Warnings: Suggestive references
“Careful, I hear if you do that too much you’ll go blind.”
“Morty! Did you even knock?”
“Pola let me in, and I think we all agree that her authority overrides yours,” Morty chuckled. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell Bella I caught you playing with your wand.”
“I wasn’t playing with it, and it’s not mine.”
“Nothing to be defensive about, Michael. I don’t judge.” Pola leapt off his lap as he stood up and brushed the cat hair off his pants. “So I hear you invited Servo in a desperate plea to impress Miss Caliente?”
“Who told you that?”
“Kvornan. Sometimes he sleeps in your cupboards during the day.”
“Oh, he’s not there now; it’s a holiday weekend,” Morty said, as Mike turned towards the kitchen. “I take it the story’s true then? Is Parker coming too?”
“No.” Realizing he still had it in his hand, Mike looked around for a place where the cat could not get to his mother’s wand.
“That’s unfortunate. I was hoping to witness his reaction to Servo.” He had that twinkle in his eye; the ‘ask me what I mean because it’s going to blow your mind’ twinkle.
“Parker’s not a robot bigot; not even after what happened to Kay. He understands them better than anyone.” He didn’t want provoke Morty, but felt the need to defend Parker. “And lives off their patent royalties.”
“I have a theory—”
“Is this like your brilliant theory that Dina banishes people to the shadow realm?”
“Oh, I’ll admit I was mistaken on that. She’s certainly not a witch, but I still believe she’s some kind of supernatural green person….ex-plantsim, perhaps?”
“It’s none of your business, Morty.”
“Well, my theory is very much Parker’s business. I think Servo is to him what I am to you.”
“I think if he’d shown up tonight, this may very well have turned into a brother-in-law party.”
It finally hit Mike what he was suggesting. “You don’t think Servo is…the original Servo?!”
Morty replied with a nod and a smirk.
“I thought everyone named their servo ‘Servo’. Isn’t it the default name?”
“It’s not the name, Michael. It’s everything; the mysterious backstory, the model of the antenna, the memory loss… his personality is exactly the same if you replaced the original’s confidence with amnesia and a few years worth of angst, abuse, and insecurity.”
Mike had gotten a familiar vibe from Servo, but hadn’t known the original well enough to compare one to the other. “What are the odds that Kay’s long lost husband, my best friend’s brother-in-law, would be on his way to my poker game right now? Sleeping with the sister of a girl I had a fling with in college?”
“…somehow having ended up working for her fiancé who was abducted by aliens, yes.”
“That’s just too much of a coincidence, Morty. It’s too weird!”
“You’re a magnet for weirdness, Michael. It’s in your blood. I wish I was so lucky.”
As rare as it was for him to get to use his degree, Mike was not in the mood for a philosophical argument about fate and freewill. “Isn’t there some sort of serial number you can check to make sure?”
“His activation code, but I haven’t had a chance to compare the records.”
“Well, maybe you should do that before you start throwing these accusations around and opening old wounds.”
The clock hit 7:30 and the door burst open. “Mmm…did somebody say ‘wounds’?”
The Ks went right for the stereo, not even bothering to close the door. Only when Mike went to close it himself did he realize someone else had also arrived.
“May I come in, Mr. Bachelor?”
“Yes, yes you may. Thanks for asking, Servo.”
“They followed me here. I’m sorry; I know you didn’t invite them.” The sense of familiarity was eerily strong.
“Nah, I was expecting them anyway,” Mike said, throwing Kvornan a look. “Is that lobster?”
“Lobster thermidor, yes.” He seemed surprised as Mike took the plate out of his hands. “I’m sorry I couldn’t use any garlic.”
“No problem, buddy.”
“Where’s our hors d'oeuvres, Mikey? Isn’t your delicious friend coming?” Kiernen shouted over the symphonic metal.
“Parker can’t make it. Kaylynn’s sick.” Mike dodged as Morty tried to grab a lobster with his bare hands. “You can eat Morty if you want, but Bella might not be too happy.”
“Kaylynn?” Servo was barely audible over the music.
Mike glanced at his brother-in-law’s smug face and back to Servo. “…his daughter.”
“Is that name significant to you?” Morty added.
“No,” he said, wistfully going back to his sweeping. “It just reminded me of a book jacket I was reading the other day.”
