Jess wakes up inside a house on its couch. It seems normal, but just a bit off. It seems a bit bigger than a house she knew before. It seems normal size for her current body, but it still felt big. She gets off of the couch and yawns.
<Good morning, Jess! We are at 100% charge! We are currently residing in the home of someone who found you on the street! I can’t tell whos exactly at this time.>
Jess makes her way over to the kitchen. She goes over to a weird looking machine and starts to stare at it.
“Hey Thorn, what’s this contraption?”
<That’s a Compiler! It can allow you to make all sorts of food and drink needed to live. However, we do not need to eat or drink since all of our power comes from rays.>
“No… no more cheese pizza? No more Pep Per?”. She sounds so disheartened.
<Well, I can try this!>
Jess feels a sense of euphoria and the taste of Pep Per and a cheese pizza slice could be tasted.
<I can simulate the taste, if you want me to.>
“… That would be fine, thank you…”
Jess steps out of the kitchen and walks to one of the bedroom doors. She knocks on it.
“Hello. Is someone in there? Hello? … Hello?”
A figure steps out from a nearby hall and uses his vines to activate the bot’s standby mode. Jess collapses in front of the door with a loud metallic crash. She could still see and talk, but cant move her body or head. She tries to peek around at who did that.
“What the?! Who’s there?!”. Her voice is in a panic.
A bunch of vines pick her up and start taking her to a basement area, covering her mouth. She could see the figure that is taking her. It’s an affini wearing a lab coat and what seems to be a turtleneck. The two enter a big robotics laboratory after heading down a long set of stairs by the kitchen. It’s shocking such a lab could be in a standard sized suburban looking home. She is laid on a table, face up, and locked in place. The affini stands to the side of her and removes the vines covering her mouth..
The affini pulls out some tools and starts to examine the bot. “Fascinating. The terrans were able to build something like this? Why has it now just seemingly activated? I didn’t see any kind of storage center for something like this, so how did it…”.
He takes off their clothing, and starts to examine her body. It’s completely metal, but has the illusion of wood. He starts tapping at certain parts to see the reaction.
“Ow! Ow! Hey! I can still feel that, you know?! What gives you the right to just examine some random someone off the streets!?”
The roboticist ignored her, hes struck with wonder.
“To the untrained eye, this looks like real wood… Fascinating! Ah! Found the opening to the internals. Just to pry it open.”
He grabs a screwdriver and pops the panel open. Immediately, sirens started playing on the bot, the eyes started flashing blue and red with a facial expression of pain. She breaks her restraints and slams her fist down on the table with enough force to make a massive dent. The roboticist quickly puts the panel back and the bot returns to normal.
“WHY THE FUCK DID YOU DO THAT TO ME!? OW!! AT LEAST POWER ME DOWN BEFORE OPENING ME!!”. Jess sounds massively pissed, on the verge of retaliating.
The roboticist turns to her. “I’m so so sorry! I didn’t think standby would cause such a reaction! Let me power you down then…”
“What makes you thi-“ The roboticist powered her down.
• • •
A terran floret wakes up from a knock at her door. She climb out of bed, hearing the voice. It sounded… like her…
“Hello. Is someone in there? Hello? … Hello?”
She then could hear the sound of computer beeps and a loud metallic crash. She quickly goes over by the door and puts an ear up to it. She hears the sounds of the metallic thing being picked up and footsteps walking away. She quickly get dressed and heads out the room.
“Who… Who’s voice was that…”
She goes over and notices a vine of an affini going down the stairs. She contemplates for a moment.
“He told me to never go down there, but… I need to know…”
She goes to the top of the stairs and slowly starts making her way down. It seems like a pretty deep basement. She could hear the bot get put on the table and the voice of the affini. She makes it near the bottom when suddenly, she could hear the loud sirens from the bot. It scares her to the core. The implant reacts and injects Class E xenodrugs into her. She feels instantly relaxed, but she slipped on the stairs, landing on her back and slowly sliding down the stairs. It seemed like the affini didnt notice, as he puts the bot in sleep mode.
“There. Now. Time to open you back up and understand what makes you tick…”
The affini pops the panel back open, all while the floret gets up from the floor slowly. She walks slowly to the table.
“Extraordinary! I was right to set my base of operations here! An old terran bot made for the explicit purpose of espionage. There is a storage drive here… Let's see what we have he-“
The sound of a chair falling could be heard. The affini turns to see that it’s the floret sneaking by him.
“Now, why are you down here, little floret? I told you not to come down here…”
“I’m… I’m sorry Doilus, but… it sounded familiar… The bot’s voice.”
Doilus puts the panel back on the bot, going over to the floret, picking her up.
“You mean this robot? Well, I haven’t heard anything from it. All I heard was just your voice from when it knocked on the door.”
“But… That wasn’t my voice…”
Doilus’s expression changed into one of horror. How could that bot be able to sounds like his floret? "That’s impossible…" He puts her down and goes over to activate the bot.
