Alyssa and I settled into routine.
I had never owned a domestic robot before; it took some getting used to. My cleaning had been done by a human maid, but my accountant had finally put his foot down and basically demanded that I stop wasting money on human labor.
My personal fortune had been earned in my early twenties, when I had programmed a new front end for internet search engines; Google had snatched up the patent when I offered to lease it, and that made me very rich--so I could basically do what I wanted. I'd always been into electronics and computers and mechanical things; until I'd decided to build Alyssa, my workshop had been devoted to the restoration of old motorcycles.
The newer models of domestic robots were realistic almost to a fault--so realistic that the manufacturers had started taking a page from the Japanese animation industry and giving them antenna pods instead of ears--just so you could tell a robot from a human. But I've never been the kind of person who liked having the same kind of things that other people did; and I was technically savvy enough to "roll my own", so to speak.
Now there was a "clean room" where my parts room had once been. The area looked like a modern dentist's office, but with a lot more computer hardware in it.
By building Alyssa myself, I had duplicated a lot of existing technology, I know--but ultimately I found that a lot more satisfying. Over the next six months I spent a few days here and there tweaking her reaction matrices and fixing small bugs here and there, but the OS I had downloaded was pretty well-established and only my own drivers and patches required much maintenance--and over that six-month period I nailed everything down.
Then it was May.
* * *
It was a pleasant evening, the kind where you just want to sit on the porch and sip tea and enjoy being outdoors. Alyssa had just finished lighting the lanterns--I like candlelight, and on the porch I used tea lights in various holders--and was preparing to refill my glass...and then everything went curiously still. The birds, which had been singing their good night songs in the gathering dusk, just suddenly shut up. Cars on the nearby highway stopped, and people got out, staring skyward, mouths open; finally I got out of my chair and stepped off the porch.
There was a massive sphere descending from the sky.
I mean, massive. Later I learned it was about half a mile in diameter; but then, I just saw this huge thing seeming to fall, in slow motion, out of the sky, one half of it lit a golden orange by the setting sun.
The thing moved south just a bit, or seemed to, and after a moment it touched the fallow farm field south of my house. The ground bucked under my feet as it touched the earth; and then the sphere just..started to sink.
"What is that?" Alyssa asked, as if she were asking a greengrocer about an exotic vegetable--interested, but nothing out of the ordinary. I actually gaped at her in astonishment at her lack of emotion, before my brain re-engaged.
"That's a UFO. Some kind of alien spacecraft," I stammered.
"It does not have your permission to land here, does it?" She asked.
"Well...of course not."
"I shall remonstrate with the pilot." She marched toward the thing.
"No, Alyssa--wait!" I took a faltering step forward, and some kind of beam speared Alyssa. She blinked at the light for a few moments, standing; then the light went out and she turned to me.
She blinked twice; then she said, "Registered."
#209: Thingy part III
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