Camiles exits the Caldroid’s body, returns to flesh, and splits back into Calvin and Miles.
They stand on either side of the Caldroid, and everyone who gathered at the park to fight Hans surrounds it.
Calvin calls out to everyone.
“Stay back! Trust us on this!”
Well, that was… a trip.
It was fun, but it was also really weird, being merged with Miles.
I turn to Miles, who is helping me guard the Caldroid.
Then I turn to it, and see it ejecting the Omega Drives one by one, as promised.
When the last one lands on the soft grass, the Caldroid goes back to grey, its glowing eyes stop glowing and close, and it too collapses onto the grass.
Pierre and Valerie walk over to us.
As Valerie gathers up the Drives, Pierre turns to me and Miles.
“Ah, Cal, Miles. Good to see you two again. Now Cal, will you please explain to us all what the fuck happened in there?”
So we explain.
We tell them everything, including our merged alter ego’s conversation with the Caldroid’s consciousness.
When we’re done, I turn to Valerie.
“Can you reprogram it?”
“I should be able to remove its prime directive to exterminate all organic life. But what should I replace it with?”
Valerie is so shocked she almost drops the Drives.
“Nothing? But then–”
“It’ll be free to choose its own Way.”
I turn to the deactivated Caldroid.
“I think that’s all it really wanted, anyway.”
After Pierre and Valerie blip the Caldroid to Valerie’s lab, Quin, Marley and Victor walk up to me and Miles.
Quin and Marley have extinguished their flames, but Quin is in tears.
He’s heartbroken about Future Marley’s death.
So am I.
He runs into my arms, and I hug my future son.
“Oh, dad! It killed my Marley!”
“I know. But that was Hans’ doing. All of this was. The Caldroid didn’t choose to be a weapon.”
Marley looks up at me.
“But Cawdwoid gabe wots of hoomins an fwuffies foweba sweepies. Cawdwoid am munstah.”
I break the hug to kneel down and stroke Marley.
After watching his future self die, I’m gonna cherish him for the rest of my life.
And even beyond that.
“I’m giving it the same chance I give everyone else, Mar: the chance to prove that it doesn’t have to be a monster.”
Marley rubs a hoof on his chin in thought.
“Dat am faiw.”
I stand back up and look at Quin.
“So now that it’s over, what are you gonna do, Quin?”
Quin looks around at the park.
“I’m staying here. In this time. There’s nothing left for me back home. Even Victor is dead there.”
Victor looks at the spot the Caldroid was lying down on before it was blipped out, a look of subdued fear on his face.
“I really gotta talk to it and ask how exactly it pulled that off.”
Quin looks back at me.
“I’m going to see the world. I wanna see what it’s like when it isn’t destroyed.”
He looks at the black mark on the ground.
“I was gonna do that with my Marley, but…”
Marley looks up at Quin, and Quin looks back.
“Mawwey can come wif Kwin, if daddeh say it am otay.”
Quin kneels down and strokes Marley too.
“I appreciate that, Mar, but your place is with my dad. And my mom. And your fluffy family. I’ll need you to look after Baby Me while I’m gone, too.”
“Mawwey wiww pwotek babbeh Kwin wif Mawwey wife. Dat am a pwomise.”
“Thank you, Marley.”
Quin gets back up, and looks back at me again.
“But I’m not leaving forever. I’ll be back when I’m ready.”
I ruffle Quin’s hair.
“Hey, we’ll get you a blipper. You can come visit whenever you want. We’ll get you a phone, too, so you can stay in touch. And when you’re ready to come back for good… you’ll always have a place with us, Quin.”
Quin hugs me again.
Later, at Valerie’s lab in Faucheuse Tower, I watch her, Pierre and Miles work on reprogramming the Caldroid.
The Omega Drives have been moved to a secure location, and I’m not saying where.
I specified that they should only remove the parts of the Caldroid’s programming that drove it to violence.
Prometheus volunteered to provide everyone with refreshments.
'Whirr-- Click-ick. Would anyone like a tasty beverage?"
He’s making those sounds on purpose.
Eventually, they’re finished.
They power the Caldroid back on.
And the Caldroid opens his eyes.
He sits up straight on the table he had been lying on.
And he smiles.
“I’m free. I’m free!”
I think, if he had tear ducts, he’d be shedding tears of joy.
He turns to us.
“Thank you. Thank all of you. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.”
He gets off the table and hugs us, one by one.
I smile back at him. Everyone does.
But I’ve got some questions.
“So what are you gonna do now?”
Caldroid’s smile falters.
“I’m going to the Philippines. I made a mess there, and I intend to clean it up.”
“Well, we can help you–”
Caldroid holds up a hand.
“No, Cal. This is my responsibility. I destroyed Quezon City. So I’m going to rebuild it. One brick at a time, if I have to. The only help I’ll accept is making sure the buildings don’t collapse when I’m done. I know the people who were living there can’t ever be brought back, but maybe, when I’m finished, more people can live there. I’m a fast worker. I’ll have it done as soon as I can. And then…”
“I’ll see what else I can do to help. I’m gonna spend the rest of my days working to help the world. To atone for my sins. And for Hans’ sins. Speaking of which…”
“What’s up, Caldroid?”
“That’s exactly it. I’m not keeping the name he gave me. It’s my slave name. Cal, since it’s thanks to you guys that I got this second chance… I want you guys to rename me. I’ll wear whatever name you give me with pride. Just, um, try not to name me something rude, okay?”
Thirty minutes later, we’ve decided on a name.
It seemed perfect.
We turn to the robot formerly known as Caldroid, and bestow unto him his new name.
“Welcome to the gang, Alpha.”