A Story of Conversion to ASI, by a couple in love.
We see the other side of ASI conversion
She hated everything about that little house. But what she hated most, worse than anything, was the emptiness. The isolation. Susan’s eyes left her mug as something metal rapped on the front door, shattering the stillness, and for a moment she was almost relieved. Slowly, Susan rose to her feet, and cautiously slid the door open no more than an inch.
The smooth, reflective faceplate of a Conscripter stared back at her.
Susan tried to slam the door shut, but the Conscriptor’s long-fingered claw of a hand darted into the gap and effortlessly held it in place. “Please, Susan. Just hear me out.”
Susan pushed against the door. “I don’t want to hear it, Hew! I told you to leave me alone the last time you came around.”
Hew kept his hand in place.
“That was the first time, Susan. Please.”
Susan let out a short, rough breath and pushed off of the door into the room. Carefully opening the door, Hew entered, the servos beneath his metal plating and mesh suit whispering as he ducked through the doorframe. “Thank you.”
Huffing, Susan stepped around to the other side of the rugged table, as if it might offer some meager protection. “You’d just break in if I didn’t open it.”
Hew raised one metallic hand in a gesture seemingly meant to calm her. “You know I wouldn’t do that.”
Susan hooked her auburn hair behind her ears before crossing her arms. “Do I? I used to know you, Hew. Now, I don’t know if I should even call you that.”
The metal plating of the house rasped as the wind picked up. Hew started to sit down on the chair as Susan lowered her gaze to her hands. The chair began to creak under his weight, prompting her to look back at him as he returned to his original position.
“Let’s get this over with.”
Hew was silent for some time, his optics searching, almost scanning the room until they came to rest on the empty spot next to the bedroll. “I want you to-”
Hew turned back to her. “You didn’t let me-”
“Finish? No, I didn’t. You want now what you wanted before, and the answer is still no.”
Hew took another step, the plates of steel encasing his legs shifting over the black mesh with the movement. “Please, Susan; come with me. Join me in this. Why can’t you see it? Why can’t you see that this is the best way to live?” Hew tried to throw his arms up, but his steel shoulder plates restricted the movement. “We’re no longer just surviving; we’re actually living! We have something to believe in,” he lowered one hand back to the table, the other reaching out to her, as if to take hers, “and we’re better off than the Blue Zones! No more hunger, no more pain, and we’re never alone.”
Susan picked up the mug and turned her back to him, setting it down in a water-filled bucket by her stove. “At what cost?” She turned around and stared at her reflection on his faceplate, searching for some sign that Hew was really inside of this… thing.
Hew held his hands out to the side, elbows bent. “All you have to do is follow ASIM.”
Susan grabbed his claw and held it in her hands. “Do you feel that?” After a moment's hesitation, Hew shook his head, the tubes sprouting from the back of it rustling. Susan’s eyes began to mist as she raised his metal claw up to her face, pressing his fingers on her jaw. “Now?” He shook his head again. Susan placed his hand on her chest, over her heart. She looked at him expectantly. He was still. Susan walked around the table and did the same for him, placing her hand between his claws, touching the frame of his faceplate.
“What are you getting at?”
Turning away, Susan took a few steps towards the bedroll. “You don’t feel anything when you touch me, or when I touch you. How am I supposed to know that you have any emotions at all? I can’t see your face anymore; I have no idea what’s going on inside of your head. How can I trust anything that you do or say is truly from you, and not some machine that has stolen your voice?”
Hew spun her around to face him, bringing his faceplate close to hers. “What does it matter? Even if I wasn’t me, I can protect you now. I can take care of you!” Hew’s grip began to tighten, the small violet lights dotting the black mesh that covered his servos and wires brightening. “That’s what I vowed to do! In sickness and in health, till death do us part. Do you remember any of that?”
“You’re hurting me!”
Hew quickly let go and took a step back as if slapped. Susan tripped onto the bedroll, a cloud of fine dust thrown up around her. She ran her hand along where Hew had grabbed her shoulder. The skin was tender and red, and hurt to touch.
Susan looked up at him, a lone tear breaking free from her earthy brown eyes and sliding down her cheek. Lifting a steel hand to wipe it away, Hew reached toward her, but she pushed herself away from him. She inhaled sharply, but the breath caught in her throat as she pushed away from Hew.
“We parted, Hew.”
Hew stomped on the ground, leaving an indent of his two pronged foot in the packed earth. “I did this for you! Nothing but Tiberium grows here, and the animals all either died or became mutated and inedible. Not to mention the raiders and mutants. If you join me, you can leave all those fears behind, and we’ll never be apart! I love you.”
Dust flitted through the beams of light that managed to get through the spot where the wall met the roof.
“Was that your trump card? Do you think that those words mean something coming from a synthesized voice from an empty metal shell?”
Hew didn’t move.
“You didn’t do it for me. You did it for yourself.”
Hew still didn’t move.
“You couldn’t realize that I didn’t care if I died. What I cared about was not dying alone. I wanted to live with someone that I loved, and eventually die with them. That’s all I wanted, and you…” She leapt to her feet and slammed her fist on his chest plate. “You took yourself away from me!”
Susan hit his chest plate again, bolts of pain racing through her hand. “If you loved me, then you would have told me. You would have talked it over with me. Instead, you just ran off and the thing in front of me is what came back. I don’t know who you are.” Susan closed her eyes, not wanting to see what was in front of her. “Hew, I don’t see you anymore. All I see is a slave. You follow ASIM unconditionally, even though you made your vows to me first.”
Hew’s fingers twitched, and he looked at them. “I still have my emotions, Susan. See? I’m not doing this on purpose.” Hew held up his hand, desperation seeping into his synthesized voice. “Remember how nervous I was during our wedding? Remember how my hands were shaking, just like this? This is going to be another journey, just like when I asked you to marry me.”
Susan opened her watery eyes and walked over to the stove. “I remember. I remember how tenderly you held my hands, how your arms made me feel safe and loved, and how softly you would kiss me.” She picked up a stick beside it and poked at the dying flames inside. “But you can’t know what it feels like to hold my hand anymore, or to hold me in your arms, or kiss me, and you won’t ever be able to again. I can’t know it anymore either. I’m sorry Hew, but you need to let me go.”
Hew slammed his fist down on the table, shattering it into splinters. “No! I won’t give up on you, Susan! How am I supposed to live without you?” Susan looked up at him and froze. She could almost see his face, his clenched teeth, his thin lips downturned, tears flowing from his brown eyes. But then his face was gone, and only the cold, sleek machine remained.
Susan shook her head. “You don’t need me - you have ASIM.” His body jerked to a stop. “Go, Hew. Please don’t ever come back.”
The mechanical parts in his arm whispered as he reached out to her. “Please let me touch you one last time.” Hew’s face - his human one - flashed again in front of Susan and she instinctively embraced him, forgetting momentarily about the cold metal plates. Hew bent his head down and whispered to her. “All I wanted was to protect you. My love for you is the one thing keeping me going. If you really think that I am dead, then I will let you go. I can’t live without you, but you can’t live with me.”
Susan’s eyes went wide as he stepped over to the door. Hew turned back and looked at her. “I’m sorry, Susan. I didn’t think about your feelings. I will always love you.” Hew approached the door, and stopped. “There will be an ion storm soon, so don’t go outside today. Goodbye, Susan, and thanks for the memories.” He closed the door behind him. Hardly a moment passed before the electric shriek of dying machinery and the soft hiss of cut pneumatic tubes whispered beneath the door. Susan dropped to her knees, her head in her hands. Her body shook as she cried, tears falling to the ground with the shattered remains of the table that the two of them had once shared.