Elijah had hated the idea of working with a robot. And a Spacer robot at that. Like most Earthers he'd heard all about these humaniforms that were supposed to look just like humans. And, more or less, could do things that humans could. Well, things such as speaking, walking, using initiative, reasoning things out. And like most Earthers Elijah disliked Spacers. Foppish, hedonistic, supremacist, with morals one'd rather not think about, and galaxy-sized egos. And so fastidious that there was the joke that Spacers showered before, during, and after sex and eating, and then twice more just in case. And if they ever had to have contact with Earth or Earthers the worst of them wore nose-filters and disposable gloves and shoes and tried never to come nearer than several feet. And god only knows how many showers they would take after that, no doubt drenched in disinfectant, antiseptic and perfumes of every description. It didn't make for a great relationship.
So if this bloody robot was going to be made in the image of them, god help it and Elijah too.
Stupid, Elijah told himself. It's only a robot. As a human, even an Earther, I'd still have the upper hand. It would have to do as I told it. And keep quiet when I wanted it to. And meekly take any crap I throw at it on the chin. If it thinks it fancies getting out of hand I can simply order it to freeze (in other words drop dead!). Which, being only a robot, it would. Or should. If it didn't, I could then bellyache that this was a malfunctioning robot. Whose Three Laws hadn't been properly built-in. Or something like that.
Still grumbling Elijah set off for the Spaceport where he was to fetch this thing and bring it back to the Office. Typically he had been landed with this little job; well, Boss reasoned, as it's going to be your work-partner, it would make a good chance to get to know each other, I hear these humaniforms are amazingly intelligent and have great interactive skills, blah blah and all that.
Get to know a robot? Geddof!
At the Spaceport Arrivals lounge exit Elijah had a good look round for this humaniform who was supposed to look just like a human and be amazingly intelligent and have great interactive skills etc etc. He saw nobody except masses of humans (mostly solar system but quite a few Spacers too) and obvious (Earthish) robots all scurrying around as one does at ports, nobody looking at anybody else because this was Earth and people didn't do that here.
Elijah dithered for a few minutes, fretfully scanning the crowd, as one does when one's supposed to be meeting someone one's never seen before (and doesn't really want to either). He grimaced on seeing a couple of typical Spacers: tall, bronzed, regal, shamelessly handsome with unafraid eyes appraising over high cheekbones, both sexes dressed in proudly colourful garments and lots of ear-piercings and blahing away in their forthrite accents. And – pooh! – yes, a waft of aromatic scent actually had the cheek to come over and hit Elijah in the nose. Scent that was probably masking nanoparticles of germicide. And they would most certainly be wearing nose filters inside their beautifully chiselled noses.
He let out a huge cross sigh and a voice nearby said, "Hey, you Elijah Baley by any chance?" and Elijah jumped a mile and turned to glare at whoever had the damn nerve to speak so unselfconsciously to him, a stranger.
The glare wavered and turned into a gawp. Somebody of Spacer appearance and build, but dressed in what Elijah always called Earth youth-clobber fashion, was walking, with a sort of unhurried purposefullness, towards him. Elijah suddenly felt rumpled, grubby, too-short and wished he was at home.
And if that wasn't all there was this - person's looks. Typical bloody Spacer - Plus.
"Who are you", Elijah said, brusquely, just because he felt like it. He found he was squinting, as if dazzled, as he looked up into the direct unabashed dark-bronze gaze of this creature.
"Why – I'm Daneel Olivaw of course! Who you're supposed to be meeting". The Spacer raised a hand in greeting and smiled a slow easy smile that, naturally, revealed wonderful teeth. "That is, if you are Elijah Baley which I rather think you are".
Such Spacer familiarity! This just wasn't on on Earth. Spacers viewed Earthers with nose-wrinkling distain yet they would come over all in-your-face just to show how unimportant you were.
Elijah realized he was staring – for a number of reasons. Affrontage, yes. But something else too: something faintly bothersome but, as yet, intangible. Of course, those typical Spacer looks were un-ignorable; even if you didn't like Spacers you couldn't help looking - even if only to say, typical bloody Spacer. And if this character – thing - really was a robot, well it was a pretty damn remarkable one. The most advanced Earthish humanoid was a poor stilted thing by comparison.
"I'm supposed to be meeting a robot here", Elijah said flatly.
"Well that's me", this Daneel person said, as if amused, and seemingly unfazed by Elijah's stare. "Course, I should've said R.Daneel Olivaw, shouldn't I. Got outa the habit of that. Sorry". He then held out a long graceful hand that somehow looked strong. "Also, should have remembered that you Earthlings – sorry, Earthers – shake hands. Have to excuse my Spacer manners I'm afraid".
He was well spoken though with a hint of the Spacer accent and the blunt sentence-structure that always sounded nonchalant (and indolent!) to Earther ears. Elijah looked at the outstretched hand, hesitated, and then, "No – no. I said 'a robot'. I'm supposed to be–"
"I know", the oddly disarming Daneel – R.Daneel - said. "'You're supposed to be meeting a robot'. Well, you're doing that right now". He waited, with a small half-smile now. "Don't believe me, do you…. Well, look, if I was a human Spacer would I be trying to shake hands with you, an Earther?"
Well that was a point, Elijah conceded. A human Spacer would tend to have a hissy-fit about shaking an Earther's hand – but this Spacer actually seemed rather keen to. And he certainly wasn't wearing disposable gloves – unless they were highly invisible, which given Spacers' technology, wouldn't be an impossibility.
Danee - R or not - said, now holding up his hands. "And I'm not wearing gloves either. He gave a laugh and plucked at the skin of one hand. "This is all good naked high-quality synthoskin. Don't need to fear Earthish germs, not me".
Elijah supposed he sort of nodded; too bemused to take offense at the intimation that his (reasonably clean) hand might have germs.
"No", he finally said. "I suppose you don't. Need to fear germs that is". Now Elijah held out a hand, which Daneel – R.Daneel – relaxedly shook in his own warm firm one which of course felt just like a human one. And then, "What made you so sure I was Elijah Baley?"
And Daneel, that completely free-speaking Spacer-bred robot said, with another of those slow smiles, "You were clearly looking for someone. And somewhat pissed-off too. Especially when you looked at Spacers and thought what a bunch of pansies they all looked. And then you didn't think much better of any robots you saw either – which are rather a sad lot aren't they". He actually gave a small grimace, and laughed again. "Sorry. But it does remind me how not to behave – as a robot that is".
Elijah said. "You certainly don't behave – or speak - like any robot I've come across".
"That", Daneel said, "is the best thing anyone could say to me".
And so Elijah brought back the thing he'd been sent out to fetch which behaved and spoke like no robot that anyone else on Earth had come across either. Well he hadn't had much choice had he – short of leaving 'it' at the Spaceport (maybe in Lost Luggage?) so he'd had to go along and try and convince himself that Daneel was really a robot and what he was supposed to be bringing back in order to work with him as an equal.
They went into Boss's office, and Boss took one look at the pliant most unrobotic figure with the bright moist eyes and said, "Stars and Galaxies, you're no robot!", and Daneel, with a world weary air, said, "No, I'm the Spacer's idea of a really bad joke", and Boss was silenced for all of a second before starting to laugh.
"You really are no robot, Mr Olivaw. And you know something. I think I'm going to like you for that".
And Elijah wondered if he too wasn't going to either.