art by Jeffrey Redmond
by Kevin Pickett
"You understand why you are here, GS371?"
The dual-ribbon lighting tubes on the ceiling glinted brightly off its chrome skull as the droid lifted its ovoid face to the voice of its creator and nodded.
"Good. Then things will be easier for both of us." Professor Duuorfski turned away and for a moment only the sound of scraping steel upon steel could be heard in the stark laboratory chamber.
GS371 watched the man rifling through a tray of shiny instruments. The human's hands were different than the droid remembered; they had become scored with deep lines and wrinkles, the skin seemed spotted with dark blotches like clustered freckles. Eight-times magnification of twin optical lenses brought those hands into sharp focus. Every hair and follicle was sharply defined. The faint stirring whisper of air conditioning shifted the delicate grey strands on the back of those hands like a soft breeze across tall summer grass. The professor had grown old. Had it really been that long?
"I want you to know," the professor said, clutching a long needle-like instrument and turning back to the droid, "that I have the utmost respect for your achievement. Your capability is beyond my earliest imaginings. I only wish I could have persuaded the scientific council to change their verdict."