|A Human Perspective - Episode 6|
|Series||A Human Perspective|
|Source||A Human Perspective - Episode 6|
|In the series|
“Hanroyth Angela?’ What are you talking about?”
Had he heard them right? Hanroyth was a Banu word meaning lopsided or broken, but it referred to tools, not people. Just then Lyshtuu came in and quickly dismissed the techs, who eagerly scurried out of the room.
“What are you doing here?” Charl asked, shaking his head. “I thought you were back on Bacchus. None of this makes sense, Lysthuu. What’s going on?” At least now he could get some straight answers.
“Charl-Grissom, explaining,” the Banu trader began. He had a look about him as if he would ask the Human to sit down, if there were any chairs here. “Apologies, Charl-Grissom. Acquaintance misrepresented purposefully.”
“Misrepresented?” He shrugged that off for the moment. “Listen, Angela’s sick or injured somewhere.”
“Angela here,” Lyshtuu said reassuringly. “Repairs being affected.” The Banu’s choice of words left Charl even more puzzled. Lyshtuu knows Human better than that.
“Angela is android. She is broken,” the Banu stated simply.
“What?” Charl said, disbelieving, and Lyshtuu repeated himself.
“Misrepresented acquaintance purposefully, Charl-Grissom. Apologies.” The Banu searched for Human words while Charl backed up to a wall and leaned against it. “Lyshtuu lied to Charl-Grissom. Apologies.”
If anything, his post-sleep gas headache was getting worse, not better. Is he kidding me? What’s his game? How could Angela be an android?
“I don’t understand.”
“Torreele Foodstuffs negative.” Lyshtuu took a patient posture.
“You mean, this whole mission isn’t really for Torreele? It was some kind of ruse? What about the hwasheen?” At least he thought he had seen them, he recalled hazily.
“Charl-Grissom not hired evaluate hwasheen.” Charl fought to focus on what he was being told, but so many thoughts demanded attention that he only stammered confusedly.
“Charl-Grissom hired evaluate Angela.” Charl felt like someone had kicked him in the chest, and he knew he had a stupid, dumbfounded expression on his face, but for the moment he couldn’t do anything about it. He processed all this as best he could.
“Because she’s an android?”
“There’s no such thing as an android,” he argued. They were just too complicated, anything that looked and acted ‘real,’ anyway. Service robots were everywhere, all over UEE and Protectorate space, but no androids. And Angela was so completely real. Anger seeped in where confusion dissipated.
“Yeye-Weeshee, Lyshtuu!” Charl unleashed the worst insult he could muster, one that defied literal translation but ought to enrage even the most passive Banu. The trader took it in stride.
“Why didn’t you just ask me to do that in the first place?” he asked, rising to full height, letting out an exasperated breath.
“Please Lyshtuu to explain. Experimental conditions ideal with Charl-Grissom. Dislike for Humans desirable, even ideal,” Lyshtuu tried to explain, adopting his most reassuring tone. The Banu searched quickly for words. “Charl-Grissom ideal Human evaluate Angela android.”
Charl drew a breath to launch into a protracted argument, but stopped short. What the Banu said rang true, or at least reasonable. What did it really matter?
“Wait a minute,” he said finally, his head clearing further. “Why are you building a Human android?”
“Lyshtuu not building Human android. Protectorate building Human android.”
“So this is a government job.”
“Yes, through Lyshtuu. Protectorate resources. Protectorate funding.” Charl’s entrepreneurial instincts took over. If they could perfect a Humanoid android the profit potential in the UEE was astronomical. A lot more than some shaggy dog/cow critter, that was certain.
“Angela is an android,” he said aloud, as if saying it might make it easier to accept. On quick reflection, there had been clues. She didn’t know much about Torreele Foodstuffs. And she got that blank expression a lot. Was that her synthetic mind catching up? And she wouldn’t need to breathe at all, he supposed.
But she was so real, real enough that he felt that pit-of-the-stomach genuine loss that he hadn’t felt in many years. He wandered outside Human space precisely to avoid any kinds of feelings of this sort. Now he felt it doubly, both the loss and the humiliation of being duped. They’d made him feel loss over nothing, just a pretty computer.
“Well, Lyshtuu, your android needs some work, that’s for sure. Do you need me to write up some reports on her — on it? You know what I mean. That’s what you’re looking for, right? Some docs on what I thought about her?”
“Charl-Grissom leave now, or Charl-Grissom stay evaluate further.”
“Angela android imperfect, development continuing. Charl-Grissom accept additional compensation continue evaluation.”
So, they want me to stick around. Charl knew that he had the upper hand now. Lyshtuu had failed to deal completely above board, and Banu hated that, so they would be eager to make it up to him.
“Considerable additional compensation,” Lyshtuu continued, holding out his MobiGlas for Charl to see. It had the extended contract on it, all ready to go, and a new sum line. It was the same number as the original contract, just with an extra zero on it. That kind of set-me-up-for-life number would get anyone’s attention. Lyshtuu must have noticed he had stopped edging toward the exit.
“Angela android many flaws. Not finished. Additional Human evaluation valuable.”
Can I face Angela — or face that android — again? Charl tried to dismiss her as just a ‘thing,’ but that didn’t wash emotionally. Not right away. That might take some time.
“I don’t like that you lied to me, Lyshtuu.”
“You broke our contract,” he said, pressing his advantage with what he knew to be a key point of their psyche.
“Lyshtuu understand, Charl-Grissom.”
“I don’t much like the idea of staying, either,” he bargained further. “How much longer do you need me?”
“Ten standard days,” the Banu replied.
“And that gets me the full amount,” he said, pursing his lips and pointing down at the MobiGlas.
“Full compensation,” he agreed.
“I’ll want half of that in advance,” he insisted, and the Banu nodded in the herky-jerky way they did.
“Then it’s a yacht ride back to the Reacher, right?”
“That is correct.”
Charl caught himself wishing he could talk to Angela about it, and he chuckled a bit. Stick around and you can, dummy. On reflection, he was glad he could put all his feelings back into their box where they belonged. If Angela was a machine, he could treat it like a machine and be done with it. Still, he wondered what his first reaction would be when he saw her next.
And he would see her again. See it again. He’d made his decision.
“Okay, Lyshtuu. I’ll do it.” You’re paying that kind of money for ten days of work? He couldn’t believe his luck. A few days ago he had been destitute. Now Charl had snagged one job that could change his life forever!
To Be Continued …