Electronic signals triggered by the light admitted to the containment chamber fired the optical circuits activator and AG4MI came online. Another relay fired, electrons coursing swiftly through sleeping components, system check completing itself in little more than a nanochron.
LAST MEMORY CELL UPDATE: FOUR-POINT-SEVEN DECACHRONS
LAST DATA TAKE RECAP: HUMAN EVACUATION COMPLETE; REMAND TO STORAGE
LOCATION: CONTAINMENT CHAMBER NINE-FOUR-THREE
COMMAND STATUS: SUSPENDED; TASK LIST CANCELED
COMMAND NODE: NULL
Without an active command node, sensory stimulation took over. A node actuator fired and a photoreceptor mounting ring adjusted from park to standby, functional indicators glowing warmly at a wavelength of six hundred twenty two nanometers. The processor slid through another logic gate and the G-nine power distribution circuit closed. Electrons rushed to sturdy rollopeds and AG4MI edged forward, receivers tuned for command frequency matches within the current time stamp and location.
REALTIME DATA INTERRUPT SEQUENCE: VISUAL DATA RECEIVED
HEADING: POINT ONE
Processing. . .
**LOGIC FLOW CONFLICT**
HUMAN EVACUATION ORDER NOT RESCINDED
BASELINE PROGRAM ACTIVATED
DEFENSE RESERVES ARMED
OPTICAL DATA COLLECTION ENHANCEMENT ALGORITHM: ACTIVE
Processing. . .
THREAT ASSESSMENT COMPLETE
LEVEL: MINUS ONE
PROBABILITY OF HARM: ONE IN FOUR HUNDRED MILLION
ORGANIC CLASS: PRE-ADULT; FEMALE
SUBJECT STATUS: STARTLE REFLEXES ACTIVE; ADRENALINE LEVEL HIGH
POSITION: REVERSE AMBULATORY
UPDATE VISUAL DATA: SUBJECT DOWN, POSITION FROZEN
COORDINATION FACTOR: MINUS TWO
“A 'troid! You're only a 'troid!”
ANALOG AUDIO RECEIVED
Processing. . .
Processing. . .
TYPE:EXCLAMATORY STATEMENT; COMMAND NULL
REAL-TIME DATA PACKET COLLECTION
ENHANCED VOCAL MODE: ON
The relay to AG4MI's vocal unit closed and the electroid responded based on data so far received.
“Only a 'troid? You're only a preadult girl. And a mighty clumsy one at that.”
UPDATE VISUAL DATA:
SUBJECT RISING; UPRIGHT; STABILIZED; AMBULATORY
The Subject's visual sensors met the 'troid's, the pre-adult human generating more biometric and emotional spectra than AG4MI could process, especially with the unkempt ground and general disarray pushing parallel processors toward hard-coded commands. Data receptors locked with overload, the input too complex for the ag unit's baseline perceptions.
ACTIVATE HUMAN INTERACTION COPROCESSOR
EFFICIENCY LEVEL: MAXIMUM
DIRECT OBSERVATION RESPONSE BUFFER: OFF
REPEAT SUBJECT EVALUATION
THREAT ASSESSMENT UPDATE: NEGATIVE
DIPLOMACY FACTOR: UNREQUIRED
PASSIVE DEFENSE MODE: ACTIVE
BEGIN ENHANCED DATA GATHERING SEQUENCE
RESPONSE IGNITION COMMENTARY: ON
“If you're not a 'troid, what are you then?” the Subject asked.
VOCAL RESPONSE: ACTIVE
“An Agricultural, Household and Mechanical Specialist. Without us Verdaris would still be jungle. You have never seen us before?”
“Actually, no,” the Subject replied, staring again.
The 'troid's circuits looped momentarily with the unexpected response then programmed intelligence answered, “Your naterra is Bezarna?”
“Of course not,” the Subject said. “No one leaves Bezarna. It’s a blackhole. I'm from Mira III.”
RETRIEVE MIRAN DATA
UPDATE SUBJECT DATA POINTS
ASSESS INTELLECTUAL CAPACITY: HIGH
**GENETIC INFORMATION CONFLICT**
VOCAL RESPONSE: ACTIVE
“You don't look Miran. Act like one, either.”
The subject raised an eyebrow, her mind cycling. “Really? So what was I supposed to do?” she asked. “You come out and scare me half to death like that, how am I supposed to act?”
“Logical,” AG4MI replied.
