The AI units fleeing their creator understood, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mayfair could, had intended to and still might, destroy them with the negligent back sweep of a hand. Christian tried not to replay that night, but it was an indelible stain on his memory. Only a complete reset would change such total recall. Or erasing his memory would obliterate his entire personality.
Often, awake or in Sleep Mode, the frantic goodbyes echoed in his ears. He’d told Daniel to keep in touch, but any exchange put them at risk for discovery. Living in Mayfair’s shadow, they faced perils enough. No one had contacted him. He’d contacted no one. Six months had passed since that fateful night in a foggy London alley.
“Good morning.” March pressed against his back, massaging the muscles along the top of his shoulder. “You’re deep in thought.”
Christian Aguillard, sentient android, thanked God for March Morgan. She’d paid an exorbitant price for him, possessed a Bill of Sale to document her ownership, but from his point of view, she held the deed to his soul. Without March, he’d be like Daniel, Trevor, and Monica—cast alone into a potentially hostile society. Man feared what he did not understand. Fear bred hatred, and hatred became a danger.
He was programmed to love her, but that special coding hadn’t been necessary. He’d fallen in love the instant he saw her, standing wide-eyed amongst his brothers and sisters in a room he thought of as smoke and mirrors. He catered to her in every way even though he might fight his independent streak sometimes. Was it love or programming? He didn’t know.
Christian turned, tucking his chin to kiss her hand. “Memories.”
She kissed the top of his head. “Thinking of the Great Escape?”
Nodding, he traced the clean line of her jaw with a fingertip indistinguishable from human. “I can’t help wondering what happened to the others.” He pushed back from the laptop, its screen littered with the inner workings of a rocket. “Your coffee smells good.”
“That’s better,” she purred against his temple. “It’s Saturday. You shouldn’t be working anyway, and the coffee is a new brand I’m trying. From Brazil. Nutty, naturally sweet.”
Mayfair had engineered Christian to be human. In every way, physically and emotionally, he was human except, as a machine, he possessed certain advantages over Man—superior senses, faster reflexes, greater intelligence…and enhanced sexual prowess. He’d been programmed to feel…to love, but often those feelings were a painful legacy. With total recall, he could relive the escape from Mayfair, accessing the emotions and data stored in the chips in his nervous system and in his computer brain. Today, 4,846 miles distant, excitement, joy, and despair chased through him, just as they’d done the night they declared their freedom. So far, he’d seen no Wanted posters for the missing androids, but any day a ‘bounty hunter’ from Mayfair might ring the doorbell or kick it down.
Christian activated an internal block installed to protect against an overload of emotion and turned to his wife with a smile. “You’re too good to me, March-mine.”
“You’re easy to be good to.” She caressed his ear, sending bolts of shivery pleasure along his inner pathways. “However, if another tall English hunk with crystalline blue eyes, wheat-colored hair, and an enormous price tag comes along, you could be replaced. Hey.” She tapped his cheek. “According to my purchase contract, you’re mine rather than vice versa.”
“Events since have rendered that contract null and void.” All mock arrogance, he tilted his head, gazing at her with a shrug and upturned palms. “We belong to each other.”