See First Chapter for disclaimer.
Here's a special update to thank those people who nominated this story at the COA, and for all the rest who reviewed and kept bugging me to continue it. More chapters to come, I just finished a detailed outline/summary for all the remaining chapters.
"She really is an amazing piece of technology," Amita said.
She, Charlie and Larry had swarmed the robot almost the instant the FBI allowed them in the room with it at their building. An hour later and they were still investigating it from all angles as Don and his team watched intermittently. They were mostly busy dealing with the reporters who'd somehow gotten hold of the story, demanding to see and speak with the robot.
At the moment Don was taking a break from the media circus downstairs. He leaned up against the frame of the door to the room where Charlie and the professors were looking at the robot. He noticed they'd gotten the robot's top back on, though it was currently rolled up in back as Amita tried to open the access panel Charlie had said he'd used. From what he'd seen as he looked in on the trio each time he came up they'd found two additional panels just by asking the robot herself. No matter how many new places to open her up they found, exposing a metal frame fitted with chips and wires, he couldn't think of the robot as anything other than female.
"A highly advanced metal skeleton that can walk as easily on two legs as we, layered in some mixture of rubber and chemicals for skin with detailed and adaptive programming, obviously intended to perfectly simulate a human woman. Yes, I think I must agree with you. She is amazing." Larry walked all the way around the robot as he said this, the tone of his voice approaching awe. He stopped in front of her. "She has to be an enormous breakthrough in the field of robotics."
"Thank you," the robot said brightly.
Larry jumped at her sudden interjection, having forgotten she could understand them. She might have even been following the conversation, though it was hard to tell from the way she kept looking around with that mildly interested expression on her face. So far the professors hadn't been able to ascertain how much of what they said the robot could comprehend. When Don had asked, Charlie had told him it would depend on how detailed her programming was.
"Who built you?" Amita asked her. Of all of them, she seemed to have the least trouble interacting with her. Don shook his head. Even if he considered her a her
she was still metal and wires underneath. Add to that his experience with women told him her programming or whatever had missed the mark on simulating them by a wide margin.
"Warren built me for Spike. But then Willow took me away because Spike is evil."
"Uhm...Okay. Do you know where any of these people are?" Charlie asked as he searched the counters in the room, muttering about paper. Amita handed him a few sheets from her bag and he sat down at the table with the pen he'd swiped from an empty coffee mug, ready to write.
"No. That's why I got you." That vacant smile of hers was starting to get on Don's nerves.
"Do you know their full names?"
The robot cocked her head, considering the question. "I don't know Warren. Spike is Spike. Dawn is my sister. Willow is my best friend."
"I'll take that as a 'no' then."
"What's going on?" Megan asked softly near Don's left ear. He made room for her and took a drink from the extra cup of coffee she gave him. He saw Colby sitting on the low cubicle wall nearby, waiting expectantly as well.
"Trying to get some answers from this thing," Don answered, loud enough for Colby to listen in but not so loud as to distract the professors. He wanted to hear the robot's responses as much as the rest of them. "Hopefully it'll be able to tell us who we need to contact so we can get it outta here. But it doesn't look like it knows enough."
"Want it gone bad, huh?" Megan said.
Don shrugged, raising an eyebrow. "I don't know what to do with it. I mean, is it even in our jurisdiction?"
"Yeah, I don't think robot jurisdiction has been invented yet," Colby commented. Leaning over so Charlie could see him, he called into the room with the professors, "Hey, try asking it to describe those people physically, might give us more to go on."
"That's a good idea, Colby," Megan told him, "A description gets us more to work with so we can find these people."
"Should we even be trying to find them? The higher-ups won't like us tying up FBI resources trying to find who owns the robot, and I'm kinda on shaky ground as it is," Don said. He was getting annoyed with all this fuss over a robot and its useless information.
"How's that?" Charlie asked, distracted from the robot for the first time since they'd started examining it. Don sighed and crossed his arms, turning away to hide his embarrassment. Charlie was an FBI consultant and so there was some flexibility with the rules, allowing Don to assemble his team and go after him, but that sort of thing was frowned upon. Then it turned out to be less of a kidnapping and more of a sci-fi event and his bosses were even less happy.
"Kidnapping isn't usually handled by the FBI," Colby supplied when Don remained silent. "We managed to be the ones to rescue you by not actually..."
