Defender Scarlet Shadow in the Robots of Heart: Part One
Fire erupted inside of a metallic building deep inside the caverns of Moltara, an explosion had torn a gigantic hole in it. Two figures made their way out through the hole, making their way between the flames.
"This way, Elizabeth!" A brown Gelert called to a white Gelert through the flames.
"Warren, help! My foot is stuck!" Elizabeth called back in distress. Warren sighed and with a shake of his head, went over to Elizabeth and freed her foot from some debris.
"There you go. Now come on!" Warren said, grabbing Elizabeth's hand and running away from the scene with her. A figure watched them run, being kept back by the fire that was now getting extinguished by the building's automatic fire extinguishers. "You can run for now. But you can't hide from those who made you, not even Redford could deny that, so I'll find you. Hunt you down if I must. You'll never truly escape."
Sopherie gaped at the sizeable hole. The camouflage Kacheek had been stationed in the Moltara Defender Substation for a week, covering for another Defender when she got the call about a set of laboratories called Chromia Labs in the depths of Moltara exploding and two experiments escaping from there in the chaos. She was here to gather information on those experiments and with some aid from the labs, find and bring back the experiments. She wiped sweat from her brow. Her red and black Defender uniform did nothing to alleviate how hot it was in Moltara, even though she wasn't wearing her breast and shoulder plates as they would roast her in the heat, them being metal.
"Are you Defender Scarlet Shadow?" A cold voice asked her. Sopherie turned around and found herself looking at a white Aisha with cold green eyes.
"Yes, I am. Are you one of the Directors at Chromia Labs?" Sopherie asked him.
"Ah, yes. I am Director Edward Sinis. Director of the biology department of the labs. The hole made by the explosion was torn in our robotics department. But I believe the Director of that department, Director Plato Redford will know more. You'll also get more information from Director Redford about the experiments as they were from his department too." Director Sinis said, pointing to a mild and meek-looking fire Lupe.
"Okay, thank you Director Sinis. I'll go and talk to him right now." Sopherie said. As Sopherie passed by Director Sinis, suddenly his hand clamped down on her shoulder, which made her jump.
"Just a moment, Scarlet Shadow. You were hired to bring back those two experiments for us, weren't you? I'd suggest asking Redford about the "Heart Project" to get full details." Director Sinis said quietly to her. He then let go of her shoulder. "Off you go." He said as he walked off. Sopherie shivered despite the heat as Director Sinis seriously gave her the creeps. She quickly made her way over to Director Redford and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Excuse me, are you Director Redford?" She asked him. Director Redford turned to Sopherie, his flame streaked tail hanging limply behind him.
"I am Director Plato Redford, yes. You must be the Defender the labs called." Director Redford replied.
"Defender Scarlet Shadow at your service, Director. However, in this case I want some information from you about the escaped experiments as they were in your department" Sopherie said. Director Redford stared at her for a moment, then looked down at his feet.
"I'm afraid I won't have much to tell you. While it is my department, I was not heavily involved." Director Redford said. Sopherie could tell he was lying, he was doing things like wringing his hands and avoiding eye contact. Sopherie doubted that he would say anything more to her without a reason, so she decided to use the trump card Director Sinis had given her.
"Then you know nothing about the "Heart Project"." Sopherie said smoothly. Director Redford's head snapped up at that. He obviously hadn't expected to hear those two words come out of Sopherie's mouth. He then began to growl.
"What do you know about the "Heart Project", Defender?!" He demanded. This sudden 180 in Director Redford's demeanour slightly unnerved Sopherie, especially with how meek Director Redford had seemed before. But she swallowed her nerves.
"Nothing, for now. But I can and will find out everything about this "Heart Project" on my own. I'm incredibly good at finding out about stuff others don't want me to know. But if you tell me what it's about from the start, it'll make things easier for both of us." Sopherie said, putting on her most intimidating look. She hated having to intimidate people into giving her what she wanted, but she felt that she needed this information. Director Redford looked around for a while.
