugged and tossed the rock into the street. He smirked down at her. "I know. And I guess it does look a little weird. But I like this. For the last few years, I've been cooped up in a lab, trying to do something extraordinary."
"You're always doing something extraordinary", she said quietly, reaching out to gently squeeze his hand. "Before GoGo, it was the Smart Buddy. Before the Smart Buddy, it was the Robo, and realistic, Cat. Before the Robot Cat, it was the Anti-Gravity Boots. Before the Anti-Gravity Boots-"
"Yeah, I get it." Hiro squeezed her hand back and sighed. "I just haven't done anything, you know, big in awhile. Important." Hiro closed his eyes and squeezed harder. "I just feel like I haven't done anything worthwhile, you know? Everything I've made is so fucking useless. And I know. Baymax and GoGo but they weren't my ideas. They were Tadashi's ideas. He worked his ass off to make them perfect, and I just swooped in and took all the credit for them."
Honey frowned and reached out with her other hand to press her fingers against the lines forming on his forehead. "That's not true. You may have gotten the designs and the ideas from him, but you added your own touches. And you've always given credit to Tadashi, so you haven't stolen anything."
Hiro kept his eyes closed. He sighed and nodded. "I know. It just feels like I have." He sat up abruptly and stared at the crackling streetlight standing in front of the shop. He glared and rubbed at his eyes. "I feel like I have to do something amazing to make up for it."
"You already have."
He glanced at her out of the corner of her eye.
"You found his killer", Honey continued apprehensively. "And you've saved the city. For than once. And you never took for it, even though you would have been right to."
"Not recently", he snorted. "As far as San Fransokyo's concerned, the team's been dead for months now."
"Hey. We may have taken some time off, but that doesn't erase all the good we've done for this city."
"Maybe." He fell silent for a moment, and the two listened as the apartment hummed before he continued. "I've just been so caught up in trying to make everything perfect and brilliant that I kinda got lost in it all." He exhaled heavily, and he gave her a small smile. "I guess that's kind of where the parties come in. I need to do something freeing. I need something a little crazy in my life."
Honey sat up and wrapped her arms around him. "Oh, Hiro. Why didn't you say anything?"
"Cause it's not important. We've got way too much on going now to stop and contemplate whether or not I'm gonna have a meltdown."
She gave him a look. "So you'd rather throw wild parties and get roaring drunk than sit down and talk to us?"
"No, that's not what I meant."
"But that's what you're doing. And it's...getting to be a problem."
Hiro sat up straighter and stared coolly at her. "And how is it a problem?"
"Hiro, I talked to Cass a few days ago. She says you're flunking half your classes."
"So? I'm just a little behind. I'll catch up."
Honey pursed her lips and crossed her arms over her chest. "The house is a mess, and you always look like you've just gotten out of bed."
"I'm a little tired. It's no big deal."
She stared at him with brown eyes full of worry. "You rarely let Baymax out of your room", she sighed. "And GoGo is almost always on power down unless someone wants to see her."
His stiff back eased slightly, and he dropped his gaze.
"When was the last time you ran a test on either of them?"
He shrugged, running a hand over his face. "I dunno. A week ago. Maybe two."
Honey nodded and leaned closer to him. "I get it. You feel like you're under a lot of pressure and need to let loose sometimes. But you have to take care of yourself. And those that depend on you."
Hiro stared ahead. His bones were getting that heavy feeling again, and his chest felt tight. He swallowed the gathering saliva in his mouth and held his head in his hands.
"Just check on them, okay", Honey whispered, wrapping her arm over his shoulder. "I know it's hard to forget, but they are real, Hiro. They have feelings. Especially GoGo."
He looked over at her. "They're bots, Honey", he said sternly. "They can't feel anything. Whatever GoGo thinks she's 'feeling' is just a virus or something in her database."
She blinked. "Check on them."
"I already sent Wasabi to check."
"You know what I mean."
Hiro held her stare for a moment. Then he stood up, shaking his head, and started for the door. "I'm gonna get a drink. You want anything?"
Honey rested her elbows against her knees and smiled smally. "A sweet tea, if you have any", she said. He was halfway through the door when she suddenly spoke up again. "And Hiro? I'm here. If you ever need anything."
He hesitated, his hand on the door, and took a shaky breath. "Thanks, Honey." He stepped through the door, letting it slam behind him with a resounding bang.
Chapter 10: Samantha
It was obvious the Malt Shop had been abandoned for some time. Sitting at the very edge of the city, its walls had begun to peel with paint, and the floorboards had long since rotted away. The windows of the decaying building were shattered, and counter had begun to collapse on itself. The shop reeked of mold, stale air, and forgotten dreams.
"I guess this is a little sketchy, huh", GoGo murmured as she stepped through the doorway. She winced as the floorboards creaked underneath her weight and leaned onto her toes. "Could you, er, do your thing? And see how Wasabi's holding up."
"There is a single life force towards the back of the building", Baymax replied, his eyes glowing green as he scanned the room. "Other than that, we are the sole occupants and should have very few troubles. However, I should note that we are well out of reception range. If we should require assistance, we would be incapable of contacting Hiro."
