Her eyes were a clear crystal blue. Two brilliant orbs which opened and watered into the world around her. They weren’t really human eyes, the iris was too bright and too large to be human. They were like an animal, a deer. Something so wide and full of new life. They even had a layer, which seemed to catch and reflect things in the dark like wild startled things at the side of the road.
Her small chest heaved in a breath, going through the motions even though no air really passed through her throat. She didn’t need to breathe, but she wanted to.
To anyone else she might have passed for a human girl of 6. To anyone from a distance she was just another organic creature. Maybe perhaps an angel as her father had desired.
Feathered wings twitched and stretched just as her fingers did while she seemed to search out what functions she had. Already there were things inside her awakening and telling her what programming should.
But there was more. Back at the edges of her mind there was a shadow present, a dull confusion like mixed wires in her head. It told her she was alive. The basic statement clear in her head but still misunderstood. It told her things which conflicted with the basic programming.
How could she be unique and independent when she knew at her core she was to listen to her programming, and listen to her father. She was to learn and observe. How could she be unique when she knew no one else to compare?
The older man leaned over and carefully looked her in the eyes. Waiting and counting the times her eyes blinked. Waiting to see more in her then she knew was there.
“Hello.” She mouthed, but no words came. For a moment she stalled and then tried again with the same reflections, the same movements. “Hello.” This time listening back for her own words, before his.
“You wont be able to talk at the moment, there’s a problem with the hardware your throat needs to talk. I’ll get it fixed as soon as I can.” He closed the laptop with an arm behind him, setting his mug down. The smell of stale coffee beans hung in the air, made from his old kettle since Bella was no where to be found.
He had drilled himself for a while since he woke, debating if he should wake her or wait to get the parts repaired. Patience however had been missing in him as of late.
She sat up and looked around.
The room was full of clutter and messy papers. Folders tossed aside to make way for other things. And in the back of the room she saw a pile of mechanical things, discarded and in disrepair.
“This must be confusing to you and I’m sorry for that. Your start-up programming will take a few moments to really kick in. It’s very complex.” The man continued with pride beaming in his words. It took a few seconds for his speech to be understood and she nodded carefully.
“A name?” Her lips moved so carefully and thoughtfully. Even without the speech it was as if her voice trickled off her lips in whispers.
A name. It reminded him so much of Notnow waking. Though this time he was already prepared for the question.
“Maven. Your name is Maven.”
“Accepted. Thank you.” She now had a name. Already her system went into recognition mode, sorting out her programming to adjust. Her name was Maven, and this man was her father.
She looked down at her legs, hidden mostly by the long pinned together skirt. She wiggled her toes a moment and then turned her body placing her feet onto the ground. She couldn’t feel the coldness of the floor.
Carefully, she balanced on them and rose. Pushing herself into a stand and learning the delicate placement of her feet and legs.
Don watched her like a proud father; the smile grew on his face, on his lips. He yearned to reach out and help her with those shaky first steps but he held back.
After all she was a machine at the core. Her fragility was only a rouse, a disguise against the metal and polymer frame.
Right foot first, moving forward. The left then catching up. Her feet pressing down on the front first, then her heels.
To walk on four legs was easy. Lacking one, you had three others to keep you up. Even in the design of the Monkey’s they had other legs to balance. Walking was refined with balance.
Walking on two legs took a fair bit more concentration. It had taken years of work for robotics and technology to come up with the basic calculations of human steps.
Now it was a graceful pattern that allowed her to walk as a human. To turn as one, allowing her hair and wings to follow like a cloak moving behind her. Her wide eyes watched him like a searching child. As if she really was a child of his.
Is this what he would have felt for his own flesh if he had stopped to have any? No he figured not. He never had the patience; he never had the tolerance to stay long with real things. There was never any off switch.
“Your crying.” her head tilted to the side with her unheard words. It was a statement, an observation. She followed her desired program completely.
Don however did not. She couldn’t read his programming, or the thoughts wringing around in his head. Was he upset with her? There was no programming to tell her how to correct that.
The delicate pink in her lips had gone unnoticed until then. The way they wrinkled slightly with silicone details. Even though she seemed mute he could still understand her from every coded detail.
