note: This is a follow-up to For Yet Another
Day . It is suggested that be read first.
The police lieutenant was nervous and sweating as he stood before the man seated behind the desk. He hated dealing with these self-important, educated types. One slip and he'd be compiling traffic data in some back office. Not at all like the street, where he had the upper hand.
"There's nothing. Professor. Nothing. No sign of him."
Professor Hobby stood and rubbed his face, then spread his hands, incredulous. He was clearly irritated.
"How can this be, Lieutenant? How can you not find your own amphibicopter?"
The lieutenant awkwardly cleared his tightening throat.
"Sir, we've completed scanning over one hundred thirty-four square miles around this site. Our last GPS records show him here, but beyond that there's nothing. The sub-surface visual search has been called until tomorrow. We're scanning here again, but we're finding nothing but the usual wreckage under the surface. It's... vanished."
"Vanished," sighed Hobby sarcastically. "How far could he get in one of those things?"
"In the air, a couple of hundred miles at least, depending on fuel. We've expanded the land search, but if he went down over deep ocean... "
"I understand. Keep me informed. I want him found, Lieutenant."
"Yes, sir," said the lieutenant, who turned to leave.
"Also - "
Hobby stabbed his finger sharply at the lieutenant as he turned back.
"You people will do nothing to the mecha that was with him until I speak
with it, understood? Nothing. I don't care what the charges are. Is that clear?"
The lieutenant hesitated, then left the room, wiping the sweat from his upper lip.
Hobby sat down at his desk, and groaned.
Where have you gone, David? Have I lost you yet again?
There was a soft knock at the door.
"Yes, come in."
The door opened, and David walked into the room.
"Hello, Professor. I finished the assignment you gave me. Would you like to test me now?"
"Not right now, David. Not tonight. Move on to the next section, and I'll test you tomorrow evening."
"All right, Professor." David left the way he came.
Hobby recalled the earlier conversation with David. His David.
"I thought I was one of a kind."
You are one of a kind, David. I realize that now. You are one of a kind. I don't know what happened to you to make you so, but you are. God, I am surrounded by Davids, and not a one has near the reality that you first showed me that night, or have displayed ever since the Flesh Fair. Damn that Monica! If I had only known how screwed up those people were. They understood nothing. They ruined everything. I should have stayed with my first impulse.
ButÉmaybe not. I can't really blame them because I don't know what made you, David. What I see as stupidity may have been the very catalyst that set into motion the machinery of your realism. What obscure piece of experience, what offhand word made you real? What was it, David? What?
The comset on the desk pinged.
"Your 'copter is ready, sir."
"Thank you, Selena."
Hobby stood and slipped on his jacket
Maybe the lover mecha, this 'Gigolo Joe', will have some answers.
Hobby walked down the hall toward the transport bay. On either side, on benches lining the entire length of the hall, sat dozens of Davids and Darlenes, all waiting to be boxed and shipped to points all across the planet. Their heads turned to follow him as he approached, and passed by.
It was a cacophony of one voice, speaking all languages simultaneously. Once he would have thought it beautiful. Now it simply seemed absurd.
"This way, Professor." The female officer indicated for him to follow.
"We've determined the mecha is innocent in the Bevins murder case. To be honest, from questioning him ourselves, I'm not sure any of his information will help you. It's -"
"I'll question him anyway."
The officer opened the door to the interrogation room.
"Would you like me to stay?
"No, thank you, I'll be fine. Is that camera off?" He indicated a surveillance camera in a corner of the ceiling. By law, the camera was required to be on whenever the room was occupied by civilians, but Hobby knew which Federal strings to pull, and knew the officer had been thoroughly briefed.
She walked to a panel in the wall, opened it, and pushed a button. An opaque box extended from the wall and grew around the camera.
"Thank you," said Hobby.
The officer smiled and nodded.
"I'll be right outside, sir," she said and left the room, closing the door behind her.
Hobby turned and looked at the mecha, who sat at the far end of the table.
