It was difficult to believe how ridiculously far they had come in the
two years since Mother Brain's destruction. Of course for the Council
it was not nearly fast enough, but for those involved it was an
incredible amount of work. They knew the great lengths covered that
would see this year as the first step towards the beginning of Motavia's
recovery. All this was due in no small part to Seed's wealth of
technical knowledge, without whose help the android they built would
remain a lifeless doll.
The android was not yet ready to be activated in July of this year, but
Kain hoped to have it cognizant by the end of the year, maybe even by
the approaching Last Week Celebration in October. Though the android's
consciousness had not been activated yet, the motor control appeared to
respond to controlled stimuli and the information accumulation,
retrieval, and storage systems appeared to be working. Sharon proved to
be a natural artist as well as proficient in robotics design. She
constructed the android's face during the later part of the frame
modification process, using a soft, bendable, type of plastic that was
remarkably durable as well. Tendon-like rods were inserted into the
robot's face with the dual purpose to hold the mask in place and to
perform facial expressions running most of the gamut possible for a
normal Palman. They hadn't actively chosen a gender for the android,
but the natural frame of the body defied any attempts to feminize it, so
the lead team members as well as the numerous other people involved with
the project began to refer to it as "he".
When Sharon gave him a shock of thick black carbonfiber hair and the
plastics of his silvery blue eyes were ready, the android appeared
almost Palman. The question of what to name him came up, as it
inevitably would. Up until now they had simply referred to him as "the
android", but as he rapidly neared completion the need for a proper name
became greatly evident.
It was after the hair and face were completed that Kain asked for
friends to drop by and see the android and suggest a name for him. Now
that they would know what he looked like, perhaps they could offer
something fitting. Nothing that Kain, Sharon, or David came up with
seemed to work well enough, so they listened to nearly every idea with
an open mind.
Nearly two weeks after Kain had called for people to visit, Lore came
by. The hour was late, long after normal working shifts had ended, and
the building was nearly empty. She slipped into the lab like a ghost;
silent and unseen. Kain didn't know how she knew he would be there,
because he wasn't often at this hour, and there was no one else around
who could have told her. But she had entered nonetheless, startling
Kain when he suddenly realized that someone stood behind him.
She did not notice his reaction at first, so absorbed she was at the
sight of the metal man laying upon the table. The android appeared
little like he had when they had carted him from the factory near
Piata. Though the lab still looked like an operation room, it seemed
less hostile and austere in the face of the android's placid countenance
and serene gray eyes. He did not seem a victim so much as a patient.
His eyes were open, staring blankly at the ceiling. He did not move; he
could not of his own volition until his primary operating system--that
which would be his soul--was activated, but his tranquil expression gave
the appearance of being very much alive.
"Well, what do you think?" Kain asked, hunching over because of the
soreness in his back.
"Sharon did a wonderful job," said Lore. She raised the fingers of one
hand to her lips. "It's just he looks almost like..."
She shook her head. "I don't know how to say it. It's just... Can we
call him Wren?"
Kain rocked himself back and forth on his heels. "Don't see why not.
Hafta check with Sharon and David or course, but they'll probably
agree. It sounds more like a decent name than the other stuff we've
"Like what?" she asked, echoing his earlier question.
He snorted, laughing beneath his breath. "Well, there was the Son Brain
one of the Councillors came up with. David's somewhat partial to
Mainten 3. Alis only knows the reason for his obsession with that
number, but otherwise I could live with that name. And of course Hugh
wanted something deep and significant--^—cept he couldn't think of just
what that was himself. The man's never been good with names."
Lore smiled, taking on a decidedly more natural appearance.
"I want something more like a Palman name," said Kain, gazing down at
the construction table. "This android needs to be able to pass for one,
not a mockery of one. Wren sounds earthy enough for me."
"It should," said Lore, angling her head to look thoughtfully back at
the android. "I had a cousin named Wren. He was on Palm when it
blew." She turned to go, but stopped after taking only a step. "I
think he's alive, somewhere, on one of the ships that left Algo, but
I'll probably never know." Her words came as something of an
afterthought. Then she walked to the door. "He had nice eyes too."
* * * * *
"Wren is it? I like that name," said Cass.
"Yeah, that's what Sharon, David, and Kain decided." Lore played with a
pen, once again at work chronicling Motavia's history. "But remember,
just because I'm telling you this doesn't mean it's public knowledge.
Don't tell anyone about this, especially not the Free Motavia
Cass smiled and shrugged innocuously.
But Lore saw her point taken.
"You know, you really should join the party," said Cass.
