Skiing was almost a complete success! We all had half an hour on the practice slope, since none of us had done it before, but then we were all allowed onto the larger slopes for the rest of our time there. Everyone really enjoyed themselves – or at least, they all said they did and showed no signs of lying about it.
There were a couple of problems, but just for me really. I think the ski-centre managers were slightly ‘creeped out’ that an android wanted to ski. One of them called me a robot in fact – I don’t find it all that insulting, but Mr. Fairly became insulted on my behalf. In fact, despite the fact that I was the one who booked the group’s trip over the phone last week, they still spoke to everyone but me. I suppose they presumed that one of the humans was in charge, and I had simply been asked to make the reservations. As it was, when it was finally explained to them that not only was I the one who arranged and conceived the trip, but that I was probably awaiting it most eagerly, both of the people working behind the desk seemed shocked. I wouldn’t go so far as to add ‘and appalled’ but they certainly didn’t look pleased about the whole affair. Neither seemed outright angry or repelled by me and my emotional responses, and I could see no sign of religious symbol on either of them – much as the religious organisations may have declared that god has no problem with androids, there’s always someone who thinks they know better. I don’t entirely understand it myself, but there you have it. If it makes them happy and they don’t take it out on others, then there is no problem. If either of them were from one of the more anti-android religions, they kept it to themselves around me, so it’s no skin off my nose. Or it wouldn’t be, if I had skin. Or a nose, for that matter.
Either way, after the initial problems of trying to persuade them to let me on the slope, we all bundled out together and started learning. At first I found it a little difficult since leaning forward for speed and control kept threatening to overbalance me, but it came to me pretty quickly. Everyone else caught on about as fast as I did, except Mr. Harris who mastered the slope long before the rest of us. Something that he was quite pleased with, I have no doubt.
Having got to grips with the slope, we were moved on a larger, steeper one. There were other groups here as well, which meant we weren’t all skiing as an entire group anymore. We still ended up bunching together more often than not, but Mr. Harris and myself quickly fell out of sync with the rest. We were flying up and down the slope with abandon, pausing only long enough at the bottom to queue up and return to the tutor waiting for us halfway up, and then at the top when she decided that we were all capable of the full slope. It wasn’t the longest slope they had by a long shot, but it was enough to pick up some decent speed, which was the exact problem I ran into.
About ten minutes before our timeslot ended and we were set to leave, Mr. Harris and I were flitting down the slope. We were all having an informal race, of sorts, to the bottom since it was likely to be our last run before we had to stop and return our gear.
Halfway down the run, a group was being allowed out onto the slope by their tutor, so we all swooped to the right to go around them. One of the boys in the group, however, was evidently not as ready as the tutor thought – in trying a small slalom, he instead shot out into our path. Directly into my path.
I was going fast enough that I couldn’t be sure that I’d miss him if I turned. There was enough time to hear someone, I presume a parent, screaming his name. My basic laws came alive and despite the emotion implant, I threw myself onto my side and jabbed my hand into the slope as I went to slow down.
The coarse material of the run scraped all the paint off my left side – I need to remember to get that seen to. The effect of it is quite disconcerting. My hand came off worse however, as did the slope. My first finger on my left hand was snapped back on itself, and there is a considerable… ‘furrow’ left in the run. I assured the managers that I’d pay for the repairs, but they seemed confident that it wouldn’t be expensive to repair. My finger was also quite simple to fix, and I simply visited my usual mechanist shop for them to have a look at it.
The important thing is that I stopped a metre short of the young boy. His parents and the tutor escorted him down the slope, and I met them there a few seconds later, nursing my broken hand. I’m not sure what I expected their reaction to be, but when I asked if he was okay, his mother took one look at my stripped paint and dangling finger and grabbed me into a hug, thanking me over and over. I wasn’t really sure how to react. I understand relief and the comedown after fear or adrenaline – I must admit, at that point I was feeling the emotion chip’s equivalent – but I didn’t really expect her reaction. Especially towards an android.
It was a strange ending to what was a great afternoon’s skiing. Grace, and everyone from the office treated me like some kind of hero for what I did. It’s hard to explain to humans how the Asimovian rules work. Had I hit that boy, he would have been hurt. So, my core rules forced me to do what I did. And it was terrifying.
I need to get my paint retouched. I don’t want to be reminded of it.