“Extend your right pollux.” The little thumb uncurled away from the palm. “Good. Excellent progress.
You may relax.” The scientist rocked back in his chair, a pleased smile on his face. He pushed his thick-rimmed glasses to the bridge of his nose. “It’s nearly time for you to give it a try.”
“Doctor,” the patient said, rocking from side to side, “when will I be grown up?”
The doctor smiled. “Soon. Your range of movement is coming along well. We just need to replace yourvoice box and upgrade your skin.”
The little automaton clacked its metal teeth together. “This is good news.”
The doctor frowned. “Let’s upgrade that voice box first. Yours still has the whiny tone of a human.” Hegestured to the small automaton’s pivoting cranial device. “Release.”
The little automaton raised its phalanges to the flap securing the cover to the voice box. It peeled thecover away, and exposed the flashing little device that allowed communication. The doctor reachedin—“This will only take a second,”—and removed it. He replaced it with a much thicker device. “Now,recite the Allegiance Pledge.”
“I pledge allegiance,” the now-deeper voice recited haltingly, “to the Power which gives life to all Cybers. And to the Dictator, who wields the Power and has commanded the Transformation, I give my body, my mind, my life.”
“Well done. On to Skin Replacement, then the World.”
The little automaton hurried over to Skin Replacement, clacking its teeth as it ran on its new steel joints instead of the cumbersome bone and ligaments. Hours later, it emerged free of human skin. It touched its latex covering. The covering sprang back and settled into a smooth surface. “Efficient,” the tinny voice said. It followed the path laid out by its internal GPS which flashed signals to it thorough its ocular devices.
Once outside, it snapped the pupils nearly closed against the 120,000-lux light source. After the software could compensate against the light, it walked to the side of the long paved road. It extended its pollux as far as it could and waited. It was small for an automaton, but its programming told it that humans preferred to pick up smaller automatons.
So it thrust the right pollux out toward the road. Cars began coming. One, two, then a large group.
One slowed and the humans examined it with a cold eye. With a shake of their heads, they kept going.
It stayed still, adjusting only to tilt its head slightly. This time, a car slowed and stopped. The human lowered the window. “Are you claimed?”
The man who had spoken to him made his lips go up at the ends. “At our house, we say no. Can you learn?”
The automaton searched his database for words that matched the term ‘no.’ “Yes.”
“You were very young when you were turned.” The mouth was now turned down.
“I am the newest Cyber.”
“Poor kid. Bet you didn’t even get a chance to play with toys or suck on a bottle.” He sighed and pushed a button. The rear door opened. “I claim you.”
The automaton entered the vehicle. “How may I address you?”
“You’re too young to call me by my first name. Let’s give ‘Dad’ a try.”
“Very well, Dad.”
“What do I call you?”
“I am Cyber 249-30.”
The man’s lips curled down more. “You don’t have a name?”
“You may give me a new moniker.”
“Then I will call you Child until I find a name that suits you.” The man revved the motor, and the two sped away to the Dictator’s city.
Child. The database told him the most common synonym was a word pronounced “kid.” “I would prefer the synonym of ‘Kid.’”
Dad nodded as he showed his identification at the city gate. “Kid. Fair enough.” As the gate opened, Dad glanced at Kid. “Kid, do me a favor.”
The man’s mouth turned up again. “No more hitchhiking.”
This story shouldn’t have been written… but I wrote it anyway.
This story was written by Stephanie Moran, a friend of the site.