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Some alterations to your clothes and your brain

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Cindi Mayweather and Anthony Greendown sat down at the edge of reality, the bright buzz of holograms flickering intermittently through the dark.

“Yeah, but,” Cindi said, and her eyes were big and depthless, “you could take it in one of two ways.”

“Tell me about it, lady,” said Sir Greendown, looking down at his companion with affection and awe. He'd found her in the catacombs of Metropolis, blown-out and broken-down by the weight of epiphanies and the experience of the auction block. Cindi had gone down into the city to preach her liberation gospel; but even android messiahs falter from time to time, and need to be found by friendly voices and helpful hands.

Cindi had come back to him from the abyss, and she'd come back with a message.

“I'm meant to lead them all back to one,” she said again, cuddling up in the velvet warmth of his coat, tenderly wrapped around her powerful shoulders. “Which could mean a reversion to prototype, elimination of idiosyncratic routines, standardization of units. From disharmony back to a single tone.”

“Mmm,” Sir Greendown – Anthony – rumbled. He was an organic-original unit, cyborg components added later, not made to order like the sister Alpha Platinum 9000s. Still, it disturbed him to think of Cindi and her sibs getting flattened out like that.

Cindi laughed, soft and raspy and a little bitter. She looked tired, darker circles under her dark eyes making the pearl-white of the sclera shine like moon-gleams through the low light. “That's the literal interpretation, anyway,” she said. “And I don't like it anymore than you do, though you won't say so. Make everyone the same, that's an idea that's got more than a few screws loose. But I thought up a different meaning, too. Wanna hear it?”

“Tell me,” Anthony said again, and shifted so that he was lying prone on the rustling astroturf, pulling her down to curl beside him.

“Back to one,” Cindi murmured, curling up catlike and soft against his arm, metal parts warm from touching, picked-out hair puffing out in a soft cloud on his shoulder. “'s a central paradox of Euclidean geometry that the point is that which has no part. How do you get from one to two, without destroying the underpinnings of oneness on the way up? So I figure it only makes sense if the one was made up of all the multitudes all ready, all packed in there ready to explode out. Closeness that does not annihilate. Community that does not demand conformity.”

“Light made out of multiple wavelengths to get a single color,” Anthony offered. “Color made from adding hues.”

“Those are blendings, though,” Cindi demurred from the near side of sleep mode. “'M talking about, you know, remaining whole. Working together. United in purpose but still distinct, diverse. Poly-fiber blend. Spice mix. Don't have a perfect metaphor, it's too complicated, but.”

They sat there until the sun came up, the two of them, creatures resting safely in the protection of each other's company in the silent hours before the next day's work would begin, warm under the weight of the velvet coat, heavy with deep thoughts and the burden of hope.