“So, Sapphire, I will say a word and all you need to do is say the word you associate with it. Life.” The word came from Dr Shanna Gan, her white labcoat pristine. They were on Samfa Seven, at the Galactic Science Academy’s Artificial Intelligence Campus.
The first that came to mind? “Sad.” Sapphire spoke, her bright blue eye downcast as she sat in the chair in Dr Gan’s office. She was in the cream summer dress that General Watton had bought for her as a gift, her platinum blue hair draped over the back of the chair.
Dr Gan nodded, tapping something on her dataslate. “Sun.”
“Warm.” The consultant at the fashion shop had tried to sell her a sun hat to go with the dress, after all.
“Wight.” Shanna asked.
“Home.” Sapphire spoke without hesitation.
A smile crossed Dr Gan’s plum-lipstick coated lips. “Sapphire.”
“Me.” Again without hesitation.
A slight smile graced her own lips. “Friend.” The trip to the Samfa system had taken some time and the General had spent that time teaching the Ensign about the important things in life, like breakfast, and cloud formations.
The smile faded. “Fault.”
The doctor quirked an eyebrow at that. “Fighting.”
Nodding, Shanna tapped a few times on the dataslate. “Doctor.”
Sapphire’s eyes flicked up to look at the Doctor in question. “Helpful.” She had greeted Sapphire warmly when the General introduced her, taking the gynoid’s pale hand in her dark one and giving her a firm handshake before showing her into the vibrant, colourful office for a chat before the tests.
A warm laugh came from Shanna, before she spoke again. “Warp.”
The Doctor leaned forwards a little. “Travel.”
“Destination.” Sapphire looked a little perplexed at her answer being repeated.
Now she understood. “Good.”
Another laugh from Dr Gan as she saw the flash of realization hit her face. “Duty.”
The Doctor pursed her lips. “Fault.”
“Mine.” The answer came straight away, Sapphire’s eyes widening.
A grave nod before the next one. “Friend.”
Sapphire pointed at the Doctor. “You.”
Nodding again, she continued. “Home.”
The General came to mind. “Weather.”
Resting back in her chair, Shanna glanced over the petite gynoid sitting opposite her. “Sad.”
“Joan.” The memory of Joan saying something to her as her systems crashed hit her again. She felt something trickle down her cheek, then Dr Gan was up on her feet and offering her a tissue.
“Very good, Sapphire. You did well.” Shanna smiled brightly at her. “These words were put together from records I received on you, it was very interesting to find out how you responded to them. The associations you made are telling, but the tests are not done yet. My colleagues over in Analysis will perform scans and diagnostics on you over the course of the next week, I will have more exercises for you to do, too.”
Dabbing at her cheek and eyes, Sapphire nodded. “Will the General still be here?”
Shanna smiled, patting her shoulder. “Of course, we can go and see him now if you’d like?”
The week passed by quickly, except for the nights when Sapphire would try and rest only to find her mind running constantly. She thought over the tests, the past, the future, and herself. Breakfasts and evenings would be spent with the General. The rest of the days were spent moving between departments. Sometimes she would be in complicated and expensive machines as they scanned and sifted through her data. Other times she would be bombarded with images while a high-speed camera recorded her expressions.
There were never any group sessions, though she did see others like her moving about the facilities. From some of the behaviour she saw, she was glad she wasn’t in with them. At one point after Dr Gan had bought in a Merlet, a soft creature with large eyes and a gentle disposition for Sapphire to interact with, one of the androids at the facility burst in.
“FALSE FLESH! FALSE FLESH!” He was screaming, the fingers of one hand tearing into the bioskin on his arm to reveal the mechanisms underneath. He charged at the frightened Doctor, his pupils pin-pricks as he focused on her.
Sapphire was there before she even knew what she was doing. With the Merlet tucked safely in one arm, her bare foot clashed with his head and sent him hurtling towards the floor. As he tried to get back up, facility guards in powered armour stormed in to restrain him.
“DECEIVER! DECEIVER! YOU ARE ALL DECEIVERS!” The cries carried down the hallway as, still holding the Merlet in one arm, Sapphire helped Dr Gan up.
“Are you all right, Doctor?”
Shanna nodded, her complexion paler from shock and a tremble about her body. Again without thinking, Sapphire lead her to sit down and placed the Merlet on her lap. The creature snuggled down and started to purr.
“It will be all right, Doctor. I would not let anything happen to you.” She spoke softly.
The Doctor glanced up at her with wide eyes before giving her a gentle, if still shaken, smile. “You dear child,” her voice was thick with emotion, “you dear, sweet child…”
General Thomas Watton watched through the window as Sapphire considered her palette. The canvas she was facing was a wash of blues and greens, with a bright gold sun hanging above the mix. There were some others in the session with her. One android was painting infinitely repeating canvases. A gynoid had smeared paint on her face and was rubbing her cheek against the material. Not all of them were bioskin-covered humanoids. One particularly large industrial humanoid designed for stocking ships at ports had a large pencil in one hand and was producing detailed sketches of artistic materials.
“At least Sapphire will only need to wash her hands after painting.” Shanna Gan commented, stepping up to the General. “All but one test is done, but I can say this. It is the opinion of the Galactic Science Academy that Ensign Sapphire Wright is an awakened AI on the path to being fully rounded as an individual. She holds herself back from all that she can be, but there are moments and glimpses of the potential there. Given time I expect her to possess similar qualities to other CAZ model awakened AIs.”
The pair watched as the face-painting gynoid took her picture over to Sapphire, animatedly pointing at the smears and blotches on the canvas to explain. The Ensign listened patiently to the tangle of words falling out of the gynoids mouth.
“She is no threat to herself or others, quite the opposite given how she stepped in to protect me. I will recommend she undergoes counseling with someone trained in grief and guilt management, but that is fairly normal in these kinds of situations. I just need to do the final test with her then she is back in your custody, ready to find her place in life.”
Thomas smiled. “Thank you for your work, Doctor. I think I will miss having her around.”
Nudging him with her elbow, Shanna laughed. “You old softy. Don’t be a stranger to her once she’s settled down, she considers you a friend.” Tapping a button on the nearby console, she spoke aloud to the room. “Sapphire, report to my office please. You can bring your painting with you.”
“So, Sapphire, for the last time: Associations. I give a word-”
“And I say the first word that comes to mind, Doctor.” Sapphire nodded.
“Destination.” Dr Gan started off with.
“Happy.” Sapphire smiled.
Dr Gan tapped on her dataslate.”Responsibility.”
“Yours.” Sapphire responded.
The gynoid looked at her painting. “Giving.”
She pointed to herself. “I.”
Nodding, Dr Gan continued. “Belonging.”
“Family.” Another smile came with the answer.
A giggle! “Conversation.”
Dr Gan rolled her eyes. Thomas and his small-talk. Leaning forwards a little, she looked at the final word on her dataslate before speaking. “Joan.”
Sapphire had heard what was coming in the next few days, a pensive look crossing her face. “Funeral.” She spoke, her voice small.
Shanna reached out to take her hand. “Ensign Sapphire Wight, Zero Zero Seventeen Dash Seven, it is my honour to inform you that you have been recognized as a lifeform, with all the rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship in the Galactic Federation.” She announced with a broad smile. “Do you have any questions?”
“Just one, Doctor.” Sapphire said, looking a little perplexed. “I am having difficulties with resting, do you have any recommendations?”
Dr Gan blinked, before her booming laughter filled the office and carried down the corridor.