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It was a cold January afternoon in Salt Lake City when Tesla walked into her lab within Anti-Entropy's base with a yawn, having just woken up from a nap.

"Nap," of course, was code for "Crashing the instant she touched a remotely soft surface because she pulled an all-nighter and spent a good part of the following day trying to fix her latest invention to no avail and it was driving her damn near insane."

… All in all, it was a good day. Much fun was had. She should go to the testing site later to blow something up.

First, however, she wanted to take a final look at the stupid faulty circuitry that refused to spare her sanity. If she couldn't figure it out even after resting, then whining about it to Einstein until she found a solution would be fair game.

Her plan was immediately put on hold when she took a look at her lab, though.

Or rather, at who was in it.

"You took your time," Einstein said in an amused tone as she leaned back against one of the empty tables in the lab, a cup of tea in her hands. "Had a good sleep?"

Tesla didn't reply. Her attention was somewhere else.

Namely, the young white-haired girl, probably around 10 or something, dressed in winter clothes as she sat on Tesla's revolving chair right next to the blue-haired woman.

She was slowly spinning her seat around while her blue eyes focused on the Rubik's cube in her grasp. Her hands were moving too fast, so she was probably just rotating parts randomly—

"Here!" the girl suddenly declared, holding up the solved puzzle with a smile.

… Okay, so maybe she knew what she was doing.

"Very good." Einstein smiled as she reached for the cube, eyeing it. "How many alternate ways to solve it did you find until Dr. Tesla graced us with her presence?"

"I think about 556?" The girl didn't seem sure. "Oh, 548, I ended up repeating a few."

Wait, what?

Einstein chuckled, though Tesla didn't know whether it was at the girl or her own gobsmacked expression.  "Happens to the best of us."

Alright, that was enough.

"Lieserl," Tesla began slowly, pointing at the girl. "What the hell is that?"

The girl in question just looked confused.

"A child," Einstein deadpanned.

"I know it's a child, Mophead!" Tesla snapped. "I want you to give me the how, why, and when!"

Rather than replying immediately, Einstein took a very slow sip of her tea, shrugging off Tesla's glare as if it was nothing.

"Lieserl…"

"You just missed our esteemed Sovereign's visit during your nap." That immediately caught Tesla's attention. "Long story short, this is the child of one of our friends, and we'll be taking care of her in her father's stead for the time being. I can give you the specifics later."

Tesla narrowed her eyes. "We have a dorm section for brats like her."

"Yes, we do," Einstein replied easily, then she turned to the girl. "Right, I seem to have forgotten. How many seconds are there in fifteen hours and thirty-two minutes?"

"Isn't it fifty-five thousand, nine hundred, and twenty?" The white-haired girl replied without missing a beat.

"That's right. Good job."

Einstein took out a mint candy from her pocket and handed it to the girl, who gave it starry eyes for all of a second before unwrapping it and shoving it into her mouth.

All while Tesla tried not to be unnerved.

That calculation was too fast, even for her.

"Alright, what's the deal with her?" she asked. "If this is some kind of high-end prank with a script and everything, now's the time to say it."

"Oh, it's nothing like that." Einstein shrugged. "There are two factors at play. The first is that she seems to have been implanted with certain information in advance, such as basic linguistics and arithmetic. The second is that either her mental capabilities are enhanced in some manner, or she's taking advantage of the Void Core like a processor of sorts."

"What the hell do you…"

Tesla trailed off as it suddenly hit her. Slowly, she looked at the white-haired girl who seemed to have given up on understanding their conversation and began spinning the chair again.

Her eyes found Einstein's again.

"You're shitting me."

"Our friends in the east took notice of her, so her father decided to mislead them, so to speak," the blue-haired woman explained, as if it was the simplest thing in the world.

It wasn't. Not by a long shot.

Tesla could understand the strategy at work, but she also realized what exactly was being expected of them.

"She's too important to be rounded up with the other brats, but that means…" she trailer off, her voice growing hysterical. "Do… Do you even know how to raise a child?"

