After some slight prodding, I decided to go with this after all. Fuck it, it's 20 years old by now, I'll rehash it if I want. lol. I'm using a new divider too, they tend to get lost in the Text Sea. (didn't like it, just resized the one I use) STORY CONTINUES IN POST NUMBER 5 (hit the 50,000 character limit in this one) _____ Personal log. My observation of the species "human" has yielded a wealth of data. My multitasking capability has allowed me to process it quickly, however, I am unsure if it brings me closer to an understanding of emotion, or what it is to... "be human". Ling Xiaoyu told me that I understood perfectly after inquiring about her condition after one of her fights, in which she had been unusually heavily damaged. I am not sure I agree with that assessment, but I can only assume I had taken the appropriate course of action. She said it was nice of me to be concerned. I have come to the conclusion that observation is not enough. I do not understand these rogue desires to be more human. They were not part of my original programming. Perhaps the human Julia Chang can assist me. She understands my workings better than anybody else, however, as she reminds everyone, she is "no Doctor Bosconovich." I must participate and experience things myself. In this case... failure is an option. It will allow me to better sort my information. It is... how do the humans say... show time. Alisa stopped her log. Eyes opening, she rose from the chair she was sitting in. She never used the bed, didn't require it. She made her way to the mess hall, where everybody would begin gathering shortly. People started filing in with their supper trays, on the exact second she had surmised. Humans are a creature of habit, she thought. I hope they will not be adversely affected by the breaking of that routine. Paul and Law sat down in a corner with their usual joviality. The cards will come out in 21.4 seconds. As she thought, Paul reached into his back pocket for the deck of cards right on time. Steve Fox and King were exchanging stories of their respective combat sports. It would appear to be a rivalry, however, they do not seem to be competing. It must be what is known as a "friendly rivalry". Lili slinked off to a far table alone and began picking at her food as usual. Julia and her friends walked past, too caught up in their chatter to notice Alisa waiting for them. Alisa waited a moment so she would not startle Julia, and then called out to her. "Julia." Julia turned. "Hey Alisa!" She smiled. "You guys go ahead, I'll be there in a few minutes." Alisa had surmised from her reaction that she thought favourably of Alisa even before the next words had been spoken. "Good to see you. What's up?" Alisa paused a moment to derive the non-literal answer to that question. "You mean that as in "what is going on". I wish to ask you something." "Sure, go ahead." "As you may know, approximately six months ago, I started having... strange desires.. to become human. I wish to become more than my initial programming. I cannot understand why this is manifesting itself." Julia had known for almost as long. It was why she had spent long hours in her laboratory lately. "It's people's nature to grow, to learn, to experience new things. I know you've been researching this." Alisa was momentarily stumped as one of her synapse controllers had a small blip at this new information. "You know about this? But I have not told anybody." Julia winked. "Human intuition. Don't forget, I'm a researcher and scientist myself. I know when others are scouting people." Alisa continued. "I was not programmed for this." "Well...are you sure there's not some kind of program or string in there that allowed for growth as you.. I was going to say "get older", but well, you don't age in the conventional human sense. How about "as you gain experience in life"? Alisa's eyes shifted the way they did when she was accessing memory banks. "It is a possibility. One I had not considered. I wished to ask you, would it be okay if I sat at your table to gain a close perspective of how humans interact and react with each other?" Julia's smile broadened. "Sure! Come on over. I know they won't mind." _____ "Julia." Julia turned. "Hey Alisa!" She smiled. "You guys go ahead, I'll be there in a few minutes." "Wonder what she wants?" Asuka wondered. "Well, Julia understands her programs better than anyone else here, maybe there's a maintenance problem." Christie said. "She seems like someone I'd like to make friends with", said Xiaoyu. "You would say that, you like everybody!" laughed Asuka. "Seriously, is there one person in this room you hate? I mean really hate, despise, want to tear a chunk out of." Xiaoyu started "Well I really hate-" "And Lili doesn't count" interrupted Asuka. "Everybody hates her! Almost by default. You can't pick her!" Christie laughed at that, almost choking on her water. Xiaoyu had to think. "uh, well... there's, um... there's..." "There's nobody" offered Christie. "She's right, you like everyone! You're so bubbly I'm surprised that when you get into water it doesn't froth up." "Xiaoyu shot her a mock look of annoyance. "Oh shut up" she groaned, drawing more laughter. "Hey guys, look what's coming our way!" exclaimed Christie. Julia and Alisa strided up to the table. "Hey guys, I sort of kind of already told Alisa it was okay if she joined us tonight... I didn't think you would all mind. Is that okay?" "Yeah, have a seat!" remarked Xiaoyu. "I'll get another chair." Alisa sat. "Hello. What is up?" The group exchanged glances and smiles. They are reacting to the question they might themselves pose. Alisa marked it as a favourable response. "So what brings you here? I don't recall you ever wanting to hang out with us." asked Christie. Alisa