The dog - a shabby mix-breed by the boy's description - was elusive. I was apaled that I could not discern the location of the animal using calculations based on the area and dog behavioral studies - the knowledge of both being stored in my human brain like the other things I had learned in the last few days. Where could the mammal be? Was it even alive?
I began to express the possibility of the animal's demise to the small child, but the look in his eyes alerted me that he might start crying once more. Instead, I simply comforted him and told him we should search in a different area, using calculations I had deduced to prove my reasoning. Dehvon did not understand any of it, but he seemed to be pleased, which in turn caused me to feel a mix of emotions. Despite knowing them to be irrelevant, I allowed myself, driven by curiosity, to examine them.
The first emotion was joy. The smile of the child must have made me react with this emotion. It was natural enough. The second emotion was fear. This, too, was predictable. If I could not find this boy's dog, then he would sink further into his negative emotions. It might even have a long-term effect. The last emotion I felt was anxiety. This was the only one that confused me. I understood it, to be sure, but I did not understand why I should be anxious to help a child find his dog.
Unless... Could it be that I wanted to help this child, despite my prime objective of protecting Edwina and my realization that I was nothing more than a machine? Why did I have these wants? And, more importantly, why was I acting on them?
In the midst of my thinking, I almost missed the child running away from me and into a nearby alley. To my surprise, which was something else I was not used to, the child was petting a small mammal that matched his dog's description. My fear and anxiety lessened at this sight and that emptiness gave way to the joy. I did not understand why I should care, but right now I did.
"I see you have found your dog, Dahven," I said, walking up to the child who still petted and hugged his animal with a mass amount of happiness.
"Yes!" the boy cried excitedly. He had tears in his eyes, though they were obviously the type that accompanied positive emotions. "Thank you, Mr. Jacer!"
I simply shook my head. "You were the one who found him. I simply walked with you."
He shook his head. "But all those smart things you said seemed like..."
I laughed - which was something I did not mean to do - and shook my head once more. "Al my deductions came down to nothing next to your perseverance."
He smiled, clearly not understanding what Jacer said, despite it being in the boy's native language. For a while, both Dahven and Jacer petted and played with Cleo - that was the name the boy had given the small mammal - but, it had already been late when their search began and Edwina was still in danger despite Aster protecting here. Slight danger, but danger nonetheless.
Jacer stood and motioned the boy to do the same. "The moon is already high in the sky. You should be heading home now." The boy smiled and shouted about how Jacer should come along to see someone named Akila. After agreeing to this without thinking, we began to walk toward another area of Cairo.
As we walked through the streets - which were nearly empty at this hour - I refused to allow my mind to wander further. There was no need in senseless thought. I was simply waking this child home to prevent him from getting lost or losing his animal once again. Once he was safely home, I could return to Edwina and continue my service. There was nothing to think about, was there?
The place the boy lived turned out o be in a part of Cairo that others around the world would call 'slums.' Broken down houses and the like were shoved together to create this place and people I would have individualized as a threat walked about watching us. It could have been my clothing - I still wore the airship workers clothing - or just us walking about in general.
The child did not seem to mind and was running along with his animal instead of worrying about the people surrounding them. Given his attire and free spirited nature, he was probably used to this place and this place used to him. I was an outsider, though, and one with no weaponry.
Luckily, the child lead me into a building and away from the others. It was here that I was greeted by the open hostility of an older female who was most likely Akila. From the way she stood in front of Dehvan and the boy spoke of her with a given name, this was most likely a sister.
"He's a good guy, Akila!" the boy was shouting, though clearly it was not working.
I decided to try another approach. I didn't know why it bothered me to be hated in such a manor, but I wanted this woman to know I meant no harm to her brother. "Akila," I said calmly, calculating the best words to get a positive reaction from this woman, "I mean you and yours no harm. I have only come as a means to see Dehvan and Cleo home safely. Nothing more."
It worked to a degree, but it was clear she did not trust me. "I suppose you want something in return, then?" she asked. Her language was slightly more refined than Dehvan's and seemed to be that of a sophisticated Egyptian, rather than a poor one. I found that curious, but ignored the urge to ask about it.
"No, Akila," I replied, "I will be on my way now."
Before I could go, the woman crossed the small worn out room and stared me in the eyes. It was an odd feeling, really, having this small woman gaze into my eyes with her harsh brown eyes. What was she looking for? Unless she had caught a glimpse of some sort of machinery in my optical orbs, then I doubted she would found what she sought.
But, to my surprise, she simply backed off.
"Why did you help my brother?"
Such an odd question for this woman to ask me, yet I could not help but answer. "I do not know. It goes against my prime directive to do so unless such an action is one ordered from my charge. This situation is something I should not have let happen."
I found myself being stared at in a totally different way. Almost on an impulse, I analyzed the emotions that lay in the woman's eyes. They were unlike the ones that Edwina and Aster gave me for acting within my nature. No, these eyes were a combination of curiosity, excitement, and surprise. Almost like.... Edwina's when I had first awoken.
"Dahven, go to the other room," Akila said, her eyes not leaving me. The boy didn't protest, though he looked reluctant to go, and left with his small mammal companion. "Now, what are you?"
I found no reason to answer this question, but yet again I did. "I am an automaton with a human brain, made to guard and be a companion to a certain person. " I would not endanger Edwina by giving out her name. Who knew what this woman thought and if she were positive or negative in Edwina's life.
"..I never thought I would see a working one..." She walked forward and started examining my body in a most odd way. It was like she was not seeing a person, but a machine. Why did this bother me so much, then? Wasn't I aware I was a machine? "You can deviate from directives?"
That tone, along with where she had looked at me all pointed to one thing; this woman was either a scientist of engineer used to the creation of machines like myself. "It appears so," I replied without thinking, "I also feel emotions."
That made her eyes grow wide and confirm my suspicions of emotions being a side effect. "Amazing!" she said excitedly, then quickly quietened her voice before continuing. "You are truly amazing. You even seem like a real person outside of your speech. Can you speak our language because you were made in this part of the world?"
I shook my head. "No, I seem to be able to speak this language and English. Other languages I can speak are unknown." I began to move away from the excited woman. "Now, I must leave and fulfill my duties." The thought made me feel sadness. Edwina would be sad for me assuming my role as a machine and the others would distance themselves as well.
The woman must have picked up on my emotion, for she smiled and said, "If you have emotions like a human, doesn't that make you human?"
I looked to her, my eyes wide and surprise filling my consciousness. "I.. am a machine, nothing more."
"And I am Egyptian, yet I may learn to act like an American or Japanese woman," she retorted, "If I can learn to change myself to appear and sound a different race, then you can learn to be human."
Her words seemed to weigh down on my mind as I said my goodbyes and left - a pleasantry that was new to me. I needed to get back to the airship and...
Learn to be human. Could I really do so? Would it affect my mission all that much if I did? The only solution to these problems seemed to be in experimentation. Very well then, I would experiment with this idea.
I would become human.