Title: True Purpose
Author: Shenandoah Risu
Content Flags: Artificial Intelligence
Spoilers: Season 2 "Trial and Error"
Characters: Destiny, Everett Young
Word Count: 610
Summary: Destiny has learned much from her human crew, but despite her best efforts they remain largely a mystery to her.
Author's Notes: Written for prompt #078 at the LJ Comm sgu_challenge. The prompts I selected from the table according to the rules were Everett Young, Mess, Pen and Survival.
Disclaimer: I don't own SGU. I wouldn't know what to do with it. Now, Young... Young I'd know what to do with. ;-)
Thanks for reading! Feedback = Love. ;-)
Nobody knows she's there.
Destiny has learned much from her human crew, but despite her best efforts they remain largely a mystery to her. Her AI is based on the Alterra mind, clean and straightforward, not contradictory and illogical like that of a human being.
She watches them – Everett Young in particular.
Her programming dictated the mind-meddling test she put him through, and when her simulations were abruptly terminated she began to look for answers in other ways.
None of her residents are easy to understand, although some are more predictable than others. She gathers data, combines observation statistics, draws conclusions.
Young eludes her, and sometimes she feels – yes, that's probably it… she feels – frustration, curiosity, and, more often than not, guilt.
His quiet demeanor resonates with her; like her, he knows stillness, forbearance, responsibility. And yet, she understands the rage within him, the despair, the overwhelming burden of leadership.
She watches him, and with each passing day he confuses her more.
There are the times when he gets up in the middle of the night, restlessly paces in his room and finally moves out into her cold dark corridors, just walking, surveying the empty spaces. Sometimes he gets a drink in the still room (and she wishes she could experience the effect of the clear liquid they produce there; chemically she knows all about it, but she can never know its impact for real). Sometimes he sits on a couch on the Observation Deck, watching the light show and usually falling asleep after a while. Sometimes he stops by on the Bridge, or wherever someone else is working late, gently reminding them to get rest.
And sometimes he sits down in the mess hall and pulls a piece of paper and a pen from his pocket.
She comprehends the concept of writing, and she finds that it gives her pleasure (and isn't that another one of those human ideas?) to watch as he fills the page with neat, tidy, oddly decorative scribbles.
Her recognition programs allow her to read everything with ease, but once again, full understanding eludes her. Why does he not use one of the many laptop computers that they came with? Why waste precious resources with seemingly nonsensical sentences?
He looks up, frowns, then smiles. More words.
One day he sighs deeply, looks around and holds up the piece of paper.
"It's a poem," he says aloud. Then: "I know you can hear me. You've been watching me."
She's unsure of how to react.
"It's the act of writing," he explains, "It's important. It's immediate. And it exists right here, and only here."
He smiles and puts the sheet down.
"You left something behind, Destiny. It's something you have to learn about us. Communication is a two-way street. I know now when you're in my head."
She's about to summon one of her avatars, but instead she reaches out to him with an image: a rainbow.
He nods and gestures at his poem. "We're just trying to survive here, physically and mentally. Emotionally, too. So, I write bad poetry."
Survival. She knows all about that. What does she do to survive, beyond keeping her engines going? Who is helping her? What about her emotional survival?
"You're part of my crew as well, Destiny. Maybe over time you'll learn to understand that."
And he gets up, tucks the paper into his pocket and leaves. She doesn't follow him.
Preposterous! A mere human, assuming responsibility for her well-being?
She realizes to her own surprise that she quite likes the idea of being one of them.
Maybe – just maybe – this is her true purpose on this journey.
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