“Robot Sexuality by Kaylynn Langerak!” Those could have been the actual lyrics to the song the Ks were listening to. “We leant it to him!”
Mike chose not to think about all the possible disturbing implications of this, instead focusing on the fact that Servo was sweeping the floor. How had he found the broom? Where had he found a broom? He wasn’t even 100% sure that broom belonged to him. “Servo, what are you doing?”
“Sweeping up some spilt kitty litter, and then I was planning to vacuum up all this cat hair.”
“No, you’re not,” Mike said, taking the broom out of Servo’s hands. “Sit down.”
“But there are only four chairs.”
“Kvornan can stand. You’re not here to clean my house.” He finally realized who Servo reminded him of, and it wasn’t Kaylynn or her husband.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Bachelor, it’s instinctive.”
“And stop apologizing for everything.”
As it turned out, Servo had quite a poker face.
Dina was hard at work, using her new Oceanless free-time to build up her skills and badges. It’s not like she had anything better to do.
Closure with Ocean was a weight off her shoulders, as was knowing she was safe from the aliens, but there was still one more thing to deal with before she could fully recover from this kitchen fire of a romance.
The person who left the macaroni on the stove.
“Hey!” she called out. “Hey, matchmaker! I demand a refund for our little transaction!”
Titania stopped at the top of the steps but did not turn around. “I gave you exactly what you asked for.”
“Really? Did I ask for the biggest douchebag in town?”
“You were going to marry him.”
Dina blushed. “Well I didn’t! So I’ll be needing my car back, please!”
Titania gestured for her to come forward. “Would you like to know why I really sent you on the quest for the car, my love?”
“Because you really like pink?”
“No. While I do appreciate all colors of the rainbow, in fact, my favorite color is…blue.” She paused to add extra weight to the word. Dina assumed it was some sort of obscure literary reference. “I sent you on the quest because I wanted you to realize that you are a talented young woman, maybe a little lazy, but fully capable of taking care of yourself and getting whatever you want out of life. It was never about the car, love. It was about you working hard to accomplish something other than landing a man.”
“But that’s exactly what I thought was doing!”
“Well, you learned your lesson now, right?”
“I didn’t pay you for a lesson, but yeah I think I get the picture. I don’t need a man; I need a car.”
Titania batted her eyelashes. “Bring me back the man and I’ll give you back the car, my love.”
“He’s in space!”
Titania tilted her head, looking Dina up and down. “All right, love. I cannot give you a full refund, but I will do something to make it up to you. Perhaps I could introduce you to Malcolm Landgraab IV, the sole heir to the Langraab Dynasty? He’s young and single and I think you’d get along very well.”
Dina didn’t let herself get excited; she’d seen this movie before. “Young, huh? Let me guess…that’s him? The little one in the peacoat?”
“Awww, you caught on quick that time.”
“Is Malcolm II single?”
“No, but I can get you a date with him if you’d like.”
“You’re just gonna trick me again no matter what I ask for, aren’t you?”
“Until you learn your lesson.”
There was always a loophole. “What if I ask for something selfless? There’s no way you can screw up a selfless wish. There’s no lesson to be learned from that!”
“What do you want?”
“A bottle of vampricillin-D. Just one bottle and I’ll never bother you again.”
Titania softened around the eyes. “Whatever would you need that for?”
“A Christmas present for a friend who thinks he’s a monster…and wants to be able to cook with garlic again.”
“A potion will not work on a robot. He doesn’t have a circulatory system.”
Dina was surprised, not that the potion wouldn’t work, but that Titania would warn her about it instead of ripping her off. She hoped Titania knew about Servo through her connections around town rather than mind-reading prowess. “So he’s just stuck like this forever?”
“My heart weeps for your friend and I would love to help him, but quite honestly, I believe that curing his vampirism would not be the best thing for him at the moment. He needs to grow a spine first.”
“Well, I’m not leaving until I get something to make up for the hell I’ve been through these past few months!”
Titania grinned. “A fortune telling then! A future to make up for the past?”
It was the kind of intangible, unreliable thing that she’d never spend money on. Dina loved magic when it was here and now, but tarot cards and crystal gazing were anything but. Still she’d seen so many fantastic things lately, from Servo’s fangs to Ocean in an eye patch, that it almost seemed like nothing could truly be impossible.
“It’s most important to understand that fortune-telling is not a simple matter of will or will not, my love. You have many futures and all will come to pass, but I cannot be sure which will take root in this world. That choice lies with you.”
