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The Proposal (Backpost)

Posted on Thu Sep 1st, 2016 @ 12:52pm by Captain Claudia Ainscow & Commander Akiva ben-Avram

Mission: S1E1 - Booby Trap
Location: Deck 1; Captain's Ready Room
Timeline: Mission Day 5; 16:30

The turbolift never seemed fast enough. Akiva knew he would never have the go-ahead to overhaul that system. Besides, if his meeting with the captain went well, he wouldn't have time for tinkering with turbolifts. Another life, perhaps. As the 'lift came to a halt, he picked up the metallic case resting at his feet. The turbolift was the only time he would let it out of his grasp with the exception of his quarters. The shock resistant material was probably more than adequate to absorb the impact from being dropped, but one simply didn't take unnecessary risks.

Akiva entered the bridge looking for the captain, but her chair was empty. He returned the T'mia's look of practiced indifference and went straight to the captain's ready room, tucking his case under his arm as he went. After he took a steadying breath, Akiva pressed the door chime.

Claudia looked up at the door and placed the PADD she was working on down on the desk. She stood up and called her unexpected visitor into her ready room.

"Enter!" Claudia called.

Akiva walked in and gingerly set his case on Claudia's desk. "Captain, if I may have a moment of your time, I have a proposal that may interest you." He snapped open the latches and opened the case as he spoke. "Behold Project Golem." He smirked a moment, then flinched as he realized Claudia was waiting for an explanation. "Most people don't know much about Hebron Colony," he explained quickly. "Our technology wasn't much to speak of when Starfleet reunited us with Earth due to our stunted innovation. Survivalism has that effect. Our 21st century robotics helped us start and then maintain our colony, but nothing we did or accomplished even compared to the feats of Starfleet cyberneticists." He paused when he realized he was rambling. "At any rate, I have sought to update traditional Hebron robotics with modern cybernetics. The Soong positronic model has yielded some incredible results." With that, he opened the case completely, laying down each side on the desk to reveal a small, spherical electronic terminal.

Claudia was surprised but it was a pleasant surprise. She listened intently to what Akiva was saying about cybernetics. It was something she'd been interested in before but never been able to study in any great detail. It seemed like her Chief of Operations was going to change that however.

"I'm interested so far. Carry on" Claudia replied.

"This, Captain, is the 'brain-egg' for what I hope to be a future android." Akiva hovered his hands reverently. "Firstly I must ask permission before I make another attempt. The cascade failures of previous attempts did not bode well."

Claudia thought for a moment. For sure it was an interesting project but resources were very limited at the moment. Thinking about it - they could perhaps spare the resources for another attempt for Akiva to take his project further.

"It sounds like an interesting project you have in mind Lieutenant - I'm impressed. Although resources are fairly limited at present I'm happy to give you enough to have another attempt" Claudia replied.

"I admit the central chassis and extremities for the frame --well, body-- may entail the lion's share of available resources, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Akiva said. He pressed a few buttons, causing the terminal to softly hum. "For now, I'd like to show you what I've got so far."

As he flipped a switch, a small holographic projection appeared over the portable terminal on the desk. It took the form of a smooth and nondescript face. "Biynah, say hello to Commander Ainscow." Akiva was grinning.

The translucent holographic face turned up in a soft smile. "Hello, Commander Ainscow. I am pleased to make your acquaintance." The voice was slightly less monotone than the standard starship computer.

"Go ahead, Captain," Akiva said. "Ask her anything."

Claudia smiled and admired the holographic image that was in front of her. If the android was going to look anything like her then she would be very good looking indeed. Deciding to ask something that was a little bit more in detail than "what day is it?" she asked Biynah a question.

"Hello Biynah. Can you tell me anything about the starship you are on? Name, class, CO et cetera?" Claudia asked.

Biynah's holographic phase paused a moment. "Stand by. I am on the Sequoyah NCC-75610, a Sovereign-class vessel in the Federation Starfleet." Her face shifted to Akiva. "Father-Creator, what is a Starfleet?"

