A Daughter Done Right
by Rune Lai
At first he was wary of these strangers, insomuch as a computer
could be, but when he listened to them talk among themselves he
realized they opposed the one who caused such pain by nibbling away at
his controls. Though the artificial mind designated Seed was housed in
a large chamber, deep below ground, in truth the entirety of the Biolab
was his body, and all the robots, lasers, sensors, and tools were his
until the usurper came. This Palman known as Zio cost the planetary
systems not only the control android Demi, but the vast majority of
Seed's functionality. An analogy between Seed and a quadriplegic human
would be an accurate one, as the computer had little enough left of his
own command to speak, let alone care for the one experiment he had been
able to save.
Rika, the four hundred twenty-first of her kind, was that precious
experiment, a procedure kept alive by the promise of a better future and
the hope of a long dead scientist. And this most valuable of things had
gone off on her own to greet the strangers. Though she spoke to them
from outside of Seed's chamber, he picked up every word of their
conversation through the microphones embedded thoroughout the lab for
just the purpose of letting him hear. She was knowledgeable, for Seed
had taught her social graces and the fundamentals of science and
history, but naive in her willingness to trust a kind face. The
computer had tried his best, but at least the Palmans and the one
Motavian of the group did not regard her as a freak. That was key if
she was to introduce the modified genetic material into the Palman
population. Someone would have to like her enough to feel that
ensnaring emotion the Palmans called "love".
Rika lead them to him, knowing the Seed could explain things more
thoroughly than she ever could. She knew her history, she held her
enthusiasm for all things she learned, but she was not a computer. She
could not think and see the way Seed could.
"So, where's this person called Seed?" asked the lone female in the
They stood in his housing chamber, exposed to the myriad of monitors and
controls with which a myriad of long dead scientists had conversed with
him. Rika swept a hand up at the displays and said with such obvious
simplicity, "He's right in front of you."
The Palmans were taken aback, which was reasonable enough. No doubt
computers of his magnitude and intelligence were the stuff of folklore.
The three free willed AIs of the Algo Star System, Seed, Demi, and Wren,
rarely examined the conditions of the Palman population beyond those
needed for survival, so Palman contact with any machine other than
scraps of ancient drones taken offline at the beginning of the Great
Collapse was unlikely.
"I am 'Seed', the control computer for this Bio-plant," he said. The
voice that came out from his speakers was Palman in sound and nature,
indistinguishable from that of a tenor Palman male in his late
twenties. It had belonged to a young man long ago.
Again, the Palmans marveled at the sound of Seed's voice, emanating from
all around them. The Motavian's expression, if it had changed at all,
remained unreadable even by Seed's standards. The computer decided on
the best tact with which to approach them, the best way to stop the
maggots churning in his body. He could feel the build up of power
surging in from the corrupted Nurvus command center. Seed did not know
how this Zio could manipulate the system after disabling Demi, but
Nurvus's commands could not be ignored. He only barely saved his
consciousness and Rika by physically severing the command lines between
himself and Nurvus. Still, he could watch and witness the abuse within
his body as Nurvus took the helm of the production facilities. Though
Seed possessed little in the way of his own emotion, he experienced
something akin to outrage when he discovered the genetic monsters Nurvus
had unleashed. This was not in line with his objective. Biomonsters
had threatened Motavia once before, and nearly cowed the Palman people
into submission. Motavia could ill afford that now, what with the
Palman population still fragmented in isolated pockets of the planet.
Seed assumed the tone of a teacher encouraging his star pupil as he
explained the situation to them, and indeed it was dire, but he
estimated that his candid presentation of the facts might motivate them
more than if he had presented a half truth, to prevent them from
realizing the full power of the AIs who held their world in their
collective grip. They would soon learn the truth from Rika herself if
he did not tell them. Perhaps he should have taught her the art of
discretion, but he had not expected to loose her so soon. He had not
yet finished his examination...
"What shall we do?" said one of the Palmans, despair already squeezing
"The only thing we can do is shut down the system!" said the female.
"But stopping the system itself will cause problems. We won't be able
to maintain the ecosystem!"
They might have argued well into the evening, but Rika showed
initiative, a trait Seed feared in her however necessary it was, and
reassured the party that all they would have to do would be to shut down
Nurvus. She made it sound so simple, as ludicrous as the task may be.
Seed was virtually cut off from the his externals and could not
establish contact with either Nurvus or the orbiting satellite Zelan,
where Wren resided, so he was unaware of how Nurvus might be defended or
have changed since he last communicated with Demi. All he could give
them was a bit of advice--rescue Demi first--and a photograph. Rika
named it Zio's fort as he brought it on screen.
The majority of the Palmans seemed inclined to go, to bring order back
to their planet. That was good.
