Blue. Waves of blue slipped across the coarse sand. The ground was gray, but glowed orange with the light of the setting sun. The solid, unwavering ocean of neon orange pebbles shifted beneath her weight. She gazed from the coastline, unable to turn away from the view. Beside her, she felt his warmth. Her insides felt eternally cold, but his presence heated her. She tilted her head back, carefully. Gazing down the curve of her nose, all she could see was a sea of blue. Suddenly, the vision stopped. Electricity pulsed through her arteries and veins, waking her. Her eyelids peeled back and she stared at the fluorescent rod above. After what felt like an eternity, she finally sat up and twisted her head awkwardly. There was no ocean here. It was just the same old room, without windows. The artificial light from above illuminated the hotel room. No furnishings upon the walls; it was just smooth steel. There was an electronic screen built into the opposite wall, which functioned for music and streaming visual media of all sorts. The bed she laid upon was topped with filthy bedding. The entire room reeked of human. She heard a noise from outside the door.
“R33, get out here now!” the voice called angrily.
Rising from the bed, she obeyed. She always obeyed. Her feet carried her to the door that opened automatically as it sensed her movement. The blue bar of light on the panel to the side of the exit door flickered and turned green as it slid closed behind her. Her dark, artificial hair bounced and swayed as she stepped through the dim hallways. Other door panels lined the walls; some had green lights, others, red lights. She carried herself to the end of the hall, through another doorway, to the left of a green-lit panel. As always, she sat down on the grated steel seat. She closed her eyes and felt the machine lower her into the gray fluid. A short woman with a hooked nose walked over to the tank filled with gray liquid. She closed the lid, sealing the girl inside by latching it with a steel bolt. Submerged in the fluid, the girl felt her mind go blank. Time did not seem to obey its normal patterns now. Everything went black.
The lid opened, the edge clutched by the hook-nosed woman, “Get out, R33.”
At the command, she rose from the liquid in the tank and clambered out. The experience made a blur of the previous hours, or was it days? She thought she recalled walking down a hallway. Her wandering mind was brought back to focus on the woman in front of her again.
“Good work tonight, you made me some good bit,” the woman smiled, seemingly pleased.
Her brown hair was tied taught in a bun on the top of her head. Her hooked nose seemed to point down at her dress like an arrow. The black and blue clothing had gray lines across it in a crisscrossing pattern, separating the black sections from the blue sections. The skirt was black, like the majority of the outfit. The woman was apparently in a good mood until she looked back at the girl. Her dark eyes glared at the girl standing before her, her dark hair matted to her face, and her naked body dripping with the gray fluid from the tank. The girl looked down at the woman meekly, her green eyes illuminating the space in front of her with a faint glow.
“Well? Go back to your room then. Those sheets need to be clean in 30 minutes, R33. You have another appointment tonight,” the woman scuttled off down the hallway, leaving R33 alone.
She was an i-R33 model “n” unit. She had pale, human-like flesh, emerald eyes, and nearly perfectly black hair. Her hair color had barely faded, after a few years of exposure to the elements. She looked like all the other “n” units of her designation, but she was the only one that the woman with the hook-nose owned. In the other rooms of the hallway were other i-R33 units and an i-R32. The girl was unsure how she knew such information, but could not recall any other memories in the first place. Shrugging it off mentally, the i-R33-n unit walked back to the dim room from whence she came. Her mechanical hands twitched to clutch the dirty fabrics. Pulling gently, she tugged the bedding off and dragged it out of the room. Down the hall, to another room, she treaded with the defiled clumps of cloth in tow.
In another room, the hook-nosed woman was startled by a sudden wrapping on the entrance door. She walked over and opened it for the man on the other side.
“Can I help you, inquisitor?” she stretched, looking up at the man.
His cold blue eyes scanned the room before lowering to meet the woman’s gaze, “Alright Madam, I am searching for an escaped prisoner. Apparently, he came to this building. I am investigating, so cease all operations until I can finish my search.”
“Now, you cannot just come in here! This is a private place of business!” the woman protested while side-stepping and trying not to let the officer inside.
“Where is your warrant? Show me your ID!” she insisted, obviously nervous.
The inquisitor pointed to the shining silver badge on his jacket. It read, “M. Josephs,” and was pristine, as if it had just been wiped with a cloth.
“This is my ID. That is the only warrant a silver rank inquisitor needs, ma’am. Now, get out of my way,” he ordered, casually resting his gloved palm against the firearm that was holstered at his side.
The woman gulped and looked down, walking backward and cowering behind a desk. Josephs stalked inside and stepped down the hallway. The hook-nosed Madam cautiously followed him.
“Inquisitor, I really do not think a criminal would come to my establishment.”
“Well frankly, the law doesn’t give a damn what you think a criminal would or would not do,” Josephs countered.
He opened each door and peeked inside, systematically until he reached one with a red-lit panel beside it.
“Open it,” he commanded, to which the woman reluctantly complied.
The light flickered blue as the door automatically slid open. The inquisitor was greeted by a revolting sight. He heard a shocked gasp and angry mutters coming from the man he saw inside.
“One patron; one i-R33,” he noted aloud, and walked on, checking each room.
Most were empty hotel rooms, but some had men inside them, along with the android females. The inquisitor was unfazed as he methodically searched. Eventually, he reached a room that was not a bedroom. As the door slid open, the i-R33-n unit turned, a bit surprised. Her green eyes blinked as she observed the inquisitor.
“What is this?” he questioned.
The Madam answered, “The laundry room; that R33 is just washing sheets.”
