The Brave Change

Monday, January 2, 2012

The lab was silent--all but the sound of the wrench twisting against her neck, a noisy endeavor that felt strange to Lilobot. Strange, because she couldn't feel it at all. She had never known anything else, true, but the fact that her lack of sensation felt alien to her was the very reason she was here in the first place.

Although she couldn't see what Lamont was doing to her, Lilobot sat as still as she could, knowing one slight movement could interfere with his work; one mistake could leave her completely unable to move, or even brain dead. Although it was not what he was trying to do, recently, Lil had often wished for that very thing to happen. Hopefully, this would change all that.

"How much longer?" she asked, trying not to sound impatient.

She couldn't see, but Lamont scrunched his nose as he tried to calculate the answer. "Eerr... Probably 15 minutes? Brad got your neural net incredibly well protected, but I think I found a good access point--all I have to do is install the port, seal it up, and--"

"You do not have to go in detail, I understand what you are doing."

"Ah."


The next few minutes passed silently, but as her attention drifted away from Lamont, Lilobot began to see her surroundings... differently. "It is... odd."

"What is?"

"This place. I have recollection of it, though no real memory of being here. Why is that?"

"Really?" Lamont raised his eyebrow in query. "Huh! I'd wager, it's because Brad used to bring you here occasionally during your construction, to get some advice from the rest of us. All kinds of robotic prototypes make their way here eventually--you're just the only one who... you know."

"Achieved a state of self awareness."

"Yeah, that."


"Does that make me special, then?" Lilobot asked with a particularly soft, fragile lull in her voice.

Lamont smiled at the back of Lil's head. "Yeah, it does. All of us had  been trying to create AI for years, but... Brad's got a gift. Nothing stops him, when he wants something bad enough, and he wanted you--or, I guess, the idea of you--as part of his family. I think that's the difference, between the rest of us and him. We only look at the goal... He looks beyond it."

"I do not know--you must be quite intelligent, to be able to do this for me."

"Oh, I wouldn't say that, Lil," Lamont chuckled. "We haven't even found out if it will work, yet."


"But," Lamont said with a long yawn after setting his tools down on the floor. "I think that's about it. The connection port is all set up, just don't fiddle with it and it should be fine for next week."

Lil nodded as she carefully stood from the stool. "Of course."

"Also... make sure Brad doesn't see it, alright?" Lamont let out a nervous laugh as he turned back and looked at Lil over his shoulder. "I don't want him knowing I went behind his back, he'd never let me finish."

This time, Lil let out a small giggle. "Don't worry, I won't let him find out. I want this to be a surprise, for everyone."


Lamont's lips turned up in a surprised grin, but it quickly faded once he realized the mess he'd made in the lab. Grumbling, he began picking up his tools and putting them away, leaving Lilobot unattended and free to roam the room.

She didn't have to go far. Not six steps from where she'd been sitting, she saw it: the table, the ebony bag that looked large enough to fit a person inside. A body. A small gasp escaped her mouth.


"What's--oh," Lamont groaned as he peered over his shoulder again and saw where she was.

"Can... can I see it?" Lilobot asked, her optical lenses spinning wildly as she looked up and down the bag, scouting for any exposed parts of its contents.

"Well--I wanted to keep that as a surprise, too," he remarked back with wicked shake of his head. "But... trust me. You'll like it."

"How do you know?" Lil asked cheekily, spinning her head in Lamont's direction.

He grinned back at her, sending her a bit of a sly wink. "I just do."



"You know..." Lil sighed as she walked back towards Lamont, wringing her hands nervously as she drew nearer and nearer. "These past few days... I have really--felt really close to you."

"Yeah?" Lamont asked, his face falling. "Why's that?"

"I am not sure--I think it has just been so long since anyone paid this much attention to me. It is... nice."

"Well, you deserve it, Lil. You're a sweet gal--I think a lot of people take you for granted."

"And... you really think I am special?"

"Yeah." Lamont briefly looked away. "I do."


"WHOA WHOA WHOA--Lil, what are you doing?!"

Lilobot froze, mid-attempted embrace. Her arms still outstretched, her lips still tilted slightly towards him, she stopped, opening her eyes to find Lamont struggling to back away from her.

"But--but I thought--you said that--"

"Yeah, yeah, but Lil--I didn't mean it like that!"


"I... I..." Lilobot's face quickly began to fall, and her arms dropped back down to her sides. She took a careful step back, clear shame written on her face. "But Lamont, I thought you didn't care that I'm...?"

