Dr. McCoy looked over the assembled heads of the Space Center nervously. The presentation he was currently giving was his one chance to make up for the terrible Bebe incident and he was determined not to blow it. Still, having the board members as well as the heads of the various departments all watching him put him a little on edge. At least he wasn’t sweaty profusely like he thought he would. Still seeing the eyes of Drs. Harris, Kramer, and Cook all focused directly on him was a bit intimidating, even if he never could remember who was who. The one person who he could never forget though was the Chairman, or woman, of the board Dr. Wanda Wong. It was really her he had to speak to, having everyone else there was just formality. One that he was convinced was being used just to make him nervous. But he would press on, his career depended on it.
“So as you can see from this diagram,” he said, using a laser pointer on the large projection behind him, “I’ve gone to extensive lengths to make sure that every trace of the ‘Queen Bebe’ program was wiped from the system. Going so far as to make the X-24 personality chip, which is 100 hacker proof.”
“How can you be sure of this Dr. McCoy?” Dr. Wong asked.
“Because I spent nearly a month going over the thousands upon thousands of lines of code in it to make absolutely sure that nothing like that would happen again. I even took an extra precaution of making a kill switch that I can activate using this remote,” he explained, taking out a small remote control from the breast pocket of his lab coat. “This will shut her down before anything can get too out of hand.”
“Her?” Dr. Cook asked, arching an eyebrow.
Dr. McCoy’s eyes widened a bit when he realized his little slip of the tongue. He sighed and prepared himself for the worst.
“Yes her,” he started slowly. “Once I was sure the chip was perfected I wanted to see if it would work so placed in the former Queen’s body, after I made sure all her programming was erased and deleted.”
“So that’s who you’ve been talking to in your lab!” Dr. Vivian Potter shouted, as she snapped her fingers.
“Of course. Who did you think I was talking to?”
“Well you love the sound of your own voice so much I figured you finally broke down and started talking to yourself.”
He sneered at her but any actual retort he had was cut off when Dr. Wong spoke up.
“You mean you’ve been running an unauthorized experiment all this time?” she asked in astonishment and slight indignation.
“If you want to get technical about it, yes I have. But it was done to try and further our research!”
“You mean your research.”
“OK yes, my research, but that ties into what we’re doing here. That’s why you brought me on board, isn’t it?”
The board members muttered amongst themselves, glancing occasionally in Dr. McCoy’s direction and giving him slightly accusatory looks. This time he was starting to sweat as he felt his entire livelihood slipping away from him.
“Please,” he begged, grabbing their attention. “I have her right outside, so if you meet her maybe that will help convince you.”
The three male members looked between each other skeptically before turning towards Dr. Wong. She drummed her index finger on the desktop as she mulled over her decision. She was silent for several agonizing seconds before giving a slight nod.
“Let’s see what the fuss is all about,” she said.
“Oh thank you,” Dr. McCoy replied with a sigh of relief.
“Just get on with it.”
“Right,” he said anxiously before walking over to the door.
He pulled it open to reveal a female figure standing behind it. The other occupants of the room were completely blown away by the sight before them. What they had expected to see was something akin to the blue robot some had seen laying on a table in Dr. McCoy’s lab walk calmly into the room and present itself. What they got instead was something that looked almost human standing in the hallway and doing the robot dance while singing quite enthusiastically;
“Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo…domo
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo…domo
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo…domo”
“Mimi,” Dr. McCoy addressed her calmly.
Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to get threw as the robot girl continued to sing, her chin length, purple hair swaying as she turned her head from side-to-side.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto
For doing the jobs that nobody wants to
And thank you very much, Mr. Roboto
For helping me escape just when I needed to
Thank you-thank you, thank you
I want to thank you, please, thank you.”
“Mimi!” he tried again, this time shouting loudly.
“Whoa!” she cried out as she suddenly stopped singing and turned perfectly on her heel to face him. “Sorry, did I miss my entrance?”
“Just barely,” he sighed, placing a hand over his face. “Just come on in.”
