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Animal Kingdom News
Posted: Aug 6 2011, 12:02 PM
Member No.: 29
Joined: 16-May 09
School and New Friends
Astroi woke up and sat up in bed. He sleepily rubbed his eyes. He was trying to remember what was so important about this particular day. Then it hit him; today was his first day in school! He quickly got out of bed and into the clothes his mom had set for him to wear; a red polo shirt, tan khakis, and black leathers shoes. He fumbled around in his closet looking for his backpack and then he headed down stairs.
When Astroi was on his way into the kitchen, he smelled bacon, eggs, and biscuits in the air. He hurried to heed the beckoning call of the delicious food and found his mom and dad had already started eating breakfast. Astroi slipped into his seat and saw that everything he smelled was on the table plus extra; orange juice, fresh pineapple sliced into chunks, and waffles. He looked questioningly at his mom for the reason of this big feast.
Mrs. Hammed answered her son’s look, “I wanted to be sure you had a full stomach so you wouldn’t feel so nervous about being in public school for the first time.” Astroi nodded. He had always been homeschooled since the day he was adopted, but his mom had to get a job to help keep up with the bills so she couldn’t teach him herself anymore. Astroi piled his plate high and began to eat with vigor. When Astroi was finished, he considerately scraped his plate before setting it into the sink. Astroi grabbed the lunch bag that was sitting on the L-shaped counter for him and slipped it into his backpack just as he kissed his parents goodbye. On the way out, Astroi grabbed his red cap from the ball on the banister and put it squarely on his head.
Astroi stood waiting at the bus stop. He was pondering the option of flying, with his invisaring around him of course, but then he decided not to because he didn’t know in which direction to fly and searching for it might make him late. Seconds later, the bus finally pulled up at the stop. Astroi noticed that he was only one at his stop as he walked inside. As the bus pulled away from the curb, Astroi hunted for an open seat. Most of the seats were either filled with robots or humans. Finally, he found an empty seat, but as he slid into it the next moment he was pushed off.
He asked out loud, “Who’s there?” A dainty, little robot girl appeared before him. She was wearing a simple green skirt that had white ruffles at the hem and a light yellow shirt with white buttons. The girl’s black hair was fixed in a ponytail because it was attached to her head instead of flowing out from her scalp like normal hair. There was green ribbon tied around the base of the stiff ponytail to make look better. Her entire body was encased in a man-made synthetic material which looked like silky rubber. The eyes in her head were black and shiny like buttons. In Astroi’s mind’s eye, he thought she was the most beautiful robot he had ever seen, but he didn’t say so.
He apologized quickly, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t know a type-B invisarobot was sitting there.”
If she could blush, Astroi thought, she would’ve over the fact that he knew what type robot she was. She said kindly, “It wasn’t you’re fault; you can still sit next to me if you want.” She patted the seat and he slid in gladly.
She asked, “Are you new here? I haven’t seen you before.”
He replied, “No, I’m not new. The reason coming to school now is because my mom used to home school, but she can’t anymore.”
She encouraged him by saying, “You’ll like school I know it.” She added thoughtfully. “Even if you can’t find me in your class, you can still me at lunch and recess.” Astroi supposed she thought he was human.
He remembered his manners and informed her, “My name is Astroi. What’s your name?”
She replied, “Luna.”
Suddenly, Astroi had an urge to show her something that no one else knew about. He said, “I can turn invisible too. Just watch.” Astroi pointed to the invisaring on his wrist. He looked around to make sure that no one was looking at them. He took off the invisaring from his wrist and it turned into a hoop. Astroi slipped his feet into it and gradually lifted it above him. When he raised higher and higher the parts of his body lower than the hoop disappeared. When it was above his head, Astroi let go of the hoop and it stayed in mid-air. Now he was completely invisible to the naked eye.
Luna whispered earnestly, “Wow, that’s so amazing!”
Astroi inserted, “I can also make you invisible along with me.” He gently grabbed her arm and Luna turned invisible too. She could now see Astroi and the hoop above hanging above his head, but she knew nobody could see them. Astroi then reached up with the arm that was free and pressed a button that was on the hoop. The hoop shrunk and enclosed around his wrist. When they were visible again, he shyly let go of Luna’s hand. She didn’t notice his bashful gesture.
Luna stated, “Be careful Astroi, someone might just take that ring if they knew it could turn them invisible.” Astroi promised with a nod.
Without warning, the bus hit a bump in the road and the next moment Astroi was sprawled on top of her lap. She helped him and he finally got himself sitting upright in his own seat. His face was aflame with embarrassment.
He apologized, “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it; it could happen to anyone.” Luna assured. Astroi looked at her and smiled gratefully. Luna mimicked his smile even if she didn’t have any more emotions than a dog. Soon after the shared smile, the bus pulled up into the parking lot of the school. Astroi allowed Luna to get off before him and she waved before she ran off for her class. Astroi realized his was now alone!
Astroi headed for the principal’s office because his mom told him to go there first. He went down the halls of the school, looking for some label that said, “Principal’s office”. He finally found it and knocked on the door.
