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Good Engineering

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Two weeks cruising the Mediterranean had seemed like a long time to Caliban but now that rhe was traveling the world with Ada, two weeks didn’t seem like they would be anywhere near enough time to see and experience everything on their list.

Even their first stop, visiting the pyramids in Egypt, already baffled the wooden robot with all there was to learn and feel.

“Look, this is the power of good engineering,” Ada told rhim when rhe remarked on the age of the pyramids.

Remembering rher early concern with dying in Canada, Caliban noted, “But only because we’re not in Canada.”

Ada laughed and Caliban’s thin wings fluttered happily, rher Venetian mask face shaping into a sweet, pleased smile at having made rher creator display happiness. Making Ada happy never failed to make rhim happy, too.

In the shadow of a pyramid, Caliban ran rher hands through Egypt’s warm, fine desert sand. Rher hard drive supplied rhim with memory files of rher many afternoons on the playground. Watching entire generations of robots be built and taught and leave the factory, rhe was coming to gain a deeper understanding of the passing of time. Rhe still found it hard to imagine anything surviving for thousands of years.

“Do you think I could last as long as the pyramids?” rhe asked as rhe focused rher optics on the pyramid again.

“I don’t know,” Ada admitted frankly. She sounded perfectly unbothered by not knowing, something rhe still found puzzling about rher creator. Ada smiled brightly and added, “isn’t that exciting? We don’t know what the future is going to bring.”

Rhe nodded, not because rhe agreed but simply because that was exactly the kind of answer you should expect from Ada. “You have strange parameters for the things you consider exciting, most of them chaotic and many of them downright defying logic,” Caliban remarked, albeit not unkindly.

“I prefer to be called unconventional.”

Rhe tilted their head to the side and the tiny motors controlling rher facial expressions worked overtime to display curiosity. “Is that why you built me to be unconventional, too?”

Caliban knew rhe was. From the masked face and the wings to the pronouns and the eclectic interests Ada had always encouraged rhim to have, unconventional was one of the nicer things rhe had been called.

“Yes, and it’s nearly as good as eccentric.” Ada laughed, bright and sweet. “I’m not artistic enough to get away with eccentric. Maybe you will. You can be everything you want to be.”

That’s something Ada always said. You can be everything. You can do everything.

Caliban thought about Ada and her gentle hands building and upgrading and repairing rhim, and encouraging rhim to be autonomous, even to learn about building robots rhimself. Maybe one day rhe would want to build more of rher kind, Ada had said, everybody should have the opportunity to leave behind a legacy if they wanted.

“Then I want to last as long as the pyramids,” Caliban decided.