❯ Appleseed 3000 – Chapter 1
Introduction: World War Four, sometimes optimistically thought of as the last great war, nearly destroyed humanity. As escalating conflicts sparked around the world more and more countries were pulled in, weapons of greater and greater destructive capability fielded against one another. In the end the war didn’t so much end as stumble to a halt, human civilization knocked back centuries as warring bands of soldiers wandered the wreckage.
Off-earth supplies and aid poured in, barely making a dent in the devastation as humanity rallied around a new central authority. As rebuilding began a experiment began off the coast of Africa, a artificial island built along new principles and concepts. Built by a community of androids and artificial entities it was to be their place, a refuge and fortress from a world that both highly valued and deeply feared them.
Olympus, along with Crystal Tokyo, became a model for the world that was forming, but it soon learned that things weren’t going to be easy. Enemies tried to strike out in fear and ignorance, and the mostly peaceful artificial beings of the city were compelled to protect themselves. From the wastes they searched out warriors, soldiers who fit a certain compatible profile and whom searched for a end to war.
Among those warriors was Deunan Knute….
The sun had barely rose when the sandy blonde awoke, her internal clock rousing her at the same time every day. With a feline grace Deunan got out of bed, stretching in her T-shirt and panties, then padded across the carpeted floor to the bathroom. A wave of her had opened the shower door as she stripped, then climbed in as the warm water poured over her.
Dressed in running gear Deunan left her apartment, the muscular young woman taking off down the sidewalk at a steady clip. She made her way down the street then across the well cared for park, the grass crunching comfortably beneath her shoes. Glittering in the sun above her were the twin archologies, massive half-moon structures housing the computers and services that governed the artificial island. Eventually she reached the beach, the sand puffing as she jogged, eventually coming to a stop as she panted softly, gazing out across the water.
« Damn it, » Deunan scowled as she took a drink of water, « ten miles wouldn’t have had me out of breath a few years ago. I’m getting soft. »
« I think most of your fellow ESWAT members would have quit after three, » Hitomi said, the black haired woman sitting at the bench they had agreed to meet on. She looked up at Deunan with sympathetic eyes, « Are you all right? »
« No, not really, » Deunan whispered, pushing her sweaty hair out of her eyes as she sat down beside her.
Hitomi reached out to take Deunan’s hand, squeezing it lightly. « It’s not your fault he decided to leave, » she said intently.
« No, » Deunan shook her head, « if Briareos hadn’t learned about how far our relationship had gone, he’d never have left the island. »
« Did you ever make those kind of exclusive commitments? » Hitomi asked. When Deunan reluctantly shook her head no Hitomi continued, « Then you have nothing to apologize for, m’love. If anything Briareos should be sorry about hurting you the way he has. »
Deunan gave her a light smile, « I guess it’s just my human irrationality talking. » They sat a moment, « But thank you for trying. »
Hitomi leaned over, letting her head rest on Deunan’s shoulder. « If it helps any we Bioroids can be irrational, too, » she confessed, « I actually was a bit jealous when I heard that Yoshi was finally seeing someone. »
« And oddly that makes me feel better, » Deunan chuckled softly, wrapping her arm around Hitomi. Softly she asked, « This is an odd question…. »
« Yes? » Hitomi prompted when Deunan trailed off.
« When were you first attracted to me? » Deunan asked, a blush staining her cheeks slightly.
« I thought you were beautiful when we first met, » Hitomi admitted. A smile, « Even as you lay there hit by stun rounds, I was struck by how lovely you were. »
« That early? » Deunan asked, surprised. « Even after I took you hostage at the hospital? » she questioned disbelievingly.
« That was even more exciting, » Hitomi chuckled, nodding her head as her hair brushed Deunan’s cheek. « I think that’s why I asked you about love afterwards… » she mused, « I knew I was feeling something I shouldn’t have been capable of, but I couldn’t seem to help myself. »
« I’m a bit embarrassed to say I didn’t notice, » Deunan admitted wryly.
« You were a bit distracted by your reunion with Briareos, » Hitomi noted mildly.
Deunan smiled as they sat there under the mourning sun. « Did you really tell him your plans to pursue me? » she asked with amusement.
Hitomi actually blushed, « Well, I didn’t know how this sort of thing worked when the person you’re interested in is already in a relationship… »
« He was pretty amused when he told me, » Deunan said with a wry smile.
« I’m glad it didn’t bother you, » Hitomi added softly.
« At that point I was starting to develop that kind of interest in you, too, » Deunan admitted, « only your relationship with Yoshi was holding me back. »
« He’s pretty perceptive for a mechanic, » Hitomi sounded amused, « I think he realized how I felt about you before I did, »
« I did notice he was giving us a lot of time alone, » Deunan remembered, « but I thought that was because of his distraction over various projects. »
« That, too, » Hitomi laughed. They sat there peacefully for awhile longer then Hitomi brought up a uncomfortable topic, « I understand you’ve refused to see Athena again. »
« It’s not quite that bad, I just don’t see the point, » Deunan shrugged a bit awkwardly.
