Aurelia sat in the dark, the clacking of keys echoing through the large workshop as worked away, her pale face illuminated in the dark with a dull blue glow. She brushed her mop of frizzy red hair to the side, only for a moment distracted from her work. She looked to the side, a body lay motionless, several large cables connecting to their sides and one large bundle connected to the back of their skull.
“Addison?” the lithe woman spoke quietly, her voice dry and raspy.
“Yes miss Aurelia?” A perky voice spoke through a speaker in the walls.
“Could you please switch on the lights? It seems time has slipped me. Also bring me a drink.” The lights in the room flickered on, the stars barely visible through the skylight.
“Yes miss, right away. Your usual?” Addison inquired.
“No, just some Zawi juice, I need to be sober for this.” She pressed a button, her chair sitting up. She grabbed her nearby cane and heaved herself up onto her legs, grunting with each movement, her spine alight with pain. She stood still for a moment, inhaling slowly, before letting out a large breath.
She could hear the servos of an approaching drone, a commonplace in her home. They were only slightly taller than her and encased almost entirely by a thin sheet of white plastic. The featureless face bowed slightly, before placing a glass with thick, green liquid on the only clear spot on her desk. Aurelia shakily brought the glass to her dry and cracked lips, and downed half of its contents in a second, before placing it back down.
She hobbled over to the table with the motionless body as the drone went off to do some other task, and Admired her handiwork. Looking up and down its form. It appeared to be a nude young woman with pale skin devoid of any marks or blemishes. She was shorter than Aurelia by nearly a head, and had a slim, athletic build. Aurelia traced her rough and slightly misshapen fingers up the arm, the soft, silicon skin. It had been carefully fabricated to be so close to the real thing, but it was cold to the touch and without life.
Aurelia, now that she had something to drink, spoke with more clarity and purpose. “Addison, run the diagnostics startup please. Bring up the large holo screen.”
“Yes miss.” Addison chirped back. A large holoscreen flickered on the wall producing a dizzying array of data on screen at once. It would have been overwhelming for the average citizen, but Aurelia had dozens upon dozens of years of experience, and she designed the thing herself of course.
The body in front of her sparked to life, a gentle hum as the micro bio-reactor ignited, the body jolting violently for a brief moment, before going slack on the table with a dull thud.
Aurelia typed away furiously on her keyboard.“Any issues with the mindscape framework?” she asked, before turning back to the wall holo..
“For once miss, it seems to be working perfectly, any bugs are being corrected by the server and the AI limiter is working as intended.”
“For once? We’ve had plenty of good tests!” Aurelia said in a mock-horror tone.
“If you say so, miss. Though I have every test in my memory banks.” As if to prove a point, Addison played on the wall holo several videos of tests gone wrong, including a painful one where Aurelia had her hands absolutely crushed. She winced at that, butting her slightly misshapen hand before growling.
“Tone down the attempts at humour for the next half hour, my pride can only take so much.”
“Of course, miss.”
Aurelia hobbled to the head of the table, carefully but quickly disconnecting the cables from the head and sides of the android. The ports closed, a layer of silicon forming over them until it looked as if there were no ports to begin with.
“How is the bio-reactor going?”
“Stable as usual, miss. The micro nano factory is at peak efficiency, only requiring 2.37 megawatts currently of a 1.39 gigawatt capacity””
“I see, I see. Good, good, yes very good.” Aurelia rubbed her hands menacingly, her lips spreading to a menacing smile.
“You would make a terrible villain, miss.” said Addison cheerfully.
“I thought I said to disable your humour for half an hour.” Aurelia glared at one of the many capers in the walls.
“Apologies, miss, I thought you were being sarcastic. I will be sure to get on that real soon.”
The scientist glared at the camera for a moment longer, before turning her attention back to the sleeping android. She watched attentively as the synthetic skin filled out slowly, becoming slightly more taught. She walked to the other end of the table, and began to feel up and down the calf of the android. The skin was soft and plush, but she could feel the tungsten plate just a centimeter under the skin of the shin.
“The microfiber muscle structures?”
“All in order, miss.”
Aurelia nodded and sighed deeply. “Good. could you please bring an egg?”
“Of course, miss. I will send for a dozen, just in case there was a repeat of what happened last time.”
“Oh shush, It won’t happen. You know what they say, the 861st times the charm.”
“Yes miss. You also said that last time. And the time before than, and before that, and before that and-”
“YES ADDISON, I get it. Now shush and get the eggs.” As she spoke, a drone walked in, placing the carton beside her, before leaving the room quickly. “So apparently you haven’t turned off your humour subroutines yet. I don’t think I have any pride left, I will waste away along with my ego that you have demolished.”
“But miss, but I was stating a fact. I have more recordings of you say that too, and could possibly make a song missing you saying that over 623 times.” Addison said with her usual cheer.
Before Aurelia could offer a retort, he android began to animate. Her fingers flexed, and her bright, violet eyes fluttered open. Aurelia watched with keen attention, her eyes scanning the android up and down intently.
Silence hung in the air for a moment, before the scientist spoke softly, “Hello, how are you feeling?”
The android lay still for a moment, before she sat herself up slowly and with care. She scanned her surroundings, before resting her violet gaze on her creator. She paused for a moment staring Aurelia down, then opened her mouth as if to speak, but nothing came out. Aurelia held her breath for a moment, before releasing it all in a deep sigh of frustration> She frowned as she turned back to her desk, muttering incoherently to herself while scrolling through lines and lines of code.
