Sequal to Automaton 1. James Lamberts first creation watches from the corner as his master puts the finishing touches on his latest obsession.
Master Lambert had made three before this one, Alf being the first. If Alf had emotions he probably would be jealous that Master Lambert felt the need to make more and perfect his design. He may also have felt he himself was not good enough for the master, yet he is merely an automaton. He has no emotion, no facial expressions, unlike this new one, the fourth in the masters’ collection.
The way he referred to it as a female caused a ruckus among the human staff. They thought he was creating her for his own pleasure. Alf alerted one of the maids to the fact that an automaton made for pleasure would be impossible as copulation would be far too complicated. The maid had stared at Alf with a frightened expression. The humans of the house were not quite used to the fact that Master Lamberts automatons were far more advanced than the ones you see in shops, as the ones within this house are capable of speech and have the appearance of humans.
Of course they didn’t have skin. Not real human skin. They each have a thick layer of armoured elven cotton with a layer of wax over the cotton material and then another layer over top of the wax, this final layer giving the appearance of human skin. To any human who does not know what they are will only see humans with blank expressions and impeccable choice of clothing. Though looking closer they will see the seams of their ‘skin’ along the sides of their necks and hands, and that their eyes are strange and they move a little jerkily after they have been standing idle for a while.
Alf thought that if he could he would smile then. Humans were so wondrous. They would dig into things until they were no longer a mystery but their bodies and minds were still mysteries to themselves. They had been trying for hundreds of years to discover the truth of the world and yet they still do not know the truth of their own existence.
Alf watched as his master attached the steel and brass plates to the body of his latest automaton. He couldn't help but think that if the warlock had not talked about his friend who had brought a creature made of various body parts to life, but had sadly passed away soon after as a mob stormed him for grave robbing, Master Lambert would not have had the idea to build this ‘girl’. Even though the warlock told him it could not be done with something not of flesh and blood, Master Lambert had begun building a metal skeleton and tubing as veins that fed the joints oil so that they didn’t seize up, almost instantly.
Master Lambert began to speak and Alf stared as he mixed the contents of a bowl. He had never seen anyone use spells for science before. Alf thought logically that a true man of science would laugh if anyone told him he could use magic. Scientists do not believe in magic. But part of him said that Master Lambert was a true scientist. He was venturing into the unknown to uncover the secrets of it and even the mechanics by creating this automaton.
The cogs in his chest sped up again and he noted a strange heating of his head, face and neck. Is this what humans call anger? He supposed it could be but he had not been built with the capacity for emotions. Alf’s next question was what had angered him? Was it the way the rest of the scientific world treated Master Lambert? It could be because they did laugh at him when he said he could make a living automaton with emotions and facial expressions. He had told them she would have the capacity for love and friendship, and they laughed. They had thrown his plans in his face, calling him a madman and an imposter, they said he only pretended to be a scientist and that he was really a Satanist.
Alf watched Master Lambert. He watched as he painted the lines of the pentagram etched into the automatons stomach with the contents of the bowl. The new member of their family was almost complete.
Alf thought about what life would be like with a sister. He had only brothers so a sister would be a good change. His brothers, Bay and Gam, were much like him. Neither of his brothers had been much more advanced than himself, except for their power sources. Alf himself was wound up by a key and he could run for twenty-four hours after a ten minute wind up. Bay, who had been made second, was fuel powered so he could last longer and Gam, the third, was charged through electricity, which meant he lasted the longest out of them.
Not anymore, thought Alf. The new girl will last forever, never losing power if things go as planned.
His master suddenly raised his arms to the ceiling, Alf watched as he went through the dramatics of the last word. A little more dramatic than it deserved in Alf’s thoughts. It was a word that finalised the spell, not something that needed to be advertised as a marvellous thing.
That was one of Alf’s flaws. His mechanical mind was very critical of things. His brothers had similar problems. Gam was very cynical, and Bay’s flaw in the masters opinion, was his optimism. Master Lambert believes a scientist must never think everything will go well. He must make precautions in case of incident.
Alf thought about what this girl’s flaw might be like. Would she be sinister or sweet?
His thoughts were interrupted by his master. He had dropped his arms and was staring at his latest creation with a disappointed expression on his weathered face.
Had she not woken? Alf thought. Was it a failure?
Alf was preparing his joints to move forward to perform the task his master was no doubt about to give him, when his master went still as a mountain. He placed his ear on the stomach of the girl. His head jerked up with a smile and he placed it down again on her breast plate. He raised his head again and his smile broadened as he watched the girls face. Alf followed his masters’ gaze and, if it was possible, he would have felt excited or perhaps even love.
The automatons eyes were open. She was staring right back at the master, her eyes a lovely shining grey. The master asked her to squeeze his hand and by his reaction she did so successfully. He asked her to sit up, and she did so, a little jerkily at first but otherwise she was perfectly elegant as she swung her legs off the bench to sit up straight.
Alf fancied he might have admired her beauty if he was capable of it. She certainly was a scientist’s dream, even without her ‘skin’ on yet. She was a small human shaped mass of cogs, wires, tubing and mechanics, covered in brass plating with steel reinforcing, curved to the shape of a woman with a small waist, dainty hands, average sized breasts, and long legs. Her waist was made of flexible brass that bent easily as she moved, giving her a more natural movement than Alf or his brothers. Where her legs joined at her hips was more flexible brass as well as black rubber that made sure that her legs did not rotate to impossible angles, another feature making her more human than her brothers. She even had ten individual toes, the others had feet and big toes, but the other eight toes were welded together as one block on each foot, realistically they only had four toes each.
As Alf thought this his master was asking her if she could walk in a circle and her brow furrowed in concentration and her mouth straightened into a determined line. His little sister was proving to be very interesting. She was capable of expressions! Who would have thought?
Master Lambert asked the final question. “Can you speak?”
She cocked her head to the side. “Yes, Father.”
That should stir up a bit of gossip among the humans of the house. They had expected her to be for his pleasure, but now that she is calling him ‘Father’ instead of ‘Master’ or ‘Lover’, they will gossip about another kind of pleasure, the pleasure that only a child can give you.
The automatons’ torso turned slightly and she stared at Alf over her shoulder. She had a smooth back that ended in the curve of her rear-end. Not that she needed one, who exactly was going to be looking at her bottom without her skirts? But once again appearance was important to the master.
Her face was a series of flexible brass plates, forming the muscles of the human face. With her ‘skin’ on, Alf could see that she would be attractive in the eyes of any human who saw her. She smiled and the round plates of brass below her eyes rose slightly and the corners of her mouth jerked up.
Yes, Alf thought. With her ‘skin’ on she will be quite convincing as a human being. Though she still moves a little jerkily, her eyes are a giveaway to her non-human status and if you listen carefully, her voice is strange at best.