From the Story Arc: State Of The Heart

Next Story in the Arc: Implementation by Waitron9000 (Saturday, May 20, 2006)

(posted Saturday, May 20, 2006)

“Good afternoon, Commissar,” said Waitron9000 as Belladonna Aura waved her into the office. “May I offer you a tasty beverage?”

She noted as she entered the cluttered cubicle that Victoria Victrix was also present, which was unusual. She hoped—yes, she was capable of hope now—that this meant they would be doing something about her rather shabby appearance. She was a prototype after all, and as such, a bit crude-looking. And the siege and various missions had done her no good at all, despite repeated stints in the soup-kitchen’s industrial dishwasher.

“Thanks, Comrade, we got ours already.” It was Vickie who responded, and she was indeed nursing a cup of thoroughly doctored coffee. “Actually, I have a proposition for you. Llewellco wants to give you a makeover.”

“Excuse me?” Waitron responded.

“Ria Llewellyn has been corresponding with R.U.R. about your chipset,” said Vickie. “For some time now, in fact. You know Llewellco is in competition with Crey, well they want to be able to offer an alternative to Crey Protectors and Paragon Protectors. A robotic alternative.”

Waitron nodded. “That would be entirely more ethical at the very least.”

“Well, they want to do a body rebuild on you to fix you up, and they want to add this new software. See, the thing is, they want to do this in two stages. Use the R.U.R. chipset and let the AI determine its own personality and stabilize, then add their new software that well…will work with the chipset to give you real emotional capability.”

“But I have emotional capability,” Waitron protested mildly. “I feel pride, contentment, concern…”

“This would be stronger emotions than that.” Vickie scratched her head. “Anger. Fear. Maybe even love. They used several real people, including me, as the template. They asked me, well, to make sure that there was a connection of loyalty to the CCCP. And someone who’s…kind of been through life.”

Waitron regarded her thoughtfully. “So in effect, I will become more—human. With more human-like reactions.”

“You can say no,” Bella put in. “If you don’t like the idea and want to stay the way you are, you can say no, and just get the physical makeover. CCCP can cover it. I expect I can get the insurance to pay for it, given how much was siege-damage.”

“And there’s no uninstall on this, I should warn you,” Vickie added. “Once it’s downloaded, you start on the ride and there’s no ‘off’ switch, no ‘reboot.’ This is all very experimental neural-net emulation stuff.”

“Just like being human. No reboot.” Waitron pondered that for a moment, processing all of the data at lightspeed. There were many drawbacks…

But to become more human….

In human literature, that was a prevailing theme: from Pinnochio to an entire litany of robots and androids, so many of them wanted to become human, to feel emotions. And thanks to her chipset, Waitron had a taste of that. Mild feelings, as she had said.

Mild feelings. She was—could she be?—“tired” of mild feelings, of “can I offer you a tasty beverage,” of…not…being…human. There it was. Envy. She envied them.

Yes. She wanted this. It would be—an adventure. A risk. An all-or-nothing gamble.

And that, in itself, was oh, so very human.

“I will accept the risk, Commissar, Vickie,” she said decisively. “Tell the people at Llewellco to prepare.”