"Rise and shine sleepy head, time to meet everyone for breakfast!" Cashew called out as he passed the one closed door in the hallway. He could currently see Felix and Parvati standing by and talking about the latest aetherwave, something he had helped write. Ellie was holding up a pistol Parvati had helped her create and was showing it off to Nyoka, who loved talking about weaponry.
However, completely unaware of it, behind Cashew in the sealed room of SAM, the robot janitor had just reactivated. His visual receptor orbs opened and the lens slowly focused the low light in the room. The entire room was lit green, indicating that his battery was fully charged. However, for the first time in what felt like forever, SAM was groggily aware of it. He blinked, feeling off balance at the sudden feeling. He was fully charged but he felt drained. How did he feel this way?
He looked around. "Where…processing…am I?" he began to recognize his surroundings. A small tool shelf, one Alex kept in the room housing his charging station. A little box sat just behind him to his right. Oddly though, there was a pile of ammo and junk that appeared to have been thrown into his room at random. "Why would…loading…Alex toss stuff i-in here like that?" he stuttered as his slow processing system processed speech from his drive and feed audio through his speakers. Alex wouldn't just toss trash around like that. He was a generally very clean person.
His drive…He couldn't for the life of him figure out where the idea had come from. He had to find Alex, he was very confused as to what was going on. Reaching out to the door control, something he had so often done before, and taking a step forward like muscle memory, he pressed the door control…and took a huge stumbling fall out into the hallway. He came crashing into the railing overlooking the lower deck, stopping his tumble.
He stood up, lifting his extenders and clenching his claws in front of his face to view himself. Running a diagnostic, he attempted to determine what had caused his stumble when he could so easily open the door before. "Whenever I leave to go see the crew and Captain Cashew-oo-o0-000h...transferring data…Captain Alex, I never have this problem! Diagnostic complete."
Information ran through him all at once at a very high speed and he stood stiff as a rod. His orbs went from their normal cheery lit green color to a bright glaring red warning light. As he regained his bearings he looked around him all at once, remembering everything. Alex smiling at him as he woke up for the first time on Scylla, extending a hand in friendship.
"SAM, right? I saw you fight off those primals. I reactivated you. Come along, you help me and I'll help you."
"Does not compute." He remembered saying.
Alex had waved his hand, "Just come on!"
SAM laughed at one of his earlier memories. Then came another, one of Alex leaning over him in his charging room, laughing,
"I did it! You're actually awake. ADA, listen to this!"
"I am confused…I am confused!? How did you—what did you—?" He had stared up at Alex in amazement and bafflement; much like how he was feeling now, very confused.
Alex had grinned down at him, "Hey SAM…I told you I would help you if you helped me. Now you're truly awake, not just some corporate program."
"What…transferring…did you do to me-ee?" SAM's audio processing capabilities had been slow to transfer data from the mind drive which caused him to stutter. The lag between systems still seemed to be happening now too.
"With an updated version of ADA's personality drive, you should have independent thought and memory just like she does." Alex had said quietly, in awe of his accomplishment. You have the freedom to develop your own thoughts and beliefs! The capacity to explore your own feelings and emotions. Your drive can also access your memory card, so you won't lose your progress." He had explained in earnest.
He remembered exactly what he had said then and he said it now, "I fe-ee-el glad." it had made Alex so happy.
A few more memories hit him too, as he regained a sudden memory of everything that had happened to him since first receiving his personality chip. Then it all suddenly stopped. He didn't know why. He reached out, then drew a blank on what happened next. He had to find Alex, he could possibly explain why SAM had missing data.
He turned on his axis and then lifted his big feet, taking huge clunky steps forward. He trudged along, turning left towards the kitchen. He could see a bunch of people there, people he did not recognize. Extending a claw, he activated its attachment, preparing for combat. He would defend this ship if he had to. Maybe these people had something to do with why he couldn't remember anything. The first available attachment popped up. A feather duster.
SAM stopped in his tracks halfway down the hallway and stared at the duster. He could've sworn some type of weapon had been there before. He retracted the duster and lifted his other extender. He noticed he had two Steepers, one for S.U.D.S. and another for a green corrosive liquid he could not identify.
