Alicia's Dorm

The difference in taste in this room was so obvious, even a blind man could probably have noticed it. On one side, simple furnishings, a flat-panel TV, and a game system were crammed into a small space while the rest of its occupant's half were taken up by storage bins full of junk, including one that was almost certainly entirely full of games. The other side, however, was more spread out. That which needed to be stored was hidden away in drawers, a closet, or under the bed, the last of which was covered with a bed skirt. Organizational habits were far from the only difference between these two, however, as nearly all of this latter occupants' electronics were modified with a hardwood and brass exterior, some with decorative gears, pipes, or both added on. The laptop sitting on the desk, in particular, had also had the old keyboard ripped out and replaced with that of an artifact from ages past that a history textbook had called a 'typewriter'.

Taking up most of the rest of the space in the room were various machines and gadgets that served little purpose on their own except to have been made and modified. One, however, was a gear system connected to the door handle that served in place of its now broken lock.

The lock clicked, and the gears turned to pull several deadbolts back, allowing the door to swing open. Alicia Farrah looked around as she entered, detecting no sign of her roommate. Relieved, she sat down at her desk, bringing up a partially finished essay, if by 'partially finished' one were to mean 'barely started'. "I hate gen ed requirements so much," she moaned, halfheartedly typing a few more words into the end of what she had. "And I still need more sources on this thing, too. Why do I need sources to write an essay on an essay? And it's not even a good essay either."

"Not every writer can be Jules Verne, Alicia," her navi commented. Sighing, Alicia removed her PET from its case to look at the screen. Machinae.BIN looked back out, glowing-lensed goggles meeting Alicia's own currently uncovered eyes as though expecting her to be searching for some form of comeback.

"I know, but I can still dream, right," Alicia said lightly. "Here, I know, there's a small library in the dorm network. We should be able to find something in there at least."

"I am not writing your essay for you," Machinae said.

"I know, I know, but you can at least help me with some of the sources. Come on, it won't be that bad."

The vents on Machinae's arms let off steam as she closed her normal eye and inclined her head, giving an effect similar to a sigh. "That's what you said when this was assigned, and yet here you are." Alicia ignored her, sending the steam-powered navi into the network.
One year later

"And that's how that went. I didn't do too many test runs after that. Too many problems, not enough time to fix them all. And then you showed up and I ended up just putting the whole thing aside anyway. I could've done better working with a real robot than a navi, but as you can probably tell when you mess up that sort of thing the consequences tend to be a bit harder to fix." Alicia flexed the finger joints in her cybernetic arm to emphasize what she meant.

The blue-green female navi projected over her PET, meanwhile, blinked in confusion. "So you're telling me that you built an experimental navi to simulate a robot you tried to make and messed up on...and your idea of a test run was to make her do your homework?"

"Um...something like that," Alicia said. "Look, it was kind of urgent and it made for a good opportunity. And she didn't do my homework, she just helped me find a few sources. And cleared out a few more of the many many viruses on this network, which I say is a good cause."

"Like the viral hordes would even notice. It's a miracle this school's network can even function with how badly it's infected," Cray responded.

"Don't suppose you're feeling charitable enough to help thin it some more," Alicia remarked offhandedly, knowing full well that 'charitable' was hardly a word that Cray understood.

"No." Figured. "But if you're letting me go somewhere to stretch my claws, Electown sounds nice."

"I'll be going there tomorrow to pick up some more parts anyway, can't you wait?"

"Only if you want your pet project to think she's a lobster when you try waking her up again," Cray said.

Alicia wasn't sure if she was serious, but certainly wouldn't put it past her. "Fine. Go have your fun. Try not to terrorize any shoppers."

"Would I do that?"

"You tell me," Alicia shot back before catching herself. "Actually, don't." She jacked Cray in before the navi could respond, then turned back to her latest project. With Cray off 'having fun' and her roommate gone for the weekend, maybe for once she could actually make some decent progress.

((To Electown Net))