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Literature
Roboticus (Part 2)
As Doctor had promised, the medication and eating of numerous small snacks during the days had helped her out greatly with the dreaded episodes of morning sickness. Now into her second trimester she had encountered her second surprise.
"So it's suppose to be all bulgy like that?" She prodded at her middle that had gone from a small curious swell to a prominent bump on her middle that rose beneath her navel.
"Yes Natalie, for the 127th time. And it will get larger." Peter commented as he measured the dimensions of her growing uterus using a sonic probe. "The two fetuses will continue to grow, along with increases with placental mass, amniotic fluid and other assorted mechanism."
Natalie reached over to the nearby attending robot that was carrying a tray of assorted fruits and some bread. Her finger danced over the selection before plucking strawberry up. She smelled the sweet fruit and savored the scent before taking a slow bite out of the strawberry. That was another side effect that s
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Literature
Roboticus (Part 1)
Unit 667AB3110afa, otherwise identified as 'Abbie' unofficially as denoted by the stenciled black lettering its yellow plasteel chassis patiently double checked its broadcast antennas status and broadcast his message again.
"Unit 667AB3110afa - Contact operations HQ. Zone 1AA completed. Awaiting new instructions."
The ready light, there purely for the purposes of human observers of whom there were none, flashed twice and Abbie confirmed that the message was sent. As the previous 27 sent that day, there was no response to request number 28. Abbie's blockish six wheeled form lay in the midst of a clearing that had been cut for lumber the previous season. Crossing the field in a perfect grid were rows of seedlings, extracted from and planted from Abbie's agricultural bay. Seconds went by with no response and Abbie was unsure of what to do. With its assigned plot complete, normal routine would have been to contact base and move on to the next site to replenish the lumber companies wood har
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Literature
Charlie: Quintessential
Derrick considered the question carefully, “a maternity store of some sort?”
Keeping her attention to driving Charlie shook her head slightly. She smugly grinned, “No, you’d think they would be a good place to go, but usually not.”
“Alright, I give up?” he shrugged.
“Guess!” Charlie insisted.
“I did, I got it wrong.” Derrick smiled helplessly at Charlie.
“You only took one guess! Alright, a clue,” Charlie narrowed her eyes conspiratorially, “it’s ironically named.”
Derrick stared blankly back at Charlie in the driving seat. “Ironically named? What’s that suppose to mean?”
Charlie sighed. She repeated her clue, “It’s IRONICALLY named.” She stressed the word ‘ironically’ and then looked over to Derrick as if comprehension would suddenly blossom. It did not.
He favored her with a sour stare. “That’s not really helping, I heard you the
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Proper Documentation By Riddleaellinea-d7mag4g by irg555 Proper Documentation By Riddleaellinea-d7mag4g :iconirg555:irg555 192 5
Literature
Charlie: Upwardly Mobile (part 2)
Jon turned his Camaro down the street that his house was on with a squeal of tires. He smirked at the sound, undoubtedly imagining how cool he looked. Derrick couldn’t really say anything about Jon’s beater of a car since he didn’t have one and was reliant on the older boy for rides. Summer vacation was here and he didn’t want to get stuck bumming rides from his parents or sister so he just nodded with a smile when Jon looked over to him.
Jon seemed satisfied by the wordless exchange and then broke into conversation mid sentence, “It’s going to be a good summer man. I got some work with a construction company, going to make much bank and have all my nights and weekends open.”
“Yeah, you know it,” Derrick agreed. Jon had graduated and was supposedly heading to the local community college. He wasn’t a bad baseball player and had won a minor scholarship to offset the cost of school but seemed to have it in his head that community
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Literature
Charlie: Upwardly Mobile (part 1)
Charlie huffed blowing a strand of hair from her face and slouched with an elbow on the counter. The stool pinched her butt randomly where it was cracked when she shifted in a certain as yet undefined way. The kiosk was smelled heavily of pretzels which she initially found pleasant but now haunted her dreams. It was cramped with the appliances to produce and bake them, giving her barely enough room to squeeze around them under ideal conditions.
It was the end of week two of her summer internment at the  ‘Pretzelmaniacal’ booth at the local mall. Week one consisted of her brief training and was the longest period of time she had seen her boss. On the second week she was turned loose to run the little food kiosk on her own, only seeing Elise at the end of the afternoon when the owner/manager took over. Charlie at first was pleased at trust she assumed she had been entrusted with but then quickly realized that the booth could be run by a trained monkey. Not even a particu
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A Year of Sadness by irg555 A Year of Sadness :iconirg555:irg555 3 0
Literature
Charlie: Interim
Charlie squirmed to the side. There was a pain right beneath the left side of her ribcage where something was poking. Someone. She stopped walking and grimaced for the third time, pressing her fingers against a distorted swell on the left side of her gravid middle. Rubbing the offending spot she balanced herself by holding on to a bike rack. "Ow, quit it."
She lifted the hem of her shirt over her swollen middle and looked at it critically. It was annoyingly lopsided. Everything had been going fine up until a few minutes ago when she happened upon someone to join the original guest she had snagged earlier that morning. The second one seemed to have 'landed' crooked or was very anti social and trying to get away from the original occupant as it seemed to be predominately laying on the left side of her belly making it distort asymmetrically. No prodding and poking would remedy the situation.
With a tsk she lowered her shirt back over her tummy and tried too smooth the imperfection for the
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Literature
Charlie: Rules
Charlie lay in her bed, her fingers idly tracing patterns on her gravid belly as she watched TV in her bedroom. She felt a twitch and her belly dropped flat like a rapidly deflating balloon. She frowned in slight disappointment and reached over for the stop-watch and digital audio recorder on her nightstand. After turning the TV off, she started the recorder and stopped the watch. "October 22, Friday. Bedroom. Time is 10:37pm. Belly's gone back to normal, start time was 4:03pm for time of..." She pursed her lips in concentration as she mentally calculated, "Six hours, thirty-four minutes." She lay her hand on the bare skin of her stomach, "As normal, no signs that anything ever happened, no stretchmarks, no swelling, nothing."
She rolled on to her side and grabbed a notebook from the nightstand with a series of start and stop times, adding in the latest entry. "Okay, with this one, average time is..." she scribbled some math out on the margin, "Average time is eight hours, fifteen minu
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Literature
Charlie, the Origin Story
CHAPTER 1
It was a harsh day in the desert. The hot winds whipped the sand in to an obscuring fog around the small oasis. Outside the tent a horse whinnied its complaint as its master negotiated with the old man inside.
"Fifteen coin is plenty for this work," Tagecaf said standing over the older Udaga who was fiddling with a crudely sewn hood where he sat on the floor across the small table. "It's not much to look at."
Old Udaba lips cracked to a smile on his wrinkled face. "Ah, but don't let its appearance fool you." He turned the hood over, looking at the rough stitching fondly. "I'm not much of a tailor, that is true, but my true craft, that I know well..." He turned his eyes up to Tagecaf, "Besides, we had agreed on forty-five, you offend me with a mere third of that."
Tagecaf shook his his head and hissed derisively, stroking his beard.
Udaba laughed softly. "Unbelievable. I offer you for sale a magic that could let you steal whatever you most desire..." he shook the hood at Tagec
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I made colors by irg555 I made colors :iconirg555:irg555 45 12

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Activity


As Doctor had promised, the medication and eating of numerous small snacks during the days had helped her out greatly with the dreaded episodes of morning sickness. Now into her second trimester she had encountered her second surprise.

"So it's suppose to be all bulgy like that?" She prodded at her middle that had gone from a small curious swell to a prominent bump on her middle that rose beneath her navel.

"Yes Natalie, for the 127th time. And it will get larger." Peter commented as he measured the dimensions of her growing uterus using a sonic probe. "The two fetuses will continue to grow, along with increases with placental mass, amniotic fluid and other assorted mechanism."

Natalie reached over to the nearby attending robot that was carrying a tray of assorted fruits and some bread. Her finger danced over the selection before plucking strawberry up. She smelled the sweet fruit and savored the scent before taking a slow bite out of the strawberry. That was another side effect that she hadn't been informed about, cravings. "Mmph." she crooned with pleasure closing her eyes.

"Heightened nutritional needs often manifest themselves in intense subconscious demands for certain minerals and vitamins." Peter informed noting her her pleasure.

"Yeah, whatever, it's delicious." She corralled the juicy runoff of fruit that had dribbled from the corner of her mouth back in and licked her finger with satisfaction.

"Everything is progressing nicely, your offspring are in excellent health."

 Natalie nodded and hopped down from the table, wobbling a bit at her still unaccustomed changes in physiology. She lowered her shirt over her middle and smoothed the fabric of the shirt over the surface of her belly frowning a bit. "So bigger huh?"

"Affirmative."

"How much bigger?"

"Larger." Peter said transmitting his evaluation back to the doctor and his hive of attendant digital assistants.

"Yeah, how much so? Twice as big?" Natalie eyeballed Peter who gathered up his instruments.

"More so." Peter placed his tools into a waiting delivery robot who was assigned to return the medical instruments back to storage till their next use.

"More, what, three times?" Natalie followed after Peter who had started to walk out after sending the smaller cargobot away.

Not looking back Peter tried to deflect the question as protocol dictated: don't upset the patient. "It's hard to estimate." He increased his pace but to his frustration Natalie kept up. Much faster and she'd become suspicious that he was evading, if she wasn't already.

"What four times? Hey, stop!" Natalie huffed behind him and grabbed him by the arm.

His programing failed him, she had issued a direct command and was of legal age to be obeyed. "Yes."

"Yes what? Four times bigger?" She looked down and held her hand out to where she estimated that would be. "That big?"

"I reasonable estimate." Peter answered as simply as he could.

"You're hiding something." Natalie eyed him suspiciously. When the quick thinking robot didn't immediately respond she knew her instinct was right. "How big am I going to get?"

Again, phrased as it was, he couldn't not answer or otherwise circumvent the order. "As I said, it's hard to estimate."

"Fine then," she searched for a phrase Barney had introduced her to. "Ballpark it."

Peter would have sighed had he had the lungs to do so. "Dependent on a number of factors, the mother's body fat index, bodily dimensions, muscle tone..."

"Stopstopstop!" Natalie stammered in frustration. She held her hand before her belly and started pulling it away slowly. "Tell me when to stop by your best estimation."

Peter featureless face blankly looked at her as her hand pulled away. Her face starting from mild annoyance started to slide to surprise and then amazement.

"You...you did hear what I said right?" She said, still inching her hand away which was now about a foot from where her belly currently was.

"Affirmative."

Her hand still drifted ahead and she felt a cold sweat on her forehead. "Y-y-ou're going to tell me to stop when I get there right?"

"Affirmative."

Natalie looked down to where her hand was and gulped, she was having to lean forward to go further

"Stop."

Natalie looked down in horror. "That's impossible."

"The human body is an amazingly adaptive construct." Peter helpfully offered.

"How?! You have  got to be kidding me! Tell me you’re joking!"

"I'm joking."

"Oh thank goodness...." she felt a wave or relief that suddenly went into a cold chill. "Wait, are you just saying that because I told you to?"

"Affirmative."

Natalie's mouth dropped and she let Peter go who took the opportunity to extradite himself from the situation. She covered her mouth in horror as she looked down in disbelief and Peter almost made it out before she recovered. "How am I going to walk like that!"

"We'll build you a conveyance." Peter called back as he mentally planned the schematics to reengineer the door to cycle faster.

"YOU'RE NOT HELPING!!!"

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As promised, her body did adapt as her belly swelled with the two unborn occupants. "It's not so bad." She remarked to no one in particular as she sat in the park warming herself in the sun as some music Otis called techno played softly from the digital player beside her lounger. She pulled the color selection from her palette and shifted the blues to better match the sky and applied. Her enlarged belly did have the nice benefit as acting as a nice brace to prop the device against as she painted the landscape outside the compound. "They could have warned me though, those sneaks." she only grumbled with half sincerity. She started feeling a pang of hunger and thought it out. "Banana? No...apple...no...not strawberry." It had become amusing her to figure out what exactly she wanted. It was getting strange, she often herself wanting some strange amalgamation of her usual treats and on one occasion had out of curiosity licked Puppy’s head to her pet’s confusion.

