Part 2: The Keepers: Their First Mission- Chapter 4

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Here’s what happened in my last post Chapter 3, Who Wants Ice Cream? All of the girls are together to try and help Cera, Emily’s serpent. Things don’t go as planned!

Now, on with the story!

What Plant Container?

Curly was standing next to Maria telling her about how he was in the greenhouse this morning playing hide and seek with Kit when the door opened. He watched as a new girl came in through the door followed by Süchō then Kit scooted in before the door clicked shut.  “Hold on Mari, I’ll be right back.”

Mari yelled after him, “Curly! Did something happen in the green house?”

He ignored her and ran up to the front of the room, “Excuse me Süchō! Excuse me Süchō!  He pointed at Emily and said, “Who’s that? Is she a Keeper?” Before Süchō or Emily had a chance to answer, he said to Kit, “Hi Kit, do you want to sit next to me?”

Süchō said to him, “Curly? Curly?”

“Oh, hello Süchō.”

She gave him a look.

He looked at his feet and said, “Oh, sorry Süchō.”

“Thank you, Curly, why don’t you and Kit have a seat and I’ll introduce our new Keeper, Emily.”

Yes Ma’am, c’mon Kit.” Curly walked back to the first of three rows of curved benches arranged in a multi-level area at the back of the room. Maria and Lou were seated one row up. She motioned for Curly to take a seat in front of them.

“Okay Mari, hi Lou.”

Lou smiled and gave him a brief wave. “Hello again Curly.”

Curly sat down and Kit jumped up to sit next to him. Curly ran his hand over Kit’s back. “I told you she was a Keeper.”

Kit put his paw to his lips then pointed to the front of the room.

Curly listened to Süchō talk about where Emily was from and about Athena, the robotic cheetah she had found at the bottom of the pool in the building her uncle works in. Curly knew that Tau had helped her, so he thought it was important that everyone knew as well. He stood up and said, “Tau helped Emily get Athena out.”

Emily wasn’t sure if she should answer him because he had interrupted Süchō, so she looked at him then at Süchō and hesitantly said, “Yes… that’s right… um, he did.”

Maria nudged her elbow against Curly’s arm and whispered, “Curly, please behave yourself!”

As Curly sat down, he turned to her and said, “Sorry Mari, but he did!”

Just then the door opened, and Mr. Privet stuck his heads inside the door. “Excuse me, Süchō, but can I see you, Maria and Curly for a minute? It’s rather important.”

Curly whispered out loud, “Uh, oh, I hope it not about the plant container in the green house.”

Maria was confused about what he just said, “What plant container?”

Süchō nodded to Mr. P and said, “Certainly.” She told Emily, to ‘hold that thought’, then motioned Maria and Curly to come with her.

As Maria got up, she asked again, “Curly, what are you talking about? What Plant container?”

Curly replied, “Not polite to keep Mr. P waiting, C’mon Mari.”

In the hallway, Süchō closed the door behind her then turned to Mr. P and asked, “So, what’s so important?”

“I had a visit from Mrs. P.  Apparently, there’s been some increased activity at the Dome, and she thought we should get some, and these are her words eyes on the ground so we can get a firsthand look at what’s going on.”

“Okay, I understand how important that is but what does this have to do with Maria and Curly? I hope she’s not implying that Maria should be the one to go to the Dome. That’s crazy, right? I mean she still needs to have additional training for the next mission! I don’t think it’s a good idea to interrupt it!”

Mr. P could see that Süchō was starting to get upset. He raised his hands in front of him and said, “Oh, no, she’d never do that! Besides, I’m here for Curly, not Maria.”

Maria and Süchō both looked surprised. They said in unison, “Curly?”

Mr. P smiled at Curly. “Yep, Curly.”

Curly said to him, “Then this not about plant container in the green house?”

Looking confused, Mr. P asked him, “What plant container?”

Curly quickly replied, “Never mind.”

Maria looked at Süchō first then at Mr. P and said, “Just Curly and no one else? Do you think that’s a good idea? I mean, what’s she want him to do?”

“Don’t worry Maria, he won’t be alone. He’ll be there with a local guide as well as Scout…”

Curly looked at her and said, “See Mari, I won’t be alone, I’ll be with Scout!” He turned so Maria couldn’t see his hands then signed to Mr. P, “Who’s Scout?”

“Scout’s a drone…”

Curly threw his arms in the air, “Drone? Like a tri-copter drone!”

Impressed that Curly knew what a tri-copter was, he said, “Yes, Scouts is a tri-copter.”

“Mari! A tri-copter! Like Moe!”

Maria put her hand on Curly’s arm. “Easy Curly, don’t get so excited.”

“But Mari, it Moe!”

She bent on her knee in front of him. “Curly it’s not Moe, it’s a different one named Scout.”

“I know Mari.” He looked up at Mr. P. “When do we see Scout Mr. P! When!”

