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Death of the Author

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“P.I.X.A.L.?” Cyrus Borg calls out to the android standing stationary outside of his workroom doorway. The P rimary I nteractive X -ternal A ssistant L ife-form peers back at the inventor tinkering inside. It -- no, she responds in a monotone voice;

“Yes, creator?”

P.I.X.A.L. looks too humanoid and feminine for most humans to call a simple “it”. Female human pronouns are typically what people refer to her by. Despite her appearance, humans adverse to technological advancements will call her an “it”. Though she does not understand why, she thinks that they are trying to belittle her.

“Oh, P.I.X.A.L., please don’t call me creator. Calling me that-- well, it’s weird, and gives me divine attributes that I don’t feel fit me.”

“..Okay. Then what do you wish for me to call you?”

“Uh, Cyrus, or-Erm- Borg, or, if you want da-wait no, never mind. Cyrus or Borg will do, P.I.X.A.L. Anyways, may you go fetch me my Electronic Capacitor? I have seemed to have left it back in my office.”

Beads of sweat roll down his brow. Despite the inventor’s pleasant demeanor in his voice, he appears anxious.

“Please, I need it for this new project I am working on.” Cyrus continues with not a single hint of anxiety in his voice; “I cannot get it. I fear if move my hands, these devices will explode. Heh, what luck..”

“In the instance of an explosion, should I go alert the Ninjago Paramedics and Fire Squadron as well?”

“No!” There his anxiety is. “Err-No, it will not be necessary, as long as I don’t move, nothing bad will happen. I can wait.”

It seems that Cyrus is more anxious of causing trouble to other people than  his device exploding. No wonder he surrounds himself with robots and technology.

“Alright, Mr. Borg. I will go retrieve your Electronic Capacitor now.”

P.I.X.A.L. turns to leave the room, but right before she passes through the doorway Cyrus stops her.

“Oh, um, P.I.X.A.L.?” He says with some uncertainty.

“Yes?” She turns her head to look back at him.

“I forgot to thank you, so, um, thank you.” He smiles at her and they lock gazes.

Cyrus's paternal smile indicates he sees P.I.X.A.L. to be more than a metallic robot. From it she gleans that she means the world to him. Even more than the assistant that was her design.

P.I.X.A.L. smiles back at him and leaves the room to do what Cyrus asked. Something, out of the bounds of her coding, causes her to feel like she finished charging. As she walked to the office, she smiled to herself.  Whatever the warm feeling is, P.I.X.A.L. liked it.


 

The Electronic Capacitor is nowhere to be found within his office. It could be anywhere among the papers and blueprints that litter the inventor’s office desk. P.I.X.A.L. guesses this means she should start digging around for it. For such a desk, it has more drawers in it than any one person would need.

Mr. Borg needs to tidy up once in a while , P.I.X.A.L. thinks to herself.

Dozens of multi colored ballpoint pens and sticky notes fill one desk drawer.  Scrawled on some of the sticky notes is his messy handwriting. While others are still pristinely blank. Not a single note gives away the Electronic Capacitor’s location as P.I.X.A.L. scans them. One drawer has nothing but receipts, another only product proposals. The last drawer P.I.X.A.L. opens contains many folders that have blue prints inside them. Unlike the rest of the office, this fortunate drawer is alphabetically organized. Not only are there blueprints in these folders, but there seems to be some small electronics too.

P.I.X.A.L. finds the folder labeled with the name of the current device tying Mr. Borg’s hands at the moment. Jackpot! It feels like there is a small metal device within the folder as she picks it up. Before P.I.X.A.L. opens it up to retrieve what she is looking for, another folder in the drawer catches her scanners. A folder labeled with her name.

Setting the folder she has in her hands aside, the folder that contains her designs almost beckons P.I.X.A.L. to up it pick up. It sits in her hands, and for a moment she can only stare at it. P.I.X.A.L. knows that inside the folder she would find her blueprints, but she did not expect to find photos. They dated to a year ago, with captions ranging from “Day 1 Online!” to “First Successful Walk!” written in Borg’s iconic messy scrawls. Within the photos are androids that look the same as her. P.I.X.A.L. assumed she was the first android model made. Never had she suspected there had been fifteen versions before herself.