“So basically, you’re covering your bases if what you say doesn’t actually happen.”
“I’m telling you that no matter what I see in store for you, you still have the freewill to work against it...or toward it. But one thing is always certain: none of the paths will be as easy as you’d prefer.”
“That’s nice. What about my love life?”
Titania sighed. “Is that all you think about? Marriage and babies? I thought you aspired to have money above all things? Why aren’t you asking for stock market tips and lottery numbers?”
“Three reasons: One, I don’t trust you enough to be my financial advisor. Two, if I can change the future with my choices; I imagine other people’s choices might change your stock market and lottery numbers. Three, if you could really predict those things, we’d be on a yacht, not in a hovel.”
“Love life it is then.” Titania narrowed her eyes and slowly brought them down towards the crystal ball. “I see…golden…sparkles.”
“I love gold!” Dina gasped. “And sparkles!”
“I know you do! And your sister prefers silver, which may in fact come in handy one day.”
“How do I get the gold?”
She shrugged. “Date someone you actually like.”
“…is this another trick?”
Titania waved her hand over the crystal ball again. “You know the statue of Naomi outside the museum down the street from here? Such a sad story...she fell in love with a wealthy man, but he could not understand what was of real value in this world—”
“Yeah, yeah, and he condemned her to stone or whatever. Nina bought me a tiny one of those for my birthday, but I don’t see how Naomi’s problem could be my problem unless I marry a wizard or something.”
Titania snorted. “There’s a man heading towards that statue right now; a man who you will marry in many universes, and may very well choose to marry in this one. A man who needs you. This man will lead you to the future you seek, if… and only if, you get out of my office before my paying customers arrive.”
Dina tried not to get her hopes up, but she headed towards that statue anyway, after first changing into a sexier top and hairstyle.
“Ah, Miss Caliente! Isn’t this serendipity?”
“I need someone to assist me today!”
“Oh what fools these mortals be.”
“Tity!” there was a knock at the door.
Donald Lothario strode into the room and collapsed onto a chair.“I need a date that’s cooler than a vampire!”
“This wouldn’t have anything to do with Nina Caliente’s new beau, would it?”
“NO!” he yelled, then lowered his voice. “Why would it have anything to do with that? If she wants to date some bloodsucking jerk, it’s not my problem. I don’t care whatsoever!”
“Thank plumbbob for that. One should always beware the green-eyed monster.”
“I think that’s what this whole thing is really about. She’s upset that I can’t be a one woman family man so she’s trying to make me jealous. I mean why else would she be rubbing him in my face like this?”
“Have you met the gentleman?”
“No, but that’s just it! She’s teasing me with the mystery. She wants me to imagine he’s more attractive and charming than he actually is and that they’re doing things far more interesting than she’s done with me!” He gritted his teeth into something resembling a smile. “In fact, you know what? He probably doesn’t even exist! She’s just so desperate she made someone up! HA!”
Titania turned her attention back to the crystal ball. “Oh he exists, love. I can see him right now, with his fangs, square jaw, and arms of steel. It would not be wise to pick a fight with him.”
“Don’t worry; I’m a lover not a fighter. It’s Nina who’s both.” His voice was shaking as he tried to laugh. “And I’m not jealous! That’s why I need you to find me a drop dead, undead sexy counter-date to prove that her completely immature jealousy ploy is NOT WORKING.”
“All right, my love, I’ll find you someone who sleeps in a coffin.”
“You’re the best, Tity,” he said weakly.
“Any other preferences?”
“No fat chicks.”
“You make this far too easy.”
Dina had no idea what Mortimer was up to, but figured he wouldn’t be dragging her into a science museum for a torrid affair.
Or maybe he would? If he so much as hinted she “join” him in the World of Aliens space simulator, someone was going to get slugged Nina-style.
Instead he led her into the robot exhibit. “This is Kane, the second servo ever activated.”
Dina reminded herself there were lots of dead humans on display in this museum too, but that did little to ease her queasy stomach. “What happened to his head?”
“Yet another unsolved mystery,” Mortimer said. “He made a lot of enemies, you see. He was a genius, like Kay, but also arrogant, and people don’t put up with that from robots.”
“I thought they were supposed to be indestructible!”
He shrugged. “Doesn’t mean they’re not detachable.”
“That’s horrible! Why are you showing me these horrible things?”
