“Just what is going on,” Lexel asked herself as she paced around the somewhat disheveled room that served as the living room to the apartment. She absently picked up a blanket hanging off the end of a chair and began to fold it before pausing to shake her head at the notion. “What am I doing,” Lexel continued to talk to herself; struggling to find some rational explanation that might justify a robotic dog appearing on her doorstep.
The only possible reason that came to mind was one that she really didn’t want to consider. Her mouth went dry and she tried to swallow the lump that was forming in her throat but it just didn’t seem to go away. Lexel looked down at the pair of what she wanted to call eyes, but part of her knew they were just optical sensors as she found them looking back at her.
Nervously Lexel coughed, still trying to clear her throat and shake the confusion from her mind. “So, I guess this means that you are actually real after all then.” The simple statement slipped from her lips and as soon it left them, Lexel could hear just how silly it must sound. “Of course your real, I mean, you are standing here in front of me and all. But, I don’t know; I guess I had just figured you were part of the games. You know, just a character in them – not a real actual thing.”
Lexel couldn’t help but feel somewhat like a mental patient as the thought struck her that she was at this very moment talking to herself or a robotic dog depending on how you looked at it. Neither option sounded all that sane to her though. “This cannot be happening,” Lexel exclaimed with a groan. “All I did was played some silly games, and now I have some hound of hardware in my home! How on Taral VII did you even find me anyway? Nobody has ever back traced me. For that matter; why did you even come here?”
The questions all formed at once inside Lexel and as fast as they did all of them tried to poor out at once. There was so much she needed to know, so very much she wanted to understand about what was going on. Especially if she had been playing games all this time with something that was now on the loose, surely somebody would be looking for it. And seeing as how she had been accessing a restricted node for a while now there wasn’t exactly anything she could say that wouldn’t firmly place her into a deep pit of serious trouble.
Zero tilted his azure and snow colored head slightly to the side as he considered the string of questions that he was already making a list of to try and address. He waited for what he thought was an acceptable amount of time, even though he couldn’t be sure before he tried to answer. The perplexed prototype figured a pause of 4.8 seconds had to be more than sufficient even if it did seem overly long to him. When his inquisitive young friend didn’t seem to show any signs of continuing to speak further he decided it a suitable moment for him to answer.
“In our last encounter you did state that we would play again the following night. However, the probability was calculated that certain events could transpire that would lead to my inability to do so then or ever again. Upon facing such eventuality it became necessary for my preservation of self to seek out favorable odds by an alternative avenue. The only preferable option was to locate you so that we might continue our nightly games and thereby potentially avoid a less than acceptable fate.”
Zero watched Lexel’s response, noticing as she blinked trying to digest the information that he had almost overlooked one of her questions. “I managed to retrace your signal by recording your repeated access over time and incorporating the various routes to consider corresponding patterns. Your technique is effective but begins to loose efficiency with repeated visits to the same location.”
“Wait, I cannot believe a talking tin can is standing here criticizing my methods,” Lexel replied at the perceived affront to her talent. “I will have you know there isn’t a system yet that has managed to catch me. And what do you mean by certain events that might have prevented us from playing again anyway?” Lexel couldn’t resist her own curious nature as it started to take hold.
“There is the distinct and likely possibility that certain components involved in the project are already moving to see it declared a failure. Should that happen the only logical outcome would be for them to disable me for storage or completely dispose of all aspects of the projects research – including myself.” Zero looked down as he explained what had motivated his flight from the facility, in what Lexel had to admit looked like an honest concern for his continued existence.
“I feel I should make you aware that it would only increase the likelihood of both of us becoming in jeopardy to assume that I alone could manage to extrapolate your location.” Zero watched as Lexel raised one eyebrow at the comment in irritated disbelief that he presumed merited his response. “Your claim, while formerly sound, is no longer obviously factual. As you stated, I did manage to locate you and logically if you have been tracked once you could be so again.”
Lexel had to swallow hard again as she found herself unable to argue with Zero’s assessment. She thought for a moment that there was a faint chance of never being found, or so she tried to convince herself to little avail. It wasn’t like she could run, could she? Could she really just up and leave everything behind?
It seemed to Lexel that the answer to that question might hold the very key to her immediate future.