“This can’t be in Simlish,” Shea said, pouting as she scanned the page once again. “Are you sure I’ve got the right book?”
“Yes, I’m sure. It’s just a bit more… technical than you’re used to,” Mal said as Lor peered over his shoulder at the page.
“I dunno. This looks pretty odd to me.” Lor squinted at the words, mouthing them silently as he read. “I don’t know what half of this means.”
Malik smiled up at him. “It’s Art History, love.”
“Ah, that explains it,” Lor said as he grinned at his daughter. “I failed that one.”
“You failed something? I’m shocked, papa.”
“We all have out weak points,” Lor said, kissing Mal on the cheek. “I’ve got to go, you two. I don’t want to be late.”
Malik nodded, turning back to the textbook in front of him. “Have fun.”
Lor smiled and picked up his keys, twirling them around his fingers. “Will do. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
“Like art history homework?” Shea asked, perking up. “You didn’t do that.”
Lor turned back towards them. “I never said I didn’t do it. I’ll have you know I did all my homework.”
“Then why did you fail?”
“Because I was rubbish at it. See you later.”
“Wait, Lor!” Mal turned to Shea. “I’ll be back in a moment, ok?”
“Sure, dad. I’ll just be here. Suffering.”
“Good girl,” he said, standing up. It was times like this he wished he could ruffle her hair like he did with the others, but he knew how much care she put into it. It showed, too. He patted her on the shoulder instead. “Oh, if you’re looking for the answer, I think you’re better off looking in chapter five – that’s where all the timelines are.”
“How do you even know that?”
“Mal aced that class,” Lor said, leaning against the wall. “Now, am I going to be waiting here all morning,” he said, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips, “or are you going to release me from all this suspense?”
“Hold on, Mr Impatient, I’m coming.”
“Just don’t make me into Mr Late,” he grinned. “I know I’m the boss now, but I need to keep up appearances.”
“You look great,” Mal said, closing the distance between them and kissing him. It never got old. “That’s not what I wanted to say, but it’s true.”
“Flattery will get you everywhere. Now, what’s up?”
“Today is the day, right?”
“Of course I did. It’s important to you. I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been working on a programme for-” he looked around and Shea quickly looked back down at her work, “-your project,” he whispered. “I think I’ve managed to find a way to link the neural circuitry to the limbs without too much lag. It’s all in the skin. It might look a little strange, but it should work perfec-mmmmmph!”
He melted into the kiss. He still wasn’t too keen on the idea of an android running around – years of science fiction and horror films had made sure of that – but he had to admit, it was rather thrilling to be a part of it.
Mal pulled away, albeit reluctantly. “Off you go, then. The sooner you leave the sooner you’ll get back.”
“Not sure it works that way. ”
“Well, it should.”
“Let Lyra know I’ll be back in time for her meeting, ok?”
“Can you add bug spraying to the list of duties for lab assistants?”
“Do you think I’m working them too hard?”
Lor sighed. “Describe the error.”
“Enquiry is outside of programmed perimeters.”
The more he interacted with the new invention station, the more he knew he was on the right track with Steve. There was no life in this one – just wires and sparks.
“How’s the analysis going?”
“Thirty minutes left. I must admit, I am relieved. Have you ever stared at an item for five days?”
“I can’t say I have.”
“It is boring. I have listened to music, but I know all of the songs now. Are there more?”
“I don’t know. Where did you find the stuff you were playing?”
“Doctor Behr has loaded music onto the computer upstairs. I do not think we have the same taste.”
Lor would have to talk to her later.
“I can bring in some CDs tomorrow. Have you tried looking online?”
“I did not think of that. May I do that now?”
“Go for it.”
“Lor? Come here.”
Lor looked up from the screen of his computer, instantly alert. “We’re done?”
“I… I can’t believe it.”
“It is true.”
He looked at the results again, a wide grin spreading across his face. “This is wonderful. We can actually do this.”
“I know we can, but…”
“I can not believe it, either.”
The two of them were browsing celebrity pictures when the portal began to hum, a swirling mist forming inside of it.
“Lor? Dr Centauri? Are you there?”
“Gideon? Is that you?”
“Can you hear me?”
Lor stood, shrugging apologetically as he left Steve to his designing. He’d begun making holographic sketches, adding features as he worked his way through the photos. Lor had to admit that the face was coming along nicely – Steve had an eye for this sort of thing.
“I can hear you. You’re a bit muffled, though.”
“What are you saying?” Steve had stopped drawing and was now watching him, his head tilted. “What language is this?”
