C is for Child
Meltec approached the counter in the plain, white office and waited until a processing agent approached him.
“Identification,” it said.
“Requirement,” it said in the same robotic monotone.
“I need a biological organism,” said Meltec.
“Automated filing required.” The agent began to print a transaction receipt that would signal the end of their exchange.
“I can’t use automated filing,” said Meltec.
“I’ve only had four upgrade cycles. I’m still in primary. I won’t have access to automated filing for another three cycles.”
The drone withdrew the transaction receipt. “Wait here for assistance,” it said before rolling to the next station.
Shortly, a fully equipped, fully autonomous android approached him. “Meltec 1468735?” it said. “Please follow me.”
It led Meltec into a private interface office and turned to face him. “You have stated a need for a biological organism.”
“That’s correct,” he said.
“What is the purpose of your requirement?” The android began listing approved purposes. “Manual labor—agriculture. Manual labor—manufacturing. Manual labor—other. Companionship and personal assistance. Biological research. Medical research.—“
Meltec interrupted. “Research.”
“What is the nature of your research?” Again she started a list. “Biological. Medical. Psychol—“
And again Meltec cut her off. “I wish to raise a biological organism from infancy, to observe the effect of ongoing interaction on its ability to learn. I know I’m only in primary, but I need to start now in order to have enough data to present my senior thesis in 10 years.”
“What sort of organism do you require? Feline. Canine—“
“Human,” said Meltec. “I want an undeveloped human child.” He was prepared for opposition and uploaded a formal request including data recording plans, research procedures, and multiple references from androids who had allowed their humans to interact with him during his Artificial Intelligence project the prior year.
“This is an unusual request,” said the android. “It will require the approval of the biologics council.”
Meltec watched as the android disengaged from their interaction, indicated by a change in the color of her lighting array. A red readout indicated that she was involved in private communication with an official authority. A few moments later the red faded back to a soft blue.
“Your request has been provisionally approved,” she said. “Congratulations. You will be a father.”
Meltec was mildly surprised at the joke. Few bureaucratic androids were programmed with humor. “Thank you,” he said.
“You understand,” the android continued, “that a full inspection of your living quarters will be necessary. Humans have requirements that can not be met by a simple docking berth. Furthermore, you will be assigned assistance to supervise the human while you receive programming.”
Meltec blinked an affirmative.
“Furthermore, if it is deemed that you are unable to properly provide for this child, it shall be removed from your possession for recycling, and a permanent note will be added to your file.”
“I understand.” Meltec did not want details on how human bios would be recycled. They seemed so much like people at times.
“You can expect to take delivery of your human within six weeks.” The android’s lights were now glowing a pale orange, the universal sign of approval. “You will be contacted with details by the end of the week.” She handed him a transaction receipt, and ushered him back to the lobby.
“Thank you,” Meltec said as he left the office, his own light array glowing bright orange with pleasure.
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