With deft fingers, she carefully tuned the acoustic guitar. Being
bored did allow one to get things done. However, she had
completed her task very quickly, and the old, second hand guitar was
now perfectly tuned. She strummed a chord and smiled at its
sound. These days, bands were opting for synthesized music and
electronic guitars, but she remembered a time when instruments were
lovingly hand crafted from natural materials like wood and ivory.
fiddlin' with that thing, Mars?" asked Wreck. He was a tall,
lanky youth from the back country of Britain. He had a devil may
care attitude and an easy going smile.
nodded. "I understand that you don't appreciate the classics,
Wreck, but at least allow me to enjoy my 'peculiar' pastime."
"'Ey, I'm not
knockin' ya," said Wreck defensively. "I'm glad you finally found
something to do. You were really beginnin' to mope for a bit
Mars sighed an
all too human sigh. "I know, but what else is there for me to
do. I cannot fulfill my primary function. Thus, I must pine
away my existence. Without doing what I was programmed to do, I
feel I don't belong anywhere in this world."
"Oh com'on, now,"
dismissed Wreck. "What about Siryn?"
Mars shook her
head. "Siryn is wonderful. She knows things about me that
no one else knows, but she is not who I was meant to serve."
Wreck was about
to ask what things Siryn knew about Mars, but the android held up a
forestalling hand. "No one else knows, and no one else will," she
said with finality. Wreck looked a bit crestfallen. "Except
Max, of course, should he ever accept me," added Mars.
Wreck striking out onto a new topic, "what's the deal with that
any'ow? If my dad gave me a robot to serve me, I'd leap at the
smiled. "Thanks, Wreck. You always know how to make me
smile. However, that is something that only Max can
discuss. I honestly don't know why he hates his father so
much. They were such good friends when he was little."
"How would you
know, little missy," chuckled Wreck.
Mars seem to be
startled at what she just said. "I was programmed with some of
Dr. Wren's memories," amended Mars nervously. She turned back to
her guitar and began strumming random chords.
"'Ey, that sounds
pretty nice," beamed Wreck.
"Wellp, I gotta
take off. Catch ya later, Robo Babe."
Wreck grabbed his
electronic guitar, which had apparently been why he had appeared in the
room in the first place. Mars wasn't sure if she liked the rather
sexist moniker that Wreck had created for her. Still, she knew he
meant well. Mars began to strike up a tune on her guitar.
It was a lively melody with a latin flavor. Her playing was soon
interrupted by a commotion at the door.
At first, Mars
thought Wreck had forgotten something, but soon she realized that the
voices she heard outside the door belonged to none of the band
members. Mars began to panic as she realized that someone was
trying to pick the lock. There was no place to hide inside the
tiny storage room, and there were no other exits. Just as the
door came flying open, Mars got up from her seat and stood stock still
in the center of the room.
"See, what I tell
ya? I bet these instruments are valuable on the underground
Two teenagers had
entered the room looking hungrily at the assorted electronic
instruments, amplifiers, computers and speakers. One was a
scrawny boy in unkempt clothing. His hair was scruffy and greasy,
as it had not been washed in many a week. The other was a girl,
similarly attired and much younger, but probably the boy's sister due
to the uncanny familial resemblance. The two intruders were
looking carefully about the room, checking equipment for suitability of
an easy theft. The amps were simply too heavy for them to
take. The speakers presented the same problem. However, the
computers and miscellaneous instruments, both acoustic and electronic,
could very easily be hefted about by a pair of ne'er-do-well petty
The girl spotted
Mars standing like a statue in the center of the room. "Hey,
Mikey. You think this is worth anything?"
The boy looked up
from the computer he had been examining and grimaced. "What the
hell is that thing?"
"Maybe its one of
them movie props they sell on the Internet," said the girl.
"I think I would
have remembered a movie with something that stupid looking in it," said
inside at the comment, but remained still.
"Maybe they use
it as a stage prop during their show," mused the girl.
Alyce. It's probably too heavy to carry anyway," grumped the
boy. "One of these days, we're gonna get a truck so's we can
carry away the big stuff."
Alyce looked down
at the chair behind Mars and saw the acoustic guitar. "Hey, I
haven't seen one of these in a long time. I wonder if it's in
The girl picked
up the guitar and played a very simple nursery tune. The method
was amateurish, but the timing was quite good.
foolin' around," complained Mikey. "I'll get you one when we make
some money off this stuff."
said Alyce. "I'll just take this one. I can still carry
stuff if I sling it over my shoulder."