"Why would I want to do that?" asked Lore, waving an arm slowly to
indicate the mess of papers she had spread out on the dining room table
in Cass's apartment. "I'm busy enough as it is. You know how much time
I have to spend writing, and my scheduling around New Zema doesn't allow
for much leeway. We're just getting started over there."
Cass rested her chin on the interlocked fingers of her hands. "Well, I
think you could be a great speaker."
Lore paused for a moment, genuinely surprised. She did not have a high
opinion of politics, mostly due to the New Council's antics. Cass on
the other hand, had become increasingly involved. The Council had
eventually caved in to the growing unrest of the populace six months
ago. In a desperate attempt to grasp on to their power a little longer,
they offered a new procedure for the selection of their members. Most
people found it agreeable, though it rankled the political hearts of the
majority of the Council. From now on, new Councillors would be chosen
by elections in which any Palman could participate.
The news spread across Motavia as fast as the people's visaphones would
allow. That decision this past January resulted in the formation and
destruction of something new, something that Motavia had never seen
before--a political party. People chose to back certain Councillors and
to completely drop support of others. Newcomers previously unknown to
the planet as a whole rose to prominence as speakers and leaders. The
Council itself split as each member sought to ensure his or her own seat
for the following two years, the term length that the people and Council
had decided on.
Many groups banded together based on ideals and ideas. Most failed to
survive their first few months or were absorbed into larger parties
based on the common need for strength. At this point in time there were
four large parties of note, but each week saw the formation of a new, if
smaller, one. The turmoil was such that in many cases the candidates
were so disorganized and unclear that it postponed the elections that
otherwise would have taken place much sooner. At last it was mandated
by the Council with what little power it had left that each candidate
must sign up by the end of July or wait until the next election period.
From then until November would be the campaign period, and the voting
would take place in early December.
One of the smaller of the four main parties stilled struggled for
recognition, though it was almost there. That was the Free Motavia
Party, which Cass had joined. They promoted freedom from the past in
all its forms and to revolutionize the government's system of
operation, though Cass had been quick to point out to Lore that freedom
from the past did not mean ignorance of it. The Free Motavia Party
placed stock in history, which Lore appreciated to some degree. She
privately believed the party heads wanted the information as fuel
against their competitors, but she kept her thoughts to herself.
Despite the fervor of some people, the majority of Palmans on Motavia
did not belong to any party at all. If she held herself back she was no
different than most.
"You know more about recent history than anyone else," Cass went on.
"And you know more than most about how we used to be able to survive
without Mother Brain."
"We used to have a monarchy," Lore said, mildly amused. "That's
quite a bit different from where we're headed now."
Cass shook her head. "I'm serious. You're the perfect person to
convince other people of what we believe in and how we can accomplish
it. Maybe we used to have kings and queens, but not every aspect of
life was controlled by them, not even by this Lassic guy you told me
about. You know how people were able to live far away from anything and
virtually autonomous from a domineering sort of government. And they
survived! They didn't have people far above them stomping them down.
If we get as many members of Free Motavia into the New Council as
possible then we'll have a much better chance at shaping the coming
years the way they should be than if we miss this chance. Goodness
knows what Turgen and his bunch'll do if they take over most of the
seats. If people are going to settle into a routine at all it needs to
be a good one."
Lore sighed. "Well, I guess I can think about it, but I'm not promising
anything. I don't really want to get involved."
"You'll at least vote when the time comes, won't you?"
The historian smiled. "Yes, I will. But only for the candidate
that appeals to me. And it won't matter to me if that person is a
member of the Free Motavia Party or not. It's the candidate's words
that matter to me, not the party."
Cass giggled. "Oh I think you'll like our candidates though. They're
extremely dedicated--none of those wishy-washy people that the Council
practically had to scream at to get them to commit. One of them's
already on the Council."
"Yeah, but he's an okay sort. He hasn't been on very long. He's the
only one that came on board after Mother Brain left."
"Hmph. I don't think I know him. But then I haven't had anything
directly to do with the Council as a whole since Noah. I've mainly been
talking with Councillor Riley and getting her to relay all my requests
"Yeah, Riley's okay too," said Cass after a moment. She tapped her chin
with a fingertip. "It's too bad she's not in our party."
"Everyone has a different idea of how Motavia should be better." Lore
picked a bound stack of papers out of her duffel on the floor by the
table. "By the way, these are for you. You can see I haven't been
slacking while at Arima. This is all for the archives."
Cass beamed and took the papers from Lore's hand. "I'll get them typed
up as soon as possible. The Paseo Archive is brimming with your work.
