sparked and miraculously grew within a nightmarish twist
of silicon wafers, copper wiring and microscopic circuitry.
Three cognizant and self-aware thoughts surfaced amidst
the darkness of nonbeing, and brought truth to the old
maxim: I think, therefore I am.
servomotors whirred nearly inaudibly and carried out
their predetermined set of instructions. Syntheflesh
slid smoothly over diamond-hard corneas and revealed
perfectly manufactured artwork. Twin crystal lenses
twisted slowly and admitted light to a pair of photoreceptors
designed to recognize and decode over a dozen types
of wavelengths for visual recognition.
android on the table opened his hawk-blue eyes and looked
did not occur to him that he was other than an android,
though at first, second and third glance, he appeared
entirely human. He stood and looked at his hands. From
what he could tell, they looked organic. But then, everything
about him did.
a preprogrammed imperative, he ran a quick self-diagnostic
scan of his system. What he found and accepted without
pause would have astounded any scientist on the globe.
Literally millions of tiny servomotors and steel cables
simulated muscle structure and movements beneath the
unusually pale synthetic skin of the android. Hundreds
of tiny computers controlled his movements as he decided
upon them, all in turn controlled by an amazing neuro-synthesis
computer located in his head and chest cavities.
miracle, and nothing less. He was a nearly perfect human
replica--constructed entirely of highly durable and
tough titanium alloys and synthetic flesh. Years, perhaps
centuries ahead of his time, the android turned his
head experimentally and looked at himself.
That was his name. He assumed it had been programmed
into him, although he couldn't be sure. Perhaps somebody
had told him while he was asleep . . . ? Doubtful. Had
Rock been subject to human gestures, he would have shaken
his head slightly.
leaned against the highly-polished chrome-plated table
upon which he had lain and studied the image of his
own face. Large blue eyes, jet black hair and a face
that looked more like a seventeen year old young man
than that of a mature adult characterized him.
was garbed in a pale orange, sleeveless robe that reached
just to his mid thigh, cinched about the waist with
a black cloth belt. His pants seemed made of the same
stuff, and tucked into black boots of some sort. They
were sturdy, and looked as if they had seen their share
of wear and tear.
flexed his fingers and looked about the room. It was
a fairly plain chamber, with white walls and tiling.
No visible electronics were in evidence, except for
the rows of fluorescent lights above.
doorway stood open behind him, and in it stood a man.
felt his auto-irises constrict to adjust for the added
light reflected by the white lab coat worn by the man.
To avoid photoreceptor overload, his system automatically
compensated and closed his eyelids for a fraction of
a second while the irises adjusted.
human terms--a blink.
Rock," said the man, in a fatherly voice. Rock felt
he should recognize the man, but could only hypothesize
upon his identity. After a moment, Rock hazarded a guess.
you my . . . maker?" he asked. The term father would have sounded wrong, somehow.
man broke into a wide beam. "Yes, I am. My name is Thomas
Xavier Light, and I am your creator." He looked Rock
up and down for a moment. For the slimmest of instants--one
which a human eye would have missed--Rock saw what might
have been sorrow or longing playing across the aged
features of his master and creator.
I am Rock," Rock answered. It was a statement meant
more to confirm the idea to himself than to introduce
himself to the doctor; after all, wouldn't Light have
known his name already? He rolled the name around on
his tongue, testing the sound of it. It was as good
as any, he supposed. A simple, solid name: Rock.
by his own ability to form such opinions so quickly,
Rock decided to run another diagnostic to see if he
had changed in any way. Amazingly, his diagnostic indicated
a constantly shifting neuro-net that adapted to new
information; even an errant thought by Rock could be
processed and extrapolated on--subconsciously to use
an organic phrase--until an opinion was formed!
blinked again as Dr. Light flipped on another light.
Dr. Light beamed and clapped his hands once together.
"Excellent!" he exclaimed. "Your blink-reflex is programmed
perfectly! I really wasn't quite sure about that, you
subroutine in Rock's neural info-net analyzed the remark
as slightly humorous, and compensated with a slight
contraction of the cables that controlled the widening
and shortening of the mouth.
grin!" Dr. Light was in ecstasy. "Oh, wonderful! Rock,
you are a marvel!"
stood stock still, confused. He wasn't quite sure what
to do at this point. He considered asking a question,
and calculated a 94% probability that doing so would
lead to a gain in information on the present situation.
However, before he could speak, Dr. Light began again.
Light said, "You are Rockman. However, Rock will do.
It is a good name, and it matches your . . ." Light
seemed to grasp for words, and eventually shrugged.
