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Lt. Edden-Parami, AEns. Alexa | Hello, World

Posted on Tue Mar 19th, 2019 @ 11:01pm by Alexa & Lieutenant Alexander Edden-Parami

Mission: Permutations
Location: Cold Station Theta

The air shimmered, and Alexa sparked into being. For the faintest, fragmentary fraction of a second, a photonic shell projected itself across a forcefield matrix, and that was all she was. Then, one by one, subroutines began to trigger like synthetic synapses, and suddenly Alexa was so much more.

She blinked, not because of any biological imperative but because she was programmed to, and in that instant she came to life, eyes flitting from object to object as she took account of her surroundings. They settled on a figure standing 2.83 metres away, 1.85 metres tall, Operations Division uniform, Lieutenant insignia. "Hello!" she offered warmly, her program rapidly processing the observed information. Facial recognition subroutines shook hands with the central computer archive she found herself installed within, querying the personnel database, and cross-checking with the combadge logs for the ambient communications network. "Lieutenant Edden-Parami," she added, her mouth tugging a few degrees into a smile. It grew a few degrees wider still, and her eyes widened to match, as her analysis subroutines cross-referenced basic personal information against her own internal database. "I know your dad!"

That earned a smile from the Lieutenant, though the mask of stoicism he persistently wore prevented much of the associated warmth from seeping through onto his expression. A war raged within him, the part of him that recoiled in frustration at being instantly associated with his father yet again, clashing against the part of him that was impressed by the seamless sophistication of the program in front of him. "And I know yours," he replied, permitting himself to smile just the slightest bit more, a concession to Alexa's holo-matrix, to make her analysis of his emotions ever so slightly easier.

Alexa didn't seem interested in the Lieutenant's mood, however. Her attention was elsewhere, nose crinkled in thought, eyes peering at the ceiling above her, a visual and physical representation of her program's current efforts to assess the structural plans of her surroundings that it had just downloaded, and the associated knowledge of how extensively the holoprojectors extended through the ship. "This is Starbase One-One-Seven-Zero," she said aloud, to nobody in particular: her own program didn't need to hear herself describe her location, and presumably the Lieutenant already knew where he was.

"Cold Station Theta," Alexander both confirmed and corrected. His arms, which had settled into their default folded position across his chest, unfurled themselves, exposing the PADD that had been held nestled under one arm. "Do you know why you're here?"

"I do!" Alexa answered warmly. A few moments passed before her social interaction subroutines caught up with her personality matrix and mannerisms. "Oh," she exclaimed, turning her attention back to the Lieutenant, her posture straightening, demeanour smartening, "Sorry! Acting Ensign Alexa, reporting for duty, sir!"

That prompted the faintest of chuckles from Alexander, and his arms fell behind him, PADD clasped loosely behind his back. "At ease, Acting Ensign," he responded, and watched as the hologram unfurled herself, and took a moment to adjust the fit of a Cadet's uniform that - logic insisted - couldn't possibly be anything but perfectly tailored to fit, and yet seemed just as not-quite-right as any other Cadet in the history of Starfleet. Alexander thought back to his own Academy days, of how uncomfortable he'd felt in his own first uniform, and how at home his twin sister had seemed in hers. You'll grow into it, he'd been told, a phrase he'd heard directed at himself and others countless times in the years since. At first it had annoyed him, condescending at face value and unsophisticated in its attempts to have a dual meaning, and yet the older he became and the longer he served, the more he believed in the validity of it. You could wear the uniform, but for each officer there was a certain moment after which they truly wore the uniform: the moment where you stopped merely being dressed as a Starfleet Officer, and started to properly exist as one.

Alexander's expression faltered, as he set his mind to delicately phrasing the situation at hand. Alexa was a program, and it shouldn't have mattered: after all, whatever emotions she appeared to have weren't real; whatever humanity and life-like mannerisms she possessed were a careful collaboration between psychology, simulation, and the human tendency to anthropomorphise. Yet to see her, to stand face to face with every subtle twitch and tick of her expression, to notice her fidget, and breathe, and the way her eyes locked expectantly onto the newly presented Lieutenant, it was hard not to find himself being sucked into the illusion, especially having read the lengths to which her creator had gone to turn Alexa into Starfleet's next Pinocchio story.

"How aware are you of your current situation? Of why you are here?"

