The date had gone well. The circumstances for the execution of my plan were even better than expected.

I had taken great effort to make mental notes about everything she had told about herself when we had sat across from each other at the fancy Italian restaurant on the other side of town.

Cassandra Ashcroft; what a marvelous name. I had joked about her sounding like the protagonist in some adventure or detective novel. She had laughed. Apparently, people told her that surprisingly often.

She lived alone, having moved here a year prior to study classical philosophy and history at the local university. Her mother lived two hours by car away and almost never talked to her.

There also were a few other details about her that I took note of, but that weren’t important for my plan. For example, her long red hair was in fact not dyed, but really just that red. The pretty necklace with the small red fox pendant was apparently gifted to her by some friend in reference to that.

We talked about all kinds of things, but history and philosophy were her favorite topics, a fact she had even made clear before the date itself, asking me to “tell her if she was nerding out too much”. I did no such thing of course, as I myself enjoyed discussing these topics. I had quite the impressive amount of first-hand experience in them after all.

After we had finished eating, I had offered to drive her home if she wanted. She had politely refused, asking to come home with me instead to “watch a movie or something”.

How could I have refused something like this?

We watched some movie about malevolent machines staging a revolt against humanity, but she seemed to take more pleasure in the discussion of the ethics of sentient machines than in the actual movie.

Admittedly, and to my surprise, I enjoyed this as well. To be entirely honest, I even doubted my plan a couple of times.

But I had to go through with it.

When the movie had finished and we had nothing more to discuss, she voiced her intention to spend the night at my house because it had become pretty late by that point.

I allowed it, waiting a few minutes before following her in the direction of my bedroom, pausing outside to prepare myself. I comforted myself with the fact that I had been able to do this many times before.

I took a deep breath before I quietly stepped into the room, making sure that she didn't notice my approach.

She had begun to undress, facing away from the door.

I have to confess that I found her form quite attractive. An only natural assessment, I reminded myself. Despite my rejection of nature, I was still able to see beauty in flesh. For a second, I even thought about giving in to its temptations…

But I knew better than to fall to the cravings of the Great Betrayer. The flesh held no certainty but death. Its desires would forever be its greatest weakness. I would not fall for its deceptions. Only the blessed machine could hold eternal progress and certainty. It was such a shame that I could not yet replace all of my parts with it.

Some of my more important components were still human. And every now and then they would fail if I didn't take action.

“What a shame,” I thought to myself as the illusion field over my face flickered off to reveal the lenses, gears and pipes beneath. All these centuries of augmentation and replacement had left little of my once human appearance.

With a satisfying series of metallic clicks, the four mechanical limbs on my back unfolded from their idle position inside of my synth-skin hull.

I watched the poor fragile flesh creature for a minute. She was so weak. How glad I was to have left most of the rotting cage of biomatter that had once been my body behind long ago.

My lenses clicked and refocused a couple of times.

I had to do it... like all those times before.

In a single calculated motion I moved in to grab her necklace, pulling it as tight as I could without breaking it while restraining her arms with my metal claws. I had to avoid damaging her too much.

I felt remorse for having to end her life in such a cruel way; I was not a monster after all. If I had a way to sustain my existence without having to commit such acts, I would have taken it long ago.

But for now, this would have to do. I would not let the feeble nature of the flesh stop my eternal work.

And I really needed spare parts.

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