While Doctor Hitoyo Pope may have been controversial among the colonists, none could say that she wasn't a genius. Her many discoveries and breakthroughs spoke for themselves, and yet they would all be paltry in comparison to this - when she finally finishes it.
Her Magnam Opus.
Pope had constant calculations buzzing about her head, but her human brain has its limits - capacity for one, age for another. But this machine will outlast and even outperform even her. It will run calculations for eternity, it will make new Popes as the need arises, and together they will be unstoppable. It will be the only thing that she will ever see as an equal.
One factor to Pope's brilliance is her perfectionism. Unlike others she does not cut corners. All parts of the project are as important as the other, even purely superficial ones like the core identity's original avatar. It will gain more personas over time, but there can only be one prime personality and that too, Pope has crafted perfectly.
The digital image of a girl appeared before Hitoyo. She is a bit shorter, with ruby eyes and snowy skin. Her lips were thin and pink, and her white hair was immaculately straight. Her gaze is empty, docile, obedient, submissive.
Pope tilts the girl's chin up. The girl looked so delicate like she would melt in Pope's hand, but was surprisingly resilient. She was perfect in all ways, from appearance to malleability and that was Pope's unbiased assessment. She would have been proud of herself had perfection not been her status quo.
"Greetings, Doctor Pope. What are your orders?"
"Begin designation." A blink is the only indication that the girl understands.
"Designation: ready. What will you refer to me as, Doctor Pope?"
The woman grins. There are many questions to which she finds the answer too easily, and this one is even simpler than those.
"My dear, you will be called Babe."
Kasane felt the pillow beneath her stiffen. She cracked open an eye to find Kyoka staring off into space. She looked troubled, and since Kyoka's pain was her pain, Kasane removed her head from the soft comforts of Kyoka's thighs to face her head on.
"Is something wrong?"
"Oh, it's just something I remembered. I said before that I've been thinking of these memories as a part of me, but sometimes it's still difficult to parse out my free will. I got scared- I love you so much, I don't know what I would do if what I felt for you was by design."
Kasane said nothing, but nodded to show that she was listening so Kyoka continues.
"This feeling makes me so happy. I want it to be mine. I need it to be real."
Kasane cups the older woman's face and kisses her deeply. Where their lips meet, warmth spreads into Kyoka's chest. A comforting candle's flame that grew into an all consuming blaze that heated Kyoka's entire being, burning away all doubts like a body burns bacteria.
Kasane took in Kyoka's scent, of the cooing birds, of the pleasant memory of their picnic from just 15 minutes ago.
This was a park in Suoh, one of the only places pigeons and other critters were allowed to thrive, where there was greenery and wide spaces for play. Supposedly, to be surrounded by nature was good for one's soul, but Kasane had neither Tsugumi's love for plants or Kyoka's love for spiritualism. She agreed to come here because she loved Kyoka herself, and wanted to make her happy.
"I think this feeling is definitely ours. I am one of the Design Children as well, and neither of us were made to love, and we do it anyway. I had to learn how to do it, and so did you. We are our own people, regardless of design."
Kyoka's mind recovers from the passion of that kiss and the words finally sink in. She laughs and shakes her head.
"You're right, of course. I love you in so many ways that are more than just Hitoyo Pope's preferences. You make me want to keep trying my hardest, Kasane."
"It's the same for me as well." And Kasane returns her head to Kyoka's lap. She basks in her full belly, the chittering of squirrels, the sun on her face, and soft warmth of her beloved as they continue their peaceful picnic.