Failure by H-Man

Pst! Mieu, is this the famous Miun that dad mentioned in his stories?

Yes, Aron, it is.

Wow. She looks a lot like you, though your face is prettier.

I'll take that as a compliment.

Cousin, I think you need to go talk to her.

Alright, I will. Uhh...Hello, Miun? I'm A—

The black sword! Orakio, you've returned! I'm so glad to meet you again before I—


The bashed-up female cyborg collapsed to the ground, her exposed robotic eye still fixed on Aron. Kara and Laya gasped in surprise, grabbing each other's arms without almost instinctively. Mieu and Wren looked at each other, the former letting out a slightly metallic sigh and shaking her head.

Aron, on the other hand, immediately dropped to his knees by her side. It's okay, Miun. His voice was soothing and comforting. Just give me a few minutes. I'll have you as good as new in a few moments. Wren! Mieu! I need your help!

Wren cocked at an eyebrow at his master's request and, shrugging his shoulders, took his female android companion by the hand and led her over to where Aron, who was already unsheathing a small knife he always kept on his person, was. Mieu looked at her ward curiously, as if she had never expected him, or anyone else, to actually try to help the lonely robot who had wandered aimlessly around the sands of Aridia for so long.

Wren, what model do you think she is? Aron asked hurriedly, slicing open her dress to reveal a perfect female body made of synthetic skin.

The Miun type is a little less advanced than Mieu is, answered the hulking battle droid matter-of-factly, so I imagine she's a type 334.

334, repeated Aron thoughtfully. So that means her back-up processor units should be located where a person's liver would be.

Aron cut through her soft, white skin and opened her up. He could still hear Miun muttering repeatedly that Orakio hadn't forgotten her. I can do this, he thought; Miun would make an excellent ally. Slicing through some of lubricant-filled tubes, an oily purple liquid squirted into Aron's face, causing him to curse out loud.

Mieu, can RES repair some of these tubes?

I believe so, the android replied, exasperatedly. Mieu lifted up her hand, which began to give off a soft blue light. The tubes began to resemble themselves, stopping the leak.

Thanks. Wren, how do I set the back-up processors so that they take the place of the damaged one in her head? Aron's voice grew steadily more worried and impatient.

You have to open up the box in which the processor is found and re-wire it so that the main processor sends the signals to the back-up first.

Check.

Aron continued probing and pushing away the life-like synthetic organs that filled Miun's abdominal cavity, trying not to cut through any wires. Gigantic beads of sweat ran down his face and his hand began to tremble. He had never worked on an android like Miun before; a few years before, he had tried to convince Mieu to let him open her up and investigate her processes, but she had politely refused. After almost a full minute of probing, his knife struck something hard.

Good. I'm here. Placing a finger from his other hand on the box containing Miun's back-up processors, Aron widened the incision in her flesh so as to give himself more room to work in. He was confident that in a few minutes, Miun would be able to join his party as the sixth member. Whatever he and his companions were up against, he'd need all the help he could get.

Opening up the box, Aron was met with the sight of hundreds of frayed wires, corroded circuit boards, and other assorted metallic parts that had since ceded to rust. He cursed again to himself as he moved everything around, trying to find a starting place. Wren and Mieu stood silently above, shaking their heads from time to time at Aron's growing obsession to fix Miun.

Kara and Laya stood several feet off, neither of them knowing what exactly to say or do—at least Laya felt that way.

Kara, do you think he can fix her? I mean—should he fix her?

The Dahlian princess shook her head, sending dozens of small grains of sand from her lime-green hair to the grund. No. It's an unwinnable battle.

So why don't you or Mieu or Wren do anything? Laya asked, surprised at Kara's supposedly display of apathy.

You've only known Aron for a few weeks. I grew up with him. I know him well enough to tell you that there's a certain point at which you can step in and tell him that whatever he wants to do simply can't be done. She looked over at her cousin, he screeched in pain as some sparks shot up from box he was messing with, and shook her head. Now isn't quite the time.

Aron feverishly examined all of the wires, he fingers shaking violently as every other wire gave him a powerful shock.

Which one leads to the central processor? he murmured desperately to himself. Which one? Please, Laya, help me find the accursed wire I need.

Miun's voice grew weaker as Aron received shock after shock, his curses growing louder and his voice trembling more and more. He would probe a wire, get a hold of it, and try to follow it to whatever circuit board it was connected to. Unfortunately, more and more of her circuits simply exploded upon contact, sending powerful quantities of electricity into Aron's fingers. At one point, the prince of Dahlia slammed his fist into the sand, yelling about why he couldn't find the right one.

The fallen android's eyes remained fixed on Aron as he erratically investigated the remaining circuits. Aron felt so much expectation in them, as if Miun depended on him to be her savior. She thought he was Orakio, so he felt that he owed her the privilege of getting her back to normal. As he paused from his work and gazed into her artificial eyes, his knife struck one of the auxiliary batteries located inside the box. The battery's casing ruptured and sulfuric acid squirted out of the crack onto Aron's hand.

Aron! cried a concerned Laya.

Kara said nothing, but simply walked over to the side of Miun's body opposite where Aron was working and knelt down. She calmly reached over and enveloped his hands in hers, the energy of her RES technique healing his burned skin.

Cousin, she said calmly.

Aron looked down at the collection of wires and circuits. I think I can still—

Cousin, she repeated, this time with more frankness.

It's okay, I—

Aron! she snapped, causing her cousin to look up at her, startled.

Kara took a deep breath and then smiled. Aron, let it go. You can't bring her back.

Of course, I can! Aron objected. With what Wren taught me— He was interrupted by the placing of Kara's finger on his lips.

My love, it's okay. You did your best, but Miun is past help. Just let her rest.

But Kara— Aron's voice now quivered.

Kara took another deep breath and closed her eyes. My love, Miun has suffered for a long time. She'll soon be back in Orakio's company; don't deny her that privilege. Kara struggled to mask her impatience with a sweet, soothing volume.

But, Kara. Why? I'm trying...I'm trying to make her normal again.

The beautiful Dahlian princess squeezed Aron's hands and brought them up to her lips and kissed them where they had been burned. I know you tried, she said lovingly. In a few minutes you did more for Miun than anybody ever did in a thousand years. And you know what, Aron? That's enough. That's more than enough.

Still clasping his hands, Kara helped her companion, whose eyes were already brimming with tears, to his feet and led him away from Miun. Miun's voice grew weaker and weaker until her lips finally stopped moving. Kara held Aron in strong embrace, pulling his head against his shoulder, while Mieu knelt down beside the once-powerful android and removed her claw from within her forearm.

Kara looked over at the others and said calmly, Let's head back to Hazatak for the evening. Aron needs to rest.

The other three nodded and the party of five solemnly braved the desert sands on their way to the only outpost of civilization in Aridia.