I climbed gingerly out of the rubble and surveyed my surroundings. Wreckage, wreckage everywhere. The force of the earthquake had torn everything apart. The buildings were nothing but jagged sheets of glass and metal, the holo-cars bits of colored air. Not even one single teleporter was left standing. But I didn't care about any of that. The building I wanted to check was the lab.
I dashed over to Almonaster Road and hurtled down the street. I knew that when I turned the corner, it would be there: the Moore Center of Technology, or MCT. I held back, afraid of what I might see, but eventually made myself step forward. I gasped.
The building was almost exactly like it was before the disaster! Only a few tiny dents and
cracks changed it. But it felt different. Almost like...something was watching. My hopes soared. Could the scientists still be alive? I threw the door open and rushed inside.
An hour of searching provided nothing. I was about to give up when I heard a small squeak. I snatched away the sheet above where the sound was coming from and saw a girl clinging to the arm of a gleaming robot. Saddened that the scientists were not there, I was at least glad to find a human being. I smiled at her, and then my gaze landed on the robot.
I shook my head with annoyance and pressed the button on its side. A whirring sound filled the room and the robot's eyes lit up. "6Y-270! " I scolded. "What are you doing here?" He sat up and mumbled, "There are other heart detectors." "Not good ones like you! Can those detectors sense dead people, too? Can those detectors figure out which are children and which have families, to see who to pull out first? Can those detectors find injuries and deduce the best way to pull people out based on how they are hurt? It's 2068 now, and those detectors are barely better than that simple FINDER unit in 2015!" I snapped.
"Gosh, you're harsh for being "man's best friend"!" he grumbled. "QUIET!" I whisper-yelled. "No one can know I'm a robot. If they do-" I shuddered-"if they do, they'll pick me apart to find how I work, and I doubt they could put me back together." He shrugged. "If you're going to pass for a human, you need a name." I cocked my head. "But I already have a name- 6Y-279!" He laughed. "That's not a name. That's a jumble of letters and numbers. No human would be named that." The little girl timidly said, "You could be called Natalia." "Natalia," I repeated. "I like it."
A couple hours later, the search and rescue team found a little girl named Nora who had accent, and a heart detector the girls had named Julian. No one on the team bothered to check lived in the house a few doors down from MCT, a older girl named Natalia who had a very odd where they had all come from, they simply invited them into the paper shelter.
I was glad they hadn't questioned us, for they would have found out that I wasn't a person.
A few days later, I was interested to see what exactly had caused the earthquake. I strode over to the FEMA workers. and asked. They sighed. "That's exactly what we're wondering." "Hmmm..." I mused.Then I had a spark of a thought . "Where was the epicenter?" They must have liked the idea, because a woman typed in some characters on a small black panel.
She leaned down and pushed a small, insignificant-looking button. A hologram burst from the projector. She swiped over until a dark red dot appeared. She zoomed in on the street and checked the address. My eyes widened.
MCT! But...it hadn't been harmed at all! Surely even such a high-tech building as MCT couldn't withstand being the epicenter of a Richter scale 9.1 earthquake!
It was almost like they had built it for that. Almost like they knew what would happen- and New Orleans was not a place where lots of earthquakes occurred. Come to think of it, they had hustled me into a little safe place a bit before the earthquake. Was that a coincidence? Then I gave a start. They had created the building to withstand earthquakes and they hadn't put their most precious creation there? A suspicion was beginning to form in my mind. It was crazy, but-No. It wasn't crazy. I remembered what they had been saying as they entered the lab to get me.
"Shall I put the you-know-what in action?" Robert, the intern, inquired. The CEO, Charles Moore, nodded grimly. "All of 6Y-279's parts are ready to be moved around." Robert inclined his head and turned smartly, striding away from the room. "Oh, and Robert?" Moore called. "Yes, boss?" Robert asked politely. "Don't chicken out. Remember, it's all for science."
I hadn't thought anything of it at the time. MCT was always coming up with crazy ideas and inventions. But it related too well to this predicament. And...I had been feeling more human since the earthquake.
A sickening feeling rose in me. I bolted away from the FEMA team. "Gotta go!" I cried. I ran and ran until I was far away from the base. Then, and only then, did I let the scream that had been bottled up inside tear out of me, ringing through the air.
Right there, I made a decision. I couldn't let anyone figure out how I was created, in case they wanted to try it themselves. MCT- they had gotten lucky. The elements of a human brain, even a metal one, were too small and delicate for the scientists to place in, even with tweezers, so it was highly improbable that an earthquake would always allow the parts to settle correctly. Others may have to cause tons of disasters to get the components to click.
And that wasn't right. Killing hundreds, even thousands of people for one perfect little robot? I wouldn't stand for it.
But there was a problem. Sooner or later, someone would find Natalia Hollins out to be who she really was: Project 6Y-279 was who I would always be. No one cared about me but a couple of mad scientists, and even they were dead now. That was why I could let myself do it.
I hired a random guy. He didn't need to be precise or accurate, he just needed to get the job done. "Pull out the metal plate on the back of my head, take out whatever looks important, and screw the plate back on. First and foremost-keep it secret," I instructed. I laid face-down on the table and sucked in my breath. If my brain was truly a human's, it would feel the pain. But I had to do what I had to do.
He twisted out the first screw. Agony washed over my body, but I forced myself to stay still. He began on the second one. It was excruciating and painfully slow. Suddenly I heard a thump. I flipped over and sat up.
It was Nora. She had knocked the man over. My heart warmed. I had visited her by her bed a couple of times in the shelter and talked with her, but I hadn't thought she liked me enough to attempt to rescue me.
"Why did you come for me?" I wondered aloud. "Natalia, you're like a big sister to me! I couldn't just leave you here to be cut open once I followed you here!"
I managed a weak smile. The pain was still severe. "You didn't have to do that. I asked him to cut me open!" "Why?" I patted the table. "Sit down." So she did, and I told her this story as I told it to you now.
She still looked unconvinced, but she nodded. "I guess you have to." She checked under the table. "He's still unconscious," she reported. "Should-" she asked shakily, "-should I do it?" "I guess," I replied. She completed the procedure.
I keeled over. It was too much for my systems to take. She put her hand on my back, near my energy port. "Are you alright?" I gasped for breath and shook my head. Desperately, with no other options to try, she inserted her hand into my port.
I straightened up, no longer in pain. "Your energy!" I exclaimed. "It's feeding my workings!" She grinned and danced around. I told her she didn't have to lend me her energy-it must be exhausting and annoying to have to insert her hand every so often-but she claims she doesn't mind. And she wants more than anything to keep me alive.
So here I am now-living off the energy of another girl. Yes, I say another. I know now that I am just a differently created human. I am Natalia Hollins.