The other woman simply raised an eyebrow in response. "Regardless of my answer, I don't have enough time for it. You know just how many projects fall under my jurisdiction."

"But if you're not the one taking care of her, then who…"

"However," Einstein rudely interrupted Tesla with a growing smile, "I remember your recent complaints regarding your lack of activities."

Tesla's brain stuttered for a moment.

"... No."

"Don't worry, I'm sure you'll be perfect for it." Einstein walked up to Tesla, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Just think of it as a learning experience. For Joachim's sake." Before Tesla could even start sputtering, Einstein was already walking past her, only glancing back for a moment to wave at the girl. "Bye, Kiana. Behave."

"Bye, Auntie Eins!" The girl  — apparently named Kiana, and why the hell did Siegfried give her that name — waved back with a smile, bringing out a chuckle from Einstein.

For her part, Tesla said nothing, still in shock. Her wide eyes followed Einstein until she was out of view.

And then it was just her and a child inside the lab.

That was the worst combination possible.

"..."

"Um, Auntie Tesla?"

"Look, just…" Tesla took a deep breath, burying her face in her hands. "Just call me anything but that…"

"... Doctor?"

Good enough.


Regardless of her thoughts on the matter, Tesla would not waste the rest of the day cursing fate.

Instead, she immediately got down to work. Einstein mentioned something about this girl having information implanted in her mind in advance, and Tesla wanted to know what she was dealing with.

That was basically how she ended up on her lab's computer putting together an impromptu open-ended test, featuring everything from primary to higher education. This was Otto's pet project, and Tesla refused to assume she was the same as any other child and only check for basic knowledge.

Incidentally, she had to use a normal metal chair, because apparently the revolving chair was Kiana's now. The girl was right next to her, watching her work curiously, like someone who never saw a computer in her life.

… Oh, she probably hadn't. Same for a lot of relatively advanced technology.

That was something to keep in mind.

Tesla also didn't miss how Kiana kept swinging her legs and waving her head idly. Those were some pretty good signs of hyperactivity, which meant she had her work cut out for her.

But that was her future self's problem. Her present self printed the test and flipped through the thick stack of papers to ensure everything was in order.

Then she placed the test and a pen on the table next to the computer, right in front of Kiana.

"Try answering these," she told the perplexed girl.

"Um… Alright, Doctor…" Kiana hesitated for a moment before pulling closer to the table and taking the pen. She seemed nervous, but that wasn't enough to stop her from taking the pen and…

Tesla blinked.

Kiana immediately started writing in slightly shaky block letters before even reading the questions.

No, that was wrong. Kiana read all of them with a single glance.

So not only was this girl able to write as well, which Tesla only just realized she forgot to check, but she could also read inhumanly fast.

What the hell did the good Overseer put in her genes?

At her accelerated pace, it only took about ten minutes for the girl to answer everything she could. Kiana didn't actually say so, but Tesla could see the way she kept switching pages and working herself towards a breakdown when she couldn't answer anything else. 

The woman sighed. She could sympathize with the feeling, but that wouldn't do.

"Hey, you're not supposed to be able to answer everything," she spoke, catching the girl's curious gaze. "I'm just checking how much you know right now. No point in waiting for divine intervention if there's nothing else you can write."

Kiana's gaze lingered on Tesla for a moment before returning to the test. Tesla could easily notice the girl's growing frustration, but she didn't get a chance to address it before Kiana sighed instead, placing the pen back on the table and pouting.

She wasn't very talkative, it seemed. At least not with Tesla; maybe it was different with Einstein, considering how glaringly obvious it was that this girl liked the other woman better.

It was probably the candy.

Tesla didn't linger on that thought for long, instead taking the papers and flipping through the pages.

As it turned out, Kiana didn't do horribly. Maybe it'd be that way if the papers in her hand were to be graded like a normal school exam, but this test's aim was just seeing how far she went.

And she definitely went far for someone her biological age.

Things like chemistry, physics, and even history were left completely blank, but she was apparently fluent in every single language known to man.

