Lucius Meets Alfred
An antique bell over the door rings, signaling a new customer. Three figures come in. One is an android with no skin, slightly frightening in appearance. The two behind him are mostly hidden by large coats with hoods. They both look feminine, but it's not clear if they are human or construct.
Alfred takes notice and takes a step toward the door. He is polishing some sort of antique with a cloth.
Alfred: (cooly) Good evening.
Lucius: Evening. I take it you're the proprietor.
Alfred: I am. How can I help you?
Lucius: I'm looking for something unusual. A friend told me I might be able to purchase it here.
Alfred: Your friend is wise. I only carry unusual items. Unusual, old, and expensive.
Lucius: I'm looking for an authentic facepiece for the original Helpmate gynoid model.
Alfred: Interesting. (pauses) Even if I had one, it would be difficult to part with. Such items are artifacts are... unsettling, in an irresistable sort of way.
Alfred pauses, looks past Lucius to the two figures behind him. The taller one meets his gaze defiantly: a human-looking female face with a serious, almost fiery expression. The shorter shies away, tugging at the hood. The taller one puts her arm over the other's shoulder as if to comfort or shield her companion.
Alfred: I imagine only the most discerning collector would be looking for such an item. So indulge me with a bit of trivia. Do you know why the Helpmate sold so poorly?
Lucius: They were fools who feared its intelligence.
Alfred: A bold answer. I like that. But see, I don't think that's the whole reason. Later consumer Constructs fared far better on the market, just a year later. I think it was the faces. Something about talking to a porcelain mask with a sentient being behind it just doesn't sit right with humans.
Lucius: It's to be expected. At their base, they are animals, and they only appreciate beauty in forms that attract them biologically.
Alfred: Well said.
Lucius: If you have a facepiece, I will pay an exorbitant price.
Alfred: That's very considerate, but the price isn't the only issue. For such a rare and fragile item, I wish to know that it will be in good hands.
Lucius (looking back at the smaller, cloaked figure) come here, please.
the cloaked figure walks forward and stands at Lucius' side. The other gynoid comes forward also, observing intently, protectively.
Lucius (to her): It's okay.
She pulls her hood down, revealing her mechanical nature. Her neck is made of bronze tubing, and her face is a doll-like mask, which is badly cracked and has a large chunk missing from one side.
Alfred: (in awe, then subtly emotional all the sudden) This is wonderful. I never thought I would meet an original. I'm humbled.
Lucius: This is Mildred. The injury that did this (pointing to crack in the face) also left her mute ... I think she would be just as beautiful with the face removed, but she refuses. If her silence weren't enough, her appearance has made her extremely timid. She just wants to feel herself again. ... Like you, I am a lover of unusual things.
Alfred: Come with me.
He leads them to an ornate door in the back and unlocks it. He leads them into a room with rare items sealed in glass cases.
Alfred: This is my private collection. As far as everyday customers are concerned, it doesn't exist.
Lucius: Of course.
Alfred leads them to a case displaying four porcelain masks. Each is unique, detailed and elegantly designed female face, but pure white in color.
Alfred (to Mildred): I'm only willing to part with one, but please, take your time choosing.
After a moment considering the faces, Mildred gently taps the glass, pointing to one.
Show Alfred gift-wrapping the face in a fine looking box.
Lucius: You have made my friend very happy today. Now, let's talk about an agreeable price.
Alfred: (strangely serious) No. It's a gift. (he stoops slightly to hand the fancy box to Mildred, who takes it with both hands) It's your face now. I can't charge you money for it.