When a droid develops a will, enterprising takes on a whole new meaning...
Bryl R. Tyne
After serving time for violating the Android Fair Usage Act, Rye "Silk" Pecatti is hell bent on locating and reacquainting himself with his super android, Chal.
Chal was created to learn and to retain human emotions, but Rye never figured in the "will factor". With an android that's learned to bargain his way through life, enterprising takes on a whole new meaning, and Rye discovers that yielding control to his creation may be the only way to truly fulfill both their needs.
Ten lousy minutes verifying the droid he nearly blindsided entering Madame Chin's was indeed Chal, and Rye had nearly lost him.
Anticipation raced through him as he dismounted his bike. His droid, he'd found him. So easily and after all these years, he'd tracked him to—he surveyed high up the building's face—a department store?
"Come on. Come on." Head down, he shoved his way through the casually exiting crowd.
Why his prized creation was shopping, he didn't understand. Had his Chal acquired a fancy? Surely he hadn't chosen domestication, one master. He knew Chal better. Even with the memory-swipe, Chal's resourcefulness, hard-wired into his system, remained. Rye witnessed that much. Why else would his droid have been at Madame Chin's? Chal had resorted to turning tricks again. Always about the money. Rye chuckled, working his way up one aisle and down the other.
Where in the fuck did he . . . . Rye leaned across the back counter and waved an arm to garner the clerk's attention. "Excuse me."
With a yawn and a stretch, the brunette unfolded from behind her computer. "Can I help you, sir?"
As she neared, Rye hesitated. Was it her assessing, albeit bored, stare that had him suddenly feeling self-conscious? Missing droid would never fly here, not on The Sixth Abandonment. In this place, anarchy reigned. He watched her give him the onceover. This was so much easier at Madame Chin's. There, he’d needed only to flash his phony badge and ask to see the registry. He weighed the outcome of choosing the right term. A lover? A friend? To him, Chal was so much more.
"I-I seem to have lost track of my . . . um . . . friend." He stuttered, trying his best to find the correct words. "Can you run a security scan?"
Shit. The clerk shot him an annoyed look, proving he’d sounded lame.
"I'm sorry, sir, but we don't record our customers."
"Y-you don't have cameras?" Fueled by held breath, his response was louder than intended.
She hiked a brow, but otherwise appeared unaffected by his outburst. He couldn't have blown his opportunity that easy. Could he have? Looking away to hide his disappointment, he cursed himself for losing his cool.
"What's your friend look like?" she asked, breaking the silence. "Maybe I've seen him."
Excitement welled up in him as he turned back to the counter. "Um . . . t-tall. Very tall, blue eyes, cropped, bleached hair. He was wearing drawstring pants." How does one misplace a six-foot-seven-inch friend? He could hear the clerk's reaction already.
"Oh, him," she said with a giggle and pointed to a row of curtained stalls not more than twenty feet to Rye's right. "He's always here when we get a new shipment of silks."
Silks? Rye broke away from her snickering and thanked her. She was still laughing as he hurried toward the dressing rooms, but he paid it no mind. Chal was but a heartbeat away.
Three stalls, three drawn curtains. Rye grabbed the first and threw it open. Only then did he stop to ponder what he would've done if he'd encountered someone changing. Not to mention, what would he have said to a startled, and more than likely naked Chal? Acting before thinking, not a good idea. He chastised himself for not containing his excitement.
Outside the second curtain, he debated between asking if the stall was taken or . . . . One hand on the carpet, he leaned until he could see under the shin-length veil. This one was empty also.
"Momma, what's that man peaking at?"
At the sound of the child's inquisitiveness, Rye straightened, sure he was as red as the fire he felt flood his cheeks. About two jumps from hightailing it out of the store, he chanced a quick look behind him and breathed relief. No need to run; the curious little girl's mother was dragging her away at breakneck speed.
Exhaling slowly to still his rapid pulse proved futile as he got a grip on his racing thoughts. Tracking down Chal was simply half the battle—the easiest half. He had no idea how or if Chal would receive him, much less remember him. Would his droid be open to hearing about his past? Would he brush Rye off as a quack? After a few calming breaths, he admitted reacquainting himself with Chal might not go as planned.