Chapter Five

The TV news in Hong Kong that day was abuzz about a yacht crash. A helicopter "live action" view showed the Chou yacht facing a beach on a small island. It is beached there to avoid sinking. A couple of launches were approaching and departing hauling off passengers. A helicopter was also departing from the yacht helipad.

Behind the helicopter scene was a Hong Kong annoucer explaining, "In local news today the Chou family yatch experienced a near tragedy. It ran over the infamous Twin Angels rocks and suffered severe damage to the hull. Fortunately the pilot was able to keep control and beach the craft before too much water was taken on board. The ship is safe, and as we watch the passengers are being evacuated."

The scene then cuts to the helipad next to a public dock in Hong Kong. The VIP passengers are getting off the helicopter. Two, Arnold Tramp and his current arm candy, are being interviewed. They look concerned but otherwise unharmed.

The reporter asks, "Mr. Tramp, what did you experience out there?"

Tramp replies, "It was scary. We were outside admiring the view after finishing breakfast when we heard this godawful ripping and scraping coming from below us.

"We started heading for the lifeboats, but the staff informed us that would be unnecessary. However, we should brace ourselves for the beaching. That was like a car driving up a snow bank.

"The ship was solid after that, although I understand the lower decks are now flooded. Twenty minutes later we were on the helicopter headed here.

"I want to commend the staff they were very professional."

The reporter then turned to the camera and said, "Thank you Mr. Tramp.

"Preliminary reports indicate that this was a one-in-a-million accident. The pilot suffered a mild epileptic seizure just as the ship's navigation system had a glitch and reset itself. It's not anticipated that safety procedures will have to be reviewed."

While that excitement was going on at the helipad, a launch docked at a private dock. Tom and Mary, and other guests who wanted to maintain a low profile, departed from the launch and started walking up the dock towards the city. Tom and Mary had changed from ostentatious clothes to blend-in clothes.

Their mission accomplished, Tom and Mary now walked away into the street crowd. Within a few steps they were just part of the crowd, blending in. Nearby Dr. Angstrom was attempting the same blending, but he was quickly surrounded by a knot of Interpol officers who had some "questions" for him. That was nice to see, but what mattered now to Tom and Mary was that the mission was accomplished, and it was time for them to quietly disappear. They caught a cab and took it to Victoria Peak Park overlooking Hong Kong harbor. There they found a secluded spot, and held each other.

"You were wonderful, Tom, so much more than I imagined, and I imagined a lot!" there were tears in Mary's eyes.

Sounding a tiny bit like John Wayne, "I was doing my job, Mary. I'm so happy it has turned out this well."

Mary leaned into him and sobbed, "And now you get recycled!"

He stroked her hair calmly, "This is what I was created for. I could hope for no more." after a pause, "There's a recycling center here in Hong Kong. We... I should go there. I don't think you want to."

She couldn't help herself, "IT'S JUST NOT FAIR!" she sobbed. She looked in his eyes again, those wonderful understanding eyes. But now she saw a bit of discomfort in them.

"I'm... I'm... I'm not human, Mary. Please remember that. I was built to live a week, not a century. I don't aspire to living forever. I aspire to doing my duty, and I've done that, and done it well.

"My discomfort is... I love you so, Mary!" he blurted, then calmly again, "It may have been your programming... but I think there's more to it than that. You are a wonderful woman.

"In another life, in another era, fate would have made you a gentleman's wife, and he would have been a very happy man.

"I'm unhappy that that love can't go on forever. But... I'm done. I'm comfortable with that. Again, I'm not human, I'm super android."

Mary had no answer to that. Finally, taking all her will to say it, she said, "Leave. I will find my way home."

Tom did.

When she could open her eyes again Mary looked at the view. She watched the other lovers going hand-in-hand through the park; sneaking touches, cuddles and kisses. She stayed an hour, sometimes tears flowed, sometimes she kept them in check.

There was nothing else she could do about Tom, and her very human body was reminding her that she had other needs to attend to as well. She got up, and found her way home -- moving around now as just one of the crowd.