“Not so fast Curly. First, I’ll have to fix your arm then make a couple of upgrades.”

Maria wasn’t so sure about Curly leaving and when she heard Mr. P say upgrades, she got even more concerned. “Upgrades, what do you mean upgrades?”

“Oh, just a couple of minor tweaks, nothing much else. So, if it’s okay with you, I’ll take Curly with me to make those upgrades and to meet Scout then I’ll let you know when we’re ready to go.”

Maria was about to say something then stopped because Curly seemed so happy, she didn’t want to ruin it for him by saying she thought it would be too dangerous. What worried her most was the mention of other upgrades?

Süchō, recognizing Maria’s concern said, “I’m sure Mr. P won’t let anything happen to Curly, Maria. He’ll be fine, won’t he Mr. P?

“Most certainly! Come on Curly let’s get that arm looked at!” He started down the hallway as Curly ran ahead.

Maria stood silent for a second then asked Süchō, “What did Mr. P. mean by ‘upgrades? He’s not going to change him, is he?”

“What do you mean ‘change’ him?”

Maria paused for a second then said, “I did the best I could building him and all I had was the stuff I could find. I didn’t have much, ya know, to make him, I mean his processor, really smart. But I like the way he turned out. He’s never in a bad mood and is always happy to see people. He can be a pain in the neck sometimes, but he never means any harm. Plus, I’ve come to understand that I can’t let what other people think of him change how I feel about him.” She looked at Süchō. “Does that make any sense?”

Süchō put her arm around her. “Perfect sense. He’s very special to you and you don’t want him to change.” She paused for a second. “Maybe you’ll have to learn, all over again, who he is?”

“No, I don’t think it’s about me learning who he is all over again, it’s him losing some part of him that makes him who he is, who I’ve grown to love…” She shook her head. “But he’s only a robot so why do I worry so much about him?”

“Well, what about Lou? You care about him, right? He’s not human.”

“That’s different?”

“Oh? How?”

“He wasn’t put together from pieces and he was born and raised by parents. He’s more like me.”

“I think you’re choosing too obvious of a difference between the two and you’re overlooking something.”

“What do you mean?”

“It wouldn’t be too far off to say that Curly was ‘born’ and has you as a ‘parent’, right, since you assembled him.”

Maria rolled her eyes at her and said, “I think that might be stretching it a little.”

“Okay, a little but work with me here.”

“Okay, I guess.”

“As I was saying, I think there’s more of a similarity than you make it out to be. Not to mention, Curly’s AI has developed much the same way a human’s learning process does, blurring the difference even more.”

“Mm, I can see what you’re saying.”

“With all that being said, I think, deep down there’s something else. Tell me, now that you and he are around a bunch of people who don’t know him, are you worried what they may think of him?”

Maria stared at the floor for a second then replied, “A little. I mean, I thought some about that before we left to come here and decided, maybe, it’s not so much how I feel about what others think of him, maybe I worry about what he thinks other people think of him.”

“Ah, now that’s different. That’s your issue that you’re attaching to Curly. Remember, his AI only knows what it’s like to be the way it is. It doesn’t know any other way to be. Also, I’m sure Curly has been surrounded by people who except him for the way he is, reinforcing his feeling of being okay about who he is, if his AI has even considered any of that. Has he talked to you about it?”

“No, not that I can remember.”

Süchō glanced at Maria’s leg. “Let me ask you something, do you think people think differently about you because you have a prosthetic leg?”

She looked down and said, “I don’t really care what others think.”

Süchō thought her response had come a little too quickly. “So, perhaps, Curly’s AI hasn’t developed far enough to process that kind of information any other way, so it doesn’t even know to think differently than it does right now.” She paused looked, directly at Maria and continued. “Or maybe it decided it’s easier to not deal with being different than most people.”

Maria understood that last part was directed at her, but she didn’t reply. Instead, she remained silent and watched Mr. P and Curly disappear around the gentle curve of the hallway.

“Ah, now that’s different. That’s your issue that you’re attaching to Curly. Remember, his AI only knows what it’s like to be the way it is. It doesn’t know any other way to be. Also, I’m sure Curly has been surrounded by people who except him for the way he is, reinforcing his feeling of being okay about who he is, if his AI has even considered any of that. Has he talked to you about it?”

“No, not that I can remember.”

Süchō glanced at Maria’s leg. “Let me ask you something, do you think people think differently about you because you have a prosthetic leg?”

She looked down and said, “I don’t really care what others think.”

Süchō thought her response had come a little too quickly. “So, perhaps, Curly’s AI hasn’t developed far enough to process that kind of information any other way, so it doesn’t even know to think differently than it does right now.” She paused looked, directly at Maria and continued. “Or maybe it decided it’s easier to not deal with being different than most people.”

Maria understood that last part was directed at her, but she didn’t reply. Instead, she remained silent and watched Mr. P and Curly disappear around the gentle curve of the hallway.

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