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Small Flowers

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Small Flowers
Written by Yoko Taro
Printed in Strategy Guide, A Short Story
Translated by /u/Merutan
Date of copy 01.10.2017
Source Full translation
Discussion [Reddit post]
A story about one machine lifeform and a flower. Takes place before the game's events.

Chapter 1

Those small specks looked very much like black sand.

They were discovered in one of many mankind’s ruins.

“We” found some androids hiding out in the building, so “we” first spent 5 days and 20 hours exterminating those androids. Our enemies were thrown against walls like pieces of trash, and it was during cleanup that “I” made a new discovery in one of the small rooms.

Multiple glass bottles were lined up on shabby shelves. Most of them were either empty or broken. However, one glass bottle remained in good condition. Taking the bottle carefully into my hands, “I” confirmed the existence of multiple small specks within the bottle. A lookup in the database revealed that they are “seeds” of “plants”. However, that’s all “I” could find.

After observing the glass bottle for some time, “I” decided to take it back as research material.

“We” machine lifeforms have been fighting with the androids for thousands of years. Androids are highly skilled at combat, and “we” were unable to defeat a single android even with 100 machines. However, “we” end up winning regardless. By repeatedly repairing ourselves and multiplying, “we” were able to crush them with sheer numbers. If “we” can’t take them down with 100 of “us”, then “we” will do it with 1000. If that doesn’t work, then “we” will do it with 10000. “We” repeat this over and over again and increase our numbers. Winning a war all boils down to “time”. “We” will simply fight until “we” win. That is the most important battle requirement “we” machine lifeforms learnt from our creators.

On the other hand, “we” were completely clueless about issues outside of battle. Because of how our creators programmed “us”, “we” were forbidden from using gigantic weapons that would cause undue destruction to the environment. As a result, this planet is filled with plants and animals. However, “we” did not do much research into those lifeforms.

“We” collected information about geography and weather because they could be utilized to our strategic advantage. However, information about animals and plants were deemed unrelated to combat.

But is that true? The chances may be low, but isn’t there the possibility that these seeds contain hints on how to destroy androids?

It’s worth a shot. After all, “we” have infinite time. More than enough time.

Chapter 2

After some discussion in the network, it was decided that the discoverer of the “seeds” should be tasked to investigate them. In other words, “me”.

“I” have gone through some past records, but all “I” could find was that “seeds” were a younger form of “plants”, but “I” did not know how they would transform into “plants”. To that end, “I” needed to start by hacking into the androids’ servers.

There wasn’t much recorded in the androids’ servers either, but after a few days of searching, “I” managed to locate a file that stated “sow your seeds when the climate becomes warm”. It appeared to be a guideline for nurturing plants. “I” didn’t understand what precise conditions can be considered “warm”. And since they used the word “sow”, surely there must be some surface to “sow” onto, but that wasn’t specified either. Why are our enemies so careless? There’s no way they can win against “us” like this…

For now, “I” will start by aggregating weather information and calculating an appropriate timeframe from my data. “I” have also decided to experiment with various surfaces to “sow” onto. Though “I” wanted to try out all kinds of possibilities at once, the number of “seeds” are limited. Therefore, “I” have limited my selections to “sand”, “concrete” and “soil”. “I” have observed plants growing from all three of them, and if my predictions were correct, then “soil” would be the most promising candidate.

7 days later, “I” confirmed that the “seeds” sprouted from “soil”. My predictions were correct, and “I” shared that fact amongst “us”.

Chapter 3

24 days after sowing the seeds. The first signs of problem appeared. The plant increased in height along with the increase in temperature, which was a positive sign. However, multiple small insects were found on the insides of the leaves. After some observation, “I” can see that they are depriving the plant of its nutrients .

The insects were too small to pick out. Furthermore, they do not attempt to escape even when water is splashed on them. “I” tried firing a low-powered laser, but that ended up blowing off a few leaves from the sample plant. They sure are troublesome for their size...no, it’s precisely due to their size that “I” am having such a hard time. This is a new strategic viewpoint that’s been overlooked by “us” machine lifeforms, as “we” do everything we can to become bigger and sturdier. Perhaps this is something “we” could learn from. “I” will share this with the server as soon as “I” have all my data in place.

Chapter 4

85 days after sowing the seeds. Rain.

In the end, the plant suffered serious damage from the insects. However, it continued to grow. It also had sufficient water, which is necessary for growth. According to documents that were previously recovered, plants do well in neutral or slightly alkaline water, so “I” have been adding minute amounts of neutralizer to maintain that condition. However, “I” do not know if this is truly the right way to go about nurturing plants. “I” only have to look outside to see gigantic plants wrapping themselves tightly around buildings. Why did those plants grow so large in size? Perhaps as a result of environmental changes, they have adapted to be resistant to acidic rain.