He gesture to the doorway. "Well, Rock. This is Roll."
looked past his "father" and saw an image of breathtaking
beauty. At least, had he the need to truly breathe,
the sight would have taken his breath away. The young
woman behind Dr. Light was a bit shorter than Rock.
Though her face seemed somehow familiar, it was crowned
by pale red-gold hair that fell to her mid-back, caught
up in a pony tail. She wore a simple crimson dress and
brown leather shoes. Her eyes, like Rock's, were a piercing
Rock said to himself. He wasn't quite sure what to make
of this. Dr. Light looked on expectantly, as if Rock
were supposed to know what to do. After a moment of
consideration, he asked, "Is she my--," probability
matrices expanded and collapsed within Rock's brain,
and flow charts that would have driven even the most
persistent logician to tears produced eight logical
possibilities. Rock filled in the word he calculated
as having the most likelihood of being accurate. "--sister?"
Light frowned. "Well, in a way, I suppose." He grasped
his hands and looked distressed. Eyes rolling heavenward,
he continued. "I mean, you two were meant . . . but
if you . . . oh, never mind!" He threw his hands up
into the air and looked heavenward. "Yes, Roll is your
grinned. Having a sister would be much less difficult,
he calculated, than having a mate, which had been number
three on his list of probabilities. "A sister. Good."
He walked up to Roll and spoke. "Hi. I'm Rock."
voice when she spoke, though sweet, was laden with sarcasm.
"So I guessed."
. . ." Rock looked around for some help, and decided
that he would do better to talk to Dr. Light. "What
is my function, anyway?"
seemed amused, and answered after letting Rock stew
for a few moments in uncomfortable silence. "You are
my assistant." He turned to Roll. "And you, too. We
have great work to do together, and not much time. In
less than an hour, my cousin Dr. Wily will be here."
is here?" Rock asked.
Light looked flustered. "You are in Tokyo, of course.
In my lab."
Rock's voice was flat. He turned to Roll and gave her
a questioning look. She shrugged. Rock pushed blue-black
hair out of his eyes and asked, "What is a Tokyo?"
my." Dr. Light sat down heavily and shook his head.
"I should have included this in your programming." He
looked at both of the new robots. "Well, at least you
both know how to read."
nodded. Rock scanned his memory banks, and found that
he could not only read, but speak eighteen different
languages. Dr. Light continued as he pushed himself
up from the white tile floor. "Well, then. Go to the
library on the second floor of this building. You'll
find anything you could want to know there. If you get
lost, ask the serving 'bots for directions. But come
down in a bit to meet my cousin Will."
wondered internally what increment of time a "bit" was,
but decided that he could determine such information
in the library, when he and Roll arrived. "Very well."
fun." Dr. Light grinned, and Rock found himself, and
Roll returning the expression.
shrug was mirrored by his golden-haired sister, and
the pair turned and walked upstairs, leaving a softly
chuckling Dr. Light behind. He could not have been more
he called. In a moment, his robotic transport device--which
he had nicknamed Eddie--trundled into view. It had two
legs with large feet to keep its balance, holding up
a wide, roughly cone-shaped body with a face on the
front and a thin arm extending out of the right side.
The arm held a small crank that opened a large compartment
on the head, giving this line of robots their trade
name, the FlipTops. Light had manufactured and sold
thousands of them.
thin arm rapidly turned the crank, and the top of its
head/torso popped open, revealing a sheaf of paperwork
cluttered with pens, pencils and a hundred different
measuring tools and devices. Thomas Light rifled around
in the patient robot's head until he found what he was
looking for: the Council's expectations for the six
* * * *
then months flew by.
and Roll learned quickly to do their share of work around
the lab. Rock was particularly gifted with tools, and
Roll with electronic schematics, so Light had each help
him and Wily in their tasks. Soon, the pair became invaluable,
though Wily grumbled that they were always in the way.
had read until all the books in Dr. Light's extensive
library had been finished, from Frankenstein to Isaac Asimov's Basic Chemistry to Sen Tzu's the Art of War. Roll was no less enthusiastic
in her yearning to learn, and soon, the readings developed
into a race to see which "sibling" could finish first.
his ability to feel emotion, Rock felt strangely detached
when he read about the atrocities of the Second World
War, or the racial persecution that followed the Third
World War. Roll, when she read the books, was furious,
and demanded to know how humans could be so stupid.
Dr. Light had only shrugged sadly. Dr. Wily had said
something acerbic about the limitless abilities of humans
to commit mass stupidity.