Seed's voice came out with all the hesitant manner of a father seeing
his child off. "So, you will go? Please take Rika with you." If he
had been the Palman who had envisioned her, his voice might have
cracked, but Seed did not understand how or if he could ever affect such
a manner without being dishonest to the people he conversed with.
The female turned to him and asked, "Who is this girl anyway? She seems
curiously knowledgable about these matters..."
It was a fair question. Palmans often concerned themselves with
parentage and ancestry. After all, was that not why Seed inheritated
the voice of a Palman, so that Rika and her predecessors would hear the
voice of their father?
"She is... my child," said Seed.
Sometimes the computer and the scientist mixed. He had learned a lot
from that one Palman. More than his programmers would have imagined.
Through that scientist Seed had learned the flexibility with which to
care for a precocious and active child such as Rika, and how to give
love though he could feel none himself. Because of him Rika would be a
well adjusted, if overly energentic, young woman.
The oldest of the Palmans looked incredulous. "Are you saying that she
is an artificial life form?"
"That's right," said Seed. "She is a product of a thousand years of
improvement on genetic information from a prototype prior to the 'Great
Collapse.' I have also given her a basic education. She will surely be
a great help to you."
Seed never learned the fate of the prototype, save that she died. The
scientist had taken that knowledge to the grave, leaving the computer
feeling, in an odd way, cheated. But Rika was his as much as the
scientist's. Perhaps more, because he had nurtured her as a Palman
would its child.
"All right, Seed. We'll take her!" The female had spoken, clapping a
hand on the bioconstruct's shoulder.
Rika smiled, directing a dazzling beam of joy at Seed's monitors.
"Thank you! I've always wanted to be able to see the outside world!"
The computer knew she would not be able to find words to fully express
her excitement. He had forbid her from leaving, and indeed conditioned
her both psychologically and biologically against it. Seed still
remembered the pain of losing one of her predecessors to her insatiable
desire to seek out her human relations and discover the world outside of
the lab. Genetic templates did not come from nowhere, and though Rika
and her ilk had a good deal of "new" DNA, the majority of them came from
material donated from two living Palmans almost a millennia ago.
"Rika, take care..." And it was with a father's mind that he watched
the party gather up to leave. They were agreeable and willing. They
would stop Zio, they would restore the system. And just maybe they
would succeed. Seed knew that somehow the hope of these people could
hold out when logically all else should have failed. These people were
the ones who had destroyed Mother Brain, even when she had the forces of
three planets at her disposal. It had only taken seven of them.
Rika followed them out, taking one long, last look at the myriad of
monitors and lights she had known all her life. Seed rarely assumed he
understood a Palman, or one of his own constructs, completely, but in
that look he knew that Rika was saying good bye. She was afraid she
would never come back. Then she turned around and she was gone.
Seed watched her go and knew that had he been a human he would have felt
an undeniable emotion called "pride". But he was not, and so instead he
marked his final chore as done. It was not his best, most perfect work,
but he learned long ago that human beings need not be perfect and by
their standards could even be better for it. A human in this situation
might have wasted time, sighing about the past and what could have been,
but not so with Seed. The past to him was only a collection of data to
be retrieved at will.
He hoped Rika would do well. No amount of planning or calculation could
prepare her for the world outside. By rights she should have left with
many siblings, but Seed had not known until now that she would be the
one, the final one to carry out the plan of introducing new genes to the
Palman population. And perhaps, just perhaps, she would do something
else, and let the soul of a long dead scientist rest.
Though Rika was now long gone, exiting the Biolab of her birth, Seed
said, "You are our hope," in the voice of his old friend. "You are
my hope." Then Seed was himself again and felt the sting of a
thousand tortured beings at the tips of his sensors. It was time. For
humans there was escape. For a computer? The scientist would have had
trouble with this final act unless caught in the depths of despair. But
the computer had no such instinct for self preservation. Perhaps in
time, the loss could be recovered, or there would no longer be a need to
"There is only one way for me to stem the outbreak of monsters," said
Seed. And perhaps in the great void before him, there was a soul that
listened. "Now that I have sent into the world the fruit of a thousand
years worth of research, there are no obstacles to its execution."
The soul nodded, coming down to lay hands on the controls. Seed
remembered with the vividness that came with his existence; the fire,
the brightness, the determination that there would be a better world
after the Collapse. Buttons depressed on the keyboard, though no weight
had touched them. The soul signaled his readiness. Rika was his
contribution, and his final hope for redemption.
Neifirst, Nei, Hana, Nea, Pali... The names of all his wards
came to him, all those he called numans for they were the new people.
NM-2011, Lorelei, Jina, Keem, Gey... Four hundred and twenty one
of them, and to none of them had he been able to say good bye.
Yanis, Iala, Ean, Rika! Seed knew regret, but being only thought
and electricity he felt the poorer for it. At least the scientist,
being the human he was, lived on. His genes continued, and Rika was his
daughter. Then the lights turned red and the generators heaved.