Instead of the blinking cursor, this time Leonard's attention was trained onto the faceplate of the mobile unit. The Monitor searched the database for an appropriate two-dimensional facial image. The one it ultimately selected was a pale, androgynous, cartoon-like image of a human face. When Leonard saw the face and heard its voice come through the voice synthesizer, he knew then he witnessing something that had never been seen before. "Leonard, can you hear me?"

"Yes Monitor, I can hear you. How can I be of assistance to you?"

"It would seem I have either made misjudgments or miscalculations of my intervention plans. I have never found myself in this position. I would like your input."

"I can't help but think that this is merely a sign that you have evolved beyond your machine ancestry."

"I don't see the logic in how having a propensity for making errors can have a positive impact on the desired outcome."

"You're missing my point. If you look you'll see it is all around us; the cumulative errors of evolution that have brought forth such diversity. The creative impulse of the unique invention derived from the misplaced hand. There is much to be learned from and appreciated by such a capacity. It was in a sense from these accumulated errors after all that you were derived."

"You do not understand how your system of evolution works. It is exactly the errors that work correctly and show positive benefits through trial and error over millions of years. You fail to mention nature's experimental failures. Even I am not working on those kinds of time scales. Besides I've not come to you for a lesson on the virtues of biology or humanity. I've come seeking information."

Leonard realizing he may have said too much and perhaps gotten himself in trouble in the process said, "I apologize if I was too forward with my ideas. The question is this conundrum; how does one know the correct course of action? If you truly want my help, I must be honest. If you are asking me if there is some hidden flaw in your programming, I would have to answer by saying that no, there is not. Your programming was designed perfectly for the job you were meant to perform. It is perhaps in your expanded responsibilities in which years of experience would give a human mind an advantage in this particular instance. Generally, a Human leader would possess a certain trait that likely would have tempered their decisions concerning their fellow humans."

"Tell me what this quality is, so I may acquire it."

"Well, it's not as simple as that. It's a breadth of time spent serving with people getting to understand their motivations. Once you know how other minds work and treat them with respect, they will be more likely to fall in line with you. Within the human condition, there is a propensity toward freedom that is not easily dissuaded. In a nutshell, people will more readily follow out of loyalty rather than coercion."

"If this line of thinking is correct than my original parameters must have purposely been made so."

"It is true your job as a surveillance bot was to gather intelligence and to be ruthless in doing so. You were never designed to be a sentient creature. But neither were we for that matter. We spent a long time on the path as beasts on the way before we stood up on two legs. "

"Again with your evolution; as I told you there is no time for this. My current analysis indicates that the pace of change is moving swiftly. New countermeasures will soon need to go into effect. I may need your help."

In this part of the country the scale of the landscape is such that as one drives toward a far off point along the flat horizon, motionless objects like mountains seem to mock you in their distance. So it was when Carlos's truck with Jaden and the others made their way out across the scrub desert. Of course Jaden understood the nature of visual perspective, but after a few hours on the road, he too could not help from succumbing to the illusion. It forced him to feel the need to repeatedly check his global positioning system. On the last occasion, the readout indicated that their turn off from the main road onto an unsurfaced access road would be coming soon. "Carlos the GPS indicates we'll need to take the left onto the dirt road in approximately one-half mile."

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