Iris on Rainy Days: Dismantling- 4 Days Before
 Four Days Before
I am wearing a white dress with frills on it, checking my attire in front of the mirror.
I’m going on a date with Professor today. Well, just for a half-day date to a movie and lunch.
“Iris, we’re going soon~”
Came Professor’s voice from downstairs.
“Alright, I’m coming!”
I respond in a loud voice, putting on a large straw hat at the same time. The hat hides the antenna above my ears, so that there won't be curious kids shouting “Robot! It’s a robot!”
— Attire okay, hat alright, battery level full!
I hurry down the stairs after completing my last minute check.
Professor is standing at the front door, wearing her personal clothes.
— so stunning!
The blue shirt and green jeans are actually rather casual clothing, but since she’s quite tall, this shows off her exceptional figure. If there were a white horse beside her she would look just like a prince— but this analogy seems a little strange.
A silver cigarette case gleams in front of her chest. Having Professor’s favorite oblong cigarette case hung on a chain, it seems just like a necklace. The 8-shaped circlet cigarettes are kept in the case.
“Professor, how do I look?”
I twirl in a circle like a ballerina. The dress and the straw hat flutter gently in the breeze.
Professor narrows her eyes, as if dazzled by the sun and says “Mnn, it suits you.”
It suits you…… It suits you…… It suits you…… It suits you……. Professor’s words reverberate repeatedly in my mental circuits.
Ahh, just hearing that could make me happy all day.
“Let’s go then.”
Professor walks over while lifting her long hair. I hold her hand while standing beside her.
As the door is opened, the blue sky that makes one want to burst into song seems to be blessing us.
There are a lot of people at the cinema beside the station.
I show my robot certificate at the ticket booth, then the employees start to size me up. My antenna above my ear is hidden, so they are suspicious of me because they can’t tell if I’m a human or a robot.
It seems that the elevator is offline today; we pass by quite a few technicians at the entrance of the cinema. More than half of them seem to be labor robots, probably the HRL004 model from their appearance. Whichever it is, they're an old model.
Labor robots have been around even longer than family robots have. As more of them are sold in the market, they are more often seen on the streets. Waiters at a restaurant, night time security guards, attendants at the entrance hall of a company, carpenters — their uses are quite diverse.
Old family robots are also often sold in the second hand market and reused as labor robots. Young female robots usually enter the labor robot market this way. Recently, the people who combine second hand parts of robots to create a new robot to sell are increasing, and the hidden dangers of this have been noted as a problem to society. It is, by the way, against the law for unqualified persons to assemble a robot, similar to the fact that one can’t just assemble a car and drive it on the road.
After entering the cinema, Professor and I choose a seat towards the back of the room. We place the fruit juice and popcorn on the small table between the seats. After five minutes, the movie starts playing.
“What is it?”
“Why are we watching a horror movie today?”
Two young women watching a horror movie alone seems strange. The other people in the seats are all man-woman couples.
“Analyzing the actions of the zombies could be used as a reference for the theory of movement control for robots.”
“Huh…… Theory of movement control……”
Professor is always passionate about her research. I can’t help an admiring thought: “As expected of Professor,” while a hint of mirth suddenly appears on the corner of Professor’s mouth.
“Eh, why are you smiling?”
“Nothing, Iris is really a good and honest girl.”
I don't know why Professor praised me, but it pleases me anyway.
“That’s right, Professor. According to my investigations, the movie ‘This is a Fateful Encounter’ is the most popular movie, a touching masterpiece…… It’s rare that we come here, so do you want to watch that?”
“I say, isn’t that a romantic movie?”
“That would be fine, romantic movies.”
“The stereotypical contents are lame.”
“The- then what about a monster movie? Like ‘Monster Showdown: Vanilla vs Chocola’?”
“There’d probably be a lot of kids there. That won't do. They’d make a lot of noise when the movie is playing.”
“What about ‘Third-rate Demon God Visa Darke’?”
“Isn’t that a series? I didn’t watch its predecessors, so how would I know of its contents?”
“Uuuu…… You know that I’m scared of watching horror movies, right?”
I puff out my cheeks and start to have a tantrum. Professor bursts into laughter when she sees me.
All of a sudden, a bell rings and the movie starts.
The long-awaited zombies shamble unsteadily forward from the movie screen.
Professor gives her impression of the movie, satisfied. It seems that she finds the visual effects of the horror movie adequate.