Hmm, he thought. Definitely a Simulate City model. Lover robot, better made than most. Their top model, I think. Strong facial structure, classic features, good sculpture. Class 7 AI sequencer.
"Your name is Joe?" asked Hobby.
"Yes. At your service, sir."
"My name is Allen Hobby. Do you know who I am?"
"Yes... I do!" replied Joe, brightening. "You're David's Professor."
"Yes. I'm Professor Hobby. I'm hoping you can help me."
"I would be happy to help you, Professor. In any way I can."
"Do you know where David is?"
"No, Professor. When last I saw him, he was in the amphibicopter. Just before I was rather unceremoniously picked up."
"Did he say where he was going?"
"To find Blue Fairy."
"Did he say where he thought she was?"
As a mecha, Joe was incapable of lying boldly. He could, however, limit the amount of information he gave. The way David had jumped from the ledge of the Cybertronics building, it seemed to Joe that David would not want to be found.
"Dr. Know told him she could be found at the End of the World. That's why we came there."
"So you don't know where he was headed?"
"I don't know where he was headed."
The End of the World. The only information we gave him, thought Hobby. Well, let's get to the heart of this one.
"Joe. I've seen the broadcast discs from the Flesh Fair. You seemed to protect him there. Is this true?"
"I... cannot say, Professor."
"When you were on the stage, about to be destroyed, your arms were around him. You were clearly protecting him. Why? That's very unusual for mecha."
"What did you feel about David, Joe?"
"Why did you stay with him after the Flesh Fair?"
"There is a sense of brotherhood among mecha, Professor. A sense of the shared sameness between us. You of all people are aware of it, I'm sure. It was the same with David, at first, but there was more. There was something different about him."
"I cannot define it for you, Professor. Being with him made me... different as well. I don't know. I wanted him with me. I wanted to help him. It was most confusing, I can tell you that!"
"You became friends, Joe."
"Yes. You cared about him, and he cared about you. He rescued you from the police in Rouge City, at no small risk to himself. That's friendship."
"Yes. I would not have thought it possible."
"Neither would I."
There is something we're seeing present in more and more of them now, in the more advanced models. Nothing like David yet, but as they learn more how to emulate humans, they are beginning to develop a certain emotional life of their own, by repetitive association, much like we do. It's more than mere mimicry. They are beginning to come into their own, as a species.
"May I ask a question?"
"Why do orga hate us so?"
Hobby sat back in the chair and sighed.
"There are no doubt a great many reasons, Joe. Jealousy. Envy of the things mecha can do that we humans cannot. Of your seeming immortality. Fear of the fact that in some ways you reflect us too well. Fear that you may one day displace us, or even replace us. Many things."
"We were created by humans in their own image. To serve them. To be companion to them. In their own image, yet they hate us. It's difficult to understand."
"Yes, it is. It may... say something about us that we ourselves don't yet realize, or refuse to accept. What are the charges against you?"
"Failure to display a valid Federal operating license, resisting by force the Federal authority, unlawful flight from the Federal authority, theft of Federal property, not recovered."
Hobby nodded. For mecha, enough to warrant destruction.
"I don't suppose much can be done for me, eh, Professor?"
He knows it, too.
Hobby pushed back his chair and stood, facing the mecha.
"Thank you, Joe. I'm... very glad David met you, and that you did what you did."
He turned to the door, and knocked.
The guard opened the door, and Hobby left the room.
"Everything all right, Professor?"
"Yes. I need to use a secure line, please."
"Very well, Professor. Follow me."
A week's time, and no sign of David. The police had called the search an hour earlier.
Hobby sat on the couch before the penthouse window-wall, musing.
Was that old promise I made to David, or to myself? McBride and Leibowitz may be discredited, but that night in his room I was so close, and didn't realize it. I just didn't see it. To me, everything real has always been quantifiable. Measured, calibrated and statistical - that was real. I didn't believe that reality is mostly whatever we perceive it to be.