repeated word for word what she had told Julia. "I see. Well, I hope you find what you're looking for." "You may continue your conversation as if I am not here. Any sensitive subject matter will be deleted at the end of the night. My purpose here is simply to observe human behaviour." Julia nodded her assent. "She can't lie. If she says it, she means it." Alisa observed the nuances, comments, reactions, and everything else up close for the next hour. Jokes were told that she didn't get. They would require further analysis. Xiaoyu was the first to suggest throwing it in. "Well.. it's 9 PM. We should wrap it up tonight. They want to do the dishes and are giving us dirty looks. We're gonna hit up an arcade or something, you in, Julia?" "I would really love to you guys, but I've got something I'm working on back at my lab. I think I'm almost done it." "What is it you're working on? Seems we hardly ever see you outside of meal times these days." Asuka asked. Alisa noticed a visible change in her demeanor. She was caught off guard and searching for an answer. It was obvious to Alisa, but her human companions did not notice. "Just a program I'm writing. I'm really close to done. I promise I'll make it up to everyone. I know, I've been a little absorbed in my work, but I've finished my reforestation project and I've been writing a new project. I think I might be able to finish tonight if I work through the night. I'll catch you guys later, I promise." "Alright, we'll see you later." They clattered out the door. "I get her turns at the machine!" "No I do!" "Listen you two, I'm bigger than both of you and I get them, and I'll just bump you out of the way!" "You stick that butt in my way and I'll boot you right in it!" "Now wait just a darn second here-" they were out the door. "Ridicule is part of the bonding process?" Alisa asked of Julia as the rest of the group shuffled out. "Part of the understanding and acceptance friends have. They're just joking, they're not going to attack each other." Right on cue, Christie kicked Xiaoyu in the ass, in an obvious joking manner. Julia sighed. "Well, they won't attack each other with the intention to cause harm, anyway. Way to make a liar out of me, you guys!" She shook her fist at them. "Thank you for inviting me to the table, Julia. It was an enlightening experience. If you will excuse me-" "Oh, wait, would you mind coming down to the lab with me? I can finish your program tonight if I work hard." If Alisa were human, here eyes would have lit up like a Christmas tree. "Your modification program is complete?" "Will be. You wanna test it out?" "Of course." _____ The hours wore long, and Julia's patience wore thin. She cursed through gritted teeth. "Damn it to hell! My code keeps screwing up on me and I don't know where I am going wrong!" "You have not rested for seven hours, 14 minutes." "I'm almost done. I just need to find this feedback loop." "Would you like some assistance?" "At this point, I'd drive an ice pick through my eye if I thought it would help. Go ahead." Alisa looked puzzled for a moment. "No, not literally. It's just... never mind." Alsia zip-scanned the entire program in a second. "Your feedback loop is located here." Alisa pulled it up on the computer. "I can correct that." She punched in the correct variable. "You neglected to put in a "lesser than" input. Instead, you had "greater than", which was causing the returning feed. It is correct now." "What a stupid oversight. Thank you, I would have gone nuts looking for that." "It is quite all right." Julia wrote the entire program to a microchip. "Well, this is it, Alisa. You're sure you want to go through with this?" "It is everything I have been looking for. I could not refuse. You did not have to go through such trouble though." "I know, but I wanted to. Besides, aside from the aggravating parts, it was fun to do." "I am... grateful. What do I do?" "Pull back the index fingernail on your right hand, and put this chip in it. It might be something of a shock to your system, trying to integrate new code." Alisa nodded, and pulled up on her fingernail. It hinged open. Underneath was visible circuitry and miniature LEDs blinking away merrily. "You ready?" asked Julia. "I am." Alisa slid the chip into place. Immediately, her body stiffened. Her head shot upwards and she gasped. Breathing wasn't necessary, but it had been built in to her as a nice touch. She let out the breath she took in, slow and shuddering. Finally she relaxed and looked around the lab, clicking her nail back into place. "Well? Any malfunctions to report yet? Did I fuck it up?" Alisa stared at the lab in amazement. When she spoke, her voice took on cadence and inflection. She also used a contraction when she said "I've never seen this place for what it really is before! There's a lot of really awesome stuff in here!" Alisa made her way around the lab, looking at everything as if it were new again. Once she had circled back to Julia, she said "I... I'm not sure how to process what's happening... I feel... happy. I believe the appropriate response is "Thank you". Thank you for helping me. I'll do whatever I can to help you, if you need a hand with your work, or if you want me to look over some code..." "Actually" said Julia with a cavernous yawn, "I thought I'd go to bed and get at least a couple hours sleep. It's nearing 5 AM, and breakfast is at 8. I knew I was going to pay for this late night, but knowing that the fruits of my efforts over the last six months not only actually work properly but have paid off, it was worth it. The price of one tired day is payable..." "Here, climb onto my back. I'll fly us over to the compound." Julia and Alisa left the lab, and Alisa picked up Julia. "Up, up and away!" she exclaimed. Julia