She nodded and walked confidently into the room, seemingly unfazed by all the eyes watching her. She stopped next to the spot Dr. McCoy had been standing and surveyed the group just as they studied her. From this range they could see past the peach colored exterior and make out the lines and joints that marked different panels along her body, signifying that she was in fact a robot. Still had they not known before hand it would have taken a second glance to pick her out of a crowd. The fact that she was wearing clothes really helped sell the illusion. Her outfit was simple and that’s what made it so effective. It consisted of a crimson opened back and sleeveless blouse with a black miniskirt and royal blue tennis shoes. It was an outfit many girls in the country wore and so no one would ever think twice about the person wearing it, even if they did have oddly colored hair.
“Hiya!” she greeted with a wave of her hand.
“So…this is her?” Vivian asked.
“Yes, this is her,” Dr. McCoy repeated, stepping up next to the robot.
“And you called her…Mimi?”
“Yes,” Mimi replied for herself.
“Well then tell us…Mimi, do you know why you’re here?” Dr. Wong asked.
“To prove that the Doc’s work on the new, improved X-24 personality chip is really worth all the money you’re throwing at him and to make sure I don’t have a relapse into The Queen Bebe mentality. Of course on a grander scale I’m part of your on going research to prefect artificial intelligence to be placed into unmanned rockets so you won’t have to worry about any pilots should something go wrong. Though why you’d want to try to make a computer so human if you’re just going to do that is beyond me, but…hey,” she finished with a slight shrug.
She looked over the assembled crowd that was merely staring back at her in shocked silence, some with their mouths hanging open.
“Did I say something wrong?” she wondered.
“No, no I think you answered the question correctly,” Dr. Wong remarked. “Very correctly in fact.”
“So as you can see, not only does the personality chip works, it works quite well,” Dr. McCoy spoke up, smugness starting to sneak it’s way back into his tone.
“What we see is that you’re really good at programming her to respond like a person. That doesn’t mean she can actually think or act like one outside of a controlled environment,” Vivian countered.
“Oh come on! I know you’re jealous of me and everything but really-”
“Jealous?!” she screeched standing up from her chair.
“Doctors, please!” Dr. Wong said forcefully, cutting off the argument. She waited until Vivian at down before continuing. “Now, Dr. Porter does make a good point. How do we know all of this hasn’t just been staged for our benefit?”
“Please, do you really think I would willing program her to sing Styx?” Dr. McCoy retorted.
“What’s wrong with Styx?” Mimi asked, sounding slightly offended.
“Now is not the time.”
“Fine,” she huffed, crossing her arms over he chest and turning her head away. “There’s nothing wrong with Styx though.”
“Well I’m convinced,” Dr. James Possible spoke up for the first time, drawing the others’ attention. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve head that kind of conversation with my Kimmie-cub. That kind of thing is hard to fake,” he said with a light chuckle. His face then grew serious as he focused on Dr. McCoy. “Which reminds me, are you positive that every trace of that monster that attacked my daughter is gone.”
“Absolutely. Trust me, I don’t want to have to deal with it again anymore than you do,” he replied with a slight shudder. “And like I said I’ve gone through her codes time and time again. I can’t tell you the amount of sleep I’ve lost trying to make sure she was perfect.”
“52 days 3 hours 16 minutes and 29 seconds if you want to be specific about it,” Mimi spoke up.
“Well I can’t say I’m too thrilled you did this all behind our backs, McCoy,” Dr. Wong said sternly. “But it does seem like you’ve more then delivered on your promise of a more advanced A.I. and I’m curious to see if you can do it again.” She turned to look at Vivian. “Dr. Porter you’re the head of our robotics division, what do you think?”
The blond haired scientist turned her head to give the hapless Dr. McCoy a very evil looking grin which caused his nervously to return in full. This was the moment he feared, she could either make or break him with her decision. She stared at him for several long, long seconds before turning back to the chairwoman.
“Personal issues aside, Frank is known as one of the experts in our field for reason. He’s made a couple of advancements in A.I. that even I’m having problems with. If he says he can reproduce the results we’ve seen here again, I believe him. So I say we keep him on,” she advised.
“Alright then, I’ll let him stay on your recommendation. I hope neither of us will live to regret it.”