"Uh huh. And Wasabi?"
"He shall arrive in approximately eight minutes."
The shorter of the two nodded and continued towards the back of the shop. Her internal fans were whirring intensely, and her hair was standing on end. She anxiously pinched her palms with her thumbs and chastised herself. Stop it. This is going to be fine. You're going to meet this lady, get some answers, and be on your way. It's simple and absolutely nothing to worry about so stop it.
GoGo maneuvered around the shards of broken glass and overturned tables, now pinching herself with the other four fingers, and paused in front of a large metal door.
"Is she on the other side", she whispered.
Baymax waddled beside her and nodded. "She's waiting."
"Can you tell if she's armed or anything?"
"I am not detecting any traces of gunpowder, chemicals, or canines."
"So we're good to go then?"
"Yes", he stated. "But should we not wait for Wasabi?"
She shook her head. "You stay out here. When he shows, then you guys can come in?"
"You do not require my assistance?"
She smiled earnestly and reached to grip his arm. "I'll be fine, Baymax. If anything seems off, just knock two times."
"Very well." He turned around and walked towards the front door.
GoGo stared at the door and placed her hand against its cold, metal surface. "Please. Please be useful." She gave rose her other hand and, planting her feet firmly on the ground, pushed against the door. It groaned loudly, scraping against the floor. When a big enough space formed, she dropped her stance and quickly dove through the opening.
Despite being abandoned for quite some time, it was obvious the room had originally been some sort of freezer. It was bare aside from the dozen or so boxes decorating the floors, and the walls were covered with shelves of what looked like ice cream. In the center of the room, stood a woman with eyes as cold as the freezer had once been.
"Hello, GoGo", the woman said. "It's nice to see you again."
GoGo took a step back.
"Hm. Do you prefer GG-717?"
"No", she said shakily. She stared at the lady, puzzled, and dropped her hands to her side. "GoGo's fine."
She nodded and sat on the floor cross-legged. A cloud of dust rose around her, and she waved a hand through it before patting the spot in front of her. "Have a seat", she stated.
GoGo continued pinching her palms and, after a moment's hesitation, walked forward and sat on the floor.
"I assume you have questions", the woman began, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a sheet of paper.
"You could say that", the Android agreed. She leaned closer and stared at the paper with awe-struck optics.
"Oh, no. Not yet. You'll have to wait for this." The woman folded the sheet in half and clasped her hands around it.
GoGo scowled and crossed her arms. "I've been waiting for three months now", she responded steely.
"And you can wait another few minutes." She eyed her curiously. "You're pretty impatient for a robot."
"I'm not a robot. I'm an Android", she scoffed. "And what are you exactly?"
"Watch the tone", she retorted I'll answer your little questions, but only if you're polite. To answer your question, though, I'm Samantha. I'm surprised you don't remember me. You shouldn't be suffering from any form of memory loss."
GoGo restlessly tapped her fingers against the floor and closed her eyes. "Hiro thinks I don't need to remember irrelevant things. No offense."
"It's fine. I'm not offended. I expected this. He's just like his brother", Samantha noted with a small smile.
She sat up straighter. "You knew Tadashi?"
"You could say that."
"Listen, lady. I didn't come here for any games. I can't be here long. Hiro's gonna send someone to check on me soon, and if I'm not there, he's gonna-"
"It'll be fine."
"It better be. I'm risking a lot being here right now."
"Aren't we all?"
GoGo brought a hand up to rake through her hair. "What do you have to do with this?"
Samantha looked up. She tapped her fingers against the backs of her hands and smirked. "You could say I was the inspiration for your project."
"But we don't look anything alike", she protested. "My hair's black, yours is red. I'm short, you're small. Etc."
"Hm. On the surface perhaps. But dig a little deeper." She leaned forward, and the moonlight from a hole in the ceiling reflected across her left eye. "And you'll see we're not that all that different."
Chapter 11: Gone
Not much going on in this chapter. Just a quick little blurb.
The party continued well into the night. A quick glance at the Kit-Cat Klock on the wall confirmed the time to be half past two, but the vibrant, boisterous people showed no signs of leaving. If anything, the infectious craze in the air only grew more potent, the volume of the music increasing and the people growing more unruly.
And for once, that didn't sit well with the host.
Hiro sat in the love seat towards the back of the living room, irritably watching as a boy he didn't know carelessly tossed a Pepsi bottle from hand to hand. He then looked toward the clock once more and scowled. 2:32. Maybe it's time to call it a night.
"Hiro", Cass called. She squeezed between two giggling girls and crouched to sit beside him. "Hey, there, sport."
"Hey, Aunt Cass", Hiro returned, eyes still on the boy. The bottle crashed to the floor soundlessly, the shattering swallowed by the deafening bass pumping in his ears. His hands clenched at his sides.
"What do you say I kick these people out", Cass asked, bumping her shoulder against his.
"I think that's a great idea", he sighed. He pinched the bridge of his nose and leaned forward to rest his elbows against his knees.