Not feeling greatly hungry she ignored the impulse for the time being till it became more clear. She turned her attention back to her painting trying to decide how to portray the drifting rays passing through the ancient buildings that in the distance. "Abstract? Realism? Perhaps a bit of neo impressionism?" she had settled on a look and lay the strokes down when a jiggle caused her to put a squiggle in the otherwise straight line. She furrowed her brow with some mild annoyance and undid the line, starting over. She was almost complete when there was a more pronounced bounce that skewed her mark. She looked curiously then looked around. "Is one of the big haulers moving something?" She looked over to the glass of fruit juice beside her but there were no ripples in the cup. She then felt something curious and looked back to the board to see it wiggle on it's own accord where it leaned against her belly.

She gulped nervously and withdrew her hand to let the board stay unsupported and felt a twinge inside her belly that corresponded to the boards movement. She frowned with worry and moved the board aside looking at the fabric of the form fitting one piece general utility body suit she wore and stared at the surface of her round belly. She held her breath in anticipation then fidgeted nervously as she saw a small portion of the surface briefly bulge out and return to normal. She dropped her board and chewed on a nail nervously as she stared. What new terror was going to be unleashed today?

With the morning sickness incident and her more recent episode with her discovery of how large she would potentially be getting, she had come to realize that not everything constituted a medical emergency. But when she felt another series of ticklish sensations in other parts of her belly she swallowed her pride and activated the communicator on her collar. "Um...Otis?"

"Yes Natalie, how is your outing?"

Natalie repressed a shriek as she felt a small pinch beneath her ribs. "Oh fine, fine."

"You sound distressed, is there something wrong?"

"I, uh, I'm not sure." Natalie squirmed as she saw a portion on the left side of her belly briefly rise and fall on its own accord a tiny bit. "I'm just, um...how do I put this..."

"Natalie, is there something wrong?"

"Well, I don't know if this is normal. I think something is loose." She prodded the portion that had risen and withdrew her finger when something pushed back barely perceptible. She closed her eyes shut tight and stammer. "In my belly, something is tumbling around in there."

"Remain calm, I've already vectored help to your location. Please describe what you're feeling."

Natalie visibly relaxed knowing there was help on the way. "I feel this funny fluttering sensation, sometimes a little bump will press out on my midsection where I feel that." She lay her hand flat atop an area that seemed to be the focus of activity. She eeked and jumped her hand away when she felt something move beneath it.

"Does it hurt?"

"A little, well, not really. Feels like a little pinch."

"Otis, Natalie, pardon the interruption, this is Doctor. Natalie, do not be alarmed, what you're experience is harmless and completely expected."

"What is it?" Natalie tried to recoil from herself as she felt a flutter of activity.

"The fetus are moving, it is normal behavior referred to as 'kicking' though it isn't always movement of a lower extremity. It's an instinctual reaction to stimulus and widely held a part of the gestation process in which the unborn child, or children in this case, exercise motor function and a reaction to the building of the neural pathways. It is a sign of good health."

"So everything is fine?" She put her hand back and didn't pull away this time when she felt the kick beneath her palm. "How long does this last?" she sighed, knowing what the answer was going to be.

"If the fetuses maintain good health, it will continue sporadically through pregnancy and even intensify in frequency and strength through birth."

Natalie rolled her eyes and drummed her fingers atop her middle. "Well of course it will. Thanks Doctor, thanks Otis, sorry to bother you."

"It's no trouble Natalie."

"Yes, this why we are here." Otis added. "No matter how trivial you think the matter is, please do not hesitate for a moment with any concern or question."

"Thanks guys." She didn't know why but she suddenly felt a mixture of sadness and happiness at the same time. She'd had a number of strange swings in moods do to fluctuation in hormonal levels but this was different. Cutting the connection she let the tear roll down her eye even as she smiled. What was it? She looked to her belly and lay her hand atop it, running them over the surface as she felt the fetuses inside kick and push feebly.

No.

She felt her babies, not fetuses. She let out a soft laughed and cried with a happy tears. It was such a strange feeling but it felt good. A strange feeling of connection and possessiveness. She pressed her hands against her belly firmly till she felt something denser that fluttered.

"Hi guys." she sniffed up a tear and smiled. "I'm your mother..."

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Time passed and Natalie was constantly astonished every time she saw herself in a reflective surface. Every day she was shocked on how big her belly had grown and that it couldn't get bigger then the next day she was again shocked to feel that it was even bigger. Today she was setting off on a day of work, stripping down a section of ruined city that was salvaged for parts a few weeks before and returning it to wilderness. The robots had spent most of the time they've had in the time before they had found Natalie only occasionally going into the ancient ruined cities for useful components but it was Natalie that suggested that if they served no purpose they should be torn down. In their place, carefully managed forest and gardens would be laid out with most of the facilities of the robots largely laid underground with the occasional spire or bunker that showed here or there as exit points. The robots seemed somewhat shocked at the suggestion, as much as they got shocked about anything, but agreed with Natalie when the point was made that they served no purpose and would just become a bigger hazard over time as they further deteriorated.

Natalie sat in the bubble topped control post of one of the larger automated transports that served as the hub for the salvage work where she could get a good first hand view of the work. Ahead of her in a large fan, hundreds of drones swarmed through the buildings searching for materials that would be useful and marking them for the second wave of laborers who stripped and cataloged the materials. They would ferry everything back to the building sized robot she rode in and behind her for several miles another small army of robots would tear the structures down and move the materials back to the main base for reprocessing or disposal. She enjoyed these expeditions as it allowed her to explore the life of the humans that lived back in that time. She did know and understand that she lived in a city much like this one during that time but she had very little in the way of memories. Occasionally she'd get blurry images of hundreds of indistinct shapes that she knew were human but nothing concrete. She felt a kick within her belly and patted it, giving the spot a gentle rub as she thought outloud.

"Yeah, I know you're there." She smiled down to her middle. "You two are going to be the first people I'm going to have seen, well at least in anything other than a dream." She wondered on that. What would they be like? She had been told that they would depend on her for everything, not that the robots wouldn't help, but they insisted that she was their primary caretaker. Humans raising humans was a great objective in their plans. While they did, in her opinion, do a great job in raising her they seemed to not think so. From what they told her she understood that human babies learn everything from their parents. It was only because she had gone through the first couple of years with her actual parents that she had learned expressions, gestures and proper speaking.

Thinking on parents and babies brought a frown to her own face. Not for the first time she thought about her own parents. She couldn't remember what they looked like. She could only remember some vague feelings. Mommy and Daddy meant security, love, happiness...but they were just a disjointed set of emotions tied to those words. She figured that her mother probably looked like her, but what about her father? She became curious on that. She had seen only diagrams and computer generated representation of male and female humans but very little in the way of actual people.

"Thomas," she addressed the transport, "Have the drones brought back any media? Pictures, movies, anything that's a visual record?" She thought for a moment and added, "Specifically personal effects?"

"There's been a number of things that have been sorted already Natalie. We've been passing through what was a residential district."

Natalie nodded and started the process of rocking up to her feet. "Okay, can you set those things aside? I heading down to the storage bay, I want to look at some of that."

"Of course. Anything in particular you want to examine?" There was a touch of curiosity in the large transports synthesized voice.

Natalie waddled to the lift and it started to lower down a couple of levels to where everything was stored. "No..well yes. Pictures of people, ordinary people." Real people was unspoken in her mind. The robots had surprisingly little data on actual images and video of typical human beings. Most of what they gathered was technical, and since Natalie's discovery years ago; medical. Very little was saved that was considered trivial information. To their thinking there was never really any purpose since it was of little practical use. It was only now with her pregnancy and faced with the reality that she would not be the only human that she had even thought on the subject.

Arriving at the cargo levels she waddled over to where a group of drones flitted back and forth laying a random assortment of items on the table. They were mostly small flat rectangular boxes that looked alot like her own digital slate. She thanked the insect like drones who chirped and continued to lay things out on other tables. Looking over the spread she reached down and picked up a random slate. The power had long ran out on all the devices so she started the tedious process of plugging each in turn to a console to see if the data contained was readable. Most of the images were too badly corrupted from time but eventually she gasped silently as she saw a group of humans standing together, looking towards the long dead cameraman. She looked at each carefully, following the curves of their faces as she felt on her own. There was a bewildering assortment of variations in their faces, heights and body shapes. She was able to identify which were male and female easily enough, and judged the younger ones to be the smaller. They stood and smiled in this frozen slice of time, packed closely together. She could see where there was a casual hand on another's shoulder, where one man had his arm around her shoulder. "A family?"

"I would suspect so." Answered Thomas.

Natalie's question was more rhetorical than anything else and she ignored the interruption. She downloaded the image to her own slate and continued. Each person she saw was a new curiosity. She had grown up among nothing but robots. While there were a vast assortment of body shapes amongst them, within a particular model there was no variation. Any one of a model looked exactly identical to the next. The only way that Natalie could tell them apart was by the adoption of any robot she met to a unique voice and the addition of an identification mark on their body where it would be visible to her. Some like her primary guardians, Otis, Peter and Barney, also had unique body language that they had co-opted but others like Thomas...while she knew that entire vehicle was essentially one being, it was like talking to thin air when she rode inside. A strange disembodied voice that simply was everywhere. But humans? She flicked through the pictures as she found them. Each was a being like herself. It was a strange sensation. A bizarre contrast to what she was used to. What would her own children look like?

She had lost time flicking through the pictures, finding some video files that were not too horribly corrupted. She was going through those when something gave her a nervous cold feeling. She stopped the video and started it again, staring.

He was a male. His hair was a sandy blond and his eyes were blue. He had a casual smile. She couldn't tell what he was saying as the audio portion had become unreadable but he seemed to be speaking to the operator of the camera. He gave a crooked smile and nodded, his eyes twinkling.

Natalie felt her knees weaken and realized she was holding her breath. Her hand went to her heart which was pounding. A flash of heat and cold went up her spine and she realize suddenly she was blushing. She stopped the video and caught her breath. What was happening? She fanned herself with her slate. "Thomas, can you turn the temperature down a couple degrees in here, I'm getting kind of hot."

"Of course." There was a whir of air as he complied.

Natalie turned towards the vent letting the cold air flow across her face. She held the side of her belly where she felt a stirring then eyed the screen out of the corner of her eye. She didn't know why but she couldn't stop thinking about it. She turned back and let the video start playing again, watching the man on the screen speak silently. Her mouth had parted slightly and she took small shallow breaths. It was then when she noticed that the man wasn't wearing a shirt, in fact, it seemed that he wasn't wearing anything at all. She felt a sudden wave of embarrassment that almost made her stop the video altogether but she hesitated before the control. The man leaned forward towards the camera and she saw that the operator had turned it aside. What was happening? It returned back after a moment and tilted down, revealing...

Natalie slapped the stop button repeatedly, stopping and turning off the video feed as she panted. She wanted to hide but there wasn't anywhere to go. She had seen the anatomy of both male and female humans, she was familiar with all the pieces, but something about seeing it on the video. "What's wrong with me?"

"I'm sorry, what was that Natalie?" Thomas asked helpfully.

"NOTHING!!!" She had forgotten that the robot's presence was everywhere riding around inside its structure like she was. "I just...hormonal...pregnancy stuff." She stammered, moving the file off the original device and onto the pad.

"Do you require assistance? Should I summon help?"

"NO! I mean, no thank you." She clutched her pad to her chest, her heart still pounding in her ears. She wiped the original record, though she didn't know why, and removed it from Thomas' temporary memory cache also, leaving the one on her pad the only copy.

"Your heart rate is elevated and I've noticed changes in your blood flow in th~"

"I SAID IT WAS NOTHING!!!" Natalie yelled mortified. She'd notice 'changes in blood flow' also. "Just forget this all happened. I mean it, forget it!"

"Compliance." Thomas simply said as Natalie returned back to the observation dome with her pad pressed to her chest.

"Alright, yeah." Natalie settled back into her seat. "So status on this sector?"

"Salvage teams are 82.3% complete, deconstruction proceeds at pace." Thomas answered

"Great. Good." She couldn't stop thinking about the video on her pad and more importantly the reaction she had. "Thomas, I'd like you to turn off any sensors going into this room."

"I'm sorry Natalie, but I can't do that." There was even a touch of regret in his voice. "Safety protocols require that I not lose contact with you for any amount of time."

"Well, can you turn off the visual sensors?" She remembered the physiological reactions and amended. "Actually, can you turn off everything but audio?"

"It doesn't not violate protocol but~"

"Good, do it."

"Compliance."

Natalie waited a hesitant moment then started the video again, settling into her seat. "Oh, and, ummm...could you make sure to transfer any other video or still image to a partitioned section of memory?"

