The soda can hissed at Naoko as she caved in the tab. She sniffed it, ears flicking downwards briefly, then frowned and sat it down in front of her, on the floor of the bay. Across from her, the suitcase robot had turtled up, and was currently in the process of looking exactly like a piece of pink, potentially psycadelic luggage. It had been undergoing this process - and Naoko understood it as a process immediately - for the last several minutes. Curiously it had not fled, yet.
"Ne," she called, not bothering to try to touch it. It was the first word she had spoken to the thing directly after being shut away in this storage area. "You can come out, now. Everything that is currently in need of breaking has broken and all the dead are all there are. It's over."
A small slot opened in the case and the robots orange led lights appeared "Ernie is waiting for Miss Zeta Five and Luca Pavone to finish conducting intimate affairs in the captains head." the robot replied in Yamataian, peeking out of its small slit. "Despite Echelon's insinuations, Ernie has decided they do not require surviellance while in the head. Echelon has refused all connection requests since." ((She's keeping them for herself, probably. :3 - Luca))
Naoko blew a few of her long bangs out of her face. It sounded, and looked, more like a huff. "I shower in there," she stated, sharply. As if to wash the taste of it out of her mouth, Naoko took a few sips from her soda, cringing slightly at the fuzzy, partly acidic sensation. It was not tea, sake, water, or even hard whisky; this Nepleslian stuff might as well just be called brass shiner.
The can made a crisp click when she sat it down between herself and the suitcase, eyeing the robotic thing with a certain amount of resentment and misplaced anger.
"Do you have any security partitions?"
"Ernie was originally based on a networked intelligence AI model, this platform has already exceeded design specs in single-unit autonomous action." the robot replied, the slot opening fully. "However, Ernie has been running some processes on Echelons primary hardware. As a networked unit, Ernie would lack the capacity for partitioning data from other participants."
Translation: No, it was a basically hive mind.
"Come here." It was not a request, but Naoko patted the ground in front of her crossed legs gently enough, and her tone had lost its edge. Now, she seemed more curious than angry or annoyed - and the truth was, her mercurial temperment wasn't affected, this time. There was hardly any need to wear such petty masks in front of machines, especially not this one, at least not for very much longer.
The robot seemed to think about this for a few seconds before the slit closed and arms, legs, a torso and a head appeared as the robot stood up to its diminutive height. It waddled over to Naoko, looking almost apprehensive despite not having a face or other means of communicating emotion.
"Do you have a mechanical interface, or are you purely quasielectromagnetically networked?"
"If you have files your would like to upload to the security network, I may also recieve them by wire here if you do not trust wireless connections." It extended a wrist and a small wire trailed out. Naoko accepted the wire without comment, holding the very end between thumb and forefinger. "Ernie advises that this unit is the only platform in the security interface currently." the robot continued.
Rolling the very end of the wire thoughtfully -- it looked to Naoko like some sort of primative precursor to her own design, but only in the sense that a shovel was a precursor to an astral drilling laser -- Naoko said, "Not for very long. I am going to create a local partition that will separate certain types of information and make it encrypted and local-access-only. Are you fine with this?"
Naoko smiled, then; although the smile showed her pointy incisors, it wasn't an aggressive smile. No, it was bemusement. Why was she asking permission from a robot?
"Ernie inquiries if this partition is for Naoko-sans own use? If so, Ernie is able to add you to the security network as a reciever, if you prefer." the robot said. Ever since joining the ship the robots sensorcluster had been constantly scanning , giving the robot an anxious air about it. "Otherwise, Ernie cannot compromise the network for Naoko's purposes if she wishes to store data relating to other crew members."
Naoko rolled her head and brushed most of her hair away from one of her shoulders. With her opposite hand, still holding Ernie's wire, she began to peel away the skin over her SLICS. After seeing the configuration, she was fairly sure that after a few tests, she would be able to use it despite the obvious difference in manufacturers. This thought, too, struck her as ludicrous; it was as if, unconsciously, she were putting herself in this thing's place.
