Tuesday, June 8, 2010

[USS Charon] SD241006.08 || Joint Log, "Off Duty" Bvt LT Warren and Savant

Colin Pinnell <pinnellcb@thehiddenkingdom.com> wrote to charon@ucip.org:

"Off Duty"

It was something of a surprise to the crew when they found out Savant
happened to frequent the ships' lounge. Eris Deck was a popular place
for most everyone, but Savant always got odd glances and more than a few
curious inquiries. What would a computer program find useful about
keeping a hologram rendered in a crew lounge? What benefit was there?
Many of them had pointed questions and demands for the utility of the
exercise, as well as a few comments about needing to have bugs removed
from her software. She accepted these points with good cheer, generally.
There was little use in arguing with someone who thought they were
arguing with a talking game of Solitaire.

The more liberal amongst them actually had less questions; they assumed
that if it looked like an organic and acted like an organic, it was one.
These were the inquisitive ones, and they were at times the more
infuriating of the two. One question after another about the reasons
Savant had for being there, what she thought of crewman X or Lieutenant
Y, whether she liked people-watching or if she was simply building a
social model. She answered these questions as fully as she could,
without making the conversation too dry or technical - Except for the
computer sciences department officers, of course. They LOVED her.

The *real* reason for her haunting the ship's lounge was multifold.
Savant had an interest in building a deep social model of the crew, in
order to reach better efficiencies in ships' operation. She also had
interest in deepening her understanding of social interactions in
general, which were some of the most sophisticated things that organic
sentients did. Moreso than any other factor, however, Savant simply
wanted to *know*. She wanted to understand their drives and motivations.
She could of course observe the system, and had been doing so for years.
Understanding truly came only after seeing the system when it was upset
and perturbed, however. So she used her hologram to do just this, nudge
variables with choice words or at times simply a glance or walking by a
table - just to see what happened. Simple social experimentation. It was
a hobby, one that Savant found very rewarding.

Was he really here for recreation? Brent wasn't totally sure about
that. He had heard but all but the worst of his men had been released
from sickbay, something he was in fact quite happy to hear. They were
all told to go on light duty for at least a week unless something dire
occurred, they were also told specifically to lay off the stimulants and
the depressants. That meant no coffee of any kind, and no alcohol of
any kind. The first one would be a problem for his sergeant that had
been wounded but Brent trusted the man enough to behave himself. The
mob of privates and first classers? Brent had no delusions that they
would find the time to immediately party it up, probably in the place
that had the most chance of finding beautiful women of any race. That
meant Eris Deck.

Brent might actually be getting good at this officer thing as he had
spotted his men from up top in the lounge as soon as they walked in. He
had ordered a large lemonade and steak sandwich for dinner... Along
with twenty stainless steel replicated spoons. The spoons took the
waitress by surprise but she got them anyways. After finishing his meal
Brent began to unceremoniously break off the heads of the spoons placing
them in a small pile while the tail ends were placed in another. It
made for good fun when his Marines attempted to drink up their first
drinks, and those who were on orders not to drink received a spoonhead
on the arm. It was a light throw, nothing too serious but it caught
there attention and might leave a welt. They tried to drink again only
to find a second spoonhead on their hand, this one harder and definitely
leaving a welt behind. They were looking around until one of them had
the intelligence to look up before the private first class saw their CO
and motioned that everyone should look up.

Brent merely pointed at his eyes before pointing at the Marines before
the grumbling began down below and the few Marines that should not drink
began to order virgin drinks. Just like children. You leave them alone
they will put their fingers into a wall socket.

"They're like kids sometimes, aren't they?"

He turned to face the voice from behind him, meeting the hologram's
polite smile. Savant was "dressed down" for the evening, which meant
that her hologram was translucent and a little wavy. She wasn't
bothering running the full and proper simulation software - no, that
processing time was best saved for elsewhere. It left her looking a
little spooky and spectral, but the hairstyle she had chosen was more
elaborate than usual and she was wearing her best set of social
interaction expressions.

"I don't blame them, though. Right after trauma is probably the worst
time to overcome an addiction."