Cass nodded and stood back up. "You get some rest. I'll handle this."
Hiro smiled gratefully. "Thanks, Aunt Cass."
"No problem. Now, get on up there." He rubbed her hand through his hair and walked towards the center of the room.
Hiro dusted his hands off on his thighs and rose to his feet. The tumult around him quieted as Cass began to dismiss everyone, and Hiro pushed through the stilled mass of people to walk towards the stairs. A couple was laid out on the first few steps, smiling lethargically as they drunkenly pawed at one another. Hiro cleared his throat and, when he got no response, stepped around them and walked up the stairs.
The second floor, as usual, was void of any people. It'd been the one rule that Cass had enforced when the parties had first begun, and Hiro couldn't help but whisper a quick thank you to his aunt. His limbs were heavy, his ears were buzzing, and he wanted nothing more than to retreat to his room without worry of being disturbed.
That being said, it wasn't exactly a delight to find Fred sleeping in his bed, arms and legs stretching to the corners of the room like a star.
"Damn it, Fred", Hiro groaned. He marched over to him and tapped his forehead.
"Ugh. Piss off."
Hiro shook his shoulder and hissed, "Go home, Fred. I need some sleep."
"Just let me crash here for the night", Fred replied. His words stumbled over one another, making the sentence almost unintelligible, and Hiro rubbed his hand over his face in exasperation.
"Fine. Just scoot over. It is my bed."
Fred grumbled but complied, moving to make enough room for him. Hiro crawled underneath the covers and let his head fall onto his pillow. A few minutes of restless turning and half-hearted complaints passed before Hiro sat up and rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands.
"What's your deal, man", Fred asked, turning to look at him. The dim light from the moon beaming through the window provided Hiro with just enough light to make out the haziness in his eyes. Beneath that and the obvious annoyance, though, there was a sliver of concern.
"I don't know", Hiro admitted. He turned to look at the ceiling and shook his head. "Something just feels off."
"Yeah, you're telling me. I am literally going to die in the morning."
"I'm serious, Fred. It's like something's missing."
Fred frowned and looked at him sheepishly. "If anything's missing, I'm seventy percent sure my friends had nothing to do with it this time."
"Not like that." He turned and glared. "But if they've stolen anything again-"
"I know, I know. Listen, man, I talked to them. They were drunk, and tiny elephants are kind of amazing. Can you blame them?"
"Sorry. Are you talking about Wasabi, then? He's never been a big fan of these parties, so he usually leaves early when they draw out like this. I wouldn't worry about it."
"Well, I know that. But that's not what I..." He trailed off and looked around the room. "Not what I meant", Hiro murmured, tossing the covers off of his.
"What are you doing?" The lights suddenly flashed on, and Fred ducked underneath the sheets. "Aw, what the hell, man? Turn 'em off!"
"Shit." Hiro rushed over to the closet and tossed the doors open. "Shit, shit, shit, shit."
"Hiro, what are you doing?"
"They're gone", Hiro said, his voice shaky and panicked. His eyes fell on the open window, and he rushed over to it. "They're gone, man, they're fucking gone!"
Fred groaned and, squinting, and hesitantly pushed the sheets over his head. "Who?"
"GoGo and Baymax!" Hiro leaned out the window and peered out at the buzzing, luminescent city stretching beyond his eyes. "They're gone."
. . .
"A cyborg. A cyborg. A literal, real-life cyborg. Can you believe that?"
Baymax blinked and continued waddling after Gogo. "I cannot."
"Neither can I! I've heard of humans with artificial limbs, of course, but a half human, half robot? That's unheard of", GoGo gushed. She crashed onto a park bench and shook her head, her smile brighter than the sun. "Wow."
Baymax cocked his head to the side. "You seem quite happy at this revelation."
"I am. She's like me, kind of. She looks human, but she really isn't. And she knew Tadashi and my project." Her legs swung eagerly beneath the bench, her toes briefly touching the ground on each passing. "She gave me her email. Imagine how much easier everything is going to be with her around. No more secrets, no more questions. Everything's gonna be out in the open. Finally." GoGo's smile tightened. "And I won't be such a burden on Hiro anymore."
"You are not-"
"Ah, save it. It doesn't even matter anymore." She stood up and placed her hands on her hips confidently. "Cause with Sam here...there's no reason for me to stick around."
Despite his incapability to show emotion, something in the way Baymax straightened his head and wobbled over to her made something in GoGo think THREAT.
"Hiro is your friend", Baymax said calmly.
"Hiro keeps me locked in a closet ninety percent of the day and works to make me better for the other ten percent", GoGo retorted.
"You cannot leave. He would be heartbroken."
GoGo looked away. A gust of wind drifted over them, and she absentmindedly thought that if she were real, she would have shivered. She brushed her fingers against her bare legs, hairless and sighed at the tingling sensation it caused.
"Perhaps, we should return home", Baymax stated, bringing her attention back to him. "It is 3:05, and Hiro has no doubt noted our absence."
