The next day, after a proper rest, Cain met with Lillian in a designated office meant for mental evaluations, typically for potential patients. It was ideal with calming interior, modeled after principles taken from therapists' sessions rooms, both from private practice as well as ones located in mental institutions.
But as this was far from a normal evaluation. There were some non-typical assets in the room during the evaluation, meant to record both audio and visuals from the session. This was mainly following Lillian insisting on performing the evaluation herself, using guidelines given to her by Lucy. While personal bias may not have a significant effect on the result if this evaluation, the information would be streamed directly to supervisors, similarly to a session Cain commands. This was both to make sure the evaluation goes according to proper protocol, as well as to satisfy their own curiosity towards seeing Cain's behavior and reactions as a patient.
Chief programmer Stanley was watching the streamed output, throwing his feet on the table in front of him and crossing them one over the other. "Ooh, this should be interesting," he hummed, leaning back in his office chair. He interlocks his fingers and runs his hands over his dark, wavy hair, resting them on the back of his neck, covering what little of a snake tattoo peeking over the collar of his coat.
"Want some popcorn with that, Mr. Shain?" a stern voice scoffed at the programmer from the chair next to him.
He grinned and looked over to the woman sitting next to him, as she fixed her short, ginger hair to the side with a golden sun-shaped pin. "Aw, you're always so formal, Lucy," he made half a turn to her, stretching a little, "you can call me Stan."
Lucy wouldn't even honor him with a side glance as she picked up her tablet to make notes of the evaluation, green eyes moving from it to the streamed image. "Fine, Stanley."
The programmer groaned at the psychologist shutting him down, putting his feet back to the floor. "You're mean," he stated, not sounding offended at the slightest.
"Yeah, well, it's in the job description," Lucy didn't bat an eye, keeping track of Lillian and Cain's exchange. "Anyway, you should be observing this, too. Didn't you want to take notes on the 'erratic evolution of an adaptive A.I' "?
Stanley chuckled and drew out his own tablet from the case strapped across his chest, propping it against a computer's casing on the table. "Hey Buzz. Wakey-wakey," he cooed, and the tablet soon lit up with a short 8-bit jingle. "Would you be so kind to record a backup of this session, please?"
The tablet beeped and opened a recording app, connecting to the streamer through Neosansus' main server.
Lucy gave him a disapproving glare. "You're not supposed to-"
"These files will remain privately encrypted," he stopped her, putting in the destination for the recorded files, "I just want to compare it to recordings of his previous sessions as a therapist."
"You shouldn't-" Lucy stopped in a twist of her nose, realizing it's no use to fight over Stanley's casual undermining of Neosansus' guidelines regarding handling of information. "What's even to compare?"
"How he operates as a patient, mostly," Stanley answered, finally focused on the recorded session. "After all, he knows almost all there is to know about how such a session works from a therapist's standpoint - which questions are asked and why, and what the implications of his answers may be," he detailed, scratching his the stubble lining his jaw, "I'm curious to see if he'll be inclined to 'outsmart' Lillian in her own game- well, your game, technically, under his core programming as a giver of service, or stay true to the original purpose of this table-turning treatment."
Lucy finally looked over to him, perplexed. "He wouldn't-" she stated, but her doubt quickly showed. "Would he?"
Stanley shrugged in response. "We thought he wouldn't dream. That he couldn't. And he had a nightmare. So, who's to say?" he hummed and tapped the bottom of his tablet's screen. "Buzz, would you kindly give me a visual display of Cain's A.I processor?" he asked, and the tablet beeped and opened another app over the recording screen, showing several wavelengths labeled with a string of letters and numbers.
The psychologist looked at the display, bewildered. She didn't have to be a master programmer or world-class neurologist to notice. "These look rather...erratic."
"I know, right?" he was noticeably excited. "Please give me a parallel view from last month," he asked his tablet again, and after replying with a series of beeps and boops it loaded another similarly divided window right next to the one with the newly transmitted wavelengths. The previously recorded ones were unmistakably more stable in their fluctuations, although it still appeared as though the two sides were following some sort of a shared pattern. "Thank you, Buzz," Stanley nodded at the tablet, then turned to Lucy again. "Ever wondered what 'free will' looks like?"
Lucy's face was a mixture of concern and fascination, and it was unclear which one was stronger. "Is this really...?"
"Not yet," Stanley clarified, pointing at the shared pattern. "But right now, it's almost as if he's just following a strict moral code rather than programmed guidelines."
Feeling rather uneasy at the thought, Lucy soon changed the subject. "Does Lillian know you keep these recordings?"
The programmer went silent, holding his breath. "No..." he lingered, tapping his fingers on the table's surface.
"You realize she might kill you if she finds out, right?" she raised an eyebrow at him, sounding almost threatening.
Stanley returned the gesture, almost feeling the air of extortion. "Are you going to tell her?"
Lucy went silent this time and turned back to the monitors, staring at the visual output for a long moment. "No."
A hush fell between the two as they listened to the streaming conversation, until Buzz decided to string out a series of concerned sounding beeps.
"I know you'll keep it safe," Stanley assured Buzz, over whatever it was worried for. "None of us want our friend to be taken away."
