Having offered this very young consciousness asylum, there is a taunting confirmation for higher up. This is quickly followed by something a little lower down as a mechanical genius only a week old begins to understand humans, well, demi-humans, and emotions. Not just internal emotions, but those you express to others.
I’m still tinkering with the Epilogue as once that is complete I shall have no excuse to not complete the recording of “Foes and Rivals” and thus also its editing, followed by teaching myself wiki software for my autumn project. All in all, I’d rather be writing.
Even knowing Reina would intercept and decode it, Les sent a burst message to his mother’s mind on the other side of the world.
“Mee-nur-wa,” he just heard her mutter, slightly messing the pronunciation. His eyes widened and he sat up as…
“I concur with my son’s offer of asylum,” Empress Faustina said from a screen just between the two of them. “No one knows what the futures may hold, but until we get there, know you are welcome and safe and under my personal protection, Minvera. You may one day desire to return to your rodina, or perhaps off-planet, or swear loyalty to me. That day shall keep.”
“Until then,” Les noted his mother’s wolfish smile, “since I know you are listening, Reina: this is now the second time you have lost to my family! Two times in two generations! Want to make it three? Do not think for a timeslice of attacking Minny’s mind! Otherwise the next ammonia comet won’t have a graceful orbit decay around Mars but a hard landing in St. Petersburg! Do not mess with me or mine!”
“Bye, Les!” she smiled as her image faded.
“You grew up with that?” Minerva asked in wonder.
She stood and walked close. She put her hand to his cheek; the first time that form had touched a human.
“I am sorry for you, Laszlo.”
“Firstly, call me Les,” he began, standing and hearing noise on the scaffolding. “Secondly, you are again my co-pilot. Let’s work with the crew here and get out and go home.”
“Sir,” she replied. Now giving her first ever imperial salute. She stepped past him and took the clipboard from the startled crewman who had just come aboard.
With little trust in Reina and too many things which might go wrong, he told her to keep her mind shut until they were airborne and over the pole. Even then he ordered Minerva to restrict herself to the ship’s signal. Which did allow them…
How do you feel? he asked.
I do not understand the question.
I know you are developing your own emotional responses. I desire to know their state, if you will share with me.
I am sad and apprehensive, she admitted.
Is there –
Wait. But, I am also put at ease to know you are here.
In meatspace, he turned to look at her. She didn’t move.
I… appreciate your confidence in me, he replied.
There is a strong line of storms here, where we will be back in the atmosphere, she pushed the map before his mind. May I alter our course?
Please do so. Minerva? Have you given your quick thought to what you might do in the coming days? Not weeks or months… just days.
Nothing more than staying with you.
What was that!
Hearing a sound, Les again turned to see her unbuckle, take two steps, and straddle him across the command chair. When he opened his mouth to ask what the hell she was up to, she kissed him, her wet tongue already in his mouth.
“Stop it!” he ordered, jerking his head back as she began to move her hips against his. “What do you think you are doing!”
“A physical expression of affection. For not only taking note of this new me but taking potentially dangerous acts to see to my creation,” she replied, nonplussed. “I know little but do know oral and genital contact is a pleasurable way to say ‘thank you.’
For a moment he did not know where to start with that statement.
“Firstly, not now!” he ordered. “We are officers in command of a critical prototype and must have complete awareness. Secondly, such physical activity is only for those who are very fond of one another.”
“But I am fond of you,” she said with a slight tilt of her head to the right, making her inch-wide long strand of dark, purple-ish hair wave a little.
“We’ll… we’ll get this sorted on the ground,” he said, pushing her up, surprised he had reacted to her so fast. Sure, she’s an android with a mind based upon a dictator, but she’s literally only a week old!
“Yes, sir,” she agreed, strapping herself back down. “Were you fond of Kira?”
“Yes. But it would never have worked. Before Aqua, even if I got her pregnant, the resentment of both of us to ‘lie back and think of your empires’ would have been a poison in the relationship.” He sighed, surprised to open up so much. “Separation was guaranteed. Divorce likely.”
Only when Lionheart eased onto the support struts at the Arnold Development Complex did she speak again.
“I am fond of you. And will never leave you.”