Disclaimer: I don't own anything Gundam. Well, actually, I own a plastic Haro. Does that count? Yeah, didn't think so. Ah well, on with the show!

A Loyal Partner

Graham stared, uncertain of what to make of the scene before him. "Billy?" he asked. "What... exactly... are you doing?"

Billy paused and looked up, lifting an eyebrow. Then he looked back down at the ball in his hands. "Oh." He laughed softly. He supposed this would make a confusing picture. "I am interrogating a prisoner," he announced, turning the ball and holding it up so that Graham could see its "face." "Graham, this is Haro."

The orange ball beeped. "Prisoner! Prisoner!"

"Prisoner?" Graham echoed. He eyed his friend strangely. Billy caught the look and through years of friendship knew exactly what the other man was thinking. His mouth quirked into a wry grin.

"Indeed. It might interest you to know that Haro is the partner of a Gundam Meister."

Two words was all it took to capture Graham's complete and undivided attention. "Oh really?" His eyes glinted as he looked at the ball in a new light. "And which Meister might that be?"

Haro made a decidedly rude-sounding noise. "Not telling. Not telling!"

Billy shook his head. "One of our patrols stumbled across Haro and his partner in the act of boarding his Gundam. Haro was captured, but the Meister got away. Given Haro's mechanical nature, I've been temporarily placed in charge of extracting information from him until they can bring in someone more qualified. So far, if you'll pardon the pun, he's been incredibly tight-lipped."

"No lips, haro. No lips."

Graham leaned forward and tapped the black line that curved around Haro's body. "No lips," he agreed, "but it looks like it might open up here. Have you tried?"

"Yes, but I haven't succeeded yet." Billy gestured toward the tools on his desk. "Without knowing how delicate or sensitive the circuitry inside him is, I hesitate to use too much force. I think I've located an interface, though. I just have to get past his protective shielding. I may have to cut it open."

Haro beeped in alarm at that declaration. "Sensitive! Sensitive!" Using some sort of hidden propulsion system, the little robot ball lurched out of Billy's hands. But Graham was there, and he easily caught the robot before it could fly too far.

Holding the robot up, he looked the thing straight in the eyes. "Hn. Fairly advanced AI. I think it might have emotions, Billy." He glanced at the engineer. "It sounds afraid."

Haro made the same razzing noise that he'd made earlier. "Self preservation, haro." He squirmed in Graham's grip, but Graham held fast. "Let go. Let go."

Billy hummed thoughtfully. "He might have emotions. It's hard to say. Not without getting a look at his programming or spending a lot more time with him."

"But if it is afraid, that could be used to your advantage," Graham argued.

"Possibly," Billy said noncommittally. "But remember that we're still dealing with a robot here. Unlike with human logic, emotions can't override programming - and I suspect that Haro has a good deal of loyalty programmed into him."

"Loyal," Haro agreed. "Partner. Partner. Never reveal secrets."

"A loyal partner, huh?" Amused, Graham looked at Billy. But then, as he thought about it, the amusement faded into something warmer. He looked at Haro again, then handed him back over. "We could all use one of those."

"Yes." Billy smiled at Graham. Again, they didn't need any words.


Graham regarded Haro for a moment, a frown flickering across his face. He met Billy's eyes. "Do you think that loyalty goes both ways?"

The click of a gun's safety being turned off announced the presence of the intruder before his voice did.

"You'd better believe it."