A husky voice bellowed, “Come in!” And Astroi entered. Inside a stocky man with wisps of gray hair mingled in with the black was sitting behind a desk that was cluttered with important papers, pencils, and paper clips. He looked up from reading one paper and saw Astroi standing there.
“Well, young man,” He asked politely. “What business do you have with me today?”
Astroi answered, “I’m a new student here. My mom said that you would direct me to my class.”
The principal queried, “Is your mom, Miranda Hammed?”
Astroi replied, “Yes sir, and I’m Astroi Hammed.” The principal nodded. He shuffled through his papers and found the one he wanted.
“Ah… yes,” He said taking a glimpse at it. He handed the paper to Astroi over the desk. “This is your class schedule. Broomstick, will lead you to your first class.”
Astroi questioned curiously, “Broomstick?” The principal snapped his fingers in answer. What had looked like a hat rack now actually turned out to be a robot. He placed the hats that were on his limbs on a table that was near him and came towards the desk.
The principal, who was ideally called Mr. Penn, encouraged, “Do well in your classes, young man.” Astroi nodded and shook the outstretched hand that reached over the desk. Broomstick opened the door and led the way out. To Astroi, the hallways seemed to keep going and going. Finally though, Broomstick stopped in front of one of the doors in the hallway and opened it to direct Astroi into his first class.
Broomstick informed, “This is shall be your first class for today. You stay here while I tell the teacher of your arrival.” Astroi watched as Broomstick went up to a lady robot that was standing in front of an electronic display board.
He whispered in her ear. When he had finished, he waved goodbye to Astroi and left, closing the door behind him.
The lady robot said kindly to Astroi, “Hello, My name is Miss Apple and I will be your history teacher from now on.” She motioned for Astroi to walk up to the desk.
She announced to the class, “Pupils, this is Astroi Hammed. He will be our new student. When I point to you, I want you to stand up and say your name so he can know who you are.” Miss Apple first pointed to a girl with brown curls, whose name was Lila Grant, and she continued along the line. When she finished the girls, she continued onto the boys. The first boy there was named Titan Strap, the next Chad Thatcher. Astroi half-listened to the names, but he still remembered each one. When Miss Apple came to the last boy, his full attention was seized. The boy didn’t speak his name, but instead “Spelled” it out using his hands. Miss Apple whispered to Astroi, “His name is Billy Charm and he is a mute, so he speaks sign language.”
She added in a louder voice, “Astroi, please sit between Titan and Chad.” She signaled with her fingers and the boys all moved down one until there was an empty seat between Titan and Chad. Then Miss Apple gently nudged Astroi in the direction of the seat. Before Astroi was even near the seat, Astroi’s fast-scanning computer eyes noticed a leg that was thrust out from Titan’s chair. Automatically, Astroi’s rockets turned on and he flew over the leg. Instantly though, he came back down once he realized what he had done.
Miss Apple asked quite firmly, “Astroi, what was that?”
Astroi answered ashamed, “I’m sorry Miss Apple. I have rocket shoes on my feet. I guess showing off a little.” He had to sort of lie about his rockets for his parent’s sake, but it was mostly the truth.
Miss Apple spoke kindly, but firmly, “Please, do not use them in class again or I will be forced to send you to the principal’s office.” He nodded and quickly sat down; his cheeks were flushed in chagrin. He heard a stifled chuckle coming from Titan’s seat in front of him, but he ignored it.
Miss Apple began with her lesson. It was all about the different groups that escaped Europe on the grounds of religious persecution. She mostly talked about the pilgrims and the Mayflower.
She finished with this last word, “…The pilgrims gave us the celebration known as Thanksgiving; every year on the third Thursday of November we celebrate the things we are thankful for.” She added. “Do any of you have questions about today’s lesson?” When everyone kept silent and didn’t raise their hand, the bell rang to signal the next period.
Miss Apple announced over the ringing of the bell, “Children, come to the desk and get your homework assignments.” Astroi reached for own assignment off the desk and put it inside his backpack. When he lifted his head up, he saw Broomstick coming towards him.
When he was near enough he spoke, “Astroi, your locker is right here,” He pointed to a locker down the hall a ways which was on the same side of the door he exited. “And this is your combination.” He handed Astroi a note with an eight-digit number code on it. Broomstick then strode off to some other task. Astroi read the numbers once and then crumpled up the paper and through it in a trash can. Astroi knew he would remember the combination easily. Astroi opened the door of his locker after he put the combination in; it was empty except for a rack near the top of it. He decided to put his lunch bag inside instead of keeping it in his backpack. When he closed the locker door, he was surprised to find that Titan was standing there.
Titan roared, “Miss Apple made me do an extra assignment. She told to write a hundred-word essay on,” He said in a shrill voice. “‘How to be good-mannered to strangers’ and you’re going to pay for it!” Titan lifted Astroi effortlessly by his feet and tried take the rocket shoes that were supposed to be on his feet.
Titan yelled, “These aren’t rocket shoes!”
Astroi exclaimed evenly, “That’s because they’re built-ins.” Titan didn’t seem confused by this answer because he was so furious.
Titan growled, “Well, I guess I’ll have to take this bracelet on your arm; at least it’s something.”