GoGo continued rubbing her legs and made a soft noise in her throat. She leaned against the back of the bench, her head drifting back to stare at the sky. Clouds had drifted over the moon, threatening to envelope the entire earth in a blanket of darkness, and she smirked to herself. "Maybe. But not just yet. It's a nice night out." She turned to look back at him. "We should enjoy it."
"I believe we have had enough excitement for the night. You in particular have not adjusted to escapades such as these and need to rest."
"I feel fine, Baymax." She closed her eyes and listened to the wind blowing paper bags down the street. "I haven't been outside in weeks. Let me have this."
Baymax remained silent, and GoGo stretched to lie on the bench. The wood was stiff, and chips of dry paint scraped against the backs of her legs, but it was kind of nice.
Then came the police sirens.
Chapter 12: Reboot Part I
"All things considered", GoGo said, shrugging her shoulders. "This turned out pretty okay."
Wasabi gaped at her from the other side of the bars separating them and threw his head back in disbelief. "Are you serious? How is any of this okay?"
"I'm still in one piece. I got some information on my project. Hiro probably doesn't know I'm out-"
"The authorities have been noted of the disappearance of a diminutive woman in her early twenties", Baymax supplied from the back of their cell.
"-Hiro didn't find out I left until after I did what I had to do", she corrected, crossing her arms. "We got away with it."
"You're in prison, GoGo!"
"A minor detail." She frowned, then turned to Baymax. "Diminutive?"
"They were Hiro's words."
Wasabi scoffed and turned his back to her. He leaned his head back and wiped his hand over his face. "Did they take your prints", he asked quietly.
GoGo walked closer to the bars, making sure to keep her voice just as low, and shook her head. "No. There was a drunk was raising a fuss when they came in, so they just tossed me in here."
"All right. And they didn't notice that you're..."
He winced and turned back to her. "An Android."
GoGo rolled her eyes and walked away. The floor of her cell was sticky, latching onto the bottoms of her feet like an elastic beast; she yanked her feet with each step until she reached the cot in the corner of the cell. She sat down, resting her weight on her elbows, and sighed.
"I don't think so. They just said someone was looking for me."
Wasabi nodded. "That'd be Hiro. Man, he really does think of everything."
"Wait, that still doesn't explain why they'd got you in a holding cell." His expression turned dark. "GoGo."
"They pulled up on me out of nowhere, okay? I panicked", GoGo admitted, optics on her fingers. "Anyone in my shoes would have done the same."
Baymax cocked a head to the side. "You are wearing any shoes."
"Yes, I know."
"What do you mean by panicked?"
"Relax, I didn't kill anyone", she murmured. She lied on her cot and closed her eyes. "I just roughed them up a bit before I realized they were only cops."
"Well, that's just great. I knew I shouldn't have let you leave", he mumbled. He rubbed his temples and groaned. "If you'd just stayed in your room, none of this would have happened."
She looked up at Wasabi and glared. "You mean my closet, right? And, since we're playing the blame game, if you'd just showed up on time like I'd told you to, none of this would have happened."
"You could have been hurt, GoGo", Wasabi insisted stubbornly. "What if those cops hadn't been cops? What if they'd found out...you know? They'd taken you away; and you know what happens when bots get taken away."
The tension in GoGo's optics melted, and she bit her lip. "I know what I'm doing, Wasabi. And I had Baymax with me. I was safe the whole time. I promise."
"And if yall had been separated. Then, what?"
She smiled fondly. "You're such a worrywart."
Wasabi scoffed and shook his head, a small smile of his own forming. "And you're a pain."
Feet sounded on the pavement behind them. GoGo hopped off her cot, Baymax rose from his seat on the floor, and Wasabi turned from facing them. They all watched as a police officer and Hiro made their way down the corridor of holding cells, their expressions ranging from regretful to guilty to blank.
"Miss", the officer greeted with a curt nod. "Do you know this young man?"
GoGo nodded. "Yes, sir. He's my, uh, older brother."
"Uh huh. Any reason you ran away?"
"We had a fight. I wanted to go to a concert. He said no. I left. You found me. And here we are."
The man scowled. "And here we are." He turned to Hiro. "That all check out?"
"More or less. Why's she in a cell?"
"She assaulted one of our Deputies. You are aware that's a serious offense, aren't you?"
Hiro smiled sheepishly. "Ah, yes, sir. My sister has anger management issues, and, you see, she's not exactly managing well."
"She broke my Deputy's wrist."
He nodded. "And I accept full responsibility. Send me his bill, and I'll have it covered. You have my word."
The officer looked over GoGo and Baymax, then turned back to Hiro. "You're that kid from the fair a few years back, ain't ya?"
"Yes, sir, that'd be me."
"Uh huh. Don't remember hearing nothing about no sister."
Hiro shrugged. "She's adopted. My Aunt found her trying to steal from our bakery a few years back. She's a good kid, and, since we've got so much space in my house, my Aunt decided to give her a place to stay."