This was more
than Mars could stand. With lightning speed, a hand darted out and
grasped the girl firmly by the arm. Alyce screamed and dropped
the guitar. The instrument made a horrendous discordant sound as
it hit the concrete floor. Mikey looked up stunned to find his
sister in the grip of a metallic green stage prop.
Mikey jumped over
an amp in his rush to aid his sister. He tried pulling hard on
Mars' hand in order to release his sister's arm, but the grip was like
a vice, and nothing he did would budge it. Mars' other hand
reached out and grabbed Mikey.
"Hey, let go of
me!" he yelled. "What is this some kind of crazy security system?"
struggling," said Mars. "You're only going to hurt yourself."
Both teenagers went still. Alyce's face became pale. They turned their heads in unison towards the android. Mars looked at them and smiled.
perhaps you two can explain to me why you are taking things which do
not belong to you."
"I don't believe
it!" spat Mikey. "A security guard in a stupid costume, and we
just walked right into her hands."
Mars uncertainly. Then, she brightened. "Of course,
costume. Yes, this was a trap for thieves like yourselves.
Now, what should I do with you two? Perhaps I'll call your
"We ain't got no
parents," said Mikey defiantly.
perhaps I should call social services?"
Alyce. "They'll send us to the asylum for juvenile
delinquents. I had a friend who went there. They did stuff
to his brain. He wasn't the same since."
frowned. "I doubt that."
"If I'm lying,
I'm dying," said the girl earnestly.
"Well, I can't
just let you go," said Mars.
"It don't make no
difference," said Mikey. "We always land on our feet. We'll
get outta this, too."
Mars. "I'll tell you what. I'll let you go. She
released her hold on Mikey's arm. "But you will stay with me for a while,"
she said to Alyce.
worried. "Wait a minute, what are you keepin' her for? Let
her go, and I'll stay."
Mars looked at
Mikey. "Can you play a musical instrument?"
"Then she stays,"
said Mars. "Your only alternative is for me to call the police
for both of you."
"W-what are you
gonna do to her," asked Mikey nervously.
"I won't harm
her, if that's what you're thinking," said Mars. "Return here
tomorrow morning, and I will release her."
"No way," said
Mikey. "I ain't leaving her with nobody. We stick together."
"Those are my
terms," said Mars.
and unclenched his fists. "Fine!" he spat out. "But if
anything happens to her, I'll kill you."
"You have my word
she will be safe," said Mars with a nod.
Mikey stared at
the android for a good while. Then, he turned to his
sister. "I'll be back for you. I promise."
"One more thing,"
said Mars. "Just you return. If I see that you are bringing
anyone with you, you won't find us here. Understood?"
Mikey gritted his
teeth. "Understood." He dashed out the door.
Mars bent down
and picked up the guitar. She sat Alyce in a chair and took one
herself. Then, she handed the guitar to Alyce. Alyce was
dumbfounded by all of this.
"W-what are you
going to do with me," she asked timidly.
smiled. "You have some talent with the guitar," she said.
"I want to hear you play."
Alyce looked down
at the instrument. "I...I don't know that much. Just a few
things I learned in the orphanage."
alright. Play what you know."
Alyce placed her
fingers on the frets and began strumming a little. Finally, she
meandered into a lullaby that she knew. When that was done, she
went into a short waltz. Mars listened quietly, smiling all the
while. By the time Alyce had reached her fifth tune, Mars had
stood up and moved behind her. Reaching around the girl, Mars
corrected her finger posture. She had her replay several songs
over and over, and showed her different chords that Alyce could play in
place of the basic ones she was currently using.
Mars noted that
the girl had obviously learned to play by ear, so she picked up an
electronic guitar and tuned it to sound similar to an acoustic
one. Then, she began playing the same latin tune that she was
playing earlier before Mikey and Alyce had broken into the store
room. Alyce was a quick study and soon had picked up the tune and
was following along. Using what Mars had shown her, Alyce had
accomplished chords and flourishes that she hadn't known before.
Her playing had greatly improved over the time that she had spent with
this security guard in the strange robot costume.
The hours seemed
to melt away. It wasn't long before Mars noticed the early
morning sunlight filtering through from beneath the door. "I
think that's enough. We've been playing all night. It's
morning. Your brother should be here soon."
"How'd you know
Mikey was my brother?" asked Alyce.
"Come now, I'd
have to be blind not to notice how similar you both look," said Mars
with a smile. Her face seemed to sober. "Why do you and
your brother steal things?"