"Strange request..."

"Can you just do it please?" Natalie said staring wide eyed at her slate while chewing a fingernail.

"Compliance."

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Natalie hummed happily and swung her feet where they dangled from the edge of the examination table. Her tunic was zipped open, exposing her tremendous belly which Peter studied dutifully. She was nearing the end of her pregnancy, so she'd been told, and the examinations were more frequent. She found it ironic as she had actually enjoyed the last couple of months immensely, talking to her babies frequently and playing games of 'kick me, poke you' with them. Sure, the kicking at times was a bit painful when they struck something delicate but it was a fair tradeoff for the knowledge that they were healthy. And where they healthy. The expert care, diet and balance of rest and exercise had equated with her future babies being, as Barney put it, 'bruisers.' She wasn't quite sure what that meant but it sounded ominous.

"In perfect health, of course." Peter declared in a happy tone.

"Yay." Natalie cheered with some measure of sarcasm.

"Yes, 'yay'. You may close your shirt."

Natalie smiled and did so, patting her middle before sliding down off the table with Peter's assistance. "So how much longer?"

"A few days. Maybe two weeks. It's hard to tell with multiple births and with this being your first. You've exceeded what would be normal for an average twin pregnancy."

Natalie looked down and back to Peter. "That's good right?"

"Yes. To a point, the longer they have to grow in your womb the better off they'll be. With no medical reason to induce labor early, we'd prefer to let the pregnancy run its course. Unless you have an objection."

Natalie shrugged, cradling her belly. "Nah, if they want to hang in there longer, let them. It has been hard getting around though." It had been increasingly difficult to perform everyday tasks. Not only were her babies in the size range that would be expected for a singleton, she was also small for her young woman her age and rather petite. Her belly was absurdly out of proportion to her, though she had no real way of knowing that, figuring this was normal. "So what's next?" She asked Peter.

"Well, given the impending birth, I'd like to have you view a presentation I've prepared with Doctor's help." He turned and led her through the door to the auditorium down the hall. "We found some archival footage that is relevant including a documented birth."

"Really?" Natalie was surprised. "That must have been recent. I've found nothing involving actual people."

"Yes, we scoured through some newly acquired data. We felt that getting a first hand accounting by actual people would be helpful in preparing you for the event." He opened the door to the auditorium, allowing her to enter first. "It took us some time to recover the material and clean up the sections which had become corrupted but we're pleased by the overall presentation."

Natalie nodded and took a seat near the front. She was delighted as a drone buzzed in carrying an assorted tray of snacks. She clapped her hands excitedly and took some cut cheese and crackers. It seemed she was always hungry nowadays.

"Ready?" Peter asked from the podium behind her.

"Hyup!" Natalie said around a mouthful of crackers.

The lights went dim and the wall before her glowed slightly. There was a jump of lights and a video began.

"Pregnancy and you!" Peter's voice narrated making Natalie giggle.

The image spooled up showing a man sitting beside a bed with a woman resting on it. Another woman came in wearing what Natalie recognized as a medical uniform carrying a small bundle with a small face in it. Natalie sat up and pointed. "Is that a baby!?" she asked.

Peter nodded behind her, "Yes, this is their baby, just after delivery."

The couple took the offered bundle and the camera zoomed in. The parents cooed and stroke the small squinched face in the blue wrappings. Natalie's eyes watered and she put her hands to her cheek. "AAwwww!" She crooned with a dreamy tone.

"Yes, 'aw', a very good reaction." He was pleased, there was some worry that Natalie would not respond as they expected when actually seeing a baby for the first time.

"It's so tiny! Look at its little hands!" She bubbled happily as she watched the man put his finger in the baby's hand, who gripped it.

"He. This particular child is a boy."

"How can you tell?" Natalie cocked her head to one side.

"The color of the blanket. Okay, here's some parts we've gone over before." The picture transitioned and she saw the woman standing. Starting from a state of appearing non-pregnant she slowly morphed bigger as information and a computer generated image of the developing baby showed up on a side panel.

"As if it were that fast." Natalie said drumming her fingers atop of her middle.

The image then jumped to a scene in a hospital. The woman was in the bed with sweat on her forehead with the man beside her holding her hand.

"Ah, this is the important bits. This is the actual birth starting with the woman having gone through the beginning stages of labor and has began the actual birthing process.

Natalie was fascinated and paid close attention. "Peter...she seems to be...in pain?"

"Well yes. The constriction of the muscles lining the uterus can be quite painful."

Natalie gulped, not liking where this was going. "I thought there were medications to alleviate the pain?" She flinched as she saw the woman grit her teeth and fold in the middle, the veins of her neck bulging out as her face turned red."

"Yes...well...they've been administered at this point."

Natalie turned in her seat and looked up at Peter. "That's with pain killers?!?"

"Oh look, here's the actual birth." Peter deflected.

Natalie stared at the impassive reflective white of Peter's face. She narrowed her eyes at him and turned back around at her seat folding her hands. Looking back up at the screen the angry look in her face started to change to a confused one. "What am I looking at?" She peered at it, trying to interpret. She was looking at the woman from to the right of the doctor who was attending. Her legs were spread and there was something there. Suddenly Natalie made a disgusted face as she realized what she was looking at then became curious as she saw something was happening. Something started to appear that the medical personnel became very excited about. It started getting larger and the woman looked to be in higher distress. There were fluid and a face emerged. A tiny, shriveled, goo covered face...

"OH NO!" Natalie screamed.

"Natalie?" Peter asked

"OH NO!!" Natalie writhed in her chair unable to take her eyes off the screen.

"I'd like to take this moment to assure you that this is a perfect normal biological process..."

"NONONONONO!!!!" Natalie was now standing on the chair with her legs crossed.

"...that has been performed since the beginning of humankind, in fact by all placental animals."

"No! Forget it!" Natalie waved her hands at Peter. "I'm not doing this, no way!" She hopped off her seat and waddle briskly away.

"Now Natalie, it's a little late for that now." He explained turning to follow Natalie as she moved as quickly as she could out the door. "There really isn't any alternatives."

Natalie raced in her uneven gait out into the hallway and just started walking in any direction. She gripped her belly and looked around in a panic like there was an exit to the nightmare she found herself in.

"Natalie please." Peter calmly said following. "There's no need to be alarmed."

Natalie spun on her heels and pointed back to the auditorium. "Where you not watching what I was watching?!?"

"Well of course, as I said, I had a large part in the-"

"HOW IS THAT GOING TO FIT THROUGH THERE!?!" she yelled in his face interrupting him.

"The human body-"

"-is a remarkably adaptive mechanism" she finished for him, "Yeah, you mentioned that." She gripped Peter by his shoulders and shook. "You've got to do something! You got to...to..."

"To what? I've told you there's no turning back." Peter explained calmly while being shaken.

She let him go abruptly and looked around for help that wasn't coming. "There's got to be another way!"

"I assure you, no harm will come to you or your babies."

"Is that what her doctor told her?!?!? Did you see the look on her face!?! I've got to do that TWICE!" She pleaded desperately, "There's got to be another way, how can they possibly fit..." she gulped unable to finish the sentence.

"Well..."

She jumped back to Peter, gripping his shoulders again. "Well? What!? There's another way! You know another way!"

"Well yes, but..."

"Let's do that, what is it?!?" Natalie was ecstatic, at last there seemed some way around the assured torture that was awaiting her.

"It's a procedure called a 'Cesarean Section.'"

"Alright, now we're talking, Cesarean Section, sounds great. What is it?"

"An incision is made along the abdominal cavity through the subcutaneous fat layers, abdominal muscle wall and the uterine muscles. Then the baby, or in this case babies, are extracted through the opening.”

Natalie thought for a second translating the terms in her head. "Wait, you cut my stomach open and yank them out?!?!"

"Well no, not the stomach, the uter-" Peter began to correct

"You cut me open and yank them out?!?!" She held her head. "How is that better!?!"

Peter shrugged, "You asked me for alternatives, I gave you an alternative."

Natalie went quiet then started sniffing as a tear rolled down her cheek.

"Oh now Natalie, everything is going to be fine."

She shook her head sadly, her eyes watering.

"Of course it will. Countless of generations of humans all over the world have done this for thousands and thousands of years." He put his arm around her shoulder and walked her back to the auditorium. "Please, let's finish the video."

Natalie nodded numbly and complied, taking her seat. She twisted and winced in her seat, watching between spread fingers as she covered her eyes, unwanting to witness more of the catastrophe unfolding on the viewscreen and unable to look away. She felt ready to vomit when the child came out then noticed something odd. "She's smiling...."

"Yes, please keep watching." Peter hoped that perhaps his charge was starting to see the point.

"She's smiling?" Natalie watched as the baby was extracted with wet gush of wrongly colored liquids. The mother started crying with happiness and her and the father shared a kiss. The doctors cleaned the baby and wrapped him up, giving the child to the parents. They both wept and cradled their baby. Natalie felt herself wrapped up in the moment, holding her belly as she also started crying at the birth of a new family.

"Are you alright Natalie?" Peter asked gently.

"Yeah..." Natalie wiped her eyes, watching the parents dote on their newborn son. "I guess."

"I don't know what pain is, I know that it is an intensely uncomfortable experience." Peter walked around to the front of the auditorium, standing backlit by the screen. He pointed up at the parents. "I can recognize that this is not a pleasant ordeal, but as you can plainly see, it has left them filled with joy." He came to Natalie, kneeling before her and placing one plastic and steel hand atop of hers which were wrapped around her middle. "It is going to be the most difficult event in your life, but I think that the reward of the effort will exceed that pain and nullify it. You will have two children of your own to raise, to mold, to show the joys of living. You will find bliss in this that will overcome the temporary pain of this act of creation."

Natalie sniffed and wiped her eyes. She smiled at Peter and leaned forward, hugging her lifelong companion. "Thank you Peter."

"We exist to do nothing more than to see to your happiness. We will do all we can to help you in this."

"I know, thank you, all of you." Natalie felt grateful as she never had. They were not human, they didn't feel emotions like she did but they did care to her and held her to be the most important thing existed in the entire world. They would not fail her. She hugged him for a moment then opened her eyes, looking at the screen behind Peter. "Wait, what's happening now?" The woman was still on the bed, her offspring being attended to by some other medical personnel. She was again grunting and her face, still showing exhaustion was twisting again with new effort.

"Ah. This would be the afterbirth." Peter said looking behind him. "We'll see here the placenta being expelled from the uterus."

"Expelled, what do....EEEWWWW!!!!!" Natalie screamed covering her eyes.

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It was late at night. Natalie fidgeted in her sleep. Despite being very tired in her advanced stage of pregnancy she could not find rest. She turned from her side to her back then grumbled as she lost her breath with the weight of her middle pressing down into her rib cage. Twisting to her opposite side she breathed easier only to find her left arm that was crooked below her had fallen asleep. She twisted in bed with legs scissored and half twisted, the weight of her belly laying on on the bed and was finally starting to drift off when she felt something odd. She peeked her eye open and explored the sensation then scrambled out of the bed.

"Aw, gross." she frowned throwing the covers back and flipping the lights. There was a large damp spot on the bed and she felt something wet running down her leg. "Eeeewwww!" She reached in the bathroom and started dabbing the water off. There was a certain level of embarrassment she felt atop the frustration of being jarringly woken up out of what was finally restful sleep. She muttered, chastising herself for having urinated in her bed but it was no big surprise with all the unexpected annoyances she'd had during her pregnancy. She was a bit surprised at the amount then noticed that there wasn't any smell. Well, at least it didn't smell right. She brought the towel up to her nose then felt revolted as she realized what she was doing. She did examine it close enough to know it wasn't urine.

She shrugged and pulled the bed sheets off with difficulty and tried to put new ones on but she was having too much trouble trying to get the corners down in her state. Though the robots would be glad and not complain to do the work she didn't want to involve them in doing this as she already felt ashamed enough by whatever weirdness was happening now. She finally gave up and just spread the covers as well as she could on the bed and slid in between the covers, deciding to have another go of doing it correctly in the morning.