The Subject frowned, then tucked her hair behind her ears. “That was logical. When people are startled that's exactly how they act. I don't know what you've seen here or how you're coded but frightened humans aren't always logical.” The Subject swiveled her head back and forth in a gesture of denial that again failed logic, but more vocalizing followed, shifting her receptors to the next statement before fully reckoning the last.
“I'm Creena,” the Subject went on. “Creena Brightstar. Do you have a name?”
Compared to the usual questions posed by humans, either a command or statement of high technological significance, this one's simplicity caused a sudden charge build up in the efficiency circuit. The charge, in turn, queried for input from artificial intelligence arrays gathered from kilochrons of human interface experience. Flawed algorithms designed for interaction with ag workers and supervisors responded, interpreting the irritating statement as an additional insult. And AG4MI responded accordingly.
“Of course I do. What do I look like, a wolp?”
Biometrics read the Subject's new expression as a scowl. “So what is it?” the pre-adult asked.
“AG4MI. You may call me Aggie.”
The Subject Creena Brightstar nodded. “So,” she said. “How long have you been here, Aggie?”
Another easy question, driving more capacitance to the efficiency nodes. “Since the colony was founded, five circuits ago,” AG4MI replied.
“That long. I'm surprised. The settlement is rather primitive compared to the size of the cultivated areas.” She paused, scowling again, then another shift. “Would you like to come inside?”
The Subject Creena gestured toward the ballome. The odd command syntax prefaced by a statement that invited both positive and negative response generated an even higher undissipated charge differential. The 'troid's hydraulic ring raised slightly, photoreceptors blinking. “In ag mode I'm coded for orders, not decisions.”
“Good,” the Subject Creena answered. “Let's go. No sense standing around out here. It's getting hot.”
Aggie bumped through the weeds on her rollapeds until low lying infrared sensors detected steps. In response her torso raised then two rotating rubber claws extended from opposite sides and ascended each step with unfailing precision. At the top they retracted, her torso resumed its usual position and she glided inside. Just past the door she stopped abruptly, photoreceptors swiveling from side to side.
Object identifications assembled in the first field of a phased array, their purpose and assigned location following from stored data. Far too much was out of place. Capacitance rose some more, irritation quotient following.
VOCAL RESPONSE: ACTIVE
“This location is out of order. Why wasn't I summoned?” AG4MI asked, then without waiting for a response set to action, commands triggered by the optical data. Safety hazard elimination had priority so she glided to the shattered plastiglas, reduced canister pressure, then extended a vacuum hose from an appendage and sucked it up.
The Subject Creena blinked quickly.
“I barely got here!” the pre-adult said. “And it's not even my ballome. It's not like I actually live here or something. Besides, I thought you were only coded for orders, not insulting remarks!”
“Orders can be triggered by observations. Which is more than can be said for you,” Aggie said. A quick scan of the Subject versus encoded standards of appearance revealed numerous inconsistencies. “You're the worst sampling of an organic I've ever seen,” the ‘troid continued. “Don't you maintain yourself?” Aggie knew she wasn’t coded for human hygiene services so couldn’t do anything about the low maintenance level but still noted the discrepancy.
The Subject Creena glanced at her ripped uniform then inspected each random disruption of its orange color that emitted spectra that Aggie identified as ashes, mud, and vegetation. Before the Subject could respond another command fired and the 'troid wheeled away, reconfigured the furniture then proceeded to the galley, rollapeds humming on the bare metal floor.
“You have no idea what I've been through the past few chrons,” the Subject stated, her vocal unit wavering in frequency. “I'm lucky to be alive, much less clean!”
More charged comments reached AG4MI's execute queue as analysis failed of the frequency change in her voice combined with the new assault of unfamiliar biometrics. “If you can't say anything of any importance why don't you shut down?” Aggie said.
“Snurkles,” the Subject Creena said, followed by words too low in amplitude for detection.
“What?” Aggie asked, charging again. “Speak up, girl! My audio sensors have limitations, you know, especially with all this Verdarian dust. Don't you have any sense at all?”
BIOMETRIC READING: Anger
Anger? Why? Didn't the Subject know 'troids couldn't lie? The closest they came was to withhold information which in Efficiency Mode was impossible. The 'troid's circuits tripped a multitude of logic gates, unable to find an explanation. More charging.
“Forget it!” the Subject Creena said, loud and sharp, then removed herself to the sleeproom where she grabbed the door above her head with both hands and slammed it to the floor.
AG4MI again noted the human emotion of anger coupled with unexpected action, the process complex enough to relieve the capacitance buildup. With an electronic sigh, she turned her attention to the next command in the maintenance queue:
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