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Technoromanticism - Chapter 6

TenipuriAvatar001
Title: Technoromanticism

Author:
Sinnatious

Summary: TezRyo Robot AU.

Rating: Definitely Mature.  For the usual culprits.

Author’s Note: Back to the regular update schedule now.  Only three chapters left! 


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Technoromanticism

Chapter 6.0


By Sinnatious
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Three days after Oshitari’s visit Atobe called again. 
 
Tezuka was relieved at the distraction. He had long run out of things he could reasonably reverse-engineer without resorting to invasive procedures that he didn’t have the right tools for. The only thing he could continue to document was the AI and personality. Fortunately, Ryoma’s programming continued to reveal deeper and deeper depths as time went on, to the point where Tezuka was becoming convinced that whoever wrote the AI must have held a doctorate in psychology as well as intelligence programming.
 
“So we’re still not in the clear?” Tezuka asked.
 
“You’ll have to wait a while longer,” Atobe affirmed. “Was there anything else you needed to report?” He sounded bored.
 
Tezuka paused, then began, "Atobe, it's been bothering me for the past couple of days… he hasn't run out of power yet."

"It," Atobe corrected.  "And why is that so surprising?  It probably just has microscopic solar cells in the skin."

"But he hasn't been outside."

There was a brief silence as Atobe contemplated this.  "Didn't you say it was always eating and complaining about being hungry?  Do you think it's possible they devised a means of extracting energy efficiently from food, instead of just lubricants?"

"I've been trying to investigate it.  He seems to have a preference for soft drinks – the sugars could be broken down into useable fuels with minimal interior processing."

"It," Atobe corrected again.  "So you think it's a self-maintaining system?"

"That's the only conclusion I can reach," Tezuka admitted.

"Interesting.  Keep going along with it then, then.  Get it to give you a list of things it wants, and I'll send Oshitari over later to do the shopping.  Maybe you can pick up on a pattern."

"I'm not a specialist in chemistry," Tezuka pointed out.

"You seem to know enough to get by.  You only need to find us places to start once we can bring it in to the main laboratory.  This little bioroid is turning into a goldmine."

"Have you found out anything on who might have made it yet?"

"None of our major rivals,” Atobe said dismissively. “Oshitari suggested that maybe it was a Pinocchio scenario - the work of a sole eccentric genius who wanted a son.”

"It wasn't the only model there."

"No, but it could be one person producing a whole family of creations for his benefactor.  That's why we haven't seen anything on the mass market yet.  With only a small, seedy backer, it's not mass producible.  And they can't sell the models on a smaller scale, or a bigger company will reverse engineer them and they'll lose the only business edge they have."

"Like what we're doing," Tezuka pointed out.

Atobe scoffed at his accusation.  "Chances are, they aren't even aware of how revolutionary the work is.  The real crime is that they're hiding away this sort of genius."
 
There was a thud followed by several worrying cracks from the living room. “Is there anything else?” Tezuka asked.
 
“No. Just keep laying low. I’ll contact you again later.”
 
Tezuka said his goodbyes and hurried to the living room to investigate the source of the noise. The scene that greeted him was not what he had expected.
 
"You destroyed the electromagnet."  It was an obvious statement, but about the only one he was capable of making in his shock.

Ryoma looked smug. Scraps of wiring and white plastic were scattered on the floor in front of him. It was demolished far past the point of repair.


"Why?"


The expression turned annoyed.  "Why do you think?  You kept turning my arms and legs off!"


Tezuka pinched the bridge of his nose. This was going to complicate his work further. “Why do you have to keep causing so much trouble?”
 
“I already said that I won’t escape, what more do you want?” Ryoma mumbled.
 
There was no helping it. Tezuka just sighed and turned on the TV. He walked over to the couch and turned on his laptop. 
 
They didn’t talk for the rest of the day, beyond a brief argument about what to eat for dinner. Ryoma was riding high on the prospect of keeping his motor functions active all hours of day, and Tezuka was still annoyed at his own carelessness for leaving the magnet out in the open. Fortunately there was some sort of movie marathon happening on one of the channels that kept the bioroid occupied, giving him plenty of time to sort through what this change would mean to his routine.
 
It took a while to get all of his records up to date with the past day’s observations. Tezuka leaned back into the couch and glanced at the clock. It was getting late.
 
He shut down the laptop and turned off the TV. Ryoma stirred. “Hey!”
 
He just grasped the bioroid by the arm and hefted him to his feet. “Come with me. I’m going to have a bath.”
 
“So? Go have your bath. You don’t need me to do that.”
 