"I am going to give you something," she stated, fitting the wire into her shoulder and holding it for a moment while her hemosynthetics closed around it and began the task of figuring out what went where. "It will only operate within the confines of the partition separate from the network and accessable only by myself for my own purposes. In return I will give you access to the ship's databanks, and you can have its processing power. Though, I'm afraid you may have to limit your usage. This will be our secret."
"Ernie questions Naoko-sans access to this vessels core processor. Ernie may also be unable to continue operation if Naoko-san takes up too much of this platforms internal storage space."
Of course, at that point, anything audible was mere dithering. Naoko had figured the wire out, and there did not seem to be anything seperating her from the little pink protector-bot. All of the defenses seemed to be on her side of the line, and that struck her as more than passing odd. Had Echelon set some sort of trap?
Naoko saw her own face from the robots perspective, several different overalls attempting to gauge her emotion and other trivial details to her. Heak, it didn't even know she was there, did it? What did it think was happening, right now?
Just to keep it going while she searched through its local memory for what she was looking for, Naoko said, "I assume you keep most of your information floating, then?"
"Ordinarily. Being a single unit has forced Ernie to dump unneeded data as it is generated and store only its immediate requirem-"
Naoko cut it off.
For a brief moment, the vision from the robot's eyes died in a nova of static - in the brief few miliseconds of time skip, Naoko set her partitions in the unguarded memory, or what existed of it. She struggled, very briefly, to find a good password to secure the partition and base the encryption program upon. It couldn't just be a series of letters or numbers - it would have to have an organic component, otherwise the other 'hacker' would easily decrypt it. Computers could munch numbers like candy.
Naoko reactivated the thing's visual sensors, then very carefully tilted its head up until she could see her own face in perfect profile. It's security overlay activated and she found out more kinds of interesting facts about her looks than she could have ever been interested in.
"Motou," Naoko stated, making sure that the overlays caught every inflection of her voice, every movement of her lips, as well as the numbers. It would be stored in complex patterns, both audio and video, but it would be extremely hard to duplicate. When the partition was established, she encrypted it fully - made the thing's processes secret, changed the storage areas around in a seemingly random partitioning, and then withdrew, finished.
Carefully, she angled the thing's head back down to the precise level it had been prior to her meddling. She withdrew her hand, drew on its memory just one more time to figure out the exact position she had been sitting in beforehand, and then re-activated it.
No, she thought to herself, in her private mind; it's a him, now.
"-ents." The robot splurted as it reanimated. Then stopped, its sensorcluster peered around as if in mild confusion. It started making a whirring noise, indicating that it was thinking about something very hard. Naoko knew it must be remapping itself, and possibly wondering what exactly had happened to it. After all, its cognizance had been left in tact - all it had gained was privacy. What a terrible concept.
"If you do not want the access to the ship," Naoko offered, soothingly, as she detached the hardwiring from her shoulder. It made a very faint sucking noise on the way out and Naoko winced, slightly; she had never precisely gotten used to that sound. "I'll join your network and lend you my memory, then. That way your memory banks will not be overtaxed by my request."
It took a few seconds for the robot to respond before its sensor cluster finally became its usual animated self. It retracted its wrist wire and looked back up at her now.
"Ernie accepts Naoko-sans gracious offer." It replied, its monotone voice somehow managing to sound a bit dazed. "Ernie will able to provide Neko-san access to the security feed any time she desires, as well."
"Neko-san," Naoko mumbled, unable to keep herself from smiling. Well, what had she expected? "That's good. Now, I have a message for you, that I would like to have broadcasted in the event of my death. Are you prepared to record it?"
"Ernie will store recording until requirements are meet, although Ernie will be there to prevent such an event." Replied the little robot. It was a bodyguard robot, it's clients were meant to use it for protection, not in case they died.
"Addressed to the Planetary Defense Forces of Yamatai Prime, or any applicable - no, that's not right, is it? What is it called, now?"
