Chapter 5 – Flower Medal
Peaceful breaths, innocent sleeping faces.
I watch the children sleep at the plaza, and feel a sense of warmth inside me, and at the same time, some pain.
The child model robots have a long history to them. At first, they were created for couples who were unable to conceive or lost their children, and later on, they end up a massive category supporting the robot industry. Those child robots that like to smile, cling to others, and yet be so understanding have a general popularity in the market, and they were often cared for, doted on by their human ‘parent’s as though they are the actual children.
However, the passing of time remains cruel. Once their masters, ‘the parents’ die, child robots would have finished their mission, and would be sent to be scrapped at a plant. For the robots who not only fetched a high initial fee, but a high maintenance cost, the death of their masters implied their own deaths.
Of course, there are robots that barely avoided the fate of being scrapped and ended up in the second-hand shops. Most of the robots in this village are of this case. The children of the village cling onto me too not, not because I’m too patronizing, but because they desired for family. They had a sad programming to yearn for family, hoping to fawn, and they continued to seek love even over a hundred years.
I, once a caretaker robot, would sing to them once every two days and coax them to sleep. I don’t know whether a robot like me has this thing called ‘love’, but I still want to do my best for the children. Until the day our masters awake and are able to give them true love.
A trauma flashes in my mind. It’s the nightmarish scenery I saw four days prior.
—I never thought…such a thing happened.
I too experienced the ‘end time’. I was transferred from the kindergarten, and was working as a construction robot at a certain place in the city. When the cold wave spread, I was ordered to change my workplace, and deployed to the construction venue of the ‘Snow White’. The images of being deployed to transport the materials with the heavy type robots still remain fresh in my Mind Circuits.
However, such a visual image was a first. No matter whether I was present, it is unfathomable to think that I had no impression of such a major event. There were killings in the thousands, yet is it possible that this information did not reach me?
—Was my memory wiped off…?
Due to certain reasons, the data back then was erased from my Mind Circuit. If this is the case, it explains things. Or rather, this is the only thing I can think of.
But why? Erased because it’s not beneficial for humans? Is it just me? Or are the other villagers, industrial robots all the same? If our Mind Circuits are modified, and records disadvantageous to human history can be erased, then my feelings—my thoughts, my adoration, my utmost efforts to my masters—are they all created artificially? Is the utmost adoration I have of the Principal fabricated too? Or is it just an imprinted mindset?
—I don’t know. What is real, what is fake…I don’t know at all.
The more I start to doubt, the more uneasy I feel. I can’t even trust in my own memories at all. There is no way I can come up with an accurate conclusion.
And right when I’m deeply frustrated over why I can’t get the answer.
“What, you’re here.”
I lift my face, and standing before me is a woman wearing a beret.
“Hm…the children are really clinging onto me.”
“They’re sleeping well.”
Viscaria looks around, seemingly impressed. There are sheets laid out on the plaza, and the children are recharging, sleeping with their limbs completely limber. Child robots have a ‘nap function’ that allows them to automatically fall asleep. In terms of power saving, this function is really recommended. The effectiveness for recharging at least is most optimal when they don’t move.
“I have something to discuss with you.”
“What is it?”
“I want to do an emergency diagnosis soon.”
I look at her. She had just carried out treatment.
Viscaria would later say; as we have lived underground for a long time, there has been an upward trend of dire metallic fatigue, ‘metal frostbite’. If a robot’s body is to freeze, the worst case scenario will be if they show signs of breaking down.
This trend has been escalating further recently.
“Two weeks ago, it was seven cases. Last week, it was eleven. This week, we have twenty.”
“Eh, twenty already? That’s too much.”
“That’s why we need an emergency diagnosis.”
Viscaria pulls her beret down, and closes her eyes with fatigue. In fact, with the number of patients sent to her all day long, she has yet to rest well as she has to diagnose them.
“You’re really busy going around with the resupplies, yet you came by to help.”
“Well I have to. Maybe we can get more people to help you diagnose. I’ll make a request to the Chief.”
“I’ll leave it to you.”
“Anyway, we need to find one way to deal with this…”
Recently, there has been a lot of issues happening in the village. Frequent earthquakes, sudden collapses, frostbites happening one after another, icemobile malfunctioning. The villagers ‘extracting’ has become more common recently too.
I lift my head, and suddenly have this thought.
—If I’m to show these children ‘that footage’, what will they think?
The thirty children before my eyes are sleeping in different postures. I can no longer look at their innocent sleeping faces directly.
“Nice butt today!”
I frantically turn around, as I have been molested on the butt. Grinning away is the flirt.
“Can’t you be a little more dcent in how you greet others?”
“So, I should rub your breasts?”