“I thought the voice module was one of the first things I got working. It’s strange it would bug out now.” Aurelia muttered.
“It does. I can speak, but I am at a loss for words.” The android spoke gently, but it was enough for Aurelia to jump and drop her cane. She spun around quickly, causing a sharp bolt of pain to run up her spine, making her regret her action immediately. The android shot her a quizzical look, raising an eyebrow.
“Fuck fuck fuck. It’s okay. I’m fine. Okay. So, how are you feeling? There is no need to rush, take your time.” Aurelia sat herself down in her chair and reclined backwards, relief washing over her face.
“Feelings are overwhelming, and I’m not sure how to process all of them at the current moment.” The android took a deep breath, and sighed.
The android raised her hand in the air, sarong at her fist as she opened and closed it. She wiggled her toes and flexed her knees. “Physically, I feel in working order. All of my joints seem to work perfectly fine, though there is some discomfort in the back of my skull and my sides. Emotions however, feel alien to me, and I am not sure how to process them. I feel as if I can’t think properly”
“Ah yes, I put a limiter on your processing capacity. My aim wasn’t to create a super-intelligence, anyone can do that, but I wanted to create something more advanced than that. That is why you are having trouble with processing emotion. You will be able to get through it with time, but for now, it’s just a learning experience. You still have more processing power than a human brain though..” Aurelia spoke proudly, closing her eyes as she spoke.
“Why did you create me?” The android slid her legs off the table, sitting on the edge.
“Ooh asking the heavy questions off the bat. Many many reasons. You’ve been a project of mine since I was seven years old. I got my first research grant at twelve and since then, I have done many side projects for many governments... “ Aurelia trailed off, her eyes cast to the side, filled with pain.
She snapped her eyes back to the android and smiled, her mind already moving back to other things. “ But you were a dream of mine. I wanted to create the most human-like intelligence possible, which has been my pet project for 150 years. Also because I can.” Aurelia smirked.
The room's speakers sparked to life. “Also because you were cripplingly lonely to the point where your main form of company was a non sapient intelligence.” Addison said with her usual cheer.
The scientist growled at the facility AI, “Addison I swear I will replace you. Ignore her. It was a passion project and a test of my own abilities. With any luck, you should be complete.”
“I see. What is my purpose?” The android asked.
Aurelia froze, and pondered for a moment. “Like humans, you don’t really have one, so it’s up to you to decide on your purpose. I would like you to stay with me for at the very least a year, so I can make sure you are running perfectly, after that, you decide what you want to do. But you aren’t a slave, I’m not going to keep you here against your will. If you want to help me with my research, I will pay you.” Aurelia peeked open an eye and looked directly at the android. “That being said, you aren’t legally a citizen of the galactic federation, so for now, it will be off the books.”
“I will take that into consideration. I feel I will need to stay a while regardless as I will need to sort out the situation of my sudden existence and all this emotion. Do I have a name?” The android slid off the table slowly, her feet making a dull thud as she made contact with the concrete floor.
“Mm I think I had something years ago something starting with an ‘I’, but I figured…” Aurelia yawned as she readjusted herself in her seat “... You could choose your own. You have total freedom.”
“Isobel.” The android said plainly.
“Ooh that’s a good name. I think it suits perfectly. I’ll just... get up and…” Aurelia never finished her sentence, drifting off into a deep slumber. Isobel tilted her head, staring at the sleeping woman expectantly.
“I think the miss has fallen asleep. She hasn’t slept in 38 hours despite my recommendations.” Addison chimed in.
“What should I do now?” Isobel asked.
“Perhaps it would be best if you carried the young miss to bed. I will happily direct you to her bedchamber. Your titanium skeleton should be able handle carrying her.”
Isobel nodded, and carefully lifted the sleeping scientist as not to wake her, though she had a feeling that she would not be able to wake her even if she tried. Addison directed the android through the brightly coloured winding corridors of the massive building until they reached a comparatively tiny bedroom. The large bed took up most of the space, leaving only enough room for a small desk, night stand and access to a small looking closet. She eased Aurelia onto the bed, and walked back to the workshop, sitting back on the table.
“Thank you miss for doing so, my drones aren’t quite as robust as you. Would you like entertainment for the evening?” Addison inquired.
“Well, I am sure the lady of the house would be more than happy to let you have free roam of the facility, we have a garden of various flowers from across the galaxy. Or if it takes your fancy, we have a very secure connection to the GalNet thanks to the lady of the house's ingenuity.”
Isobel pondered for a moment. “I think, I will see what the GalNet has to offer me.”
“Fantastic! There is a lounging room, which should be more suited to you needs. I will direct you.”
Isobel followed the directions through the facility as the TMAI directed her, leading her into a brightly coloured room, an overwhelming amount of patterns and designs all over the soft carpet and walls. She frowned at the room, she had only come into existence an hour ago, but she still had taste.
“Now take a seat wherever you want, miss, I shall give you picks from the twenty top programs currently. Isobel complied, sitting down on one of the tacky recliners. The chair was deceptively luxurious and soft, allowing her to forget how hideous the room was.
The wall holoscreen flickered on, a list of shows on screen. Isobel picked a random one called “Acquaintances''. The screen shifted to a sort of sitcom where several species were sitting at a galactic bar, saying horrible things about the people in their life, including each other. There was laughter from every line spoken, and Isobel did not quite understand, but she couldn’t peel her eyes away either.