"Father!" The machine screamed into the night. "Father come back!" It resembled, if only in passing, a human skeleton made of metal. Granted there were differences, such as its torso being largely a solid piece rather than a hollow container for the other vital pieces of life. It had no lungs, no vocal cords, or even lips to articulate words, but it managed to scream into the frozen wastelands outside the compound it and its 'father' had been for the past month.

From somewhere in it's skull the robot heard its father's voice. "Do not worry over me son. Go back inside before your hydraulics freeze." The voice sounded calm as it spoke. "I had to leave so that you won't be found. You aren't ready to face the world, not yet anyway." There was a soft chuckle as the machine slowly turned from the frozen wastelands back to the sterile corridors that lay within. "I scarcely think they're ready for you anyway."

As it walked, the machine passed never-used rooms. Some of these contained shelves of books. Others contained exercise equipment. He knew this place. Father had spent the last of his wealth in building this place in secret, away from prying eyes. Yet few of the things he had put there for his use had been used. The man did little in that month outside of work on his 'son', sleep, and discuss philosophy.

It could have used the elevator to go down to the more oft used places in this building, but it chose to walk instead. Memory tests, study, then train with the sparring program. Its mind did not need to study in the conventional sense, but study provided time to form questions, theorize on why this or that was better than another. That and its father had told it that he preferred to read and test new knowledge to make sure it stuck instead of simply downloading everything. Oh they had long 'discussions' over the merits and flaws of skill and knowledge implants verses traditional learning. Most humans wouldn't have the option of learning the way it did, but its Father had things wired into his skull years past to allow for at least some of the same functionality it could call on.

Two hours studying history followed by an hour writing out, by hand, a report on how it would have dealt with both the logistical and moral problems it had gone over. After that it would work Forms for awhile, shifting from one stance to another in a fluid dance of eastern fighting methods, forms meant for wielding a sword, or perhaps a mace. Finally, before turning a little music and working on an art project that had occupied much of its free time it would have to work on Faces.

A silvery coating oozed from places in its chest, back, legs, arms, and head. This ooze slowly covered the robot so that it had all the proportions of a genderless human. Slowly it formed clothes for itself, first the shape, then the texture, and finally the colors of each garment. He always started with the black and white suit. It was simple, dignified, and somehow comforting. This suit had pockets, would move in a naturalistic manner, and like the rest of him could change in density from syrup, to as hard and ridged as bullet-proof ceramics. Still, it was only the suit that changed.

Beneath the plain suit was a silver colored hairless being. Soon that changed to an angular faced Caucasian with storm grey eyes. Brown hair grew from its scalp rapidly till it was long enough for it to gather itself in a pony tail by a braided yellow and green cord. At no time did his hands move to do any of this. He smiled once his hair was arranged and gave it a toss before smiling with satisfaction. Hair had given him trouble at first, so he felt like flaunting his new found control by making it long.

Now that he had a face and clothes he set to work on repeating the Forms. He would have to keep his shape no matter what, and unlike the clothes, which did not neat maintaining, his face, hair, and his other features needed constant maintenance, updating to show realistic expression, emotion, and the like. This was supremely difficult, but he was doing it!

He then changed in mid-dance. Black suit became Cossacks robes, became greatcoat covering an army uniform, which went back to being his suit. His features too changed. Male became female became old, then young, then back to the face and features he first wore. He could not sweat, but he would have been drenched by the end of that if he had the capacity. Again he allowed a satisfied smile. There were flaws, naturally, things he needed to improve, but on the whole he was pleased with his progress.

The silvery-skin flowed back into hidden compartments within its metal skeleton as it left the workout mat. There was no need here, and he had his mind on other things. Perhaps he would listen to folk music tonight. That might make a nice contrast with last night's techno marathon.

On his way to the sound room he paused at his father's room to look at a thing propped by his bed. Had he lips he would have frowned. Tools belonged in the workshop. It hefted the wrench with ease and would have offered another frown at the tool's condition. The once brilliant yellow paint had dulled over time, and more often than not was gone. The head of the thing especially troubled it. Granted this was a very large tool, something that could double as a bludgeon if need called, but this... if Father wanted a weapon for hand to hand fighting there were better options.

It shrugged after shouldering the tool. After the tool was returned to its proper place it would indulge in song. Should it start with Native American, or Russian? Choices.


Table of Contents

Main Fiction Index

Go Home