As for me, I have become a pale-faced robot with periodic violent spasms.
“Iris, are you okay?”
“H- h-h- how could I be okay! Wh- wh- wh- what is that, that movie cuts like bzzzt~ and springs up like dong~!”
Instead of saying that this is a horror movie, it’s really more a violent, bloody movie.
Halfway through the movie, I try to hug Professor quite a few times in fear but was pushed away by the expressionless Professor with her right hand.
I try to fling away the squirting blood, flying brains and squirming intestines burnt into my mental circuits by violently shaking my head, but even if I do so, the data obviously remain unchanged.
“Since our coming here is such a rare event, why don’t we take a commemorative photo?”
After calling to a worker nearby, Professor passes her camera to him. It seems like she’s going to use the signboard of the horror movie ‘Nightmare~ Rotten Nightmare’ as a background, to take the our commemorative photo together.
“No, let’s take it some other place.”
“That won’t do. We watched a movie here today, so we must take it here.”
“We’ll be cursed if we take a photo here!”
“That isn’t a scientific reason.”
After grabbing my elbow tightly, Professor hugs my shoulders in front of the signboard.
Our bodies are tightly touching, and it would be a great moment if it were some other time. But right now, I just feel that the army of zombies from the signboard would jump out at any moment. Especially the zombies that had their lower bodies chopped off, their intestines poking out; I feel my whole body trembling just thinking of it.
After shouting that, the worker presses the shutter.
Just like that, I am in a photo, my face deathly pale, squeezing out a smile; Professor, with a devilish smile on her face.
After eating lunch at a nearby restaurant, we take thirty minutes to buy the makings of dinner, then we return home.
On the way back home, Professor and I walk home hand in hand.
And now, Professor is reading the newspaper she bought from a newsstand. One of the contents is ‘Unit Composed of New Robot Model Utterly Annihilating Enemy’s Base.’
“Reading while walking is dangerous, Professor.”
“It’s okay. I’m holding Iris' hand anyway.”
“It’s because the special report in the ‘Oval Times’ is so interesting that I can't resist. Crane Cloudy is one of the top researchers of robots in the world.”
Though Professor is still on a date with me, she is fascinated by the newspaper. I’m so jealous of the paper.
While dragging Professor, who’s holding her paper one hand, we arrive at Venus Plaza.
— there it is.
About fifty meters from the plaza, it’s the shop. Its walls have been broken down, the ground is sunken, and there is also yellow tape on the outside, forbidding people from entering. This is the robot crime scene I saw from the news on the television.
Professor finally shifts her attention away from the newspaper, raising her head.
“About that……” I point at the shop with the collapsed wall. Professor nods, answering immediately “The place where the robot rampage happened?” It seems that Professor knows of this as well.
“Why did the robot go on a rampage?”
I express my doubts about the matter.
Professor deliberately lowers her voice, answering: “I have an obligation to keep this secret, so I can’t answer you.”
“Eh?” I ask, confused. “An obligation?”
Professor smiles faintly and shrugs while saying: “I was just making fun of you.”
“The robot was sent to our research centre for dissection. And our group is in charge of it.”
I blinked in surprise. I never would have thought that the robot in the news would have any connection to Professor. While thinking about it, the agency that is the most specialized in robotic matters is the ‘First Robotics Laboratory of Oval University’ where Professor works at, so it’s natural that things would turn out this way.
“Then did you learn anything?”
Professor touches her chin lightly with her index finger.
“Put simply, we think it was ‘short circuit of the motor system causing the safety circuits to go haywire.’ Even so, we aren’t that clear about some points, as the robot was excessively damaged.”
Robots have a central group of circuits called the three main systems. They are the logic circuits, the movement control circuits, and the safety circuits.
Compared with a human, the mental circuits would be the brain, the movement control circuits would be the spinal cord and nervous system. The orders given by the mental circuits would be transmitted to the whole body though the movement control circuits, causing the limbs to move.
The safety circuits would be like a emergency brake system that would prevent the two previous systems from going into disorder. All robots must have safety circuits installed; the manufacturers are required to do so by law, so this type of circuit is hidden in my body as well.
“Even so, I still have something that I’m worried about.”
Professor continues to say. Taking out a cirgarette from her cigarette case, she places it into her mouth. The cirgarette immediately gives out purple smoke.
