"She's waking up." Cynthia heard Julion's voice coming through the darkness.
"Good, I thought she was going to sleep forever." Sally said.
Julion stood from the kneeling position next to Cynthia. "You seemed to be having such a good sleep we left you alone. I believe that the two of us made considerable progress though."
Something seemed amiss to Cynthia. Their attitudes were not as professional as normal. "You worked without me?" She was supposed to be the leader of this team. She should have been alerted to any progress and help them through it.
"I wouldn't say that." Julion with his back still turned buried his head deeper towards the screen.
"If the Boss found out I was sleeping-"
"Don't worry. No bots passed by while you slept. Besides you needed it after yesterday." Sally began packing away her things.
"Don't you think you should at least tell me what you've done?"
Sally handed her the datapad. "If you want to work, go ahead. You can check out all the data we have and work by yourself. The two of us are going home. After all, it's already past quitting time." Sally pulled slightly on the neck of Julion's uniform.
"Quitting time? You let me sleep that long?" Cynthia stopped Sally as she started walking out. "You're not telling me something."
Sally didn't know what to respond, so she looked to Julion for help. He rose from his chair after turning off the computer. "Honestly, we just were caught up in our work. We didn't think to wake you. It is truly fascinating."
This tamed Cynthia's attitude a little. It was wrong for her to assume that they were hiding something from her. "I guess so, but next time, if you don't wake me up then I will not take this excuse or any other."
Cynthia glanced at the datapad. "What's this? You had the prototype here? Where is it?"
"We already returned it to storage. Next time we will not let you sleep through it." Julion took the datapad gently from her then took her arm and led her out of the room. "I think you're stressed. It's probably the worry over that bot. Go home and relax, ignore the bot, and put on some soothing music."
Julion's actions perplexed Cynthia. He had suddenly turned into a caring person. Cynthia could have sworn she also caught him and Sally exchanging knowing looks. There must be something more going on here. "Perhaps I can take you to get something to eat?"
"I'd rather not. Thank you." Cynthia pulled away from him and turned back to the cubicle.
"Cynthia!" Julion's voice had a bit of concern and what sounded like a warning.
"You two go home. I'm going to catch up on what I missed." Cynthia ordered.
Julion began to walk back. Sally caught him by the arm. She spoke softly, yet Cynthia could easily hear every word and it only confirmed her suspicions that they were up to something. "Leave her. She won't find anything out of the ordinary. I made sure of that."
"But the override-"
"We'll worry about it later." Sally said. As they passed through the doors Cynthia could hear nothing else.
Cynthia quickly looked about her and found a security override module, just as she had designed, sitting on the desk.
She went to pick it up and found her hand able to grasp it well. Whatever had been broken inside must have popped back into place. She mused. Strange though, that it happened in her sleep. She'd ask Larry about it when she returned home.
At the moment she had larger concerns. Was there a reason the override was there? Was it defective? Perhaps they had been unable to install it. She searched through their notes and found the latter was true.
Now here was an interesting dilemma; do as she should and install the device, or somehow modify the device rendering it inoperable thus shutting down the project.
No, the project wouldn't be shut down, only delayed slightly. If anyone discovered that she was the cause of the delay- Well, it wouldn't be pretty. Thus Cynthia concluded that she should finish the job her assistants had started.
She examined the notes for the location of the prototype. There was no mention of its location. Perhaps they had forgotten to write it down in the log, or perhaps its location was a secret, but then why wouldn't she know about it? A third possibility came to mind; perhaps they had lied and it is still active somewhere. Yet she could not find a logical reason why they should lie about such a thing. If this were true, then where was the prototype now and how would Cynthia find it?
There was circuitry installed to recall it, yet she did not have access to the transmitter, nor did she know where to find it. There were so many variables in this case that she became frustrated and decided to leave it until tomorrow when she could question Sally and Julion.
It had been a rather short and confusing day. She couldn't understand why suddenly everyone was against her, everyone except the one who had always been. Estevez strangely treated her well today. That was not his nature. It would be best if she left this environment and reset her thoughts. She walked with the flow of traffic back in the opposite direction she came in the morning. The simple monotonous routine of walking itself was relaxing after the events that had been happening.
She suddenly remembered Larry. Somehow she had forgotten him. She looked forward to an intellectual conversation with him and perhaps solving some of his riddles. All medical bots were programed with a personality that could be at times professional or entertaining; whatever would suit a patient's needs best. Often the entertainment portion went unused as many consider it time wasted on workers. Cynthia hoped to exercise it tonight.
She found Larry waiting for her in the living room floating a few inches from the ground. His schematics lay spread across the floor in neat piles. When he passed over them to meet her, they hardly fluttered.
"Your arrival is timely. Now may we discuss what I learnt last night?" When he spoke it did convey an attitude, despite his programming.
Even Larry seemed as if he had something against her. It appeared that everyone around her had changed. Maybe it wasn't everyone around her maybe it was only she that had changed?