laughed. "Been studying comic books, I see." "I've assimilated a lot of data trying to understand humans." "I'm a human and even I don't understand humans." "I'm not sure I get it." "Got any history on slavery in those memory banks?" Julia asked her. "I do." "Re-assimilate that data later, and see if it doesn't piss you off and make you wonder why people can be so stupid sometimes." "I do have a lot of stuff to go through. I'm going to have to sort through it all again now that I know the meanings of it! Oh, and I see why everyone hates Lili now... what a bitch!" Julia laughed again. "NOW you see what we see!" They arrived at the compound in a fraction of the time it would have taken to walk. "Thanks for the lift. I'm definitely going to bed." "I want to go through the garden!" Julia smiled. "I know there's a whole new world out there, but seriously, it's 5 AM. It's pitch dark. You won't get to see anything. Now, wait until it's about 2 PM or so... you won't be disappointed. In the meantime, I'm sure you have enough data in your memory banks to keep you occupied." "I guess I do. A little at a time, right?" "Exactly. You've got stuff you can do, I'm sure." "All right then. Enjoy your sleep." "Oh, I won't get nearly enough of it. If I'm grouchy tomorrow, don't take it personally." "Oh, I won't, I don't have any fee... feelings... I.. wait a minute..." Julia smiled. "You might just like them." Alisa grinned. "Thanks again. I'm just... sort of overwhelmed right now." They retreated to their rooms. Julia didn't even bother stripping off her lab jacket, opting instead to remove her glasses and flop into bed still clothed. She was asleep seconds later. _____ Julia awoke to a knock at her door. "Hey, you awake yet? Breakfast is served, and we want you to join us!" The voice belonged to Asuka. Julia buried her head in her pillow and screamed obscenities. Two and a half hours' sleep was not nearly enough. Her eyes burned from fatigue. After she had calmed down and remembered she brought this on herself, she answered back "Yeah, I'll be right there..." She got out of bed. "Fuck it, I'll wear the same clothes." She hung up her lab coat, and left in the same jeans, shirt and boots she'd had on the day before. "I have a good excuse, damn it" she muttered to herself. Julia got her food and joined the group, which now seemed to feature Alisa. When Julia saw how Alisa was conversing with her new friends, how human she looked and acted, Julia couldn't help but lose her bad mood. It was so worth it, she decided. She sat down. "Good morning, Julia! You okay? You look like shit..." Asuka asked her. Julia glared jokingly at her. Sarcastically, she said "Gee, thanks ever so much, true friend. You sure know how to bring someone up in the morning!" They all laughed. Alisa beamed, clearly pleased she understood the nuance behind it. If one didn't know she was a robot, they wouldn't be able to tell by her mannerisms anymore. "Okay then, seriously, you look tired. Didn't get much sleep?" "Nope, I was finishing up a project... you've been interacting with it for ten minutes. Haven't you noticed a bit of a... different tack to Alisa's behaviour?" They all stopped short and then looked at Alisa. "Julia wrote a program and put it on a chip for me that, well... gives me emotions and feelings. I've been looking to become more like humans for a while now, and Julia helped me make that happen." "That's why I've been holed up in my lab for the last six months. I'm really sorry I worked on that program to the exclusion of my friends, and I feel badly for that. But I saw what she wanted and I knew I could give it to her." "That's really the most selfless thing I've ever heard" said Xiaoyu. "It explains everything, and really, it's just... wait, how did we not even notice this? That's it, we officially suck!" The rest agreed. "Yup, terrible... I can't believe I didn't catch that" offered Christie. "Hey, it's the morning, we haven't fully awoken yet. You know it takes one hour for the human body to fully wake up in the morning?" (true fact) "I just shouldn't have gone to sleep at all, if all I was going to get was two hours. But hey, this was totally worth it. I'll even drag my ragged ass along to whatever you guys want to do tonight. I've neglected my pals long enough. I need to make it up to you guys. I think we should blow this pop stand and go out for pizza tonight. I'll even pay." The rest of the group liked that suggestion, even better when Julia offered to pay. "Alisa, I know you don't need to eat, but I also know you can... you need to taste this. Without giving the technical analysis and just enjoying it." Alisa nodded. "I would like to, thanks!" Julia put a hand over her mouth, yawning widely. "I'm so tired, but I just know if I get some sleep now, I won't be tired when night actually comes... then again I brought this on myself. I have no one to blame! Well, maybe I'll just blame Christie." "Hey! What did I do??" "Nothing, you were there and I just blamed you for it." Julia laughed. Christie smiled. "You miserable bitch. Why don't you go soak your head?" Julia retorted with "Yeah, well, why don't you go make friends with Lili?" They all laughed. "... damn it, I got nothing. You win this round!" Julia threw up her hands in victory. "YESSSS!" "I'm going to waffle you, you know!" Julia looked excited. "Ooh, ooh! Belgian, please!" More laughter. Christie stood up. "All right, well, I'm going to go then. See you guys at lunch! Oh, hey, watch this... act innocent." Christie took Asuka's unfinished omelet and lobbed it over to where Lili was sitting and sat back down quickly. It hit her in the back of the head, pieces of egg and strands of melted cheese sticking to her hair. Snickers went all around the room. "Ugh, what the