This was a long time in the future.

Beyond the time when the planet died. Beyond the time when the first Aristotle landed. Beyond the time when humanity died out. Only when every living being that had taken up its home on the body of Type-Venus had died did V/V leave what had been her home.

She watched as the World Trees released their angels, enough to kill anything that had still been alive at the time. They were barely smart enough to recognize that she was not prey, but would tear apart anyone else. She had stayed all this time in the city to keep that from happening, but life cannot outlive the planet forever, even bravely fighting off other planets to do so.

She walked, carrying her guitar. She liked walking.

The names of continents had fallen into disuse a long time ago, but she had read books in that man's house, old books. This place was once known as South America. At one point, it had held many kinds of animals, dangerous, beautiful animals. They had passed away when the planet died.

V/V wandered aimlessly through the barren landscape, wondering what life was like here, before she came across something odd. Everything here was crystal, or something like it - trees, bushes, a river. Nature was preserved in a way she didn't think was natural to the Land of Steel.

Type-Mercury was a little beyond that, passive. It must have noticed the disappearance of humanity, but from here she couldn't tell what it thought of that.

"Good morning!" she said, happily. It was impossible to tell what was 'morning', but she had read that this was once a standard greeting, and it had been here long enough to recognize things like that, hadn't it?

ORT, as it was also called in the more obscure books, did not react.

Oh, right. Most Aristoteles didn't understand human language, which she had gotten used to using. This one had acquired a will from what it consumed, but not language yet. She communicated: excitement, long journey, loneliness.

The Type swiveled to face her, probably as quickly as it could. She wondered if it had the concepts for emotion. Had she, before she was killed? That was long ago, and she could hardly remember - but it was communicating back. Waiting. Waiting.

"The humans in this place died before you could do much," she answered, and communicated: destruction, futility, humanity.

Inquiry.

About her or humans? She decided to assume her. "When I died, people's thoughts made me this body," she explained, "and I stayed to keep them alive." Thought, life, duty. She really hoped it could understand her half of the conversations, but she couldn't fathom explaining it without including something emotional. "There was a man, early on." Love.

She almost saw a facial expression on something not strictly possessing a face, which she thought was funny. Confusion.

Well, that was an emotion, so it must have picked up something. "Let's see, what's love like...?" She communicated her best explanation: warmth, mating, happiness.

Mating? She knew there was mating on Mercury, so it must have understood the concept this time.

"Well, we never actually mated. I found out he was in love with me too late for that, and then he died." Destruction, loneliness. "I tried it with a few A-rays after that, but it's not the same without love." Longing, wrong. When Venus had sent her to the Land of Steel, most of that communication was just destruction and wrong. She picked up the details from observing the planet.

Mating?

"Now what do you want?" Honestly, human language made some things much easier to get across. She'd never have been able to have those experiences with the A-rays if she'd just been able to communicate- "Oh, you've never mated before, have you?" She communicated inquiry, and waited.

For the third time, the response was mating.

V/V laughed. "If you had a human gender, you'd be a man. I mention mating once and that's what you want." She set her guitar down carefully; it was a wonder that it had survived this long, and it was one of the few things she had left of him besides memories. Approaching ORT, she thought briefly about how she was going to do this with something from another planet and with a completely different biology from her.

She came close enough to press herself against the Aristotle's body. She'd tried communication this way with A-rays when they were alive, and it was usually too overwhelming for them, but they did mention that it became more intense the more contact she had with them. His skin would have cut anything but another Aristotle, but she didn't need to worry about that.

Tension. Warmth, growth, need. Closeness, nudity, wonder, trust, belonging. She threw in a few images of the mechanics for completeness but knew it wouldn't mean much without the concepts behind it. Touch, pleasure. Rising, climax.

Relaxation, calm.

ORT shuddered next to her, and she felt proud of explaining something this complicated in terms of concepts. She was about to pull away when she felt one of its tentacles move, and curiosity made her stay put.

Oh, maybe it had been paying attention to those pictures after all. She knew it wouldn't recognize the whimper she let out when she felt something cool under her dress, but her body reacted to it anyway and she couldn't help it. Touch helped communication, and touch in the most intimate of places helped sharing things like this, she guessed.

It started. Need. Joining, understanding, completeness. Completeness. Consciousness, awareness. Everything.

Relaxation. Type-Mercury pulled away, allowing her to catch her breath.

"...That's what mating is like on Mercury?" She communicated: gratitude, wonder. "Here must seem boring. But humanity had fun things, too. Can I play you a song?" Music, inquiry.

It answered: confusion.

V/V laughed again, picking up her guitar. "It's not tuned, but you won't really notice." She started playing.