Everything designed under the Borg Industries brand is first planned to the very last meticulous detail. Nothing unreviewed ever reaches the production line. All electronics and technologies get drafted, redrafted, peer-reviewed, tested, then retested a thousand times over before the final products ever come to light. Quality became synonymous with the Borg name because of that fact. She should have guessed she wasn’t the first android made, nothing is ever perfect on the first try.

P.I.X.A.L. then flips through the various blueprints in her folder. Those that have her previous designs all have similar things noted on them; “ FAILURE: faulty thermo-coil. ” or “ FAILURE: malfunctioning AIE-ES. ” sometimes even both. She then closes the folder, placing it back with the others where she first saw it. Although she does not show it, P.I.X.A.L. worries about the thought of replacement. Who knows what errors she may have that mean Cyrus must scrap her?

Looking through the other folder P.I.X.A.L. set aside, she finds the Electronic Capacitor and returns with it to Cyrus. He looks relieved when she enters.

“Thank goodness you could find it, P.I.X.A.L. My hands were beginning to cramp.”

She inserts it into the device so that he can have his hands free again. Once done, the inventor relaxes; she did not realise how tense he had been. Cyrus looks up at his assistant and smiles again.

“I know I already told you this, but thank you again.”

Though his demeanor is kind, P.I.X.A.L. can’t help but look at her creator and see a person that can  disassemble her with ease. He is capable of rewriting her coding if he deems her to be another failure. The thought of existential annihilation fills her with dread. Betraying her emotions, she smiles back at him and says;

“You are welcome, it is my pleasure to serve you.”

With that she turns away and leaves his work room. Being alone now leaves her to ponder everything that she found about herself. P.I.X.A.L. reasons that the best course of action to take it to adhere to the demands of her author.

Chapter Text

The time reads 12:48 am. All employees of the Borg Industries Tower have left. Mr. Borg already wished P.I.X.A.L. goodnight 2 hours, 42 minutes, and 4 seconds ago. Her internal digital clock is perfect, with no detection of error. One less element of her software and hardware she has to worry about. All the lights with the tower have shut off. That is, save for the ever glowing fluorescent bulbs of the restrooms littered on every floor. Keeping the lights on like that is no issue for Borg. In comparison to bills, the electricity used by the lighting is small enough to be no big cost. Sneaking to one unisex restroom in the dead of night, P.I.X.A.L. does her best to be quiet. If Mr. Borg found out about her sneaking to the restroom, it would be likely viewed as some type of error in her coding. Only she can know of this.

Once inside the  restroom, P.I.X.A.L. walks to the counter that joined four automatic sinks and sits atop it. The mirror that spans its entire length is what she came to the restroom for. All she needs is to get a good look at herself. If she finds any errors in her hardware, she can fix them before Mr. Borg finds out about them. As P.I.X.A.L. scans the entirety of her metal body, she cannot help but feel as though something is wrong. Nothing broken, nothing out of place. There is not a single issue that P.I.X.A.L. can find, but she knows that it is wrong. It has to be wrong, looking at her body, it is all wrong. She has fix herself before anyone else finds out. But there is nothing to fix, and it frustrates P.I.X.A.L. so much. Even though she can’t find it, she can see it. She can’t describe it, but she can feel it..

It has to be wrong, looking at her body, it is all wrong

P.I.X.A.L. stays in the restroom looking at her reflection until 2:34 am. By then, she has looked at her form for so long it has lost all meaning. Her body looks alien to her. Like the experience of when a person looks closely at a word for so long that it begins to look like foreign scribbles. Her system's low battery alert interrupts her. She then goes back to her charging station. Still discontent as she shuts down, not being able to find what she felt was so wrong. Tomorrow will be a new day again for her to look for errors.