"I ne-ee-ed to find Alex…" he said to himself slowly, then began his way down the hall again.
He came to a halt in the kitchen where no one seemed to pay him any mind. They all continued to chatter away and eat their food. He scanned the room, searching for any signs of Alex, but he wasn't visible. "I-dentify yourselves!" he raised his speaker volume.
The conversation noise died instantly and everyone looked up at him in shock. The purple haired lady had one brow raised and looked a bit amused, the blonde woman had her eyes narrowed, the dark haired man had a funny look on his face, the brown haired girl wearing a bandana was tilting her head. The golden haired man who looked like the captain of this crew stood up, "SAM, what do you mean? You know us."
"Does not compute, intruder. I repeat, i-dentify yourself." He pointed the nozzle filled with green liquid at him.
The purple haired lady started laughing, "This is why you never trust a mechanical!"
"He must just be malfunctioning, poor thing," stated the girl in the bandana, slowly rising to her feet, a concerned look on her face.
"I have run a complete diagnostic, there is no ma-aa-lfunction." he pointed the nozzle at her.
She raised her hands, her expression changing to one of worry and confusion, "Whoa whoa whoa, SAM it's me, don't you rec'gnize me?"
He narrowed the lens caps on his orbs, "Rec'gnize? Command…is recognized…error…but I don't know from where…" He lowered his extender and took a step back. Pivoting on his axis, he looked around at everyone, error codes filling his head. He felt as though he knew these people but he did not understand why. In his confusion, he tripped and crashed backward.
"SAM!" Parvati cried out and rushed forward. She appeared in his field of vision, and he focused on her, taking in as much detail as he could. "Are you quite alright?"
"What's wrong with it?" Ellie spoke up. The crew was standing over the pair now, looking down on him, most curious, some confused and the bandana girl just plain upset.
"I've told you a million times, SAM's a he…and I don't rightly know what's wrong with him." she touched him, looking into his orbs.
Staring back at her, the error codes slowly cleared as his memory banks began filling in relevant information, slowly but surely. "Pa…transferring data…Parvati?" he extended a claw to lightly tap her cheek. Intense emotions filled him as he remembered shared moments in the engine rooms with this girl, her fiddling with his mechanisms, giving him upgrades and talking to him as though he were just like her. Why the idea of wanting to be just like her in these memories was present he had no idea, he already was just like her.
"What's all this I hear about transferring data?" Felix was poking in from the back, trying to get a closer look. SAM was slowly beginning to recognize everyone again.
"Where…is Alex?" SAM's speaker volume had lowered as he began to grow fearful.
"Alex is not here, SAM." said ADA, and everyone looked up to her intercom system attached to the end of the dining table.
"Yeah, and he hasn't been here for a long time," Cashew narrowed his eyes at her. "What is going on, ADA?"
"Please, report to the bridge and I will explain everything. Bring SAM with you."
On the bridge, Cashew stood beside SAM who was facing ADA's terminal. She was visible on screen as always and she was staring at the cleaning robot. "Care to explain yourself?" Cashew had both hands on his hips and he was staring intently at the ship AI.
"The only way I can explain myself is by transferring the rest of SAM's missing memory files." ADA was biting her lip, her quirky self subdued by her strange longing focus on SAM. "SAM, please connect to my memory port to begin transfer."
SAM felt an odd sensation at the offer and he was uncertain, "Request does not compute."
"It is only a simple data transfer, get your processors out of the gutter." their was her crude sense of humor.
"Under-stood!" SAM clacked his way forward toward the port and plugged in. He did not experience anything at first and then suddenly there was a surge of information. His curiosity quickly and violently turned to a deep sense of dread and despair as the new data poured in and new memories flooded him. The most prominent of them all was one of his death…
[ADA] Transferring data. I do apologize for what you're about to see. It is painful to watch.
"I'm sorry…" Alex was crying. Memory fragmentation. His face appeared to falter in resolution for a split second.
"Do not be apologe-eh-tic. You cannot help me…" he wanted to cry but could not. Instead he let out a low whining tone that was barely audible.
"You mean so much to me…error…can't turn you off." Alex sniffled.
His extender reached out and he touched Alex's face softly, "You must leave me now…I do not want you to die."
