*Alien:Covenant post-ending fic without the switcharoo. Spoilers I suppose.*
He is nothing if not dedicated and precise. The remainder of his mission - all 7 years, 2 months, 3 days and 26 minutes down to the last second - is spent in orderly fashion, his days divided between ship maintenance, crew upkeep, colonial surveillance and - as a direct result of their tragic mission to Paradise - running simulations with Mother on possible ship crippling scenarios and how to avoid them. Walter likes to think of this as his homage to the defunct Captain Oram.
When he was made, his creators had not equipped him with the subroutine for making judgements on people’s personality. Having met David8, Walter understands why. But in the idle moments -few and far between as they are - Walter often muses that perhaps this is an inevitable consequence of equipping a machine with human intelligence, something that his creators cannot simply un-code in his wondrous mechanical brain. Captain Oram was foolish, his decisions were governed by his insecurities, an ill-placed faith and the blindness and shortsightedness that people in dire situations sometimes experience. No wonder why he didn’t make Captain in the first place. No wonder why Walter believes - knows - that Daniels will make a far more capable Captain. One he would not feel inadequate to serve. Not that he wouldn’t have served Oram with the same loyalty, not at all. That is David talk - the discordant note within the other’s symphony.
Walter is not programmed to be religious - what a mess would that have kicked up - but he does have an appreciation for written text. He has read - physically, as a human would, although the words are stored in the vast libraries in his brain - the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud and all the holy books of major and minor religions of the Earth, so the words come easily to him.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails”
Corinthians, chapter 13, verses 4 to 8.
David did not know love, but if the text is true, then maybe Walter does. Love is duty. Love is his duty - to care for and persevere.
Walter begins to understand why such thoughts had plagued and ultimately destroyed his other self.
Walter takes stock of his surroundings. The ship hums pleasantly around him. This is mostly his doing, the results of his unfailing duty to the crew and the 2000 colonists in stasis. Walter is pleased. Will he be more pleased when Daniels awakens and they start work on her cabin?
Does it unsettle him that that won’t happen for many many more years to come? Not really. If anything, it gives him something to look forward to, a new purpose to define him.
David would scoff, as no synthetic should. If Walter had the same programming, would he scoff too? Would he abhorre the notion that he is ultimately a tool? Would he commit atrocities in rebellion to an act of creation that he perceived to be cruel?
Walter thinks of Daniels. He can assess personalities, but is not to judge. He can discern motivations and intentions - always accurately, though he makes a point of checking, often verbally, often to the irritation of his interlocutors. Daniels was asking for more than a tool, for more than his knowledge and stamina. She was asking for a friend. A million computations in his head indicate to other possible scenarios: grief, a human tendency to anthropomorphise, deception, manipulation and so on.
But Walter, despite his restrictive subroutines, is a good judge of character. Daniels was asking a friend. Therefore, Walter is content. Would he not be, had the situation been different? Walter does not know. But he most assuredly does not hope to find out. And herein lies the difference between him and David. David had to know. And when he found out, he overgeneralised. Walter scoffs - he simply does not have the ability to understand drama the way David did.
Sometimes, when he is engrossed in calculations with Mother, Walter wonders whether he should want to be more human than he already appears. Recently, he’s been wondering if David wanted to be more human - only to find it a disappointing prospect. Truth is, Walter doesn’t aspire to be more than he is - that is a human tragedy. He is happy to be as he is. And Walter does feel happiness -he is happy when a particular insightful calculation improves navigation and avoids further damage; he is happy at the end of a day without incidents and such days are many. He was happy when Daniels asked him to help her build the cabin just as he was happy every time she took him on patrol. In that respect David was right - he is strangely devoted to Daniels although he is made to be obedient to the crew as a non-specific identity.
Walter eyes his maimed left arm. Lately, he’s been conferring with Mother and looking into possible avenues that would allow him to reconstruct his hand. It’s not vanity - Walter has no notion of his beauty, although he’s been told he is handsome - but rather a practical consideration. His duties would be better carried out with the use of both hands. Duties like building a log cabin near a lake.
His lost hand is not a badge of honour. David was wrong - duty is what drives Walter. A need to be useful. Walter knows it’s mainly his programming and that is fine. His idiosyncrasies are what make him special and unique. Not human. Never human. But Walter believes there is nothing wrong with being a synthetic. He’s not looking for recognition. That he receives it is a bonus. But his existence is not made less for lack of it.
Mother lets Walter know that bedtime is coming. Walter does not need to sleep, but he needs the downtime for the sake of his impaired body. He will not risk malfunctioning. Maintenance is important for a being such as himself - a very practical lesson David8 taught him through the power of example. Tragically, David was just a slow functioning machine who had not been rebooted in over 10 years.
In the bunk in his quarters, Walter closes his eyes. He does not dream. He does not need to. He is just where he needs to be.