Okay, maybe not every single one, but definitely every language Tesla put in the test. Kiana perfectly transcribed all the foreign sentences to English in record time.

That made Tesla wonder about something.

She placed the papers on the table by her keyboard and looked at Kiana.

'Can you also talk like this?' she signed at the girl.

Kiana seemed at a loss for a moment, but realization soon crossed her face and her hands moved. 'I think so.'

Alright, then. That was one more language, Tesla noted as she took hold of the papers again.

It seemed like Kiana somehow wasn't aware she knew sign language, so Tesla would need to ask her how that worked later.

That aside, Kiana also correctly answered every math question that didn't require special formulas. However, she didn't write any calculations, even when they involved a lot of decimal places.

That settled it. This girl had theoretically perfect communication skills and a calculator for a brain, but no in-depth knowledge.

Was there some sort of limit to how much information Otto could put in a clone's mind, or had he simply played it safe with only what he considered essential? 

There was no way to know now.

… But maybe she should bring Kiana to the neuroscience lab later, just to check if there were any side-effects from a bunch of data being pushed into her brain at once.

"H-How did I do…?"

That brought Tesla's attention back to the real world. Kiana was fidgeting in her seat, waiting for a verdict.

And it suddenly hit Tesla that this was a lone little girl, in an unknown place, away from the only family she ever knew, watching an unknown woman make faces at the physical representation of all her knowledge.

Shit. Did Einstein have any idea what she put her up to?

The red-haired woman sighed.

She only realized her mistake when Kiana's expression fell.

Tesla immediately moved to rectify that by patting the girl's head with her free hand.

"No need to look down. You did well," she told the girl in a matter-of-fact tone. "Did you know you calculate way better and faster than most people?"

That was a massive understatement.

"I do…?" She didn't look particularly convinced, but still seemed to consider it. "Is that why Dad put me in charge of the expenses?"

"..."

Tesla hummed, but didn't reply.

This was the first time she went from indifferent to wanting to punch someone in two seconds flat. Just what sort of deadbeat…

No, it wasn't worth thinking about that right now.

"Say," she started, pulling her hand back, "someone already explained the situation to you, right? About your dad and why you're here?"

Kiana thought for a moment, then nodded. "Dad said there were bad guys after us, and Mister Welt would protect me while he fought them. I don't remember it well, but I think…" her voice became quieter as she spoke, "I think the bad guys attacked us and took Dad's arm… I just remember falling asleep, then waking up, and everything was on fire, and he didn't have it anymore… Then he took me to Mister Welt and left… But can he really fight them like that…?"

"... Siegfried is strong enough for that," Tesla said after a moment, because leaving it at that was much better than discussing the possibility of an evil world-destroying thing inside the girl that may or may not have ripped off her father's arm.

At least now she knew what the Herrscher-like signature from last week was.

"Even so!" Kiana straightened up in her seat, looking upset. "I could've helped! We always went out to hunt Honkai Beasts together!"

Siegfried, what the fu—

"These bad guys are worse than Honkai Beasts," Tesla attempted a gentle tone. "If they get their hands on you, do you think your father can go all out? That'd be an instant defeat. Keeping you out of harm's way is better for everyone."

The little girl's eyes widened at that.

Then she looked away dejectedly, and Tesla just knew she said something wrong.

"... I guess so." Kiana's shoulders slumped. "Dad's so strong… Maybe it's better if I stay out of his way..."

Oh, would you look at that? Budding self-esteem issues.

Tesla flung a slew of curses at Einstein in her mind for making this her problem, trying to think of how to continue this conversation without catastrophic results.

For the time being, maybe she could give Kiana something else to focus on.

"Kid, do you think going out there and shooting things is the only way to pull your weight?"

Kiana's eyes met Tesla's again, and the girl tilted her head quizzically.

That was a "yes."

Tesla huffed, turning to her computer. "Take a look at this and see if you still think that."

There weren't many Honkai outbreaks in America, considering the low ambient Honkai energy in the continent, but that didn't mean there were none.

So of course Tesla had plenty of footage of Anti-Entropy's mechas kicking Honkai ass, and she was more than happy to show it off.