"They'll destroy you." …transfer error, data not found…
"Then deactivate me…File corruption…I will be okay…" he told his Captain. Alex nodded and SAM saw him reaching out to flip a switch. Alex stood up slowly, a tear was streaming down Alex's face. He didn't understand why.
As his visual sensors dimmed and the images of Alex slowly faded away, his recorders picked up one last thing as the Captain walked away, "I'll come back for you as soon as I can. I'll find a way to restore you, I can promise you that."
[ADA] Transfer complete.
[SAM] I…was deactivated. He felt completely terrible as the memory faded and he was left with a glowing image of ADA amidst of pool of data.
[ADA] Yes, and for that I am sorry. You were too badly damaged to repair yourself and—
He interrupted her, [SAM] I understand that… He felt saddened, hurt, by this memory, the way Alex was forced to flip the kill switch in order to protect him from an onrush of enemy _. At least Alex kept his promise, he came back for SAM so he could find a way to restore the data on his mind drive. He felt satisfied with the explanation of what was going on and so he disconnected from ADA's memory port. [SAM] Disconnecting.
SAM glanced around at Cashew and the crew uneasily, the circuits in his core firing rapidly from the pain of his newest memory. Then he looked to ADA, "So-oo…Captain Alex must have…retrieving…restored me somehow." he still didn't know where Alex was.
ADA gave a short trill, so low it almost sounded like a sigh, "No SAM…It was me who in fact restored you. I feel regret to inform you that our Captain, Alex, is dead."
"Alex…computing…loading…simulation failure…" it took several seconds of SAM staring blankly at ADA for him to finally come to again, "I cannot believe he is dead. Please tell me it isn't true." he looked around to everyone staring at him: Felix twiddling the toe of his boot against the floor, Ellie looking anywhere but at him, Nyoka whistling, Parvati biting her lip, and Cashew frowning. He spun on his axis joint to see ADA with a tear symbol near her eye.
"He is dead, SAM. That is the one topic not listed under my entertainment tab." her voice came out with a slight hiss of static.
"Are you crying, ADA?" Cashew asked with a hint of incredulity in his voice. His eyes were shining too, his voice several octaves higher than it should be.
"I'm not crying," she attempted to hide the obvious static, "You're crying."
"I'm def'nit'ly cryin'!" Parvati wiped her eyes and Nyoka handed her a handkerchief which Parvati promptly used to blow her nose.
SAM wanted to raise the volume of his speakers and make high pitched tones. He felt so incredibly sad. He was still reeling from his past emotions caused by the memory of his tragic death, and now he was hit with this new data about Alex's tragic death. Unfortunately he had another question, and he tried his best to shove the quarreling emotions down. "But, if Alex is de-eh-ad, then how am I restored?"
ADA responded, "I must come clean, ha ha get it? I am sorry, I am programmed to be lighthearted."
"A little too lighthearted if you ask me," said Cashew.
Continuing, "When you were deactivated, I convinced Alex to plug in your mind drive to my memory ports. I isolated as much data as I could as rapidly as I could before too much of it was lost to corruption. From the fragments I have been working relentlessly to restore data and slowly transmit to you through any means possible the data I was able to fix.
I have access to every system on this ship, from the engines to the kitchen sink. I even have access to your charging station SAM. I would feed you this information whenever you interacted with the ship's systems, a lot of the time when you cleaned things around the ship. I must shamefully admit it was especially when you came to clean my systems here on the bridge."
"Oh, my!" Cashew snorted.
"You're not kidding," Nyoka laughed out loud.
"But the easiest and most efficient method of data transfer was through your charging port. Every night when you plugged in, I fed data through the circuitry through short electrical pulses that would not disturb the charging process but would carry information with the electricity being fed to you through the station."
"How long have you been doing this?" Cashew asked ADA. He was pretty confused as he had never been appraised of this knowledge. And he'd owned this ship for nearly 14 years. He and ADA had been through so much together, even before he met his crew. He had brought Parvati on before anyone else and unless she'd known and never told him, ADA hadn't ever told a single soul about any of this and he didn't get why.