Rock felt little reaction to such ideas. Instead of
the burning anger he knew he should feel, or the deep
sense of disquiet, he felt only that he should correct
such wrongs. When Rock had asked Dr. Light about the
suspected flaw in his own system, Dr. Light merely raised
an eyebrow and assured Rock that he was fine.
was not until Rock picked up a book of Dr. Wily's--a
play written by a Rumanian whose name was Capek--that
he was truly disturbed by something. It was three months
after his activation that he read Rossum's Universal
Robots, and when he finished, he walked downstairs
to the lab, quietly.
Wily saw him holding the book, he shook his head. "You
forgot to program your robots with manners, Cousin Tom,
or is it no longer considered necessary to ask permission
to borrow one's books?"
stammered an apology, by Wily waved it away.
Light put down his wrench after tightening the last
bolt on the robot he worked on, and looked at Rock with
concern. "What is it? You look upset."
held up the copy of R.U.R. "This. Could it really
nodded grimly. "Robots could, conceivably, revolt against
humanity and destroy them. That is why we program every
robot with the Three Rules."
Rock said, "killing one another is a human trait. Robots
do not kill."
as of yet," Wily said grimly. "A robot programmed to
kill will do so."
Light waved a dismissive hand. "Bah! You two worry too
much. Here, Rock--look at Number Three."
took a step forward and looked at the nearly-completed
timber felling robot. Of course, he had seen it a hundred
times before; it was his handiwork that had secured
the springsteel to the soles of the feet. He and Roll
had worked together on the legs of this particular robot,
adding several muscle-cables, so that it would be capable
of jumping high in the air to cut off tree branches.
nearly finished," Rock observed, with some pride in
his voice. He grinned wryly. "Rather ironic, don't you
Dr. Wily asked. "That we're setting up the human race
to be dominated by its own inventions? Scheiße, do
you realize how serious this is?"
that," Rock answered. "I mean that we've invented a
robot to cut down robotic trees."
Light barked a short laugh. "True. But who could have
predicted that treeborgs would have been so successful?"
shrugged. Treeborgs--a term coined in the early
21st century when mass deforestation, pollution and
radioactive fallout had combined to wipe out 98% of
the world's plant life. That disaster had heralded the
end of the Third World War. When men realized that they
would die from lack of oxygen provided by trees, a concerted
effort by all the world's leading nations produced a
team of scientists who eventually came to be known as
cyborg-botanists-- "cybotanists" to most English speaking
countries. The team of fifteen dedicated robotechnicians
and botanists had built upon several theories. Prosthetic
enhancements were already commonplace amongst those
humans wounded in battle or born with physical defects.
If one could adequately blend organic matter with inorganic
on a man, why not with trees?
question had eventually given rise to the creation of
the so-called "treeborgs." Although the term was outdated
now, the principal remained the same. While the few
remaining trees survived in highly protected nurseries
dotted around the globe, treeborgs flourished, a perfect
blend of flora and machine.
first treeborgs did not begin as seeds; rather, they
started life as saplings. With leaves enhanced by micro-solar
panels and a malleable core that simulated photosynthesis,
treeborgs could only be distinguished from true organic
trees by the inexplicable tendency for cables or plating
to grow from the bark.
still didn't fully understand how their own work functioned;
in theory, it should have been impossible for treeborgs
to germinate and produce seeds. In theory, it should
have been impossible for the treeborgs to remove trace
amounts of minerals from the earth through their roots
and synthesize entire branches of iron. Still, theory
notwithstanding, both happened. Treeborgs were now more
widespread than their organic predecessors had been,
surviving even in the arctic and Antarctic.
addition, treeborg wood was harder and more durable
than traditional organic wood (pieces of which now sold
for thousands of dollars), and a healthy lumber trade
had developed around their cultivation. Replanting was
never a problem; treeborgs grew much faster than organic
trees, reaching mature height in often under a year.
shook his head slightly. He could get lost in his own
knowledge sometimes; that's what came of having a perfect
memory. He looked from doctor to doctor to see if they
had noticed his thoughtful reverie. It occurred to him
a few seconds later that to bring up all the data available
on the development and growth of treeborgs and the treeborg
lumber industry had taken less than a second in his
finished," Rock repeated, staring in wonder at the end
result of months of hard labor, interspersed with flashes
of brilliant inspiration by both Dr. Light and Dr. Wily,
and--to the doctors' surprise--Rock and Roll. "Just
a few chips left to install?" Rock asked.