She pressed "Play" and turned to the little girl with a smug smile, puffing up her chest.

It was surprisingly amusing to watch her face go from indifference to shock and then finally awe.

"Robots…?" Kiana leaned forward, eyes glued to the screen. "Super fighting anti-Honkai robots…?!"

"These mechs and weapons were made by yours truly, and they even work without pilots," Tesla revealed with no small amount of pride. "Well? I'm not running around doing cartwheels with a bunch of guns, but I'm still unleashing hell on Honkai from the safety of this base. Do you think I'm not pulling my weight?"

Kiana was practically shaking in excitement.

"Can… Can I make stuff like this?!" she asked, pointing at the screen. "Super cool robots that'll help Dad?!"

Tesla smirked. It seemed like kids still loved mechs.

"Well, if you're interested in the basics, I do have some spare circuit boards around here…"


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Yssring Leavtruth, female, 12. Junior assistant at Anti-Entropy's neuroscience lab. Currently in the middle of bringing an important stack of documents to her parents at the lab.

The day so far had been quite good. The winter's cold wasn't too oppressive, the cafeteria had her favorite snacks, and her oversized lab coat that she refused to not wear for style points hadn't gotten caught on anything just yet.

So of course something inside Tesla's personal laboratory exploded as soon as she walked past it.

Yssring didn't yelp, but it was a near thing as she spun around to look at the metal sliding door leading into the lab.

She spent a few moments in panic, unsure of what to do. Was that some sort of attack that she should be running away from to call for help? Or was it an accident that required her — or anyone else's — immediate intervention?

Whatever it was, the door suddenly slid open with a hiss, and a trail of dark smoke escaped the room.

"Hahaha, see?! That was a ca-tas-trophic failure!" That gleeful voice sounded like… Tesla? "That's why we don't connect those like this unless we want fireworks! Good thing we do, huh?!"

"Doctor, Doctor!" came a voice that seemed to belong to a girl about Yssring's age. "If we add these and double the output, what happens?!"

"Let's find out, shall we?! Mwahahahaha!"

"Mwahahahaha!"

"..."

It didn't take long for Yssring to conclude her presence wasn't needed.

Rather, she should probably be going. 

Approximately right this instant, to be specific.

The girl turned away from the smoking lab and let her legs carry her away a bit faster than usual.

Yssring Leavtruth, female, 12. Junior assistant at Anti-Entropy's neuroscience lab. Currently wondering how to go about telling her parents that Tesla found a child to corrupt and they were all in danger.


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Tesla found herself grinning as she leaned back on her metal chair, waiting for the air filters to deal with the remaining smoke.

Kiana was still on her revolving chair, moving around the lab's open space.

Her smile was way brighter than the one she had with Einstein, and Tesla would gladly take that as a victory.

As far as stress relief methods went, destroying spare circuitry was a relatively costly one, but Tesla had an excuse this time if Einstein asked.

It was a learning experience.

She showed Kiana a bunch of mistakes. There were those that simply prevented the circuitry from working, others that straight up fried something, and the "expensive homemade explosive" category.

Needless to say, Kiana loved the last one.

Tesla couldn't quite make her understand the finer details at first, since her eyes sort of glazed over at the technical explanations, but a few analogies and demonstrations were enough for the girl's mind to grasp more or less how circuits and electricity did their thing.

And then, interestingly enough, she was able to follow slightly more detailed explanations.

Kiana was smart, but she seemed to heavily favor understanding over memorization, not unlike Tesla herself. When she was told to remember some information with no further explanations, her brain couldn't grant it any logical importance and immediately discarded it; conversely, when something clicked, everything else easily fell in place.

That wasn't something that could be dealt with through "effort," or any other nonsense Kiana would no doubt be told if she were in a normal school. Her brain was outright incompatible with the usual education system.

Fortunately, she'd do just fine in Anti-Entropy.

The information implanted in her mind, coupled with its superhuman capabilities, already gave her a massive head start compared to other children. If her interest remained strong, she could easily develop into someone like Joachim, who refused to rely solely on the powers granted by his Core and continued to assist in Anti-Entropy's scientific pursuits over the years.

