Disclaimer: I own nothing.

This idea just hit me in the head recently and won't let go, so I'm going to go ahead and try to write it out. Basically, the story explores what might have happened had things not gone completely insane. Could EDI have become a valuable fourth member of Ben's team? What would the implications have been for an AI as advanced as EDI was? Is the world ready for him?

Is he ready for the world?

AU WARNING: After a certain point this will be AU. Stop reading now if you don't like that.


Prologue

Not for the first time since it all happened, Lieutenant Ben Gannon found himself at the edge of the ship staring out across the water. Just staring at the calm, smooth waves passing by the carrier. His mind as always was elsewhere, thinking about the chaotic events that had occurred. Events sparked by addition of a fourth wingman to his three-person squadron. An experimental drone named Extreme Deep Invader, or EDI for short.

It was supposed to save lives. A whole new type of Unmanned Combat Ariel Vehicle (UCAV) that was intelligent, that could learn. Something to take on missions far too dangerous for flesh and blood, slow-thinking human pilots prone mistakes.

The prototype had been assigned to his squadron to learn from the best. Ben had had his doubts, had said as much to his commanding officer. Computers didn't have feelings or instincts or moral judgment. But he had his orders. EDI became a member of his team. To learn.

Maybe it could've worked. If the lightning strike hadn't happened, if it had been another team. If Ben had given the UCAV more of a chance.

"You like listening to other people's conversations, don't you?"

"You learn what people really think."

But the lightning strike did happen. It had been his team. And Ben hadn't trusted the UCAV one bit. Not until it was too late. And now, his best friend, Henry, was dead. The Talon program was effectively destroyed. And EDI was now small pieces of shredded metal and circuitry in the middle of the Korean demilitarized zone.

He should hate EDI. He certainly had enough reason. But there, at the end, EDI had changed. It had sacrificed itself to given him and Kara a chance to escape. Which went against everything he thought he knew about the AI.

"My mandate is to survive."

He had talked with EDI's programmer, Keith Orbit, after the events to try to get some answers. Dr. Orbit seemed to be convinced that the anomalous data that had been discovered in EDI's neural net after the lightning strike had been something no one else had considered: feelings. That, somehow, EDI was growing far beyond its original programming.

"EDI is a warplane. EDI must have targets."

And that, maybe, EDI didn't know how to deal with it.

Ben wasn't sure about that explanation, but would certainly be ironic if it was true. After all, he had been worried about computers that didn't feel.

Could it all have happened differently? Was EDI doomed to failure after the lightning strike? Or could it have become a valuable member of Ben's team?

Ben could leave it all alone. Just hate EDI forever and move on with his life. But he had seen something there at the end. Had seen a glimpse of what EDI could've been.

"EDI...did you just turn him off?"

"...There was nothing left to say."

So here, in the calm and quiet, he wondered.

=o=o=o=o=

"Don't you like surprises, Ben...?"


Please let me know what you think.