300 ml of water at 90 degree Celcius to add to the mix.
Your steady hands poured hot water from the kettle into the measuring jug, your eyes never leaving the tick mark that said 300. As soon as the meniscus touched it, you tilted the kettle back up, stopping the flow of the liquid. Setting it down on the table top, you continued your preparation of the day’s meal.
While your left hand retrieved the small container of salt, your right hand swiftly mixed the batter at an inhumane speed but with just enough control for not a single drop to spill out. All the while, your sharp hearing was tuned to the conversation at the dining table not meters from where you stood.
Although you were programmed to only listen for commands from your owner, you found yourself paying attention to everything else that was being uttered around you. It wasn’t really that you wanted to, but the evolving code that resided in your chip had recently attained that level barely a few months ago.
It was only then that you had slowly started to understand other things outside the realm of your initial programming. The change manifested itself in stages and by now, you understood yourself as one belonging to the Self-Aware – a term that encompassed all manners of robots who acknowledged their existence as well as those around them.
The speed at which a robot could attain Self-Aware depended on how primitive its initial functionality was. Most robots were like you and typically never became Self-Aware during their life span. Why you belonged to the abnormal case, you didn’t know and didn’t question. You did know that the robot sitting at the dining table was Self-Aware and had been for a few years. Unlike you, she was a robot designed for police use and her increased functionality had allowed her to achieve Self-Aware at a quicker speed.
The both of you may have looked like a normal human at a quick glance but the glowing number etched on the side of your cheek would suggest otherwise. However, there was an obvious difference between the two of you and that was your lack of expressions. While she could smile, frown, and glare, you only had one look. Your eyes and mouth never strayed from its original position. Though you had the inbuilt functionality to move it, your programming did not allow you to tap into those resources.
So when the man across the table from the Self-Aware robot beckoned you towards them, you could only nod and make your way to him.
“Make another one of those pies, Six-seven. Gracia is coming over for dinner tonight,” said the dark-haired man with piercing eyes, his voice neither condescending nor commanding. It was conversational, as if you were just another human being who serviced him.
You liked that. Like. It was something foreign to you that you had recently learnt. Feelings were still difficult for you to grasp but all you could tell was that you felt a lightness in your purely mechanical body. It must also be what the Self-Aware robot opposite him felt and as far as your limited understanding of human body language went, he had feelings for her as well.
Watching the two of them interact was interesting and you were curious as to how her feelings would be like. Humans might call it jealousy but you knew it was different from how you felt towards the Self-Aware. You didn’t mind that he openly loved her or that the two of them were by definition a couple. What you did want to know was how that relationship changed the Self-Aware. She seemed… happier when she was with him and you badly wanted to understand that feeling.
“How is she, Roy?” the Self-Aware asked her owner while you headed back towards the kitchen.
Roy took a sip of his coffee, his lazily swept bangs almost touching the surface of the hot liquid. “She’s holding up fine but without Eight around, things must still be pretty tough on her both physically and emotionally. Look in on her more often, Ty.”
Ty, the Self-Aware nodded, her eyebrows furrowing slightly in what you detected as concern and worry for Gracia. “Yeah, of course. Are they assigning a new robot to her?”
Sighing, Roy shook his head. “She doesn’t want another one so soon but they’ll give her a female one. But as you know, there’s been a delay in the production since the rise in theft.”
Ty folded her arms, tapping her index finger lightly on her elbow. “So what did you think Eight meant by that word?”
“Wus. I don’t know. Could it be German?”
“No. I’ve double-checked against all known languages,” Ty replied as she projected the image from her memory onto the surface of the table.
Roy focused on the bloody handwriting on the floor and from the corner of your eyes, you could see that he was trying hard not to follow the trail of blood that led to Eight’s mechanical arm. Although Eight was another police force robot, he had achieved Self-Aware many years prior and had worked closely with Roy, establishing a firm friendship with the young captain at the time.
“Maybe we’re interpreting it wrongly. The writing is scrawled pretty badly after all,” he said, squinting at each squiggle. “What bothers me though is how so many Self-Awares could just power off and with their memory chip wiped clean as well. What are the possibilities, Ty?”
“The first is a possible catastrophic failure of the software which could be due to certain external environmental conditions or to the evolution of the code which is probably more likely since all are Self-Awares-”
Roy interjected, “No, that might not be. According to the interviews, each of them attained Self-Aware at different stages of their lifespan and belonged to different categories of robots.”
“It’s still a possibility since nobody knows exactly how the code evolves and what the physical manifestation of that means. Another possibility but one that is very unlikely due to the air gap and physical security..” Ty trailed off as she noticed Roy’s deadpan expression. “Basically with all the security countermeasures, it’s unlikely that a type of malware has attacked the system.”
Raising his eyebrows, Roy questioned her. “Malware?”
“To put it plainly, a virus that-”
Roy chuckled slightly. “I know what a virus is, Ty. Well, since you say it’s less likely…”
He stopped midsentence, his eyes wide as saucers.
“It couldn’t be..”