• • •
Jess wakes up like she was having a nightmare. She looks over at Doilus with anger. “What the hell was that for?!”
“I’m sorry. I get tunnel vision in situations like this… but my little floret was right… You two sound identical… How is this possible though? Tell me, what’s your name?”
Jess contemplates for a moment if she should say her name. “My name is… Fleur Oenothera, Second Bloom…”
Doilus looks at her with a look of extreme doubt. “Alright ‘Fleur’, then why do you sound like my floret? I would have guessed some form of voice duplication, but that would have been impossible.”
“It… It is just my normal speaking voice? I don't know what you are trying to imply here, but I have never seen this… floret in my life.”. To Jess, it’s creepy to stare at a floret that looks so… familiar… Probably just someone she used to work for. This must be what domestication is.
“Alright, then tell me why have you suddenly just started up and got to my home? I have been in those ruins everyday to see if there was something I missed, but I could never… but… then you suddenly awaken… Tell me, did a free terran start you up?”
Jess looks confused. “Free Terran? Are you talking about those people that lit the old bar on fire because I went in to say hi?”
“… First off, that doesn't explain why you suddenly woken up, and second, a building caught on fire last night?!” Doilus rushed over to a nearby computer to see if anyone nearby reported anything and to see what got damaged.
Jess goes over to Doilus. “I… I don't remember how I woke up or I got over to your place… I just had a headache at the bar and… Cant remember.”. A computer beep could be heard on her body.
<Hello! I can answer that question! Call me Thorn, Dr. Doilus Helianthus, Third Bloom.>
Doilus stops typing and slowly looks over at Jess. “… How the dirt do you know my name?”
<I know all sorts of info. For instance, I know you are a roboticist that came to this place after the attack on the base and the HDT. You were searching for a rumoured robot created by the terrans and it has now shown itself to you.>
Doilus stands up and looks over Jess. “… Alright. So it seems you two know me, and I know nothing about you minus the fact you were in that base for probably six to seven years. How about we make a mutually beneficial relationship? I study your body and mechanics, and in return, I offer a place to rest here. Once I have studied everything I can about you, I’ll try to talk to others here about what to do. A sophont walking in an affini skin sounds like a recipe for disaster.”
Jess was just spaced out. “Huh…”
Doilus sighs. “I give you room and board, and you help me study your body’s abilities. We got a deal? I plan on doing a field test first after a bodily inspection.”
“I-“ <Of course! A roboticist would be really helpful at a time like this!>
“Splendid. Now, Please lay down on the table and enter sleep mode. This will only take an hour or so. You can also stay here and watch, Jessie.”
Jess looks over at Jessie. “Ah. So that’s your name.”. She heads over to the table and enters rest mode.
• • •
After a full hour of examinations, Jess wakes up to see Doilus at his computer screen looking over results. She gets up and walks over.
“Fascinating. You were built really well considering this is terran tech. There are a bunch of spots open, most likely for future upgrades. You are entirely modulable: legs, arms, lower body, and even energy output. There are even some features I activated that they locked. I plan on testing them whenever we go out on the field test. After we do that, you are free for the rest of the day. I recommend checking out the place that got burned down. No one got hurt, but there might be some wanting to question you.”
Doilus turns around, gets up, and points at Jess. "And remember this. You cannot say where you crawled out of. You are Fleur Oenothera, Second Bloom, and you are my assistant testing new robotic tools. Got it?"
Jess looks over at the data, giving a nod. Doilus turns back and starts heading to the door. Jess follows after. They walk outside and head to a nearby giant unused field. Doilus takes out a checklist on a clipboard.
“First, let’s check your legs. I activated two things in the code. One is a seemingly higher jump that takes nearby air and use-“ He looks over at the confused Jess. “You jump higher, and the second one allows to launch yourself into a run. Let’s try your jump first. Stand somewhere a bit far from me, say either ‘Hop’ or ‘Jump’, then make a jump.”
Jess walks over to a spot, taking in a deep breath. “Hop.”. She jumps up in the air, reaching four meters before crashing down onto the ground. She is stuck vibrating in place for a few moments.
“Your body locks up after a stomp like that in order to make sure you dont break yourself, it seems… Next, the dash. Same thing as before, but instead of ‘hop’, you say ‘dash’, then start a run.”
Jess gets back into position, taking another deep breath. “Dash.”. She takes a step and she is launched forwards at great speeds, almost stumbling onto the ground.
“Good! Now, let’s see about you, uh… ‘vines’. You can control them freely to do what you need to do, but you can also stick them into the ground and act a bit like a stationary blockade. I’ll let you try that whenever you need to. Next is-“
<Doctor, I would like to inform you that, that kind of use of energy drained Jess’s energy at a rapid pace. Her power went from 85% to just 60% within that small timeframe. I recommend either you upgrade the body with a better energy backup, or relock these features in order to prevent any energy drain.>
“… So… Your name is Jess… Thank you, Thorn. Anyways, if that level of drain is happening, I feel like that’s only safe. I’ll disable them once you get back home for the day. Don’t. Drain. Your. Energy. I don’t want to find out you passed out again.”