"We sell stuff to
get money, so we can eat," said Alyce sadly. "But the people who
buy stuff from us, don't think we're all that important. They
won't pay us what the stuff we get is really worth. So, we have
to steal more and more."
Mars shook her
head. "You shouldn't be living like that. It's not the way
children should grow up."
"So what are we
supposed to do?" asked Alyce plaintively.
"You have a
talent. Use it," said Mars. "True, you are still learning,
and you need to be taught music theory and to read sheet music, but you
have the makings of a really good musician if you apply yourself and
work really hard at it."
"There's no money
in that," sighed Alyce.
"Oh, you'd be
surprised," said Mars. "You'd have to start small. Play in
schools or churches. But, at least it's honest work, and you
would get paid for it. The churches may even feed and house
you. Some of them run shelters."
"Mikey said we're
never staying in a shelter," said Alyce.
"Mikey is proud,"
said Mars. "Which can be a good thing, but it can also hold you
back. Mikey will listen to you if you talk to him. It's
obvious he loves you."
smiled. "Of course he does. He's my brother."
Just then a knock
came at the door. Mars nodded to Alyce to open it. Alyce
carefully set the guitar on her chair and went to the door. When
she saw her brother, she threw her arms around his neck. "I knew
you'd come back," she said joyously.
"Of course," said
Mikey returning the hug. "Family don't leave family
behind." He stood back and looked at his sister. "You okay?"
nodded. "She taught me things on the guitar."
confused. He turned toward Mars. "That's what this was all
about? A stupid guitar lesson?"
things," replied Mars.
hell! I coulda stayed here for that!" yelled Mikey. "You
had me worried half to death."
feeling, isn't it?" said Mars.
right it is!"
"Just like you'd
feel if I were a policeman and decided to bring you in," said Mars.
blinked. He didn't know how to respond to Mars' comment.
"I think you two
have some talking to do," said Mars with a smile. She stood,
picked up the guitar and handed it to Alyce.
Alyce looked up
at Mars with wide eyes. "For me?"
nodded. "You're going to need it for your new career."
unexpectedly gave the android a big hug. "Thank you so much!"
children had left, Mars found herself alone in the storage room once
more. She had taken out Siryn's sitar and began to tune it.
It didn't require much since Siryn was almost religious about the
instrument's upkeep. Just then, a key was heard being turned in
the lock. Siryn, Wreck, Thrash and Max all walked into the room.
Siryn had a
momentary panic attack when she saw the sitar in Mars' hands.
"I'm sorry," said Mars. "I should have asked your permission
"It's okay," said
Siryn relaxing a bit. "I'm just a little possessive of it."
"I know it means
a great deal to you," returned Mars. She carefully placed the
ancient instrument in its case.
"Well, let's get
packin', people," said Thrash in his rumbling bass voice. "Our
next gig is a two day drive away."
eagerly. "I will stow the amplifiers and speakers."
oddly at Mars for a moment. "Uh...yeah. You do that."
Mars lifted one of the two hundred pound amps as if it were a cardboard box and walked out toward the van.
"I swear it's
scary how...human that thing acts sometimes," said
don't think I like that."
"Don't be such a
luddite, Thrash me mate," chuckled Wreck. "Maybe she's a regular
Thrash. "I'm glad you think it's funny, but one day they're gonna
build more of those things, and they'll make ones that can replace
musicians. Mark my words."
"You and your
conspiracy theories," said Wreck shaking his head. He
hefted a computer beneath each arm and headed out to the van. On
his way out, he ran into Mars on her return trip to the store
room. "So, where's that guitar you were working on, love?"
"It...had a crack
in it," she said hesitantly. "I accidentally broke it when I was
tuning it. I had to throw it away."
Wreck clucked his
tongue. "That's too bad. I think it's a mistake to go
completely electronic with music. Gotta keep the classics alive,
ya know. Well, maybe we can find you another one in better
condition." He was about to pass her when he whispered
softly. "And don't tell Siryn about the guitar. She'd never
let you touch her sitar if she found out." He left her with a
smile and a wink.
Upon returning to
the store room, Mars ran into Siryn carrying rolls of cables.
"How are you doing, Mars," asked Siryn with some concern. "Wreck
tells me you've been feeling down in the dumps lately."
"Well, I was,
actually," began Mars, "but I think I've finally realized that I truly
belong with you guys."
"Well of course
you do," said Siryn beaming with relief. "There was never any
doubt in my mind."
Mars smiled back at Siryn. "And now there are no doubts in mine as well."
T H E E N D
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