“After recovering the data of the mental circuits, I noticed something odd. Robots seem to be able to have ‘illusions’.”
Professor nods. A sweet sour smell drifts over from the circlet cigarette.
“It seems that he was chasing ‘someone’ that only he could see. If you explain it like this, you might be able to explain the actions of the robot in a logical way. The robot breaking the door is because ‘that person’ was at the other side of the wall, walking to the fountain is also because ‘that person’ went there.”
Robots having hallucinations. Can this happen?
“I received reports of the visual and color settings of robots going haywire before, but the case this time is quite unusual…… Additionally, the other members of our group did not notice this before I suggested the possibility. Really……”
Professor’s eyes are as lively as the summer sun, and her voice is quite agitated too. Any time she talks about something concerning robots, Professor becomes extremely active. I like seeing Professor like this.
Even so, as our topic today is robot crime, my feelings just now are rather complicated.
At this moment, Professor suddenly stops.
“What is it?”
“Iris, wait for me for a moment.”
After that, Professor walks to the other side of the road.
She is walking towards a robot lying on the ground. His right leg has been broken through, his body is broken down, curling up his body like a kitten, lying in front of a closed down store.
Professor ignored the fact that it would dirty her clothes and starts to carry the robot’s upper torso, leaning him on the steel door of the store. Then, she starts to do a whole body examination on the robot with a serious expression on her face.
“Hmm, the 007 model huh……” mutters Professor.
Professor then slowly takes out a spare battery from her pocket and stuffs it into the chest of the robot. After a few seconds, a ‘beep’ is heard, then the chest of the robot quivers violently for awhile like an electric shock was used on him after his heartbeat stopped.
“Very good, his circuits are still functioning.”
After taking out the battery, Professor immediately takes out her phone to make a phone call.
“…… Ah, Ralph? It’s me. I’m near the fountain plaza right now.”
Professor briefly tells the person at the other side of the phone about the model and condition of the robot. The conversation ends after 30 seconds, then Professor starts looking at the cover of the gutters rolled aside nearby.
“This kid…… actually passed through such a dark, narrow place……”
As Professor said, the robot seemed to have crawled out from the storm sewer, his body stained with moss. After imagining the silhouette of a robot crawling through a sewer pipe like a dark, narrow passage, an inexplicable feeling wells up in me.
Professor sticks a sticker with ‘Oval University First Robotics Laboratory: Final Reclamation Information’ onto the chest of the robot, then says to me after turning around “Sorry for the wait.”
“Professor, you called the research centre just now?”
“Yeah. I made some arrangements for collecting this kid.”
I turn my head around to look at the robot just now.
“You can fix him?”
“Yeah, I won’t know if I don’t try.”
Professor often fixes robots that are lying on the roadside. If she got to know the identity of the robot, she would contact the registered owner. Though there were some lucky robots who were taken away by their owners, most of them were kept in the storage room of the research centre.
If the robots are claimed by the Robot Management Department first, the robots would be converted into scrap metal after dealing with the necessary procedures. From this perspective, the robots found by Professor are actually very lucky.
Walking forward hand in hand, I ask.
“What is it?”
“Why do you keep helping and fixing the robots?”
Professor thinks for a moment, then stares at me.
“Because…maybe…it's the meaning of my existence?”
I feel that the smile that Professor gave me was gentle but contained a hint of sadness.
An expression like this sometimes appeared on Professor’s face.
After dinner that day, Professor starts a long awaited ‘special talk’ for me. This is because Professor finished her work earlier than expected. I get this special talk and a date, too; what a special day this day is.
I move the table and chair into the research lab while beaming, arranging the small blackboard and duster, then I prepare some snacks and tea. Then the preparations are complete.
A special talk.
This is a private talk that Professor organizes for me time after time.
Professor organizes a lecture at Oval University each week. As she’s a young genius who’s at the forefront of robot engineering, the classroom is always stuffed full of people, and quite a lot of people from other universities go to listen, too.
Professor’s lectures are very special and would start talks with philosophical topics like ‘Robots and Ethics,’ ‘Robots and Love’ and so on. Learning about these lectures a long time ago, I shouted “I want to join too!,” but in the end, I couldn’t go. I want to see with my own eyes, Professor standing on the stage with her white robe and holding a cane, teaching with a heroic posture and cold tone. As robots don’t have the right to go to school, attending sneakily would just affect Professor’s stand. As I was about to give up, Professor gave me a suggestion:
“Why don’t we just have the lecture at home?”