The officer flushed and ducked his head. "R-Right. Of course. I'm sorry. I didn't mean-"
"It's fine." He nodded to GoGo. "So can we go? My Aunt doesn't know she's here, and I'd rather she not find out." He chuckled. "You know how that is."
"Oh, I do", the officer admitted. "I got a little sister myself, and Lord knows we got into a load of shit when we were younger."
"If the bonding session's over", GoGo interrupted darkly. "Can I go now?"
The officer started to say something but stopped when Hiro suddenly stepped forward. "Sir, may I have a word with my sister for a moment?"
He nodded and fished his keys out of his pocket. He unlocked GoGo's cell then turned to Wasabi and Baymax. "Uh, come with me." Then he glared at GoGo and said, "You're lucky you've got nice folks...and bots, I suppose...looking after you." Then, with one last glance at Hiro, he left.
GoGo rolled her eyes. "Luck had nothing to do with it."
"Yeah. If it had, you wouldn't even be here right now."
"If I wasn't here, you'd be getting your prints recorded. Wait, you don't have prints, so let me rephrase that." He walked into her cell and didn't stop until they were only a few centimeters from each other. "You'd be cuffed, stuffed into a box, and shipped to Lord knows where for a bunch of dicks in suits to dismantle you, reassemble you, and find a way to replicate you. Things could have gone a lot worse tonight, GoGo. At the moment, you've got all the luck in the world."
She pursed her lips. "Why'd you come for me?"
Hiro shook his head. "None of that. Not now. You're coming home with me, and I'm getting you fixed."
"Last time I checked, Hiro, I'm an Android. Not a dog."
"That's exactly what I'm talking about. You're emulating emotions, you're disobeying orders, you're disrespecting me-"
"You are not the boss of me", GoGo hissed.
"That's exactly what I am", Hiro glowered. He looked around them and rolled back his shoulders. "We'll finish this at home. Come on. Let's go."
She followed him, her frame taut and tense. Her optics were focused on the ground, and she didn't raise them until they'd met with Baymax and Wasabi and entered Cass's car. She met Hiro's eyes in the rearview mirror and glared.
Her glare intensified for just a moment, her optics taking on a reddish hue before they relaxed and turned grey.
Hiro sighed and dropped his head against the headrest behind him.
"Dude", Wasabi began.
"Not now, Wasabi."
"Hiro, you need to do something about this. She's not just imitating human behavior anymore. I've heard the way she talks about you, how she talks about her life. What she's feeling? It's real."
"She's a bot, Wasabi." He briefly glanced at Baymax then turned to start the car. "She can't feel anything. I've talked to her, too, alright? And every time I've talked to her, she's always started 'feeling' intense emotions when I'm feeling something. She's taking other people's emotions and magnifying them. It's nothing more than a bad case of mimicry, and I'll fix it."
"What are you gonna do", Wasabi asked. He settled into his seat, strapping on his belt, and looked at GoGo's limp body in the mirror.
"I'm wiping her chip. It's the only reasonable thing to do. She's getting worse, so I have to redo her programming, see where I went wrong." He pulled away from the police station and started driving down the street. A cat sat in the middle of the street, and he leaned on the car horn to scare it away.
"I don't think there's a problem with her programming", Wasabi replied, shaking his head. "I mean, she has artificial intelligence. You know beings with AIs are always bound to develop identities."
"The only thing she's developed is a bug or something. I'll fix it." He turned to Wasabi and squeezed his shoulder. "I promise. This time tomorrow, this GoGo will only be a memory."
Wasabi glanced at Hiro out of the side of his eye and pursed his lips. "Right."
Chapter 13: Online
GoGo awakes after a few months spent offline and finds a few things have changed.
Hey guys! Sorry I've been gone for so long; I had a rather intense case of writer's block (that was partially fueled by laziness but don't tell anyone shh). I've kind of forgotten where I wanted to go with this, but I'm trying. I think this could go in an interesting direction, but, you know, let me knows what you guys think. Glad to be back and thank you to everyone who's been so patient with me on this. Love you guys!
Coming online was an odd sensation; not in the sense that the process had changed but more that she no longer recognized the feeling. Electricity slowly crackled throughout her chassis, tentative and considerate as if it'd forgotten how to navigate the circuits and wiring. By the time her optics flickered open, GoGo'd been lying in bed for several minutes, struggling to regain control of her body.
Maneuvering her frail legs over the side of her bed required more energy than she'd care to admit, but she managed, flinching from the frigidity of the wooden floor. It dispersed pulses of winter throughout her frame like the roots an ancient tree branching out. Shivering, GoGo latched onto the tip of the headboard and pulled herself to her feet.
"Whoa", she murmured. Steadying her hands against the oakwood, she brought her fingers to her temples and pressed against them. "How long was I out?"
There's the usual sense of emptiness, of having something crucial extracted from her internal database, but it was more prominent than previous occasions. In the past, it was more of an intense, irritable case of deja vu; now, it was as if something, something material, had been removed.