"I'd ask them if they would jump off a cliff if their buddies were doing
it too, but I already know the answer," Brent replied dryly before he
turned and smiled at Savant. "You are right though, but I doubt any of
them have true addiction problems. Save for maybe my sergeant and his
coffee in the morning. I know what it's like though. You have to
celebrate life and a mission that you made it out of. If things hadn't
turned out the way they had then I would probably be down there with
them. Can't always have what you want though, especially if it's
potentially as self destructive as it would be to those three down
there," he said and motioned at the three who were just fresh out of

"That's very typical, really. Doing what they want at that moment
without much mind for consequences. Evolution is a funny thing." she
smiled a wan smile as she looked down at the Marines, already lost in
their conversations again. She ran a quick personality profile on each,
for curiosity's sake.

"Please have a seat Savant. I haven't gotten to talk with you in some
time. Unless its about my reports or something of that nature," he said
waving his hand about as if to dismiss the idea. She sat down,
maintaining enough presence of mind to recall that she needed to pull
the chair out and pretend to sit in it in order to maintain the illusion
of reality. Apparently the fact that she was translucent as a wraith
didn't factor into that equation, however.

"You've started to settle into your position as an Officer. Are you
still resenting it?" she asked, elbow on table and chin in hand. Beyond
her vitreous appearance she was behaving positively human.

Brent nodded. "Yeah I'm settling down in it well enough. The paperwork
I don't think I'll ever get used to but," he shrugged. "But thanks to
you its become a lot easier. Thank you for that Savant." He motioned
around at group of people down below. "How are you doing lately? I
imagine the science department is all abuzz with the news of the
intersetllar firecracker that's about to go off. Do they have you quite

"Oh, always. I quite enjoy it though. That's one thing I can't quite
understand about you organics, at least not yet. Whyever do you *want*
nothing to do?" she gestured at the same group of people, who were busy
doing a whole lot of nothing. "I suppose I don't understand fatigue, at
least not biological fatigue. Material fatigue, certainly. What's it
like to be tired?"

"How do I explain what it's like to be tired," Brent looked at her and
chuckled. "I don't really know how to begin," he said before shrugging
his shoulders. "Imagine after long serious of processes that you
completed you started to lose your focus, and started to make mistakes.
The more and more you work the more mistakes you make. The only way you
can possibly become better is to stop doing things or sleep. That's
what it's like to be tired."

Savant had asked the question before, and had done tests and observation
studies on the concept of organic fatigue, but it didn't help much.
Brents' analogy was cute and perhaps helpful, but she was still having
difficulty parsing it more than superficially. "I run a continual
optimization process to keep my threads running well; I can barely
imagine what it would be like to need to *stop* to run it. And the loss
of consciousness - I've never liked that, ever. I hate the asymptote."

She picked up one of his spoon heads and turned it over form finger to
finger, small sparks zipping from her fingertips as she did so. "Duty
shifts seem to get you tired recently, I've noticed. Have you considered
a change?"

"Sorry I can't give you a better answer, that kinda thing isn't my
foray," he said before Brent listened to the question, thinking about it
for a few minutes. "Perhaps. I've been restless lately, not able to
sleep well when I get the chance," he said with a frown. "I do my best
and people get hurt. It's a part of the job but I think it will take
some time getting used to. I still don't like it."

"Have you considered reassignment to a noncommission rank?" she asked
gently, "I'm certain there are many fine officers who would be happy to
transfer to Charon, as soon as we get back to a friendly port. If you're
unhappy at the job you won't do it as well, nevermind the fact that you
simply don't like it."

Brent shook his head. "No. I won't do that. I won't do that to the
men under me, having them lose another commander," Brent shook his
head. "Besides that would be quitting, and I don't feel like telling my
father that I gave up a shot at a commission. If I get put back to a
Sergeant by HQ orders? No big deal. But giving up without trying? Not
my style."

Savant grinned at the stubborn reaction, and reinforced her bayesian
logic model of his perosnality to reflect his statement. It was quickly
approaching a tipping point, which she was glad for - once past that
point she would have much more solid, reasonable predictions. The
smaller the margin of error, the better. In other terms, she was getting
to know him. "That's awfully good of you. Don't sacrifice yourself for
it, though. Give yourself a little, too."

"Oh don't you worry about that. As soon as I can swing it I'm taking
some leave time off ship. Maybe someplace tropical. Serve's big fruity
drinks with high alcoholic content, tiny umbrella's on top of," Brent
said making his hand like a little umbrella on top of a unseen cup.
"Yeah. Maybe see if I could bring Sakarra with me. I'd say someplace
cold but I think that would be a harder sell with her," he said with a
frown before shrugging.

"Thank you for the concern though, I appreciate it," he said.