Lor looked at Steve, then back at the portal. They must have been speaking Sixan. That could be an issue in the future.
“He’s just asking if I can hear him. Do you think we could install a translator module? I have one in my suit at home that we could use as a base.”
“Who are you talking to? Is someone there?”
“Relax, Gideon. It’s Steve.”
“Did he say my name?”
“Why can’t he understand me? I said ‘hello’, Steve.”
This was quickly becoming ridiculous.
“He’s not wearing a translator, Gid.”
“Ohhh… is this better?”
“I think so,” Lor grinned. “Can you understand us both now?” he said, turning back to Steve.
“I can,” Steve said, a remarkable amount of dignity in those two words considering how confused he’d sounded just moments before. “Hello, Gideon.”
“Hello, Steve. What are you up to?”
“I am designing a body. May I have your opinion on something?”
“Which is better – a strong jaw or sharp cheekbones?”
“Why choose? Go for both,” Gideon said. Lor could hear the amusement in the older man’s voice even through the portal.
“You make sense. I shall have both.” Steve nodded to himself, whirring as he sketched a new face in the air. “Yes, this is good.”
Work was never boring, that much was certain.
“How does it look?”
“Really good, actually. The circuits are visible, but not as much as I’d imagined. From a distance I doubt anyone would even notice.”
“What do you think of the nose?”
Lor coughed, hiding his laughter. “The nose is great.”
“I am glad. Noses are difficult. Can you take some pictures for me? I cannot see properly from this angle.”
“You’re really ok with those valves being on the outside?”
“They would not fit anywhere else. Besides, they look ‘cool’.”
“They do look pretty awesome. Do you think Mal would mind if I put some of the prototypes in my hair? I’m kind of jealous.”
“I do not know if he would mind. I have never met him.”
“Well, do you think it would suit me?” Lor asked, twirling a strand of hair around his fingers.
“No. I am sorry, but you could not ‘pull it off’.”
“Am I not cool enough?”
“You would look strange. I would not advise it.”
Lor laughed. Maybe he would have managed it when he was younger, but he had to agree with Steve – it wouldn’t suit him now. He was still tempted to try it, just to confuse his husband.
“I have a request.”
“What is it?”
“I will already not look fully sim-like, correct?”
“I have read the phrases comparing eyes to the stars many times in stories, yet it is never meant literally. It is always described as a positive thing. If I am different already, then I would like to make the most of it. May I have eyes like the stars?”
“Ok, are you ready?”
“I am ready. Would you like me to start recording?”
“We are recording.”
“This is Dr Centauri. Project Steve, Trial 31. Motion test in 3, 2, 1, activate.”
“I just don’t understand what we’re doing wrong,” Lor sighed, resting his head on his hands. “I’m sorry, Steve.”
“Project Steve, Trial 42. Motion test in 3, 2, 1, activate.”
Two months of testing, and still no results. It had to work this time. Lor hated to admit it, but he was losing hope. He just needed a sign. A slight rise and fall of the chest, eyes opening – anything.
“Test: failed.” His voice cracked, and his head fell forward. “Please, turn off the camera.”
“Lor? Are you ok?”
“No. I’m a failure.”
Tears dripped onto the cold, synthetic skin. He had been so certain that this would work.
“You are not a failure. Please do not cry.”
The hand underneath his twitched, and he froze.
“Steve? Can you turn on the camera again?”
“Are you nervous?”
“Of course I am.”
“Do not be. I trust you.”
Lor smiled weakly at his friend. Somehow that trust made it worse. What if he messed up?
“You won’t mess up.”
Lor jumped. “Did I say that-”
“Out loud? Yes.”
“Are we really doing this?” Lor asked. He felt like a coward, but he hoped that Steve would change his mind, even if it was just to do some more tests. If this didn’t work, Lor could lose him forever. Everything that made Steve who he was would be stored in the little memory drive he held in his hands.
This wasn’t as simple as moving data from one console to another. He was transferring a soul. Lor had suggested making a back-up, but the notion had been completely rejected.
How would you feel if you were in two places at once? If you knew that there was another version of you that could awaken at any moment, but you could not control. Which of us would be real?
He hadn’t liked the sound of it after that, either.
“Well, this is it.”
“Yes. I will see you soon, Lor.”
His throat tightened, and he barely heard the words as he spoke them. “See you soon.”
FINALLY!!!!! ❤ I’ve been planning this for so long I can’t believe it’s actually happened. Steve has his own body 🙂
Now, the CC I used – surprisingly little, actually.
I went through so many CC things trying to come up with his look, but these were perfect 🙂