"Miss Conagher?" A voice called. The young female scientist looked up at the blond messenger with her shiny steel silver eyes. "Miss Cline will see you now."
Emma stood up from her seat, and smiled, "Yes, Miss…?"
"Cagalli. How much do you know about your grandfather's relationship with the Clines, Emma?"
"It's the first time I've ever heard he had one, Cagalli. Radigan Conagher was not a chatty man."
Cagalli took a deep breath, and said, "Sixty years ago, your grandfather solved a rather… sensitive problem for us. Well… maybe 'solved' is too strong a word. But I'm sure Miss Cline would want to tell you about it himself."
The Will of Zephaniah Cline, 190X
… To my Dearest maidservant Elizabeth, I, Zephaniah Cline, leave the rest and residue of my estate…
…To my faithful aide and tracker, Barnabas Hale of the savage Singaporeans, I divest complete control of my financial assets.
To my Layabout children, Lacus and Gilbert, I leave the greatest curse of all: Partnership. What land I have purchased in this room is to be split evenly between you both. You have wasted your lives bickering over nothing. And so I leave you dimwits something of consequence over which to feud.
Lacus Cline's room, 194X
"Mister Conagher, I'm told you are a man of many ideas and little words. So I'll get to the point." Lacus Cline said. Although she was now 48, looked like she was merely 16.
"Forty years ago, my brother and I inherited a considerable parcel of land. To share. Naturally, I assembled a team of androids based on the Drive System to take it all by the force. What I did not expect was my idiot brother would think to do the same. My ten-minute land grab became an intractable stalemate. The solution? If I could not take my brother's land… I would simply outlast him for it." Lacus paused, and took a breath. Then, she straightened up, and said, "I have mounted an epic campaign of leisure against the ravages of time. Waiting for Nature to do my brother what my men could not. And yet here we are at the end. He. Just. Won't. DIE!"
With her scream, Lacus' eyes burned with a flame, and the loyal underling standing guard at the door screamed as he burst into flames. As he continued to burn endlessly, Lacus calmed down, and said, "I must outlive my brother. And I want you to build me a machine to do it. God wants me dead, Mister Conagher. And we are going to defy him. Make me a monster."
Silence hung over everyone as Radigan continued to stare. Lacus' flaming gaze continued to attempt to burn the granite body of the engineer, as the scream of the guard continued to ring into the room. Stone moves slowly, but eventually, Radigan's stony face crinkled, and he said, "Alright."
The cold evening rain continued to pour down on the statue as he continued to unlock the padlock on his door. Radigan scowled. Rocks hated rain. After all, rain eroded rocks to nothing in time. As the door finally opened, a female voice said, "Don't just stand in the rain, Mister Conagher. Come in. You're soaked to the bone, poor thing."
"It will save us both a lot of time if you don't ask who I am of how I know what I know. Who I am does not concern you. What I know is that you've agreed to build Lacus Cline a machine that would prolong her life indefinitely." Radigan went inside and saw a tall, lanky woman stretched out on his workbench.
"Mister Conagher, could I possibly convince you not to build this machine?"
"No, I didn't think so. So let me propose an alternative." The woman held out a golden bar with her left hand, which glowed softly in the rain-lit room. "For the last forty years the Singaporeans have outpaced the world in technology. And this is confounding, since by all appearances they are a nation of fools. Teleportation. Cloaking. The entire spectrum of Lion Sciences. Every one of Mankind's innovations now comes from the durian-pickled brains of a Singaporean. Because of this."
"Not gold, Mister Conagher. Singaporium."
"Uh-huh. Why's there a picture of a man writing 'PAP' on it?"
"It's how they choose their government. As I said, fools. Fools accidentally stranded atop the planet's only deposit of a transformative new element. They're fanatically secretive about it. But I've spent the last decade hunting it, ounce by ounce. I've managed to amass a hundred pounds. It's yours. Think, Mister Conagher – If this element can make a genius out of a Singaporean… what would it do for a man of your faculties? Use it to build Lacus Cline his immortality machine, if you must. All I ask… is that you build one for Gilbert Cline as well."
Lacus Cline's room, 201X
"And then what do you think my rat-stink brother did?" The translator, Blutarch, translated from Lacus. Emma was visually disturbed, especially from the sight before her. Lacus Cline, although she looked about 21 years old, was now about 108 years old. She was floating in a cylinder, connected to hundreds of wires, each pumping essential fluids to her body. Her fingers seemed to twitch randomly, but it was actually words, translated by Blutarch for Emma to hear. "He built one too, that's what! I'm no closer to beating him than I was a hundred years ago! And what's worse, your lummox of a grandfather didn't even build it right! This infernal thing is a lemon! I've barely cheated death out of a half-century with this pile of junk and it's already breaking down! FIX IT!"
A heavy silence fell down once again. Like her rocky grandfather before her, Emma didn't say anything. However, it was more on her thoughts on the issue, instead of her grandfather's usual stoniness. "Ma'am, I'm, uh… f-flattered that you think of me for this problem, but I have no idea how to fix this. Hell, if I touch it, it'll probably kill you."
"What if you had access to your grandfather's blueprints?" Blutarch said.
"Well, now, that's a different story." Emma smiled. "Heh, not much hope of that, though. The old man had it-" Her smile disappeared the second Blutarch placed a pile of paper on the table. "-buried with him…"
"Yes, yes, I dug up your grandfather and looted his corpse." Blutarch casually said, tossing aside a stock femur bone as Emma seethed. "If it makes you feel any better, those scribblings have been the bane of my existence for sixty years. I've spent a small fortune trying to decipher them. Gibberish every last page. You may borrow it. All I ask is that you-" Lacus' body started to jerk about, and then fell still.
"Um… Ma'am?" Emma asked. She continued to float about, eyes still shut. Turning to Cagalli, she asked, "Is Lacus alright?"
"Give her a moment." Cagalli said.
"She's just dead." Blutarch finished.
Lacus' eyes immediately snapped open and pain seared through Emma. The young scientist held her head in agony as a strong female voice rang out in her head. "Every day I'm dead a little longer, Miss Conagher. I have seen the other side. There is NOTHING THERE. FIX MY MACHINE."
Night fell over the Cypher lab as Emma stood inside her grandfather's room. As she took out her wrench and the notes, she recalled the words that Lacus had said.
"Take your grandfathers notes."
Emma unzipped the folder and spread the notes about, showing the pictures of the experimental Intercept System.
The next folder read 'Life Extender Machine'. A little scribble on the bottom left on the paper said, 'For Lacus Cline and Gilbert Cline.'
"Learn how to fix my machine."
Emma stood by the Dispenser, allowing the healing machine to calm her nerves as she picked up a folder named 'Singaporium Weapons'.
"If you find anything else of interest…"
She flipped open the book, reaching a page on a prosthetic hand, the Gunslinger.
From the furnace, Emma wiped he forehead as she took out the Gunslinger, now perfectly crafted.
Preferring to focus on the relaxing feel of the Dispenser's treatment, Emma took a deep breath, and cut it off.
"Bring it directly to me."
Trying her best to stop herself from screaming in pain from the bleeding pain of her bloodied stump of her right hand, Emma scrabbled for the Gunslinger.
"Do NOT build it."
Emma flexed her new Gunslinger once, twice, and the robotic arm twitched in accordance. In an instant, she grabbed an Ithaca M37 shotgun and fired at the wall. Behind the wall, an android exploded from her shell. A wicked smile creeped over her face as she muttered, "Groovy."