Upon glancing towards her right, she found the curtains of the window pulled open. Her optics adjusted, bringing the window closer to her, and revealed the buildings stretching back to be covered in snow. GoGo forced herself across the room, her feeble legs protesting the movement, until she stood inches before the pane of glass marring the wall. She stuck her head out and craned her neck to the right. Ignoring the murky storm clouds obstructing skyline, she focused on the long line of cars extending from the entrance of the cafe to the back of the city. Above her, the sky was thick with noisy helicopters and drones, all trained on the pristine colosseum at the heart of the city.
GoGo dropped her head into her hands and exhaled shakily. "What the hell?"
. . .
The house, for once, was empty. There was no wall of grinding bodies to break through, no worries of being assaulted by flying bottles. All of the rooms were empty, and the absence of music only added to the ambiance. The only sign of life rested in a single flyer taped to the fridge, which had been virtually picked clean of all contents. Staggering in its direction, GoGo idly scrutinized the kitchen. The floor was covered in a sticky, sugary substance, and the table had been flipped onto its top. It was like a scene out of a dystopian film, with the societal collapse appearing to have occured in the midst of yet another wild party.
"Can't say I'm surprised", GoGo whispered, snatching the flyer off the fridge. "These things were getting a little out of hand." She dragged her hand over the wall. When her fingers flipped over the light switch and nothing happened, she frowned and looked up; sure enough, the lightbulbs had been removed from their fixture. "There's no way Cass'd let the place get this bad", GoGo mused before turning her attention back to the flyer. It's a simple white sheet, with a small, red box sitting at the focal point. She scratched the side of her head, deep puzzlement causing a faint throbbing to emerge in the back of her head. "What's going on?"
"Oh, you know. Just the end times. Or evolution. Whatever you wanna call it."
GoGo whipped her head around, adjusting her stance and pulling her arms in as she sent a fluorescent blue scan throughout the house. For a moment, nothing triggered anything. Then the ray fell upon the couch in the living room, and a vermillion heat signature popped into her field of vision. GoGo let her hands fall to her sides and scowled.
"That'd be me." A pale hand shot from behind the couch, followed by a head of disheveled hair and an egregious amount of glitter. Fred belched and rested his head against the back of the couch. "GoGo. Sup?"
"'Sup'? Really?" Her legs threatened to give out, so she extended her hand to the back of a chair. Inhaling deeply, she glared at Fred and said, "I've been offline for, I'm assuming, some months, the fucking house is trashed and abandoned, and there's a colosseum sitting on what used to be a junkyard. And all you can say is 'sup'?"
"Well, the whole thing's kind of a mess, and I wasn't around for much of it anyway. Figured I'd save my spiel and, uh, let you figure it out."
"And why are you online anyway?" Fred pushed his hair out of his face and squinted. "Hiro's got it programmed so you're only awake during presentations and fighting shit."
GoGo paused. She leaned further against the chair and gently sucked her lower lip between her teeth. "That doesn't make any sense", she eventually protested. "I'd remember that."
"Yeah, well." He pulled himself up and staggered towards the kitchen. "From what I hear, there's an 'autopilot' mode or something. Kind of like a civilized zombie, you know?"
GoGo's eyes drifted back to her flyer. She rubbed her thumb against the creases in the paper, studying the box with intent. "What's going on, Fred?"
"Nothing really, aside from Hiro flipping his top. But, uh, you were here for the start of that, so you know how that is."
"So it's gotten worse?"
"That's one way of putting it." He stopped beside her and glanced at the paper. His lips slipped into a smirk, and he shook his head.
GoGo looked up and asked, "What is this?"
"The box or the paper?"
"The box, Fred; why would I wanna know about the paper?"
"I see you haven't lost your charm", Fred said with an empty laugh. "That's the, uh, colosseum you were asking about." His smile tightened; he turned his back to GoGo as he started for the fridge. "I hear people are calling it the Bermuda."
"Yup." He tossed the door open, sighing when he found it to be empty, then looked over his shoulder. "Shit's always going in, but it never comes out. Even with the warnings."
"Sounds like a good time." She reconsidered the shape and color and nodded. "Guess that explains the red." Letting it drift to the floor, she collapsed into her chair. "But I'm still a little confused. Okay, so there's some deadly colosseum in the middle of San Fransokyo, which, apparently, is full of blood-thirsty maniacs. But what that's got to us?"
Fred turned to the freezer and began rummaging through the drawers. "Well...you know what Hiro was into before SFIT, right?"
"Yeah, bot fighting. Everybody knows that; so, what, he's back in?"
Fred emerged from the freezer, staring disdainfully at a bag of frozen peas. He tore the bag open and poured a few peas into his mouth. "More or less", he corrected through muffled speech. "But he's got a more, ah, colorful reputation than he had when he was a preteen."
"Hm. And Cass? And the others?"
Fred reached for a used plastic bowl on the table and spat the peas into it. Tilting his head back, he took in another mouthful of the microscopic greens, then sighed. "I don't know. I haven't heard from the gang in close to six months now. But they weren't doing too good last time I saw 'em."