Savant sat back casually as he fantasized. "I have a dear friend who
used to live on Risa. I imagine the two of you would quite like it
there. It makes a very nice vacation spot. But I imagine you already
know that." She grinned nostalgically, "I can recommend a nice resort
there, run by a pleasant Dorian fellow. Private cabins in the trees,
lots of beach, and not really well known, so you won't have to deal with

"If we get out to Risa sometime soon I'll have to take you up on that
offer. For now though I think I'd," Brent turned and tossed the tail
end of a spoon, sending it clattering onto the table of his Marines as
they were apparently plotting something. Or so Brent thought. "Better
just stick with the idea of finding a nice place on the holodeck. I
don't imagine that leave time is granted out freely when you're the
Commander, especially on this ship."

"I'm sure she can arrange it," Savant offered helpfully. In the
meantime, she dedicated a small, temporary process to linking a
collection of tropical-related holoprograms to Brent's personal library,
bypassing the spam filter at the same time. "You don't seem to take a
lot of down time in the Holodeck, you're mostly in the gym. Have you
considered workout dates, perhaps?"

"That sounds too much like work. Although perhaps swimming might be an
interesting distraction. Most pools are cool to humans though, and I
think she might not appreciate a good cool dip like the way that I
would. Otherwise I'd consider taking her to some place with some snow
and rain. Like it was back home for me," he said before shrugging his

Savant nodded, smiling slightly and looking out across the expanse of
Eris deck. "The desire for adversity that many of you organics seem to
have is very confusing for me. I don't see why you wouldn't all prefer
an optimized temperature set. There's no real reason for it at all."

"Can't say that I really know an answer to that either. I just know
that I prefer it when its cold out, or raining or snowing," Brent said
before he gave a shrug. "Maybe it just reminds me of home more?
Something that reminds you of something comfortable and known. I
imagine she says the same thing about long endless deserts and sandstone
formations and temperatures that make me sweat just thinking about them."

The hologram shrugged - Savant still didn't quite get it, but was
willing to accept the fact for the moment at least. "Qualia are
frustrating. Fixed opinions are worse. I've never understood fixed
personalities." She laughed agreeably, almost surprisingly cheerful and
charismatic. "I don't really understand very much, do I? So much for
being an artificial intelligence. Is there such thing as an artificial

Brent chuckled at her joke slightly and shook his head. "I haven't
heard of any if there is. Although sometimes the EMH gets on my nerves,
maybe they count as one?" Brent took a long drink from his lemonade
before looking over at Savant. "You're quite intelligent and you know
it. You have helped me out immensely on matters that I knew next to
nothing about. Unless I am to be considered not very smart because I
didn't know the first thing about paperwork and the pushing thereof?"

She rested her elbows on the table and chin in her palms, her face
framed by her hands. "Oh, psh, you flatter me. You would've figured it
out very quickly. I'm just a secretary software suite with legs, that's
all." She didn't seem offput by his compliments, however. "You've done
very well. The marines all look up to you; you have a gift for command.
The paperwork is really secondary to that."

Brent bowed his head in acknowledgment. "Thank you. Although I think
you should tell that to HQ. I'm sure they'd flip their lid if I turned
in my reports late or not properly." He sighed and stretched out.
"Mmm. I might have to go down there and tell them to behave themselves
soon. Or else simply go find her and find a much more fun way to spend
my evening." Brent said with a smirk. "so what do they say about that
star that we're looking at? Are we going to have a chance to run away
before it goes boom?"

"It's a Class II supergiant, and it's already starting to cook off its
hydrogen/helium layer." She spoke pleasantly, betraying a hint of
excitement - a very specific amount of excitement that she calculated to
have the maximal effect on the conversation. "The stellar medium is very
sharply divided right now - hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, all
the way up to its iron-nickel core. The layers are all compacting down
into the core right now, and soon the gravitational force will overcome
the strong force of the iron's electron shells. The shock is going to
make that start burn brighter than all the billion, billion stars of the
Milky Way for about two weeks."

She added as an afterthought, "Yeah, there's a very good chance we'll
get away with time to spare. Wear your sunglasses."

He recognized the elements, at least most of them as she listend them
off and how everything would soon go boom and make a black hole. Brent
nodded then stood up. "I'll be sure to get them out and polished just
for the occasion," he smirked at Savant before he bowed his head. "Have
a good evening Savant."

She smiled and nodded at him as he departed, remaining at the table
instead. There was still a marine down at the lower level who needed a
spoonhead to the hand, after all.

Brevet Lieutenant Brent Warren