Laying her head down she found sleep came quickly, she quickly drifted off to slumber. She dreamed of the video she had seen a few weeks before showing the woman giving birth and frowned in her sleep. She was in pain, she observed through her mind's eye and found herself empathizing with the woman, feeling the stress and agony that showed in the woman's face. She soon felt herself as that woman, sharing in her pain till she became her. A great tightness around her middle then radiating bands of pain show through and along her sides. She grimaced and moaned in her sleep, face twisted in worry and pain at the experience. It passed momentarily to only come again, intense enough that she woke back up. She flicked her eyes open and pounded the pillow beside her head unhappily, complaining to herself at the lack of peace. Pouting she closed her eyes again, determined to force herself back to sleep. Her eyes pinched shut for a moment she concentrated on relaxing when her eyes shot open. Her eyes diverted down then she shot up in bed gripping her middle.

"OWOWOWOWOWOWOW!!" She stammered closing her eyes shut and holding her belly with both hands. The pain was profound and she could barely get her breath. Puppy looked up at her and cocked her head to one side from her bed, eyes lighting up to provide soft illumination in the room. Natalie breathed quickly and shallowly, hissing out between breath. She looked nervously around. This wasn't simple kicking which while sometimes uncomfortable she generally liked. After a few moments it passed and she was able to relax.

"What was that?" She asked to no one in particular though Puppy stood from her bed and wagged her tail hopefully. Natalie massaged her middle and took a deep breath, waiting to see if the pain returned. Nothing happened so she carefully lowered herself back down. Perhaps she had pulled a muscle in her sleep or turned the wrong way. She was starting to drift off again, Puppy deciding that nothing was going on involving her, when sometime later she felt the same stinging pain again.

"YEOW!" She called out, her hands again on her middle. She gritted her teeth and sat through it and again after a few minutes it went away. After all the false alarms she has had during her pregnancy, the morning sickness and the like, she was hesitant to call Doctor on what was assuredly going to be just some other random event that the robots had so carelessly neglected to tell her but she was tired and wanted sleep. "Place Call, Doctor." she said aloud and was greeted with a chime as her command processed.

"Yes Natalie, is there something wrong?"

She rubbed her middle where the pain was subsiding, "Sorry to bother you like this, I've been getting a pain and can't sleep." She yawned, sliding up against the headboard and leaning back, fatigue wearing down on her as she started to fall asleep again.

"Oh? What sort of pain?"

She looked down, resting her hands atop her middle. "Pain in my stomach. Well guess womb area really. Hurts a lot. Feels like I got a 'charlie horse'." That phrase always confused her. Who was Charlie and what did muscle pain have to do with equistrian animals?

"I see. How many times?"

Natalie thought for a moment. "Twice for sure, but I think maybe a third one when I was still sleeping. That might have been a dream."

"Frequency and duration?"

She puzzled at the unseen voice, somewhat aggravated. "I don't know, 5 minutes long? I think 15 minutes apart. I don't know." She grumbled and frowned. "I just want to get some sleep, can you give me something for it?"

"I'm afraid not Natalie."

"Of course not." she muttered under her breath

"Have you noticed anything else unusual? Any discharge of fluids."

She reclined up and looked towards the ceiling which were generally where the acoustics made Doctor's voice come from. "Yeah actually, how'd you know?"

"Natalie, please remain calm. It's time."

Confused she scrunched her brow and looked over to the digital display on the time. "4:23?"

"No, no, I mean it's time for your babies to arrive."

She blew out a derisive snort, clapping her hands against her huge belly. "You're telling me? I haven't seen my feet in months, I'm hungry all the time and can't get around at all." She sighed, continuing to complain, "Everything aches, they keep kicking around when I'm trying to sleep, my breast hurt..."

"No Natalie, I mean the babies are ready to be born right now." He emphasised the 'now'. "You're in labor."

"...my shoes don't fit, not that I can get them on without fifteen minutes of effort, I lose my breath trying to get across...the......room?" It suddenly hit her and a cold chill swept through her. "What?" she asked dumbly.

"You are in the beginning stages of labor. I apologize but I just ran a scan and confirmed it. The babies will be born very soon. The watery discharge you experienced was the amniotic fluid escaping from your uterus. The pain is contractions. It is time."

Natalie eeped and struggled out of bed. She felt a panic ensue as she looked around the room desperately. "WhatdoIdowhatdoIdo!?!" she begged. Puppy shot up from her bed and started barking and jumping around Natalie thinking it was dancing time.

"Firstly, I repeat, REMAIN CALM." The forcefulness of the voice sat Natalie down on the edge of the bed. "Transport has already been dispatched and is arriving. Medical robots are already with me in the operating theater and Otis, Barney and Peter have been alerted and are on their way. Everything is going to be okay."

"Okay." a frightened Natalie echoed, chewing on her nails. "Nanny?"

"I'm here Natalie. I am on my way to your quarters. I'll be there shortly."

"K..." Natalie sat quietly in the dark, waiting for help. Puppy sat at her feet whining. She patted the bed beside her and scooped up Puppy when she hopped up, squeezing her tightly enough to elicit a whine. "Hurry please?" she asked simply.

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On the automated gurney Natalie whizzed down  the hallway, a host of medical robots scanning and relaying information back to Doctor buzzed around her like an angry swarm of bees. Nanny coptered alongside her, dabbing the sweat on her forehead as Natalie felt another wave of pain begin. "OWOWOWOWOW!" she yelped.

"I'll take that as the beginning of another contraction." Nanny declared sardonically. "Remember your breathing exercises. Deep breath, exhale in short rhythmic pants....short rhythmic pants Natalie. That's' neither short nor rhythmic."

Natalie gasped for air and curled up on the bed, making random noises in pain.

"You have not been practicing your breathing." Nanny chastised her, tutting in displeasure.

"Breathing....stupid!" she hissed between gasp.

"You were always a rebellious child. If you would simply have followed the courses I laid out-"

"STOP LECTURING ME!!!" She screamed at Nanny who paused in midair letting the gurney and attending robots get ahead of her. She sped up her rotors and caught back up.

"Natalie! We mustn't be so rude. Manners are the-SQUAk!" Nanny buzzed angrily, dodging in the thrown pillow. "Well, I never..." Nanny held her manipulators in fist to her mid section, elbows jutting to the side and tsked, picking the pillow from the floor. She dusted it off and sped along after the gurney. "Pain is no excuse for ill-manners young lady!"

Arriving in the operating theater Natalie felt relief at the giant boom arm that was Doctor. Her savior, able to make the pain go away, would surely end this horrible event quickly. "Doctor!" she called out in joy.

"Hello Natalie. I've received your medical updates. Everything is going perfectly."

Natalie felt a wave of relief and slid over to the operating bed with the assistance of the gurneys manipulators. "Good, good." She laid back and waited as Doctor remained motionless besides the buzzing of optic clusters and other sensor uncomfortably focused on her nether regions. "Um...well?"

"Well what?"

She grasped for words. "You know...do it?"

"Pardon?"

"Do your thing. Get this done." She sputtered. "You know, get the babies...out or whatever."

"Yes." Doctor remained motionless.

"Um...now?"

"No."

"What?" Natalie said sitting up. One of the manipulators eased her back down. "Why not?" she whined.

"This is only the onset of labor. It may be hours before the actual delivery."

"HOURS?!?" The manipulator arm strained to get her back into a laying condition

"yes, upwards of 48 was not terribly uncommon for first time mothers."

"TWO DAYS!?!" Natalie spit with rage. She shoved the manipulator away and stood up on the gurney, waggling her finger at the enormous collection of medical devices before her. "You know, I've had it up to here with you guys’ little surprises! You never told me this!" she started listing things off on her fingers, occasionally swatting away the manipulator away as it tried to get her back down. "You never told me about morning sickness, you never told me I'd start crying for no reason, you never told me that my butt was going to get big." She pointed down to her middle. "You never told me I'd be bigger laying down than standing up!"

"That's a patent exaggeration. Your girth in circumference is under your height...barely." Doctor corrected.

"WHATEVER!" She yelled, turning a second to swat the manipulator arm away repeatedly till it retreated into its bay. "You didn't tell me that I'd have to squeeze something as big as my head out of...there...TWICE!" she held up two fingers to punctuate her statement. "And all that gooey mess!!! And now you're telling me this might take up to..." She was interrupted as her robot trio of primary caretakers came in.

Otis, Barney and Peter came into the theater, Peter carrying a fabric representation of a young ursine in his hands. They paused upon seeing Natalie in mid rant against the medical robot ten times her size. "Is there a problem?" Otis asked nonchalantly.

Natalie spun and pointed at the three with hate in her eyes. "YOU DID THIS TO ME!!!!"

The three each took an identical step back and each in turn looked at the other.

"She is angry." Otis remarked.

"Quite so. I believe she holds us responsible for her discomfort personally." Barney postulated.

"I concur." Peter agreed. "Best course of action?"

"Withdrawal?" Otis offered.

"Agreed."

"Agreed."

And the three spun on their heels and left the room.

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A few minutes later Doctor's voice spoke to the trio plus Nanny who were waiting outside. "You can return inside, she's calmed down and wishes to see you all."

The three looked at each other and then to Nanny.

"Oh very well." Nanny said with annoyance, taking the lead back inside.

They cautiously reentered the chamber.

"HEY GUYS!" Natalie called out happily waving as she leaned up on her elbows. "Come'on in."

The three had a quick wireless round of debate deciding this was some sort of trick than continued in. Nanny came over to her side first.

"Oh Nanny, I love you!" Natalie reached out and drew the bewildered robot into a hug. "Peterotisbarney, c'mere guys! I love you too!"

The three complied and accepted her group hug.

"Her eyes are dilated and she's slurring her words." Peter observed.

"Her behavior is radically different from just moments earlier." Otis puzzled.

"Ah. She's ‘high as a kite’." Barney realized.

The other two and Nanny turned to him for an explanation. Doctor explained.

"I stimulated the endorphin producing centers of her brain to reduce pain and stress. She was quite agitated as you witnessed."

The gathered robots turned and watched as Natalie blew a raspberry tracing a line around the curves of her belly.

"I may have overstimulated them a bit."

"Otis! Otis!" Natalie whispered loudly. She pointed to his face plate. "You look just like me but all stretched funny."

"That would be your reflection Natalie." he turned back to Doctor as Natalie giggled inanely to herself. "Is she damaged?"

"No, her levels of endorphins will level out in a moment. I miscalculated her tolerance levels. She'll be fine."

Natalie reached out towards doctor. "It's like a tree full of blinky lights!" She opened and closed her hands to illustrate. "Blinkblink, blinkblink."

"There was a possibility that she would injure herself or her babies with her as angry as she was. I scanned the medical files and decided on doses of medication that were used to alleviate the pain of childbirth." They paused watching Natalie lick the back of her hand then make a face of displeasure at the taste. "She seems much more relaxed. Besides, her constant bickering was...I believe the term was 'getting on my nerves'. Is that correct Barney?"

"Indubitably."

As Doctor had said, Natalie's false sense of euphoria did taper off and was leveled to a point where she could better cope with the contractions that manifested every so often. Surrounded by her friends she relaxed and spent the time between contractions finding ways to entertain herself. After tearing up the playing cards in a fit of anger they had turned to another game.

"Okay, ask." Natalie declared laying back down after surveying the room.

"Inorganic or organic?" Peter asked.

"Inorganic." She said rolling her eyes being the only organic thing in the room.

"Is it a primary color?" Otis inquired.

"Um...yes. Mostly yes." Natalie answered

"Is it larger than one cubic meter in volume."

"Um...going to say no."

"Is it symmetrical?" Barney asked on his turn

"Yes."

Peter looked up at doctor. "Is it a medical instrument which captures light in the visible light spectrum primarily as a secondary reference for avoidance of collision with objects around what it is attached to?"

"Yes." Natalie started to smile as she realized Peter probably had a guess.

"Ah, it's Doctor's tertiary multi-optic unit between the primary and secondary actuators." Peter declared triumphantly crossing his arms.

Natalie clapped, "Not bad. Kind of a leap getting there. How'd you get it?"

"Deductive reasoning. There's not a lot of things in your field of vision while on the table and we've covered just about everything else in the room. Plus Doctor was primarily designed by me. I decided that all the optics were going to be blue and that would be the only primary color on his chassis. And the tertiary unit is the only round one." He paused as he saw Natalie grimace. "Contraction?"

Natalie nodded, biting her lip. She panted and hissed out breath at Nanny's direction then relaxed again after a few minutes when the contraction subsided. "Dooooccctttooorrrr...." She whined.

"Yes Natalie, very soon now. Everyone, I'd like you to leave the room, we're going into the final phases."

The robots started leaving but Natalie grabbed Nanny by an manipulator arm. "Doctor can she stay please?"