This time Astroi yelled, “Not on your life!” Astroi warmed-up his rockets and escaped from Titan’s grasp. He flew all the way to his next class, mathematics, and landed on the titled floor. Astroi hoped that no one, but Titan had seen him fly or otherwise he would be in trouble. He walked inside with the rest of the pupils as they filed into seats. Astroi saw that the teacher in this class was a robot too.
He greeted the teacher, “I’m your new student, and my name’s Astroi.” He thought that it was good to introduce himself to his teacher.
The robot welcomed him too, “Yes I know, Broomstick told me about you. I’m called Quart.” When Astroi turned back to take a seat, he saw that everyone had taken their original seats and there was an open one in front of Billy.
Astroi whispered into Quart’s ear, “Is it a problem if I sit in front of Billy instead?” Quart nodded and Astroi passed by the glowering Titan and sat down in the empty desk in front of Billy.
The lesson went by rather quickly. Astroi always seemed to get the problems correct because his brain could calculate answers in a nanosecond. When the bell rang to indicate it was time for lunch, Astroi went up to the desk to get his math assignment. Astroi felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle as Titan passed by him with a Cheshire cat grin on his face. Astroi knew he would have to watch his step because the grin on Titan’s face signified that he probably had a trick up his sleeve.
“Astroi, you have great arithmetic skills, keep up the good work!” Quart remarked just as he about to leave. Astroi nodded his thanks. Astroi got his lunch out of his locker and followed the crowd of kids down the hall to the school’s cafeteria. It was jam packed with both kids and robots. Astroi wondered why the robots were in the lunch room. Robots couldn’t eat; except him of course. While waiting in line, Astroi saw Billy waiting to get his own lunch. Astroi felt an urge to talk to him before he went to find Luna.
When Billy had a tray full of food and was about to look for a place to eat, Astroi inquired, “Billy, do you know who Luna is?” Billy answered in the only way that Astroi could understand; he nodded.
Astroi asked Billy another question, “Would you like to go sit with her like me?” Billy shook his head.
Astroi kept on questioning Billy like a game of Twenty Questions, “Is it because you’re afraid you might get laughed at for sitting next to a robot?” Billy nodded sadly.
Astroi exclaimed in a quiet voice, “I know a way that you can sit with her and me and not be seen. Would you like that?” Billy nodded his head vigorously. Astroi took off the invisaring and motioned for Billy to step into the hoop that it turned into. Billy complied and Astroi raised it above the boy’s head. Billy was now completely invisible
Astroi told Billy, “You’re now invisible, congratulations!” He said with a laugh. “Don’t tell anyone about this though because it’s a secret.” Astroi just realized too late that he couldn’t see what Billy was “Saying” anymore.
Astroi asked, “Billy, do you know Morse code?” Billy tapped Astroi on the shoulder to the tune of “Yes” in Morse code.
Astroi said with relief, “Oh thank goodness! That is how we’ll communicate so I can tell what you’re saying.” Then Astroi began his search for Luna. He took his Billy’s hand so that he could tell where he was. Billy didn’t object. He found her sitting at a table in the corner with a few other robots. When Billy and Astroi reached the table, he let go of the boy’s hand.
Luna exclaimed, “You scared me,” Luna then whispered, “Were you invisible?”
Astroi said, “Actually, Billy was.” He pointed next to him. Then he said to the air. “Billy, go ahead and sit down.” Billy sat in one of chairs and the chair disappeared with him.
Luna spoke to the empty spot, “Hi Billy! I haven’t seen you in a long time.” Billy knocked on the table.
Astroi interpreted, “Billy said ‘Hi’. Since Billy is invisible you can’t see what he is ‘Saying’. I told him to tap out Morse code if he wants to ‘Say’ something. I can interpret it because I know it.”
Billy rapped in agreement, “Yeah, Astroi will tell you want I’m ‘Saying’ if I want to ‘Say’ something.”
Then a voice across the table spoke, “Luna, who is this guy? Is he bothering you?”
Luna said to the person that spoke, “No, this is my new friend that I met on the bus this morning. His name is Astroi.” She added. “And I want you to be nice to him.”
He said with a smile, “Of course! If he’s your friend he’s my friend too.”
The voice spoke again; this time to Astroi, “Hi, my name’s Betcham, like you bet cha. I’m a fire fighter robot.”
The robot next to him said, “I’m Chick. I’m a farmer robot.” He pointed to the two next in line, “And these are the twins, Pebbles and Boulder. They’re cave explorer robots.” The twins waved in greeting.
Astroi laughed and said, “Nice names. Are all robots built for some purpose?”
Chick explained, “Yeah, It’s pretty much that way. All of us who go to this school are custom robots. That means we’re built unique in design with no specific programming and are taught a trade. Still, we have a category we fit into better than anything else.” Astroi nodded. The rest of the lunch hour was spent in happy converse. Soon though, the bell rang for all the students to return to their classes.
Luna declared, “Bye Astroi, see you at recess.” Astroi waved back in reply. He then remembered Billy was still invisible.
“Are you still there, Billy?” Astroi asked. He heard a couple taps for “Yes”.