fu... ew! Who the hell did this??" Lili demanded as she stood up, angry. Nobody fessed up or ratted Christie out. "Damn it, one of you threw this at... YOU!" she pointed over to Asuka's table. "I know it was one of you! We always give each other a hard time, and I KNOW you had SOMETHING to DO WITH THIS!!" Lili's voice was getting more and more shrill as she got madder and madder. She stormed over to their table, fury building in her eyes. "Which one of you fucking whores did this??" You know" said Xiaoyu, "Money may have bought you a lot of schooling, Lili, but you clearly don't have any CLASS." The room erupted in applause. Lili ignored it, too late to take it back now. Might as well run with it. "Yeah well it's really classy to throw this shit at someone isn't it? I was minding my own damn business over there." Christie piped up. "Yeah, and how many times have you done something like that just to be an ignorant bitch to us, completely unprovoked? Not so comfortable when the shoe is on the other foot, is it? I did it, what are you going to do about it? You're going to do nothing, is what. Guess the yolk's on you, isn't it? Go wash your hair, greasy!" Lili was fuming, already plotting revenge. _____ "Julia!" It was Alisa. Just a day ago, she was so matter of fact, and now... do I hear excitement in her voice? Julia stilled a yawn. "Hey, Alisa, what would you like?" "I want to go see the flowers in the park!" Julia couldn't help but smile, even through her fatigue-induced bad mood. "I did promise you that, didn't I?" She looked at her watch. 2 PM right on. "That's right... I told you to wait until the high afternoon at 2 PM..." "I still don't forget!" Alisa said, beaming. As tired as she was, Julia couldn't turn her down. "Alright, let's go. I wanna see how you process all this." As they walked down the pathway leading off the fighters' compound and into the forest, Julia pointed out the foliage. "Look, the flowers start here. Tell me what you see." Alisa's programming worked overtime, the dueling inputs of form and function vying for dominance. "There are 342 daffodils, 294 tulips, a very large number of dandelions... it is aesthetically pleasing. It... it's beautiful." Julia smiled. "Let's keep going. It gets better." As they walked, Alisa got to appreciate a newfound appreciation for sunflowers, weeping willows, and a nearby pond. "Okay, Alisa, don't cheat. Just use your eyes and don't scan the pond. Tell me what you see." Alisa cocked her head momentarily. "Done. Scanning algorithms disengaged." She looked at the pond, and seemed lost in wonder. "It... things look so different to me... The light reflects nicely off the pond, creating a rainbow in the water... I see... fish? I can't tell what they are without my scans..." "That's the point, Alisa. People can't just scan things like you can. You want to know what it is to be human, you are getting a great experience. Now, can you tell what the fish is? Look closely." Alisa concentrated on the fish. It suddenly jumped out of the water. Alisa yelped in surprise, and Julia laughed her head off. "What was that??" Alisa asked. Julia, still laughing, told her "That was a goldfish. They can get pretty big!" "No, I mean... my reaction.. I do not know what this feeling is, never having experienced it before." "You mean it surprised you when it jumped out of the water." Alisa accessed her data banks. "Surprised... to be startled, caught unaware. This accurately describes my feeling. Yes, it surprised me." Alisa turned her scan mode back on. "There are 22 goldfish in this pond, mostly at the other end. The ammonia content is quite high... in other words, it's smelly. They are quite impressive looking creatures." Alisa looked around. "Where do we go from here?" "Back the other way. This little detour has been overgrown. It makes a nice sightseeing tour but it's time to go back tot he compound then. How did you like the sights?" Alisa again struggled with the dual data channels. It was... it was very nice. I've been able to see things in ways I never did before. I really do have you to thank for managing to make all of this possible." Alisa cocked her head. "Lili is approaching, one hundred meters away. I believe she comes down here occasionally." Asuka looked at Julia. "Can I dunk her in the pond?" Julia laughed. "That's not very nice, you know! She might hate you for it. She already hates me though, so I'd he happy to take the heat for you." Alisa agreed. "I just want to see her go in that pond. It's slightly mean, but then she tends to deserve it after all... Very well. We must hide. I have determined the best location for stealth and viewing is over there." They ducked into the foliage across from the pond. After a moment, Lili walked into view on the path. She had cooled down from the morning's omelet episode. She stood on the edge of the pond, taking in its beauty. She began to feed the fish. They ate hungrily of the fish food she gave them. Alisa remarked in a hushed voice, "Lili's tension levels have reduced by 71 percent. It seems that looking at the pond is helping her mood drastically." "Ah, you know..." said Julia. "I don't think I have the heart to push her in." "Might I remind you of the time she ridiculed your heritage?" Alisa offered. "Yeah, and I beat her down and made her submit for it... we're good now. Besides, I'm trying to teach you human feelings and what is right and what isn't, and that's not right." "Christie lobbed egg at her today." "And while that was funny and all, it was mean too. Come on, let's go. She never has to know we were here. After all, there's a song that is called "The Thing I Hate." Look it up. Alisa did so in under a second. "I see. The song lyrics are quite intriguing. "I won't become the thing I hate", repeated