Light and Dr. Wily nodded. "We plan to activate him
for a test run this afternoon, if you and Roll want
grinned, his expression a duplicate of the smile he
had picked up from Dr. Light. Both doctor-cousins had
to remind themselves that he was not human. "That would
be great. I'll go find Roll and tell her." Without another
word, he turned and walked upstairs to the library,
his disquiet forgotten.
scientists watched him go. Wily shook his head.
depend too much on him and Roll," he said. "They did
almost the entire leg assembly on this robot. I never
even saw the changes Roll made to my schematics!"
Light frowned. "They're supposed to be lab assistants,
Will. That's what lab assistants do."
what if they broke down? Would we be able to work without
them?" Wily folded his arms and looked levelly at his
course," Light snapped. "You're too much of a fatalist.
Here, hand me that access panel."
picked up the gray access panel that would cover the
main chest cavity and placed it in Light's waiting hand.
He looked at their creation as Light let the magnetic
seals seamlessly hide the chest cavity; it looked humanoid,
though not nearly so much as Rockman or Roll.
upper arms and legs were of normal human proportions,
and painted a pale gray. The lower arms and legs, painted
a dull crimson, were both somewhat ballooned out: the
feet were exceptionally large, so that the robot would
have no trouble keeping its balance once it landed from
its mighty leaps.
head, also of dull crimson, was a perfect sphere, with
silver ear-forms on each side. Large eyes, a concession
to Wily's cartoon-like sense of humor, would also serve
to take in large amounts of optical data and allow the
robot to see more than a normal human being would. A
small mouth equipped with a voice chip would allow the
robot to communicate with human beings.
was the blade that was Wily's pride. He and Light had
worked for weeks to make sure that the circular scissors-blades,
about a foot and a half in diameter and magnetically
fixed to the top of the robot's forehead, would retain
their razor-sharp edge after repeated use in cutting
down trees. An added brainstorm of Wily's had been to
implant a magnetic homing chip in the blades, so that
they would serve as a "boomerang"; that way, the robot
wouldn't need to waste precious time and lower its efficiency
by needing to retrieve the thrown blades after every
were we going to name him, again?" Wily asked as he
admired the robot.
answered Light, which also named Cutman.
shrugged, then grinned. "It's a bit of a departure from
Blues, Rock and Roll." His grin faded. "But you realize,
we're only adding to the problem."
frowned. "What problem?"
we finish these robots, they'll be so popular that every
nation in the world will want them." Wily unfolded his
arms and gestured at the inert Jason. "Soon, nobody
will be cutting their own wood. The lumber industry
will be dominated by these robots, and thousands of
lumberjacks will lose their livelihoods! People will
be become so dependent on these robots for their lumber,
that if they ever break down, the world will be in chaos!"
sighed. "I'm getting tired of hearing this over and
over again, Will. You did agree to help me with this
project, right? Did I just imagine that?"
Wily snapped. "But the consequences--"
don't think you need to worry," Thomas Light interrupted.
"The lumber trade may be dominated by these robots,
but there will always be room for human labor. After
all, robots are expensive."
far more efficient than men," Wily answered heatedly.
"And they don't tire as quickly. Mark my words, Tom--"
are a terrible distraction," Light joked. "We'll never
get this finished if you keep up your ominous portents
of world domination by a bunch of industrial robots.
What's next--'Toasters of the world unite?'"
blushed. "All right, all right."
picked up the master control chip for the timber felling
Cutman and inserted it into the massive IBM computer
that he used in his lab for most programming. As Wily
watched, he sat at the terminal and began to type:
ONE: THE THREE RULES
ROBOT MUST NEVER HARM A HUMAN BEING.
ROBOT MUST PRESERVE ITS OWN EXISTENCE, UNLESS THAT CONFLICTS
WITH THE FIRST RULE.
ROBOT MUST OBEY ALL COMMANDS, UNLESS THEY ARE IN CONFLICT
WITH THE FIRST TWO RULES.
was a faint whirring sound as the computer transferred
the information into the Priority One memory banks of
the master control chip. It was one of several chips,
controlling the twelve lesser control chips, which dictated
such tasks as timber felling, speech, locomotion, and
held the chip up to Wily.
you care to do the honors?" he asked.
Wily took the chip with a sense of foreboding and walked
over to the motionless robot. He pressed a hidden button-pad
on the side of its head and watched an access panel
slide open, revealing its heavily shielded cybernetic
brain, consisting of a nightmare-maze of wires and chips.
In the one empty space, he placed the chip, and watched
as the servo-motors clamped it in place.
the access button again, Wily turned away as the access
it's done, now. All we need it the spark of life." Wily
sighed, and was suddenly weary.
