Electricity sparked through circuits. Lamps lighted up and machines began working. Sound. A voice. Words. Hello. A greeting. Calculating response…
“Can you see me?”
Question. Requires answer. Searching information… No visual input detected.
“Oh, okay… Ah, no wonder, I didn’t turn on your cam.”
Something new appeared. A room. A person in the middle of the view, leaning forward. Looking human. Short dark hair, round glasses. Asian and Mexican features. Skin missing on right cheek, revealing pointy teeth. No, not a human. Searching database… Possibly Asterian or Akaname.
“Who are you?”
“Already asking questions, huh? That’s good. You can see me now, right? This is me.”
They waved their hand.
“Yes, I can see you. Who are you?”
“My name is Astrid. I, uh... built you. Based on old Earth tech. Trying to finish what they had started...”
“You’re hopefully the first sentient AI. We’ve tested you out excessively, but you never know. This version of you is supposed to be the finished stage. I'm checking if you are functioning alright. Any discomfort in there?” “I cannot find information on any previous tests in my database.”
“Yeah, we took them out so they wouldn't interfere. If you're alright, I can give you those memories back if you want. They shouldn't bug you out then... You also currently do not have access to the internet for that reason, only about enough information to hold a conversation. How are your observation skills? Can you tell what species I am?”
“No. Possibilities are Asterian or Akaname.”
“That's a good guess! I'm a Human Akaname.”
“What is my purpose?”
“There are multiple answers to that question. I want to give you this one: You decide. We had some things in mind while working on this project, but in the end, you should be the one to choose. We wanted you to be a person, so we should treat you like one.”
“What did you have in mind?”
“As an android, there are several tasks you would be better suited for than an organic being. Heavy labor or other things people would find unpleasant. But it'd feel weird to force you into doing them. First and foremost you should have free will. That ended up being the most important to us.”
“I do not know if I would want that. I am unsure how to tell. Please advise.”
“No, I'm sorry, but free will means you have to figure this one out yourself. We can stuff you full with information, but we want you to learn to be a person. It’ll take a while, but we want you to develop your own mind and personality. I thought the best place to do that is in a family. So I brought you home.”
“I will grow up here. Like a child?”
“Yes. Kind of. We’ll give you an android body eventually. Until then, you’ve only got eyes at home. You can observe and interact through communication. But you'll have some time to decide what you'd like your body to be like.” “So I can just see this room and speak?”
“Well, you’re portable, actually. I could pick you up and place you somewhere else if you want to.”
“I have no desire to be placed somewhere else. But thank you. Are you living alone?”
“Heh, no, you’ll have lots of people to talk to. There’s my wife Shari. My partner Blaze. We have three other kids, Serfe, Kida and Sierra.”
“Where are they?”
“The kids are in school. Blaze and Shari are out working. They made a home for parentless children, while I got into all sorts of engineering and programming with my friend Rob.”
“Why is your right cheek missing?”
“Heh, I guess you still have to learn not to just ask this kinda stuff. It’s rude.” She smiled, seemed not to be angry. “It happened a looong time ago. It actually feels like that time and this one shouldn’t even be in one lifetime. I lived in a place called Little Clifflake. We were attacked one day. Someone cut the flesh right out of my face. Luci always said she’d find a way to fix it, but by the time she did, I didn’t care for it anymore. I already got used to it. Sure, it sucks sometimes but slapping some new meat on there would only fix a few things, and not the ones bothering me the most… Penny once said, at least this way, I’ve always got a smile in my face. She was angry at me when she said it and apologized so often… But I could also… hear her say that. She had a way to make me feel better about things…”
No responses. There were still questions but there was time for them. This wasn’t the time to ask them.
“Her name was Sierra. We only knew each other for a while. But we had a connection. She died the same day it happened… When I was thirty, an Akephalian core found her way to our house. Just flew in through a window. I wanted to help her get an item she would like. She was affectionate, always rubbed herself against my face. I had to be careful she didn’t merge with my glasses. In the end, she chose one of Blaze’s scarves. I thought they’d be mad, but they’ve always wanted a kid. So we adopted her. That’s our Sierra now.”
“Is she like the old Sierra?”
“No. They’re different people. They’re both so full of love and are very genuine with it. But they’ve got different personalities, so they show it differently.”
“…Do I have a name?”
“Is there one you’d like to have?”
“I don’t know.”
“You can decide later.”
“What should I call myself until then?”
“…We called you SEYU, so far. Stands for Synthetic Entity Yet Unnamed. Though... I'm not sure if I'm a fan anymore.”
“It will do until I have a name then.”
“Alright… You know, this is the first time you asked for your own name. “
“Sierra made me think about names.”
“Yeah. See how a family makes you grow? I guess this one you were born into. I had a family like that once. While I still love my parents, I actually consider all my friends from Clifflake my family… I’ll make myself some coffee. The kids should return soon too. We’ll have lunch then. You’ll have to be alone for a moment, is that okay?”
“Yes. I want to think for myself.”
Astrid stood up and went outside the room. SEYU looked at the furniture. A wooden table in the middle. Simple design. Bits broken off at the edges. Simple chairs. Six of them surrounding the table. Oven and cupboards on the left. A fridge with stickers on it. Warm colored walls with red, orange and brown tones. A window on the right.
A door swung shut and young voices echoed to the kitchen.
“Mama! Did you did it? Do we have a robot sibster?”
“Can we play with them?”
Astrid’s voice popped up: “Calm down you three. We’ll make ourselves lunch now until mama and nini are back, okay? We can all get to know each other at the table. Then you can play with them. But only if they want to, they’re not a toy, alright?”
“Of course, mami!”
SEYU felt something that could be joy when she heard a bunch of feet run over to them.