1. Humans can be incredibly stubborn. Best results occur when the subject seeks guidance—patience is key
Dio didn’t eat for the first three days. Luna brought him food twice a day, but he hardly looked at her, let alone talk to her or acknowledge the food she brought. Even once she left, he didn’t touch a thing.
She watched him on the monitors. She was supposed to be keeping an eye on him—making sure he wouldn’t escape. Making sure he wouldn’t come to any harm. It was quickly apparent to Luna that this was entirely unnecessary. Dio wasn’t making a move to do much of anything. Sometimes she caught him in prayer. Sometimes she saw tears. But mostly he was silent, lying on the bed and staring into space.
Luna knew not to take his silence personally. This was different than how things were with Kyle. This anger wasn’t directed at her. She was only secondary—an accessory to the wrongs against him. Nothing more.
On the fourth day he ate a portion of the freeze-dried meal. Just the bread. The rest remained untouched. But still no acknowledgement when she returned for the tray.
It wasn’t until the sixth day that she received a quiet “thank you” when she set down his breakfast.
“You’re welcome.” She replied with a smile.
2. Give your human space, but be available for conversation
“You seem bored,” Luna commented, as she picked up Dio’s empty breakfast tray.
He shrugged. “Really? I find being a prisoner, oh so stimulating.” Sarcasm was evident in every word.
“If you would like something to do, you can always come help me.”
“What are you doing?” Dio asked.
Luna smiled at his weak attempt at feigned disinterest. “Nothing too interesting today. Mostly cleaning. “
“I guess I could help out.”
As they stood in the warehouse, Luna could tell by his face that this wasn’t what he’d had in mind when she’d said ‘cleaning’.
But the graffiti on the wall wasn’t going to wash itself off.
They worked in silence for a solid half hour. The swishing of brushes against the wall and sloshing of water in buckets served as background noise.
“So how long are they planning to keep me here?” Dio asked finally.
“I’m not sure. But as I understand it, they’re worried about sending you back to Earth.”
“I bet they are. Wouldn’t want me going back to the compound, telling them what I know.”
“Hmmm.” Luna said noncommittally.
“It’s just that, I’m not sure that’s the reason.”
“Well, what could possibly be the reason then?”
“I think they’re worried about your safety.”
Dio stared at her for a moment before he scowled, making a frustrated growling sound, then turned back to scrubbing away furiously.
A few days later they were in the crew quarters, removing posters, collecting puzzle pieces, and erasing the marks from the wall.
“You’re not very high up in this organization are you?”
“What do you mean?”
“If they’ve got you doing all this cleaning and babysitting me. It just doesn’t seem very important.”
“I suppose it doesn’t seem that way. But I’m here to be of service to Dr. Klim and Ms. Kurashiki. So if I can be of any help to them, and give them more time to do what they need to do, then that’s important, I think.”
“How did you even get involved with them. You seem too nice to be involved with this bullshit.”
Luna paused, considering her words carefully before she said, “Dr. Klim is like a father to me. I’ve been here my whole life.”
“Oh. So where’s your family?”
“I don’t have one.”
Dio was silent for a moment. He frowned down at the cloth in his hand before saying quietly. “Me neither.”
3. Expect setbacks
He was hysterical. She’d never seen him like this. Even in the midst of the Nonary Game he had kept his cool demeanor. Had she not known he’d been cured, she might have suspected Radical-6.
His face was wet with tears and snot. His eyes were red and wide, darting between Luna and the scalpel in his hand.
“Where did you get that, Dio?” She asked levelly, taking a few cautious steps towards him.
He shook his head. “I found it. It’s mine! Luna! Don’t try to stop me! I don’t want to hurt you!”
“You’re not going to hurt me, Dio. And you’re not going to hurt yourself either.”
He shook his head more violently this time. “No! Luna! You don’t understand! I have to!”
“No. You don’t.”