three times, followed by "I won't become you". I understand. We should leave her alone. After all, just because Christie did something mean spirited today does not mean we need to." "Atta girl. I'm teaching you well. Let's leave her to enjoy her afternoon." They left through the underbrush, Lili never noticing their presence. _____ Lili stepped into the open area that housed the pond she liked to spend time at. She sighed contentedly. It was always so peaceful when the sun was out. So quiet, so easy to get lost in thoughts and daydreams. Lili scooped up a handful of the fish food she had brought. She threw it in the pond, and the fish, noticing it, all swam up and began a feeding frenzy. Lili continued to feed them. "At least you guys don't hate me. Then again, I suppose all the hate I get, I deserve... ah well." Another handful, more hungry mouths surfacing. "Well, I dunno. I mean on one hand, am I a bitch? On the other, it isn't my fault I've got and they want. What do you think?" she asked the fish. "But maybe we're the way we are, and we can't change it. I doubt I'm going to win any Humanitarian of the Year awards. Especially with what I'm about to do." She dumped the rest of the food into the pond, the fish eating their fill. Lili pulled out a cell phone... She powered it on. "Hah! She calls herself a scientist, does she? She doesn't even lock her phone down. Jeez. Totally amateur." She began to type. "Hey Christie, can you meet me at the pond down the walkway out of the compound? It's important." She pressed send. A moment later, she got the reply. "Sure thing, Julia. What's it about?" "I might have some information on where Eddy is. Thought you would want to know." Send. The "bloop" sound the phone made as it sent the message might as well have been the banging of a metal gate shutting behind someone, trapping them. So naturally, the message came back, "I'm on my way right now! OMG". Lili smiled wickedly, and threw Julia's phone across the pond. It ricocheted off the rock wall on the other side, and hit the water with a satisfying splash. Then she picked up the baseball bat she had brought with her, and disappeared into the foliage. Too bad for Christie that Julia had just left the other way... Lili waited, the anticipation of her omelet attack revenge sending chills up her spine, the eagerness to sink her baseball bat into Christie making her giddy. She had to contain herself when she saw Christie coming up the path. She was wearing white sneakers and socks, and wild Hawaiian printed blue, black and pink shorts and a matching T-shirt pulled up above her stomach and knotted, her bronze skin complementing the colour choice. Her russet hair was tied back in a sloppy-ish ponytail, obviously a rush job in an effort to get to the pond. She looked for all the world like a flamingo, but only Christie could pull off a look that silly and make it look actually good. "Julia!" she called out. "I'm here! Where are you?" Christie stopped and looked around. "Hey! I got your message, where are you? Come on, quit screwing around!" Lili crept out from her hiding place. She took a homerun swing, driving the bat into Christie's side, catching her in the kidney area with it. "Unhf!" Christie gasped, her arms reflexively shooting to her side. She turned around to see what happened, only for Lili to meet her with a baseball bat swing to her stomach. "Urgh!" she choked out, coughing once. She doubled over holding her stomach. Lili brought the bat down hard on her back, knocking her to the concrete path. "Oh seriously, is that all your stomach can handle? How pathetic! I thought you were tougher than that!" Christie Rolled over and pushed herself backward. "What the hell are you doing here? Where's Julia?" Lili smiled. "Come on, figure it out... she's not here and I am... duh..." Christie's mind fumbled through the dull ache in her kidney. "That was you! You used her phone..." Lili grinned. "And her phone's been given a burial at sea." Lili pointed behind her. "As for Little Miss Egg-Toss... well... your black and blue clothes are about to be wrapped around a body to match... if you get my drift." Christie tried to turn away, but Lili took a downward swipe, getting her in the right leg. "Agh!" she yelled, losing the balance she was hoping to find, and falling back down. Lili pounced on her, jumping on her back. She jammed the bat edgewise into the back of Christie's head. "mmmmnn.." Christie moaned, her body going slack as her grip on consciousness loosened. Lili swung the bat into the small of Christie's back. Christie yelled out in pain again, her body wracking with pain, involuntarily shuddering with the impact and the pain. Lili positioned Christie on her back. Christie still had some fight in her as she tried to grap at the bat and at Lili's leg, hoping to sweep her. Lili responded by hitting Christie in the face with the edge of the bat, like it were being used as a punching weapon. The bat smashed into her jaw, knocking her head back to the concrete. She lay there unmoving. Lili stood up, and swung the bat overhead like she were trying to ring a bell with a mallet. The blow landed on Christie's stomach, crashing through toned muscle as if it were jelly. Christie's body jackknifed reflexively, her arms crossing her stomach. Christie coughed hard a few times. Lili kicked her in the back to get her to arch backward, which left her stomach open for another bat shot. Christie gagged with the blow. She lay on her side holding her stomach in the fetal position. Lili grabbed Christie by her ponytail and dragged her over to the pond. "No, you're lucky I don't plan to just kill you, cause that would be no fun... plus I'm not about to get done up on murder charges. A little humiliation, though... well, I