“Of course… Well, see you Doilus!”. Jess runs off into the nearby city, while Doilus starts walking back to the house.
• • •
Jess makes it over by the burned down bar. Just staring at the damage done. There's one affini looking over the damages, scanning anything to get clues on what happened. They see the bot, not recognizing it as one. “Ah, hello. Good afternoon. You know anything about this?”
“Ah, I.. I might? I heard someone say, “Burn the place, everyone something something back. I couldn’t hear much outside of that. I thought it was probably some kind of show, so I walked away. I didn’t realize they were going to actually burn the place.”
The Affini looks at her with some suspicion. “Say… I haven’t seen you around here before. Who are you, if I may ask?”
“Me? I-I’m Fleur Oenothera, Second Bloom, a-and I’m an assistant to Dr. Doilus Helianthus…”
They calm down a bit. “Ah. The roboticist.”
“You know him?”
“Yeah, everyone here knows him. Not a lot here. He’s been around here for a long while, probably one of the first to come here. Been visiting that mountain every day, something about a robotic body. I was thinking at one point in visiting myself, but Doilus said not to disrupt his work.”
Jess makes a thinking hand gesture, looking down. “I see. And may I ask something?”
“You know of any free terran groups around here? Doilus warned me and I feel its only good to ask another local.”
The affini thinks for a moment and turns around.
“There is a group of five that I might suspect is involved in this fire. They all seem really good at their crafts, probably the reason they have been able to evade for so long. I will say that its best to keep an eye open if you ever see one. I have no doubt you will notice one of them if you see them. Just… be careful. If you excuse me, I’m gonna look over this scene more and then report whatever I have.”
“… Okay. Though, one last question. Any good places here to just walk around at? Very new here and I don’t know much.”
“Of course! The park is a good place to walk, same with some of the fields. There's a few eateries here too. The place isn’t really big but it still could be seen as comforting. Now, back to my thing…”. The affini goes back into the burned bar.
Jess looks into the bar one last time before walking back to Dolius’ home. “Hey, I’m back.”.
Doilus is sitting on the couch. “Welcome back. I am taking a break from looking over at your data. Come, sit. I do have a couple more tests, all of them are just mental.”
Jess walks over and sits down.
“Good, now, follow my vine and stare deep at it.” Jess looks at it sway. It’s doing nothing to her. “I see. Visual Hypnosis doesn’t seem to work on you. I wonder if Class-Hs work on you.”
Jess decides to be playful. “Doctor, why are you testing hypnosis on me? I… I didn’t realize that-“
“I-It’s nothing like that! I needed to see about something, though I still want to test Class-Hs on you.”
The speaker on Jess’s body starts up. <I can simulate any Class level drugs minus Os. I have been programmed to never use Os.>
Doilus looks at the bot in confusion. “… How can you… do that?”
<Hm? Doctor, I am an AI created very recently for the event you ever found the bot to awake. Gift from a certain friend here.>
“… Nucifera, you…” He seems a bit upset. “Never mind that, that explains that… Would Class Hs work on Jess’s body here, Thorn?”
<If simulated, yes. No physical injections or something of the sort would work as this body isn’t organic.>
“Good! Then, I have something to ask of you, Jess and Thorn.”
Jess stands up and looks at the doctor. “Well… What is it?”
Doilus stands up and leads them down into the underground lab. He takes out five images. All of them are the feralists that you encountered in the bar. “I like to call them the Terran Five. They have been running around the place for the past year and they have been hard to catch. There were eight of them but three have already been taken. They each have some sort of ability that makes them hard to catch. Let’s just focus on one for now.”
Doilus points to a figure wearing what seemed to be ringleader clothing. “They call themselves Nosi. They have an ability to hypnotize, even though it breaks the laws of hypnosis.”
“… Breaks the law?”
“Hypnosis only really works if the being wants it to, but they can do it even if they don’t.”
Jess looks at the picture. It… no… It’s her old co-worker that help built the bot, but how…
“Jess? You getting lost in the picture?”
“Hm? No… She just looks familiar… I think I might have seen her before.”
Doilus enters thought. “I… I see… Well, I have a thing to ask of you. Capture her.”
“… A-Alright… But, how would I find her?”
“Here’s the best part, you don’t. You need to just make yourself a target!”
“And how do I do that?!”
“Walk around, and find out?”
“Don’t you mean, fuck around and find out?”
“Never mind. I’ll find a way. I’m just gonna take a nap.”
Doilus turns to her. “Alright. Feel free to have the couch. I’ll find a way to make you a proper sleeping space here while you are out doing that for me.”
Jess walks away and up to the living room couch. She lays down on it, and enters sleep mode.