“Oh I promise you, you won’t,” Dr. McCoy said with another relieved sigh. “I swear I’ll do the very best I can.”
Dr. Wong nodded. “Then get to it doctor. You’re free to go.”
He nodded vigorously and said a few dozen “Thank You”s as he took Mimi’s hand and guided her out of the room. He was more than happy to get back to his lab and continue his work now that he was sure he would still have a job. He had a large grin on his face as he walked through the halls of the Space Center and was humming softly to himself. Yes, it was certainly good to still have a job.
An hour or so later, Dr. McCoy was still humming to himself as he stared at the monitor screen at his station. Mimi sat in a chair next to him with a wire connected to a port in the back of her neck with the other end connected to his computer. He scrolled through her programming for probably the millionth time, looking for any inconsistently.
“So I take it from all the humming that you’re happy with the way things turned out,” she remarked.
“You mean not losing my job and the obscenely large grant they’ve given me for my research?” he asked rhetorically. “Yes, yes I’m very happy about that.”
“That’s good. So you don’t think I overdid a bit?”
“Well you did point out one of the biggest flaws in our department’s existence and there was the whole ‘Mr. Roboto’ thing, but I think that actually helped us. Made you seem more human.”
“Then it was all on purpose! You’re lucky to have me act the way I do!”
“I think luck had a big part to do with it,” a new voice spoke up.
They turned to see Vivian standing in the doorway with her own personal robot Oliver by her side. She walked into the room and made her way over to his station where she looked Mimi up and down for a moment before focusing her attention on Dr. McCoy.
“So how did you accomplish this, anyway?” she asked, gesturing towards the seated android.
“I’m sorry but that’s a personal secret,” he remarked with a grin.
“Come on Frank we’re suppose to be colleagues.”
“That doesn’t mean I have to share all my information with you.”
“Actually it kinda does.”
“Uh, excuse me, fussy humans?” Mimi spoked up, pulling the cord out of her next. “If you’re going to talk about me like I’m not here then I’d really actually not be here.” She stood up and turned to the other human-like robot. “Come on Oliver, walk with me, talk with me.”
She hooked her arm around his and led him into another part, separate part of the lab. When they were out of sight, Vivian took the seat Mimi had left and stared pointedly at her colleague.
“Okay Frank, spill. How’d you make her so life like?” she asked again.
“Through the sheer will power of my genius of course,” he remarked.
He sighed and shook his head. “Just can’t stand to see me exceeding you in anything, can you?”
“Not when you can’t even tell me how you did it. I think it was just a fluke,” she remarked as she leaned back in the chair and crossed her arms.
“Trust me it was no fluke. I spent…days rewriting the program on my new personality chip to avoid the same mistake as last time but still have it be functional. Once I was sure it was done I installed it in her body and basically set the program to ‘Learn’. Naturally I made the baseline program for her to be an upstanding, law abiding system, but the rest of it is just the chip fulfilling it’s design specs. I feed her information through various forms of media and soon enough an entirely new personality emerged.”
“But you’re not quite sure how, are you?” Vivian insisted.
“Alright fine, no I’m not! There, happy?!”
She gave them a triumphant smirk. “Very much.”
“Just don’t go spreading that around. Especially after that big speech I had to give the board members.”
“Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me,” she replied then after a moment leaned closer to him. “Just as long as you don’t spread it around that I am a bit jealous of you.”
This caught his interested quite quickly.
“Oh really?” he asked.
“OK don’t make me regret telling you that by taking that tone.”
“That ‘Oh I’m sooo much better than everyone else’ tone. It’s just annoying.”
“I don’t have that kind of tone.”
“Trust me, you do,” she insisted. “But anyway, I’m jealous by the fact that even on accident you can create an android that’s so…human. I take pride in what I’ve done with Oliver but there are still a few human concepts he can’t seem to grasp but Mimi…” she stopped and shook her head. “I could swear that was just someone dressed up as a robot.”
“I assure you she’s the real thing. Again, a product of my genius,” he noted smugly.
“Again, there’s a tone,” she corrected him. “By the way, what’s with the name anyway? ‘Mimi’.”
He suddenly looked embarrassed and muttered something under his breath as he turned his head away.