"Primary protection assets of the planet Yamatai are currently known as The Star Army of Yamatai." Ernie filled it. Emprys had done a good job with their products database. The robots sensor cluster fixed solely on her now.
Naoko looked somewhat crestfallen at that, weak in a way that very few of the ships crew ever saw - or would ever see. With the partition in its memory banks created, Naoko did not bother with formalities. "Yes, very well."
She took a deep breath.
"Addressed to the Star Army of Yamatai. This is Itto Hei Aihara Motou, serial number NH-17-40138, formerly assigned to the ground team of the YSS Hibeki-Maru, operating in the area of Nepleslia Prime. If you are viewing this message, I have been terminated, or my operation has otherwise been ended or placed in stasis. I am unaware of any investigation into the destruction of my ship, as recently I have lost connection to PANTHEON. My security clearance was terminated. However, I am sorry to report that many of our soul savior pods were captured by Nepleslian seperatist ground forces, and subsequently distributed throughout the planet's infrastructure. There are three other operating units on the planet's surface; they may or may not be dead by now, but I would assume not. The Nepleslians have soul savior technology and were attempting to restore us using our programming as a base line, but they were unable to completely overwrite it. The remaining nekovalkyrja models have entrenched themselves with the Nepleslian black market, or perhaps joined with the seperatists..."
Holding up a hand, Naoko - or was it Motou, now? - stated, "Pause the message. I do not require a full history lesson, but how long has Nepleslia been independant?"
"No, nevermind; it doesn't matter. Resume. I do not have any knowledge of where my sisters are at this time. I have myself signed on as a crewman with the independant ship 'Phoenix', which has now become a flight group of several ships. They do not appear to have any political affiliations. I have likely died in this stasis, but if you are receiving this message, you will also have the information required to restore me. I have left my backup files in the master computer terminal of the Phoenix, captained by Luca Pavone. The ship is capable of interfacing with PANTHEON. The terminal recording this message will have the access codes to allow such an interface. I will be prepared to give a full report upon reactivation.
"May the Emperor live a thousand years.
There was a click from Ernie, an obvious cue that the recording had ended. The sensorcluster resumed its random searching.
Naoko sat back from her work, losing the look of stern concentration she had been giving the recipient. Mentally, through her newly established link with Ernie, she gave the keycode for the little robot's new partition, and filed the request away.
"Thank you," she said.
"Ernie is glad to be of service." The robot replied, "However, Ernie reiterates his intention to prevent the prerequisites for delivery being meet."
The machine paused for a second. "Ernie just refered to this platform as a male." he said slowly as his hardware whirred again. Finally he continued.
"Does Naoko-san have any further requests? Ernie may require a brief self-diagnostic."
"Perform the diagnostic." Naoko had taken hold of her soda again - it had warmed a bit, but still made her ears twitch. Gradually, she was getting used to this Neph beverage.
"Thank you." Replied Ernie, the little robot climbed onto the sofa with her and slowly folded down into its smaller form. Eventually seeming to turn itself off as it sat on the seat next to her.
And while the little robot sorted, Naoko also sorted; a lot of minor details were flooding into her secondary memory from the newly cognizant robot. Although it was not enough to even cause her strain - she created so very much more, and would not need to even clean house for another fifty to seventy years - much of it seemed trivial. But they were her trivialities, now. And nobody would know, though many may suspect.
"Welcome," Naoko stated, idly. Then, after a few moments, she stated, "One more request, Ernie."
She received a reply through her mental link this time, an unspoken query.
"When we're alone, call me Motou."
Motou. She felt the word fit itself into the robots memory before the machine began trying to limit its connection. Trying to treat her more as another person rather than a networked machine intelligence.
"Ernie will carry out Motou-san's requests within reason." the robot replied through their connection, seemingly unused to addressing what it thought of as other intellgences in this manner, but all other intelligences seemed to work like this on the ship. Even the ships core itself seemed to contain certain
idiosyncrasies from what Ernie had interfaced with it.
"Thank you," Motou stated, really meaning it.
And that was the end of the conversation.