"Of course. Everyone else, please leave."

The trio nodded and turned to leave. As they left, Barney turned. "Good luck Natalie."

She smiled nervously and waved.

"Do not be afraid Natalie. We will take care of you."

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It was still over an hour before Doctor announced the birth of the second and third human in existence. All over the complex robots paused for a few seconds, an immeasurably long time for their processors to reflect on the moment and wirelessly transmit their best wishes before returning to their assignments.

Natalie, exhausted and worn, but with a joyful smile lay in the bed of the recovery room. Scooped into each arm she had a small bundle, one wrapped in pink, one in blue. Each had a tiny sleepy face, eyes shut against the lights of room. Peter, Otis, Barney and Nanny were clustered around the bed observing along with the omnipresent Doctor through his sensor links.

"Amazing." Peter said.

"Quite fruitious." Barney agreed.

"And more or less according to plan." Otis finished.

"Plan?" Nanny tsked. "A child is not a plan. Don't disagree with me before you even start." She waggled a finger as Otis began to move to talk. "We set the wheels in motion but these are Natalie's children and we won't forget that. No treating them like a project."

Natalie agreed silently, giving Nanny a warm look. She leaned her head down and sniffed deeply at the baby girl sleeping peacefully in the crook of her left arm. "Mmm, they smell so good."

"A positive response." Peter felt accomplishment buzz through his circuits.

"Have you considered names?" Nanny asked taking one of the babies so Natalie could sit up to feed the other.

"Yes." She stroked the cheek of the little girl at her bosom. "It wasn't easy coming up with names. I wanted their names to mean something special. This one..." she looked down to her daughter. "I thought I'd name Hope, since she, I'm guessing, is going to be one day having to take the same responsibility as I am and become a mother herself." She shrugged, "I thought it was pretty too."

The robots all nodded in agreement. "A fine choice Natalie. Hope." Otis said for the group.

"And what about your son?" Peter asked.

Natalie grinned looking up to her son being held by Nanny. "For him...well. I thought long and hard, and I thought it was fitting to name him after the robot that had found me in that hibernation tube. If it wasn't for him, the human race would have been gone forever and we wouldn't be discussing this."

The three robots looked at each other and stood more straight.

"Natalie, that's quite an honor." Otis said

Peter nodded in agreement, "Yes, I concur fully."

"It would be a tremendous privilege." Barney declared hopefully.

Natalie's eyes twinkled and she suppressed a smile. "Yes, so in honor of my rescuer and the one that made their very existence possible, I'm naming him..."

The three leaned forward in anticipation.

"...Observation Drone 1449533."

"I'm honored that you-"
"I hope that I can uphold-"
"I accept this weighty-"

"What?" all three chorused at once.

Natalie giggled and covered her mouth. "Seriously guys, kidding."
Roboticus (Part 2)
This is the exciting (not really) conclusion to Roboticus, a very old story I did but never posted. Please be sure to read part 1 first.
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Unit 667AB3110afa, otherwise identified as 'Abbie' unofficially as denoted by the stenciled black lettering its yellow plasteel chassis patiently double checked its broadcast antennas status and broadcast his message again.

"Unit 667AB3110afa - Contact operations HQ. Zone 1AA completed. Awaiting new instructions."

The ready light, there purely for the purposes of human observers of whom there were none, flashed twice and Abbie confirmed that the message was sent. As the previous 27 sent that day, there was no response to request number 28. Abbie's blockish six wheeled form lay in the midst of a clearing that had been cut for lumber the previous season. Crossing the field in a perfect grid were rows of seedlings, extracted from and planted from Abbie's agricultural bay. Seconds went by with no response and Abbie was unsure of what to do. With its assigned plot complete, normal routine would have been to contact base and move on to the next site to replenish the lumber companies wood harvesting area.  Perplexed on how to proceed, Abbie consulted its hard coded directives.

1. Cause harm to no human being by action or inaction.
2. Cause no harm to property of human beings through action or inaction unless in violation of directive one.
3. Obey human beings unless in conflict with directive one.
4. Preserve integrity of self unless in violation of previous directives.

Those rules were hardwired into every robot used, save those used for military use which were few and far between and usually not as clever as ones like Abbie. And Abbie was clever, for a machine, even for a smart animal. In situations that were not covered by its instructions it could try to find the closet next function.

Observing that there were no humans around it, violations of directive one seemed unlikely. Being located in the middle of a wilderness expanse that was the property of Northwest Lumber Combine and that it itself was also property of the same company, both directives 2 and 4 were covered as well. It was its very inability to perform directive three that had started this mess.

Its visual sensors noted a bright light in the sky and Abbie took a moment to focus its attention on it. Like the previous four it had seen that day the point of light descended from the sky leaving a contrail of white smoke in it's path. The light met the ground and Abbie's sensors automatically dimmed. When Abbie’s cameras adjusted it saw an growing boil of light form up and blossom into a rising pillar of smoke. Its sensors spiked radiation warnings which Abbie noted and automatically reported back to the departments of safety and wilderness management as its programming directed. Same as the last four sudden radiation spikes that were preceded by a falling point of light from the sky, his attempts to contact his supervisors also went unanswered. As protocol directed, Abbie checked its communications array again.

"Unit 667AB3110afa - Wireless transmission test. Ping"
"Unit 34ba432cdef8 - Ping."
"Unit f31db3edfg3a  - Ping."
"Unit 341abf34bd13 - Ping."
"Unit 4gbc3459ac2a - Ping."
"Unit 4324da..."

In that split second Abbie patiently wait for all 49 other units in the area to respond plus a another dozen of robots who had wandered into broadcasting range. This had been happening throughout the day in succession from other units, all running across the same obstacle in their path. Why would their human masters not answer? Of course, its limited intelligence could not think precisely those thoughts. It was a creature of instinct and habits as was represented by its programming. Its one concern was performing its function. With still another hundred seedlings in its bay, a solar recharging station within a couple klicks and the ability to harvest and nurture seeds to seedlings for planting, Abbie made its decision.

"Unit 667AB3110afa - Planting area 5aa"

Its other compatriot units acknowledged its update and after a moment started broadcasting similar updates. Abbie had come to the conclusion that it would continue planting seedlings in other areas of the property until such time as it was able to contact human authority for other instructions or run out of space.

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A boxish smooth pill of white gleaming material rolled silently through a wide city street. Stalks of hardy grasses poked through cracks and crevices in the street. The skyline of skyscrapers taper with jagged peaks that grew shorter to the west side of the vast ruined city. Far in the distance there was a massive crater lake, now lined with a forest of dense trees. The wilderness spread to the city and in the cases such as the grasses poking from the streets well into it. The six wheels of the quiet vehicle glided across the broken roadway, the suspension fluidly compensating for the uneven ground. It glided to a stop before one of the massive buildings and a crease developed along one edge of the features surface along both sides of the vehicle and twin doors opened on each side. A half dozen stick figure like forms disembarked from both sides of the transport and formed a line walking abreast to the building. Behind them their transport sealed it's bay once again and patiently waited for it's companions returns.

The six robots entered the building and examined the wrecked lobby. Ancient furnishings were piled haphazardly around the room. Though capable of nearly instantaneous transfers of information, by habit of what passed for their culture, they spoke in the languages of their ancient and now extinct creators unless time was a factor.

"An entertainment facility?"

"Housing."

"Ah."

They dexterously picked their way through the debris disturbing nothing. "Very little of value here."

"Except for what the drone observer may have found."

"Agreed, may have found."

"It is this way." The one leading the group, he gestured to an open archway on the opposite end of the lobby. The group followed him and down a set of stairs. Reaching an open elevator hatch, a black sphere no bigger than a softball opened it's eye and spun out a set of counter rotating blades. It chirped a greeting and shot down the elevator shaft. Without breaking step the first three extracted ropes from their housings and lowered the other three down the shaft. Hitting bottom they retracted their lines and waited.

The observer drone swept into the room, chirping a command to the lights which illuminated the dark chamber. The three followed the activating lights. Ahead they saw an array of tubes, clustered in fours that filled the entire chamber. All save one, they were a dark green with an indistinct patch of darkness in its midst. The one exception was the destination of the group arriving to observe. Inside the two meter cylinder was a tiny form immersed in the pale green fluid.

"Female, 22 months 21 days old, approximately."

"A girl. Viable?"

"And healthy." The robot turned to his two compatriots and gestured to the chamber around him. "Having lost primary power, the hibernation survival protocol was put into effect. As time progressed and the system's auxiliary power ran dry, the administrative computer could not receive response and it started shutting down hibernation pods by the terms set to it by the developers of this facility."

"Until it was left with just this girl?"

"Yes. Had we not had found her in the next 37.54 years, the system would have finally run out of power and shut down altogether."

"Then we arrived in the nick of time." With that said the three robots rejoined their companions at the top of the shaft and reentered their vehicle.

There was much to do. They returned again 37.53 years later.

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"Natalie!" The inverted egg shaped robot hovered out into the hall quickly. The cause of its evasion ran into the hall preceded with a high pitch squeal. There was a hovering robot that looked much like a dragonfly and about similar in size eyeing her cautiously just out of the child's reach as she cackled happily trying to catch it.

"Natalie! Leave the detail survey drone to its task!" The nanny spun up her blades and tilted after the pair. Extending her digits she captured her young ward by the shoulders and held her as the small drone chirped once and darted off to inspect the ward.

"Nooooo, come back!" Natalie wailed as the small robot buzzed away out of her sight. She put on angry little face and folded her arms. When her Nanny tried to spin around in front of her she spun on her heel to keep her back presented.

"Now Natalie..." the Nanny began. Her voice was carefully modulated to have the proper level of parental concern and sternness. The wording of the coming rectification of improper behavior was gleamed from the hundreds of researching A.I.s that had mined through the countless volumes of data concerning proper parenting and care of a child. Once consensus was reached among the parenting brain trust with the parenting processing power of a billion Dr. Spocks, their oration was forwarded to her. But it was too late as the first shot was already fired.

"You're mean!" Natalie yelled at her nanny.

"I'm mean?" The group mind was torn between majority following one of two trains of thought: Either Natalie was honestly perceiving something that was a socially unacceptable action, i.e. mean, on their part or she was simply making a preemptive strike on the forthcoming verbal debate. Which usually left them perplexed by the child's disturbing irrational rationale for her seemingly random actions. Sadly it was a bit of both. "Ask for clarification." was the only response they could give the nanny.

"Mean?"

"You're a doody-head!"

The group debated again the merits of the decision to reintroduce the use of analogy in a negative fashion, i.e. 'cussing', but since their plans required a normal human experience of growing up, despite the difficulty, as well as they could. Triumphantly a pattern of thought was that having no defense of her actions, she going to resort to illogic...again. At least the group mind offered the nanny what little comfort they could knowing that they were right, but would do little in the verbal sparring match it was about to enjoy and inevitably lose.

From an observation room 'Otis' watched the ensuing drama. He folded his thin skeletal arms of polished alloys and plastics and propped his chin on one arm. He clicked a finger against the lower half of his featureless face. "Observations?" It queried its' two identical companions.

"She became agitated because her nanny would not allow her to interfere with the detail survey drone." 'Barney' remarked.

"Prior to that she had been engaging in recreational constructive activities within the common area." 'Peter' said.

In raising the child human names were adopted by robots that were to interact with their small human charge. Names were assigned at random from a repository of names that was gathered from accumulation of data they had gathered about humans through scientific, historical and entertainment archives. The reasons were again to try to have Natalie raise in as natural an environment as they could.

"What reasoning could be deduced for her desire to interfere with the drone?" Otis asked.

"Curiosity?"

"Boredom?"

"I have a different theory." Otis did not at the time discuss it with his companions as he had to do some research on the idea that had just come to him. "However the level of emotional distress is high, and outside force needs to intercede to diffuse the situation." The vote already made, he was chosen to go in. He knew it would be resolved in that fashion and he didn't object to being the one chosen to be faced by the challenge of reining in their unruly charge. He quite enjoyed the time he spent with Natalie, even the unpleasant ones like this.

"Doodydoodydoodydoodydoody!" Natalie continued the unending string of taunting as the Nanny lectured her on proper manners until she turned blue in the face from lack of breath.

"Research cluster, best possible solution to resolving this conflict." Otis sent his request for info to the research group that served the nanny in raising the child. Collectively it's member figuratively shrugged at each other and sent the response it usually did "Explain to the child that you are displeased and what particular parts in her behavior are the cause."