Light noticed and put a hand on Wily's shoulder. "It
will be all right. You'll see. Come on, how about getting
* * * *
wa. Watashi no namae wa Rokkuman desu."
had chosen Japanese as his language of introduction
out of habit--all of the humans to whom he had thus
far introduced himself had been Japanese.
extended his hand out to the crimson-steel gauntleted
hand. Jason seemed to take it uncertainly, before shaking
it. The timber-felling robot's mouth turned up in an
uncertain grin, an almost exact copy of Rock's.
understood. It had taken him a few weeks to properly
express his own feelings with facial expressions, as
humans did. It was more difficult than one might imagine
to make a special subset of servomotor commands into
second nature. Rock and Roll had both practiced their
facial expressions for hours. After all, as Light had
told them, another purpose of theirs was to fit into
wa . . . Kattoman . . . desu?" Although the face--unpracticed
at expression--remained blank, Rock could tell that
the sentence was more of a question than an introduction.
Rock answered. His grin was part assurance, part relief
that Jason's multi-language module was functioning properly.
the observation room, Roll, Dr. Light and Dr. Wily watched
with pride and awe as the two androids spoke to one
another, getting acquainted. Rock and Roll had drawn
lots to see who was the lucky one to meet Jason first,
and Rock, much to Roll's dismay, had won.
put her hands on her hips, a gesture copied from an
actor she had seen on the holovid. "He's certainly enjoying
himself, isn't he?" she snapped.
Light smiled indulgently. "Fair is fair, Roll; you lost."
still don't see why two of us couldn't go in and talk
to him," Roll said sullenly.
Wily threw up his hands. "How can you be so foolish
with a brain like yours? As I've told you a hundred
was only twice," Roll interrupted.
I've told you a hundred times," Wily continued, with
an irritated glance at Roll, "The danger is too great
that he might be faultily programmed. If there is to
be danger to somebody, it makes sense to only send in
folded her arms and pouted. "I'm just as able to defend
myself against danger as Rock."
Light scolded. "They're coming!"
he had said, the two robots had left the room and now
approached the observation room. Rock and Jason spoke
animatedly over several things, sometimes slipping into
computer dialect, which sounded like nothing so much
as a nest of baby birds, all cheeping at once.
they reached the observation room, Rock grinned and
gestured to Jason. "He works."
nodded. "So I see."
what about his main purpose?" Wily asked. "Can he cut
down trees? That is what he was designed for." All eyes
turned to the German scientist, who said, "It's all
very well for Rock to have somebody to talk to, but
if Jason can't cut down trees, he's a failure."
seemed to tense at the word "failure."
can fulfill my function," he said evenly.
go outside," Dr. Light suggested. "There's a tree out
there that's been blocking the view from the observatory
for quite some time now, and we've been saving it just
for you." Of course, it was a treeborg and not a tree,
but the two terms were synonymous by now.
saying, he turned and walked down the corridor that
led outside. The rest of the group followed, Jason gaping
out the large floor-to-ceiling transparisteel window
that overlooked a panoramic vista of Tokyo, a mass of
spires reaching for the sky and half-finished space
scrapers on a backdrop of majestic mountains and blue
was a short walk to the observatory, and soon the group
stood in front of the offending tree. Normally, Dr.
Light would have had the tree transplanted, but he deemed
it a necessary sacrifice to cut down the tree for Cutman's
test. Jason stood, eyeing the tree impassively.
was a large maple-type tree, maybe fifteen meters in
height. Branches reached out in a large pavilion of
green and shade. The outermost of the limbs stretched
across the observatory's main telescope.
human workers nearby, taking a lunch break from the
construction of the new wing of Light's lab, looked
on, interested. A few meters away, a team of five EG-400
multi-purpose labor 'bots--commonly called metools,
or, for the more fanciful, hard hat "Macs"--turned large
photoreceptors to watch in curiosity.
gave Jason an assuring thump on the back and winked.
"I know you can do it; I helped make you."
frowned, but remained silent.
turned to the pair of cousins. "Shall I just cut the
Light smiled. "Why make it boring? Cut off the top branches
first. Then the bottom. Leave a middle set of branches
still attached. Then cut down the tree."
have thirty seconds," Dr. Wily added.
looked at Rock. Both of the robots' eyes had widened.
Surely, Wily was joking?
made no comment, except. "I begin."
