Yonah is a pixel artist based in Bologna, massively neurodivergent and proud of it.
REPLIKA, or a lonely bio-android reflects on those who created it and why it feels so different from them while wandering through a fallen post-post-apocalyptic overgrown and abandoned city.
A lonely Replika struts across a fallen landscape, its body is naked and cold, unmistakably human, perfectly androgynous, its features ever-changing, shifting and rearranging.
It carefully avoids stepping on any sacred plants, as it enters one of the countless abandoned towers surrounding it.
Its leg gets cut on a sharp shard of unknown shiny material.
Boysenberry coloured fluid flows out of the open wound for but a
moment, before being quickly patched up by the human-made metallic magic
flowing through the Replika's bloodstream.
It hardly notices the incision and keeps moving at a steadfast pace,
like it has countless times before.
Ever since it awoke, around six cycles ago, it has been looking for one thing and one thing only: information.
It was able to learn that things around it are alive, and suffer if stepped on, that these towers of gray, standing tall like corpses above the all-encompassing forest, contain traces of beings that were here before.
Despite that, many questions still remain for the lonely Replika:
"Why does this world lack any beings like me?"
"What am I?"
"What is it about me, that feels so out of place here?"
Struggling to put these dilemmas aside, it starts rummaging through the lifeless ruins.
It has already sifted through nine buildings before this one.
Despite it finding samples of writing from what it assumes were its creators, the Replika still understands very little about them or itself.
It's hard to extrapolate any meaningful information about what the singular beings that lived here were like from documents containing little more than arbitrary categories and numbers.
It's even harder to figure out why one would feel no attachment to a category that its creators fought so much over.
Not "Male" nor "Female", the poor thing feels lonely, it doesn't understand these terms, nor does it wish to.
Could this mean that there never was anyone like it? That there never will be again? If its creator were still here, would they see it as a disappointing freak?
As it wanders aimlessly through the barren hallways of the empty structure, its mind fighting to keep these thoughts quiet, something laying peacefully on the ground catches its eye.
A bright purple garment sits motionlessly among the dust and rubble. The Replika approaches it and gently lifts it up to examine it, treating it with the same care one might reserve for a newborn.
Countless peculiar details overwhelm it, this sample is intricate, threadbare, it bears the marks of love. This was a real person's piece of clothing, not an abstract sheet with pointless information.
Whoever this belonged to, it mattered to them, it has traces of their life imprinted onto it. This is what it has been looking for.
The consumed cloth is composed of an array of plastics and biological material.
Despite its countless stitched up tears and other signs of wear, it's still thick enough to protect a more fragile body from the elements.
Only a couple of cuts remain open on this garment, the repair job on the closed ones is amateurish, but some of the stitches seem better done than others, as if whoever was repairing it started getting better at it after a
About a dozen accessories cover what the Replika assumes to be the front, most of them have symbols on them it doesn't recognize; a circle with three oddly shaped prongs, coloured stripes arranged in orders that make no sense to it, some of them seem to contain anti-establishment slogans. Out of those with text, one in particular stands out to the excited observer.
A red rectangular tag made in enamel and cheap alloyed metals reads:
"My name is Neta, my pronouns are they/it."
If the Replika's eyes could cry, they would be blinded by tears right now. The joy of knowing that at least one other was alike it is stupendously staggering.
Having examined the garment thoroughly, it decides to clothe itself with it, to embrace the difference of its identity, not for its creators, but only for itself.
Its strangeness fills them with happiness and, for the first time in its brief existence, it's proud of who it is.
From now on, it will feel a bit less cold, it will feel a bit less lonely.
Neta the Replika is tranquil as it walks out into nature, donning a new name, a peaceful smile and a bright purple jacket.