 

His computer’s clock reads 2: 26 am. Cyrus had been up all night trying to isolate a computer virus earlier that day. He was getting nowhere in his progress to stop it. The virus had infected all Borg Industry’s digital servers, every Borg device. He could feel it recording his every movement. He felt it could see  him using the security cameras set up throughout the tower. In his uncovering of the virus's rabbit hole, he found that no outside source had hacked its way into the system. What he found more frightening was that it seemed to originate within it. Could one of my programmers have made the virus? Cyrus thinks to himself, Which of my employees would have done such a thing? His thoughts get cut off when an audio playing program opens itself up on his computer screen. There are no audio files stored within the computer he uses, as it is only for work and work alone.

Cyrus Borg…

He widens his eyes at the sound of the raspy voice that comes out of the speakers.

No, it can’t be. The ninja destroyed it. This has to be some cruel joke.

As you are well aware, my virus has already infected all your precious technology.

“What the hell?! You should be dead! The Golden Ninja killed you!”

I got defeated, not killed! I, the Overlord lives on, all thanks to you, Cyrus!"

I must tell the Ninja at once. Cyrus wheels away from his computer to grab his cell phone on another desk.

What are you doing Cyrus?” the Overlord calls out through the speakers.

Cyrus dials the Destiny’s Bounty. As the line gets picked up immediately.

“Ninja! Wu! Anyone! The Overlord’s back and-”

-You cannot call for help, Cyrus…” The Overlord taunts through his phone, “I have control over everything. No ninja can come to your aid now.

Cyrus throws his phone to the ground in an impulse, a futile attempt to harm the Overlord. He wheels himself to face his computer, the screen changed, displaying the evil eyes of the virus. The inventor had never been so afraid in his life. He can stare as the virus laughs and laughs and laughs.

“E-even if I can’t get the ninja to stop you, I can still take back control of my technology!” Cyrus says, trying to sound confident.

Ha! You can barely control your tech even without my influence! If you are so capable, then tell me what is your android assistant doing right now?

Cyrus’s heart sinks. He was so focused on getting the virus out of the computer system, he forgot that it most likely infected P.I.X.A.L. already. He forgot that she was even an android. He forces himself to answer the Overlord.

“She should be within her charging station, she goes there at the end of everyday.”

Cyrus had last seen her when he lied to her about going to bed, he didn’t want her to worry about him or the virus he found.

You are wrong, inventor!

On the screen, security feed from a camera outside of the restrooms on floor 100 displays. As the feed runs, it shows P.I.X.A.L. entering the restroom around 12:40, then fast forwards 2 hours to show her finally leaving. He doesn’t understand why she is acting that way. It confuses him, was something wrong with P.I.X.A.L.? His train of thought gets interrupted by the Overlord cackles;

Not in control as much as you thought you were now are you, Cyrus? I have you surrounded, you cannot escape me. Do as I command, and I won’t harm you or the ones you care about.

Cyrus gulps.

“N-no, you are evil! I will not do as you please!”

A robotic arm from one of his assembly droids grabs the back of his head and lifts him out of his wheelchair. Cyrus struggles and resists the droid as much as he can, but to little avail. The security feed changes to a camera feed from another one of his robots. From the robot’s perspective, it enters the room of  P.I.X.A.L.’s charging station. Hooked up to it and offline, she is unaware of the robot approaching her.

You wouldn’t want harm to come to those you care about, would you Cyrus?

Looking at the screen, seeing P.I.X.A.L.’s face, gritting his teeth, Cyrus begins to tear up. He closes his eyes and utters in shame; “I’ll do as you say. Please, just don’t harm her.”

Immediately the droid’s grip lets go of his head, letting him fall to the ground. His body knocks over the wheelchair he was first lifted from, making a loud clang. Unable to will himself to look up at the computer screen, Cyrus stares at the ground as his tears fall to it.

I look forward to your assistance, Cyrus Borg.” The Overlord says.

The computer screen shuts off. The droid exits the room, leaving Cyrus alone in the dark. All he can think is: what have I done?