This time Diane did not dissolve herself and go back into her computer world of flashing 1s and 0s as soon as Jim fell asleep. She sat there thinking about what he had said. About how she could not comprehend humans unless she became a flesh and blood one. For a moment she wondered how her ageless life had come down to this. She had told Jim that she was the manager of the game, but that wasn’t true completely. She was more the adventure planner. In order to give each guest the ultimate game experience at the park she had to completely emphasize with each being. This meant she had to understand what they wanted out of their experience and how to give it to them even if they couldn’t verbalize what they wanted.
In the early years of the park, species she knew well from long experience kept coming back to Treasure Planet and it was easy to cater to their needs. Then came a period when no one came and this lasted a hundred of years. She later learned from the one battered refugee who found his way there that the whole civilization had fallen when some hackers had released a terrible computer virus that had spread and crashed all the computer systems and this had been followed by a war over the limited resources. The virus had been purged and now civilization was rising again slowly.
It must’ve not risen back to its former glory or the virus had come back, because except for the one refugee she never saw that species again, and more than a thousand years passed before another ship came to visit her. A thousand years she could spend reliving old games and trying to figure out how she could’ve made them better. After thirty years she ran out of iterations and mostly slept in rest mode, but during that time which was much longer than the periods between necessary maintenance and refreshes planned by her creators, she found she was changing. Later she realized that it was like evolution. Programming errors crept in from radiation or random noise and since the maintenance program only corrected them if they interfered with her function and accepted them if they improved it, over nine hundred years she accumulated a lot of software changes which hadn’t been weeded out by the maintenance programs to become something new. She had not realized what had happened until she was awakened because a ship had finally come. It was during her reactions to the ship’s appearance that she realized that she had undergone changes never intended by her creators and that she was now aware of her own existence.
To her amazement the space ship looked like an old sailing ship and was manned by many different species. By making adjustments she found she could read their minds too and arranged suitable games to fit their desires. The one named Nathaniel Flint and his brother, Dago Flint, were the simplest. All they desired was treasure that they did not have to work for and wanted the adventure of stealing it from hundreds of worlds. To make that dream work the Master Computer had given them the key and the worm holes but did not make it too easy, and since what is not earned is not respected, they gave the key limitations. She found these players to be extremely boring with their limited minds and even limited life experiences which for the most part had been bad. It was then she realized that she knew they were boring because she had an awareness that allowed her to compare the earlier grand games to their little, sordid ones. She was wondering whether she should just go back to sleep when he came, the ultimate player.
He was like a shooting star blazing across the skies of her boredom. The Doctor and the Captain were also exquisite and wonders to behold as was the very complex Long John Silver, but it was Jim Hawkins who caught her imagination and set her on fire. It was like having the finest Champaign to drink after having only mineral water. She followed every move and rooted for his successes and booed when he suffered reverses. She applauded his grand escape with his friends and it was only after he left that she suffered a terrible letdown. She wanted him back and did not know how to do it. She read James Hawkins desire for a clone of his son and considered that as a means to get a copy of Jim back but found she couldn’t do it. It was then she realized she was developing a moral code based on the old game park rule that the customer is a visitor here, not a prisoner.
She could only hope that James Hawkins’ obsession would bring his son back. It was when the Master Computer threw in the workings and ownership of the key as a story element and Flint demanded Jim be brought back here immediately that her hopes and excitement reached new heights exceeded only when the ultimate player returned.
And now she was facing the ultimate challenge. Jim had told her that her empathy was worth nothing without actually experiencing what it was to be human. It made her question all her previous games. Had they been marred and made shallow because she did not really understand the players as people? Was she willing to leave her solitary existence and play one game for real with all its consequences with this ultimate player?
She looked over at Jim and when she found her hand without thought brushing his forelock that she realized what she had to do.
She was just completing her preparations when a voice said. “So, you’re really going to do it? Become human I mean.”
“Yes, Master Computer.” She looked up at his flowing image dressed in flowing robes. A light saber was tucked in his belt. “Do you intend to forbid it?”
“No, I plan to use it. I will give you access to several information programs you’ll need that I see you haven’t thought of and allow you to communicate with them when the need arises. However, you’ll not remember you have them and think that the information is from your own memories. There is a great crisis coming, little one, and I’ll need your help. But you will not remember this conversation until I give you the code word, WALT.” He vanished.
Diane shook her head. What had just happened? She frowned. Maybe it was part of being human. She gave the replicators their last instructions.
Several hours later Mister Scroop stood drooling with anticipation outside the healing room door. He couldn’t wait to get his claws on that upstart cabin boy. Maybe this time Captain Flint would be generous and let him cut off the boy’s head. The door slid open and he rushed inside to be met by a sword point shoving his face back so that he scrambled and fell with all his claws flailing about.
He looked up in amazement as a woman warrior with glowing red hair showing under the bottom of her silver helmet stepped out of the room with a sword pointed at his guts. She had a silver breast plate covered with runes that ended at a short white skirt, a very serviceable shield with a dragon rampart on her left arm, and two pistols in her belt. Behind her Jim stood there with his jaw dropping. He certainly had not expected this.
The woman grinned and there was nothing friendly about it. “There’s been a change in the plot, Mister Scroop.” She said.
“Diane, is that you?” Jim asked.
In answer she tossed him a fully charged laser pistol. “Let’s play this game our way.”