GoGo dropped her elbows onto the table and pulled her hair back. For the first time since awakening, she noticed the length, that it'd somehow grown and had been woven into milkmaid braids. She fingered a few smooth strands, closed her optics, and gulped. "We're in trouble. Aren't we, Fred?"
She couldn't see it, but Fred smiled around a gooey green mess of peas and chuckled dryly. "Oh. You have no idea."
Chapter 14: Making My Way Downtown, Breaking Into Storage Units
Walking, talking...assaulting helper robots and breaking into storage units to abduct a giant marshmallow. All in a day's work.
Robots were roaming freely.
It was such an odd sight. In the months prior to her blackout, beings of robotic origins were prohibited from navigating the city without an escort. Now, lonesome bots standing at bus terminals was a normal occurrence, and GoGO couldn't help but gape at the composure of the humans near them; they displayed no physiological signs of distress, and, more often than not, they actively engaged in conversations with robots. It was so different from what she'd grown accustomed to. So when a helper bot held up a hand and asked for her barcode, she couldn't help but recoil and jump behind Fred's back.
Eyes flicking between the vacant eyes of the bot and where GoGo had once stood, Fred chuckled and cleared his throat. "I'm sorry. She's a little new to the city", he explained, reaching for GoGo's hand. When she made no movement, he turned to glare, only to be distracted by the sudden buzzing of the helper.
"Your 'friend'", it began, its tone lifeless and impassive. It rolled forward, its wheels creaking along the sidewalk, and GoGo scowled; upon adjusting her auditory receptors, she found a cacophonic clanking emitting from the bot. Of an even greater concern, there was an gunmetal fluid dripping from along its neck, and an overt delay in motor movement.
"...hasn't gotten any bar number", Fred was saying, hands spread out in front of him. "She's been offline for a while and wasn't around when the Bot Laws were renewed."
"Well, that doesn't excuse-"
"Fred", GoGo interrupted, tugging insistently on his shirt sleeve. "We don't have time for this."
"I apologize for the inconvenience", the helper said. "But it is required of all robots and androids to be branded with barcodes. It is for the safety and comfort of our human companions."
GoGo scowled. Placing her hands on her hips, she jerked her head at Fred. "He doesn't seem bothered. Now, if you don't excuse us, we'll just be on our way-"
"To go get those codes", Fred finished. Grabbing her by her wrist, he leaned to whisper into her ear, "These guys are kind of tight in the ass; they don't let shit like this go. Just say you're gonna get coded and we'll be fine."
"Is he really gonna believe me?"
"Look at the damn thing; he'd believe anything." Fred smiled, hooked an arm around GoGo's waist, and directed them past the twitching helper bot. "So, thanks for being a good helper. I'll be sure to leave your supervisor a compliment. We, good?" When it didn't follow them, merely turning to address a human couple, he sighed and leaned his head back.
GoGo glanced down at his arm, then noted, "Things sure have changed since I've been under."
"Yeah, well, a lot can happen in eight months. Especially when you've got a bunch of thugs trying to turn the city into some weird gladiator/scifi piece." They came to pause at a traffic light, watching as a bright red hand flashed across the street and signaled the idle cars to roar to life. As he snaked his hands into his pockets, he shifted his weight to the left side of his body and gave GoGo a pat across the back. "But that's just life, I guess."
GoGo tucked her chin into her shoulder and coughed. She couldn't feel, but there was an unmistakable chill clinging to the frame of her chassis. Her bare feet were numb from the keen bite of the sidewalk; the thin t-shirt she donned did little to protect her against the bitter weather. "Where's Hiro?"
The light flashed green. The cars stalled, and Fred and GoGo started forward. Fred kept his arm wrapped around GoGo as he said, "These days, he's usually in the colosseum. I paid him a visit once."
"You know how people get a taste of something, and they never really forget about it?"
She'd never tasted anything before (and likely never would), but she could hear. And there were a number of songs that never drew her ire, regardless of how many times she's listened to them. She followed Fred as he strayed into an alleyway. "Yeah, kinda."
"Well, I get the feeling that our dear Hiro's acquired a taste for blood." His nose scrunched up. "Or oil or whatever is it you guys bleed. Do you guys bleed?" His eyes widened, and he looked down at GoGo. "Shit, that was kinda racist, wasn't it?"
"Please, shut up."
He tossed up his hands. "Sorry, it's been awhile since I've actually had a conversation with anyone. Not including myself, I mean."
"And you're still talking", GoGo muttered. A motorcycle rushed past them, hovering over and thrusting pulses of force against the ground in its wake. She watched in mild fascination; she paused to dissect the vehicle and store the components, determined to give them a more in-depth inspection at a later date.
"You should be nicer to me", Fred said, waving for her to catch up. "I am, like, the only one that can help you track down the gang."
"I thought you said you didn't know where they were."
"I don't. But that doesn't mean I can't find out."
GoGo stared at him, unamused. "You're making even less sense than usual."
Rolling his eyes, Fred picked at an empty button hole on his jacket and sniffled. He swiped his finger underneath his nose, ignoring the look of disgust his companion sent him. "We are superheroes", he explained in a lowered voice. "And what ragtag group of superheroes doesn't have some type of way of getting in contact with each other?"
