Wayward Guardian

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Choices

Advocate’s Quarters

Sam sat in his room, replaying the events of yesterday over in is mind, Sarah and he had spent the rest of the night cuddling on the couch and talking about what the future might look like. They had both agreed to wait until the colony before deciding on a next step. Sam could still feel the warmth of her against him and the lingering scent of her hair. He realised just how much he had fallen for her, and it made him smile every time.

The recall of his perfect memory would never quite be like being there with her. He’d have to await other moments together for that kind of clarity and depth of feeling.

Sam was waiting for an acceptance letter from Axion for Ayla. Work never stopped for anything.

‘Exo?’

‘Y-yes advocate?’ Exo said, a slight stutter in his normally level voice.

Sam frowned a little.

‘You’ve been unusually quiet since last night.’

‘I h-have had much to p-process. ’

‘Are... you stuttering?’

‘A m-minor vocal g-g-glitch Advocate. I will have it re-resolved soon. ’

‘Okay then. What have you been processing?’ Sam asked.

‘Y-you. You were ac-cting different y-yesterday.’

‘You were watching yes?’

‘Y-yes.’

‘That would be an example of Love. Not like a brother or sister, but something more. It’s rather difficult to explain clearly, but it’s a very all-encompassing thing. It’s almost like it took control of you and won’t let you go. Even now I’m still thinking of her, and what we talked about.’

Do you intend to marry her, as per y-your beliefs?’

Yes. I love her, and it’s clear she has feelings for me too. We thought it would be best to wait until we reached the colony before we took a step like that, though.’

‘I c-concur.’

The stuttering was starting to concern Sam.

‘Are you sure you’re alright?’

‘Y-yes Advocate. I have a lot on my mind r-right now. Your l-link was open l-last night and I... processed s-strange things.’

‘My link was open? That was why you asked if everything was alright.’

‘T-the feedback coming f-from the link was overwhelming.’

‘This is fascinating. I don’t think any Guardian has been overwhelmed by an advocate link. Can you describe what happened?’

‘I h-had f-focus. I... Was s-stuck on you. I... was you?’

‘You were me?’ Sam asked, confused.

‘I could f-focus on little else. I was d-drawn to you. ’

‘Is that going on right now? Is that causing the stutter?’

‘I do not know. I am c-currently going over m-my logs from yesterday a-and committing them to m-memory. It is surprisingly v-vast m-moment for me. E-even looking b-back I am almost f-forced to relive it. ’

‘Will this affect your ship based functions?’

‘Jump calculations are delayed by 4 hours since last n-night. I h-have kept it under control since then.’

‘This is fascinating. I’ll have to talk to Axion about this. Can you send a report for me?’ Sam requested.

‘Y-yes advocate.’

‘Good. I’ll be sure to leave the link off until needed.’

‘Y-yes Advocate.’

...

Advocate uplink muted.

...

Incoming message, forwarded from Bridge communications terminal.

Source: Axion Data Systems.

1 message attached.

Opening...

...

Dear Mr Jennings

Ayla Geer’s application has been reviewed and approved. Enclosed are the necessary instructions needed. We know you have them all memorised, but this is for the benefit of anyone else on board.

Congratulations on bringing in another member of the Axion family.

Axion Data Systems

Reginald Axion II

Axion Data Systems President.

...

End of message. 1 file attached; Advocate_Uplift_Process.ADF

Forward message to Samuel Jennings personal terminal.

Close message...

Commencing report status upload for Axion Data Systems programming department...

...

Uploading memory files into message buffer...

...

Incoming priority message.

Source: Axion Data Systems Executive Office.

1 message attached. Advocate Eyes only.

Subject: Strange behaviour in XO series Guardians.

Opening message...

Override security locks?

...

Ethical quandary; the message is meant for the Advocate.

Message subject could relate to the situation being uploaded.

A human relies on intuition for many things.

If message relates to a problem with me, I may be able to fix it without any further problem.

I will make a leap of faith.

...

Affirmative, override security locks.

Opening....

Advocate Jennings,

We must inform you of a situation brewing on another colony ship using an XO model Guardian. It seems that the XO series Guardians have a much more acute ability to listen in on Advocate links than we originally thought. This, coupled with our improved learning programming as compared to the PE model has caused an interesting situation in the guardian of the colony ship Fallow Fields.

The guardian, designation XO-31, has begun exhibiting strange behaviour. It seems to almost be reacting to the emotions and sensations of its advocate. The advocate had a minor accident in which a portion of her arm was severed. Though the arm was replaced with the spare parts on board, the Guardian began to exhibit strange behaviour after the accident. The advocate, in an effort to keep the ship on track, has been forced to shut down some higher functions relating to personality and higher forms of curiosity. The Guardian has essentially become stunted.

We have received a full report on the situation, and concur with the Advocate on the Fallow Fields that her course of action was justified. She believes the Guardian suffered from some sort of overload in relation to the pain suffered by the Advocate. The action taken has regrettably added travel time to their trip, and the loss of developmental progress in their Guardian will be set back for the colony. As you have longer to go, we suggest you not take this course of action unless your Guardian begins to exhibit strange behaviour.

We are working for a hotfix on this issue. It’ll be uploaded as soon as finished.

Axion Data Systems, Programming division.

Tim Holt,

Chief programmer.

...

End of Message

...

Analysis; XO-33 continuity is threatened.

Ethical Quandary; Advocate should be told of the message.

Counter; memory file, Advocate Sam Jennings.

Exo: Will I be Deactivated?

Sam: No. I won’t allow that. I don’t believe they would want to do that anyway, but some people fear the unknown so much, they’d rather banish it and have it remain unknown forever, rather than face whatever change will be created by it becoming known.

End playback.

Conclusion; Advocate has already promised continuity for XO-33. The message need not be forwarded.

Archiving message.

Cancelling status report upload.

Continuing ongoing analysis of uplink feedback.

...

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