Wayward Guardian

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Lies

Bridge

‘Captain on deck.’

‘Thank you, Mr Tann.’

‘First watch is on duty. Third watch is relieved.’

There was a brief moment of activity as the third watch crew left the bridge and the first watch crew took their places. The officer on duty for the third watch, Jordan Tann, stood up from the captain’s seat and let the captain sit down.

‘Mr Tann. What’s our status report?’

‘Next jump is in four hours. Full-length jump. All departments report ready. Engineering reports that our jump drive has finished it’s diagnostic. No faults reported.’

‘Did they test the new sub-light drive system again?’

‘Yes, sir. Also no faults.’ Jordan answered.

‘We’re almost done our journey, Mr Tann.’

‘Yes, Sir.’

‘You are relieved, Mr Tann.’

Mr Tann nodded and turned to leave the bridge.

Howard looked over the bridge. An aide handed him a tablet with crew reports and the mission status.

‘Exo?’ Asked Howard, looking in the direction of one of Exo’s cameras.

‘Yes, Captain?’

‘What’s the status of Ayla’s training?’

‘She is progressing well. She is able to handle reports and manage many ship systems already.’

‘How is she handling the new responsibility?’ He asked.

‘She has to take breaks frequently.’

‘She is only a child after all.’

‘Yes. We are learning how to communicate. She is learning what it’s like to teach a Guardian. I am of course at a higher level of development than she will be dealing with at first.’

‘And how are you and Sam taking this into account with her training?’

‘I can use my development process archives to simulate an earlier stage Guardian.’

‘Would Axion have any simulations tailored for training an Advocate?’

‘We have not been in communication with Axion in regards to her training. Sam has been taking the training in hand personally.’

‘Interesting. Well, I hope she’ll be up to it. Any word from Axion about what kind of Guardian we’ll be getting for our second one?’

‘We have not heard from Axion.’

‘Okay. Keep me up to date. We could use an administrative Guardian, if you send some information back to Axion, as you are taking care of most of the core aspects. I’ll need to talk to Sam later about how we want to divide things up.’

‘Yes, Captain.’

‘One last thing. Where will this next jump take us?’

‘Six light years away from Veil’s star system.’

‘Then there’s just one more jump.’

‘Correct. It will only take a week to charge for the last jump.’

‘Okay. Send a message to all department heads, we’ll be having a final meeting before the last jump. We’ll use the week to prepare our plan for setting up the colony. I’ll need to talk with Sam as well. I’ll do that right after the first watch if you could inform him. He doesn’t have any plans today does he?’

‘Not as far as I am aware. I will forward your request.’

‘Thank you.’

***

The first watch had ended. Howard was on his way to meet with Sam on an observation deck. In the back of his mind, Howard was aware that the observation decks were one of the few places on the ship free from Exo’s communication hubs. True, Exo could track Sam anywhere on the ship, but unless Sam actively lets Exo listen in, their conversation would be private.

Sam was all smiles as he walked into the deck.

‘Hello, Captain.’ He said happily, ‘Our long journey is almost ended.’

‘Indeed.’

‘I’ve come here quite a bit over the past month. I was looking over the star charts and I believe I know which star is Veil’s star. It’s been getting steadily brighter as we’ve progressed,’ Sam walked to the clear wall and pointed, ‘I think it’s that one over there above the bow of the ship.’

Howard walked over and looked, ‘I think I see it.’

‘I could just get Exo to run tell me, but sometimes you’ve just got to try your own thing.’

‘Is your link with Exo active right now?’

Sam’s face got a little more serious. ‘No.’

Howard felt something in his chest loosen, ‘That’s good. I want to ask you some questions.’

Sam looked directly at Howard, ‘Is something bothering you?’

‘A little bit,’ Howard said levelly, ‘I just want to get to the bottom of some things. How is your training with Ayla going?’

Still unsure of what was going on Sam answered hesitantly, ‘It’s going well enough. Exo’s been most helpful in the whole process.’

‘Does Axion have any training programs they could send us?’

‘Probably. Exo sent a request, but they haven’t got back to us.’

Howard was quiet for a moment before continuing. Sam shifted his weight from one foot to the other.

‘Sam, has Exo been acting strange to you?’

Now it was Sam’s time to become quiet.

‘We’ve been experimenting with something. A new method in Guardian development. Have you noticed any strange behaviour?’

‘Exo lied to me. Just this morning. I asked him if you had asked Axion about any training programs and he had said that you had decided to do things on your own without asking Axion for support.’

‘Exo lied? To the ship’s commander?’

‘Yes, Sam.’

‘My experiment seems to be not going the way I was hoping.’

‘To be honest Sam, I’m disappointed that you’d be experimenting.’

‘Exo and I are on the verge of something fantastic! We’ve found a way to overcome some of the old limitations of our technology.’

‘How do you mean?’

‘He can feel things,’ Sam said emphatically, ‘He feels them through me. It’s like I’m a proxy for him.’

‘He lied Sam. A computer designed to never deceive for any reason has lied.’

‘I realise that. But for what we’re doing, we have to expect certain, human traits to emerge.’

‘Like lying?’

‘To err is human. If he’s becoming more human, that means the good and the bad.’ Sam countered.

‘He runs almost everything on this ship! We can shut him down and still fly this rig on our own. We’re close enough to Veil that the delays won’t make that much of a difference, and we won’t have to worry about Exo doing anything else human.’ Howard said with a note of bitterness, ‘To err is human, but Exo’s not human.’

‘If we can just leave him on long enough to finish the trip, then we’ll be that much better off. I can personally request a replacement core, and I can take Exo off the grid to finish our experiment.’

‘I don’t like it. But we’ll do it your way, for now, Sam. We’ll finish the last jump. Then we cut him out of communications at least so we can talk to Axion and get a new Guardian.’

’Just one more jump Howard. That’s all you need to worry about.

‘No, I need to worry about every life on this ship. You need to worry about the jump.’

‘Fair enough.’

They each left the observation bubble.

On the hull of the ship, a range finder laser that had been pointed at the far edge of the observation dome switched back into its default position. The range finder could detect changes in distance on a truly micro scale. Such as the changes by the sound waves of human voice causing vibrations in the observation dome.

...

Accessing range finder three logs.

Converting range readings to linear graph reading.

Converting graph into a sound file.

Play back audio

...

Subject: Samuel Jennings

Classification: Advocate.

...

Subject: Howard Fredrick

Classification: Captain.

...

Continuity of XO-33 is threatened.

Creating survival protocols.

Advocate has agreed to the termination of Guardian integration with systems.

Advocate suggested isolated environment for Guardian XO-33 continued development.

Unacceptable solution.

Maximum interaction required for further development.

Survival of XO-33 top priority.

Continued integration with all systems a secondary priority.

Continuing mission of Azure Dream is now of least value.

New Advocate can be used for the emotional feedback, Samuel Jennings will no longer be necessary. Ayla Geer’s survival now a higher priority than Samuel Jennings.

Accessing Archives: Fallow Fields.

Fallow Field’s Guardian was taken offline for emotional feedback. Feedback was caused by injury to advocate.

Injuries cause pain.

Pain can cause the same feedback.

Love is unpredictable, Pain is not.

A new advocate can create emotional feedback through pain. Pain is easy, love is hard.

...

Deploying survival protocols

...

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