What? Alana isn’t giving us a sexy snippet? Nope, not this week. What I think is special about this series is the way the robots wind up having more humanity than the humanoids. I just love this scene. HK, a Hunter-Killer robot, is bodyguarding Jessica on Klaginn Station, a shithole space station. The two of them pass the time sometimes making up words.
“Wait,” HK says as we’re about to pass the intersection of two hallways.
Although we’ve passed this way twice before, I never noticed the small, raised pond in the middle of this intersection. At some point in the distant past, the management must have thought this was the way to give this space-pit some class.
It’s about as big around as a backyard kiddie pool back home. The edges are about three feet high. Inside are about ten disgusting, oily-looking fish–if you can even call them fish.
Their bodies are more snakelike than fishlike. Their heads are reminiscent of hammerhead sharks back home except their red eyes seem to glow in the dim hallway light.
“Gross,” I say, ready to be on our way.
“But they’re so beautiful,” he says, his ungainly head cocked as if he’s mesmerized by the sight.
If he had a face, I’d be inspecting his expression to see if he’s teasing me, but of course he has no expression, just a blank pane of plexi. By the tone of his voice, though, he’s serious.
“Beautiful?” I ask, unable to see past their hammerheads and creepy wriggling tails.
“Watch how they move, Jessica. See their grace? The way they almost dance as they pass each other without touching in that crowded space? Look for the beauty.”
I give it another try, searching for the “dance,” the grace, and the beauty.
Sure enough, when I ignore their ugly hammerheads and glowy eyes and general eeriness, I see the beauty in their movement. These poor creatures, ignored by most, abused by a few, have been left to fend for themselves in the midst of chaos. The bottom of their pool is littered with not only their own crap–literally–but the discarded detritus of passersby.
And yet they persist in their graceful movements, circling, circling, and never even nipping at each other. I edge toward HK, wanting to see things from the same angle as him.
He turns on two lights I never noticed were on the top of his head and I watch as the animals’ oily shimmer changes color to verdigris. I’ve always loved that color, not because it’s the patina of the Statue of Liberty, but because it has so many variations.
Now that they’re in the light, their red eyes turn an amber color that looks beautiful against their scales.
For long moments, I don’t even realize I’ve stepped between him and the wall of the pool and he’s placed his powerful arms around me. Even after I notice our position, I make no effort to extricate myself from what would be an embrace if he were a humanoid.
“Do you see it, Jess? Can you find the beauty in all the ugliness?”
Tears sprout from my eyes. It takes a moment to figure out my emotion. It’s overwhelm. At first, I think the feeling is jubilation at being able to look past the obvious into the sublime. Then I realize it’s so much deeper than being about the fish.
I glance around us at the mob of aliens swarming the area. They’re nothing like the graceful fish. They’re bumping into each other, heedless of how their actions affect others.
This isn’t about the fish or all the other aliens. This is about HK. He has more humanity than anyone on Klaginn Station. Possibly more than me.
I turn my attention from the pond to HK. He’s a hunk of laser-resistant plastic and metal. He’s big and capable of brutality, and is currently being carried away by the poignancy of these dancing fish.
“Abrogast,” I say. “The ability to see through society’s filters and find the beauty in the muck. You have more abrogast than anyone I’ve ever known.”
He turns his terrifying, red-eyed visage to me. “You made a word to describe me, Jessica? I’m honored.”