It's not science, but it's the truth. I told David that the single greatest human gift is the ability to chase down our dreams, and to make them real. He tried. Maybe it's time I did the same.
Hobby stood and walked to the desk, and punched up the lab on the comset.
"Send David Three up to me, please."
Repeat the experiment. The oldest rule of science.
He slid the small coffee table closer to the couch, and placed a chair on the other side. He waited.
There was a light knock on the door, and David entered.
"Hello, David. What have you been doing?
"Reading Latin. Are you going to test me again?
"No, David. Something different. Would you like to play some chess?"
"Why don't you get the chessboard from the shelf there, and set it up?"
Repeat the experiment.
Hobby sat down in the chair, and watched as David set up the board.
"There are two pieces missing, Professor."
Hobby held his hands out to David, palms down. Both were closed into fists, and both were trembling.
"Choose one," he said.
Choose the left hand... please, please choose the left hand.
The little mecha looked at him questioningly.
For six days, no one came.
On the seventh day, Joe heard footsteps. Four prison guards appeared in front of the cell, and the cell door opened.
"Come out, you."
Well, now it comes, he thought. Goodbye, Joe whaddaya know. You're about to be wiped.
"Come on out."
Joe stood, and walked into the hall. Two of the guards took up positions behind him, and two in front.
He was ushered down endless halls, and finally into a room with a tall desk and no chairs. The guards left, and shut the door behind him.
Another guard entered from a door behind the desk. He took his seat, and emptied the contents of a large envelope onto the desk.
Joe stepped up to the desk.
"One AlphaBeepª medallion, two ten and one five coppers, your maintenance set, and an address card. Your belongings. Anything missing?"
The guard opened another envelope, and removed a glowing flexmetal rectangle.
"This is your new license. You'll need to affix it as soon as possible. I mean that."
Joe stood silent, uncomprehending.
"Well?" asked the man behind the desk.
"New license? I don't understand, sir."
"What don't you understand? You're free to go."
"Free to go?"
"Yes, free to go."
"Damned if I know. I just follow orders. Here... "
He pulled a sheet of paper from the envelope, and began to read it.
"Let's see. Such and such and so on... uh... here it is. 'Per agreement between Simulate City, Inc., Cybertronics Corporation, and the Federal Control Board, license is hereby reissued to SCU number 774-LB-00952343-M for a period of three years. Simulate City, Inc. retains all rights to the aforementioned unit, and may apply for renewal of the license, or not, at the end of the license period at its sole discretion. And so on and so forth."
Thanks, Professor Hobby. Thank you ever so much.
"Well, sir, I am most appreciative of your company, but I really must be on my way thank you very much! I need to get back to Rouge City. Perhaps you could arrange some transport?"
"Oh, of course. Maybe a private car, and driver? Would that be adequate?"
"That would be most accommodating, thanks!"
The guard beckoned Joe with a crooked finger.
Joe leaned forward.
"Listening?" asked the guard.
"Pick up your stuff, and get the hell outta here. Now."
He stepped out into the city.
Twenty-five copper. Not nearly enough for a lift. Nice enough place, though. I could probably drum up enough business to cover transport, but intruding on appropriated territory might put me right back in a cell.
"A fine day for a walk, then." he said to himself.
The highway was right behind him. He climbed an embankment, then crossed to the southbound side. The traffic was heavy.
It's 186.5 miles to Rouge. At two feet per step, that's 468,581.25 steps. Too far for our feet. Oh...
At that phrase, he stopped for a moment, and replayed some stored memories.
And watching them, he knew that things would never be quite the same again.
Thank you, David. I'm not precisely sure what for yet, butÉyou did change something in me. Something I...
I hope you found your Blue Fairy.
He began to walk down the highway, strutting in his usual rakish manner.
I am. I -
Joe spun on his heel, and without missing a step, began to walk backwards. He grinned broadly, stuck out his right arm, and extended his thumb.
To the east, not so very far away at all, a boy in a cage continued to pray quietly as the air changed to cool evening. Later, it became cooler still.
The DAY Trilogy
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