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Unit M3-L173 stumbled through the door of her home, dumping her purple backpack beside the door. The backpack snagged on her shoulder, caught between the ball joint and the wires of her neck, as always, but she unhooked it with a well-practised shrug.

“I’m home, Mom!” She called out through the house, the noise bouncing between the worn staircase and the yellow hallway towards the kitchen. A middle-aged woman wearing a flour covered apron came out.

“Emy!! You’re home!” She said, wrapping the android in a massive hug without even putting down her wooden spoon. “Come come, I’m making your favourite blueberry muffins in the kitchen. You can tell me how your day went.” Emy hesitated as the woman walked away, following behind her at a much slower pace. Her mother was already busy in the kitchen when she settled down on a stool at the counter.

“So, how was high school?” her mother prodded again. “Better than last week?”

“No.” Emy said with sigh, toying with the hem of her t-shirt. “I don’t know why you make me go, I already know all the material.” Her mother pursed her lips.

“It’s not so you can learn the material, Emy, it’s so you can learn about other kids your age.” She said as she stirred the batter.

“Well, the other kids just hate me.” Emy spat out, still not wanting to make eye contact.

“Is that Josh kid picking on you again? I can call the school-“

“It’s not just him! It’s him and the rest of the football team! It’s him and all the popular girls with their stupid designer shirts!” The android plucked at the shirt on her metal body. “Why am I even wearing this thing if it’s not going to make them like me more!?” Her mother watched her with sad eyes.

“There’s more to being popular than wearing the right clothes, Emy.” She said softly.

“Well great,” the android replied, “I guess I don’t need this.” She started to pull off the shirt when she heard her mother take a sharp breath. She froze mid action, then hastily tried to pull it back down, but it was too late. Her mother was already walking around the counter, pulling up the shirt over her left hip.

The metal joint was crushed, with cracks running up the plating. A thick red liquid oozed through the cracks, warm beneath Emy’s still human fingers. She winced slightly as her mother’s fingers traced the crack up her back, only to find a second dent, a perfect circle of cracks, the size of end of a baseball bat. Emy closed her eyes in silence as her mother pulled off the shirt completely, revealing three more dents on her red-stained back.

“Emy, who did this?” Her mother asked. Tears squeezed out of Emy’s red and blue eyes.

“I don’t know. Josh did. The football team. All of them. Said I deserve it for being too perfect.” She shook gently beneath her mothers hands.

“Go get in the regen pod.” Her mother said gently, “I’m going to call the school.” Emy looked up in panic, tears staining her porcelain face.

“No, please no.” She whispered in horror. “It’ll just make it worse.”

“Emy Lite, go get in the regen pod.” Her mother said firmly. She reluctantly got to her feet, her full name overriding any further resistance. The pod was in her bedroom, glowing a soft blue as she stepped in. The pod closed about her and gently reclined as it locked into place.

Regeneration Is Now Required, Remain Calm

The blue glow turned purple and the thick pink biofluid began to fill the pod ad as Emy heart pounded, sensitive ears straining to pick up the sounds of her mother on the phone down the hall.