"Getting permission?" Charlie finished for him, looking surprised. He started to stand. "Don-."
"No, Charlie, sit down. It's fine," Don ordered. They were not going to have one of those family arguments right now, not in the office in front of his team yet again
. Charlie sat, but gave him a look that plainly said Don was not getting out of talking about this. Knowing Charlie he'd probably drag Dad into it too, trying to get him to "open up" whether he wanted to or not. Just one more thing to deal with in an ever growing list.
His team and the other professors had stood there awkwardly for the interchange, unsure what to do or say, if anything. Megan finally broke the silence. "Well, we should at least do something," she said, acting as if the change in topic had never occurred, for which Don was immensely grateful. "We can't just lock up the robot in the evidence room. If we get a good description of it's owners we can tell the reporters and let them broadcast a call for those people on the late evening news." No one voiced a problem with this suggestion and Don took it as assent.
"May as well," Amita agreed. Charlie wrote the question down on the pad of paper with the others. Below it he drew lines separating the page into three sections and titled them Spike
, and Willow
Charlie smiled at the robot, who beamed back. "Okay, tell me what Spike looks like."
The robot looked even happier, if possible. Her eyes lit up (not literally, thank you God) and she grinned broadly. "Spike is tall and sexy, with blue eyes, washboard abs, and is huge
. Billy Idol stole his look," She said, adding conspiratorially, "He frightens me, but his sinister attraction keeps drawing me back."
Don wished he could apply white-out to his memory, or better yet, one of those big pens used to black out classified information from government documents. There were some things a man just didn't need to hear about other guys. The others hadn't fared any better from the glazed look in their eyes and Charlie was actually writing this down
He looked at them apologetically. "She mentioned the washboard abs before. I should've realized."
"Huh," Megan said, blinking. "I'd have to say this 'Spike' either had a huge ego, or was desperate for a boost in self-esteem to program the robot to say that about him."
Larry was still confused. "She's a giant step forward in human understanding of behavioral programming and artificial intelligence. Why would she be programmed to have those responses?"
Don stifled a laugh even as a smile blossomed on Megan's lips. "Oh, Larry."
"She's a sex-bot," Colby said, grinning at the professor's expression. "Sorry, man, but it's pretty obvious what this Spike guy was using her for."
Larry was shocked if the look on his face was anything to go by. "Such a waste of talent. Who would construct and program something so advanced only to have it used as a toy, something that cannot truly reciprocate your feelings? It's an affront to scientific research and the human spirit."
"Well, no offense Larry, but if I were building something like this I'd want it to do more than answer simple questions. Not that I would," He said, noticing the other's stares. "I might not have been on a date in two years but I'm not that desperate. My guess is the guy who had her couldn't get a girlfriend. Maybe an older guy, kinda heavy and bad at the social interaction. Come on, is there anything stronger than the human sex drive?"
"Un-sated human curiosity." Larry glared at the agent.
Don could see Charlie was trying very hard not to snicker, and he was hiding his own grin behind his foam cup of coffee. It was empty, but the others couldn't know that. Megan and Amita weren't even bothering to hide their smiles at Colby's expense. For his part, he sighed and nodded to the professor, admitting defeat. When Larry turned away, though, he grinned and shook his head for the rest to see, making Charlie have a convenient coughing fit.
At least the professors made things interesting when they invaded the FBI offices.
"Alright," Charlie said once he was done coughing. "What does Dawn look like?"
"But I wasn't done telling you about Spike," the robot answered, doing a very good simulation of the human pout.
Don smiled charmingly at her. "I don't think we need to hear any more about Spike," he said, hating the way that little pout was affecting him.
The robot looked disappointed. "You should really see him naked, though," She added thoughtfully.
The cup slipped from his hands as he spluttered a reply. Bending to pick it up, Colby's description of what he thought this Spike must be like came back to bite him. No, he did not need that image in his head, thank you. "Talking about Dawn now. What can you tell us about Dawn? Please."
The robot shrugged. "Dawn has long brown hair, blue eyes, and is taller than me. She is my little sister. She is often kidnapped by demons. I need to find Dawn so I can protect her. Will you help me?"
After a moment of silence, Amita asked the question that was in all their minds. "Uhm, demons?"
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