Project Cupid was begun by two scientists, Abendroth and Molyneux, on a quest to give souls and emotion to mechanical objects.
Symbolism was strong in this project, as both Abendroth and Molyneux had a sense of poetic justice. This project was dubbed Project Cupid because it indirectly referred to the fabled beginning: breathing into man and giving them souls.
Project Cupid began in 2012 and lasted 32 years, ending in 2044. Oddly, it has been noted in both Japanese and Chinese tradition, four is the number that represents death. Abendroth and Molyneux would be pleased.
This page follows the story and life of version seven, dubbed Ange.
We called it Project Cupid, oui? Molyneux asked, out of the blue while ordering his paperwork.
Of course. Why? answered Abendroth coldly, but instantly. People commonly thought Abendroth was apathetic, heartless even, but that was just the tone of voice he tended towards.
I think we should call her Ange.
Molyneux was fluent in French and English. Brought up at a young age in England, he had learnt the traditional methods in scientific study. But his poetry and love for beauty had been inherited from his French roots. That was why he insisted all seven protocols had to be female.
Angel was the word I thought of when I heard Cupid, he explained, I think it's word association. And Anger starts with Ange too. We don't really know Ange's personality yet, do we?
What's wrong with Cupid? Abendroth asked. He was genuinely hurt, as he was the one to suggest the project title.
You named the first three Cupid. We should have variety, Molyneux retorted.
Ange/Cupid laid there, not moving, not on. Her screen, positioned on the bulk of her torso, was designed to be flexible for easier movement. It was unattached at the moment, as Abendroth was checking to see if all her wires were in the correct location.
I think we're ready, Molyneux. Molyneux rubbed his hands excitedly. The only things they needed to do was replace the screen and turn her on.
And that he did.
Her eyes fluttered as she felt the electricity flowing through her circuits.
You are Ange, a scientist said, with a light French accent. A small distance away, Abendroth scowled. Ange stared into the scientist's eyes. They were tender and loving. She quickly stored the data so she would never forget his face at that moment.
And you are? she asked, the syllables barely connected. Her blank, red eyes stared back into his.
Father, call me father.
And I'm mother! Abendroth randomly said with a trace of humor.
Ange touched her head, feeling something hanging off it.
Don't worry about that, Ange, her father said, It's just to analyze your brain. But could you do me a favour and not move yet? Ange complied.
Father turned towards Mother, who responded with a nod. In the kindest voice possible, Father asked her what she wanted the most at that very moment. She decided she wanted a friend the most. Father nodded, smiling. Walking to the supply closet a few metres away from her, and opened a drawer. He returned with a Robot Peadackle.
What do you think you shall call it?
Mammon, she responded, almost instantly. Mother laughed.
Of course. We uploaded the names of demons into her names database first.
Oui, you were genius for realising such irony. Ange sat there, lost in their jokes and thus she stared blankly at the two scientists, with Mammon in her lap.
Whether it was an act of Him or not, the scientists had decided to tamper with each other's drinks that evening. Father's acted instantly. Within two minutes, Mother was gone. Asphyxiation.
Ange! he shouted. On command, Ange ran into the room.
I am about to die. Ange opened her mouth, but he waved his hand, not allowing her to speak as he gave her instructions: Immediately as I die, take off the cap on your bellybutton and press the button. Then replace the cap. He slurred his speech nearer to the end, Father felt the effects of the poison much stronger now.
Ange, live a good life for me. For my life was all for you. Find who you are, Ange.
Two blank pairs of eyes stared into each others. Pressing her reset button, she only had enough time to replace the lid. Father knew that this memory would remain. Father, although less intelligent than Mother, had predicted their differences in opinion would lead to a rift. And they were both very capable scientists.
... find who you are, Ange.
Age: a few months
Hair colour: bubblegum pink
Eye colour: red
Personality: Ange is very reactive. She does not start anything by herself, but she follows prompts which alter her future. She would be content with sitting still, doing nothing, and staying quiet and that is what she plans to do once everything dies down. She has a small amount of friends, who she values very much and that, she believes, is better than having plenty of friends that aren't cared for.
Ange is an examiner. She prefers watching to interacting. Although she's a robot, she does get influenced by feelings, as that was the way she was programmed.
... find who you are, Ange.
When Ange was once again fully operational, she knew only her name and her mission, and the only thing that spurred her on was one memory: Father looking tenderly into her eyes. There was nobody around her. Only a regular Robot Peadackle.
Mammon, she whispered, almost inaudibly. Mammon? The demon of greed. She wondered why she called her pet that, of all names. Ange shrugged. Maybe Mammon was a piece of who she was. She put Mammon on her lap and started stroking Mammon's glossy finish. The coolness had a comforting effect of her, she didn't realise her fingers depressed as she pressed a button.
Mammon's mouth opened, revealing a tiny stereo set. In a soft, handsome voice, he said reviewing message: one of one.
How? How do I get there?
In Neo... you enter the tavern... Shira makes a drink...
... Too easy?
... evil Angel rules... no escape.