“There’s very little information to be found on Servo 1. His very existence was kept a secret until Kane was fully built and ready for activation.”
“And after that he was more than happy to give the spotlight to his more outgoing counterpart.”
“How could one of them be more outgoing? Wouldn’t they have the same personality as this Kaylynn woman?”
“I asked Kay the very same question. She explained that the role of an activator is simply a template. Robots have different needs, a different way of experiencing the world, in some cases a different gender identity… all of which make them their own person. Then there are the life experiences, starting from the moment of activation.”
“With Servo 1 being activated privately in Kay’s own home, and Kane activated in front of the entire scientific community, is it any wonder they turned out so different?”
"That's Servo 1 on your left and Kane on the right. The servos sold now only have blue eyes, but the original models took on the color of their activator. Kane had a black eye to match Kaylynn, but she changed Servo 1's to green beforehand so they'd be easier to tell apart."
“I still don’t understand what any of this has to do with my Servo.”
“Two robots activated by the same person would have the same activation code imprinted in their system: a genetic fingerprint of who brought them to life. If his code matches your friend’s, we can confirm that they were both activated by Kaylynn Langerak.”
“And what do you…” she sighed, “‘need’ me for?”
He glanced toward the hall and lowered his voice. “I need five minutes to open the display case and get the code without the intervention of the security guard. All I need to do is copy the data; they will never even know I was here.”
“Um…aren’t you rich? Can’t you just bribe him?”
“If only it were that simple Miss Caliente,” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handheld device that she would have assumed was a video game. “But my heist-o-matic reading says this guard will not respond to bribes of fame or fortune. He needs a distraction.”
“And you want me to distract the guard? How do you expect me to do that, Mr. Goth?” Surely there was something she was missing. The most brilliant man in the world could not be suggesting a plan straight out of Gilligan’s Island.
“It shouldn’t be too hard. Be creative. Use your charisma.”
“What about the security cameras?”
He held up the heist-o-matic and pressed a series of buttons, as if that explained everything. “Leave the technology to me, Miss Caliente. You just make use of your feminine wiles.”
She took a deep breath. “I’ll do it for Servo,” she finally said, heading towards the hall. She stopped halfway and turned back. “No, you know what? I’ll do it for §1000!”
“Fine. Just do it, Miss Caliente.”
Ever since Claire Charming had published her book Aspirations, there was a trendy pop psychology theory going around that most every Sim could fit into six different categories based on what they wanted out of life. Dina wouldn’t swear by it, but had to admit the definitions came in handy for organizing her brain in situations like this.
She ruled out “Fame”, “Fortune”, and “Knowledge” based on Mortimer’s reading. There was a stereotype that men tended toward the “Romance” type while women were more inclined toward “Family”, but in Dina’s experience it was better to focus on the individual rather than assume, and she wasn’t picking up vibes for either here. If she had to assign one of the six it would have been “Pleasure”, the group that just wanted enjoy the simple things in life like bubbles baths, changing clothes, and fine dining (Servo was in this group, which certainly explained why it was hard to get his spirits up.)
“Excuse me, sir?”
But Dina didn’t limit herself to the five in Charming’s book. There was another type she’d observed on the job. They were very rare but unforgettable, and easy to determine based on a few simple questions.
“I could really go for a grilled cheese right now. Is there any place nearby where I can get one?”
His eyes lit up, but when he spoke it was wistful and pained. “The deli next-door.”
“Is that what that delicious aroma was when I came in? I can almost smell it from here, can’t you?”
He gulped, hard. “No, ma’am.”
“How long do you think it would take me to grab a sandwich and come back to this very spot?”
“Five to ten minutes,” he murmured.
“Wow! In that time you could sneak out the emergency exit, grab a GC, and be back here before anyone noticed you were gone.”
He jolted back to attention. “No, ma’am. That wouldn’t be right. Somebody might—”
“Sneak a six foot robot out under their coat? In five minutes? Really?”
“Ma’am, I love to talk about grilled cheese but not on the job, please! My lunch break’s not for another hour!”
“I’m sorry. You’re right. Sense of duty outweighs…”
“…Cheesy. Buttery. Goodness.”
Someday Dina was going to write a best-selling book, The Cult of Grilled Cheese. With a title like that no one would care that she didn’t have a psych degree.
