“At last”, he mumbled to himself. His face lightened a bit and he sighed in relief. “Don’t you shake the bird now, boy. Don’t you shake it now…”
Daleus grimaced. The bird grew heavier in his hand. He closed his eyes and concentrated, trying to breath evenly. Old man, aware that boy does not see him, glanced apprehensively at his dry, muscular body, just barely covered with t-shirt and shorts made from rough fabric. Good body. Strong, hardened, healthy. And stupid as wood. Boy survived the brain surgery few weeks ago with ease, and implants seemed to augment with the cortex flawlessly. The old man did not expect this part of the plan to go smoothly. Actually, he was certain that crumbling autodoc would eventually malfunction and turn the boy into useless pile of living, brainless tissues. But derelict machinery performed against all odds. Pure luck, what can one say?
“Download complete. Would you like to proceed with the termination of the drone, Kurt?”, inquired computer on his knee.
“Is it still functioning?”, Kurt raised eyebrows slightly surprised and looked at the jackdaw, which helplessly hung upside down.
“Yes. Full restore of the cognitive and kinetic systems will be complete in twenty minutes. Damage from the impact was nominal. It is not too late for me to interrupt self repair procedures, however”, offered computer confidently.
“Let it be, Aria”, answered Kurt and switched off the scanner. He named AI of the computer after his bitch, who died a century ago. Original Aria would have simply bitten off jackdaw’s head without hesitation.
“Drone may inform about you”, insisted Aria.
“In fact, that is perfectly fine. You know what to do next, don’t you?”
“Yes, Kurt. Scan data to locate next target.”
“Well, why wouldn’t you proceed then?”
He put Aria back into backpack and looked at the boy. Daleus stood still with his hand thrust forward, eyes closed. His forehead was covered with the drops of sweet, teeth clenched, he breathed fast. Muscles on a fist bulged, but the hand did not shake. Scanning of the jackdaw took no less than five minutes. He could have made it much easier for the boy, of course. But why not, if one can do it hard way? Call it a drill, thought Kurt to himself.
“Drop it”, he told at last. Daleus unclenched fingers and the jackdaw drone fell on the grass. They boy glanced at the old man, questioning and rubbing his numb hand. Kurt frowned, reached into backpack and pulled small plastic bag, filled with jerky. He threw it to the boy, closed eyes and slipped from the trunk on the grass.