Keep this up and you'll have a whole shelf to yourself. The paper
stacks had been gathering dust for years, and now I go in them so often
I can't believe it."
"I'm getting tired though," said Lore, resting her head against an open
hand. "It's been a lot of work, recording things with nearly every free
moment I have and teaching the past over and over again to those who
need it. Arima's in such bad shape I'm still a teacher half the time.
I need a break, but if I take one I'll miss something, and then people
will have a chance to forget."
"Don't worry. The Last Week Celebration will be here before you know
Lore snorted. "That's three months away!"
Cass smiled. "Trust me. The way you're running right now, you won't
even notice the time fly."
* * * * *
"You wanted to see us?" asked Kain. He, Sharon, and David stood in a
spartan office with a long, wide desk, a file cabinet, and a lamp.
Though nearly bare, the room did not detract from the presence of the
man who sat on the other side of the desk. He had been on the Council
for only a year, but he had grown swiftly into his new role and
Less than a week had passed since Wren's name had been decided on.
"Yes," said the young Councillor, seeming much older since loosing his
boyish features. The face he presented now was harder and less
forgiving. "I wanted to check how your progress with the android is
"To be honest we're a little behind," said Kain. "But you realize that
this is very cutting edge work. It's never been done before."
The Councillor nodded, his voice neither accusative nor defensive;
merely stating a fact. "Neither has the Daughter Project."
"Daughter doesn't have a deadline placed in front of her," Kain said
"Too true, but Daughter isn't trying to 'show up' your project. The
Council needs something to believe in. Results, Mr. Kain."
"With all due respect Councillor Dawson," --Kain ground out the words
between his teeth-- "you know something this important can't be rushed.
Otherwise something will be missed and then you will really have
something to give us flak about. There will be delays no matter
how hard we plan."
Gillian Dawson rested his chin on the back of a hand as he leaned to one
side. "Oh I do know, but that concern is secondary. Results are
concrete, showing us that we aren't wasting our time on this project.
With something as costly as both your android and Daughter running at
the same time I'm sure you understand. Don't you?"
The Councillor lowered his gaze to look at the desk he propped his elbow
on. "I'm hardly the only Councillor and if you want to stay in business
I suggest that you finish before the end of the year. The
post-elections Council may be vastly different from the old. You can't
count on them to support you."
"Aren't you running?" asked Sharon.
Gillian played with a pen in his other hand. "Of course."
After a moment Kain grunted and turned away. "We should make it
by the end of the year--making a liberal estimate here. The current
schedule is holding, which means we should get him fully operational by
October, which I assume is the result you want. If we're lucky the
schedule'll keep. Seed knows a lot, but he doesn't know everything.
We're only beginning to catch up."
"Only the beginning," mused Gillian. "Yes, only beginning. We've got a
lot of years left ahead of us if I have anything to say about it, and I
plan on being around for a long time."
David shifted uncomfortably. "You are the youngest Councillor,
Gillian nodded. "Anyway, when do you think the android will be ready to
perform in all ways save independent thought. We can always tell him
directly what to do if he's not sentient--or at least until the time
that his is."
Sharon shook her head. "The language comprehension modules are a part
of his learning program. We can't talk to him and expect him to
understand until he's capable of experience learning. Currently he can
only respond when connected to a translating computer console in the
lab. That's what we use to test that the different aspects of his
system are working."
"He already has language instructions programmed into him though,
"Yes, but all he really has is a dictionary and a set of linguistic
rules. He'll need practice, just like any child, before he'll be able
to talk like a real person. Everything like slang, sarcasm, intonation,
and so on will have to be learned once his sentience is activated.
There's no way to directly tell him which word is better used in what
situation or the politeness level his speech should be when speaking to
someone he's never met before--all of that children learn from observing
others and from their own mistakes. Wren will need that too."
"Wren?" queried the Councillor, raising an eyebrow.
Sharon bobbed her head fiercely. "Yeah. That's what we decided to name
"And if you think that's a silly idea," began Kain, "remember that there
isn't going to be another of him. He's going to be as much of an
individual as you or me."
Gillian didn't flinch at the hint of accusation in Kain's voice. "In
all seriousness I think that's a good idea. It brings you one step
closer to your goal, right--an android that will be Palman in all but
the physical body."
"That's close," said David quietly. "We don't want him to be completely
Palman in mentality, but as long as Palmans can understand him and he
can understand us--that is what we hope for."
"Hmph. If you finish Wren by December and if the elections don't kill
us all this is going to be a landmark year."