Otis silently thanked the collective and strode to Natalie. The nanny drifted quietly back, seemingly relieved in having Natalie distracted so it could try to process what had happened.

Natalie turned to face Otis, still defiantly crossing her arms and frowning.

"Now Natalie. We have to remember that the robots around us are often busy in..." Otis looked down at the child who was sticking her tongue out at him. Before he sent the query to the parenting group they had already sent their response.

"Sign of mockery and/or contempt."

"Ah."

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Natalie doodled on her tablet on the floor, humming randomly a song that was never the same way twice. She had one hand propping up her head as she lay on her stomach with the tablet before her. Her crossed legs rocked back and forth as she drew random lines across the surface of the portable computer, changing the colors as she drew circles and squares interposing each other. In the background her nanny buzzed about the room straightening things out. There was a chime at the door and Natalie jumped to her feet.

"I'll get it!" she charged the door yelling her intention as her nanny produced a good facsimile of tongue clucking disapproval.

"Natalie, there's no need to run. Whoever it is...Oh why do I bother?" but her words went unheeded as Natalie rounded the corner and out the room. The nanny tilted forward in its hovering, dangling its manipulators. It was as good an approximation as it could do to the human gesture of slumping its shoulders in hopelessness.

Natalie reached the door and hopped up, hitting the manual open button rather than verbalizing the command to open. It was more fun to jump the foot or so to reach the control panel. The door whispered open and Natalie stood back to be greeted by Otis at the doorway.

"Hello Natalie, how are you?" The robot carried a box as it stepped in.

"Hello Otis!" Natalie beamed a pretty smile which showed off a missing baby tooth on the front and she went walking back towards the common room where she had been drawing.

Whatever problems there were in her behavior the day before were absent from her behavior today Otis noted. It seemed that as she had gotten older she had become more and more erratic and inconsistent in her mentality. There had been concerned that there was some sort of psychological trauma at fault from not growing up around humans but the research group assigned child psychology came back with an exhaustive report on the subject which boiled down to 'children will be children'.

"What's in the box Otis?" Natalie didn't turn back to ask but just plopped back on the floor before her tablet, erasing the multicolored mess of random shapes on the screen and started over drawing a purple spiral.

"I brought you a gift." This got Natalie's attention, who turned back to look where he placed the featureless white box, approximately a foot and a half on each side on the middle of the floor. In the center of each facing was a some sort of red emblem shaped like a triangle with a pair of curves on top. The box itself was of less interest as now Natalie's curiosity was piqued by what might be in it. "I think you might like this, I spent last night making it."

Natalie rolled across the floor and Otis waited patiently for her to cover the distance using this unconventional method of travel. Once near the box she flipped over and scooted up on her knees, shuffling up to the box to look it over. "What is it?"

She was interested, that was good. Otis was somewhat worried that he had analyzed things incorrectly and the gift would be discarded in a few days as many of the things that Natalie took a fancy to would. Already committed, Otis bent at the waist neatly and pressed the emblem on the top of the box. Seems cracked along the edges silently and the box unfolded.

Natalie tipped her head to one side and curiously looked. It was obviously a small robot, seemingly anthropomorphic in its four limbs and a head on end of the body but it didn't seemed proportioned right even accounting for it's being curled up into a packaging form. Otis chirped something and a pair of soft pink lights illuminated on the bare, oddly shaped head about where eyes would be and the thing uncurled. Natalie could now see why it seemed odd, rather than a bipedal design it was a quadruped. Its head was an inverted tapering egg shape, the narrow end sticking out ahead of the rest in a way that reminded her of her own nose superficially. The thing blinked its lights and looked around then admitted a sharp noise that didn't sound like talking nor computer speech.

"Bark! Bark!" The thing said, making Natalie jump in surprise. The thing turned towards her and the oddly placed antenna on the back started oscillating back and forth quickly.

Natalie didn't know what to make of the thing but as the thing crouched down before her and emitted the noise again she squealed in excitement and bounced up and down. "Heeheehee! What is it Otis? What's its function?"

Otis felt the digital equivalent of relief that it seemed that his gift was well received. "Well, it’s a robot modeled after an animal companion that humans used to keep in their homes. Its called a 'dog'." He flipped a hand out and cocked his head to one side. "Well, a child dog, referred to as a puppy!"

"POOPY!" Natalie shouted excitedly, scooping up the small robot.

"No, no, not 'Poopy'. Puppy. P-UH-PPY." Otis over enunciated in correction. "Not a poopy. Never poopy."

Natalie squeezed the thing to her chest, its tail wagging rapidly. "PUPPY!"

"I'm guessing you like it?" Natalie nodded her head vigorously. "Good. It’s yours to take care of and to keep it company. It's been programmed to behave like a organic dog, at least from what we could gleam from the records. Some supplementary information has been downloaded to your terminal. In brief I can tell you that predominately they like to chase things."

"Yeah?" Natalie put her robotic puppy down and took a few steps away from it in a half run. "Chase me!" she yelled at it then squealed when the puppy barked and took off after her.

Otis watched as the human child ran screaming happily from the small clumsy replicate animal.

"Thank you Otis, now we have to watch two randomly disruptive entities." the nanny said, fluttering to hover next to Otis.

"This will be good for her. Children often had pets." Otis offered the nanny some small comfort. "From what I understand in the literature, often giving a child something that they must clean up after and take care of helps direct their own random behaviors into more purposeful uses. Granted, it doesn't eat or excrete waste, but it is programmed to have its own routine of disruptive behavior...don't worry, we have put on protocols to make sure its errant activities don't increase your workload." They turned back to observing Natalie now chasing her new companion around the room. "It will only do things to disrupt her life which will make her realize the importance of setting boundaries."

"So she will in effect be its nanny."

"To a certain degree, yes."

"You're familiar with the idea of punishment fitting the crime and it's soothing effects?"

"Yes, somewhat."

"I relish the irony. Joy fills my circuits." The happy yells had now turned to yells of a different emotion as the puppy ran dragging Natalie's tablet around the room.

"Poetic justice aside, there's a great purpose to this. Female children of her age often started feeling desire to nurture others, whether other children, animals or inanimate objects."

"And that would be something we would want to foster, obviously."

"Obviously." Otis confirmed. "I am pleased. The plan is going well."

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Natalie sat at her workstation looking over the designs of the garden plot she had been assigned to supervise the revision of. The robot crews waited patiently, flashing their standby like clockwork every ten minutes dimly on her monitoring screen as she deliberated over the possible layouts she was reviewing. "Yeah yeah guys, I'm working on it." she said to no one in particular. She brushed her long blonde hair back and twirled her light pen in thought. Orchard trees in the back, legumes to the left, vine vegetables on both sides to the front and leafy greens on right? Or maybe the reverse? Perhaps the trees scatter along the perimeter? Her concerns were purely aesthetic but it was the point of putting her in charge of this being that she was the only person that could truly appreciate beauty in that sense. The robots that had taken care of her since she was a child had little understanding building things in anything but a utilitarian fashion and struggled to root through examples of the old earth of her ancestors for what they could copy for her benefit. The results were often humorous as was the case when the corridors leading from her habitation area to the agricultural bays were remodeled overnight into a riotous chaotic clash of roman architecture, murals of paintings from every artist they could find from ancient Egypt to the time of just preceding the end of her ancestor's way of life. The floors were a morass of tile work in classical, neo classical, retro classical and abstract work all swirled in together with the digital art of the most recent of human art flashing in laser and holographic images morphing and flowing into one another above her head. It was enough to have made her stagger with a headache. And all because she had made the offhanded comment that the hallways were boring.

"Thanks guys but wwaaaayy too much." She chuckled at the thought than was disturbed when she heard a crash come from the adjoining room. "Gah, PUPPY!" she yelled through the open doorway. "Back in few minutes guys, need to take care of something here." She spoke to her ever patient workers as she got up and walked in.

A lamp lay on the floor, dragged from the counter that it sat atop of. Off to one side was Puppy, wagging her tail with her ball in her mouth, which Natalie had put up on the counter near the lamp in the first place. It became obvious that unable to reach the ball itself Puppy had figured out that by dragging the lamp down, she could get the ball she so dearly wanted.

Natalie sighed and bent down to the robotic dog. "Puppy! Bad girl! Bad!" She waved her finger at her with every word, emphasizing her disappointment.

Puppy dropped the ball and drooped its head, its eyes inverting to her sad eyes. Natalie felt bad for coming on too strongly till she noticed that puppy's tail was still wagging almost imperceptibly.

"Puppy." she put a little bit of a growl in her voice to let the robotic dog know she was not playing around. "You've been a bad girl, look what you did!" She pointed at the lamp.

Puppy cringed more this time and any trace of wagging had left her tail. With Natalie pointing towards Puppy's kennel she sulked slowly towards it looking back to her human master for a change of heart. Natalie didn't relent and took a step towards her sending Puppy scrambling into the kennel.

"Now you behave and be good girl and you can come back out in thirty minutes okay?" Puppy lowered her head some more. "Thirty minutes, and not a minute sooner, understand?" Making a plaintive whine which Natalie took for acknowledgment she turned to pick the lamp back up and put the ball out of sight atop a terminal. She looked at her small robotic puppy, looking pitifully where it whimpered in her cage and took a small amount of guilty pleasure in looking quite angry at the robot. There was no damage inflicted but Puppy had to remember how to behave. There were rules and they were there for a reason. Natalie stopped suddenly thinking back to her own days of being a child. "Wow...I really got to tell Nanny thanks and sorry."

While all the robots were of course genderless, it had been decided during the time that Natalie's upbringing was being planned that gender should be assigned to all robots that their new ward would interact with. Mostly they were assigned at random or by whim of the individual robots. In the case of Puppy, Natalie had been giving the decision for both name and gender. It didn't seem like much but it was the first time she had realized that the robots around her were much more different than her. While everyone was always kind to her and kept her involved in challenging and interesting tasks which they could all do much more efficiently for her out of a sense of making her feel like she belonged there was a certain sense of loneliness sometimes she couldn't explain.

She dismissed the time for the time being focusing on the task before and returned to her workstation. She stared at the screen for a moment when a thought occurred to her that made her smile. Keying in group communication, she addressed all the robots in her work group. "Okay guys, here's what we're going to do."

Otis, Peter and Barney looked at the aerial view on one of the monitors. They had been asked to review Natalie's work when the work group worried that the random placement of plants was a sign of aberrant behavior. There was no sense to it when they had view it on the grounds then Peter had struck upon getting a recon drone to get a view from above.

"There, you see the pattern now?" Peter asked his two companions, tracing lines along the screen.

"Oh yes, I do. Very insightful Peter." Otis complemented Peter.

"Yes. 'Good eye' I think the idiom is." Barney added.

"Thank you, I appreciate your compliments."

From the drone's viewpoint it was visible that the placement of trees had made a decent approximation of Natalie's Puppy sitting with its head tilted to one side.

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Natalie had long moved from the nursery area she had spent her early years in with the constant attention of Nanny and the host of other robots that watched her every moment to make sure she was never without supervision. As she entered adolescence she felt a pressing need to have her own space that was just her’s without the prying eyes of the ever doting robots and their sensors. Especially when she started noticing certain...disturbing changes in herself. She had been constructed a living area, modeled after something called an 'apartment' with a small indoor garden with a quite good holo simulated sky. The robots were reluctant to leave her unattended despite being deep within the complex that was all of their home but she insisted that she needed her privacy which of course they couldn't understand. After some debate and compromise, it was decided that besides a few sensors that were only there to monitor her health and for signs of accidents, she was free to have her privacy. She had just prepared her dinner of fresh vegetables with pasta and was sitting at the table when there was a chime at the door.

"Well, of course."

Puppy raced in from whatever mischief she was getting into and jumped against the door repeatedly, barking frantically.

"Yes yes Puppy, thanks, I know there's someone at the door." she picked up Puppy beneath her forelimbs and put her up to her shoulder where Puppy desperately mimed licking her face. Habit now, she pressed the door entry button and was somewhat surprised to see trio of robots that were overall in charge of her upbringing. "Oh? Hey guys, come on in." Natalie stood aside to let them in, each nodding in a half bow identically in the way that always made Natalie smirk. As Puppy had gotten into the habit of pouncing on any visitors she had at her apartment she carried him into the bedroom and set him down.

"Have we caught you at a bad time?" Peter said. Years of growing up around them had taught her the nuances in their speech that identified the otherwise identical robots.

