Through Uncharted Seas
Through Uncharted Seas is a story written by Aosora Hikaru and illustrated by Nebulosity Çiélon. It ran in Issue 48 and can be found at http://s2b2.livejournal.com/274229.html and mirrored at http://www.shousetsubangbang.com/mirror/through-uncharted-seas/.
Asher Baumann is an inventor who has somehow managed to build a robot far beyond his skill in terms of complexity. He names the robot Ezra, after himself. Ezra, however, has no desire to remain a mere robot.
"Here lies Asher Baumann," he murmured as he picked up the pitcher. "Inventor, madman, flaming idiot."
Through Uncharted Seas is unconnected to other stories or universes.
So I really love steampunk, like a lot. And so this story, and Ezra specifically, was very loosely inspired by the character The Spine from the band Steam Powered Giraffe. All I truly pulled was the fact that Ezra is a robot who runs on steam, has silvery skin, and desires to be human (or at least, more human-like). After all, how could you have consensual robot-on-human action if the robot doesn't want to consent?
My illustrator and dear friend, Nebulosity Çiélon, bless her, is an engineer, and I think my complete lack of technical knowledge about, well, anything, probably drove her bonkers. I'd gone into writing Ezra blind and had no idea how any sort of robot should work. Less than a week before the due date she started trying to talk about Ezra's engine and tried to link me to a wikipedia entry about the sort of engine she thought Ezra would have. I had to be like "whoa now, no, I don't have time for this!"
Therefore, Ezra runs on steam and handwaving. Probably also magic. But mostly steam and handwaving. If I ever go back and expand this into a novel-length story (an idea I am considering), I'll obviously need her technical and engineering input.
The title of this story was a tricky one, because it had to sum up Asher's initial resistance, then curiosity, then acceptance of Ezra's journey to "humanity." Of course, by proxy, it also had to cover Ezra's aforementioned journey. I was panicking because the deadline was coming up, and two days before the story was due it was still untitled. I crowdsourced suggestions, and Through Uncharted Seas was the one that felt perfect.