Akiva blushed. "There are still a few kinks to be worked out. Her programming has minimal parameters and is designed to be self-learning. I did not instruct her with anything other than to learn. As a closed system designed for a positronic brain, she is not directly linked to the ship's computer. In order to, well, grow, she has to make requests like we do." He paused. "I've had to start from scratch. The last cascade failure wiped everything. Turns out creating a consciousness is not unlike building a house of cards."

"What is a house of cards? I would like to play cards," Biynah said.

"You lack the necessary equipment," Akiva said. He glanced at Claudia. "At least, for now."

Claudia giggled as she found some of the answers given by the hologram to be amusing - but so far she was impressed with what she had seen. Given what Akiva had so far accomplished it would seem like a shame not to give him the go-ahead to have one last attempt at creating the android he had proposed.

"Well...what resources are we talking about to build an android?" Claudia asked.

"Biynah, observer mode," Akiva said before responding to Claudia. "For now, I'm just trying to figure out the subprocessor for the positronic matrix which will house her consciousness. She can't live inside this forever," he said, pointing to the spherical terminal inside the metal case. "The bioplast, polyalloys and tripolymer composites are available but in short supply as they have to be synthesized. I want to make sure we've got the positronic brain functioning properly before we enter the construction phase."
Akiva paused a moment, his face downcast. "I still have a block of duranium for the skull... from last time."
He coughed into his hand and made himself continue. "The power source is the biggest material hurdle. I've appropriated the same design as the self-charging power cells utilized in the Soong-type androids. Several standard power cells will need to be modified, but we won't require them until her body is ready. That should give us time to acquire them without depriving shipboard operations."

Claudia nodded as she took in the lengthy list of materials - clearly this was going to be a rather long term project - and just as well considering how difficult some of the necessary materials would be to acquire. Nevertheless she was happy to proceed - perhaps Claudia could find a way to acquire what Akiva needed.

"Well...we are in short supply of a lot of things but I feel we can pull a few strings to get what we need. I'll see what I can do next time I meet with my superiors - although I dare say a lot of these will be rationed - so we'll have to put a really strong case forward to make sure we secure what we need. If you like I can assist you putting the request together" Claudia replied.

"That would be very helpful," Akiva said. "I'm no diplomat." A thought occurred to him. "You know, Captain, that might be the problem. Dr. Soong based the positronic cortex of his greatest creation, Commander Data, on scans from his own brain. I understand machines, but people, well, confound me. I wonder if my, erm, temperament is an insufficient template for creating a stable self-learning artificial intelligence. Would you perhaps consider allowing your neural pathways to be scanned and copied into a positronic subprocessor? Your stable temperament could perhaps prevent another cascade failure in the positronic matrix."

Claudia was a little surprised by the request - her neural pathways being scanned for the android's positronic subprocessor? After thinking about it Akiva did mean it as a compliment. For sure - there'd be an android with her temperament on the ship - but it wasn't going to be an exact android replication of Commander Claudia Ainscow.

"Err...sure. I think I can work with you on that one" Claudia replied.

"I just... I have to take every factor from previous failures into consideration," Akiva said. "We haven't known each other long, but I've seen your way with people and how you handle yourself under stress. I think you'd make a better template than myself." He smiled. "Besides, 'Biynah' is a *feminine* word meaning knowledge and understanding."

Claudia nodded. Trial and error was key with projects of this extent - and out here in the Gamma Quadrant - it was likely that Akiva would only get one final attempt due to the ongoing situation. It wasn't just the components he needed that were in short supply - but everything else was too.

"I appreciate it Lieutenant. Whenever you're ready to get started - you know where to find me" Claudia replied.

Akiva nodded, then gently closed up his metal case. "Say good-bye, Biynah."

"Good-bye." The monotone voice echoed through the clasps just before Akiva locked them in place.

"I'll keep you updated, Captain," he said on his way to the door. "And I'll schedule an appointment with Sickbay to get those scans underway."

Claudia smiled and nodded. It was an exciting prospect that she would be involved in and she looked forward to it with great anticipation. It was the first time Claudia had ever seen such a project attempted - and it would be on the Vindex.

"Thank you Lieutenant. Take care" Claudia replied.


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