Last chapter for the blog.
When K-2 awoke, she saw a handsome human unhooking her from outside an Arver battery charger. The headpiece she wore to connect the battery was taken from her head and placed by the computer, which was to the left. The man was quite pleased to see her awake. And she was quite pleased to see him, but she did not know why.
He had brown hair, cut finely but not too short. He had gentle eyes and an endearing smile. He wore black, like Ted, only his were casual and custom, not a uniform. The sleeves grew larger as they went down to the hands. A vest covered his front. The black boots were up to his knees. Around his belt were all kinds of gadgets and tools.
“Good morning,” he said, smiling. “Slept well, I hope.”
K-2 watched him with wide-eyed curiosity. She had never seen a human as beautiful as this before—she didn’t know how to react. She swallowed. The new human gazed back, with sudden interest.
“You’re the last Arver.” He turned back to the computer. “It’s a good thing I still keep the charger. I never throw those things away—too risky.”
K-2 still didn’t have the gut to say anything. Her throat was completely dry.
“I believe introductions are in order,” the man said, stepping away from the computer and taking off his leather gloves.
“Copernicus,” he said, extending his hand.
K-2 swallowed, gazing strangely at his hand. What was she supposed to do? Kiss it? She would have loved to. But remaining still, she glanced at his eyes instead. She felt entirely foolish and awkward. And his pleasant smile he gave when he realized the truth made her feel even more so. K-2 felt like an utter failure as he retreated to his computer.
“What do they call you?” he asked, with his attention on the screen.
“Um— K-2490 of…of 6093 L.Y.,” she recited as if the whole number was essential and made her seem more important. Little did she know about human society. (You see, in the robotic world, it was more professional to have a long number. So perhaps K-2 also thought Copernicus would be impressed with her long [measly five-digit] number).
Much to her growing embarrassment, Copernicus laughed. “That’s a mouthful,” he said good-naturedly. “Perhaps I should just call you K-2?” he smiled, (as if he already knew that this was what she was called).
“I—uh—yes,” K-2 stammered, looking down. She had never felt embarrassment before, so it came with full force. These days, every emotion she felt was new, since she had never experienced them before. It was apparent even more so now. She could never understand what she felt and why. In a way, she still felt trapped. Vastrada did not transport the knowledge into her disk, so it was virtually impossible for her to understand. She sighed. Why did she suddenly desire for this man to be close to her again?
“I understand I am to take you to Tinacia,” Copernicus remarked. K-2 jumped at his voice.
“No…no Ted…the Inter-Space…He was leading me to someone who would take me there…a friend of his.”
“I was whom he spoke of,” Copernicus said. “I never liked ‘Nic’.”
“But he said—”
“I know what he said,” Copernicus assured. “He’s the one that likes short names. I never cared for nicknames.”
“No, not that,” K-2 found it harder to speak. “But I mean—you’re the son of Dr. Cornelius Albert Charles—”
“I can say ‘yes’ right there,” Copernicus laughed. K-2 didn’t know what to think.
“I’ve heard so much about your father, and Ted told me so much about you,” she said, her voice mysteriously softening.
“Positive things, I hope?” Copernicus grinned.
“Oh yes,” K-2 smiled. “He said you know everything about technology. He said you knew about Vastrada’s technology and how it worked and he told me—” She stopped and looked around. “Ted!” she cried. “Where is Ted?”
Copernicus’s genial smile faded. “That ship following you in the asteroid chain—”
“It followed you here. They hid for awhile, since Ted had to bring you in here and get you charged. He told me about getting you to Tinacia. (And that’s pretty much all I know about you). We were out on the landing platform, and something blew up the ship…he was too close to it.”
Something in K-2’s chest began to hurt.
“He’s…he’s gone?” She had never felt death before. Copernicus nodded, and she didn’t know how to react.
“He was an old friend of mine, you know—school kids growing up…” he faded out in great reflection. K-2 didn’t say anything. She herself felt guilty. Why had she asked for Ted’s help in the desert? It only led him to his death! Their pursuers killed him when they were really looking for her! Why had Ted saved her?
“Are…” she finally stammered. “Are they still here?”
“Hm?” Copernicus jolted. He was still deep in thought.
“Sorry,” K-2 apologized before she looked idiotic again. “Are the ones who bombed the Inter-Space…still here in Frauk?”
“No,” Copernicus answered. “I shot them down.”
“Shot them down?!” K-2 gaped, inwardly impressed.
“But they won’t be off our tail for long. That ship had a tracking device on it. If it was indeed from Vastrada, she’ll know that her ship is down and where it fell. She’ll send another one as soon as she gets a chance.”
“We’ll have to leave then,” K-2 announced. “I must get to Planet Tinacia! Emperor Conogo must be warned of Vastrada’s misdeeds before she becomes utterly violent and out of control.”
Copernicus smiled. “Did you rehearse that, or do you always talk like that?”
K-2 felt a smile creep up unexpectedly. Did he notice? She thought he had, but she didn’t like to think of it.
“I…I was programmed like that I suppose…”
“I meant no harm,” Copernicus assured in a pleasingly low voice. “You’re right at any rate. My spaceship is undergoing maintenance at the moment. I’m afraid it will not be done for several days—a fortnight at the least.”
“There is no way to have it done sooner?” K-2 entreated. Her face had fallen. To her gut-splitting surprise and delight, he came close to her again and his hands fell on her shoulders. At first she couldn’t breathe.
“I will keep you safely here. We’ll be out of here in no time. If Vastrada does follow you, it will take them at least a week to get here.” He gazed into her eyes.
“Here,” he said. “Let me unhook these wires for you.”
Again, K-2’s awkwardness reached its peak. She could have undone the wires for herself and stepped out of the charging cubical.
“Besides,” Copernicus said as he bent down to unhook her feet. “I’ve always been fascinated with Arvers. And I don’t usually get company. I don’t know anything about you.” He rose, putting the wires aside. “And I should very much like to.”
K-2 smiled, for the first time realizing that she could.