« You’re still angry she didn’t tell you the whole truth, » Hitomi said wisely, « about her connection to your mother or about the D-Tank. »
« A little, » Deunan said, « and to be honest I’m scared of the sort of things she might end up telling me about my mother. »
« Maybe, » Hitomi met her eyes, « but the only way you’re ever going to close that door is to fully understand her. » She sighed as she reluctantly pulled away, « I’m sorry love, but I have to go get ready to work. Dinner tonight? »
« Sure, » Deunan smiled as she got up, too, « I’ll cook. »
With a laugh Hitomi was off, both of them knowing Deunan was probably just going to order take out. At a steady pace Deunan jogged to the home that they mostly shared, showering and changing to a more formal set of clothes, the type she might wear to a military debriefing. She sat down at the comm, adjusting her skirt and making sure her jacket was straight, then hit the keys for the office she wanted.
« Yes? » she looked up, then smiled a slightly chilly smile of welcome. « Officer Knute, » Nike said formally, « what can I do for you? »
« I understand Athena wants to see me? » Deunan replied. They both knew that Athena had nearly ordered Deunan to appear and that Deunan had told her to go to hell, but neither said anything. Deunan was too famous in Olympus for Athena to go after for that defiance, the circumstances made even muddier by the personal nature of Athena’s order.
« I think I can find some room in her schedule, » Nike said, checking another computer screen then saying, « how about in an hour? »
« I’ll be there, » and Deunan signed off.
Getting on her bike Deunan rode through the city, eyes scanning the crowds as she went trying to tell human from robot from android from Bioroid and often not being too sure. The residents of Olympus were from centuries of production of artificial life, gathered for their own protection at first, then determined to forge their own nation.
Deunan arrived at her appointment early, receiving a frosty nod from Nike, Athena’s executive assistant. Silently Deunan wondered what the Bioroid’s issue with her was, but had decided not to press her for a number of reasons. « Athena will be with you in a moment, » Nike nodded to a chair by one wall.
« Thanks, » Deunan sat, silently contemplating the woman she was to meet. Athena was one of the first Bioroids and had been her mother’s assistant, working on the first generations of Bioroids along with the virus intended for the D-tank. She had been sent away shortly before her mother’s death, and often Deunan had wondered if Athena knew the attack was coming.
« Deunan, » Athena said as the older redhead entered from her office. Turning to Nike she said, « Please clear an hour from my schedule, I may need it. »
« Of course ma’am, » Nike said as Deunan rose, following Athena into her office.
As Athena waved Deunan to a chair opposite her desk she asked, « Do you want any refreshments? I could have something sent up. »
« I’m fine, » Deunan sat, her body loose and ready to move if needed at a moment’s notice.
« I’m not your enemy, Deunan, » Athena said with a faintly pained expression on her face as she sat behind her desk.
« Maybe, » Deunan acknowledged, « but I’m not so sure you’re a friend either. »
Athena winced, « True enough. »
Deunan leaned forward in her seat, « Why didn’t you tell me about what happened to my mother, about the military attack on the research station? »
Athena met her gaze calmly as she explained, « Because I hadn’t known to what extent your memories were blacked by the trauma. » She sighed, « And to be honest I didn’t know if you were on our or General Uranus’ side. »
« You nearly pushed me to his side with your attacks, » Deunan said grimly. She studied Athena a moment, « You… what were you to my mother? »
« Huh? » Athena looked surprised.
« My mother made sure you were safe, even before her own safety, » Deunan struggled to dredge up the memories, « that’s not how you treat a lab assistant. »
Athena looked uncomfortable, the first time Deunan had ever seen the poised leader like that. « We were… intimate, » she admitted.
« And that’s why Nike doesn’t like me, » Deunan nodded thoughtfully, « she’s your partner now, and I remind her of your past relationship. »
« You’re very perceptive, » Athena said. She got up, walking to one of the windows that overlooked the island. « Your mother’s DNA is part of the Bioroids, even as your own DNA is… because of that there’s been pressure to elect you the next president. »
« No way in hell, » Deunan blurted.
« I expected you to say that, » Athena smiled, « I’ve been restraining people from acting on the notion. However, you have to expect your life to change again because of all this. »
« I’ll cope, » Deunan said flatly.
Hesitantly Athena walked back towards Deunan and said, « I don’t expect you to accept my help… but I’d like to, if you’ll let me. »
Deunan shook her head but her voice was gentle, « No, thank you. » She smiled, « But maybe we can talk about my mother more? »
Athena smiled, « I’d like that. »
Notes: This is set several months after the end of the most recent Appleseed movie, and mixed with bits of the manga continuity and my own Crystal Tokyo continuity. This story is a prelude to my fic Eternal City, Crystal Tokyo: Part Thirty-four, and fits it into that series timeline. The details of the Appleseed movie don’t lock it down into any era, mostly, so grafting it onto the far future wasn’t much of a stretch. Making Olympus a refuge for artificial lifeforms was a stretch, I admit, but it seemed to work with the concept.