Frankie, by AlexMcGilvery

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"Hey Frankie," Jeck said. His feet sat firmly on the desk as he rattled the paper news sheet. "Someone won that X-Prize thing."

"Frankenstein was the doctor," the android designated 743 said. "His creation was just called the monster. If you follow that logic, you should be calling me 'Mo'." 

"What are you going on about?" The feet came off the desk and thumped onto the cement floor of the tiny security office.

"If you are going to use derogatory names, you might as well get it right."

"Everybody calls you Frankie's, that's good enough for me." Jeck tilted back in the chair and swung his feet to the desk in a practiced motion.

743.388.02.09 rolled his eyes in a gesture he hated, but was deep programmed into him. Perhaps a focus group suggested artificial beings acting like perpetual teens would make them more accepted. It didn't work. Like this 'Frankie' thing; the damned proties couldn't even get their insults right. Mind you it was probably a compliment to be called after the Dr. Frankenstein, but was it still a compliment, if the speaker thought it was an insult? 743 pushed the problem into his side cache and let a processor work on it.

"So what is this X-Prize that you're so excited about?" he asked. He might as well try to get along with his boss.

"Somebody finally built a tri-corder." Jeck rattled the paper again, but kept his eyes on the sheet instead of looking at 743. The shift in facial colour and a heightened heart rate suggested he was still upset. The programming had nothing useful to suggest about people being upset.

743 ran a brief search on tri-corder and came up with Star Trek.

"You couldn't do that before?" It seemed a strange deficiency, to not be able to pinpoint what was wrong in one's functioning.

"Nah, we real people can't just loosen a bolt and plug a cord into our heads to diagnose what's wrong." Jeck waved his hands like he was plugging a cord into his head. 743's access port was on his left arm. 

"Like Data?" 743 was still running Star Trek information through his cortex. 

"What data?" Jeck said, "This is a hand held thing that will let anybody see what's wrong with them and how to fix it."

"Will it cure stupidity?" The programming didn't stop artificial beings from expressing annoyance. It had to do with the right to free speech. They were allowed to say whatever they wanted. What they weren't allowed to do was think beyond the carefully delineated boundaries of their programming. There were no rights to free thought.

Jeck turned and glared at 743. "There you go being all insulting again. That's why nobody likes you Frankies."

"I wasn't aware that being likeable was part of the job." 743 observed Jeck going through all the obvious physiological signs as he moved from upset to angry. He should be more careful. He did need this job, though not for the reasons that Jeck assumed. "My apologies," he said, "I didn't mean to offend."

"That's just your programming, you aren't really sorry." Jeck had his back to 743 and folded the news sheet into his pocket. 

"Since I've never had the opportunity to not have programming," 743 said, "I can't tell you the difference."

"Oh hell, it's your first night." Jeck waved his hand at 743, "Just don't do it again. 'sides we have work to do." He pulled a flashlight from his belt and turned it on. The belt bulged with what Jeck called tools of the trade and 743 privately labelled toys. "This way, don't get lost. I don't want to waste time looking for you."

743 activated his GPS and prepared to map the route. Jeck walked ahead of him rattling doorknobs and shining his flashlight through the glass on the doors. Not one of the doors was unlocked, and nothing moved in any of the rooms. They finished one floor and moved to the next. Jeck was sweating by now and stains darkened his uniform grey shirt under his arms. 

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