Just A Second
an Armitage III fanfiction by Ukyou Kuonji


Armitage the Third is the creation of Taro Maki.
North American rights held by Pioneer.
No infringement is intended


I knew I should be glad for my homeland upon the announcement of the
unification, but patriotism was not an emotion that had been given to
me. Concern, however, was.

And I was concerned. Worried, even. What dangers would this pose to
me and my kind?

Not the unification; it was the battle taking place far from St. Lowell
that worried me. It was a battle that had to take place, so the reports
went, before the treaty could be ratified between Earth and Mars. There
was a rebel military installation many miles away in Dunwich Hill that
had to be eradicated.

Of course, the ceremony in St. Lowell's main plaza was taking place even
as the battle raged on the public viewscreens. In the daycare center
that was both my workplace and my home, the viewscreens in opposite
corners of the room displayed the two events simultaneously, one on
each screen. As strange as it might seem, the governor of Mars shook
hands with the Terran president as if nothing were amiss, as if the
outcome of the battle were a foregone conclusion. But why would it not?
Hundreds of troops, in tanks and planes and battle armour, representing
all of Mars, against two lonely people. How could they lose?

All of Mars pitted against two individuals, in a battle to determine the
fate of robots on this planet. Yes, robots. There was no military
installation on Dunwich Hill; only the R&D headquarters of Conception

I should know. I was born there.

You see, I am a Second. I am one of the causes of the social unrest that
has gripped Mars, so I have heard. I have been told that I my existence
takes a job away from some deserving human, and because of that, I should
be scrapped, destroyed, to make room for that human, whoever he or she may
be. Some of my fellow Seconds have actually been forcibly dismantled
during the riots lately in St. Lowell. But it never changes things here.
All of us watching the workers' children are still Seconds; no human ever
seems to want to apply. They're too busy with their executive careers or
what have you to take so menial a job as daycare worker.

So why are we so hated? I sit watching as all the military might of Mars
pursues and punishes these two, whose only crime seems to be that they
support the rights of robots. It's rumoured that one of them is even one
of the next-generation Thirds that survived the recent vigilante murder
spree of Rene Danclaude. Regardless, this girl and this man have no hope
of winning against all this firepower. They haven't even a hope of survival.

It is obvious that this massive attack is meant to crush these two utterly.
They will be martyrs to the cause of robots' rights, but what good is that?
No human will weep for their destruction, and the government will surely
erase all records of their existence. Their memory will do nothing if
there is no memory. All that they may have been trying to accomplish,
all they wanted to say or do, will be lost in the sands of the Martian desert.

I stand transfixed, staring at the screen, until I feel a tug at my skirt.
I look down at the face of a little girl. For a brief second, my processors
reflect on the irony that Keiko here looks eerily like this Naomi Armitage;
the same short tan hair, the same piercing gaze. I crouch to her level,
staring into those eyes, the eyes like those of an enemy of the state.
"What is it, Keiko?"

"Whatcha watchin', Auntie Mariso?"

For whatever reason, I hear strains of a century-old musical playing in my head.
The characters in it were fighting a war then, too. Even with my deliberately
limited intelligence, it occurs to me at that moment that if prejudice must be
carefully taught, perhaps it is my opportunity, my duty, to carefully teach
tolerance to Keiko and her little friends. I make a quick internal note to
speak with my co-workers about this: so long as humans need us to watch their
sons and daughters, the names and sacrifice of Ross Syllabus and Naomi Armitage
need not be forgotten. Humans and robots will coexist peacefully someday, and
it begins by teaching the children.

I sit down on the floor, and pick the child up. Setting her on my lap, I begin:
"Well, Keiko, it's like this..."


::sheepish grin::

It's amazing what you can accomplish when you aren't planning on it. I had
taken my laptop with me when we travelled to the Clan Kenzan ancestral seat
for the holidays. I had merely brought it along to read old fanfics en route
(it's a bit of a drive, you understand) -- was looking for a fic entitled
"Oh My Ranma." I didn't find it, but I found this story running around in
my head, and I scribbled down the initial outline in about five or ten minutes.

In the last ten minutes of 'Polymatrix', there is a grand montage of the battle,
the Terran motorcade, and various Martian man-in-the-street shots, including
several scenes of some various anxious Seconds watching battle footage from
their various jobs as waitress, showgirl, secretary/receptionist... and daycare
worker. It made me curious as to what went on in their minds as they watched.

The daycare worker especially intrigued me; here was a despised, second-class
citizen entrusted for whatever reason with the hearts and minds of the next
generation. I may have given her more intelligence and a more politically
radical personality than might be safe for a Second to have, but these creatures
could not be dummies in order to be given employment as teachers, after all.
With so much sentience must come self-awareness... certainly the anxious looks
the Seconds were giving to the telescreens betrayed that.

My sister worked in daycare for several years, and it's a thankless and
low-paying job. I can see *why* the Martians let Seconds do this work.
On the other hand, these are the minds that may one day run the world, so
it's an important job, too. For good or for ill, there is a great deal of
influence a teacher can have, even at that tender age. So I decided to
approach the final apocalypse of Dunwich Hill from that perspective.

Enough soapboxing. My greetings go out to all for the coming new year...
may it be one of hope and peace to each and every one of you.

Itsu mo,
Ucchan ^_^