I really think it's great that Zoe looks so genuinely pleased when someone tells her what a great robot she is. As for Philo... gotta admit I'm fairly amused by how clearly attracted he is to a hulking murderbot.

This take place immediately after "There Is Another Sky." There may be spoilers.

"I'm Gonna Make You Dance"

Alone in her father's dark lab, Zoe ran her remaining hand over the stub where her arm had been. She had always known how cold and manipulative her father cold be, how casually he could hurt and use people, but... he'd really outdone himself this time. And he'd done it with such glee.

Even worse, last time she'd managed to escape to the V-Club, Lacy had told her the trip to Gemenon did not look promising. She'd insisted that she was trying her best, and when Zoe insisted she try harder, Lacy snapped and accused Zoe of using her just like the Original Zoe had.

Which was awful because it was true, and worse because it brought home (once again) that fact that she wasn't the Real Zoe Graystone.

She hadn't heard from Lacy since.

Zoe heard steps approaching and froze back into place.

"Hey, pretty," Philomon called as he slid into the room, "did you miss me?"

As annoying as he was, Zoe had started marking time based on the tech's visits. With Lacy keeping her distance, he was the only person who really talked to her anymore.

"Frak," Philo winced as she examined her arm, "that had to hurt."

It had hurt. More than anything.


She really had wonder if it only hurt because she knew it should hurt.

"Well... I'll get you fixed up," he promised. "Gotta take care of my girl, right?"

He started unloading his equipment, and there was such joy in the way he set up the mechanical scaffolding that would hold her arm in place that Zoe found herself suddenly feeling very sorry for him. This really was the high-point of his day.

"I can't believe he made you do that," he said with genuine sympathy, "it's like defacing a work of art."

Despite herself, Zoe found herself smiling proudly.

"This arm," Philomon said, lightly tickling the disjointed wires, "this arm is like Virgon Hippolyta or the Statue of Tiresias; it's a masterpiece... doesn't Graystone care about you at all?"

And here Zoe's smile faded.

Philo shook his head. "No, that's not it, either," he corrected himself, as he soldered another connection back into place, "I mean, he gave up so much for you. It's more like... he knows you're special, but he doesn't really understand how."

Zoe brightened again. Yeah, that sounded more like it.

"But we're going to show the worlds, aren't we?" Philo whispered. "We're going to show everybody."

It was all Zoe could do not to shake her head. He really thought her father valued him, to let him into his home to work on his most sensitive project...

Like he wouldn't be forgotten as soon as the next awkward, young genius came his way.

"But... I guess we don't have to tell everyone... if you don't want," Philo said, dropping his voice several octaves. "It could just be you and me."

At that Zoe positively beamed. Maybe there's a way off this world after all, she thought.

"Okay," Philo announced, taking a step back, "let's test that arm out."

Zoe carefully bend and flexed the reattached arm, finally resting it lightly on Philo's shoulder.

He swallowed nervously. "Um, okay... good."

She'd be on Gemenon in no time.

Reviews are, as always, the only way I know whether to keep going or quit now.