He informed, “There should be a button on the hoop over your head. Press it.” Astroi immediately saw Billy appear. He took the ring that was handed to him and slipped it on his arm. His class was for Science. He headed in the direction of the class with Billy close beside him. When he saw a burly, disagreeable man, he went straight to his and sank into it, hoping the man wouldn’t notice a new student to pick on.
“My name is Mr. Strap. I heard there was a new student, but so far I haven’t seen him so if he’s here he knows my name now.” The man spoke shortly. Astroi eyes opened in alarm. Could Mr. Strap be related to Titan the bully?
Titan spoke up, pointing at Astroi, “Dad, that’s the new boy. Guess what he did to me? He burned my new shirt with his rocket shoes on purpose!” Astroi’s assumption unfortunately was correct. He wondered what Mr. Strap would do. He didn’t seem like the type to forgive and forget.
“Did you really do that?” Mr. Strap barked fiercely.
Astroi tried to explained, “Yes, but he was going to…” He was stopped short.
Mr. Strap commanded, “Come to the front!” Astroi complied. “Put out your hand.” He ordered. Astroi did so. Mr. Strap took a ruler from his desk, he was about to strike, but Astroi stopped him.
“Sir, what do you hope to prove in doing this? I have done nothing wrong; all I did was protect myself. Besides Titan is the one who should be punished, he tried to steal something of mine.” Astroi declared.
Mr. Strap said indignantly, “Yeah right, I know a liar when I see one. My son would never steal anything.” Astroi couldn’t do anything about his predicament so he let Mr. Strap do it; besides, he knew it wouldn’t hurt him much. Mr. Strap brought down the ruler on Astroi’s hand once, twice; five times total. When Mr. Strap was finished, he was kind of surprised that Astroi didn’t flinch or look like he felt anything except an irritating poke several times. Mr. Strap nodded to tell Astroi to go back to his seat. As Astroi sat down he wondered if he kids often or just when his son blamed one. Also another thing was nagging him deeply, he knew he had heard that voice somewhere, but he just couldn’t remember where.
Mr. Strap then went on to instruct his lesson, which was about growth, as if he hadn’t hit Astroi at all. When he was finished, he asked a few questions that he didn’t expect an answer from and then the bell rang. Astroi went to the desk warily and picked up his assignment.
When he picked it up, Mr. Strap stopped him with, “I don’t want you to do that assignment.” Astroi wondered what Mr. Strap wanted him to do. Mr. Strap took a couple of papers that were stapled together and passed it to Astroi.
“When you had lunch, I found out from the other teachers that you are incredibly good in all of the subjects. I want to see how well you can do on assignment not from this class, but from the robots’ classes. If you do get all the questions correct, I will reward you with something special.”
Astroi thought privately, How come he’s being so nice to me; something must be up his sleeve. Astroi kept the assignment though and thanked Mr. Strap for the opportunity.
Astroi’s next class was about language. When Astroi walked in this class, there was a man again, but he looked much nicer and jollier.
Astroi went up to him and greeted him, “Hello sir, I’m Astroi, your new student.”
The man looked delighted at having another student and replied, “My name is Mr. Scarlett, but you may call me Dimples instead.” Astroi could tell why he had that funny nickname.
He answered, “Alright Mr. Dimples, sir. I’m sure I will enjoy your class.” Astroi went to his seat and sat down.
Mr. Dimples declared to his class, “Alright pupils, let’s see if you can guess what we’re going to learn today?” A couple of students raised their arms and answered when Mr. Dimples pointed at them.
He said after each ones’ answer, “Nope, not quite.”
He asked, “Hey Astroi, do you know?” Astroi started deducting from all the objects on Mr. Dimples’ desk.
“Is it…word origins?” Astroi answered.
Mr. Dimples looked pleased and he said, “Yes it is, very good. I wonder how you guessed that.”
He started with his lesson on word origins. He continued on with it; asking questions here and there to interact with the class. He finished a little while later with this last word.
“For your homework, I would like you to make up a word or two, their meanings, and where your inspiration came from. If you think you may have trouble with that, I’ll let you do an assignment where you have to pick a few words from another language and use them in a one-page essay.” Astroi picked up the second essay.
Mr. Dimples asked, “Why Astroi, I thought you might pick up the other one; you look so imaginative. Is there a reason for you picking up that one?”
“I like to make things up from words I already know, sir. You won’t be disappointed though, because I’ll be picking words out of the United Robot Language or URL.” Astroi replied sincerely. Mr. Dimples seemed satisfied with the answer and did not ask anymore questions. In this school, Astroi observed, that after two or three classes that you finish, you got a break. Which meant it was time for recess. Billy followed along behind him to the doors which led to the playground. He found Luna and the rest of the gang waiting for him outside. Astroi had been thinking about telling his new friends that he was a robot and he thought this would be the perfect time to do it.
Luna waved and said, “Hi Astroi! How are your classes?”
“They’re fine. Thanks for asking.” He didn’t want to tell her what happened in Mr. Strap’s class.
He said to the bunch of them, “Hey, I want to tell you all a big secret. I’m sure I can trust you in it, right?” The heads of the robots and Billy bobbed up and down assuredly. He led them behind one of the school buildings to make sure they were out of sight from everybody.
