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Part 1

Roger looked distastefully at his brother's dinner companion. "Really, Alex, that's pushing the limits of good taste," he muttered. 

The object of his disapproval, a slender red-head dressed in something black and clinging, seemed serenely oblivious to anything other than the man beside her. Roger realized his grandfather was speaking to him. "What do you think of the new model?" Norman asked. 

"I don't know...I have mixed feelings about it," Roger answered. He raised a hand to forestall the protest he could see the other man about to make. "I know, I know. These bots will be invaluable for therapy, for conditions that would drive a real woman insane...we've been through it all." He looked down at his plate. "It just seems Unreal."

"I really do understand," the old man said seriously. "The issues you raised are important, and I think the design benefited from our considering them."

"Maybe." Roger was tired of discussing it and deliberately changed the subject. "Did you see the arena rankings? Big O and I are making a comeback."

"Really? That's wonderful news!" Norman's eyes lit up. Working on a megadeus with his grandson had been a bond between them since Roger had been old enough to hold a wrench. The black Megadeus was their proudest achievement.

"I beat Graymont in sudden death," Roger told him with satisfaction. "I'm sorry you missed the match, I know you had to be at the RDW5000 launch party. He tried that short-out trick again, but you know what we always say. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice..."

"Shame on me!" Norman joined in, laughing. "You must tell me all about it." Roger proceeded to do so, completely ignoring his brother and his android companion.

"You pilot the Big O?" her warm contralto politely interrupted the conversation.

Roger looked up, startled. "Yes, I do."

"The match with Graymont was well done," she told him. "He relies too much on being able to interfere with the electrical grid. When he realized you had taken steps to protect against that attack, he had no alternate plan."

"Thank you," Roger was taken aback. "I didn't realize you followed the Megadeus competitions."

"Of course I do. You are Alex's brother," she informed him.

"I see," Roger suddenly rose from the table. "Your pardon, gentlemen, lady. I have some business to attend to." He managed to repress a shudder until he was safely out of the room.

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