Part One: Held In Bleeding Hands

Chapter One

I stared out at the crimson sky and thought about my creation. It had been so long since that day I awoke in the empty laboratory, but I could still remember how the sky looked exactly like this: as if smeared with blood, reflective of the way the world was, had been, and always would be. Somewhere far away, people were dying, fighting for some cause they probably didn't believe in, acting only as pawns for arrogant men that couldn't settle matters with words. Why was the world this way?
It hadn't really been that long since I had "awoken," so to speak. I'd never really been sure what term would be applicable for an android. Despite the extensive effort by others to make me appear as human as possible, I still didn't believe such common terms should be wasted upon me.
My backpack and the papers in it ruffled from the wind passing through the truck I was riding in. To be more specific, I was riding in the back of an old-style truck, as I had no means of transportation outside of hitchhiking. The papers were part of my small file that I carried around with me, each individual sheet holding some sort of clue as to who I was. So humorous: an android seeking "her" missing identity. True, my appearance was that of an eighteen-year-old girl, but I never really considered myself "female." After all, I didn't really have the functions of a female, nor the emotions of a female, nor the normal drive of a female. What's left but false humanity, correct? Even my name, or rather the codename of the project I was created under: Molly; it suggested feminism, and yet I was just a pretender.
Funny how the desert suddenly turned into a massive city; my journey through the endless sand had finally yielded me to my destination: the great city of New Peace. The name was too idealistic for my tastes, but the contents of the city, namely its inhabitants, more than made up for the lie of the label. I traveled this entire distance from my original point of origin to make it to this place for the sole purpose of finding my creator. At least, I hoped he was here. According to some of the files I had come across some time earlier, after the project lost its funding and everything was shut down, my creator emigrated to New Peace for whatever reason. Maybe it was too escape the war that destroyed everything behind him. That was the trouble with humans: they always started conflicts they never wanted to finish.
I was thankful that the driver decided to take me all the way into the city instead of dumping me off at the outskirts. Still, I could have done without the unpleasant sights of human impurities along the way. That is to say, I greatly disliked watching the gang members and the prostitutes and the drug-users and all the other worthless swarms hiding in the shadows like cockroaches. These tall buildings were merely a distraction from the real problem hidden below, crawling and hiding in wait for another victim to make like them. I closed my eyes to it all after a while. I knew if I merely didn't observe the lack of humanity, I would not feel hatred or sorrow; that is, if I could even feel such things. I am, after all, an android. Strange how such tiny twinges of emotion can surge through me at certain little times like these. The sight of a sultry woman prepared to sell her body, or the sight of a man injecting his hole-ridden arm with lethal drugs: all of it set off "bells," one could say, inside of me that told me all of this was wrong, and that I should feel something towards it.
There was one downside to being brought into the center of the city at this time: it was becoming night. The sky of blood was already fading to cold violet and despairing black. I often watched the sunsets and sunrises when I had the fleeting privilege of safe privacy. For some reason, they brought me comfort, a sort of peace of mind that rarely affected me any other time. At the same time, I also wondered how an android could feel anything like this, if at all, and why it would matter. It was those times that I smacked myself on the head and told myself to enjoy one of the last transient pleasures of this world.
I had no choice but to fend for myself in this city, so when my driver temporarily stopped at the bus station for me, I thought little about worry and hopped out, giving him a bit of money before he drove away. Unfortunately, the buses stopped running this late. Ignoring it, I started walking down the streets illuminated by dozens of streetlights and billions of advertisements and building windows and general nightlife. The city of New Peace was a brilliant candle in the middle of an endless desert, an eyesore in a landscape.
A fairly decent couple turned the corner of a building and were walking towards me. Knowing nothing else to do for now, I approached them and asked, "Can you please direct me to the nearest hotel or similar place of housing?"
They gave me a bit of a stare for a moment before pointing away and telling me of one a few blocks down. Of course, following this as they left was the sudden release of rain from the false clouds above. I never knew how I ever picked up the trait, but as my travel clothes and long, dark blond hair became soaked in the downpour, I quietly cursed under my breath at fate, or at least the Weather Control Bureau this city had to have. Leave it to them to start torrential rains the moment I'm on my own in such a place as this.
Cracks of thunder sped me faster down the city streets, past the flashing lights and broken windows and all the human masses I could deal with, until I finally reached the place the couple had told me about: The Lorelei Hotel. It appeared decent, not to mention the fact that I was drenched, so I decided to make this place my base of operations, so to speak. I would live here for now while I searched the city for answers. I expected a long and arduous adventure, but I didn't care; I had all the time in the world, after all.
I approached the front desk of the wood and bronze-colored lobby and told the man there, "I would like a room, please."
Unfortunately, this man was not quite as amiable as the one that escorted me to the city. This one was of a tall and slouching appearance, his form strong yet undesirable, though I can only say so much in that respect. My point is, he was impure, and he spent a good deal of time staring at the features of mine that attract most men; my creator hadn't been stingy. A normal woman would have shivered at such callous disrespect, but then again, I may be giving humanity too much credit there.