Astroi whispered his secret, “Okay, this will probably be out soon, but I want to tell you now,” He paused dramatically. “I’m…, really and truly, a… robot!” Everyone gasped and Billy’s eyes went wide in unbelief.
Luna exclaimed in as low a voice as she could manage, “Oh my goodness Astroi, it can’t be possible. You are so human-like.”
“It’s true. I found the woman who he created me just yesterday and she told me it was true.” Astroi informed her.
Luna asked curiously, “Who did create you?”
Astroi replied, “Her name is Uko. She and an assistant built me themselves.” Then he added. “How about after school you come join me and see her?”
Luna gasped again, “Uko, why she was the most famous scientist in the world until she killed herself. Everyone said that she jumped off a bridge and drowned after she was ordered to demolish a project she was working on.”
Astroi explained, “That project was me. She did jump off a bridge after leaving me on a doorstep to keep me from being destroyed. She is still alive and I found her living inside of a warehouse just yesterday.” They asked questions about the truth of Astroi’s statement. He proved it to them and answered all their questions to the best of his ability. After awhile of talking, Billy “Spoke”. When he finished moving his hands, Luna interpreted.
“He said that we should all meet sometime to really have enough time to talk. You know, just like a play date.”
Everybody yelled, “That would be great!”
Chick asked, “When should we meet and where?”
Astroi suggested, “How about if we meet tomorrow if possible? We can meet at my mother’s warehouse.”
Luna queried, “Which mother? Is it Uko or your adopted one?”
Astroi answered, “Uko.” The bell rang for the end of recess and they couldn’t plan anymore. They all waved goodbye to each other and departed.
Astroi headed for the last class of the day, it was called “The Arts”. When Astroi went inside, he found a pretty, old lady with short, gray hair and laugh lines accenting along with her wrinkles.
The lady welcomed him good-naturedly, “Hello there, my name is Betty Warren. You must be Astroi, the new student. I’m proud to welcome you to my class.” She smiled at him and went to her desk. She began her lesson on the origins of many instruments like the piano and guitar. She wrapped up the lesson with a couple of questions and the class was dismissed after the bell buzzed again.
Before all the pupils were out the door, Ms. Betty announced, “For your assignment I want you to make something that reminds you of music, anything that inspires you.” Astroi admired the way Ms. Betty encouraged the kids to use their imagination.
“‘Bye Ms. Betty,” shouted Astroi over the noises of the school. She smiled again and waved back in return. Astroi made a route for his locker and when he got there he found a note from Luna.
It said, “Meet me in the parking lot and we can whoosh away to wherever you want to go!” There was a little heart at the end of Luna’s lovely signature. Astroi followed the directions with a big grin plastered on his face. He held his backpack high on his shoulders and put his red cap more firmly on his head.
Astroi finally found Luna in the wavering crowd and waved her over to him. Astroi said to her, “Let me get invisaring ring on first so that no will see us when we’re flying.” Luna nodded. He took the ring off and slipped the hoop it turned into under his feet and over his head. Luna wasn’t alarmed when two invisible arms picked her up, but she was when she began to rise into the air. Astroi sensed her anxiety and said to ease her.
“Don’t worry; I’m sure my mother will like you and you’ll like her too.”
Luna replied sincerely, “I’m sure I’ll like her because she would probably be just like you.”
He smiled and said with a slight blush to his cheeks, “Well the sooner you see her, the sooner we’ll know. So let’s JET!” With that Astroi boosted his rockets so fast that Luna knew they must of broke the sound barrier.
Luna was slightly confused when she and Astroi neared a house in a nice little neighborhood.
“What are we going to do here? Is this where your mother’s warehouse is, in a suburb?” She questioned
Astroi answered with a laugh, “Oh no, this isn’t where my mother lives. This is my adopted parents’ house. I need to pick up something and I also need to change clothes and drop off my backpack.” Luna nodded in acknowledgement.
Astroi landed in the front lawn of the house. He gently put Luna on her feet. Then he reached up and pressed the button to turn the invisaring back into a ring. He then led Luna inside his home genially. He invited to Luna to sit on the couch and told her he wouldn’t be more than a minute. He first checked the kitchen for his mom, but she wasn’t there. He trudged up the stairs next and finally found his mom dusting in his dad’s study.
He shouted happily, “Hey mom, I’ve got someone I’d like you to meet downstairs.” Mrs. Hammed turned from her work and smiled at her son.
“Who is it, Astroi?” She asked.
Astroi said with a grin, “How about you just come and see for yourself.” Then he hustled his mom down the flight of stairs and into the living room. There, Mrs. Hammed saw a prim little girl robot with a green skirt and a yellow blouse sitting silently on the sofa.
“Mom, I would like you to meet Luna. She is an invisarobot.” Astroi introduced.
Mrs. Hammed smiled warmly and held out her hand to the young girl, “Hello Luna, it is very nice to meet you.”
Luna responded, “I’m glad to meet you too.” Mrs. Hammed eyed Astroi thoughtfully, wondering what he thought of the girl.
I bet he likes her, Mrs. Hammed mused happily. Astroi again told Luna to wait for him and he rushed back up stairs. The next minute, he came down dressed in casual clothes. Under his arm was the box which held the copy of him. He still had his red cap on, but his backpack was left in his room.