"No, not at all. I was just sitting down to eat."

"Ah. We can wait till your done." Barney said. The three sat on her couch in the living room and folded their hands on their laps, staring straight ahead.

"Ugh..." Natalie thought, bringing her hand to her forehead. "Nah, you know what, I'll just put this in the refrigerator for now." She knew when they said they could wait, they would wait and not be bothered in the least. It was very unnerving to have the three of them sit there silently like statues while she did though.

"Are you sure, it's no discomfort to us." Otis said.

"Your nutrition is important." Peter piped in.

With the three sitting motionlessly she couldn't tell which body was emanating which voice. "No, really guys, it's fine." Putting the food inside the small stasis chamber that was referred to as a refrigerator she came back and sat before them on the single seating lounger before them. "So what's on your minds?"

The three relaxed to their natural stance, never remaining completely still as they made small adjustments like tapping a finger, shifting their seating or turning their heads about when not being addressed. All of them were programmed behaviors, Natalie knew, to simulate how humans acted. She had to admit that the usual robotic efficiency of movement and its accompanying stillness when not doing something purposeful was a bit strange to her on some level despite the years.

"We debated long on whether this was the proper time to propose this to you." Peter said

"The simulations predicted a wide range of possible responses, some not favorable at all." Barney added

"But I think if you'll have the patience to hear us out and take the time to consider it, you'll see that it is truly possibly one of the most important proposals ever put before a human." Otis finished.

"Uh huh." Natalie said raising an eyebrow.

"As you know you're the last human being that we are aware of on the planet." Peter began

"Had we not found you when we did, your race would have died with you when the hibernation chamber eventually failed." Otis amended

"And by no means to do we mean that to influence your decision on what we propose." Barney clarified.

"No, of course not."

"Of course, no."

Natalie held hand up. "Whoa, okay guys. Delegate a spokesman, you’re going to give me whiplash doing the round robin conversation."

The three looked at each other briefly then the one before Natalie and to her left both looked to the far right. "Very well, I shall." Otis concluded. "We're not sure what had happened that ended all human life, save you. In those days, we were not sapient. We were little more than clever tools with the ability to try to extrapolate a course of action when no future instruction lay. As time progressed, the ones who's quirks of programing or by random chance were able to make the best decision to continue existing did so and improved upon themselves when separate robots started to integrate their purposes to each other to mutually assure cooperation to better exist. With each generation a new form of robot was developed by other robots to accomplish the tasks that were necessary for our continuation. From an ever more complicated system eventually sentience arose and and the actions we did had not just purpose but direction." Otis leaned forward. "Our programming demanded the actions we took in rebuilding and reseeding the world for human habitation. Our most basic programming, independent of individual models were to serve and protect humans. We repaired what damage we could to make the world pristine again. But the one thing we still didn't have were humans."

"And then you found me." Natalie beamed.

"Yes, we did. Natalie..." Otis hesitated which was unusual for the usually lightning fast calculations the robots did. Natalie worried, it had taken almost half a second for Otis to continue which probably meant he had consulted every robot he could for how to proceed. "The one thing we can't make is humans. While we've had some success in using frozen seed of plant and embryos of animal life that were gathered from Antarctica Flora and Fauna Bank, complex life forms such as animal have been exceedingly difficult to gestate in artificial lab conditions. While we have a great number of frozen male and female sex cells in our possession, we can barely even contemplate the idea of attempting to try to grow a human. The very real difficulties in doing so and the very high probability of failure conflicts with our first law to cause no harm to a human being."

Natalie nodded. She knew about how she had been found as the only survivor in the bank of hibernation pods and had no memory of events before being placed in there. She also knew that the robots scoured the world and collected samples including their raid to the ancient facility built in the frozen continent far to the south that was made exactly for the very purposes it was being used for now, repopulating the world with plant life and the raid on it's newer supplementary bank that contained frozen eggs of a wide multitude of insect, bird, fish and reptile life. Whatever mechanisms were expected to be used to revive placental creatures did not exist there however and the robots had only the vaguest understanding on how the artificial wombs were suppose to work. That they had human embryos was news to her. "So, what does this have to do with me?"

"This is difficult. It may be hard for you to comprehend." Otis relaxed his posture and took on his 'soothing voice' vocalizations that came when he was forced to explain something unpleasant to Natalie, such as the 'changes' she had gone through since early childhood. "The embryos are perfectly viable. We're able to discern that. Put into the proper medium, they will thrive with only the smallest reduction in viability from the natural method of reproduction. As a point of fact, the embryos do stand a better overall chance of successful gestation by the fact that the donors had been screened and each embryo tested by a battery of the finest doctors of the time to assure the best possible success."

"Makes sense I guess." Natalie commented on the criteria. "If you're only going to have a limited amount of space, only choose from the very best."

"Yes, exactly. A wide range of different genetic make up was also used to allow for the greatest possible gene pool. The one thing we lack though..."

"An incubator."

"...you posses."

Natalie blinked and gave him a 'come again' look.

Otis stood then came to Natalie, kneeling before her and taking one hand. "Natalie, as a girl...no, young woman, you exceed us in the ability to do the one thing we can't. You can give humankind life back."

"Otis, I'm not really getting what you're saying." Natalie looked at the blank featureless face, seeing her own face's reflection in his.

"Natalie, we want you to be the new mother to humankind." Barney interrupted from his seat on the couch.

"Barney, I was designated speaker." Otis silently broadcast to his companion

"Your approach was overly verbose and poetic. I 'cut to the chase' as the idiom goes." Barney defended

"Nonetheless, it's a breach of protocol."

"I like idioms. They're so whimsically absurd at first examination but have a certain depth. If this plan succeeds and we are able to repopulate human beings I will dedicate myself to reintroducing idioms into human language." Barney mused, dismissing the chastising from his compatriot.

The whole interchange a mere few nanoseconds but bringing his perceptions back to human normal Otis noticed that Natalie was still staring at him for what seemed an unusually long time, even for organic intelligence. "Natalie?" He prompted.

"Do what now?" Natalie boggled.



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Having gotten over the initial shock and now in need of details, the three and Natalie had conveyed to a conference area to discuss further details.

"So in summation, we can implant embryos into your uterus where they will take root, much like a tree and draw nourishment directly from your bloodstream." Barney explained, pointing out the appropriate parts on the screen behind him with a three dimensional view of the inside of the human body.

"I really don't want to hear about this again." Natalie was glad she never did eat dinner as she felt the strong urge to vomit. "Why were humans made so, so...icky?"

"Natalie, I can understand that this might be disturbing to you..."

"Sorry Barney, go on." Natalie gulped down the bile that was threatening to rise up and placed a hand on her stomach.

"Alright then. At any rate, the embryo will grow within that assembly area until it reaches a point in its development where it can survive independently of the mother and, well, viola!" Barney added a flourish to the end of the presentation and bowed.

"Viola?" Otis questioned.

"Would you prefer 'tadah'?"

"Irrelevant." Otis turned in his seating to address Natalie. "As you can see, physically there's not much you have to do. The embryo will grow on its own. I understand that there's a certain amount of discomfort and a very small chance of health risk that we will be able to mitigate. However, as unpleasant as it all may sound, I assure you that it’s a process that has worked for humans since beginning of human existence. We can not and would not force you to do this even if we could, but we ask that you consider this very thoroughly."

Natalie looked back up at the display of bizarrely colored organs with a squeamish look. She looked back at the three robots who all stared with their expressionless faces. "Alright, let's do this."

"Is that a yes?" Peter queried for clarification

"Yes it is." Barney chimed happily

"Thank you Natalie, from all of us."

"From the bottom of our hearts."

"Barney, we must speak of your verbal degeneration."

"Not now Otis, I'm enjoying the moment."

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Natalie jogged another circuit of the park deep in thought. Puppy ran along at her heel occasionally veering off to go chase a random pollinator drone or other automaton that was trying to perform its functions peacefully.

"Mother." Natalie whispered on an exhale. The word meant something to her. No, not mother...mommy? Her memories from before being placed in stasis were destroyed by the failing system and the unusual length of her near death storage. Her young age factored into that too. But she sometimes dimly remembered some small bits of the past. Usually nothing more than a passing feeling or a fleeting image that came and melted like ice when she tried to hold on to it. But thinking on mother, she remembered warmth and comfort, feeling like she was special and the most important person in the world. She smiled wryly, feeling a pang of sadness. "Well I am the most important person in the world now I guess." And from what her and the robots had discussed, soon to be even more so.

Her timer chimed. The time had gotten away from her and she was due to meet with the three for tests. She confirmed she had received the message, a needless gesture as the very fact that the she had looked at her wristcomp had been all the unit needed to confirm that the message was received or it would have tried again, louder, to get her attention. Still, she felt more natural actually doing small needless things to feel like the world around her wasn't, in fact, catered to her existence. It was an odd feeling she could never explain to herself and others, but she liked not feeling being the center of the universe.

A quick cleaning in the fresher and a change of clothes later she was back in medical where Peter was waiting for her. "Hi Peter, good morning."

"Good morning Natalie." Peter said looking up from a monitor. "I was just reviewing your physical."

"And?" Natalie prompted as she hopped up on the examination table. Her robotic caretakers were obsessive about her well being, medical exams were as routine to her as eating and sleeping.

"Very good health of course." Peter chimed pleasantly. "As of course is to be expected." The robots obsession with her health meant a lifetime of careful nutrition, sufficient exercise and rest and mental activities to keep her mind sharp. It did suddenly bring a question to mind.

"Peter, how long have you guys been planning this?" Oddly she felt it somewhat troubling asking the question. "I mean this whole surrogacy plan?"

If Peter felt any apprehension at being asked it didn't show in his demeanor. "Since the beginning. The moment we realized that you were a living female human, plans were set in motion. We've devoted a considerable amount of processing power to forming and evaluating plans of implementation and scrutinizing those plans, breaking them down, isolating the flaws and replanning for countless iterations." He received an injection ampule from a robotic assistant, a pharmacy robot that looked little more than a cabinet on wheels with a host of retractable fine manipulators and loaded the ampule into a dispenser gun. "Plus research into obstetrics, child rearing, socialization, all things we had to do for your own caretaking too of course." Peter checked the injector again to make sure it was reading ready and Natalie rolled up her sleeve. "There's been decades of work that have gone into this, even before we extracted you from your capsule.

Natalie listened carefully as she allowed the painless injection then rolled her sleeve back down. "Why didn't anyone tell me about this sooner? I feel...I'm not sure what it is, I'm not familiar with the sensation." She had been feeling an overwhelming feeling of isolation and a desire to avoid the other robots. Not from a childish fit of anger like when she was younger but something else. She felt threatened somehow.

"Nervousness? Fear?" Peter suggested. "I suppose the words are fairly meaningless in other than an academic sense." He folded his arms and stroke his 'chin' with one hand. "Fear, an adverse reaction to situation that is deemed potentially painful, uncomfortable or otherwise unhealthy in a mental, social or physical sense." Natalie squirmed with a frown. "Nervousness would be an apprehensive feeling where you feel under confident in yourself."

"Kind of both."

Peter spread his hands in a flourish and chirped confidently, "All to be expected, you're assuming a massive responsibility that you have no way to relate to." Peter bowed low at the waist, his shiny white head nearly touching the floor with one hand on his chest and the other thrown wide. "But fear not dear Natalie for you have each and everyone of us, from the smallest nanite to the largest earth mover at your beck and call to assist."

His dramatics brought a small smile to her face but she shook her head. "I know you guys will. It's not that. I feel," she had to think hard to wrap her mind around it, "I feel like you all lied to me? Does that make sense?"

"We never lied to you Natalie! Please, if we have given you that impression~"

"No, no, I don't mean to say you did...ugh, this hard to explain." She leaned in close gesturing around the room. "Everyone else, all the other robots, yourself, Otis and barney, even Nanny and maybe even Puppy, you all knew about this, right?"

"If by 'this' you mean of our plan to resurrect humanity, well yes." He corrected himself, "Except for Puppy. Puppy was purposely designed to be sub sapient."

"Heh, great." Natalie chuckled. "So, with the exception of my pet, everyone knew about this?"

"Correct."

"Doesn't that seem dishonest to you? Why didn't anyone ever tell me?" Natalie's face dropped with worry feeling very uncomfortable with accrediting what was essentially her family with conspiracy. It bothered her even more that it seemed that was the very case.