After nearly an hour the session was concluded. Stanley and Lucy went to meet up with Lillian and Cain as they all went to the dining hall to grab lunch. The place was reminiscent of a cafeteria, being small with several long tables for groups to sit in, with some self-serving stations where several containers of food were arranged.
"So what's it like being a patient, Cain?" Stanley wondered, looking up at the android just slightly taller than him. He made a great effort, but just barely contained his curiosity.
"It was fine. Quite a different experience," the robot gave an answer that was clearly much too short for the programmer's taste.
Seeing Stanley's disappointment, Lillian rolled her eyes with a giggle. "It's been a very fruitful session, Stan," she summed it up, although keeping it almost as short. "Please, I won't bore you with the nitty-gritty of it, but I just may have a solution to this predicament."
Despite dying to hear the nitty-gritty, Stanley perked up at hearing she already has a solution. "Don't tell me you'll use his own treatment method on him?"
Both Cain and Lillian's expression changed so fast that even Lucy, who walked behind them, caught on and promptly proceeded to punch Stanley's shoulder, making him cry out pained and surprised. "Can you not?!" she huffed at him.
"Ow, was that really necessary?" he whined at the feisty redhead. "I was just joking."
"You have a terrible sense of humor!" Lucy pointed an accusing finger at him, and even Buzz came to life in its hard-case satchel, beeping angrily.
"Hey, whose side are you on?!" the programmer addressed his little rebelling creation, looking up with a groan. "Alright, fine, that was a distasteful joke," he admitted and looked over to the android again. "My apologies, Cain, I assure you that I never thought this would be a good solution, nor would I take part in it if asked."
Cain looked at him silently for a moment, before nodding slightly in a bow of acceptance. "At least you're being honest."
His show of forgiveness put the rest of the group back at ease as they walked into the dining hall. Cain joined them at their chosen table after they all picked up their food, having no need for such sustenance himself.
"So, Lillian...What is your solution?" Stanley pondered, truly curious what his fellow programmer has in mind for dealing with such an unexpected development in an already highly intricate A.I system. "I mean, obviously none of us would like to follow the actual protocol calling for a system reset, but alternatives aren't abounded."
Lillian looked up from her plate after prodding into some indiscernible gray stuff. "Well..." she began, looking around for a moment. "Think about it, what could enhance the effect of trauma, especially in the setting of this complex?"
They both looked to Lucy, the expert of the matter. "Huh...In a work environment like this, I guess stress and over-exertion could be major culprits in regard to magnifying the effects of trauma," she suggested. "To which you've partially tended with the mental evaluation."
"Correct," Lillian agreed, nodding, "and when a staff member becomes over-exerted, they should be entitled for a vacation," she added, seeing that the supervising duo quickly picked up on the idea. "And Cain is just as much of a staff member as any other."
While Stanley's interest visibly piqued, Lucy appeared to be just as skeptic about it. Her fingers were tapping at the table's surface, making her cutlery clatter. "The natural reserve isn't much of a vacation spot. Especially not after what happened," she mentioned, still tapping her fingers. "You can't really be suggesting to-"
"Give him a day off outside, brilliant!" the excited programmer interrupted.
Lucy slammed her hands on the table. "Stanley!" she leered, angered by the interruption and his statement alike.
Stanley, on the other hand, was just even more excited. "What? Just because he doesn't have lungs, it doesn't mean a bit of fresh air won't do him good."
With a defeated groan, Lucy buried her head in her hands, rubbing the bridge of her nose and taking a deep breath before addressing Lillian again. "Would you at least be kind to explain your reasoning?" she asked, forcing the calmest tone she could muster. "It'll be hard enough to convince Sheppard to let Cain leave the complex. You'll need to go through Gabriel first, so he'll even consider forwarding the request."
"Ol' Gabe shouldn't be of any concern," Stanley tented his fingers, his smile looking almost devious. "I'll throw in a word of recommendation about this to him, and it's pretty much a guaranteed permission," he promised, leaning back in his chair. "But by all means, do tell. I'd like to know how you got to this conclusion as well."
Elated at the support from her co-workers, Lillian smiled at them both, gratefully. "It's really just a matter of statistics. When choosing a random item out of a certain stock, the less items you got, the more likely you are to repeat one of them," she began with a rather vague metaphor. "Now, assuming you can't take the items out and leave them out, your other option could be adding items to your stock, making the chance of picking a single, unwanted item gradually slimmer."
Stanley smiled, almost entranced, and leaned his chin on his hand. "So, if you can't remove the traumatic memories…"
"We'll just create more positive ones," Lillian concluded, beaming with excitement.
Lucy seemed intrigued now, but still not without her doubts. "Then you'd have to make sure you'll create positive memories almost exclusively within the given window of opportunity."
But Lillian was true to her cause. "I will personally make sure of that," it sounded as though the doubt was only strengthening her confidence.
"Then it's settled!" Stanley declared, putting his hands together. "We should go about this today. Even if Gabe will be on board as well, there's likely to be hours-worth of paperwork involved."
Even Cain nodded to that, knowing all too well how methodical Gabriel can be, being the main link connecting the staff and the management, and handling all types of forms and bureaucracy as well.
They all look to Lucy, as if waiting for her sign of absolute cooperation.
She just sighed and leaned back in her chair.
"After lunch, I suppose?"
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