I looked down at the growing plant. I saw something white and bright growing in between its leaves. Carefully, slowly, I took a closer look at the object in question. It was a small, small bud.

I searched through all my available data.

According to the androids’ data, this object called a “bud” will eventually transform into a “flower”. The data contained multiple different pictures of “flowers”. Red ones, pink ones, blue ones, white ones…my search came up with multiple flowers, but it was insufficient to determine what kind this particular plant was. Oh well. Eventually “I” will be able to tell.

“I” put in more neutralizer.

But only a little bit this time.

Chapter 5

102 days later. Clear skies.

After days upon days of rain, the plant’s flowers blossomed. Though the pictures “I” took as reference featured big flowers, this particular plant grew a large number of small flowers that were only around 5mm in diameter. This could potentially be due to a difference in the type of plants, but it could also be that “I” nurtured them in a wrong way.

By the way, recently, whenever “I” look at this plant, “I” experience an indescribable feeling surging up from within. “I” have a theory that it’s because of how similar the flowering plant is to a scene from a video about explosions.

Looking back, “I” realized “I” haven’t used my weapons in a long time. This is an abnormal situation for “us” machine lifeforms, who were made to wage war. However, nurturing this plant is my important mission. No matter how much “I” truly seek to battle, “I” cannot abandon this plant and run off.

It was then that “I” received an incoming transmission. It was a short transmission, but it was hidden behind over two hundred layers of encryption, and took “me” four days to decrypt it on my own. “I” didn’t even need to open up the data to guess at its contents. There were only a few situations in the past that required such heavily guarded transmissions.

The data contained within was a battle plan for an upcoming, large scale conflict with the androids.

Chapter 6

124 days later. Rain.

After the 24th reboot, “I” finally regained a portion of my visual sensors. A brief checkup of my body revealed that “I” lost functionality in one third of my joints, with half of my sensors being rendered completely useless. “I” was lying prone on the ground.

18 days ago, during the large scale conflict, “I” was not allowed to abandon my position. Or more precisely, “we” didn’t have the luxury of issuing change of orders to an experimental entity like “me”. According to the remaining video footage, “I” was shot by the androids and ceased functioning.

“I” tried to move my body, but all that came out were unpleasant creaking noises, and “I” was unable to stand. It looked like “I” was damaged pretty thoroughly. “I” predicted that it will take half a month of self-repair with what’s available at hand, and experienced a tinge of irritation. “I” turned my head as much as possible, and a white blurry object appeared in front of “me”. After adjusting the focus, “I” saw that it was the small flower. More than half of the plant was destroyed from the blast, but a small portion of it remained untouched. Seeing as how its surroundings were burnt to a crisp, this flower was extremely fortunate.

A motionless plant. A powerless “me”. After observing the plant for some time with the camera, “I” resumed the self-repair process.

My job isn’t over yet. It is my mission to record what becomes of this plant.

Chapter 7

After that, the plant continued to bloom with small flowers. “I” continued to record the growth of the plant. 22 days after my last reboot, my body was completely repaired and back to its original state. Though “I” have become disconnected to the rest of the machine lifeform network during combat and cannot seem to reconnect, it was not a hindrance to my mission of nurturing this plant.

From what “I” have learned so far, “I” was able to determine the conditions that improve plant growth. Appropriate amounts of water. Warm temperatures. Soil. On days of storms and days of strong winds, “I” did everything “I” could to secure an appropriate environment for plant growth.

The plant, once weakened from battle, recovered and grew even more flowers. Looking at those flowers, “I” no longer felt any unease.

Chapter 8

280 days have passed since sowing the seeds.

“I” discovered that a portion of the plant became brown in color. Initially, “I” remained optimistic as this was an occurrence “I” have seen multiple times in the past. However, the brown parts expanded as days passed by until it covered the entire plant.

My sensors were reacting to something. Looking up, “I” saw that snow was falling. Understanding that the temperature is dropping, “I” put a low level heater next to the plant and tried hard to maintain its temperature. “I” continued to observe it for a few more days, but the plant remained brown. No, to be more precise, it was crumbling away bit by bit.

“I” retrieved the reference materials for the first time in a while, and tried to search for methods to repair the plant. However, “I” found no such instructions in the data. No matter which plant “I” looked at, the records only pertain to when it blooms and bears fruit, and did not say a word of what happens next.

A few more days passed. The temperature continued to drop, and snowfall became more frequent. “I” decided to cover the plant with my hands.

“I” continued to protect the brown plant.

“My” mission is not over yet. “I” have to repair this plant. “I” will understand and learn. “I” will repair this plant.

Because “I” have infinite time.