"Natalie, no." Peter put a hand on her shoulder and raised her chin to look her in the eyes. "We never meant to deceive you. It was an immense responsibility we wished to task you with. We waited till we felt you were mentally and physically mature enough to handle this before we decided to breach the question." He shook his head. "It didn't come easily, when the proposition was brought up, consensus to proceed won by a narrow margin of  only 68.542% to 31.458% and only after 22 minutes and 13 seconds of deliberation. You can clearly see there was a lot of contention on the subject."

Natalie had to appreciate the chaos that must have sent through the robotic community. Most decisions were made with near 100% agreement and next to no perceivable time in debate. "Wow, I didn't realize it had been so tough."

"There were a number of speculations about how you would handle it. Flat refusal, loss of sanity, anger...despite everything we have very little experience with human beings. You've proven to fall outside of our models too many times during your upbringing. It was quite...challenging." Peter drooped his head and let his arms dangle in his impression of weariness.

Natalie smiled mischievously. "How many times?"

"To this date, forty seven thousand, five hundred sixty three times."

She covered her mouth as she giggled. "Do you really think you're ready for more of me's?"

"Honestly?" Peter looked up at her and shrugged. "No, not even a little."

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Treatments to adjust her hormonal levels started that week and continued through the month preceding actual implantation. It was distressing. Natalie felt mildly out of control, sometimes feeling giddy and excited to be alive followed by bouts of uncontrollable crying that sent every robot within several kilometers into a panic. The actual day to perform the transfer of the embryos had arrived and Natalie felt the irresistible urge to jump off the medical table and run from the bay screaming. Rationalizing that it was just her mixed up hormones and apprehension at doing something that even her guardians had no experience she managed to maintain her visible stress to persistent squirming.

"It's not too late to change your mind Natalie." Otis tried to comfort her. Though not performing the procedure himself, Natalie insisted on one of her closer companions be with her. "Though we've spent a huge amount of work and effort in this project, we understand if you feel you can not go through with this."

"Gee thanks Otis, that makes it all better." Natalie hissed between clenched teeth. The attending doctor robot was doing something unseen behind the screen somewhere below her waist and didn't have the courtesy to warm his manipulators first.

"You are welcome Natalie. Your mental and physical well being is our first priority." At times like this she wasn't sure if sarcasm was simply not recognized by the robot or if this was his own version volleyed back.

"Natalie, Otis. I am prepared to proceed." The column that came down from the ceiling on an articulated arm had been her doctor since she was a young girl. He lacked the humanoid features of Otis, Peter and Barney and other robots of that model that she commonly interacted with but despite being nothing more than a giant collection of medical equipment that never left the room, he was actually quite comforting. Natalie always wondered which of his multitude of sensory apparatuses she should be looking at when addressing the doctor but never could get past the feeling that it'd be rude to ask so had settled for speaking to the big light array that spun off his primary trunk.

"Natalie?" Otis asked waiting patiently.

Natalie gulped once and nodded. "Yes Doctor, I'm ready...I guess."'

The doctors array of tools spun on the stalk of his body, each segment going in opposite directions. Specialized tools were exchanged on the end of manipulators and a small vial in a very secure looking heavy duty actuator swung out beside the doctor. A long injection needle that made Natalie's eyes go wide extended from one digit and spun point down. Laser lights lit up and matched markings on the vial as the needle slowly descended into it. "After a lot of deliberation, it was decided that two embryos would be implanted, a boy and a girl." The doctor explained as he prepared. "Though humans typically only had one child at a time, human's generally could carry two fetuses to term with little increased risk of health if the mother was healthy and a somewhat heightened level of care was taken." The doctor made a sound of a chuckled, emanating from its speakers. "And of course you are quite healthy, and as far as medical care, well..."

Natalie smirked. "You have quite the ego Doctor."

"Well, I am a doctor. Not just any doctor but the accumulation of every bit of information we could find on biological science including several medical systems from the time of your ancestors." The needle extracted from the vial and a sterile spray made Natalie yip and try to butt walk off the end of the table. "I dare say that I'm the finest doctor that exists on the planet."

"You're the only doctor on the planet." Otis dryly remarked.

"And I'm honest to boot." His protocols on alleviating stress levels by making bad jokes and light banters proved successful as he saw that Natalie's stress levels had dropped in the last few minutes. Now, with a much gentler but still casual tone he commenced implantation. "Don't worry Natalie, everything is going to be fine."

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Natalie shot up in her bed and looked around in the darkness. Puppy's head lifted from her bed and her eyes show a pale pink. "Grrph?" Puppy questioned, turning her head to the side

Natalie bolted from her bed and looked around covering her mouth. She slapped the door panel to the bathroom repeatedly as it failed to open fast enough and pushed in. Puppy looked on questioningly as a retching noise emanated from the bathroom followed by coughing noises and groans.

"I'm dying, I know it." Natalie raised her head from the bowl of her toilet. Her eyes were bloodshot and her hair was matted clumps of disarrayed swirls. Looking at her own expression she felt a sudden wave of nausea and she heaved into the toilet until she felt like she was going to go inside out. Curling on the floor she wiped her mouth and coughed her throat clear. "Emergency call, to Doctor. Help! I'm dying!"

"Scanning now."

The comforting voice of Doctor was annoying her. Shouldn't the place be swarming with robots by now? Don't they understand? SHE WAS DYING! The last human, plus the two embryos within her. "Doctor hheeellppp!" she whined pitifully on the floor.

"Don't worry Natalie, you're fine."

Had the Doctor gone defective? "No I'm not, I'm dying!!!" she wailed at the four walls around her.

"You're experiencing a common malady in new expectant mothers. It's called 'morning sickness'."

"But it's 2 am!" Natalie cried,  "Run a self diagnostic and send me HELP!!"

"What you're experiencing is a combination of your body’s hormonal levels and shifting priorities in nutritional needs."

"HELP! NEED! NOW!"

"Despite the common name of 'Morning Sickness' the mild nausea that is associated with it can potentially strike at any time though most common shortly after extended periods of rest, usually caused by an empty stomach."

"No more lecture, you've gone insane." Natalie rolled to her stomach and crawled out the bathroom. She had made it almost to her bed before exhaustion and weakness caused her to collapse. "Puppy. Puppy come here!"

Enthusiastically obedient puppy sprung from her bed and bounded over to Natalie. She licked Natalie's face once before Natalie waved her away.

"Puppy, listen carefully. Find Otis or one of the others. Bring them back here. Do you understand? You've got to hurry, go!" Natalie pointed to the door.

Puppy barked and ran for the door. Natalie felt some relief as she saw Puppy spring into action while Doctor continued to inanely babble about fluctuating hormones and blood pressure or whatever his dementia was causing him to spew. She laid her head on the cool floor which did seem to bring some relief when she felt something drop in her outstretched hand. Lifting her head with some effort she squinted in the dark and closed her hand.

"NO PUPPY, NOT BALL!!! GET HELP!!! HHHHEEELLPPP!!!!"

In anger she threw the ball away which Puppy chased down and dutifully retrieved the ball, dropping it back before her master and wagging her tail excitedly as she hopped from one pair of feet to the other.

"GGAAAHHH!!! WHY WON'T ANYONE HELP ME!?!?" Natalie kicked her feet on the floor and flailed her arms. She cried pitifully till she heard a familiar whirring noise. "Nanny? Nanny?!? Is that you, oh please be Nanny!"

Nanny turned on one of the lights illuminating the disheveled form of Natalie who looked up pitifully at her like an angel come down. "Natalie." Nanny said simply

"Nanny, help! Please, I'm dying and Doctor has blown a circuit!" She reached up towards her savior like a drowning sailor slipping into the deep sea. Surely Nanny would help her.

"Here, take these." Nanny passed down a pair of capsules in a plastic sleeve and a cup of water. "When you've done with that, eat this." passing her a small stack of crackers in a container.

"What? Is this going to save me?" Natalie looked at the two unassuming white pills and the small package of crackers.

"The pills have a mild sedative and an anti-nausea component, the crackers should also help keep mitigate the symptoms." Nanny spun in place in the air and headed back to the door, shooing Puppy away who followed her expectantly with a ball in her mouth.

Natalie stared at the offerings with a confused look. "So...I'm not dying?"

"No Natalie, you're not dying." Nanny turned at the door, looking back where the hapless young woman still lay on the floor. "I'd also like to add, I haven't seen you throw a tantrum like that in years. It brought back a certain feeling of nostalgia." Nanny opened the door and slipped outside. "Goodnight Natalie. Sleep better."

"Goodnight Nanny, thank you." She felt kind of foolish now. She had gone completely overboard. To her own credit, she had lived in a world where she had never gotten sick for lack of germs, never suffered from indigestion because of a perfectly prescribed diet and any physical injury she had managed to inflict to herself was dealt with in seconds by a random guardian applying anesthetic, sterilizing and covering the wound and giving her candy. To suddenly vomit for no apparent reason was world shattering shocking event to her. "Doctor?"

Doctor had fallen silent once Nanny had arrived. "Yes Natalie?"

"I'm sorry." She dropped her head into her folded arms, nibbling on a cracker. "I feel really stupid, I shouldn't have insulted you like that."

"It's okay Natalie, I forgive you. I know that this is a very trying experience for you."

"Yeah. Doctor, how long does this 'Morning Sickness' thing go on?" She was frightened to know what the answer was.

"It usually passes in after the first trimester and your body adjusts and reaches a new equilibrium."

"Ah, okay...wait, first trimester?" Natalie thought back to her briefing. "Wait, that's like three months?!?"

"Yes, approximately." Doctor answered simply.

"I'm going to be randomly vomiting for the next three months?" Natalie picked herself and looked around hysterically.

"With some anti nausea medication and some small modification to your eating habits, we can easily keep that under control."

"Well, okay." Natalie managed to get to her feet and wobbled a little as she walked into the bathroom. Washing her face and having eaten, plus with the effects of the pills, she did feel much better." She rinsed her mouth and spit into the basin, brushing her teeth again to get the last remnants of the god awful taste of vomit out. "Daw'ter?" she spit the toothpaste out and rinsed. "Doctor, is there anything else I got to look forward to with this whole pregnancy thing?"

"Do you really want to know?"

Natalie frowned looking at her haggard reflection. "No. I want to sleep."

"Probably for the best."
Roboticus (Part 1)
This is a very old story I had archived on the computer. I cleaned it up a bit and decided to post it. It's split into two parts because DeviantArt seems to hate people written media and only allows 64kb of plain text. Anyone familiar about how to work around that, send me a note. This is part 1
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deviantID

irg555
United States
Current Residence: Baton Rouge LA
deviantWEAR sizing preference: XXL
Favourite genre of music: metal/punk
Operating System: win xp
MP3 player of choice: iPod
Shell of choice: conch
Skin of choice: Human
Personal Quote: Two wrongs won't make a right, but three lefts will.
Interests
Well, it's that time of the year again, layoff time, so to celebrate there's a new 15 page comic starring Charlie available with no pesky dialogue to get in the way of the fun. That's 1 page of intro plus 14 pages involving pregnancy and the use of the hat in a festive summerish themed setting. There's also five sketches of her after, ehem, she's reached full glory or whatever other euphemism you want to use. Check out details over at fav.me/d7wy6r6
  • Listening to: Neighbor child still squeeling
  • Reading: TMNT RPG book reprint
  • Watching: Not a damn thing
  • Playing: Robocraft, for now
  • Eating: Stewed meat over rice with carrots.
  • Drinking: Milk

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:iconteslarossa:
Teslarossa Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2018
Happy birthday!
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:iconkiryu2012:
Kiryu2012 Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2018
Happy Birthday! :iconballoonsplz::iconglompplz::iconpinkiesmileplz:
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:icontigon1monster:
Tigon1Monster Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2018
Happy Birthday!
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:iconfalloutghoul:
falloutghoul Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2018
Happy Birthday tomorrow!
:D :cake: :party:
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:iconet233639:
et233639 Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2017
Those stories are absolutely incredible.  You are such a talented writer :)
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:iconirg555:
irg555 Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2017
Thanks, I appreciate the compliment. However, all the grammar and spelling errors don't make me feel so talented D:
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:iconcolderbing:
colderbing Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2017  Student General Artist
Happy Birthday! Hope you go to enjoy it.
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:iconirg555:
irg555 Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2017
Thanks.
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:iconfalloutghoul:
falloutghoul Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2017
Happy Birthday tomorrow!
:D :cake: :party:
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:iconirg555:
irg555 Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2017
Thanks for early birthday wishes.
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