Dim light from the cloudy afternoon sky filtered into the workshop through metal slats covering a dusty window, illuminating the dust motes and occasional drifting clouds of smoke with a muted golden light. Hester Kent wiped the sweat from her brow and sat down atop a leg which was more akin to a tree trunk in size than any human leg.
She leaned back and offered a gentle pat to the leg. She’d worked hard to get this huge, 60 foot droid to where it was now. Where he was now. Although most of the higher-ups at the facility only saw the droids as it, she—and many other engineers—saw them as he or she or at least they. Especially when it came to droids like the one she had spent so much time laboring on.
Her task was simple: create a droid with feelings. Well, simple in theory, as she liked to remind herself when she felt as if she were taking too long with the project or when she felt that she had royally fucked up. But beyond giving him emotions, she also had to make him appear relatively human. Which she had managed, to an extent. He had humanoid parts: his head, parts of his torso, his genitals. He could even eat if necessary, an artificial stomach in place which could serve to hold items or people or to dispose of refuse with what was essentially a large garbage disposal just below the stomach. In this she had succeeded, but the personality and emotions…
She had put off fine-tuning his capability to perceive and produce emotions. If she were to activate him now, he’d either be a sociopath or a large, attractive computer.
Indeed, she did find him pleasing to look at. This was more her own preference, of course, but the head engineer and the government figures who had commissioned this droid hadn’t mentioned how they wanted him to look. So she took a few little liberties with his aesthetic design.
His face, very much humanoid, was fitted with blue eyes, tan, freckled skin, and messy light brown hair. She had, admittedly, thought about him fairly often. Probably more so than was professional. However, she knew that such affection on her part would likely end badly for her. He was being made to work for the government. She vaguely recalled them mentioning that he’d be used for “disaster relief” but she assumed this meant that he would be creating disasters to relieve the government of unwanted individuals. Such was the way of the world though.
She sighed lowly and slid off the leg, letting her boots collide with the metal floor loudly to produce an echoing “KLANG” which reverberated throughout the workshop. She approached his head and laid down on the floor, scooting herself beneath his neck.
His body was raised about two feet off of the floor so that she could reach under him easily, mostly to access the base of his “skull.” She opened a panel positioned right where his head met his neck, accessing a small computer located about seven inches into him. She began coding his personality and what she hoped would be his emotions.
A door flew open across the workshop and the sound of one set of dress shoes and two sets of steel toed boots rung out as three men approached Hester. She paused in her programming, wiggling halfway out from beneath the large android.
The man in dress shoes, Howard M. Lemon, bore his corpulent self with an air of superiority, as if he saw his relatively short self as the most imposing man in the room. Indeed though, he could be the most imposing man in the room in the rare event that people took him seriously. However, this was an increasingly rare occurrence in recent days, after a string of assaults on members of the press and rumored allegations that his wife of thirty years had left him for a much younger, much wealthier man. Hester valued her job, and never brought any of his shortcomings up, even in workplace gossip in seemingly private places, especially after several employees had been fired for things they had mentioned at home. He was accompanied by two soldiers, one on either side of him.
“Hester,” Lemon mumbled in a thick, drawling southern accent, “we need to know how soon you can have this droid finished. You’ve been takin’ far too long on it.”
He placed uncharacteristically dramatic emphasis on “far,” likely trying to impress the soldiers with his apparent command over Hester.
Hester responded with a small shrug.
“He isn’t quite ready yet, Mr. Lemon. You asked for him to have human emotions, that takes time to program.”
“And time and a half to conceive,” Hester added internally.
Howard Boone’s face reddened exponentially.
“I bet if we moved this project over to a male engineer it would be done by now and it would look better than this piece of shit you’ve made so far. Pick up the goddamn face or you’re fired and it’s going in the incinerator-“
Before he could finish his threat, however, the android spasmed. Sparks flew from the open panel in his neck, faintly burning through Hester’s pants and leaving stinging red marks along her waist, hips, and legs. She grunted sharply, gripping at the droid’s neck as she watched Lemon leave with his guards.
“Get it done,” he barked out at her, not concerned with the minor malfunction that had just occurred.
“Lemon probably wants him to fuck up and kill me,” she thought, rubbing at the minor burns along her lower body. “Well too fucking bad. He’s going to be the best fucking droid.”
She reached back into the panel and checked for damage before getting back to programming.
She stared at the screen and frowned.
“Fuck,” she grumbled out under her breath. She had forgotten where she was.
“Whatever, I had most of it done, it’ll be fine. He’ll be fine.”
She began typing away again, slowly coming to the end of the code. Once she finished, she initiated the startup routine on the computer, and slid out from beneath him.
She gazed upon the droid in wonder as he slowly sat up and turned his blue-eyed gaze down to her.
He stood up shakily, eyes glancing from himself to her and back to himself, not in a nervous manner but rather a confused one.
“Did you… Make me?” he asked, voice a low, intimidating timbre that boomed around her and reverberated around the workshop like controlled thunder.
His eyebrows furrowed, a displeased expression crossing his handsome face.
“Y-yes,” she stuttered out, awestruck by his massive form looming over her.
He knelt down, green painted metal arms and legs bending to bring his body down so that his face was near her. He was examining her, she realized, his eyes traveling from the crown of her head down to her boot-clad feet.
“We aren’t the same. You’re softer,” he concluded.
She was about to respond with an explanation about what he was, but his metal hand deftly gripped her and lifted her up above his head. He sat, leaning back against the wall of the workshop, blocking out the windows and producing his own light with the glow from his eyes. He dangled her over his face, smirking ever so slightly. He seemed to enjoy toying with her.
Then she faintly heard approaching footsteps and the slam of the workshop door against the steel wall behind it as it slammed open. She was able to tilt her head down and catch a glimpse of Mr. Lemon standing in the doorway, the soldiers aiming their rifles at the droid. Then she heard Lemon shouting.
“What in the goddamn hell is it doing?! Shoot it down!“