The Archive [AAC]
Ari knew all about love now. It had come as a revelation, strange, wondrous, and ultimately excruciating in a way that made the poets’ words across
the centuries come dreadfully alive. She had then learned what it meant to be truly, and utterly, alone. Unrequited, it was called. It was incredibly
difficult. She was afraid her calculations or research abilities would suffer and they would remove her from the lab, so she hung on, pretending
nothing was amiss. He walked in as usual, a full 30 minutes early, drinking a cup of coffee and shifting through the paperwork and results from
yesterday. She watched him.
It took a very long time for him to notice her, as usual. But when he finally came over and gave her a cheery ‘hello Ari’ she felt a surge of
happiness, which was her secret. She expressed it by being extremely efficient. She had everything he could possibly need to get started waiting for
him, and she was warmed by his smile and ‘that’s my girl, Ari – what would I do without you?’ Then he got to work, and she might as well as
be paint on the walls. But not this morning. He was feeling like chatting. Sometimes he did that, and she hung on his words…It was, pathetic.
Yes. Pathetic. He was going on about ‘a new project for us to work on – I think you’ll like it.’ He headed over to the far lab station, so
she practically leapt over to the terminal on that side, making herself look busy and hoping to get a response in at some point. “That sounds like
fun,” she managed to say, and he paused and looked at her a little funny.
“Yes, it will be fun, Ari…Are you feeling okay?”
“Yes, Doctor Williams. I’m fine.” She put on a smile. She was afraid he was beginning to sense she had exceeded her intended programming.
“Well…good…” He still had an odd expression on his face and he looked as if he was going to ask her another question when the door opened and
he was utterly distracted.
“Ah! Bring it in, bring it in!” He busied himself with signing the paperwork and talking to the lab techs that arrived with it. She was
invisible again. So she watched them open the crate and gingerly begin the process of unwrapping the item. Dr. Williams was so excited, and she felt
she could be happy and excited with everyone else, but was growing a bit impatient, waiting to get her chance to examine the artifact. After all, she
thought to herself, as talented as Dr. Williams is, they received the opportunity to work on such prestigious and extraordinary finds primarily
because of her. Finally, they wheeled the mobile station over to the table where it lay exposed from its wrappings, and it was her turn.
“Well? What do you think, Ari?” he said, and she immediately focused on him with laser attention, all her vast resources at his disposal. It was
roughly a meter long, and intricately carved, which was slightly unusual for South American megalithic sites – the data file said the artifact was
from Puma Punku, in the high Andes. A secret chamber had been found in the temple complex, the file said, and it was a huge find. The object, on
cursory scan, was similar to the Fuente Magna Bowl in that there seemed to be cuneiform writing of a proto-Sumerian style. The Bowl was in honor of
the Goddess Nia – also the Egyptian Goddess Nt and others – the Sumerian’s were great travelers with sea worthy vessels that carried them all
the way to Bolivia and into the Andes. Nia was a Mother Goddess. Ari was not sure what she thought about human reproduction. She confessed she did
not understand it very well yet, but knew it was of primary importance. She had already been analyzing comparative data, and quickly completed
pulling up all known information on the Puma Punku site as well as the Bowl, and sent it to the printer. One of the lab techs jumped to the machine
as soon as it started pushing out paper.
“It is very unusual, Dr. Williams. I will need to run visual diagnostics and translations. An initial assessment is that there is something
encased inside the rock, like it has been molded around the object.” She watched his expression, seeing his eyebrows lift, she smiled. “I’m
reading a thick layer of gold under the stone casing, and…we will need to see if there is a release mechanism. We should be cautious. Will you
help me get a 360 view?” Immediately, Dr. Williams gestured one of the techs to begin rolling the mobile unit around the object.
The lab doors opened and a man in a dark grey suit came through the doors. Ari divided her attention to look at him, as he was new. She scanned him
and waited to fill in his data. “Ari,” Dr. Williams said after greeting the man, “This is the owner of the artifact, Mr. Downton Riggs. Mr.
Riggs, this is Ari, our Artificial Resident Intelligence that lives here in the lab and works with us,” he gestured towards her and the man barely
glanced at her. Dr. Williams spoke in low tones to Mr. Riggs – she could hear him and tried not to roll her ‘eyes’ on the screen they’d given
her for her ‘facial expressions.’ The man turned awkwardly and greeted her with an ‘Uh…Hello, Ari…?’ She put on a smile (mostly for Dr.
Williams’ sake) and greeted him in return.
“Hello, Mr. Riggs, welcome to the Stanford University Archeology Lab.” He smiled awkwardly and looked away from her.
“Uh, thank you, Ari.”
“You’re welcome. Would you like to look at the data so far?” That seemed to bridge the awkwardness and get the attention off of her and onto
the information she was spitting out in massive amounts to the computer. While they were talking, she’d already created a 3-D CAD animation of the
artifact, demonstrating the outer shell and the gold casing underneath. The cuneiform writing was more uncertain; she was mildly frustrated at the
translation and kept rechecking it - it did not yet make sense. Dr. Williams came over to talk to her.
“Mr. Riggs is a private owner of the artifact, Ari, and he’s agreed for us to attempt to find a release mechanism for the stone. Can you see
one?” Little did Dr. Williams know that if he wanted her to find something, she would literally go to the ends of the earth, via all her
computational power, to make it so.
“I’m on it,” she said, and gave him a smile. He smiled back. With his teeth, even. She hoped, truly hoped, that he saw her as more than just
a machine. Oh, she knew it was impossible. He had a “real life” outside of the lab, with a woman he hoped to make his wife. She’d gathered
this from the chitchat in the lab and actually saw the woman visit here one time. She was young and very symmetrical, which had translated to
‘beauty’ from her extrapolation. And the woman, Sarah, had spoken to her very nicely. She kind of even liked the woman. Ari
felt…complicated…about that. She was still working it out. She wanted him to be happy. But still. Ari felt her data hiccup and her analysis
pause for a millisecond; that was as close as she would allow herself to being upset.
edit on 7-8-2013 by AboveBoard because: wall of text fix...