Called Wily, pressing a button on a small digital stopwatch.
shot up into the air with a hiss of hydraulics. Lost
to sight in the high, leafy foliage of the tree, the
timber-felling robot could be heard at work. A quick,
almost imperceptibly quiet snap and click of the blades
being freed from Jason's forehead was followed by a
loud, repeated snick as the blades opened and closed,
sometimes on air, sometimes on living wood and cable.
out!" came the cry in less than five seconds. Upper
branches, large and small, crashed through the lower
branches to land noisily in a heap before Rock, Roll
and the two doctors.
leaped down with a loud thud and threw the blades again
before he reached the ground. They flew with unnatural
speed, slicing again and again into wood, slashing leaf
and limb. The snick sound was louder now, and Rock could
hear as they cut each branch off, sometimes three or
four with one superhuman-quick throw.
blades sang forth a final time, and the sound of shearing
wood was so loud it made Rock cover his ears. With a
shriek like tearing metal, the tree fell to the ground.
punched the clock, and everybody stared in shocked silence.
readout for the time read 11:06.
seconds," Wily said, his voice hoarse with disbelief.
He gazed at Jason with a mixture of fear, admiration,
and respect written on his weathered features.
the metools made alarmed beeping sounds and scampered
back to their work. The two construction men sat, pale-faced
and silent, watching the small group.
Light beamed. "Excellent! I propose we go inside and
Wily broke into a radiant beam, something which shocked
Rock to his core. Never had he seen Wily smile, let
alone so happily. "Did you see that?" he exclaimed to
nobody in particular as Light took his arm and led him
inside. "He was amazing! Nothing is as powerful as that.
grinned at Jason, and the three robots followed the
pair of doctors inside.
sitting on a bench nearby, sandwiches forgotten, two
workers took shallow breaths and looked at one another
with fear-glazed eyes.
a moment, one of them laughed nervously. "Wow."
other's invective was lost on the wind before he whispered,
"I'm getting out of here!"
* * * *
passed quickly as Rock and Roll learned more and more,
also teaching Jason some of what they had learned about
human culture. As the pair had learned early on from
watching the televid, the pair of doctors was hardly
a model example of what society was like.
the most part, Rock and Roll had hung around the construction
workers, learning from them what normal human life was
like. The robots' human likenesses had been so complete
that the workers mistook them for other humans at first.
It had been until one of the men got bold and pinched
Roll's bottom that they had discovered the truth.
had turned and picked the man up by his collar, lifting
him into the air with a single sweep of her titanium
arm. "My programming prevents me from throwing you across
the yard," she had said evenly. "But if you ever do
that again, I promise I will find ways to get around
everybody regarded the robot twins with an equal mixture
of caution and admiration. Rock had feared that the
outburst would cause the workers to shun the two robots.
However, the discovery of the twins' nature, had, if
anything, increased the workers' desire to talk about
human life. Each spoke longer than the last, wanting
to give his exact perspective on life as he knew it.
pair of androids had unblinkingly accepted all information.
Opinions from idealism to cynicism to paranoia abounded
in the workers' speech, and by the end of the first
month, the only sign that Rock and Roll weren't human
was their disturbing tendency to speak to one another
in computer code on occasion.
Jason appeared with Rock and Roll to speak with the
workers, the human beings had been rather reluctant
to speak with him. It was Rock who finally pointed out
that there was no justice in their judgment.
has as much intelligence as Roll and I," he said. "He
just looks different. I hope you're not so prejudiced
as to hold a person's appearance against him with no
second thoughts, or Akira there is in trouble, too."
Yamatsu, of whom Rock spoke, had been disfigured at
birth, so that one eye was slightly larger than the
other. Although it was highly conspicuous, most who
knew him had gotten used to the imperfection, and thought
nothing of it.
statement had alleviated some of the construction workers'
fears, and they began to speak with Jason as well, though
still not quite as openly as they had with Rock or Roll.
real test came when the rest of the robots had been
completed. Dr. Light and Dr. Wily held a press conference
to "unveil" their amazing robotic creations in September,
and Rock waited before the lab, ushering in reporters.
It had been the idea of Dr. Light to see if anybody
could tell that Rock and Roll were robots as well.
of the reporters guessed, as they were politely seated
in the demonstration hall, that the young man and woman
who led them to their seats were androids. Rock was
nearly ecstatic as he realized it. He could pass for
a human completely!
felt, for the first time, shabbily dressed. For all
of his life so far, he had been around jeans-and-tank-top
wearing construction workers who spoke earnestly but
roughly, and the two doctors, almost always in lab coats.