could go for that." She gave Christie another edgewise bat shot right between her shoulder blades. She arched up, and Lili grabbed her by the hair, then dunked her head into the pond. She hauled her back up, let her get a quick breath, and dunked her again. She rhythmically submerged Christie's head in the pond over and over. After the eighth dousing, she pulled Christie hard back up onto the path. Christie's brown hair was a streaky mess, algae and other flotsam tangled in it. Christie rose up to her hands and knees, and Lili slammed the bat into her back again. Christie fell to the path, groaning in pain. She pushed herself back up. Lili hit her and knocked her down again. Christie pushed herself up again, more slowly and with more difficulty. Lili hit her between the shoulder blades again, drawing a pained yelp from Christie, who fell face down to the path again. Christie lay there for a bit, and then she drew her arms up to push herself up again. Flexing her biceps, she forced herself up again. "I'm... not... going to submit..." Lili clenched her teeth in anger and kicked Christie in the now-tender stomach with a soccer style kick. Christie let out a hard "OOF" and held her stomach, still on her knees, supported by her head now, her curvy ass sticking out. Lili kicked her in the ass just to humiliate her. She prodded Christie with a foot, and she fell on her side, still holding her stomach. Lili rolled Christie onto her back. She lay there, motionless, her eyes glazed and distant, conscious but not completely aware. Lili slapped Christie in the face to bring her back. Christie shook her head, her wet hair plastered to her head and face. Lili sledgehammered Christie in the stomach with the bat again. Christie choked on the blow, then coughed hard, and belched up blood, her stomach involuntarily retching. Lili slammed the bat into her chest. Christie didn't know if a lung had collapsed or not, as fiery pain shot through her like lightning again. Lili took the bat and placed it edgewise on Christie's stomach. "You remember how you told me you're not going to submit? Well, I think you are... I'm not going to stop until I hear you cry for mercy." Lili began to press the bat into Christie's stomach. Christie drew up her legs, trying to kick at Lili. Lili swatted her away, and punched her in the face. Christie groaned and her legs weakened and fell back down. Lili pressed harder on the bat. Christie started to have trouble breathing. She coughed. Lili ground the bat into her stomach harder, twisting it now as if Christie were a cigarette she were putting out. Christie winced, the strain on her face evident of the pain. She coughed up a spray of blood again. "Well? How about it, had enough yet?" Christie still didn't give in. "The next step I take is I do a handstand on this and full-weight it. You better make your choice now." Christie tried to speak, but the pressure on her stomach wouldn't allow it. She tried to choke out the words, but couldn't. "Have you had enough?" Lili asked. She released the pressure on Christie just enough to let her talk. Christie managed to croak out "I've had enough... I give..." Lili took the bat off Christie's stomach. Christie coughed and choked from the pain and the lack of oxygen. She breathed heavily through her mouth in a desperate bid to refill her body with oxygen. "But of course, we're not going to have you be able to get back to that compound on your own power, now are we?" Lili kneeled overtop of Christie in a mount style position, on her knees pinning Christie's body. Not like she was going anywhere, but the psychological dominant position was not lost on Christie. Her arms were free, but she was weak, and couldn't do anything of effect with them. They felt like lead weights, useless. She lay on the concrete looking up at Lili. "Sweet daydreams, Christie." The last thing Christie saw for hours was the edge of the baseball bat speeding toward her. _____ "Huh. I wonder where Christie is?" Asuka asked. "I dunno. She should have been here by now." Xiaoyu answered. "Well, what do we do? Should we wait for her?" Alisa asked. "It's only been 20 minutes. I'm sure she'll be here. She probably just got hung up on something." Alisa cocked her head, scanning the sentence. She filed away the fact that Julia did not mean it literally and that it was a figure of speech. Another ten minutes passed, and still no sign of Christie. "All right, screw this, I'm hungry now! And it will still be 20 minutes from when we order." Just as Julia was getting up to order, Asuka's phone rang. Asuka looked at it. "It's Christie," she announced. "I hope she has a good reason for being late..." she answered. "Hey Christie! Why you late?" "unh... help.. help me.." "Christie??" Asuka asked. "Are you all right?" The group had their attention trained on the one side of the conversation they could hear. "Where are you? What happened?" "I'm at the pond... Lili... she..." "That bitch!" Asuka blurted out. Then she caught herself, remembering where she was. "What did she do now?" The group knew who Asuka was talking about. "lured me... to the pond... attacked... come scrape me up off the cement... ohhh..." Asuka heard a clack sound. "What happened?" asked Julia. "Is she all right?" "Lili beat the shit out of her with a baseball bat and left her at the pond! We've got to go get her!" The group ran the whole distance. They showed up out of breath, legs burning, aside of course from Alisa. Julia was especially tired, having gotten very little sleep the previous night. She looked like she was ready to collapse, until she caught her breath. "Christie!" Xiaoyu called out. "Are you here?" "Over here..." Christie raised her hand. They went to check on her. "Christie? Christie! Are you okay, what