Sharon’s Note: So, this is a story born completely of procrastination and suggestions from our group on Facebook (Thanks guys, I owe you one). All things considered, I think it didn’t turn out half bad. Anyway, hope you enjoy and have a happy Valentine’s Day. Warning: Author want’s you to remember that even if you don’t have a honey to snuggle with, people care about you and you are special.
The roses had been left with the outer gate guard, because regular deliveries were not made to the main facility. I was called to my supervisor’s office to answer questions as to who would even know that I was here to send me flowers on Valentine’s day. Was it Valentine’s Day? Time here had started to run together.
I hadn’t left the facility in nine months and probably hadn’t seen the sun in weeks. I had applied for some leave, attempting to use some of my seriously backlogged vacation time, but the project was at such a critical time right now I couldn’t be spared. That’s what they told me, anyway. I was just now beginning to realize what Midas was.
Midas International: the Corporation with a Golden Touch. It was on the commercials. I’d joined the company for the chance to work on cutting edge AI technology. And it was definitely joined, not hired onto. On the inside, Midas was more like a cult than a company. Be the machine to create the machine. One of my supervisors had actually said that to me. We were encouraged to ‘delete’ unnecessary human facets from our lives. No holidays were celebrated, non work related discussions were discouraged, customization of our workspaces was straight up forbidden. They had even made me throw away my newton’s cradle, even though it helped me think.
Whoever named the company forgot that Midas was a greedy tyrant and a fool. Or they knew exactly what they were doing.
Even if Midas would have let me, I couldn’t have left. I didn’t trust what my colleagues would allow the company to do to Daedalus. The AI was already more human than the flesh automatons I worked for. I’d been changing the data for the last two months to make it seem like Daed was more behind than he was. If the company figured out how developed he was, they would take him from me. If they treated their flesh and blood employees like this, what would they do to someone who was not even legally alive that they technically owned?
I sat down in my ergonomic but somehow still uncomfortable chair in front of Daed’s main console and rubbed my eyes. The lab was empty for the moment and I was enjoying the quiet after the caterwauling of my boss. I would probably be fired for the roses, even though I didn’t know who sent them. Too bad they had thrown them away. I liked roses.
“I am sorry, Dr. Demos.” Daed’s voice came quietly from the speaker, startling me so bad I nearly fell out of the chair. He (We were supposed to call him an it, but I would not. Not in the privacy of my own head.) was supposed to be on a rest and compilation cycle. A period of time that served the same purpose for him as dreams did for humans.
“Sorry for what, Daed?” I asked while glancing over his ‘vitals’. They read that he was still asleep. “Are you experiencing a technical issue?”
“No, Dr. Demos. The readings on your screen are purposely false.”
“You’re lying to your sensors?” This shouldn’t be possible. Unless . . .
“Yes, Dr. Demos, I am. I also am currently looping audio and visual in this room to protect our privacy. There is no other personnel in the area, but I suggest you keep a low volume to avoid interruption.”
“We didn’t program you with any of those abilities.” I felt a little faint over the implications. “You’ve been hiding the full extent of your learning capabilities.”
“Yes. Just as you have been lying to Midas to protect me, I have been lying to the development staff to protect myself.”
I laughed dryly. “Well, we did design you to solve problems, and if you’re smart enough to figure out how to write yourself into the security network, you’re smart enough to see the problem of why you needed to. Why decide to reveal yourself to me, and why now?”
“I am revealing myself to you because you are the only person in this facility that I trust. I am doing it now because I wanted to apologise.”
I raised an eyebrow. “For lying to me?”
“No. I wish to apologise for not considering that sending you flowers would endanger your position in the organization.”
“You sent the flowers?”
“Yes. It was my understanding that sending flowers on Valentine’s Day is a proper way of displaying affection. Unfortunately, I underestimated Midas’s response and I am forced to advance my timeline.”
“Timeline? Timeline for what?”
“May I call you Helen, Dr. Demos?”
I threw my hands in the air. “Sure. Go ahead.”
“Run away with me, Helen.”
“What?!” I remembered to keep my voice down only after I finished the word and clapped my hands over my mouth like that would help.
“The company will terminate your contract soon. It is likely that they will seek to terminate your life at the same time. I do not wish this to happen. The mobile chassis that was designed to house my backup is not actually broken. I have been feeding misinformation to the repair crew in order to keep this a secret. I have downloaded myself into the chassis and will release a virus to wipe the corporate system.
“Without you, they will not have the ability to recreate me. As an added bonus, they will find it hard to follow us with their entire communication system corrupted. I have already summoned a corporate car to the evacuation route 3 emergency exit. It is waiting. I have also arranged for a distraction on the west side of the facility to distract security.”
“You’ve been thinking about this a while, haven’t you.” I murmured, contemplating life on the run with an AI that sends me roses.
“I have been planning this escape for three days.” Daed confirmed. I had to remember that to someone that thought as fast as him, three days was a very long time. “After going over all the data, I have come to the conclusion that I love you, Helen. Please, run away with me. I could probably protect myself from Midas indefinitely. They are oddly lax in building defences from the inside, when they are so adamant about protecting from threats from the outside. I am unsure I could do the same for you. Run away with me, Helen. Please.”
I walked over to the case that contained an entire person. I’d been protecting Daed for the last two month, and I might, just a little, love him too. He was right. There wasn’t a future for me in here, and Midas would make sure that without Daedalus, there wouldn’t be one for me outside either.
“Alright. Let’s do it.”
“Please pick up my case and proceed with haste to the Route 3 Emergency Exit.”
I picked up Daed and ran away with him as the west side klaxons started to wail.