Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Page 14

"You would have retired me," Rachael said over her shoulder. "In a police dragnet I would have been killed. I've known that since I got here four years ago; this isn't the first time the Voigt-Kampff test has been given to me. In fact I rarely leave this building; the risk is enormous, because of those roadblocks you police set up, those flying wedge spot checks to pick up unclassified specials."

"And androids," Eldon Rosen added. "Although naturally the public isn't told that; they're not supposed to know that androids are on Earth, in our midst."

"I don't think they are," Rick said. "I think the various police agencies here and in the Soviet Union have gotten them all. The population is small enough now; everyone, sooner or later, runs into a random checkpoint." That, anyhow, was the idea.

"What were your instructions," Eldon Rosen asked, "if you wound up designating a human as android?"

"That's a departmental matter." He began restoring his testing gear to his briefcase; the two Rosens watched silently. "Obviously," he added, "I was told to cancel further testing, as I'm now doing. If it failed once there's no point in going on." He snapped the briefcase shut.

"We could have defrauded you," Rachael said. "Nothing forced us to admit you mistested me. And the same for the other nine subjects we've selected." She gestured vigorously. "All we had to do was simply go along with your test results, either way."

Rick said, "I would have insisted on a list in advance. A sealed-envelope breakdown. And compared my own test results for congruity. There would have had to be congruity." And I can see now, he realized, that I wouldn't have gotten it. Bryant was right. Thank god I didn't go out bounty hunting on the basis of this test.

"Yes, I suppose you would have done that," Eldon Rosen said. He glanced at Rachael, who nodded. "We discussed that possibility," Eldon said, then, with reluctance.

"This problem," Rick said, "stems entirely from your method of operation, Mr. Rosen. Nobody forced your organization to evolve the production of humanoid robots to a point where - "

"We produced what the colonists wanted," Eldon Rosen said. "We followed the time-honored principle underlying every commercial venture. If our firm hadn't made these progressively more human types, other firms in the field would have. We knew the risk we were taking when we developed the Nexus-6 brain unit. But your Voigt-Kampff test was a failure before we released that type of android. If you had failed to classify a Nexus-6 android as an android, if you had checked it out as human - but that's not what happened." His voice had become hard and bitingly penetrating. "Your police department - others as well - may have retired, very probably have retired, authentic humans with underdeveloped empathic ability, such as my innocent niece here. Your position, Mr. Deckard, is extremely bad morally. Ours isn't."

"In other words," Rick said with acuity, "I'm not going to be given a chance to check out a single Nexus-6. You people dropped this schizoid girl on me beforehand." And my test, he realized, is wiped out. I shouldn't have gone for it, he said to himself. However, it's too late now.

"We have you, Mr. Deckard," Rachael Rosen agreed in a quiet, reasonable voice; she turned toward him, then, and smiled.

He could not make out, even now, how the Rosen Association had managed to snare him, and so easily. Experts, he realized. A mammoth corporation like this - it embodies too much experience. It possesses in fact a sort of group mind. And Eldon and Rachael Rosen consisted of spokesmen for that corporate entity. His mistake, evidently, had been in viewing them as individuals. It was a mistake he would not make again.

"Your superior Mr. Bryant," Eldon Rosen said, "will have difficulty understanding how you happened to let us void your testing apparatus before the test began." He pointed toward the ceiling, and Rick saw the camera lens. His massive error in dealing with the Rosens had been recorded. "I think the right thing for us all to do," Eldon said, "is sit down and - " He gestured affably. "We can work something out, Mr. Deckard. There's no need for anxiety. The Nexus-6 variety of android is a fact; we here at the Rosen Association recognize it and I think now you do, too."

Rachael, leaning toward Rick, said, 'How would you like to own an owl?

"I doubt if I'll ever own an owl." But he knew what she meant; he understood the business the Rosen Association wanted to transact. Tension of a kind he had never felt before manifested itself inside him; it exploded, leisurely, in every part of his body. He felt the tension, the consciousness of what was happening, take over completely.

"But an owl," Eldon Rosen said, "is the thing you want." He glanced at his niece inquiringly. "I don't think he has any idea - "

"Of course he does," Rachael contradicted. "He knows exactly where this is heading. Don't you, Mr. Deckard?" Again she leaned toward him, and this time closer; he could smell a mild perfume about her, almost a warmth. "You're practically there, Mr. Deckard. You practically have your owl." To Eldon Rosen she said, "He's a bounty hunter; remember? So he lives off the bounty he makes, not his salary. Isn't that so, Mr. Deckard?"

He nodded.

"How many androids escaped this time?" Rachael inquired.

Presently he said, "Eight. Originally. Two have already been retired, by someone else; not me."

"You get how much for each android?" Rachael asked.

Shrugging, he said, "It varies."

Rachael said, "If you have no test you can administer, then there is no way you can identify an android. And if there's no way you can identify an android there's no way you can collect your bounty. So if the Voigt-Kampff scale has to be abandoned - "