Either way, he finally let the smile wash away from his face as he returned to business, telling me there was a room on the twentieth floor. He gave me the room number and took my first payment, then explained, "We do have an escort service, something to keep you company or warm those cold nights, if you're interested. Low prices."
I kept my angry glare to myself as I dried off with a complimentary towel a passing bellhop gave to me as he spoke. Attempting to reserve my irritation, I grit my teeth behind the cloth and responded in a low tone, "No thank you."
"We do offer either sex. Or, if you prefer, I could keep you company." That terrible smile of his returned slyly, as if he knew precisely what he was doing.
Enough; I shot my hand forward and clutched his neck with the physical strength only an android could possess. Despite the temptation to pop his head off his neck with the simplest amount of effort, I wiped the smile off his face by merely stating in all honesty, "Do so, and you're dead."
Give a point to the pure-hearted; we do exist. He did not smile as I released his throat from my grasp-and it should be noted that not one person in that room made the smallest bit of effort of help him, nor even cared to watch any longer than the initial moment-but he relinquished the key to my room and left it at that. The elevator ride up was quiet, for thankfully there was no one to join me on my skyward journey. On my floor, I stepped out and witnessed a strange sight.
At the end of my hallway, staring out the lone window, was a young boy. Perhaps that isn't the right description, for it gives the mental appearance of excessive youth. He was young, to be sure, but those eyes of his that met mine as he turned around had such a fire in them, a sure sign of a much deeper maturity inside. Regardless, he was dressed casually: logoed T-shirt and jean pants. His hair was black like the night outside, but his eyes were sapphire, almost like mine, only alive. A "thought" occurred to me: he was beautiful. I meant this in the sense that he was a charming youth untouched by the impurities of his race, and he even seemed to take pleasure in the same sorts of sights that I did.
He smiled shyly at me as I approached; my room was on the very end, basically just to the left of where he was standing. As if he felt too awkward to continue staring at me, he turned back to his gaze at the night. For some reason, I was curious as to what he was doing, so I asked him. He responded, "I'm staring at the moon. I can't see it from my room."
The moon, I wondered? I stepped closer and stared out with him. It was true: the moon was rather beautiful that night despite the endless walls that tried vainly to hide it. A sound behind us then distracted me: it was a woman scantly clad entering a room down the hallway, and considering my earlier conversation, her services were obvious. Perhaps because of the kind boy beside me, I "thought" aloud, "To think that wasn't a joke."
He noticed with me, it seemed. The shorter boy looked up at me and questioned, "They asked you about that escort service, too? I couldn't believe it when they asked me. What a world."
His words surprised me; I asked him, "How old are you?"
The boy sort of scratched the back of his head as he averted his gaze and responded quietly, "Fifteen. Why, how old are you?"
Only fifteen, and yet he was on his own here… I ignored all possibilities and cover-ups and gave him the age I was created into: "Eighteen." Perhaps for conversation's sake, I continued, "My name is Molly Hearting. What's yours?"
He looked up to me again and explained, "Ari Moonstar… You have a pretty name, Molly."
Ari blushed again, but I couldn't blame him, considering the words he was risking to speak. I decided to ease at least some of his worry by telling him, "So do you. I've never heard the name 'Moonstar' before, or 'Ari' for that matter. You must have had some creative parents."
Those were unfortunately the wrong words to choose. His embarrassment faded to sorrow, and he began walking away from me, his orphaned state quite obvious. He stopped at the room only one away from the one beside me on the left, diagonal from mine. In the dimness of the hallway, he turned around with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face, saying, "There's always hope in the world, Molly. Everything works out eventually. It gets really rough as you go through life, but it always works out in the end. You will always have your life."
His peculiar musings ended then, and he locked himself in his hotel room. My first meeting with Ari Moonstar was over, and I was a little worse for wear. I gave up and entered my own hotel room. I flipped on the light and found the small place ready for me. One soft bed awaited, complimented by the single desk and dresser, one lamp upon the desk. There was a single bathroom and a single window; seemed like everything came in ones in this place.
I noticed the full-sized mirror in the room once I set down my backpack. This was the one thing I hated most, the one single item in all the universe that tortured me the most. I hated to look upon myself in a mirror, for it reflected so much humanity that I did not feel inside. I was nothing but a metal shell, a wretched puppet of a human that would never be anything more. My blue eyes and dark blond hair were only a ruse, much like my human body and clothes. I could rip away these threads and reveal the fragile skin underneath, the one thing that men desired more than anything else and thus made me the target of much insecurity and physical threat, but I would still be an android. Rip away the flesh, and there were only wires, cords, and gears awaiting me. There was nothing that made me more human than the furniture in the room, or the moon, or the rotting androids performing menial labor elsewhere in the world. I was a body without a heart, without a soul, without love or life or the power to possess that which makes one "human."
Instead of smashing the mirror, I merely surrendered to the night, laying down upon the bed and shutting myself down until daybreak.

AN: This is the first chapter of a novel I hope to complete. I should note that this story is an AU of my short story, Mirror, which I recommend everyone read. Thanks for reading, and I hope you review. ^_^