The two fell silent, ebbing and flowing against the sudden crowd of people surrounding them. It wasn't until they'd crossed the Muirahara Bridge that GoGo glanced back at Fred and replied, "I know I've missed out on a lot. And I know that, even before, I wasn't around much. But I know them. And I doubt they'd just leave you like this."
She dragged her hand against the marble railing of the bridge. "I don't think they're coming back, Fred. Not for awhile at least."
"I'm just saying. If you've got some way of contacting them, I'm sure they would have reached out to you or you to them. It's been months now." Fred turned to look at her and watched as she halted to stare at the glistening waters stretching before them. "I think we're on our own."
Fred scratched the back of his head and sighed. Stopping beside her, he leaned over the railing. "Well, not totally." When GoGo pulled a face, he continued, "Human-wise, I guess it is just me. But bot-wise-"
"Baymax? Hiro didn't take him with him?"
"Oh, God no. Baymax has a, uh, gentle soul. Hiro wanted him to fight. And you know the big marshmallow; he refused. I figured he'd override Tadashi's programming, but he didn't. Last I heard, he's holed up in some storage warehouse."
GoGo ducked her head, leaning forward on her elbows. Keeping her focus on the blue tapestry ahead, she said, "Yeah. Of all the vile things he could have done, I guess we should just be grateful that all he did was lock the closest friend he's ever had in a box."
"Hey, I'm just trying to stay positive."
"Yeah, yeah." She blew a few strands of hair out of her eyes and shook her head.
"And, besides, you haven't even gotten to the real shit yet. All you've seen is a handful of faulty bots and some loons rushing to mangle some bots in a stadium."
"Thank you, Fred, that really took a load off my shoulders."
"Just doing my part."
She punched his shoulder and pushed herself off the railing. When he finished tending to the now tender flesh, she started along the path once more. "So tell me more about this storage place."
. . .
Sneaking in was an easy enough feat.
The helper on guard wass much like the one they encountered earlier; convincing him of their urgency of their "super secret" visit required little more than showing the robot a police badge Fred dug out of a Captain Crunch cereal box. Nevertheless, GoGo, growing impatient as it scrutinized the badge, grabbed it and tossed it over the railing, watching it collide with the ground below with a satisfied smirk.
"That's probably gonna come back to bite us in the ass later", Fred hissed as GoGo crouched beside the main entrance; her eyes were a fluorescent blue, aiming a beam of light at the touch-screen resting where there had once been a doorknob.
"Yes", she agreed, fingers rasing to type out a code. "'Later'. When we're long gone and they'll have sent in another brainless bot." The door chimed and hissed as it slid open. GoGo let out an "ah" and hopped to her feet before stepping into the dimly-lit building. Fred followed after, his shoulders hunched and his hands shoved into his pocket.
Lights flicked on as they searched various areas of the warehouse, inviting light and vision into a facility devoid of life. Fred's sneakers squeaked against the ceramic tiles, and the whirring of GoGo's chassis was mildly unnerving amidst the otherwise silence enveloping them. Against her better judgement, she reached into her breast pocket and pulled out her MP3 player. Then, turning to Fred, she whispered, "Got any headphones?"
Fred rolled his eyes but dug into his pocket. After passing a pair of earbuds to her, he gave their current hallway a lookover and pursed his lips. "How's the x-ray going?"
GoGo plopped one bud into an ear, letting the other dangle against her collar, and continued scanning the units around them . "Nothing in this room", she revealed. She pressed a button on the MP3 player and sighed at the sudden onslaught of beats. "I'm picking up a signal from ahead, though. I'm predicting somewhere in the next corridor."
"Good." His shoes shrieked, and he inhaled sharply, slowing his pace to manage each step with attentive air. "This is worse than sneaking into school after sundown."
"I've never understood that", GoGo admitted as they came to the intersection of two hallways. "Why is a place scarier at night than during the day?"
"Oh, trust me, watch a few horror films, and you'll get the gist. Wait, do you..." He turned to her. "Do you even get scared?"
GoGo shrugged. "Not really. But that's also what Hiro said about everything else that I feel, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see." She was about to give the thought a deeper consideration but stopped as a surge of energy suddenly signaled behind a unit a few paces ahead of them. "Wait, this is it." Her hand pressing against the metal waves of the door, she tuned into the faint humming from the other side. Fred drew closer and grabbed the second handle as she grabbed the first and began lifting the door.
"You'd think they'd lock these things", he muttered, rising as they eased the door towards the ceiling.
"Like I said: brainless." GoGo groaned and stepped into the unit.
Towards the eastern wall, Baymax sat in a corner with an inflatable ball in his lap. He looked up upon hearing the door creaking and watched as they began to approach him. Tilting his head to the side, he dropped the ball onto the floor and blinked.
GoGo and Fred exchanged a look, then turned back to him.
Baymax rolled onto his knees, then rose to his feet. "GoGo. Fred. It is nice to see you."