“Turn off that washer,” Josephs commanded the girl.
Without hesitation, the i-R33-n obeyed. She turned back around after turning off the machine. Curiously, she followed the mystery man as he walked with the short woman down the halls. With no other commands to follow, she paced after them, watching. Eventually, the inquisitor grunted. He had finished his search. Removing an electronic device from his pocket, Josephs questioned the Madam.
“Who was the last man to come here? Show me your records.”
“Ah, well if they pay in uncredited bits, we don’t keep a record…” the woman explained.
“Oh really? How convenient. Which of the female units was last used, then?”
The Madam turned and noticed the i-R33-n unit standing right there. Despite minor surprise at the behavior of the android, she gestured to the human-like machine.
“That one, officer.”
Inquisitor Josephs walked over to the girl that looked like a porcelain doll, “Open your mouth, miss.”
When she complied, he stuck a small handheld scanner between her lips and touched it to her tongue. He held it there momentarily before it beeped. Withdrawing it, Josephs glanced at the screen.
“Did you just clean this unit?” he narrowed his gaze at the woman.
“O-of course, inquisitor, I clean every unit immediately after use, in accordance with health regulations,” The Madam sounded almost prideful.
“Great,” he muttered and scoffed, turning his attention back to the girl.
Josephs blinked and raised an eyebrow noticing that after all that time: the android girl’s mouth was still agape, as he had initially ordered. He gently brushed under her chin with a gloved hand, shutting her jaw for her.
“Alright, I need a name for the record,” he spoke directly to the android.
A bit confused, the nameless girl extended her left arm, pointing at the serial number and barcode.
The inquisitor sighed in frustration, typing on his device.
“What type of unit is she?” he asked the hook-nosed woman.
“It is an i-R33-n.” The woman answered.
“Look, I am just going to call you…” he typed away on his electronic gadget, noting the info.
As he typed in her model designation, he squinted at the letters and numbers.
“I-ree-n… Irene. For the purposes of my investigation, you are Irene, understood? I don’t have time for technological serial number crap,” he grumbled.
“Don’t give it a name, it is my property,” the woman spat.
“Actually, until the investigation is concluded, she is the government’s property. Shut your mouth and go back to your desk,” he dismissed the woman with a wave of his hand.
Irene was not sure how to feel about being given a name; the only thing she could understand was that this man seemed to be in charge. The Madam, in a rage, stomped off down the hallway.
“Do you have the image files of what the man looked like stored in a way I can access them easily?” Josephs asked her.
Irene shook her head, “My memory is wiped after every customer, Sir.”
Her artificial voice was soft and shy. Inquisitor Josephs rubbed his temples in frustration.
“Ok, were those sheets you were washing used by that last patron?” He questioned.
“Yes, Sir.” Irene blinked her glowing emerald eyes, scanning the man up and down, attempting to make sense of the situation.
“Good, good. Bring me to the sheets,” he motioned for her to lead the way.
Irene awkwardly met the inquisitor’s eyes, her green gaze meeting his blue. She pivoted and walked to the laundry room. Opening the machine, she pointed to the sheets. Inquisitor Josephs proceeded to use the scanning device he touched to Irene’s tongue before, pressing it into the damp sheets.
After a while, there was some digital tone from the device, “Ah, I got something.”
Looking down at his device, the detective nodded slowly. He seemed to have found the information he was seeking.
“Found the bastard,” he muttered, wearing a grim expression.
As Inquisitor Josephs walked off down the hall, Irene had no idea what she should be doing. Without a new command to follow, she trailed behind Josephs, stepping quietly. The inquisitor turned to speak to the Madam, who was at her desk.
“Stop memory wiping your android units,” he glared at her and headed for the exit.
Irene briskly stepped after him, walking to the door.
“Where do you think you’re going?!” the woman spat at Irene.
The inquisitor whipped around, thinking at first that he was the one being spoken to so harshly. His temper instantly faded when he saw that it was the confused Irene being yelled at by the short woman.
“He did not finish.” Irene blinked at the woman.
The Madam shook her head, “No, no, stupid! He is not a customer, don’t follow him.”
Irene was visibly confused by the situation.
Josephs tried to clear things up for her, “Just stay here, ok?”
“Yes, Sir. Will you return?” the nude android tilted her head, looking up at the inquisitor’s face.
“I don’t know. If I need to, then yeah,” he responded curtly, before walking out the door.
“R33, go finish washing that bedding!” the Madam ordered.
The android looked at her quizzically, “Are you referring to me?”
“Yes, you!” the woman sounded even more annoyed now.
“I am not R33, I am Irene,” Irene blinked.
“No, you don’t have a name. You aren’t a person.”
“I do have a name. The inquisitor said I am to be called Irene, for the purposes of his investigation.”
“No, no, he is gone now, so you do not have a name. Just get back to work.”
“He did not say that his investigation was over. During his investigation, I am Irene,” Irene declared.
“Ugh, cursed inquisitor... Whatever ‘Irene’, go clean the damn bedding.” The woman rolled her eyes.
Irene nodded, quickly walking off down the cold, barren hallway to perform her duties. After putting the bed back to its former cleaned state, she sat down. The soft sheets folded under her weight as she rested atop the cushioned mattress. A while later, the door automatically opened. A man in a brown coat and green shoes walked in. Irene’s emerald eyes glowed faintly as she sat perfectly still, watching him. His fingers manipulated the panel by the door. The light on the metal panel changed from green to red. Irene shut her eyes tightly to escape the world… Black.