With the sound of static, the recording was over. Although distorted, Ange knew exactly what to do. She had to go to Alsatia.
Picking up Mammon, she decided where to go. She loaded up the map of Neopia on the screen placed on her torso. She saw two cities had began with the word Neo. Firstly, she considered Neopia Central, and concluded it wouldn't have a tavern. It was too bright.
Of course! Neovia!
She left the laboratory in search for Shira, Mammon hovering slightly behind her.
Hey. What'd you like? -- A to-the-point greeting from the bartender. Ange took a glance at Shira. She had a pale face, aglow of a secret nobody knew, which was framed by flowing brown hair. Shira dressed like a cosplayer: a cute small dress with a few too many ribbons.
She didn't know how to answer. There was no menu, just a chalkboard sign that said SPECIALS and the erasings of previous specials below it.
Surprise me, Ange said with a smile.
A'ight, she said as she poured sparkling liquids into a cup.
Ange had no idea what to do anymore: she had no money, and she wouldn't have even come here if Mammon's recording didn't tell her to. Was she even allowed in here? Her rosy pink cheeks and petite stature didn't make her look of age.
Her thoughts were interrupted as Shira handed her a red drink.
How much? Ange asked worriedly.
On the house, Shira said with her first genuine smile.
Ange thanked her and went off to a separate table, and laid her hand on Mammon again, feeling the coolness Mammon provided as she brought the cup to her lips.
A flaming portal opened in front of her. It appeared opaque, like a one sided mirror. She could see a pretty view, that felt surreal. The only normal thing was the grass. Everything followed the laws of nature, but they were just all coloured wrong: the sky was red, and the leaves on the tree were golden despite it being summer. Concluding this was Alsatia, Ange picked Mammon up and entered the portal.
Nobody else saw Ange disappear. All evidence she was even in Neopia was the lone glass of juice on the table. Deep in thought, Shira wiped the table Ange had been at.
Ange woke up, head pounding, and not because Shira had tampered with the drink. The world around her was different. She was in the world that she had saw, but the fact that the world was a reality had shocked her.
The sky was oddest: blood red. But oddly, it wasn't stinging her eyes. After a few minutes of adaptation, she looked around for her pet.
Mammon? After a pause, she could hear the reassuring beeping sounds near her. Ange breathed a sigh of relief.
Now what? she asked. No further response. Sighing, Ange figured she had to figure out the next step on her own. Cradling Mammon in her arms, she looked up for mountains, since they make a good vantage point.
If only you spoke! she told Mammon.
As she hiked up a steep hill, Ange was so deep in thought she hadn't noticed the things she was thinking of were flashing on her screen. Ange repeated what she knew about herself over and over again, and her screen showed those thoughts accordingly. She knew so much about other things, but so little about herself!
Ange stopped walking as she had reached the end of the cliff. She looked down and saw… islands, in midair. Floating islands? Ange estimated 6x7 metres for the smaller islands. Some were larger, like one with a colossal castle on it. She bet that was where the Angel everybody hated was. Mammon once again, led her to a new location: a long, grassy plain to her right (not the castle!? she wondered). After some wandering, she took note of a small shed, abandoned but still looking fresh.
Reaching the shed, she looked at Mammon who seemed to be in approval of her choice. Ange opened the door, knowing knocking was useless in this scenario. Inside, the sunlight streamed through one window onto a small room furnished completely with stools and a table made of mahogany wood. On the table, she saw a detached head. Ange recoiled in horror, until she realised it was mechanical. Other than the fact it had no body, the head was quite pretty but not quite realistic. The face looked stiff, and too yellowed to be genuine. Its hair was in large pigtails, predominantly blue but also with neon pink streaks.
All of a sudden, its eyes opened and it began singing.
Once the head had stopped singing, it switched off again. Ange heard snickering behind her, outside. Turning around, she saw Shira casually leaning against the doorframe.
There was a project that started a few decades ago. Two scientists wanted to make a robot which could control itself, and this was their first product. Both of them were lazy then.
Shira beckoned Ange to follow her, and Ange obediently did so, cradling Mammon as she walked. They mostly walked in awkward silence, until Shira asked:
Do you have any questions?
What's Alsatia? was her instant response. After some pause, Shira slowly responded.
Neopia was formed from everything, so Alsatia was created from the absence of everything. We're nearly the opposite of Neopia, but not quite. But above all, we were a place with complete freedom.
How is the Angel involved, then? Ange asked, curious.
The angel was told to rule over us. And he did well for a long time, I was even close friends with him, she sighed as she spoke of him. He got greedy. It happened so fast, in the blink of an eye, most of us were chained to trees, collecting leaves. And, we're here.
The two stood in front of a large, dark building which seemed desolate and empty. Everything was weathered with age and doors were about to rot. Knowing what she had to do, Ange opened the door and boldly stepped in.
The hall echoed with their footsteps. After minor observation, Ange noticed each room was unlocked, and held a small bed and a table, but nothing else. This was either a prison or a similar establishment. Behind her, Shira chuckled.