The man’s fingers traced up to his eyes and brushed away a few stray tears, laughing slightly which seemed to confuse her even more.
“It’s alright, I’m just tired.”
He watched her carefully and leaned into his right hand. Propping himself up to simply stare. Something seemed off about her. He recognized her behavior, her movements seemed rehearsed.
“Maven, are you alive?”
“I am alive, I am unique.” She watched him for a long moment. Her eyes blinked in rhythm. Once every 8 seconds.
“How do you know?” Deepness sunk into his chest. It was a test for her. And so far she was failing. All the behavior he had seen before was common. Expected. Every whisper of her lips and every movement predictable.
“I was programmed to know.” She stood very still, her wings folded behind her back while her arms remained straight out at the sides.
Delicate fingers reminded him of Notnow, the way they moved and explored the air. Learning specific gestures as if downloading them from some spot in her robotic brain.
She was not alive. At least not yet.
“I see…” he sighed, leaning back in the chair disappointed. Already trying to figure out why she seemed to lack the same intelligence the small monkey seemed to show.
It had taken time for the effects to be apparent; perhaps it was the same with her. Right now she simply followed what her programming said. There was no real thought behind those eyes. No real heart behind the actions.
Maybe it was a matter of soul. But then that was a foolish thought as well, that either of them could have anything like a soul.
It was then he realized the small monkey, which had started this whole quest, was missing. It’s place on the desk empty.
“Notnow?” Don glanced around quickly, scanning the shadows of the room for it’s small and familiar movements. It was only then that he realized daylight had broken through the window. “Where are you?”
The child-like machine moved uncaring, still observing as she went back to the couch and sat, watching and learning as Don scattered more things around the office. Her hands stilled and clasped in front of her.
She had no fingerprints. Her skin smooth and soft at the tips of her fingers, untouched by those lines and patterns associated with identity. She brought them up and combed through the long tresses of gold which cascaded down her shoulders and back.
She didn’t feel it. Her fingers couldn’t sense the hair, the way it fell. She could see and hear, but she couldn’t feel. Her touch was as muted as her voice.
Don attacked the pile of broken toys, lost to the simple wanderings of his creations mind. He sent bodies aside, fur and tails, as he came to the open vent. Now that deepness sickened him even more. He realized almost horrified that his mistake with the small brown monkey would cost him.
Notnow was gone.
“What’s wrong father?” Programmed response when she didn’t understand. He didn’t seem to hear her but answered her either way in a few minutes time.
“He’s gone.” He reached into the air vent, the sides of the metal ripped at his skin and caused him to curse loudly. “Shit!”
Maven blinked again, watched the man collect himself, wipe away red blood with a nearby scrap of sheet. They same leftover material of her skirt. He looked terrified and upset.
“We need to go. We need to go now…”
The knocking at the door made her shift her head around quickly. The knocking grew louder.
“Shit!” He cursed again. She mouthed his words repeating them and learning.
“Mr. Vaughen, we need to talk.” It was the lawyer. And this time she wasn’t alone in his hallway. The locked door rattled.
It was all coming crashing down and there was nothing he could do about it. If felt like suddenly he was wrapped up into a storm of chaos and he didn’t have room to breathe.
Rabid eyes glanced around the room, looking for some escape. The window. Outside he found what he was looking for in the salvation of the mid-day sun. Coated in the daylight was a fire escape.
“Damnit!” He retrieved her from the couch, grasping onto her hand and tugging her up from her spot. She mouthed his words back to him. “Shit!”
She clung to him only a moment before he jammed open the window and tucked her outside it. He would hide her from them, forcing her out onto the fire escape ledge and would retrieve her after they had left. It was the only option he saw fit. He refused to let them see or take her. He wasn’t ready for that yet.
“Stay quiet and stay out of sight!” He demanded into those blue orbs. “You hear me? Do not be seen!”
She nodded, legs clutched up to her chest on the black metal grating. Her back she pushed against the wall to keep herself just out of sight.
Guilt tore at him for abandoning her, but there was nothing else he could do. He pulled on the latch and locked the window tight before returning to his computer desk just as his door was broken into.