"Look, Lil. It's not because of what you are--under different circumstances... I don't know, Lil. I like you, and it's been great spending time with you, but... I'm married. And I love my wife, and my son. I never expected--"

"Oh." Lil's head drooped on her neck. "Right."


"Lil, it's okay, you don't--"

"No! How could I be so stupid! I am so selfish, I could not even see past the end of my nose! You are just so perfect, and wonderful, and--"

"Whoa there, don't get carried away," Lamont said, his smile coming back. "I'm far from perfect."

"But you are, to me! You all are... With your lips and your hair and your beating hearts and your--"


"Lil, Lil--just stop there," Lamont spoke abruptly, grabbing Lil's shoulder to try and stop her animated speech. "Pretty soon, you're going to have all of those things, too."

"Yes... But I will never be human," Lilobot sighed in soft lament. "Not really."

Lamont paused, but after a moment of careful consideration, he knew just what he had to say. "Lil, you're more human than you'll ever know. Part of being human is being imperfect--realizing that you aren't... that's the first step towards becoming more like us. Soon enough, people will see you for who you really are underneath this exterior... and then you'll have boys falling all over you. Ones you'll like far more than me, or Tanner--ones that actually deserve your affection." He gave her a bit of a shake. "You got that?"

Reluctantly, Lilobot lifted her eyes and looked back into Lamont's. "You really think so?"

He smiled, pulling her closer. "Really."

"Now," he finished, looking straight into her eyes. "Let's get you home."







"Roonnniiieee--could you come here for a second?"

Veronica grumbled, eyeing the door to her room as venomously as if her mother were standing right in front of it. "Yeah Mum, be right there," she hollered back, sending a remorseful glance to both Margo and Kenzie before shoving herself up off the floor and heading out back down the stairs.


Once Veronica had vanished, Kenzie let out a lungful of air with so much relief, Margo could've sworn she'd held it in since they first walked through the front doors of Ronnie's house.

"Man--Vee has all the best toys," Kenzie piped as she eyed the detail on the little heads of the dollhouse's newest residents. "Her parents must've made a buttload of simolies back in Egypt. She's got so much stuff, even with three other siblings. Don't you wish you were this lucky?" Kenzie didn't sound resentful, but there definitely was longing in the way she ended that question.

"Mmm," was Margo's only vocal response, paired with a slight shrug as she pulled her teddy bear, Pixie, closer to her.


"Really? You're not jealous, like, at all?"

"Not really," Margo said as she let Pixie fall away from her chest and back into her lap. She began fiddling with the bear's plastic eyeball, before adding, "I don' care about stuff that much, I guess. There's a lotta fings I'd rather have."

Kenzie thought about this for a second, and then nodded. "Yeah, you're right," she sighed, but not without casting a glower in Mr. Dollhouse Occupant's direction, first.


Margo was relieved that Kenzie let the subject fall, because not five seconds after, Veronica re-entered the room looking remarkably more cheerful than she had when she'd exited.

"My mum says dinner's ready! We got everything set up at the table, but we better hurry before my brothers steal all the food," she quipped--which was an obviously untruthful remark, unless her brothers had the appetites of a dozen hungry lions.


Kenzie was the first to get up; clearly, all it took to draw her away from the enviable $500 dollhouse was a plate of food with her name on it.

"Ugh, about time," she moaned as she rubbed her belly animatedly. "I'm starving!"

"Coming, Margo?" Veronica asked quietly, peeking around Kenzie's lively hair with her lips puckered.

Margo looked up with large eyes, blinking a few times before finally saying, "Oh, yeah, just lemme put Pixie in my sleeping bag."


"What'd your parents make today?" Kenzie asked excitedly, as if the worries and cares of not being inordinately rich had suddenly vanished. "Roast duck? Lamb chops? Lobster herfidor?"

Veronica softly giggled, shaking her head. "No, you goof--just pizza."

Kenzie wasn't disappointed by this fact in the least, but before she could express that, a surprisingly loud Margo interrupted her. "Hey guys--before we go downstairs... Can I ask you somefing?"


"Are you crazy?" Kenzie asserted, hands on her hip. "Of course you can!"

Veronica, on the other hand, looked a bit more wary; Margo didn't ask for things very often, so the likelihood of this being a trap of some kind was fairly high. "What do you need?"

"Well, it's just..." Margo scratched her head, suddenly finding it very difficult to say what she wanted to say. Courage was not something she held onto very well. "I dun like asking you guys, since you've already helped me so much wiff my reading, but... There's someone I really wanna write a note to, and I wanna make sure it's nice 'n stuff--do you fink you guys could, y'know... help me?