From that time on, Wendy von Umbrella started to organize special lectures for Iris Rain Umbrella alone.
I take out my thick notebook from my beloved folder. The notebook was jotted full of questions that I asked during the previous lectures.
“Do robots undergo psychological growth?”
“Do robots undergo puberty and rebellious stages?”
“What are the differences between the emotions of robots and humans?”
“Can robots go to heaven too?”
“Might there be a day when humans marry robots?”
“How much does Professor love me?”
Though it was mixed with a few personal questions, these are still in a tolerable area. This is a personal talk, after all.
“Alright, please get back to your seat.”
Professor walks into the lab. Today, she is still wearing a white robe on top of her suit, her beautiful hair tied up behind her. On the other hand, I’m still wearing my usual maid outfit, so our combination is rather strange.
Professor place her hands on the old wooden lectern that she brought from the university, saying: “Starting rollcall.”
“Iris Rain Umbrella.”
“Here! Here here, here!”
I poke out my body from the table, raising my hand energetically like a kid who just started school.”
“What is it!”
“Saying ‘here’ once would be enough.”
I am extremely happy at this moment. It would be nice if robots could go to school one day.
Professor coughs for a moment, then started the lecture with a ‘ Well, please turn to page fifty two.’
I open the textbook that Professor uses in the university. As I read it quite a lot of times already, the book is quite tattered.
“The theme of the lecture today is ‘What is the meaning of the existence of a robot.’ Recently, this type of research is categorized as robot psychology. A thesis that I spoke of about eight years ago initiated a hot discussion……”
Professor says that rapidly. The blackboard is gradually covered with Professor’s beautiful writing.
I am recording Professor’s words onto the notebook. Of course, saving the contents on the blackboard in my mental circuit can be done, but it wouldn’t have the feel of a lecture if so. The most important thing is the atmosphere and our attitudes.
After thirty minutes.
“…… Hmm, the above is the history of the ‘meaning of life’ and ‘mental hygiene’ from older models to newer models of robots. Though the arrangement is rather ugly from an academic view, but it might be able to help out students who are looking for a reference. …… Any questions?”
I raise my right hand and wave it with all my might. But there’s only one student here anyways.
“Your lecture is very interesting, thank you for that!”
The first thing is to be courteous.
“Then, about the ‘meaning of existence’ that professor mentioned just now, does it include ‘robots must serve their masters’?”
“Of course. Learning robots are prevalent among family robots; the direct meaning of their existence is to serve the robot user.”
“Then the meaning of my existence is to serve Professor, that’s for sure.”
“How did you get to that conclusion?”
“Because I love Professor.”
“Saying ‘okay’ once would be enough; Professor said that.”
“You are really so fussy.”
Professor heaves a sigh.
While jotting down the tables and explanations on the blackboard, I ponder today’s theme – the meaning of our existence. Lastly, after I hand in a simple report of my thoughts, the lecture would end.
“Alright, I’m done!”
“Wow, you’re quick.”
Like a detective who solved a hard case, I slap the report onto the lectern.
“Impression Report (Eighteenth time)” Theme……. Robots and Meaning of Existence.
The meaning of my existence is Professor. My beloved Professor. I love you, Professor. Marry me, Professor. End!
After reading my report, Professor’s expression becomes as awkward as an old police who had the limelight stolen by a detective.
“Erm, Miss Iris.”
“What is it!”
“Your report has only one row.”
“That row has everything!”
“How unmotivated are you.”
“I’m full of motivation!”
“Are you looking down on me?”
“I cannot deny the possibility!”
After heaving a sigh, Professor fishes out a circlet cigarette from her cigarette case.
She breaks the 8-shaped circlet cigarette into half, then pops one into her mouth.
“It’s okay. This isn’t the university anyways.”
“No, not that…… No smoking in the lab.”
As if she is throwing a tantrum, she declares while pouting: “Then that’s the end of the lecture today!”
She takes off her white robe, throws it onto the table, and leaves the classroom speedily with purple smoke behind her. “Really.” The word faintly drifted over along with the smoke.
I pick up the report that I wrote. A large red word is written at the center— “REDO”
The prank today might be a little bit too much. As the special lectures are the only rare times when I can make fun of Professor, I couldn’t resist it.
I should send her some red tea and cake after this to improve her mood.
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