“Luna, are you ready to go?” Astroi asked. Astroi quickly kissed his mom on the cheek and explained plainly where they were going. She nodded in agreement.
Luna turned to Mrs. Hammed. “Again, I’m so glad I was able to meet you.” Then she followed Astroi outside. Mrs. Hammed watched them through the curtains until they both disappeared under the cloak of the invisaring. She didn’t get alarmed when she saw them disappear because she knew all about the invisaring; instead she sighed.
“I hope those two have fun together,” Said Mrs. Hammed dreamily.
A few minutes later, they arrived at the warehouse door. Astroi knocked and waited. A bark sounded inside and soon a red-headed lady opened the door.
“Hello Astroi,” She exclaimed. “I hope you are in an active mood today. I’ve got a training room set up to test your upgrades in.” Uko was surprised to see a young robot girl standing beside Astroi. “Who is this?” She asked, startled. Astroi quickly introduced his mother to Luna. After the introductions, Uko forgot her surprise and welcomed the unexpected quest.
Astroi and Luna both walked in. Astroi noticed that massive changes had been made. Instead of seeing the dark, dull lab from before he was greeted by a newly refurbished one that looked more cozy and comfortable. One of the distinct additions was an antique table with high-back chairs placed around it. Also on top of the table was a vase full of colorful zinnias. The dilapidated plants in the room were now replaced with fresher green one. Even the beige floor was accented with a round red rug. The lights were also replaced with brighter ones that changed the whole feeling of the room completely from its dim counterpart.
“Mother, you made some very stunning changes in here. Are you trying to impress me?” Uko flushed with a smile. Astroi couldn’t tell if it was about being called “Mother” for the first time or if it was about the complements of the rooms.
Astroi suddenly remembered the large package in his hand that was supposed to be for Uko. He tried to make it look not as obvious in his arms. Uko didn’t ask questions about the box and Astroi was relieved about it.
“Astroi,” Uko suddenly said. “I would like you to go up stairs and go in the second door you see. Take your clothes off in there so you won’t get them dirty and come back here.” Astroi nodded knowing this was his chance to hide his mother’s present. Astroi went up the stairs and Coggie followed him. Astroi had an idea!
“Coggie, can you please take this and hide it in a place that she’ll only check later on; put it in a place where she’ll see it.” Coggie immediately made a flat tray out of his back and Astroi placed the box on it. Coggie swiftly disappeared with the gift; going down the hall and into a room. When he returned, Astroi patted him as a reward and went into the room he was supposed to go into.
While Astroi undressed, there was a vivid conversation going on down below.
Luna asked wonderingly, “Miss Uko, why did you abandon Astroi and then fake your death?”
Uko’s eyes looked far away, but she did answer, “Several years ago, Astroi had acted strangely and I asked the science board for advice. They told me that if Astroi was malfunctioning he could destroy the city because of his great power. They told me to demolish Astroi and forget he ever existed, but I couldn’t do it because it would’ve felt like killing my own brother again. You see, Astroi was made in the image of my brother, William, after he was killed by a car bomb.” She paused a moment remembering all the things that happened that year and then continued, “Since then I have had so many waking nightmares of Astroi and William that I left my work and started over. I felt miserable even at the sight of a living being or a robot.”
Luna started to see tears in the lady’s forlorn eyes. She found that she disliked making such a nice lady relive her suffering again so she quickly changed the subject, “What kind of training does Astroi need? Since he’s a robot, shouldn’t he already know everything about his system?”
Uko wiped her unbidden tears and replied cheerfully, “Astroi has true emotions and a mind of his own so he is not like other robots. He has to learn to control his powers without letting his emotions influence him. He could be a very great robot if he could learn not to heed his emotions when he feels like it.” Unexpectedly, they both heard a loud, screeching noise sound out. They wondered what it could be.
Astroi’s yell ran out in procession, “Help! Uko! Luna!” Astroi tried to stifle the scream of agony that swelled up in his throat. They both ran up the stairs as if ghosts were after them. Uko burst through the door with Luna at her side. Astroi was out of his clothes and holding his head in a death grip groaning and yelling in pain.
Uko exclaimed in alarm, “Astroi, what’s the matter! Please, tell me!” Astroi tried to speak, but the effort was exhausting. He fell to the floor in a flump.
At once, Uko’s scientific instincts kicked in, “Coggie, come here!” She commanded. “Lay out your tray and carry Astroi down stairs. Put him on the examination table and hurry!” Coggie obeyed in a flash. Uko and Luna followed him down the stairs. Uko then went to her computer when Coggie had put Astroi on the table. She pressed several buttons and Luna watched as wires came out of the ceiling and attached themselves to Astroi’s body. She walked over to the screen of the computer to look what it said.
Uko examined it closely. After a couple of seconds, she exclaimed, “Oh my, Astroi made new paths of circuitry in his system. He created new tools inside his body by himself. I never knew he could do that. It’s amazing!” Luna nudged to remind that they were trying to fix Astroi. Uko immediately came back to earth.