"Alright, alright. I'll tell you what you want to know in exchange for a favour." Director Redford finally replied.
“A favour? Well alright, I'm in."
"Alright, let's go to my office to talk. There are too many ears out here."
Later in Director Redford's office, Director Redford began to explain the "Heart Project".
"The "Heart Project" was the creation of both Director Sinis and I. It all started with my desire to make androids for more than just servicing the areas that normal Neopets could not reach or survive. That's what most androids in Moltara and beyond are being used for. I wanted to create androids that would be indistinguishable from their flesh and blood counterparts and most importantly, I wanted to make robots of heart." Director Redford explained.
"Robots of heart? What do you mean by that?" Sopherie asked.
"I mean androids that could think, feel and learn like we do," Director Redford replied. "Those were the two goals of the "Heart Project". To make them look like real Neopets and programming them to act like real Neopets. So they'd have “heart”, so to speak. I got Director Sinis to help because his expertise on biology would help me be able to figure out how to put together such a complex robot. Director Sinis was also rather interested in the possibilities of this kind of android, probably because robotics used to be his field. The first one we made we repurposed parts from a Warren model service android, fitted it with the new parts and processors to get the realistic look and behaviour I wanted and reprogrammed it, adding the program that would give it “heart”. We made it look like a male brown Gelert. His name was Warren5567492, Warren for short and for a first attempt, he was fantastic. It was as if he was truly a being of flesh and blood. He was a bit stilted in his speech at first and very naive, being quite new to the world. But the learning capabilities we added fixed those problems right away."
Director Redford's eyes sparkled as he was talking about Warren and it was obvious that he cared for his creation.
"We made a second from scratch and decided to make this one a female for comparison's sake. This one was made to look like a white Gelert. We decided to name this model Elizabeth, so she became Elizabeth0000001 or just Elizabeth. Elizabeth turned out more advanced than Warren, but the two took to each other quite quickly and Elizabeth being more advanced than him did not seem to faze Warren in the slightest. But then, some in my department began to run some rather extreme tests to see how real they could be. Like if they could feel pain." Director Redford continued.
"They tested them to see if they could feel pain?! But you said they look real! How could they do that to them with a clear conscience?!" Sopherie exclaimed.
"Most of the people in my department saw them purely in a robotic light. To them, Warren and Elizabeth were just interesting androids. They could feel pain and even express it among other things. I tried to put a stop to these mad experiments but even Director Sinis joined in. So, the only choice was to get them out of the labs." Director Redford said. Then it all clicked into place for Sopherie. Director Redford was like a father to these androids, to him they were his children. His children were getting hurt and he would do anything to stop people from hurting them. Even blowing up the place where he worked to let them escape.
"Thank you for telling this, Director Redford. I feel this will help in my mission." Sopherie said.
"About that, Scarlet Shadow. My favour is related to your mission." Director Redford stated.
"Oh? Then what is your favour?" Sopherie asked him, nervous about his answer as it was about her mission.
"Please, don't bring Warren and Elizabeth back to these labs. I bet you've already figured out what I did for them and I would not want what I did to be for naught." Director Redford replied.
"But Director Redford! These androids of yours could be very dangerous, especially if they are as real-looking and acting as you say. You're also asking me to abandon my mission which would hurt my credibility as a Defender." Sopherie protested.
"I'm not asking you to abandon your mission. At least not insofar as finding them. By all means, find them and make sure they're alright and the two are perfectly harmless towards others, they will only ever act in self-defence and they know not to use their internal weapons on flesh and blood Neopets." Director Redford argued back. "Please Defender Scarlet Shadow, you'll be sending innocents to a world of eternal pain if you bring them back here and they can't even have the peace of death to end it."
Suddenly, Sopherie's protests went out of her head with these words. Innocents. These two androids could be dangerous but for now they were innocent and it was usually her job to protect those who were innocent. Sopherie had been told she would be faced with a decision like this sometime in her career, probably more than once. She had not expected it to come so soon. Even though it was a tough decision, she only saw one option as the clear way to go.
To be continued…