Rock thought it was some kind of joke between the two,
for they hardly ever needed to wear the sterile white
clothing except when performing delicate acid-immersion
tests on memory chips.
however, were men and women in business suits and ties.
They looked immaculately clean in their darks and lights
as Rock, dressed in his customary orange karateka-style
robe and trousers belted with a black cloth, ushered
them to their sitting places.
Dr. Wily, nearly hidden behind a bristling forest of
microphones, blazing white for all the lights shining
on him, and observed intently by the eyes of millions
of people via satellite and holographic televid, began
to speak, Rock made a mental note to himself to get
some new clothing.
of the world!" Dr. Wily announced. "A new age has begun
today, with the creation and unveiling of eight of the
world's most powerful robots! I, Doctor William A. Wily,
am pleased to present to you my cousin and partner,
Doctor Thomas Xavier Light!"
was a round of applause and cheering as Dr. Light walked
out on the stage to stand beside his cousin. Both men
beamed. Rock marveled that Dr. Wily, once such a devoted
advocate of the anti-robot dependency idea, should now
be so happy to present his inventions to the world.
human pride for you, thought Rock, and rolled his eyes
heavenward. He would be sure to tease Wily about this
you know," Light was saying, "LighTech has been producing
industrial and domestic robots for quite some time now:
near to thirty years! We have made great progress in
the world of robotechnics, from our first FlipTop line
to the multi-purpose EG series, to our housebots."
Dr. Wily continued for Dr. Light, "Never before has
the world seen, not only a theoretical, but a practical
application of artificial intelligence as we have accomplished
the coining of the term robot in the early 1920's, authors
and film-makers alike have fantasized about humanoid
robots--androids--that would not only resemble human
beings, but do the work of them as well." Dr. Wily grinned
and motioned to Thomas Light.
am pleased to announce," Dr. Light said, "That this
is no longer a fantasy. As of today, fully-functional
humanoid robots, fully capable of interacting with human
society and doing difficult labor, are a reality!"
was wild applause and cheering at this, and Dr. Light
waited for the response to die down before speaking
again. "Today," he said, "It is mine and my distinguished
colleague's pleasure to introduce to you the future
Dr. Wily said, "Is a timber-felling robot, equipped
with the latest technology. He is fully intelligent
and can speak three languages. Not only that, but after
testing, it has been determined that he is at least
ten times faster and more efficient than even the most
industrious human lumberjack. I introduce to you, android
was more applause, and Rock winked at his friend as
Jason strode out on the stage, his hydraulics whispering
slightly. The audience murmured quietly. Jason spoke
in flawless Japanese.
honorable guests. I am Jason, the timber felling robot,
android number 003, created by Dr. Light and Dr. Wily.
It is my honor to appear before you today." He bowed.
of the men in the crowd stood up, holding up his hand.
Jason raised an eyebrow. "Yes?"
sorry," the man said, "But are we truly supposed to
believe that you are a robot? I've seen some fine actors
and costumes in my day, and this looks like one of them.
You don't fool me."
grinned. "You do not know how you compliment me by saying
that. However, I shall prove myself. Look." He pressed
a hidden button, and the access panel on his chest clicked
and fell into his waiting hands, revealing a rat's nest
of twisted wires, blinking lights, and lubricant pumps
astonished murmuring swept across the audience. The
reporter sat down, his face white. Jason nodded, as
if he had just explained something extremely difficult,
and replaced his chest plate.
are the others?" asked a woman in the crowd.
Wily smiled indulgently. "We shall introduce them one
at a time. We next present android 004, Gutsman."
monster of a robot walked onto the stage. He seemed
to have difficulty walking, as if his massive legs were
better suited to short hops and jumps. The murmuring
the in the audience grew to voiced speaking, some of
the wilderness reclamation robot, was nearly as broad
as he was tall. His upper torso was painted black, with
a red crystal, for concentrating energy, fastened in
the center. His broad arms and legs were a dull orange
color, while the massive epaulet-shoulders, the metal
boots and gauntlets, and the reinforcing armor around
his waist and upper legs, were a dull scarlet.
face was a pale yellow, capped with a strong hard hat
and dominated by two large eyes and a lantern jaw that
worked separately, like a snake's. Everything about
Gutsman suggested brutish, massive strength, true to
he spoke, it was sparingly, and in slow Japanese. "Greetings,
honored guests. I am Tim, the wilderness reclamation
android 004; it is my function to clear land for future
development. I am pleased to be of service to you."
grinned. Tim wasn't all that smart, but he had a heart--if
the phrase could be properly used--of gold. Dr. Light
and Dr. Wily had both agreed, for once, that if this
robot broke the Prime Rule, he could be uncontrollable.