"Okay, I'll bite. What did you learn?" Cynthia bent down to pick up a page of the schematic when for the second time that day the world fell into darkness.
The room was large and lined with beds. Each bed contained an android, nearly complete and ready to assume an identity. There were still bugs to be worked out, but that was what the prototype was for. As Julion walked through the doors with Sally he realized they were walking through the future. In only a matter of months their two lives would mean nothing.
He and Sally walked to the empty examination table in the center of the room. Julion stopped here. "I thought we were supposed to meet this great inventor here." Save for the corpse like androids the room was empty.
Sally shrugged. "She could be held up somewhere. It doesn't really matter."
"Then let's recall this android and get this over with." He moved to the computer console that lined one wall. "Did you get the override device?"
"Yes, after Cynthia left." Sally sounded a little exasperated.
Julion input the commands to recall the android and they waited. When the doors opened, Julion stepped back in surprise. He, of course, wasn't sure if it was the android or the creator who walked through but he was pretty sure the flybot wasn't expected. It was blue and dented and floated closely to what Julion now figured, by the blank expression on her face, was the android.
Something was definitely amiss and Julion confronted the bot. "You're not supposed to be here. Return to your duty location."
The bot turned to him as if it noticed him for the first time. "That is ironic as I did not expect to see you here."
"Huh?" Julion didn't have time to question it as it pushed past him and followed the android who paid no mind to them and had begun to mount the examination table. "Hey!"
Something clicked in Julion's brain as the bot spoke. "What is the purpose of this? Why have you brought her here?"
At the same time Julion said, "You're that bot from yesterday!"
Sally had several tools in her hand. Julion wasn't sure if she was going to use them as weapons as she pointed them at the bot but spoke to him. "Will you get that thing out of here?" She then went to work on the android.
"Gladly!" Julion jumped trying to get a bear hug on the bot.
Being on thrusters the flybot moved out of the way quickly. Julion fell to the ground. "Apparently I'm the only one who learns from his mistakes." Said the bot. With the upper advantage, it dropped its thrusters and crashed down on top of Julion's head.
Julion's eyesight went fuzzy. Wearily, Julion pulled himself to his knees. The hit had apparently cost the bot as well as it seemed to be having trouble getting very far off the ground. Still somewhat groggy, Julion brought his fist about roundhouse style and connected with the bot.
Sally yelped in pain when the bot collided with her. Whatever she was holding clattered to the ground. While the bot was down, Julion leaped and pounded on it. They tussled and Sally crawled out of their way as they rolled around the floor.
Julion grabbed a piece of metal from the ground and pounded it into the bot.
"No, don't!" Sally tried to grab Julion's hand but he was too strong. "That's the-" He pulled away and hit the bot several more times. With a satisfying crunch Julion stopped. The bot twitched once then lay silently. Julion's hand came away bloody and he dropped the metal chunk to the ground in pieces. "Security override." Sally finished despondently.
Julion tried to pull himself upright, but he just could not get his body coordinated. Blood dripped down in his eyes. As he wiped it away he heard a snappish voice say, "What the hell is going on here?"
"Linda!" Sally jolted.
Julion looked up to find a white blurry person in what appeared to be middle class uniform staring down at him. "What is this moron doing fighting a bot in my lab?" Linda asked again.
"The bot came in with the android."
"And why have you recalled her at this late hour?"
Julion didn't like the way she questioned him. He fought to stand so he could look in her green eyes, even if he couldn't see much more than a blur. "We forgot to install the security override device."
Linda hissed through her teeth. "Where is it?"
Sally leaned down and picked up what was left of the device. She handed the pieces delicately to Linda. Julion watched Linda turn red with fury. She threw the shattered device at him. A couple of the sharp edges pierced his wound. He grabbed for it in pain. "You idiot, how could you let this happen? Without that device, she'll be able to think freely for herself without us having the least bit of control over her."
He stood up to her. He could not show fear to her. It would only put him in a worse position. "Then if you're so smart why don't you build a new one?"
"It's a prototype. That means there's only one. It will take me at least two weeks to get parts and build a new one thanks to your carelessness."
He did not back down. He stood toe to toe with her. "I did what I had to, to stop that bot. I'm here to help you, if you want my help fine. If not, I'll leave."
Linda smiled. "Then leave." She threw a scalpel at the bot. It bounced off the bot's metal casing. "And take that piece of trash with you."
Julion's gaze pierced her own, and he pushed his shoulder into hers as he walked around her. He lifted the bot with some difficulty. Turning his back on everyone and everything in the room, he staggered to the lift. As the doors opened, Linda stepped up behind him and shoved him and the bot inside. The doors closed quickly not allowing Julion time to react. As the doors closed he heard Linda say, "The Boss is going to have my head."
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please send me any comments you might have, good or bad. Copyrighted 2008 by Christine Schnell. Go ahead and share it with others just keep my name with it.