Approximately twenty minutes later we reached the outskirts of the city, and passed by a metal gate, guarded by five men and two security cameras. The road was surrounded by open fields and lined with oaks. I scanned the area again and detected a big complex up ahead, but nothing else.
The road we drove on was the driveway of a huge mansion. The premises would be difficult to secure entirely, even though the whole area was surrounded by tall fences. With a quick scan to get an idea of the layout, I already found several entrances and potential weak points where enemies could sneak inside undetected.
I’d refrain from giving judgment until I had met Mr. Gnash, my superior on these premises, and he explained all the rules and regulations put in place to secure the mansion.
The car drove around a big, round fountain, and came to a halt by the front doors. I stepped outside when the other bodyguards did, observing and mimicking what was ‘normal’ here.
I turned my attention to the mansion, checking the floors to see if they matched with the blueprints I already had stored – they were close, but not accurate. I detected several hidden areas and a tunnel leading to the city, but without more information, I couldn’t determine if they were any cause for alarm. Otherwise, the black-and-white building was a standard model mansion in this street: two stories high with a big basement area, and a big swimming pool on the first floor in the left wing.
Mr. Locke stepped out of the car and a second later, the front door opened, revealing a taller than average man behind it.
I scanned him and found him in my database. He was a fifty-six-year-old naga, no known partner and no children. He had been working for Mr. Locke for twenty-five years, the last six of which as the head of the security. I did find an alarming amount of petty crimes linked to him in his teenage years, but nothing after Mr. Locke hired him. I also found several dozen photos of him standing close to Mr. Locke on various occasions from opening ceremonies to accompanying him in the city.
Mr. Locke called him over, and once he stood in front of us, Mr. Locke turned towards me.
“This is Mr. Gnash – head of the security and your supervisor. He will fill you in,” he said and looked at Mr. Gnash. “I have another meeting in an hour. In the meantime, you keep an eye on this android – I want a full report in the evening.”
“Yes, sir,” Mr. Gnash nodded, and Mr. Locke started marching to the door with his guards, leaving me with Mr. Gnash.
“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Gnash,” I started. “My named is Ze–”
“Yeah, yeah,” Mr. Gnash interrupted me. “Keep your introductions for someone who cares.” He narrowed his eyes and gave me an up and down look. “Millions of dollars spent on a piece of plastic, and of all things they decide to make you look like a human. Unbelievable.”
I decided to keep my mouth shut, quickly registering that Mr. Gnash did not like humans or androids or me talking.
Mr. Gnash sniffed at my silence but didn’t make any further seething remarks. “There are maps of the premises inside, and a list of rules. Read them thoroughly and make no mistakes.” He leaned in a little closer, looking me dead in the eyes. “Just give me one reason and I go to Mr. Locke and get your ass disassembled and terminated, got it?”
“Yes, Mr. Gnash,” I replied, lowering my eyes as I didn’t want to provoke him any further.
He stared at me for a few seconds longer, then sighed and turned away. “Follow me.”
I did as he asked and walked two steps behind him as he entered the mansion. The big entrance hall had two sets of stairs on both sides, and big, wide-open doors on the opposite of us, leading to a wide room that was marked as a dance hall on my blueprints. There were two hallways before both of the staircases, leading deeper into the left and right wings. There were two smaller doors under the staircases, the one on the left leading down into the basement. Mr. Gnash marched towards the one on our right, so I sped up appropriately to catch up with him.
He stopped by the door and turned to face me again. “This is the guard station – your new home. You do as my guards say, whether it is to catch an intruder or fetch them coffee, got it?” He paused for long enough for me to nod before he continued, “I do not trust machines, especially human made robots. Give me a reason – any reason – and I’ll be glad to get rid of you.”
“Understood,” I nodded. My cooperativeness did not please him at all. I adjusted my data on Mr. Gnash and formed new behavioral patterns to try.
“Get to reading and don’t disturb me until further notice,” he barked at me and stomped off without giving me a second look.
I opened the door to the guard station, and the two occupants in there immediately turned to stare at me.
“You can’t be here,” the other one said, standing up from his seat.
“Hello, my name is Spectre model Z-3293, but you may call me Zed,” I introduced myself.
“The android?” the guy frowned and then started laughing. “Nice one – but seriously, you can’t be here.”
“I think he’s telling the truth – he was with Gnash just now,” the second one said, pointing at the monitor that showed the entrance hall.
“What? No,” the first man breathed out, looking at me with wide eyes. “You don’t look like a robot.”
“Thank you. I was told I can find the maps and the rulebook in here,” I said, looking around and spotted the materials I needed lying on a table at the back.
The room itself was forty square feet with a dozen monitors on one wall. There were lockers next to the door, a kitchen area in the back corner with a door leading to a bathroom. There was a sturdy security cage opposite of the kitchen, used to store different kinds of weapons from handguns to assault rifles.
Without wasting more time, I walked to the table and picked up the rulebook – the map was useless to me since I already had a complete scan of the place. While I photographed and translated the images of the book into my memory, however, the guard approached me again.
“I’m Jerry – my partner here is Dan. We were told you’d arrive today, but… I honestly thought we’re getting an actual robot. Like – you don’t look like a robot, you feel me?”
“Yes – but please excuse me while I go through this material. After that, I can answer your questions.”
“Sure,” Jerry nodded and backed off. “Take all the time you need.”
Both him and Mr. Gnash seemed to expect me to take all afternoon to read through the quite thick bookwork of rules and regulations, but I was done scanning and interpreting the content in a few minutes.
“There – done,” I said with a smile when I finished the task, and both guards turned to stare at me. I detected disbelief, but calculated it was better not to address it. “Do you have any tasks for me?”
Dan and Jerry didn’t have any more tasks for me, except showing me how the monitors worked (which I already knew, but as per my ‘pleasant and cooperative’ activated behavior patterns I let them) and asking questions about how I was made and what I could and couldn’t do. I answered calmly, not seeing any reason why not.
After all, I’d met all my goals for the day, safe for one: meeting and confirming the identity of Tobias Locke. I was told he was in his room, however, and like Mr. Gnash, he didn’t want to be disturbed either.
So I waited.
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