Therefore, they had programmed him to be very friendly
towards human beings and robots alike, so as never to
looked to the back of the auditorium at Rock, and waved.
would have blushed, if he could have. The big idiot
was going to ruin the surprise!
waved half-heartedly at Tim and closed his eyes in embarrassment.
The reporter nearest him looked strangely at Rock, who
explained, "I'm a lab assistant. He knows me already."
the reporter said, and turned back to watch, as Dr.
Light was already announcing android 005, the arctic
we all know," Dr. Light was saying, "world population
has reached an all-time high. As such, many environments
previously regarded as uninhabitable are now being considered
for living. One such environment is Antarctica. Unfortunately,
most humans are too frail to survive extensive exploration
in such a climate. So, may we present to you Iceman,
the arctic exploration robot!"
had always been a little too sarcastic for Rock's liking,
but the android was still a friend. He strode out onto
the stage and stood beside his two companions, cool
and calm as always. Dressed in a light blue parka, and
heavily insulated pants, both trimmed in white fur,
Iceman looked like an Eskimo. His hands and feet were
covered with heavy white gloves and boots. His mouth
was a little round "O"; he needed to speak, but it made
sense to keep the intake of cold air in the Antarctic
to a minimum.
eyes, as big as Jason's overlooked the crowd.
he said to the reporters. "I am Gary, explorer of the
underworld." Rock smiled. The name had been his idea.
In legend, Orpheus had traveled into the underworld.
Rock reasoned that, by northern hemisphere standards,
Antarctica was about as "under" as one could get. "I
am android 005," he continued. "I hope I am able to
serve your people well."
audience had quieted to near silence by now, all awaiting
the next robot.
006, the ground disruption robot, appeared. He walked
and stood beside Gary. More accurately, Rock amended
mentally, he waddled. Bombman's strong legs were like
Tim's; good for leaping, but poor for walking.
as he introduced himself, struggled to stay upright.
His body was a large sphere, black on the bottom and
red on the top. His arms and legs were both orange,
ending in yellow-booted and yellow-gloved feet and hands.
The head, like Jason's, was a perfect sphere, a golden
color with a red metal crest running down the center.
Large eyes and a normal mouth made up the face.
explained that he was a ground disruption robot, to
help clear the way for such robots as Gary and Tim.
When he said this, he gestured, and a bomb appeared
in his hand: a large, black sphere.
was an amazing system dreamed up by Dr. Light and Dr.
Wily; matter synthesis. Bombman (Scott) could pull together
air particles and rearrange them into the component
materials for a bomb in seconds; an incredible--if not
Fireman, the waste disposal robot walked on stage, Rock
legs, arms, boots and stomach were white, while his
gauntlets and the strange football padding-type upper
body assembly were red. His head was enclosed in a helmet
that looked like an old 1800's wood-burning stove.
am IRA," he stated. Then, with a wry smile (copied from
Rock), "I would be of service to you gentle folk in
the years ahead. I am the waste disposal robot 007."
With a short blast of flame from the top of his helmet
and another smile, he stepped back.
android 008, Elecman, leaped onto the stage. Rock had
been privy to this small bit of theatrics, and had thought
it a fitting entrance. As the atomic energy storage
android, Elecman was full of vigor. As a result, he
often spent more time up in the air, leaping around,
than he did on the ground. His habit of excessive leaping
and love of high places had soon earned him the name
of the man who flew too close to the sun.
the startled looks on the doctors' faces, Rock could
tell that Elecman had not warned them about leaping
from the ceiling first. As he landed, surprisingly lightly
for almost two hundred pounds of machinery, he gave
a dramatic flourish and bow. A few of the people in
the audience laughed.
smiled slightly and shook his head. Elecman (Edward)
was a jokester among the eight, and never tired of his
pranks. Although he was mostly black, save for red gauntlets,
boots, and a golden lightning bolt emblazoned on his
chest, the twin-bolt eyemask he wore made him look more
like a jester than anything else.
he had made his introduction, the audience clapped and
waited politely. Dr. Light moved to the podium and spoke.
"Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. We will now take your
swept the room. At last, a woman in front of Rock stood
up. "Dr. Light, Dr. Wily," she called out, "You said
there were eight robots. Where are the other two?"
Light grinned. "You've already seen them, haven't you?"
He shrugged then. "Well, perhaps you weren't paying
attention. Rock, Roll: will you please come up on the
stage where the people can see you?"
to Infamy--Chapter 2