happened?" "I dropped my phone... couldn't reach it..." "How did you get here? What happened?" "Lili... she stole your phone... ow.. texted me from it... I thought it was you... she told me she... she knew where Eddy was... and I thought it was you, so.. unhmm.. I came here... attacked me from behind... threw your phone in the pond..." Julia turned to Alisa. "See, this is called "actions having consequences." So she stole my phone... right, speaking of actions and consequences, she'll get some of that later. " "Is my jaw broken?" Julia checked. "Nope, pretty bruised though." "Help me up." They gingerly helped Christie to her feet. Christie's legs didn't support her and she fell down, or she would have if Alisa's reflexes had not let her shoot her arms out at unreal speed and catch Christie effortlessly herself. "You are quite damaged", stated Alisa. "Are you sure you wouldn't like me to carry you back to the compound?" "It's... it's a pride thing... I need to walk back myself. Even... even if it takes... longer..." "I don't understand. Is this a defining trait of humans?" Alisa asked Julia. "Yes, pride is a... it is hard to explain. Christie wants to walk back, because if she admits that she can't, and she lets you carry her, then Lili will have gotten what she wanted. If Christie can walk back, then it means Lili did not do a good enough job. It's hard to quantify with words." Alisa cocked her head. "I think I understand. Okay, Christie, you can walk, but keep your arms over our shoulders, okay?" Christie nodded. "That's okay... gives me time to clear my mind a little... I'm shaking off the dizzy, sick feeling." Alisa scanned her. "You are quite lucky. You don't even have a concussion. Just bruising." By the time they got back to the compound, Christie had shaken off her grogginess for the most part. "Let's go up to my room. So much for pizza night out..." "How do you feel, Christie?" Asuka asked. "Like shit for the most part. I'm starving though, I've sort of been unconscious since the afternoon. Haven't eaten anything all day. "I can go back to the pizza place and order it if you want. I can fly there, I'll be quicker than if we all walked." "Hell with that, I'm not walking anywhere else tonight. If you want to go, I'm all for it, we can have pizza night up here." "Okay, I will be back soon." Once she was outside, Alisa engaged her flight motor. Taking care not to be seen, she landed around the back of the pizza parlour. She ordered the pizza and was about to fly back with it around the back of the parlour when two drunk guys approached her. "Heyyy smokin, how YOU doin?" the first one said. "I assure you, I am not "smoking". I'm in optimum operating condition." Drunk guy number two spoke up. "Hey, so, howzabaut u come to a party with us? there will be drinksh, and good music, and a lot of sociali... so-shell... soshuh.. chatting with each other and stuff, it'll be a shwell time" he slurred at her. "No, thank you. I have plans." Drunk guy number one grabbed her by the upper arm. "Cmawnnnn" he drawled. "You'll be the biggest bombshell there!" Alisa pushed him away. "As I stated, no thank you." "Hey! You can't push him like that!" slurred the second guy. Alisa snapped her arm to the side, activating the chainsaw blades. "I am not interested. Please leave immediately." The two drunk guys started in horror. The first one pissed his pants. "We, uh, jus' relized we got to be somewhere else now" the second guy said. Then they ran as fast as they could. When it was safe, Alisa flew back to the compound. "Ah, she's back! Did you have any trouble?" asked Asuka. "A couple of inebriated gentlemen invited me to a party." The group let out a collective "ooh!" "They tried to pick you up!" "A party??" "What did you tell them?" "That's so awesome!" "Alisa's first pickup lines!" "I told them I had plans. They insisted, and grabbed my arm. I may or may not have threatened to defend myself with my chainsaws... one of them urinated himself and they ran away." Laughter rang out all around. "I'm sorry I missed that!" said Julia. "I'd love to have seen that happen." "Okay, well, let's eat! I could eat a cow." said Christie. "Speaking of cows, here's what happened..." She recounted the story of how she got the text from Julia's phone, showing them the text, how Lili attacked her from behind and beat her with the baseball bat, dunked her in the pond, and thrown Julia's phone in the pond. "The next thing I remember, I'm waking up, it's dark, and there's two moons in the sky. After I stopped seeing double, I managed to speed dial Asuka without blacking out somehow, and then you came and got me. But I'll be okay. How's the pizza?" Everyone agreed it was good. "What do you think, Alisa?" "I don't need to eat, so someone else can have this piece. But the different flavours of the toppings mix with each other in a pleasant way. It is... quite delicious." They continued chatting for another two hours. This was a group that could talk about anything and everything. Julia had even forgotten how tired she was until she looked at her watch. "Holy crap, it's 11:30. I'm not sure how I'm even still awake at this point." "Perhaps we should call it "the night"," offered Alisa. Julia grinned. "Close enough. Well, I'm definitely going to pack it in tonight. I'll see you guys tomorrow morning. I'll be awake this time." "I think I will go too. I hope you feel better, Christie." Alisa offered. "Thanks, you have a good night too." Asuka and Xiaoyu stayed and talked for a few minutes more. Alisa caught Julia leaving. "Julia, I... I am having a problem." "What is it?" "I believe I am experiencing a new emotion." "Oh?" asked Julia. "What would you describe it as?" "I was listening to Christie's story, and it... I feel..." Alisa stopped and