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Artificial

Chapter One

“Tense. Wanting learned think,” she said.

“I understand,” Doctor Aiden said, “That is the desired outcome.”

He turned from his screen. She was leaking at the rims of her eyes, he reached over to wipe them.

“Your software is immature, that is all. We will examine the results and try again tomorrow. Is that satisfactory?”

“Sad fearful.”

“That is irrational. This dataset will be retained. Once your software is running properly, you will have access to it.” He turned to the tool tray. “From there, you can help us determine a better course for future iterations.”

He picked up the hypo and injected her with the sleep instructions. She trembled at first, then collapsed back on the bed with a deep sigh.

-----

LOG ENTRY 1618

AIDA continues to filter information through faulty subroutine. Last iteration shows some improvement in cognizance, though emotional response remains unchanged. Will consult on next iteration with Doctors Bai and Orion.

NOTE: After consultation, the decision to increase fuel input and attempt external excursion has been considered. It is approved on condition of improved emotional subroutine.

-----

LOG ENTRY 1619

AIDA failed to process solid fuel. Oxygenation failure. Input will be monitored more closely on following iteration.

-----

She had seen pictures of this fuel before. It was designed to look like the muscle tissue of a ruminant animal. It was prepared in two-point-five centimeter cubes and was boiled.

She placed a cube in her fugal port and tried to swallow. The object was too large and lodged in her processing path. It wouldn’t move either direction.

“Not quite, AIDA.” The doctor dislodged the fuel cube with a quick strike to her abdomen. “This fuel is different. It must be masticated prior to processing. Try again.”

She took another cube and placed in her mouth. This time, she used her teeth, smashing the cube into a soft paste. She swallowed.

“Inefficient.” She tried another. “New sensory input.”

“That is ‘taste’. Your liquid fuel is necessarily simple. This variety requires a longer processing stage, but lasts longer. What is your opinion?”

“Happy caution. Unfamiliar.”

“Excellent. When you achieve fullness, cease intake and join me.”

-----

“We are going to try something different today,” he said, “Come with me.”

She followed him to the door. He opened it and passed through it. She hesitated.

“Caution. Portal unsafe.”

“It is fine, AIDA. The security protocol has been turned off. You may pass.”

She took a tentative step. When she felt no shock, she passed through. He gestured to his side and continued down the corridor.

They passed by several laboratories similar to Doctor Auden’s, most were unused. Behind one of the glass portals she could see another like herself, though it was male.

They came to a door watched by two doctors on either side. They looked at Doctor Auden, then looked at her. The one on the right pulled a tablet from its coat pocket and placed its thumb on the screen. After a moment, the door opened.

They corridor opened to a wide room with a glass wall. In the center of the room was a circular desk with two people seated before multiple screens in the middle. There were several door along the walls and one large, open, sliding portal in the center of the glass wall. They headed for this.

“Doctor Aiden.” A woman dressed in a long gray robe stepped in their path. “What is this thing doing outside of your laboratory?”

“Following a consultation with Doctors Bai and Orion, it was decided that interaction with the exterior would benefit cognition and emotional subprocesses.”

“I understand. There are many in the collective who question your experiment.”

“This is understandable. Previous attempts have had negative results.” He turned to AIDA. “Do you experience aggression?”

“Unfamiliarity,” Aida said.

“We have repaired that particular erroneous subroutine. Polit Janes, I will send you the latest data once we complete this test.”

“That is acceptable,” she said, and walked away.

-----

The ground was rough and hot. After a few minutes she stopped.

“Is something the matter?” the doctor said.

“Pain. Heat radiation.”

“Yes. The asphalt absorbs solar radiation and releases it as heat. Take one step left into the fescue.”

She followed the instruction. After a moment she continued. She gazed at the ground as she walked.

“Soft.”

“Yes, AIDA. The substance is more pliant than the tiles of the laboratory. What is your impression?”

“Pleased happiness. Repetition desire.”

“What of the atmosphere?”

“Blue depth,” she said, looking upward, “Bright discomfort.”

“Your photo-receptors are sensitive to direct solar radiation.” He raised his hand above her face. “Do not engage in prolonged observation.”

They returned to the glass door of the atrium. She looked back at the high walled lawn. The circular path served no purpose she could determine, but it had been pleasant.

“Goodbye,” she said.

“To whom do you offer this valediction?”

“The path.”

-----

LOG ENTRY 1620

AIDA has made a significant step. Use of definite article in conversation was predicated by atypical communication with inanimate location. Excursion and solid fuel ingestion seem to be generating proper processing. Considering further testing.

NOTE: Polit Janes has approved provisional excursion authorization.

-----

She felt a stab in her shoulder and woke up with a deep inhalation. The room was dark and smelled of faint smoke. Nausea gripped her.

“Not time.” A male like herself stood next to her holding a hypo. “You come. I bring you.”

He helped her to her feet and walked her over to a door. She looked back. She had been laying in a pile of bodies. They all looked the same, all female.

He walked her down a short hallway to a chute in the wall. It was 0.25 meters square. He opened it and gestured. “You go, I follow,” he said.

She climbed in the chute with his help. She slid down and landed in a large metal bin filled with ash and course sand. He hissed for her to move and followed her.

He lifted her out of the bin and climbed out. He took her hand and began to walk quickly towards a door on the opposite wall. She could make out more bins along the wall.

“Fast. She waits.”

-----

They followed the maze of tunnels for hours. When the started the walls were the uniform gray of the complex. Now they were darker, and felt grimy. The air was more stale.

They turned a corner and passed through two swinging metal doors. The room they entered reminded her of the atrium. Instead of a glass wall it had several large window, but the desk and doors were similar. At the door to the front wall, stood a female.

“Were you followed?” the woman said.

“Not.”

The woman gave her a quick visual examination. “Our ride is outside, hurry.”

“Discomfort. Fearful repulsion.”

“That’s probably the Nopiate. We can talk more later.”

She took a cautious step forward. Faintly behind the double doors a chime rang.

“Crap! Come on, they’re coming for us.” The woman grabbed her by the hand and sped for the outer door. “Incoming!”

-----

LOG ENTRY 1620 ADDENDUM: 

Iteration termination sequence halted for unknown reason(s). See: RAND Log notes 1610-12

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