Eisbahn takes a kick from me, “Ow, it hurts!” And jumps up high.
“If you’re going to keep this up, I’m going to ask Viscaria to do an operation on you.”
“Well, those are some bold words from a virgin.”
Haa, I sigh. This is the only guy not worried at all, even when the village’s ravaged with earthquakes and frostbites.
“If you’re still a Senator, please show some care for the future of the village.”
“But I do think of a lot of things.”
I slap away his sticky hand that’s reaching for my chest, and walk away, “Wait, don’t be angry now~” he’s still pestering me.
“Where are you going?”
“Nothing to do with you.”
“The Village Council again, right?”
“Yeah, any suggestions?”
“Can’t you contact through the wireless.”
“I haven’t been able to contact the Chief through the wireless, so I’m going straight to him to talk. Discuss about the frostbites and the countermeasures.”
“You’re the one who isn’t serious.”
I try to shake Eisbahn off, and storm forward, and he continues to follow me like goldfish poop. I have been cold to him, and not cute at all, but why is this guy pestering me all the time?
Huffing my shoulders in rage, I storm forward, and at this moment.
Boom, the earth shakes.
It’s a tremendous termor. There has been little quakes over the past month, but such a scale is really abnormal. It just feels like the entire earth bounces up to strike me, as I lose my balanace and collapse. Eisbahn next to me is flailing around too.
This tremor lasts for a long time. The earth shakes side to side over this duration that lasts more than a minute, and several icicles, dozens of them, fall from the ceiling. We try to hide in some houses, but can’t stand up right, and can only remain where we are until the shaking stops.
I tentatively lift my face off the ground, and the ice fragments shatter, falling off my face. “Ugh…” Eisbahn too lifts his face.
“I thought I was going to die…”
Still rattle, we hold hands and stand up, surveying the surroundings. There are numerous ice blocks of various sizes scattered around, with the walls of a few collapses houses appearing in our eyes. There’s no doubt this is a severe situation.
I open all communication channels, shouting,
“This is Vice Chief Amaryllis! Notifying all blocks! Report on the situation immediately! I repeat, report on the situation immediately…!”
And in the meantime, my Mind Circuits receive the reports from all over the village.
“This is Left Wing B! We have lots of people trapped under collapsed houses! Requesting for immediate aid!”
“Right Foot D! Four are critically injured, we’re lacking in parts!”
”E6 of the Body! We got kids buried alive! Hurry, save them!”
The injury reports come in shrieks, and in an instant, there are more than fifty injured. I immediately give the instruction,
“To all Blocks! Refer to Manual 7, 3C! Parts warehouse and supplies shall be released for all! Prioritize those with damaged Mind Circuits! After that, send all the injury reports to the Village Council Hall! Understood1?”
I give the commands, “Chief!” and switch the channel.
“You hear me!? It’s Vice Chief Amaryllis! Chief! Chief…!”
I desperately call for the Chief through the emergency circuit. There is no answer.
—Seriously? At this moment…!
“Accessing Council data with Vice Chief’s permissions! Birdmap!”
And so, a large map appears before my eyes immediately. This is the holographic image only I can see, aired in my Mind Circuit.
Looking at it, there are red lights flashing at the path leading to the Snow White.
“Viscaria! Götz! You two alright…!?”
I call for the other Senators through the wireless. “I’m fine.” “So am I!” I quickly get my response.
“We’ll head to the Snow White to have a look! We’ll leave the saving to you two!”
”Got it!” “Fine with us!
As both of them reply in unison,
“Let’s go, Eisbahn!”
We race off with all our might.
After some flashes of blue light, the large ice blocks are shattered. On the path leading to the Snow White, several dozen meters are obstructed by collapsed ice blocks.
The ice is sliced, and then the collapsed bits are halved. Eisbahn’s ‘Phantom Blade’ continues to cut through the ice, as though digging a tunnel, and the fragments of shaved ice pile by the side.
“Wait!” I sense some metal. “Someone’s there…!”
He stops his hand blade.
“Most likely! Try digging that corner there! Be careful!”
Eisbahn controls the output of his blade, melting the ice like a burner. There are flowers and grass embedded inside the ice, probably as it was close to the ‘REM Forest’, and white smoke fizzles once it touches the laser.
Eisbahn raises his voice,
“I see it!”
He grabs the grey elbow poking out from the ice, and pulls it out. The robot buried alive has a hemispherical head, a round pudgy body, and caterpillar legs.
We exclaim in unison.
“Why is Gappy here…!?”
I support Gappy’s body with both hands, checking his reaction. The light of the visual installation has vanished.
“Wait! We’ll save you now!”
I open Gappy’s body, and quickly draw out the battery. I connect the spare battery, and with a whoosh, the light appears again.
