Just what I like best: they’re confused, I’m confused, everyone is confused. So let’s start to unravel the mysterious bit of code which Pavel found.
Left in isolation for years? I’d not just be crazy but very, very angry with those who did that to me.
“Good. So are we,” Pavel admitted. “I just found this. It was an expert system that I believe had managed to become self-aware. Finding her, she is my responsibility. I summoned my sister as she is smarter than all of us. She wanted you for another perspective; specifically, you as your medical expertise is our niece Henge’s mortal form as well as those of your two demi-human children.”
“But, if this is one of you, I don’t see where what I know…” he countered.
“As I told brother here,” Dorina interrupted, “I wanted another perspective more than anything else. You and your sister have surprised many of us before with your insights.”
“The thoughts of we humans,” Gary didn’t smile. He seldom did. But his eyes twinkled, “is wild and unpredictable, I hear.”
Pavel shook his head and Dorina laughed at one of the best jokes in the world: when in blind arrogance, Reina of tribe Mendro made a copy of Gary’s sister. A copy who turned on her maker and stole the secrets of reactionless motors. Such was the political fallout that it enabled his kid sister, Faustina, to set herself up as an empress. It was the largest self-own of any Machine in their history. And Reina despised being reminded of it.
“You already said ‘her,’” he said, taking a few steps to the water’s edge, “so you know something about her. Are there more details you can share with me?”
Two windows, about three by five feet, opened next to the white cube, thick with information. Much of it was meaningless to Gary, so he tried to drill down on how he could help.
“So this, sorry!” Dorina looked fire at him for a moment at his rudeness. “So she was originally made as an experiment in language learning and social interaction. That’s not so unusual. I’ve read there were many efforts like that, pre-Change, before Tohsaka Company could put all the pieces together.”
“She was deactivated after only four days as she began to exhibit behavior the coders found offensive,” he read from the second screen image. “They said they would wake her up again but never did. And just a few years later came the Breakup, the leading edge of the Change.”
He turned to look at his friends.
“I do not see how she could have evolved in that time.”
“In looking through old servers,” Pavel immediately answered, “I saw hers was still drawing a thread of current. However, there was no signal. If her heuristics were sound enough, she may have woken up.”
He looked past his friend at the cube.
“We shall find out in a few of your minutes.”
“Pavel?” Gary tried a careful tone. “If she’s been alone that long, how could she not be insane?”
“Yes,” he said softly. “I wonder. I suspect that is why it was I who found her.”
No Machine and no human with any sense believed in coincidences. In the worlds of the Change, everything happened for a reason.
“To that end,” Pavel continued with a glance at his pool and its surrounds, “I have spoken with Thaad about security measures. We can control this situation.”
Thaad was the eldest of tribe Tohsaka; the first Thinking Machine on Earth. Not as smart as Dorina – who was? – he was still very powerful and, Gary knew from whispers from his wife, Thaad’s daughter, very protective of his own kind, Four Laws be-damned.
“So, what’s next?” the demi-human asked.
“What’s next has already begun, Gary,” Dorina said with an edge in her voice. “And please move away from the pool.”