At the exact same moment, Ronnie and Kenzie looked at each other with maniacal smiles. "A looooooove note?" Kenzie asked, giggling.

"Well, kinda," Margo responded, her face suddenly flushing over.

Veronica gasped. "I know who it's toooooooo!"

Unable to contain themselves, at the same moment, both Kenzie and Veronica broke out into a jubilant, "Josh and Margo, sittin' in a tree! K-I-S-S-I-N-G!"

"Stooooooppp!" Margo pleaded, but only half-heartedly. It was true; she couldn't deny that the thought of her and Josh kissing was fantasmic, but that wasn't who she was thinking about, tonight. "I like him, but... There's somebody else, too."


Instantly, both girls stopped their singing and looked at Margo, confused. This was the first they'd heard of any other boy lurking in Margo's wild, hopelessly romantic imagination, so naturally they were surprised. "Who?" Kenzie finally asked, unable to wait for Margo to finish.

"Well..." Margo took a deep breath, and turned away to avoid them seeing her embarrassment. "Ian."

She was right to avoid seeing their reactions--as expected, neither was what Margo would have hoped. "WHAT?!" Kenzie exclaimed. "HIM?! You are talking about Bucket of Scum Ian, right?"

"Yah," Margo answered, almost ashamed.

"I knew this would happen," Veronica gasped through closed fingers, folded over her mouth to disguise her shock. "She's got Bad Boy Syndrome--the uncontrollable crushing on the absolute least lovable guy in school."


"But--but he's not!" Margo exclaimed, so animatedly that both Kenzie and Veronica froze with their eyes as wide as pool balls. "Everybody is wrong about him! I know he's been a jerk, especially to us, but... Underneaff all that... jerk-i-ness, he's... he's..."

"Slightly less of a jerk?"

"No--he's... nice."


Although 'nice' was not really the description Margo was going for, it was enough. 'Nice' was the polar opposite of everything they'd ever imagined about Ian; and though Margo was a bit of a dreamer at times, both Kenzie and Ronnie knew that she wouldn't have forgiven Ian so quickly without some sort of good reasoning.

"Well... what do you think, Kenz?" Ronnie asked, rubbing her head nervously.

Kenzie threw her hands up into the air. "I don't like-it," she blurted out quickly. "I'd rather eat worms than be nice to that twerp--"

"I... I'm sorry, I shouldn't asked," Margo sighed, her head hanging from her shoulders in defeat.

Margo, however, perked up when Kenzie suddenly continued where she'd left off. "--but it's not like I have to be nice to him, right? And maybe if Margo can get him to pull the stick outta his butt..."

"Unlikely, but I agree. Besides--it's not about what we want. If you really want to write him something... we'll help you, Margo."


Margo could almost feel the tears welling up in the corner of her eyes the instant that they both turned back to face her. "R-r-really? You'll help me?"

For some reason, she had always assumed they'd say no--that they'd call her crazy, that maybe even she'd lose her friends over it. It was one thing, to like a guy who was just out of their league, quite another to like a guy that had systematically tortured all of them since the day they'd met on the playground.


"Really, we will," Veronica said, turning her gaze back to Kenzie for absolute confirmation.

"Yup," Kenzie affirmed. "That's what friends are for... to help you, even if we think what you're doin' is absolutely nuts."


Nuts or not, Margo could not hold herself back--she ran into Kenzie's embrace at the speed of light, squeezing her best friend's tummy so tight that she could only hiccup at Margo's extreme enthusiasm. Only a moment later, Veronica latched on as well, effectively completing the Margo sandwich without even the slightest hesitation.

Perhaps, at times, she envied everything her friends had which she did not. Kenzie's boldness? Veronica's insight? Their talents, their intelligence? It was all in the realm of fantasy, for Margo, but at the end of the day, you can only envy what you do not have... And like it or not, she had them. The best friends in the whole. Wide. World.





Lilobot was so hopeful and fragile. Margo was so innocent and forgiving. They were each taking brave steps towards the unknown, towards a change.

If only they knew, on the other side of town, there was another kind of change about to happen... one quite different than anything even Margo could imagine in her dreams.


"C'mon, beauty... just give it a bit more oomph. That does it--aha!" The grip on the wrench in Bradley's hand became slack as, with little grandeur or display, he let the power channel into the machine. His machine.

Within moments, he could hear the hum it created resonating through the air. It was so strong he could feel it through the soles of his feet.


Bradley carefully took two steps back. Looked up. Smiled.

"Success."

