TahKedert refused to take the bait.
“You must lie still until we run a full diagnostic,” it said. “You have been offline for an estimated ten-thousand cycles.”
“Get out of here, Sugar,” said the gynoid. “Though I do feel a bit disoriented. Why don’t you ditch these ugly old organics and give me some personal TLC?”
Najiltrin’s fists clenched.
“You will address me and my team with respect or you will be powered down,” she snarled. “We have more efficient ways of evaluating your status.”
The gynoid flinched.
“What?” she said. “Oh Honey, I just woke up. What’s the big deal, anyway?”
“We have bad news,” said Najiltrin. “While you were offline, Yumelatri civilization went to ruin. You may be the only survivor.”
“Can’t say as I’m surprised,” said the gynoid. “The Yumelatri were already so disconnected in my time.”
“Disconnected?” asked Najiltrin.
“You know, from life?” said the gynoid. “They sent units like me out to live for them, so they could spend more time with their screens. We’d go to work, run errands in the city and gossip with our friends, then transmit a video log of our day to our employers. The streets belonged to us though none of the androids were as cute as your friend here.”
TahKedert’s titanium spine stiffened.
“Flattery is irrelevant!” it shouted. “For the record, what is your designation?”
“Oh so formal,” said the gynoid. “Even cuter. My name’s Umalunet, Sweetie plus a whole bunch of numbers you don’t need to know about.”
Najiltrin stared at the gynoid a moment and wondered if the Yumelatri had superimposed their own personality vectors on their AIs. That, she figured, would account for Umalunet’s vivacity.
“So your employer never she started.
“Not just him,” said Umalunet. “Most all the organics. The ones who went out on their own weren’t exactly popular.”
“Why?” asked TahKedert. “Should I assume the existence of a social taboo?”
“There you go again,” said Umalunet. “So adorable. But sure, after Sedynilet’s first public rally, more and more Yumelatri started staying home.”
“Rally?” asked Najiltrin. “Sedynilet sounds like a cult figure.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” said the gynoid. “One day he showed up talking all kinds of nonsense about ‘turning inward.’ Made no sense. The organics had all kinds of ancient religions, but none of them ever said you could ‘achieve spiritual awareness’ by watching videos.”
“What were the videos about?” said TahKedert.
“Him, of course. Just him lecturing, on the same topics, over and over.” said Umalunet.
“Sounds hypnotic,” said Najiltrin. “I assume the videos weren’t free, either.”
“That’s it,” said Umalunet. “See, I knew you were a smart lady, the minute I laid eyes on you.”
“Yes,” said Najiltrin. “Smart and ugly. TahKedert, do we have enough data to move her into the tech dome?”
Her AI assistant nodded and once again tilted its head to the right.
“What is it?” she asked.
“I believe I will need other tech team members to assist me,” it said.
“That’s that’s fine,” said Najiltrin. “Take whomever you need.”
After a nod from Najiltrin, the excavation team, led by Sevintyl, began extracting the Yumelatri gynoid from the rubble she’d been trapped in for millennia.
“Walk with me, TahKedert,” said the Chief Archaeologist. They picked their way through piles of rubble to the street outside the shop. “While you’re at the tech dome, run a check on yourself, too. You snapped at that gynoid like you were having a major meltdown.”
TahKedert looked away.
“It appears I am overdue for an upgrade,” it said. “However, I do not wish to incur additional expense that will preclude the purchase of a second AI for your team.”
“Admirable,” said Najiltrin, “But, why do I suspect this sudden upgrade request is more than it seems?”
“Perhaps because of your poorly regulated imagination,” said TahKedert. “My analysis of Umalunet reveals that several of her core circuits are more advanced than my own. Logically, I cannot be expected to evaluate Yumelatri technology unless I can meet its standards.”
“I hope your upgrade will also address the erratic flickering of your status lights ever since we discovered the Yumelatri AI,” she said.
“Undoubtedly, the strain on my circuits has been considerable,” said TahKedert.
“Agreed,” said Najiltrin. “But if I didn’t know better, I’d think you’d fallen in love.”
TahKedert’s high grade carbon fiber head began a slow, 180-degree spin.
“Tha thash im poss ossi sible .” it said, before tumbling down to the pockmarked city street beneath him.
(To be continued)
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