“Gappy, you alright? Can you hear me?”
Gappy’s hemispherical head turns around with a creak, making sure I appear in the round lenses of his.
—This is some severe frostbite…
As he was buried alive, his body’s is as frozen as ice. The cracks are very serious, and it may be dangerous for him if this keeps up.
“Gappy, your frostbite is really severe. Don’t move at all. Stay here until everyone comes here.”
I have him hold the spare battery, and we continue with the repairs. I should have Gappy returned to the village, but our priority here is to check on the Snow White. This is our mission as the villagers.
—Please wait, Gappy.
I sweep the hair behind me, and get back to repairs.
Eisbahn’s blue light blade continues to swing, hacking away at the ice, scattering them.
There has one thing I am still wondering.
—Why is Gappy here…?
After we finally make our way to the ‘REM Forest’, we continue to linger before it.
“Chief, Chief…! Can you hear me, Chief…!!”
Without the Chief’s permission, we cannot enter the Snow White.
—Seriously, where is he…!?
Eisbahn raises his arm up,
“What are you going to do!?”
“No choice but to barge in!”
Eisbahn swings the arm straight down with all his might. The Phantom Blade at full power hits the thick doors hard, and sparks fly, a dent created.
“Sure is tough…another one!”
Eisbahn’s then swings another blade down in the same manner. With a dull zoom, the door is finally pierced through.
He swings the blade sideways, cutting a sharp angle through the door. He creates a triangular hole that’s large enough for a person to slip through.
“I’m going in!”
I slip through the opening, and Eisbahn follows.
Upon entering, we’re stunned.
The ‘Spindle’ that forms the Snow White has stopped spinning, the light vanished, devoid of life. I look, and see the wreckage that collapsed from above stopping the axis. There are a few ‘cradles’ lying on the floor. This devastation is similar to a beehive ravaged by a bear.
—What in the world…!
“Eisbahn! I’m restarting the power! I’ll leave the debris on the axis to you!”
We get down to work with both hands. There is an emergency power source to prevent the Cradles from being frozen, but I have no idea how long it can last.
—Got to hurry…!
‘Think’, the level’s pushed up, but the Snow White shows no response at all.
—Manual activation doesn’t work…!
I summon the contraol panel on the wall, and tap at the keys in a prayerful manner.
I can hear Eisbahn’s yell above me, and the sound of air being ripped apart echoes. The shattered debris scatter all over.
“Got it out!”
I call out, and tap at the keys.
The memories race in my mind. The masters with the kind smiles, the masters who kept thinking for my sake. And then—
For a moment, my hands stop. I want to hurry up and save my masters, but I have another imagery appearing in my might. This is ‘that footage’ I am not willing to think of.
I shake my head slightly, trying to cast aside my doubts, and get to work. Once the control panel shows the affirmation button,
I exclaim, and slam the panel. Several times.
With a rumbling sound, the Snow White glows. The light races through the surface of the Spindle, like blood filling the vessels, and the axis start to spin.
I heave a sigh. For a moment, I feel perturbed, but I’m still able to save our masters. For some reason, I feel a sense of huge relief.
All I have to do is to put by the fallen Cradles back into position, and the repairs will be done. I scan the room, and run off to the nearest Cradle.
At this moment.
Boom, the floor shakes.
—No way, another one…!?
The earthquake strikes again, and I lose my balance, falling to the floor.
The earthquake rattles the Snow White, and the axis that has just recover let out a creaking shriek. Icicles fall from the ceiling.
The shattered ice rains on a little Cradle in the middle. If this continues, it’ll be dangerous.
I crawl to the Cradle as fast as I can, but the shaking doesn’t stop, and I can’t go forward as I hope, as my feet are slippery.
Yet at this moment.
A shrill sound rings, and a robot appears in the room. That robot quickly slams towards the Cradle.
As the world continues to rattle in the earthquake, Gappy spins his caterpillar legs, and dashes forward with a speed that’s basically impossible for the usual him—as fast as the assisted run during the Prayer Festival.
The icicle blade strikes Gappy from above, and the sharp fragments stabs into the floor. Even so, the brave robot continues forward without care for his own safety. The figure of what has been derided as scrap no longer exists, and showing up instead is a brave warrior driven by his mission and mobility.
So cool. So I thought.
Right when Gappy’s about to knock aside the Cradle on the floor.
A really large icicle falls from the ceiling. “Damn it!” Eisbahn tries to slash it apart with his blade, but barely misses.
However, he didn’t. After knocking it aside with his caterpillar legs, he loses his balance, tumbling over hard.
And gets crushed beneath.