Luna questioned, “What’s wrong with Astroi? Can you fix him?”
“Don’t worry about it dear, Astroi will be fine, you just go home. I’ll take care of Astroi.” Uko assured. Uko calmly pushed Luna towards the door. After Luna left, Uko worked incessantly on Astroi. After Luna was gone she immediately began work on Astroi. First, she made a diagnostic; Astroi had an entirely new form of Robot Giannoforgimomus which was a rare robot virus. Uko didn’t know how to treat it, fix it, remove it, or even what caused. She didn’t know how to treat it, fix it, remove it, or even what caused it. She was greatly upset and felt that all her nightmares were coming true.
She said to Coggie, who was sitting next to her. “Coggie, I don’t think Astroi can survive if I can’t remove the virus soon and I don’t even know what caused it.” She prayed out loud. “I don’t think I could stand losing him again; I already lost so much. Please, please, don’t let me lose him again.” A single tear fell from her eyes after that statement.
Uko was terribly tired by now. She knew that if she didn’t at least get a little break, she would break down just like Astroi.
“Coggie, if you see any change in Astroi’s system bark twice. I’m going to get something to eat and drink.” She commanded. She then walked away leaving Coggie in charge. She fixed herself some coffee in the kitchen. It was eleven now and Astroi’s virus had stuck at about five. Uko sighed. There was nothing left to do, but hope and have faith. Unfortunately, Uko didn’t know of the tiny stirring in the lifeless body.
Astroi felt himself trying to wake up, but he couldn’t move. Finally, he used all his strength to open his eyes, but what he saw confused him. Flying around everywhere was computer energy; little balls of electricity standing for pieces of data. Sometimes the balls right through his now transparent-like body.
Little by little, Astroi was able to float around and talk.
“What is this place and what am I doing here?” He questioned out loud not really expecting an answer, but to his surprise he got one.
“We are here to save us.” A looming voice said. “We were able to focus all our power supply into this one spot to create a simulator so that we can take control of our replica, which was not affected by our sickness. It will be able to tell our creator how to remove the virus. When we made the copy, its machinery was incomplete. This simulator will help us move him despite its imperfections at the moment.” Astroi solemnly listened because he was curious, but when the voice stopped he demanded some answers.
“What do you mean ‘Us’? I know who I am, but who are you supposed to be? I’m confused. Not about the simulator and the virus, but why you are here.”
“I am your electronic brain. Even though I’m your mind I still have a mind of my own. It’s hard to explain, but I’ll try. The way we work is that you live in the outside world doing voluntary actions while I live inside directing your body and keep everything running smoothly so that you can do the voluntary actions. Sometimes in these conditions, your virus for instance, a robot’s mind has to be heard. Do you understand?” The voice explained promptly. Astroi calculated everything he heard and all the pieces slipped into place so it made sense.
“Yes, I do.” Astroi observed. “It’s all very complicated, yet very simple. When I’m sleeping or unconscious you don’t always have to make yourself known, but you had to this time because we’re sick and we’ve got to work together to get cured. By the way, is there a name you can go by so I’m not always saying ‘We’ or ‘You’?”
“You may call me EB, short for electronic brain.” EB replied.
Astroi then asked, “So what’s the next step in our plan?”
“After I turn the copy on, I’ll put some wires on your simulated self so that you can control it.” EB informed. He added, “We’re now overriding its system to turn it on.” There was pause and then he continued, “Success, we now have control over him.” Suddenly, several wires and a visor popped out of nowhere. Astroi started to struggle instinctively, but then his body relaxed for some reason.
EB said in a low tone, “Feel relaxed all of a sudden, don’t we? When we’re this mode we have to numb our nerves so that when we move for the copy we don’t actually move.” Astroi didn’t answer. His body was practically paralyzed by the relaxation he felt. After a moment, Astroi’s body felt normal and he could move freely, but there was still the feeling of tranquility somewhere deep inside him.
Immediately, Astroi saw the inside of a box. He pushed hard with all his might and the box burst open, making him sprawl on the floor. You see, Astroi not only moved the replica’s body, but everything it did also made an impact on Astroi’s simulation. The room he was in was simple and quaint and Astroi liked it. He went through the door of the room and made his way down stairs. He looked to his right and saw Uko’s lab. There he was lying on the table practically lifeless. Astroi felt weird looking at himself lying there. His eyes then focused on Coggie. He was barking furiously. Astroi heard a voice just like his speak to the dog telling him everything was okay, but it was useless. Astroi heard some footsteps behind and whirled the copy of him around. There Uko’s shocked face met him. He saw her eyes dart between the copy and his own lifeless body in uncertainty. Immediately, the replica began explaining everything in short detail. Uko nodded dumbly after hearing it.
She exclaimed in a slightly strained voice, “If you know how to help Astroi, please tell me. Astroi, you don’t have to move for him. He can sit on the chair and tell me what to do.” The figure of Astroi sat on the chair and started to tell Uko how to fix Astroi. After hours of instruction, Astroi’s virus was nearly gone.
Uko said in a relieved voice after Astroi was awake again, “I’m so thankful you’re alive, I could cry. Do you remember how you got the virus?” Astroi, still shaky and sickish, shook his head no.