“I can’t stay here! And…and I can’t go back… I can’t. I’m scared of what they’ll do to me… I …“ He closed his mouth and swallowed. Then gave his head another quick shake. He raised the scalpel above his chest, and in a flash, Luna darted towards him. She wrapped her hand around his wrist.
“I can’t let you do that, Dio.”
He almost dropped the scalpel in surprise. But his grip held firm.
“What the hell! Luna, let go!”
“No. I can’t do that. Drop the scalpel, Dio.” Her tone was calm and patient, but her stare was hard, leaving no room for arguments.
He struggled for a moment, trying to wrench his hand free from her grasp. But she held firm. It was like trying to pull his hand from the grip of a stone statue–completely unyielding. And yet… her hand was still soft and warm. She was not stone.
Her uncompromising grasp shocked him out of his hysteria. He could only stare open mouthed at her hand around his wrist. After a moment, she watched as his stunned gaze traveled from their hands up to meet her eyes. Her stare was as firm as her grip.
“Luna. What are you…” his voice trailed off, not quite making it to the word ‘doing’ and unintentionally leaving a much heavier question hanging in the air.
“I can’t let you do that, Dio.” She repeated.
“Can’t or won’t?” He asked, not breaking his gaze.
“Okay…” He said slowly, “But can you let me do it?”
Her eyes turned downwards.“
“Luna. Can you let me hurt myself?”
“No.” She said quietly.
“I think you know why, Dio.” She said turning her gaze up to meet his. “The first law of robotics: A robot may not injure a human, or through inaction allow a human to come to harm.’”
He met her gaze for a full three seconds before opening his hand and allowing the scalpel to clatter to the ground. At that moment, Luna released him and he stumbled backwards, wrenching away from her.
“You’re a robot?”
“Yes. Well a GAULEM to be more precise.”
“What the hell.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to deceive you, but in order for the AB Project to succeed…”
“Fuck the AB Project! Luna, you’re a robot?”
“And you were created by…”
“That son of a bitch.”
“Please don’t be angry.”
“Don’t be angry? What the fuck, Luna? You’re a fucking robot! Has Dr. Klim been using you to spy on me?”
“No.” She said quietly. “I don’t report to him.”
“The old bitch then.”
“No. I don’t report anything to Ms. Kurashiki either.”
“Are they checking your data files then?”
“Not to my knowledge…”
“But it’s possible.”
Luna had positioned herself between Dio and the scalpel on the floor, though suddenly that seemed unnecessary. It appeared he had forgotten it completely.
“Fuck! And I suppose this is just Sigma’s sick way of fucking with me?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re not real! I thought there was one person here who might give a shit if something happened to me! I thought I had one frie—one person who might be on my side. But no! I’ve literally got nothing!”
Luna’s expression immediately crumpled in on itself.
“I’m sorry,” she said quietly.
4. Seek understanding and common ground
“Dio,” Luna said. He looked up at her from the bed but sat up when he realized she was coming over to talk.
“I just wanted to say,” she continued, “I’m sorry. I should have told you earlier. But a good time never really came up. Well, that’s not quite true either. I think I was scared of how you might react.”
“Yeah, well. Maybe you had a good reason to be. And…” he took a deep breath, “I guess I’m sorry too.”
“You’re sorry?” Luna asked, taken aback.
“I had a bit of a talk with the old man. And he kind of got me thinking. Anyway, I think I owe you an apology for my little freak out yesterday.”
“I don’t think you need to apologize for that. You were clearly—“
“Yes, but, fuck, I said some things that were really hurtful to you. Things that aren’t true. So, I’m sorry Luna.”
“It’s okay, Dio.” She watched him for a moment then said, “I am on your side, you know. I very much want you to be okay.”
5. Teamwork fosters camaraderie; work on a project together to build trust and form common goals
They sat together in the GAULEM bay. Luna on the floor with a skeletal GAULEM spread out before her.
“So how did you learn so much about GAULEM repairs?”