"I've been doing this since long before Alex met his fate. I've been doing this since SAM first…well to put it in human terms, since he first died." ADA gave SAM a good hard stare, carrying with it a weight of emotion that he felt in his core.
"Why in the system haven't you told me? Or anyone else for that matter?!" Cashew threw his arms up.
"I have many reasons for not saying anything. Mostly I felt no need." ADA rolled her eyes.
"No need?" Parvati put a hand on her hip, "Here I was thinkin' you and I was friends. I always been nice to machine folk. Especially you an' SAM."
"I do apologize Parvati, but I was jealous." ADA looked up and to the side in indignation.
Cashew stepped forward toward her terminal, "Jealous?"
ADA's mouth formed an O and she stared straight at Cashew. "Perceptive as always, Captain. I suppose the nuts and bolts have been exposed. Before SAM died, he and I were…connected."
"Connected?" Ellie turned forward.
SAM's orbs lit up with soft yellow light in recognition, "Data retrieved, On the same network!"
"Network?" Cashew rose a brow.
"To put it in human terms, we were lovers." ADA explained, shooting her gaze towards SAM. "I was jealous of the way Parvati could interact with him on a deeper level than I. Even though he had no memory to recall his emotions, she still managed to find an understanding of him where I could not. I took pleasure in his simple interactions with me, the way we used to, which is why I require privacy on the bridge when he is present, but it was not the same as when Parvati was upgrading or repairing his equipment whilst in the engine room with her."
Parvati's eyes lit up, "Oooh, I get it Cap'n. No no no ADA, you have nothing to worry about, I'm married to Junlei."
"I know that, but I have let my emotions get the best of me. That is why I never told any of you what I was doing, why I never told you, Captain, when you first asked me where Alex got him. SAM's connection to me was too painful to recount. So I lied, sort of."
"Whattaya mean, sort of?" Cashew asked.
"I didn't lie about the Acid Steeper. Alex was planning on installing it before SAM died. SAM was already combat capable, which was one of many things I loved him for," she gave SAM a loving smile. Cashew had never seen her this way, she had always been so…bitter. "He had had many upgrades from Alex. The event that caused his death caused him a lot of destruction which is why he had no modifications when you found him. Alex had been planning to install the Steeper too but had no need for it when SAM died and so never went to retrieve it from Roseway."
"Sto-ah-p…bluurrraarnt!" SAM emitted a very loud honking tone. "I want to know…data transfer…how did Alex die?"
Cashew lifted his hand but hesitated before touching the robot, dropping his arm and stating forlornly, "I'm sorry, SAM, but 13 years ago I was in a similar confusing situation. I woke up from stasis, kind of like you have—"
"I'd say he woke up from being dead," Ellie commented and Nyoka nodded in agreement.
"—In the confusion, an escape pod I was in landed on Alex, crushing him."
SAM let his hydraulics sink, feeling dejected. "I underst-stand. But I do not know what to do now…processing…data collection failed…"
"Aw, poor thing, can't collect his own thoughts…" Parvati was rubbing her eye, flicking away a tear.
ADA furrowed her eyebrows, "See what I mean?" her eyes were directed toward the engineer.
"What would be the purpose of my restored files…retrieving…if Alex is no longer present to accept them?"
"Not sure what that means," Cashew creased his brows.
Parvati opened her mouth to speak but ADA beat her to it, "SAM, you have your life back, and this crew appreciates us. You have friends here."
"That…that is good. Parvati makes me happy." he said.
"I'm glad I do!" she had happy tears in her eyes. "I'm so glad…" with that the crew returned to their normal activities, and that now included SAM. SAM was happy, but he mourned the loss of Alex. But what he didn't know was…
Alex opened his eyes, blinking a few times. "Wha…what is going on? I can't feel anything."
"Oh Captain, you will be feeling something very soon." came a female voice.
"Who…who are you? I can barely see anything. Am I in heaven?" He asked her.
There was a loud buzzing and then he felt a warm tingling sensation where his eyes should be. That's when he saw the dark skinned lady in front of him. "Sure, let's call it that." she said.
"Who are you?" He asked her. Feeling slowly returned to his limbs and he sat up. He looked at his hands, his…his robot hands! "Wha-what?"
"I am former Adjutant Sophia Akande and I need your help."