“All I remember is that a thought popped into my head, yet I don’t even know what I thought of.”
Uko stated, “That’s okay. I would like it though if you told me how you made this copy of you. It’s amazing!”
“I just had an idea and my EB took care of the rest.” Astroi replied. Uko didn’t resist, but instead put the double of Astroi on the examination table. It didn’t say anything when she did it and just stared attentively up at her. She turned him off and his searching eyes closed.
Astroi asked uncertainly, “What are you going to do to him?”
She said to reassure him, “I’m going to fix his imperfections so he can walk on his own. Then I’ll make him different so that you two don’t look perfectly identical anymore.” She added thoughtfully. “And you can him tell me what to make him look like.” Astroi beamed; he was still a bit weak, but the prospect of spending many happy days with a brother-like figure put him on the fast road to recovery.
Uko was at the computer now. She pushed a few buttons and wires came out of the ceiling and attached themselves to Astroi’s copy. She asked Astroi, who was by her side, “Okay, what do you want him to look like?”
“Please, make his hair similar to yours only a little bit more orange-colored. His eyes should be brown like yours and mine. Let his skin be a bit tanner than mine and his face scattered with freckles as if he’s spent lots of time in the sun. His permanent clothes should be as follows; the collar and sleeves should be dark blue while the rest of the shirt should be a lighter blue. The ring should be red and the star white. Make his pants medium red while leaving the stars white. His belt should be white with a blue-and-red pattern of stars going around it. The belt buckle should be silver. Also how about you add our first initials to our belts after he chooses his new name. Since it looks different he should have the right to choose a name of own. Oh, and don’t forget to make his voice sound different than mine.” He instructed. Uko pressed many buttons and pulled down a couple of levers to perform Astroi’s exact demands plus fixing his system of the minor defects that he had. Uko went over and turned the now different copy Astroi on. He sat up accordingly.
Uko asked, “We were able to change you so that you didn’t look like Astroi anymore. Since you’re different, what name would you like to have as your own?”
It answered back in a slightly younger, more innocent voice than Astroi’s boyish, husky one, “Well, since my brother’s name is Astroi and it sounds very similar to asteroid, how about call me Meteor? Do you like it?”
Uko and Astroi smiled at Meteor and Uko replied, “It’s the perfect name for you.”
“So you think I’m your brother, huh,” Astroi pretended to mull over the words as if to tease Meteor. “I like that.” Astroi decided. Uko remembered to put on the boy’s initials on their belts and she did so. Meteor, with admiring eyes looking up at her, waited until she finished. Astroi waited while she did his too.
Astroi then asked, “Do you mind staying here with Uko, Meteor? I don’t think my parents would take another person.”
Meteor replied, “I understand. Remember, I got all your memories and I know you live with your adopted parents.” Astroi forgot that he did scan all of himself into Meteor; including his memories. He looked sheepish for a moment. His eyes happened to cross over the clock in his embarrassment. It said it was 1:30 AM.
He exclaimed, “Uh-oh! It’s too late for me to go home now. I guess I will have to sleep here tonight. Uko, you don’t have to worry about getting another bed in our room; I’ll copy one for Meteor and we’ll sleep together.” He added at his suddenly remembered something. “Mother, I almost forgot, is it okay if I have some friends over tomorrow? I made some friends besides Luna and we all decided to meet here tomorrow. Is it okay?” Uko nodded her head and then she tiredly walked up to her room for a well-deserved rest. Astroi and Meteor took that as a cue to head to their room; the one Astroi had got undressed in before he was attacked with virus.
Astroi didn’t look around much before, so he analyzed it now.
The room’s walls were painted in two shades of blue with a white molding going down the middle to divide it; a lighter shade was above and a darker one below. The floor was carpeted in a kind of chocolaty beige color. There were two windows side by side on the wall opposite the exit door. They were dressed in blue curtains with tiny white dots. There was one twin-sized bed with white sheets and a navy blue blanket near the windows. There was a dark wood side table sitting next to the bed with a metal lamp on it. A bookshelf that matched the side table set against the wall the exit door was on. Against the wall opposite the bed was a huge chocolate-colored sofa with just barely enough room for two in it. Sandwiching the sofa was two dark wood doors like the side table. Astroi opened the right door and Meteor followed suit and opened the left.
Meteor announced, “We got our own bathroom, not including a toilet of course,”
“We’ve got a walk-in closet too,” Added Astroi. They glanced at each other with big grins on their faces which showed how much they liked their new room.
“Do you want to copy the bed?” Astroi queried.
Meteor replied, “Sure,” Meteor already had the replicator tool in him because Astroi had to have it to make him. Meteor carefully pointed his fingers at the bed and scanned the whole thing. Then he and Astroi moved the original bed over a bit to make room for the new one. After the bed was moved, Meteor placed the second one in the room. He copied the side table and lamp too.
When everything was set Astroi stated, “I’m glad I made you, Meteor.”
Meteor added, “I guess I have to be glad too or otherwise I wouldn’t be here.” Meteor had such a weird expression on his face that Astroi laughed hysterically. Meteor laughed heartily too. Then they slipped under the covers of their beds and turned out the light.