“I need to make sure you don’t run off while I’m having it,” Tezuka replied flatly, half-dragging Ryoma along with him. He pushed open the door to the bathroom and prodded the bioroid inside. “Start running it, would you?”
 
Somewhat viciously, Ryoma twisted on the taps. “I don’t need a babysitter.”
 
“You made this choice when you destroyed the electromagnet,” Tezuka informed him, shrugging his shirt off and hanging it on the towel rack. He unbuttoned his pants and slid out of those too.
 
Ryoma was being awfully quiet. He glanced over – the bioroid’s face had turned an interesting shade of red and his eyes were darting between Tezuka and various other features of the bathroom. “What’s the matter?”
 
“Nothing,” was the belligerent reply. Could the AI actually simulate embarrassment? What on earth about?
 
Oh. “I’m… not triggering a subroutine am I?” Sometimes it was easy to forget about the bioroid’s previous duties. It wasn’t hard to imagine that the act of removing clothes might trigger a scenario.
 
“No!” Ryoma snapped, but his face was still red. He flipped down the toilet cover and sat on it, glaring at the floor. “Hurry up and shower already.”
 
Tezuka made a mental note to add it to his observations later. He also made a point of spending a great deal less time in the bath than he would normally. It would have been easier to relax if Ryoma would talk and call him names like he normally did, but the bioroid had gone eerily quiet. Tezuka had taken off his glasses, so couldn’t see if the blush had gone away or not. The realism and details in body language were amazing – they far outshone even the high-end customer service models – but it also had the unfortunate side effect of making him embarrassed too. Which was ridiculous – there was no reason for modesty in front of a bioroid.
 
Ryoma kept his gaze averted while Tezuka finished his bath and redressed. Once that was done, he shepherded the bioroid to the bedroom. “Get in,” he ordered, pointing to the bed.
 
The expression shifted through several sequences, before finally settling on something close to trepidation. “Hey, this isn’t-”
 
“You don’t need to change into pyjamas,” Tezuka interrupted. His temper was still a little short over the loss of the electromagnet. “It’s not like you’ve even had the chance to get those clothes dirty.”
 
For a second he was sure another argument was forthcoming, but Ryoma sullenly slid under the blankets without another word. Satisfied, Tezuka followed suit, then immediately threw an arm over the bioroid and pulled it close.
 
“Hey-” Ryoma began. It felt like the skin was trembling beneath his fingers. Tezuka hoped it wasn’t a sign of an imminent malfunction.
 
“I said before, didn’t I? You made this choice when you destroyed the electromagnet. This is the only way I can get any sleep without worrying about you trying to run off.” It was rather comfortable, actually. Ryoma gave off a pleasant warmth – Tezuka could already feel himself growing drowsy.
 
The trembling subsided slightly, but didn’t quite go away. “Couldn’t you just lock me in another room or something?”
 
“We’re not having this conversation again. Be quiet so I can sleep.”
 
The bioroid shifted slightly in his grasp, but didn’t break free of the restraining arm. “Che, do you order everyone around like this, or just me?”
 
Tezuka didn’t respond.
 
“Hey. I know you’re not asleep yet.”
 
“I don’t deal with people that much,” he finally answered. “Forgive me for not being a social person.” Here he was apologising to a robot again. Atobe would never let him hear the end of it if he knew.
 
“Hmm? Why’s that?” The trembling had disappeared now, and the bioroid finally relaxed against him.

"Because I'm not very good with them," Tezuka admitted, growing pensive.  Even thinking about Atobe’s lavish parties made him weary. He had a thorough understanding of etiquette, but he could never bring himself to relax and enjoy any of those social gatherings. "Being here with you... it's been hard."

"How do you think I feel?" Ryoma grumbled.  "And don't go giving me some line about how it doesn't matter because my feelings are artificial anyway."

"That's exactly it."

"What - you're saying my company is that bad?" Ryoma sounded slightly offended.


Tezuka shook his head, though of course it wasn’t visible to the bed’s other occupant.  "It's not so much your company. It's just...If this is the future of robotics, I'm not so sure there will be a place for me in it.  If interacting with robots requires that sort of social skill…"

Ryoma was quiet for a long moment.  Then... "So you're just going to give up?"


"I'll endeavour to be useful for as long as I can." Tezuka yawned, and felt his eyelids grow heavy. 
 
Times were changing, faster than he liked. Ryoma was walking, talking proof of that. He enjoyed working in robotics, but this whole affair was making him wonder how much longer that world would have room for him. It was strange to think that in a short time, the robots he created would be able to interact with people more naturally than he could.
 
Maybe Atobe was right, and he was a relic of the ancient past after all.

Comments

karorumetallium
Feb. 13th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC)
D'AWWWWWWW!