In other words, yet another Herrscher on humanity's side who combined brains with brawl.

Still, Tesla found herself more interested in the "brains" side of Kiana's future. With her potential, it wouldn't even be out of question for her to assist in the Moonlight Throne project.

In fact, there was a good chance they'd end up on all sorts of projects together. Who knew what sorts of breakthroughs and brilliant nonsense her mind would come up with by then.

… Tesla's grin disappeared.

'Oh no,' she thought with building dread. 'Am I actually looking forward to this?'

Einstein could never know. The last thing she needed was more teasing in her life.

That woman was still annoying Tesla over that time she mistakenly declared that the Pearl Harbor attack took place in WW1, despite the fact she was already 7 when it actually happened—

"This is weird…" Kiana's voice caught her attention, breaking her out of embarrassing memories. "What's up with this?"

Tesla glanced at her direction. The girl had pulled her revolving chair to a specific corner of the lab, and was looking at a mess of circuit boards and wires taking up a whole table.

"Oh, that…"

Tesla could already feel her mood souring as she rose to her feet, walking up to Kiana.

What the little girl found was simply Tesla's latest source of stress.

Her newest weapon design was theoretically flawless from an engineering point of view, but the prototype just… refused to function.

She managed to isolate the issue to this bunch of circuitry, but considering how even replacing every single bit of it didn't solve a damn thing, the issue wasn't a faulty board or wire.

It could be some sort of freak malfunction from the design, like an accidental electromagnetic field disrupting something, but she hadn't figured it out just yet.

Tesla already lost a whole night of sleep over this nonsense, and her only conclusion was that it should be working—

"Doctor, isn't this wrong?"

… Excuse her?

"This one here," Kiana said, pointing at a specific circuit board. "If you turn everything on, shouldn't it get too fizzy and burn out?"

That was Kiana for "short-circuit."

And that shouldn't be the case, Tesla thought as she eyed the offending circuit board. This was all identical to the blueprint — she already triple-checked it. Unless her own design was wrong in some insultingly simple way, there weren't supposed to be any issues as small as circuitry composition.

She narrowed her eyes and brought a hand closer to the array, silently tracing all the paths from the power source to the board Kiana pointed at.

"..."

Oh, would you look at that? It was absolutely a short-circuit.

Her design was wrong. She probably did this bit half-asleep.

Tesla buried her face in her hands and let out a muffled scream.


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Einstein was spending her break in a family café near the base, enjoying a slice of pie and a cup of coffee, when her phone started buzzing.

It was Tesla.

Did she run out of patience with Kiana, or was she discarding her pride to ask for help? Perhaps both?

The woman chuckled. Maybe her little opportunistic prank went a bit too far. 

She should probably tell Tesla she wasn't actually tasked with raising a child alone. Her friend severely overestimated the amount of security necessary to ensure Kiana's safety.

Though, to be fair, Einstein did play a part in that by not correcting her.

In truth, as long as Kiana was monitored properly, there shouldn't be any problems with putting her in the base's dorm. As Tesla herself previously alluded to, it had a section specifically for young orphans and charges of Anti-Entropy members who didn't have anywhere else to go while their guardians worked.

Deciding to cut her friend's suffering short, Einstein took the call with a smile.

"Doctor, what a surpri—"

"No take backs," Tesla interrupted her.

Einstein paused. "I'm sorry?"

"Yeah, you'll be," the other woman shot back without missing a beat. "The kid's mine now. I'm buying her a cake."

Einstein heard a gasp from somewhere near Tesla. "Even though it's not my birthday?!"

"Who the hell said cakes are only for birthdays? Screw that, now you're getting two cakes," the other woman said, to the sound of yet another delighted gasp. "Anyway, girl's mine, bye."

With that, Tesla cut the call short.

"..."

Einstein slowly lowered her phone, staring blankly at the screen.

Well, that was certainly a development.

… Should she tell Joachim to break the news to Siegfried?