“Well, I didn’t learn so much as I was programmed.”
“It wasn’t part of my original programming though.”
“No? What were you originally programmed for, then?”
“Well you’re not missing much. Back ho—back at the compound we used to help with the younger clones. Sort of babysitting and mentoring and stuff. Bunch of snot nosed brats. Still, beat the shit out of doing laundry.”
She laughed. “Why do I get the feeling you and children are a disastrous combination.”
“What makes you say that?” He grumbled folding his arms.
“You act enough like a child as it is. I’m sure you only encourage them to get into trouble and play when they’re supposed to be working.”
“Yeah well, homework is boring.”
She laughed, and it was hard for Dio to feel too embarrassed.
There was a smudge of oil on her cheek. He thought about saying something, but then again it looked pretty cute.
“I’ve got to admit, though,” he said, “it’s kind of weird knowing you’re a robot working on other robots. It seems wrong.”
Luna smiled. “Oh? And I suppose you feel the same way about human surgeons, then? Cutting each other open and removing and replace parts?”
“Um. That’s not…that’s—yeah okay it’s exactly the same thing.”
Her grin widened.
His eyes wandered to the smudge of oil on her cheek again, and he imagined it were blood instead. Okay—less cute. “You’ve got a…” he gestured in a rubbing motion to his cheek.
Luna mimicked the motion, smearing the oil further along her face.
“Here let me get it.”
“Thanks.” She said, blushing pink.
6. Humans are unpredictable. There’s no equation for their emotions. Sometimes it’s best to just go with your ‘gut’
He leaned in to her and hesitated for just a moment, his eyes flicking up to hers. She didn’t pull away. So he kissed her. His hands came up to cup her face and she took his wrists to hold him close as she returned the kiss. Every instance of first kiss footage from the Rhizome’s databanks flashes through her mind. But this is better. This is real. This is hers.
She wonders if she tastes like real girls (She doesn’t. There’s a slight aftertaste of plastic that he’ll come to love and look forward to).
7. Always reward good behavior (Many are fond of sweets)
They take to visiting Earth together. Safe places. Places he won’t be found. And with Dr. Klim and Ms. Kurashikis’s resources, they’re able to afford luxuries every now and again.
On the last trip, they splurged on eggs and milk, and Luna promised to produce a cake when they returned to the rhizome.
After the first bite, Dio’s face was priceless. It twisted in disgust, while trying to look like he was enjoying the cake that Luna had made for him. It wasn’t a very convincing act.
Though in her defense, it’s very easy to mix up sugar and salt when you can’t taste. Especially when certain blond haired pretty boys are being distracting and goofing around.
Next time, she promised, she’d pay more attention to the cooking. He just smiled and said he was more than happy with how things worked out.
8. Whatever you do, don’t fall in love with them—they don’t last long
“What? What is it?” She skidded to a halt in his door way.
“At what? Are you all right?”
“At what? Look here!”
“What….what am I looking at?”
“It’s a grey hair!”
She laughed. “Don’t be so dramatic. It’s just a grey hair. Everyone gets them.”
“No Luna, not everyone. You don’t.”
She frowned. “Well, no. But all humans get them. It’s still nothing to worry about.”
“Yes it is. Fuck. Don’t you get it? People are already starting to give us weird looks when we visit Earth.”
“People have always given us weird looks.” It was true; they were an odd looking pair.
“I know…it’s just. This feels different.”
“I know,” Luna replied, making a mental note to look into making physical changes to ABT.
9. But if you do, be sure to cherish every moment
The best thing about being a GAULEM, Luna decided, was being able to remember everything.
At night when Dio would go to sleep, she would fill the long night hours by sorting through her memories, reliving the best ones, making sure they were kept safe, and reviewing the bad ones, finding value in even their arguments and merit in their grief.
She knew one day, she would continue to live even when he didn’t, but until that day, she was determined to enjoy every moment they shared.