The fragment lands deep into the back, stabs through the abdomen, and into the floor. He’s unable to move, like an insect that’s made into a sample. The brave robot grimaces in agony,
“You can’t, Gappy. Just stay there, don’t move.”
I know my voice is trembling. Gappy’s lower body fall limp, like organs spilled out, and his head is tilted to the other side.
“Wait. I’ll get the Mind Circuit out—”
“N-no, need, for, that…”
He barely tilts his head,
“I-I-I’m, not…going, to, make, it.”
“Don’t say day!”
I yell out to deny him. However, I know that he’s wounded critically, beyond the point of salvaging. The arms are showing cracks, about to break apart.
After hearing it, I search from the hole on his body, and cut the cables apart to check on the rectangular Mind Circuit. The frozen circuit is full of cracks, like a melting lake, waiting to break apart.
For us villagers, there is no backup to that. The Memory that can store important data have been offered to the Snow White. Thus, once the Mind Circuits are wrecked, we can’t repair them anymore.
In other words, we will die.
Gappy tries his best to say,
“W-want to, give…”
Gappy opens his mouth, and in the mouth that’s as dark as a cave, there is a little ice fragment.
With his trembling hands, he takes out the ice fragment from his mouth. This fragment continues a pink petal, and though its uneven and not too good looking, it’s—a flower medal.
—I want to give this medal, to Daisy.
These were the words he said at the park, in the middle of the night.
Finally, I realize why Gappy came to the ‘REM forest’.
He came here for Daisy. Daisy really wanted the medal of the prayer festival, and so Gappy came to the ‘REM forest’ to pick a flower.
“This, is, for, Daisy…”
“No, Gappy. You need, to, give this, to her…”
“—We’ll take it.”
A pair of hands are placed on my shoulders before I know it. I turn around, and see Eisbahn standing there.
“Just go with Gappy’s feelings here…okay?”
He nods towards me. I have never seen him so serious before.
I receive the medal from Gappy’s hands.
After that, Gappy’s body sinks down, as though all his energy is depleted.
The lights deep inside the roun lenses are slowly vanishing.
“No, Gappy. Let’s go back to the village together.”
Again, I grasp his hand hard.
Gappy looks up at the Snow White, asking with a feeble voice,
The voice gets weaker,
I hold in my tears, eking out these words,
“You’re so cool, so courageous when you protected that Cradle.”
I pull out the pendant hanging on my neck. It’s the ‘Grand Prix’ flower medal I was awarded during the Prayer Festival.
“Gappy, I hereby award this ‘Grand Prix’ to you.”
I hang the flower medal on his neck. Tiingg, the medal collides with his body like a chime, giving off a tragic sound.
“I-I-I-I’ve received, the Grand, Prix…”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Is this, okay/”
“You risked your life to protect our masters. This medal really suits you well.”
“Hehe…I, Did, it…”
He smiles with all his might.
“If, Daisy, knows.”
He ekes out his final words.
“She, will, surely, be, shocked.”
Vbbring, and a sharp sound echoes. Stunned, I look at the large hole in Gappy’s abdomen. The silver rectangular item inside, the –Mind Circuit—falls to the fall, shattering into fragments of various sizes like glass. This is the terminal symptom of a metal frostbite.
Thus, Gappy would never move, forever.
Gaooo Gooo. I continue to move forward.
“Alright, charge! Charge!”
I could hear Daisy shouting from above.
“It’s Gappy!” “Scrappy! Scrappy’s attacking!” “Everyone, run!”
The children all run away with much enthusiasm, Gaooo Gaoo, and I give chase,
“Hey, faster! Gappy!”
Daisy prompts me. However, I could no longer accelerate, and ended up being abandoned by everyone.
The short hide-and-seek ended.
“Ahh~ahh, Gappy, you’re so slow, stupid…”
“I-I-I did my best, there.”
“Your best isn’t enough here.”
Before I realized it, only Daisy and I were left in the park. As usual, we’re both alone.
“Wh-why, aren’t, you, leaving?”
Daisy bends down, looking at me.
“What do you mean?”
“I-I’m an, idiot, so, everyone, ran away. But, Daisy, you, didn’t leave…why?”
“What why…I don’t care about that.”
“I-I-I-I want to know. I, want, to, know, what you’re thinking, Daisy.”
Daisy looked at me. After a short pause,
“–Back then.” she started to talk about her past, a rare thing at that, “When Papa and Mama were still alive, I had a toy who often played with me. He had the same appearance as you, and kept running and shouting, Gaoo Gaoo, like that.”
“So, when I first met you, I thought it’s like we’re reunited…that’s all.”
And for some reason, Daisy awkwardly emphasized “Really, that’s all there is.”
I love Daisy. More than anyone else in the world.
It will be great, if we can make amends, tomorrow.