Looking for Answers
a story by Dot

It has come to my attention that no one has yet written a story about Number 16, the nature-loving Jinzoningen that would have certainly been brought back with the wish in vol. 35.
(Or, at least, I haven't come across one yet.)

I also noticed that I have yet to write a story starring Number 17, also a badly neglected character. So I decided to write a 'fic with the two together. (Saved me some time, heh.)

You'd think that it would be easy finding a seven-foot-tall robot with a mohawk; actually, it was even harder than finding a needle in a haystack. My elusive target--Jinzoningen Juurokugou--had an annoying tendency of going from place to place, stopping just long enough so that people would remember him. I heard story after story of the gentle-hearted giant who rescued kittens, baby birds, and occasionally small children, then disappeared as mysteriously as he came.

This time, I was again following a trail that would in all probability end up in disappointment. I can almost imagine what they would say:

"The robot man? He passed through here a few days ago. I think he's heading out towards..."

I was starting to get tired of looking. I wasn't physically tired, of course: Jinzoningen have an almost infinite supply of energy. No, I wanted to give up my search because I was beginning to doubt Juurokugou's existence. Someone once said that despair was being at the bottom of a deep pit and not being able to see the light trickling in from the top. Well, I was getting pretty damn close to feeling that way.

As I scaled the mountain towards the small village in the distance, I wondered for the umpteenth time why I was so determined to find Juurokugou. Perhaps it was because he had some of the answers to the questions that kept me awake at night; perhaps it gave me a purpose; or perhaps I considered him my kinsman. Whatever it was, something drove me to keep going, keep asking questions, and keep looking in unexpected places. So far, I've been chased by a mob of townspeople who have been living in the 12th century for Dende knows how long; nearly buried in an avalanche set off by careless hikers; and gotten hopelessly lost in the Mountains of Death, named so because no one before me had made it out of there alive.

All of this trouble had better be worth it, I thought, gritting my teeth against the freezing winds. (When it's around forty below, with a wind chill factor of at least thirty, even a Jinzoningen with nearly no neuron sensors can feel the cold.)

I finally made it into the village. A few of its inhabitants gave me puzzled looks: Visitors are not a frequent occasion here. Some kind soul extended his hospitality; I declined politely, and popped the Ten Thousand Dollar Question.

"Did you see..."

The man's eyes lit up at my description of Juurokugou. "Yeah! He was here an hour ago!"

Damn. I missed him again.

"He went out to the far side of town," the man continued hastily, seeing the look on my face. "I saw him standing there."

"You think he's still there?" I asked eagerly.

"Probably. Just head out that way."

I ran so fast that I could have left a trail of fire.

Finally, I saw him: a grim, unmoving statue. I approached him carefully, fearing that this was all an illusion, and that he would melt away into the blinding white background. He didn't.

"Hello, Juurokugou," I said when I got within speaking range. "Long time no see."

"Hello," was the quiet response. "Why have you been following me?"

I did a double take. "You knew?"

He nodded. "Dr. Gero implanted me with a device that can sense other Jinzoningen."

Lucky, I thought. "I've been wanting to talk to you."

"About our lack of a prime directive?"

"That's part of it." I fiddled absently at my scarf. "I've been having these..." I probed for the right word. "Visions, I guess. Vague snatches of things and people, but I can never get a handle on what they are."

"You should ask Juuhachigou about that, then. She is more like you than I am."

I shook my head. "She won't talk about those kinds of things. It's like she doesn't want to have anything to do with her past."

"Do you?"

I blinked. What kind of question was that? "I-I don't know. I guess I'm a bit curious as to who I was before I got cyberized by Gero." The name still generates a great amount of bile whenever I think about that madman, and I let that bitterness show through. "Maybe I had family, friends..." I snickered, remembering an earlier talk with Juuhachigou. "Or some chick I used to date."

"And if you do find out, do you intend to return to that life?"

I was starting to get annoyed. "What is this, Twenty Questions?"

Juurokugou looked back at me with his ever blank expression, causing me to shiver a bit. He then looked back over the mountains. "I don't have a past to go back to."

It was a simple, plain statement without any intonation or inflection. But somehow, it almost sounded as if he was regretful of this fact.

I suddenly thought of something. "Actually, Juurokugou, you do."

One eyebrow raised imperceptibly. "Oh?"

"Yeah." I smirked at him. "You've had quite an impression on the people you've met."

"That is true," he admitted. He suddenly smiled as well. "It seems that you have answered your own question."

I blinked again. "I don't quite follow you."

"Anyone who knew you before you became Dr. Gero's creation probably consider you to be dead," the large robot explained patiently. "But you still have your twin sister." He smiled even wider. "And, apparently, you think very highly of me as well."

I scowled half-heartedly. "Well, don't let that get to your head."

Juurokugou let out a deep, hearty chuckle. Switching back to his serious mode, he continued: "You want a past for yourself? Make one. Start a business, for example." He looked distant again. "Or a family."

I shook my head again to clear it. All of this deep philosophizing was too much for me to handle in such a short time. "I'll...think about it."

Juurokugou smiled, this time warmly. "You do that."

Wow! This is an OLD 'fic! I started it way back in August of 1998, then I chucked it in my "In Progress" folder and forgot about it completely! ^^;

Well, at least it's done now...

Copyright 1999 by Dot
Questions? Comments? Suggestions?