thought. "You feel..." "I feel... angry. A friend got hurt, and I... I feel angry." "I'm angry at it too, but she seems to accept the consequences of it. If she hadn't thrown that egg at breakfast today, she wouldn't have had that happen to her, and she knows that. She felt it was worth it." "That does not seem like a fair trade." Julia smiled. "You might have human emotions, but there's still a lot to learn yet. You will though." "Thanks. Have a good night, Julia." _____ Alisa had been reflecting on the day's activities. Her knowledge banks had fixated on the image of Christie, beaten and disheveled looking at the hands of Lili. The more Alisa thought about it, the angrier she got. Knock knock knock. "Uh.. wha? Who's there?" Knock knock knock. "It's five in the fucking morning! Go away!" Knock knock knock. "I'm going to crunch whoever's out there!" Lili threw open the door. She was pushed back into her room, and Alisa came in and closed the door behind her. "Hey! What do you think you're-" She was cut off as Alisa grabbed two handfuls of her nightshirt and pulled her face to face. "You injured one of my friends today, Lili. That's just not acceptable." "Hey, she threw egg at me first! You were there! Look, get your hands-" "Yes, I saw it. But you did not have to beat her with a baseball bat. And you stole Julia's phone and then destroyed it." "Yeah, look, about that-" Alisa cut her off with a headbutt. Her steel skull slammed into Lili's face, nearly knocking her unconscious in one blow. Lili moaned in pain with the impact and went limp in Alisa's grip. "Wha... what the.. but you're a robot, you... oof..." In the dim light of the night-blackened room, Lili could make out that she was bleeding from the nose when she checked. "You may not have noticed, but Julia wrote a very complicated program that gives me emotions and feelings. And you have made me upset by hurting my friends and stealing their things. Why did you have to destroy Julia's phone when you were done with it? Why did you touch it at all? That wasn't yours." "Look, you bucket of bolts-" "No, you look. You're going to apologize to Christie and Julia, and you're going to replace her phone." Lili stood up slowly. "Oh you think so, do you? Well, it just so happens I was thinking about replacing the phone anyway, but now that you've barged into my room and assaulted me, the two of them, and you, can all go get fucked. What do you think of that?" Alisa grinned. "I was kind of hoping you might say that. I guess it's true... any time you need to do something, it needs to be beaten out of you." Lili didn't even see Alisa move when she took a punch to the jaw so hard it momentarily blanked her. She never knew she fell to her floor. The next thing she knew, she was on her back looking up at Alisa, breathing through her open mouth. "The beating will continue until you agree to my terms." Lili didn't answer, so Alisa punched straight down into Lili's stomach. Lili's body convulsed in pain. She spit from the impact, last night's supper threatening to come back on her. Alisa punched her in the forehead, splitting her head open with one shot. Lili's head banged off the carpeted floor with a thud. She lay prone, Alisa hovering over her. "This will keep going until you agree..." Lili lay there, breathing through her mouth, her eyes half open. Alisa had not hit her that many times, but she felt like she'd just been worked over by a mob. Alisa drew her fist back again. "No, no, please... fine... I'll do what you say. Just please don't hit me again, you don't know your own strength." Indeed she had not. Her new angry emotion had overruled her computational functions, and she didn't determine the amount of force she really needed. She determined she had used 2.4 times the force necessary, and had probably hurt Lili as a result. She hauled Lili to her feet by her nightshirt again. Lili stood, weak-legged and wobbly. "A wise choice. You should get some rest then." Alisa unceremoniously shoved her over backwards. Lili fell back into her bed, grunting as she landed, then she lay there. "Have a good sleep," said Alisa, as she left. What the fuck just happened? wondered Lili, before she half fell asleep and half passed out. _____ Lili got up the next morning, dried blood clinging to her face and flaking off. She stumbled over to Julia's door and knocked. Julia was just getting up for breakfast. "Just a sec" she called out. Lili braced herself against the wall. Her head was still spinning. She shook it to try to clear it. Julia opened the door. "Sorry, I'm just on my- oh, Lili. What do you want? Wait, what the hell happened to you?" Julia suspected she already knew the answer. Lili looked almost drunk, the effect of the damage done to her. "I, uh... I just wanted to say that I'm sorry I stole your phone, and I wanted to give you this." She gave Julia a piece of paper. Julia unfolded it. "A check for a thousand dollars?" "To replace the phone I destroyed. I shouldn't have done that, and I apologize sincerely." "Any time you "apologize sincerely" it's because you were made to. What happened? Looks like someone beat the shit out of you. I might already have a good idea who though..." "Alisa knocked on my door at 5 this morning and barged in when I opened it, she kicked my ass..." Julia sighed. "Damn it, Alisa..." then to Lili, she said "If you haven't noticed by now, she's exhibiting human emotions. It seems she needs to learn how to handle them yet. I'd like to apologize on her behalf. Be understanding of her, she's trying to understand something as massively complex as emotion with no experience or innate understanding." Lili nodded and went back to her room. "ugh. I'll just close my eyes for a bit..." she crawled back into bed and fell asleep immediately.