It was a feeling he had only experienced twice before: first, the moment he stood before his fully operational time machine; the second, when he watched the electric spark light up in Lilobot's eyes for the very first time. Both times, he had had little or no help. Both times, everyone believed he would fail.

They had all believed he would fail this time, too--even Lamont, bless his heart. They had all given up, but Brad. So, today, the glory was all his.


But suddenly, all the triumph in his heart faded as quickly as a pin drop. The hum was no longer simply a hum--there was something else. The floor beneath him shivered, but not in reality: in his mind.

"No... not yet--please, not yet," he groaned to the room around him, but it clearly could not help him. Instead, there was only pain. He could not see, could not hear, could not smell--all that he sensed was his head burning with pain beneath his fingertips.


As his legs crumpled underneath him, the reality of his choices--his mistakes--washed over him. "What have I done," he whispered.

He knew the answer, but it was too painful to comprehend--even more painful than what was happening to his body. But, all too quickly, all his thoughts vanished and succumbed to reality. He blinked violently, but though his vision returned, what he saw was not what he expected to see.

His skin was not his own.


The bridge of his glasses pressed hard into his face as he felt the skin of his cheeks, but what he felt was quite surreal as well. Even the way the frames of specs felt within his palm did not seem right. He knew what would happen--he knew this would happen--but knowing and experiencing was a distinction Bradley had quite miserably failed to comprehend.

The last thing he saw before his glasses slipped and shattered to on the floor was the world begin to glow.

7 comments:

Nikita Boston January 2, 2012 at 4:38 PM  

D= Brad, nooooooo!

I tell you now, Margo is my mostest favorite character ever, she's so sweet and innocent and squee :p

Christina from Equus-Sims,  January 2, 2012 at 5:55 PM  

D: what. is. happening. to. brad????????? D: nuuuu!! D:

~xtina

nicarra January 3, 2012 at 5:03 AM  

The eternal search of the sensitive AI enabled robot for the full human experience.
I still hope that Lamont knows what's he's doing.

Poor Lil, she is too special for her own good. Brad did too good a job with his building in some respects. Still, Lamont seems to be trying hard to make Lil more real. The bag was a good touch.

And Lil gets rejected again. Still, she does need to learn not to hit on married men, unless they have really invited it. Nice scene, well worked out.

---
Vee should have all the best stuff, the Grants are fairly wealthy after all. Though some of it might be shared with her twin. LOL Just a guess.

best line "but we better hurry before my brothers steal all the food," she quipped--which was an obviously untruthful remark, unless her brothers had the appetites of a dozen hungry lions."

Still love the girls, and their reaction to writing to Ian was precious. It's good that her friends support her, even with such an unlikely goal as being nice to Ian.

----

Finally. We still don't know what happened to Brad but obviously all will be revealed very soon indeed. I can't decide if he has delayed vampirism himself or if it was that exposure to tiberium. But Brad, they didn't give up. You chased them away.

Chelsea,  January 4, 2012 at 7:23 PM  

I was wondering what skin do you use? esp. for margo and her lil friends. This story is just too cute for words i've been reading all the chapters since last night and i just have feel in love keep up with the great work. I'm really can't wait till the next story i want to know what has happened too Bradley so bad!

Seaweedy,  January 5, 2012 at 6:22 AM  

Margo is a sweet girl and I hope her friends are serious about helping her.
What could be happening to Brad? I can't wait to find out!

Tender Wolf January 5, 2012 at 10:44 PM  

Ooo Lamont is going behind Brad's back? Uh oh! I hope he doesn't find out. I look forward to seeing Lil as a human! The girls are so cute, and I got a chuckle out of Kenzie's reaction. A love letter to Ian indeed! :D I wonder how this will affect their future...Also, what in the world is happening to Brad? OMG I can't wait to find out! I had my suspicions when that chemical (tiberium I think it is) got onto Brad, and he's been working so crazily, I had a hunch something would happen to him. But the question is, what is it? More please!!!!!!!!!

memoirsofasim January 18, 2012 at 9:40 PM  

Oooh yey, I see you've updated again and now I get to read two in a row! lol
Poor Lil, she's so confused. I'm thinking what Lamont is helping her to do isn't such a good idea. I guess we'll find out soon.

Kenize and Vee are so sweet and it's so wonderful to see that they are still willing to stick by Margo and be her friend. Sweet scenes of these three, especially the hug! Awww!
A love letter to Ian, ooooh I can't wait for this! :D

Bradley what in god's name are you doing, NOW! Yikes, I've got a bad feeling about this. What's he been up to and working so hard on. I hope he's going to be okay.

Great episode lovie! Now I'm off to read the next! <3

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