She found Kane and Mortimer looking pretty much the same as how she left them; save for the concentrated frown on of their faces, one guess as to whom.
“Wow. You move fast, where’s the code, boss?”
He didn’t look up from his gadget. “I haven’t opened the display case yet.”
“You can build a weather machine but you can’t pick a lock?”
“There was a glitch with the lock-picking function on my heist-o-matic. I just need to reboot and it’ll be fine.” His voice was calm but his face was red. There was no hiding it with that deathly pallor.
“You know what else has a lock-picking function?” she asked. “A hairpin.”
“That may work on your sister’s diary, Miss Caliente, but I highly doubt this advanced security technology can be overcome by a simple cosmetic device.”
“Ah the age old battle: cosmetology vs technology. Silly me chose the wrong side.” She giggled. “But you know what else might be able to open that case for ya, Mr. Goth?”
As Mortimer hauled Kane’s body onto the floor and started prying open his chest, the pangs of guilt reminded Dina why she didn’t do this for a living. “So is this basically grave-robbing?”
“Of course not.” He pulled off the chest plate and started unplugging and pulling stuff out. “He’s not dead; just inactive. More like coma patient!”
Dina refrained from a sarcastic retort; it was too easy. She checked the time again and sniffed the air for grilled cheese. “You know if you wanted to we could dress him up in your coat and hat and sneak him out the front door as our friend who got a little nauseous in the plasticized corpse exhibit.”
“That won’t be necessary; I’m almost done.” He pulled a notebook out of his coat and handed it to her. “Here’s a copy of the code I found on your Servo. Read me the first line, please.”
“It’s a match. Next line?”
“Another match! Go on.”
“Same thing. Seven zeroes and a two.”
“Hmmm…that’s one number off. It could be an anomaly. Continue, please.”
The next line was an intimidating jumble of letters and numbers. “Uh, 51C4A750-C9F4-4CFE-801—”
“Let me see that.” He snatched the paper back. “The rest of this doesn’t match at all!”
“Well that’s that then!” Dina said. “Servo doesn’t have a dead wife that he may or may not have murdered! And I’m not a despicable person for not telling him or my sister. Because there is really nothing to tell them!”
“Or Kaylynn lied about who activated Servo 1.”
“….Or we can just stop worrying about it and put Kane back together before we get arrested!” She wasn’t going to listen to any more of his theories or schemes whether they were true or not. He may have been Bella Goth’s husband (and Dina’s in some universes), but he was officially off his pedestal.
There was still no sign of the guard by the time she got Kane back into his place. There was nothing left for her to do but close the case and walk out the door with her §1000.
Then someone pinched her. Hard.
“Ow!” Her yelp startled Mortimer into dropping his gadget. “You keep your married hands off me, pervert!”
“I didn’t touch you!” He sounded sincere.
There was only one other pair of hands in the room.
Mortimer rolled his eyes. “That’s impossible. He can’t move without his head and brain; he wouldn’t be in here if he could.”
“Well then it must have been you!”
“What are you suggesting, Miss Caliente? I don’t even know the specifics of what you’re accusing me of. Are you sure his lifeless hand didn’t accidentally fall somewhere inappropriate while you were carrying him?”
“I’m pretty sure his lifeless hand didn’t grab my ass, yeah. And by the way, thanks for helping me carry the six foot robot. Such a gentleman.”
“He’s not six feet tall without his head. And once again, I did not touch you. I have no desire to. You’re delusional.”
“At least I can pick a lock.”
“I think we’re done here. Farewell, Miss Caliente,” he said, shoving his hat on his head and heading for the door.
“You still owe me §1000!” As she started to close the case she noticed the heist-o-matic still lying on the floor. “And don’t forget this thing. In case you need help opening your mustache oil or something.”
His jaw dropped as he came close enough to see what was on the screen. “What did you—”
The security camera exploded.
“What in the world was that?” said a cheesy voice from the hall.
“He’s coming! What are we gonna do?”
Mortimer remained calm, taking a quick look around the room before his gaze rested on the display of non-sentient robots. “I have an idea.”
Author’s Notes (PLEASE READ BEFORE YOU WCIF):
Cut-text is from “Freewill” by Rush.
Elden Hick was made by cycads for her story, and it was also her idea to make him a Grilled Cheese Sim.
You can download him and Mama here.
Dina’s jacket was separated for me by ladyheather on GOS.
Thank you so much, Cycads and Heather!