This is our hideout. She beckoned Ange to follow her as she pointed to a spiraling staircase. Ange nodded as she followed her up. There was one room at the second level, which Shira led her into.
This room was furnished with more bulletin boards and tables than the others, and there were two people seated, one male with messy hair and vivid green eyes and the other was a medic with short blonde hair in waves and large eyes. Ange realised they weren't moving at all: they were also robots. Shira introduced them as numbers five and six of Project Cupid.
Number five called him Oltox, while number six was silent, overseeing everything with Oltox in her embrace.
Oltox has something wrong with his brain, and she's full of medical knowledge, Shira explained, but she's also helping us with developing biological weaponry. The smaller our operation is, the less likely the Angel will find out, of course.
Then Ange heard the first and last words from number six: I think we're ready. And all of a sudden, the three females were in motion and the rebel base became animated and lively.
We have to leave you to distract the Angel, sorry, Shira apologised, standing near the bushes by the front door. There will be a guard, just say you're a newcomer who has come to pay your respects to the Angel.
Number six started walking away silently. Shira patted Ange on the back before running off into the distance. Ange took a deep breath and used a door knocker in the shape of two wings.
Knock, knock, knock. The door opened. A butler with vivid green eyes and dressed entirely in white smiled at her in a condescending way. Ange told her what was needed to be said, and without any hesitation, the butler brought her to the throne room.
Number seven, a tenor voice boomed, or as everyone calls you, Ange. Ange's eyes widened and she turned around. The door was closed and the butler was gone. There was no escape, and she was afraid.
His wings spread. You know your purpose, to find who you are and to be autonomous. But don't you see? You have done everything from your own free will. You have autonomy.
But what of souls? she asked, trembling. Mother and Father were trying to make souls.
The Angel looked down on her with condescending red eyes but an otherwise calm face. There's no such thing as souls. Consciousness is achieved by a combination of everything in your system working together. He paused for dramatic effect, then rapped his throne twice with his knuckles, knowing his butler was looking in.
Ange stepped closer, feeling like she was going to cry. Her whole adventure was a waste. Her whole existence! The Angel had prepared this speech well, it bought time for him, who was about to fly out of the door his butler was about to open. But before anything else happened, Ange exploded.
Yes, the bug Shira planted on Ange's back was timed for the moment Ange got close enough. Shira walked in and noticed her hard drive was intact, but barely. Oltox walked in, taking off his white blazer with a wide, maniacal grin as he removed his other face.
Yes, we did it! they cheered.
I think we're ready, Shira. Oltox rubbed his hands excitedly. They had spent longer making Ange than Molyneux and Abendroth did, even if the they had a template to work off.
Once again, Ange felt the electricity flowering through her circuits and her eyes fluttered open.
Welcome back, Ange, Shira said, as warmly as she possibly could. And then it was straight back to business.
The angel's dead, we're free, Mammon's here and we removed your reset button.
My reset button? Ange asked, only reacting to the last part of the sentence.
You won't need your reset button anymore, Ange. You're free.
Ange felt elated. What should she do now? The possibilities were infinite. She could start a business in basket weaving if she so desired. But first things first, she wanted to go back to the laboratory, where her story began and clean things up.
How do I get back to Neopia? she asked.
The same way you got here: one of my drinks.
I'd like one then, please, she said as Shira smiled.
Sure. Sorry for blowing you up, by the way, Shira said sheepishly on her way out. This was a classic habit of Shira: to apologise without seeing their reaction.
Shira brought back a freshly made drink which looked like raspberry juice but had a tang of grapes in it, and with water condensing on the outside of the glass. Taking a sip, she saw the portal open back home, to a blue sky and green leaves. She bade farewell to the three in her room, and stepped through.
She was free.
Mother and Father.
Ange doesn't know their true names, just the ones that they told her. Mother was a mechanic and a physicist, who dealt in the hardware. Father was a programmer, and a psychologist who dealt with the software. They needed each other... until Ange was alive. Once Ange awoke, they decided to rid each other of each other.
Status: Love, longing, regret.
Shira taught Ange how selfish humanity could be. In order to rule Alsatia, Shira honestly considered usurping the Angel by blowing Ange up. Ange couldn't leave Shira though, she just couldn't bear hurting somebody. Plus, from what she heard from the other Alsatian citizens, the Angel was doing a bad job anyway.
Status: Dislike, mutual agreement.
Ange hadn't met Sui in Alsatia, but if she had, Sui would have been extremely despised. However, Ange met Sui in Neopia, where Ange decided to take her under her wing, and they soon became close friends. That hadn't changed since they both discovered who Sui really was.
Status: best friends.
The Angel was wise. Ange admits that. He valued what he truly had. He just showed it in the wrong way. Ange misses the Angel so much. He brought her peace. And Ange regrets fighting against him.
Status: Pining, respect.
Ange grinned widely.
I have a button, in case you want to link back to here. Stick it on everything you want.
She abruptly leaves, leaving just one link in her shadow:
Thank you for noticing me, you hear Ange say in the distance.
For noticing my small existence. For finding who I am with me.
Turning around she smiled sadly, her red eyes looking into yours.
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