Make-Believe

An Andromeda tale


I am a warship.
I am a destroyer, a fighter.
I have attack drones, nova bombs, missiles and an array of weapons. I have superb maneuverability and high combat speed. I have military markings and a soldier in the captain's chair.
I have a sophisticated AI system allowing me full interaction with my crew and a holographic form for direct communication in a fully human design.
I have robots walking my corridors at every hour, maintaining my huge, graceful mainframe. I have a fleet of minor attack ships inside my curved undersection and state of the art scientific instruments in both my arching wings.
I had a crew of four thousand, and a captain who cares.
And they have all seemed natural.
Essential.
Always.
I also have (by the way of insane human genius) a human body.
That is where it gets too much.
I. Have. A. Human. Body.
Two hands, two feet, two eyes, hair, a nose, a mouth.
Breasts... a vagina, or some imitation.
Am I a woman?
That depends on whom you ask.


I am playing.
Taking one part, and there it is attached to the other.
A hand with one, two, three, four, five fingers, like hands should be.
I wonder why I never thought of it before. You don't need hands when you can't pick anything up.
I can pick things up now.
For me, it's a big change.
I can pick things up now.
It sounds like nothing, even to me. I am a sophisticated AI program, planned with every human sensation, reflection and thought. It's always been obvious, picking things up. But I never really did it.
I am more human because I can pick things up.
It sounds like nothing, to you. You have always been able to pick things up. Silly Rommie, the hands don't make you human. The hands are just an add-on, the ability to pick things up.
And brush my hair (because I have hair now) and scratch my back (because I have a back now) and stroke my skin (because I have skin now) and touch things, and people.
I can pick things up now.
It's a very big change, I assure you.
I am picking up one part and placing it where it belongs. I should have thought about doing this sooner.
You're not allowed to peek. Leave me alone, I'm playing.
That's all, playing.
Just playing, human beings play.


A leg has three parts, interconnected with complicated joints, working in perfect harmony when you walk, run, climb, or just stretch your legs when you're tired.
Learning to walk was a mess.
I'm never tired.
Learning to walk right drove Harper crazy. I think he expected me to just stand up and start going around. He missed something in the design for certain.
I stumbled and fell and hurt my knees, they scratched and became very dirty, and once the skin on one tore. Harper was very worried.
I remember he asked me if I wanted to cry a bit.
I still find it odd sometimes.
Then learning to walk got its rewards and I could get out.
I went out with Dylan and Beka and Harper and the rest of the crew, went travelling to beautiful worlds. I walked beautiful scenery and cities just like the rest of them. I smelled the flowers, saw the sky, and heard the birds. A butterfly once came and sat on my nose.
I sneezed at it and Trance laughed at me.
I remembering being very offended.
It wasn't funny. That thing sat there on my nose. It tickled and itched and interrupted the view, it fluttered in my face and...
It wasn't funny at all. Not even if you're used to being a human being who gets tickled and itched and interrupted.
A leg, walking, all that, are very complicated things. I'm starting to realize it now.
Human beings are complicated.
I'm not, am I?


A body is a terrible thing to waste, Harper said once. I think he was looking at me when he said that.
I have a good body.
I have two bodies.
No... one of them is a mainframe. But it's my mainframe. It's me.
There is another Andromeda programmed into this mainframe and another one that this mainframe is projecting. They share it with me. It's become more like a house than like a body with the three of us sharing it, three identical sisters, three Andromedas, sharing one big apartment.
If I were human, it would have been very frightening to know there are two more women exactly like me down to the pixel, or that my body became a house. Tyr said I have multiple personalities disorder, once.
But he must be wrong, because ships don't go insane.
Playing, making up a body of all its various parts, mock-up respiratory, nervous and digestive systems all designed to stimulate the real thing. All from the medical lab, but it's my medical lab, and I will put them back, because I'm only playing, after all.
It will be a very good body, just like mine. Only it will be smaller.
Really smaller.
And it isn't going to have a heart, because it wouldn't need one.
I don't have a heart; I don't need a heart. It takes up space and it's vulnerable, and I am a warship and a warrior. What will I do with a heart? Love? It has been a long time now since people thought it worked like that.
I can love without a heart, and so can this body, with the right programming.
Dylan would be offended if I said that to him, that any machine could love if only one programmed it correctly.
But he's human and sentimental and... proud.
I'm just an android, and I can program this body to love.


Heads have a strange shape, oval, slightly bulging, and with all that hair on one side.
Finding hair was a bit complicated.
It's smooth under my palms, red and shiny, I'm very careful as I connect it, like Harper was with mine.
I have pretty hair.
I have a pretty face.
Just ask Harper, or Dylan, or Rev, or even Tyr, though he'd never admit it.
(It's not very Neitzschean to be attracted to a machine).
Am I beautiful?
Does it matter?
Back to the head, I have to be careful.
I have to be careful on that pretty face.
I have to be careful on those large gleaming eyes.
I have to be careful on those tiny lips, that little nose, that smooth skin. I have to be careful, be delicate, like an artist or a programmer or a mothe -
I will not say that word I will not I will not I'm just playing.
I'm just playing, do you hear me?
It's an empty head and those are not real legs and hands and that was never a real body, it's faked, it's all faked, just as faked as I am.
I am a warship.
I am the Andromeda Ascendant.
I am drones and maintenance robots and attack ships and a computer file and a hologram and what works for you, and I have just another avatar, an android form, a human body.
I am what works for you; I am your ship.
I am you nurturer and guardian and explorer and friend, and everything you need me to be, everything you programmers and builders allowed me to be. Not a lover or a mother or...
Not a bit more, and I'm not trying to be a bit more, I promise.
I just enjoy playing make-believe sometimes.


End