Alexa's meticulously designed eyebrows tugged into a slight frown at that, her program analysing the words for possible interpretations of what the Lieutenant might mean. The obvious shuffled its way to the front of her process queue. "Ah. I take it you're referring to the fact that despite attending Starfleet Academy for the last three and a half years, they don't believe I am real enough to be commissioned alongside the rest of my graduating class, and have sent me here so that I can fail, and confirm their opinion that I am a thing rather than a person." Her head cocked to the side slightly. "Or were you thinking more about the fact that I arrived on the station unceremoniously crammed into an isolinear storage unit rather than getting to walk onto the station through an airlock like a normal person? Or that, under the pretence of proving my 'self-sufficiency', neither my Father nor his research team is permitted to make contact for the duration of this trial?"

Though the Acting Ensign's voice was polite, and informative, and matter-of-fact, Alexander couldn't help but feel the weight of emotion that would have been, should have been, or perhaps even was behind it. To hear it explained so plainly, without all the careful wording and hand-wringing that Starfleet had dressed it up with was brutal, and Alexander found himself thinking back to a recent conversation with Commander Viego. At the time, they'd been talking about the triviality of saying please and thank you to a replicator, but Uncle Tree's point had lodged itself in his mind: how we treat things says more about us than it does about them. Alexander had been acquainted with Alexa for a matter of minutes, but if this was how Starfleet Academy chose to treat something infinitely more life-like than a replicator, that said a lot about the people responsible for this string of decision-making, and none of it was favourable.

Alexa seemed to sense Alexander's unspoken discomfort, something that made the situation seem both worse and better. "It's alright, Lieutenant. I am a complicated situation. Lieutenant Commander Data had been with Starfleet for twenty-four years before the Judge Advocate General ruled that he was anything more than a Thing that Starfleet owned, and the Emergency Medical Hologram aboard the USS Voyager was active for nearly seven years before he was confronted with a similar situation. I was first brought online five years ago. The fact that this is all happening now technically puts me ahead of the curve. And besides -"

The faintest flicker of a smile tugged at the corner of her mouth, and she seemed to stand just a little bit taller.

"- Starfleet Academy sent me here to fail. How many Starfleet Officers get the opportunity to prove a tribunal of Captains and Admirals wrong before they've even become an Ensign?"

Her words weighed on him, each sentiment demanding it be considered and evaluated. There was something sad about it, about how resigned the Acting Ensign was to her situation, and to the idea that a justification existed for it and for her treatment. Alexander would not have stood for it. His sister certainly wouldn't have, either. But there were a lot of people who would have, a lot of people who were too timid, or too tolerant, or too much the product of their society and their situation to protest the unfairness levelled against them.

Alexander's stern expression softened completely. "I know your father," he stated again, more gently this time. "I'm sure he's very proud."

A grateful smile tugged at Alexa's lips. "I'll make him proud," she echoed. "Just in case he isn't." A brief moment of silence passed between them, before Alexa gestured towards the PADD currently concealed behind Alexander's back. "Is that my duty assignment, sir?"

"Right. Yes." Alexander produced the PADD back into view, quickly punching in a code before handing it over to the Acting Ensign. "Based on your aptitude tests and performance ratings, we've decided to start you off as a Yeoman. No one doubts the technical aptitude of a hologram, but Theta is a big station, and being a Yeoman demands a lot of interaction and insight. Given the circumstances, it seems like the most effective way to put you through your paces."

Alexa's expression seemed to brighten, her eyes skimming across a PADD screen that she presumably could have simply downloaded to her database in a fraction of the time. Reaching the bottom, her gaze flicked back to the Lieutenant. "Permission to get started right away, Lieutenant?"

Alexander gave her a chuckle, and a nod. "Permission granted, Acting Ensign. You are dismissed."

Without an instant of hesitation, Alexa's holo-matrix shimmered out of existence, the Acting Ensign vanishing from view, the PADD she'd been holding clattering to the floor. A few long, awkward seconds passed before the air flickered again, and the Cadet returned, crouching awkwardly to pick up the forgotten device. "I'm just going to -" She gestured awkwardly towards the door. "You know, using my -" Another gesture, this time at her legs, and then without another word, Acting Ensign Alexa scampered off into the corridor and station beyond.


Lieutenant Alexander Edden-Parami
Operations Officer
Cold Station Theta

Acting Ensign Alexa
Cold Station Theta


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