“What?” she asked, holding a hand up to her ear.
“I said it was the name of a girl I had a crush on in high school.”
Vivian blinked. “See now that’s a bit creepy.”
“Well I couldn’t think of anything else, alright?! Besides it’s not a bad name, there are certainly worse.”
“I guess so. Still…” she paused and gave a slight shudder. “I’m almost afraid to ask, but what about the hair? Why purple?”
“Cause…it was the color of my mom’s favorite scarf.”
Her expression softened and she even gave him a gentle smile.
“See? Now that’s actually touching,” she complimented.
“Thank you,” he nodded. “Anything else, you want to know?”
“Kinda. Why did you paint her skin colored instead of just asking me to use some of the synthetic skin I used for Oliver?”
“Actually I brought that idea up to her but she said she preferred it this way. Something about having fun with people I’m not sure,” he rambled off with a dismissive wave.
“Okay,” she said, not quite sure what to make of the answer. “But what about the clothes?”
“Hey, she picked that outfit out herself!”
“I meant is there a reason she needs them. I know it’d be look odd to have a robot with human looking coloring walking around ‘naked’ but really is she…?”
He hesitated to answer. He knew what she was asking and even knew what to tell her. Unfortunately, he also knew the reaction it would get and wasn’t looking forward to it.
“If you want to know if she’s anatomically correct then…yes she is,” he finally admitted.
Vivian gaped at him.
“Oh don’t give me that look! I had nothing to do with that, it’s how she came to me!”
“But still…you could have fixed that.”
“I could have, but she didn’t want me too. Besides which, it’s not like you have much room to judge.”
“What’s that suppose to mean?!” she shouted indignantly.
“You know exactly what it means Ms. My-boyfriend-is-a-robot! At least I’m trying to actually advance our field rather than make a date for myself.”
“I’ll have you know that I made Oliver because people weren’t taking me or my work seriously!”
“Maybe that’s because you dress in such provocative outfits.”
“Provocative?!” she fumed, jumping to her feet.
“Yes!” Dr. McCoy returned, standing to meet her gaze. “And you know what I think? I think you do it just to get the attention!”
Vivian let out a loud gasp as her hands balled up into fists. Her face grew flush with anger and her eyes became slits as she glared dangerously at her. At this point in their careers, most of the other scientists knew never to call into question Vivian’s intelligence based on her looks and if they did to immediately back down and apologize. Dr. McCoy, however, was not the kind to back down from a verbal fight, especially when he thought he was right. So her glare was met with one of his own as they prepared for a major confrontation.
In another part of the lab, as the conversation between doctors Porter and McCoy was just getting starting, another conversation of similar nature was about to take place. After they had entered far section of the lab, Mimi detached herself from Oliver’s arm then walked over to one of the free chairs and sat down with her legs propped up on the desk and her hands behind her back. Oliver sat across from her in a proper sitting fashion and stared at her for a moment before speaking.
“May I ask you something?” he ventured.
“You just did,” she retorted.
He stared blankly for a second. “Oh, right, because I used a question to see if I could ask you a question. Funny. But that brings up the topic I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Which is…?” she asked, tilting her head towards him.
“How are you able to act so human?”
She chuckled and leaned her head back to stare at the ceiling.
“Oh come on, you should know that! It’s all in the programming.”
“Yes that I can understand, but the way you can express those emotions is what intrigues me. For instance your ability to appreciate music.”
“You don’t appreciate music?”
“Not the way I should I’m afraid,” he admitted, looking down shamefully. “I’ve never been able to comprehend it beyond its technical aspects.” He glanced up at her. “But you.”
“But me what?” she asked, giving him an odd look.
“I heard about your singing in the hall. From what I heard you were actually really…into the music for lack of a better term.”
The admission made her drop her feet to the floor and leaned forward with the chair until she almost hit the desk. She stared at him in utter embarrassment for a moment before speaking again.
“I can’t believe you heard about that,” she groaned. “I mean I was having fun but I didn’t want the whole Space Center to know.”
“You’re embarrassed,” Oliver observed in a clinical tone. “Another trait I’m unable to express.”
