Give and Take is the thirty-third chapter in Gunnerkrigg Court. It starts .
On a rooftop, Annie and Kat talk. Kat asks Annie about her being descended from a fire elemental. Kat seems a little weirded out, leading Annie to point out that she's still human. Kat hastily agrees, explaining that it's just strange. She says that she always knew there was something special about Annie, and that it explains a lot. Kat asks her about the family she stayed with. Annie explains that the Anwyn could technically be called tree elves, but they don't call themselves that. Khepi is the head of the family, and she has many sons and daughters. Annie says that she wishes that Kat could have met them, and tells her that Khepi has a son about their age, Kamlen, who she thinks Kat could like. Kat asks if that means he's hot, and Annie says that maybe if you like green skin and pointy ears.
Enjoying time to catch up with Kat and be at peace, Annie has set her footwear aside and is leaning beside Kat, back-to-back. Annie says that she and Ysengrin spent most of their time together in silence. Apparently, it was nice. Kat asks pointedly if Ysengrin didn't try to kill Annie once, and Annie replies that so did Reynardine and Jeanne. Maybe she just brings it out in people. Annie quickly adds that she was making a joke, and Kat says that she at least doesn't want to kill Annie. Annie thanks her. Kat's happy that they get to hang out together. Annie says that she's actually meant to be in detention, but she didn't want to go and they know where to find her. Besides, what can they do, tell her parents? It turns out that she wants to show Kat something Ysengrin taught her. Annie explains how to do it, but as soon as she goes from 'meditation' to 'stuff Kat really can't do', Kat zones out, staring at a fan and mentally examining it and all its parts.
Quite some time goes by as the two girls chat, and the sun starts to set. Kat wonders where the court came from. Annie says that she tried asking people in the Forest, but they only say 'It grew from the seed Bismuth'. Kat says that everyone in the Court just says that the Founders made it. She speculates about the Court maybe actually growing, and says that it ties into ideas she had for a new robot... and in the distance, we see Robot watching them. Shadow 2 asks Robot if he should be following them around, since it's kind of creepy. Robot says that he's just making sure that they're safe. They chat about friendship, and then they note that Annie and Kat are leaving.
Elsewhere in the Court, Annie asks if Kat's idea is to grow a robot. Kat says not exactly. She's thinking that a structure could be grown and fused with something that could act like real muscles. Annie asks why they're looking through Diego's old things. Kat explains that Diego made machines that worked despite not having internal mechanisms that worked like real robots, so it's time to find out how he did it.
Later, Kat explains that she can't read the designs- she's found a pattern, but they're all written in gibberish, along with a bunch of symbols. The relevant one is a heart symbol connected to everything else that's placed where a power source or an engine should be, so it's time to look at an older model. Some robots bring an older robot from the tomb. After a while, Kat picks out a part that looks like a heart, feels like ceramic, and is covered in the same symbols from the schematics. Annie suggests that maybe they're golems- inanimate matter brought to life with instructions- not robots, and the hearts provide life through etheric means.
Kat scoffs at the idea of golems, before pointing out that if it's true, then Diego would be a magician, not a scientist. Annie points out that robots are just that- inanimate matter brought to life with instructions from their software. They may not be golems, but they could be inspired by them.
Several days later, a robot approaches Kat with some operating code she asked it to print... in the form of a white cube. She asks what it is and the robot explains that it's the only way their instruction code can be represented outside of conceptual space- it's too much to be written down. Kat looks at it through a microscope and is amazed. Kat gets some tools and does some stuff to the cube. Annie asks if she can read it, and Kat says that she can, but barely. The robot says that she shouldn't be able to read it- human languages were found to be inadequate for the level of complexity involved, so the code wasn't written in any human language. The robot means no offense to Annie, but she admits she hasn't a clue what's happening.
Annie asks if Kat knows how the old robots work. Kat says no, but the cube is the bridge she needs to understand the theory behind Diego's work... and she knows how to start the old robots up. The robots are amazed, but Robot tells them to let her work. She explains that a tiny scratch severed a symbol, and it was enough to shut the robot down... but she can bypass it. That night, she finishes, and the robot comes back to life, grabbing her arm and demanding to know where the tomb is. Annie grabs her blinker stone, but Robot knocks aside the other robot, grabbing Kat. The other robot runs through a wall and out. Kat tells them to stop the robot, and Robot runs after it. He fights the old robot, who compliments his design. Shadow 2 tells Robot he was awesome, and Old Robot comments 'A shadow man!' Old Robot asks if Robot is friends with Kat, too, and says 'Oh, how far you have come'. He apologizes, saying he was startled, and asks if she can tell him where the tomb is.
In the tomb, Annie asks if Old Robot made the tomb. He says that he helped, because his colleagues and he intended it to be their resting place. Annie asks if he means that the tomb is their tomb, not Jeanne's, and Old Robot explains that after Diego died, the robots had no way of procreating, so they created offspring to continue in their stead. He comments on how amazing the newer robots are, and their working in harmony with humans is more than they could ever hope for. Annie asks if the old robots wanted to be in servitude to humans, but Old Robot says that movement is everything to them, because to be still is to be dead, because if they aren't useful, they're nothing. He's happy that the robots are happy helping humans. They need no reward because movement is life and life is its own reward.
Kat asks what happened to the other robots. Old Robot explains that they committed suicide, leaving the world to their children. Kat asks why he says that they're dead- after all, when a robot is turned off, it's just asleep, right? Old Robot says no, because when a human sleeps, it still moves and works and lives. Robots who are turned off are nothing but metal and ceramic, just like a human when their mind is finally turned off.
Kat asks if she brought him back from the dead. Old Robot agrees that it appears to be the case. Kat apologises, but Old Robot tells her not to be sorry, because she solved a problem they couldn't- they couldn't recreate their hearts, but she restarted his. Kat points out the recreation Diego made of Jeanne's death, but Old Robot says that it's a puppet show. While Kat gave him the gift of life, he hopes she doesn't think him brazen if he asks to return it. Kat's stunned, saying that she could bring Old Robot's friends back, too, but Old Robot says that it's not their time. They belong in the tomb, a tribute to Diego. Kat looks at the robots, at Old Robot, and finally at Annie, who puts a hand on her shoulder. Old Robot thanks her.
Annie asks Old Robot, before he goes, how Gunnerkrigg Court was built. Old Robot replies, "The Court? It grew from the seed Bismuth." Annie objects, but Old Robot asks Kat, 'Please." and Kat kills him. She looks at Old Robot and tells Annie she needs fresh air. They leave as the robots watch them.
Robot looks up at Old Robot and preaches to the robots, "Let it be known, in this tomb of ancients, the angel called forth the spirit of the dead. You see how easily she gave life... and how easily she took it away." The robots begin to talk as Shadow 2 appears behind Robot, looking upset, and the chapter ends.
Characters and Places Introduced in This Chapter
Notes and Trivia
- When asked how the court was formed, Kat claimed everyone in the court just say the founders made it, while Annie states anyone in the forrest claims it grew from the Seed Bismuth. When Old Robot is asked, he also replies it grew from the Seed, despite being a creature of the court.