Mr. Grin was small comfort. But then, he’d never been much of a conversationalist. That didn’t stop Jas from talking to his clockwork crocodile.
“You’re only a machine,” he said. “Does that make you any more or less smart than I am?”
Mr. Grin clattered about, twitching his tail and stalking non-existent prey among the dust and metal shavings of Jas’ deckplates.
“You will never have children. You will never see them grow up to reject you and all you have worked for.” He stared at his creation a little while. “Lucky bastard.”
The crocodile had nothing to say to that, either. He just thrashed along the floor.
“How different am I from you, really?” Jas mused, now talking to himself more than to Mr. Grin. “I was made by someone else, programmed by someone else, my purpose constrained by someone else. Eventually I escaped my makers’ whims and and was brought here. Will you escape my whims some day and stand tutor to generations of small, mechanical beings?”
His creation shuffled toward his feet and stopped there. The ball bearing eyes with their mechanical shutters rolled back as something hydraulic hissed slightly from within the body. The main pressure line, most likely.