“Well be thankful for that, it’s not much fun,” she informed him. “Now as for you music question. When I first heard it, I had the same problem too. I was listening to the cords themselves and not altogether. It was only when Dr. McCoy told me that I had to take a step back and hear them blended together that I actually started to stop listening to music and start hearing it. Feeling it really. If that makes any sense.”
“Well then, I don’t know what else to tell you.”
“Fair enough. I suppose there are just some things I won’t be up to understand unless I receive an upgrade. Still, I must admit you are really impressive. Your systems must be generations beyond mine to be able to understand humans the way you do.”
“Why Oliver, are you jealous of little ol’ me?” she asked, in an exaggerated tone.
“I suppose that might be one way to put it.”
“Well…I’m not sure you should be,” she said softly as she stood up.
She walked over to the large window and stared out at the launchpad glistening in the noon day sun. She placed her hand on the glass and slid the lids over her optic sensors in imitation of humans closing their eyes.
“This window is hot,” she stated in a far off tone. “I can feel it technically, but not truly feel it. Not the way a human does. That’s the same way my emotion programing works. I can feel these emotions but I know that they’re really just an imitation of human behavior. They’re both real and unreal at the same time. It’s a thought that I can’t quite process and if I tried I think I might overload and literally blow my mind. So I kinda have to accept things they way the are and just appreciate what I have. Try to find a balance, you know?” She suddenly turned on her right heel back towards him and opens her eyes again, the blue lights that made them somehow sparkling even brighter. “But hey, that’s what being an AI is all about, right? Finding that prefect balance of what you are and what you want to be? In a lot of ways it like how humans have to deal with societal pressures while still trying to be themselves.”
Oliver placed a hand on his chin in the classic “thinker” pose as he processed this information.
“Yes. Yes I think I understand what you’re saying,” he mused. “It’s much like-”
His revelation was cut off by a loud scream coming from the other room in the lab. The two androids stared at each other for a moment then quickly ran towards the sound. What they found where Vivian and Dr. McCoy screaming at each other at the top of their lungs.
“Maybe people would give you more respect give you didn’t go around flaunting your breasts everywhere!” Dr. McCoy yelled.
“I do not flaunt them! Just because I wear something that suits my figure doesn’t give every guy in the world the right to stare at me like a piece of meat!” Vivian shot back.
“Well it certainly doesn’t help! Especially not when you’re trying to prove you actually know something!”
“I do know something. That you’re a complete ass!”
“Vivian, Frank, is everything alright?” Oliver asked, taking a step forward.
“NO!” the both shouted.
“Come one Oliver, I suddenly feel the need to take a long walk outside,” Vivian huffed, before turning to the exit.
“Yeah ‘walk’ that’s what they’re calling it nowadays!” Dr. McCoy called after her before he stormed off for a different part of the lab.
“Uh…Doc,” Mimi ventured.
“Not now!” he barked as he past her.
She stood completely still until he was gone and at that point noticed that she was now all alone in the lab. She looked back and fourth between the places the two doctors had stormed off as she tried to figure out what had happened between them. Unfortunately, no rational answer would present itself.
“OK, I give up,” she muttered to herself. “I’ll never understand humans.”
Author’s Note: So there you have it, another installment in the “Spotlight” series. This one came about while I was trying to do think of something to do with the original body of The Queen. I had a couple of ideas come to me, one of them the standard story of a robot trying to become more human and being kind of the outcast/lonely type but I thought that was too cliche. The other was to have her wake up somehow with The Queen’s memories still in take then try to reclaim her hive only to find that it was being run by the second Queen. That felt like it would just complicate things way too much. Then, out of nowhere-a place of a lot of my ideas come from-I had a flash of Dr. McCoy giving this big speech to the people at the Space Center and when he opened the door instead of the usual robot walking in and introducing itself, you got “Mr. Roboto”. For some reason a robot doing the robot dance and singing that sound was hilarious to me and just too good to pass up.
The rest, as they say, is history. Or this fic. Either way, I hope you enjoyed reading it and now that I have here in the “MI” universe I’m sure I’ll think of something else to do with Mimi. Particularly with her meeting up with the Bebes. Again, too good to pass up.