“Searching Dhunga… yeah, no results after all.”
Maar muttered to herself in her private room, laying herself over her soft synthetic bed. The several tens of thousands of protruding points within slowly shifted, the bed’s surface adjusting itself to the exact shape of her body.
“If it doesn’t even come up on the neural net, then he was undoubtedly spewing nonsense. How idiotic… by fufu. It was kinda funny.”
Maar rolled over, holding the duvet Tarou recommended in her hands. Having been completely raised in space, Maar didn’t understand the meaning behind a duvet’s existence, but it’s not like holding it didn’t help her calm down.
“Teirow, Koume and Allan. When I thought I was talking to someone for the first time in a while, they just keep coming one after the next.”
Nowadays, with the advancement of the network- while it was also largely due to her workplace- it was rare that she ever actually met anyone face-to-face. Even without any physical contact, she was able to live her life without any inconvenience. Truth be told, in the two years prior to her meeting with Tarou, she had carried out all her business through communication lines. It’s precisely for that reason that whenever Maar recalled her first meeting with Tarou, she found herself intolerably embarrassed.
“I’ve done my best too…… going out to the bridge to meet a man returning from a shipwreck… just what sort of cheap soap opera is this?”
Draping the duvet blanket over her reddened face, she violently kicked her legs. Thinking back, she recalled a romance flick with a similar setting running on the station’s broadcast network, and she started up a download through her Bishop.
“Hmm, this has an age restriction, but will it be alright… I don’t want anything too spicy.”
Spotting the ‘D-Rating’ in the blurb, Maar knit her brow. Based on the approximate 150 thousand hours from her birth, her psychological age would ordinarily put her at a C. She had brought her clearance level up to F, but that being the case, it’s not as if she wanted to watch anything particularly extreme.
“But, well… right. This is studying, studying.”
As Maar muttered to herself, the 2 hour long simple 2-D drama began to play. Until not too long ago, she had enjoyed action and fantasy works that didn’t put any mental strain on her, but lately she had awoken to an interest in these human dramas. Maar asserted it was a sign of her maturing as a person, as she concentrated on the Drama.
“Uwah, this is more amazing that I thought it would be… is it really D? You sure it isn’t E? What company put this stuff on air?”
Despite her enthusiastic proclamation of, I’m going to send in a complaint, she sent a sidelong-glance to the so-called love scene sequence with a flushed face. If she watched it boldly, no one would find fault in the act, but in her case, her embarrassment was winning out.
“Aaah, that’s enough. Let’s stop it there. Stop. I think I’ve skipped over a few too many stages.”
Red to her ears, Maar forced down the stop button. After muttering some complaints at the destroyer’s operating noises that seemed louder than usual, she embraced the duvet once more.
“He called it a duvet, did he. It may be surprisingly nice… even so, when it really comes down to it, how are things going? What do I think of him?”
Imagining her colleague who’d been on her mind quite often these days, Maar buried her face in the blanket and began analyzing herself. After giving as level-headed consideration as she could, she reached the conclusion that while she did hold favorable emotions, they were likely something separate from romantic interest. Though with the sudden change in environment, she might momentarily misunderstand it as such.
“… For now, let’s observe our progress.”
After listing out the thoughts in her head over BISHOP, she stored it in a file labeled, ‘Continued Deliberation’.
At that moment, a call tone resounded through the room.
Maar was startled enough to jump up… she had suspicions she actually did… and while there wasn’t a necessity, she walked up to the door.
“Who is it… oh, Allan? Wait right there, I’ll go out.”
At the fact it wasn’t Tarou, she felt some disappointment and relief.
“Hey there, vice president. There’s something I want to discuss with you… and wait, I know I’m the one who called you out, but aren’t you a bit too defenseless?”
Allan turned to Maar’s loungewear. “You think?” Maar said without any thought.
“If you think you can stand up to a high voltage current, then just try touching me.”
“You’ve got a stun gun on you? Those are surprisingly hard to handle. You sure you can properly hit an opponent?”
“It’s circulating through my clothes. Want to test it out?”
Allan quickly retracted the hand he reached out half in jest. “What a scary little lady,” he gave a bitter smile.
“So what did you need to discuss? If it’s something stupid, I’ll get angry.”
“Ah, about that…”
Allan nervously looked around. From how his eyes focused on empty space for a moment, it was apparent he used BISHOP to check for surrounding presences as well.
“Hey, little lady. I’ll get right to the point. What the hell’s with that Koume AI?”
Allan brought out an unexpected question. “What, you ask…” As Maar was stuck for words, Allan went on.
“That AI is beyond a level you could sum up as proficient. To be blunt, it’s abnormal. You’ve noticed it too, haven’t you?”
“Right… but stop calling her ‘that AI’. She has a proper name, and it’s Koume.”
“… Ah, you’re right. My apologies. So about Koume, what site was she manufactured at? Even military AIs don’t go that far.”
“You think?” said Maar. Allan showed a somewhat irritated expression before saying, “It’s true.
“AI are things that can carry out, ‘Search,’ ‘Find Resolution,’ and ‘Associate’. That’s how all the AIs in the galaxy work it out. Even on the neural net. But that AI… I’m sorry. Koume’s a step ahead of that. Meaning she has that insight thing.”
“… Right. But what of it? It just means that some genius out there invented her.”
“Oy, oy, you know that’s impossible. We still don’t even know how us humans perform insight in itself. If that was resolved, it’d have been in the news ages ago.”
Allan was somewhat worked up. “Calm down,” said Maar.
“Since you didn’t beat around the bush, I’ll respond in kind. What exactly do you want to do with Koume?”
Maar emphasized with do. Her glaring eyes caused Allan to falter a moment.
“Do? It’s probably not the sort of thing you’re imagining. So don’t make such a scary face… there’s just one thing I want to confirm.”
“Is she dangerous or not?”
On Allan’s blunt question, Maar made a blank expression. Eventually, she gave a broad smile and raised a grand laugh.
“Ah ha ha ha!! Koume? Dangerous? You really should keep your jokes in moderation. We’ve already been saved by her countless times. And even you, if Koume wasn’t there, you’d be crashed into the side of an asteroid in some unidentifiable state, you know?”
Containing her laughter, Maar’s stance crumbled as she leaned against the wall. As Allan scratched his head with an uncomfortable look on his face, he looked into the distance.
“No, well. If she’s not dangerous, then all’s well. Out president here has some oblivious parts to him, see. I just wanted to come and confirm it.”
“I see. I’m sorry for laughing so much. I’m sure your response is the normal one, and what you’re doing is right.
“I’m thankful you’ll say something like that. If she looks fine, then so be it… Sorry for intruding so late at night.”
Waving his hand above his head, Allan departed down the corridor. “Hey, Allan,” Maar called to stop him.
“I’ll say it again. You’re correct, and if possible, it would be a big help if you continued giving us those sorts of warnings. Thank you. Good night.”
After confirming a, “Yeah, leave it to me,” from Allan as he disappeared around the corner, Maar turned towards her own room. At that moment, a strange metallic sound caused her to turn in the opposite direction from which Allan left.
From the end of the corridor came the form of Koume in quite a haste. Noticing she was racing towards her, “What’s up?” asked Maar.
“You have come at a good time, Miss Maar. Would you mind sheltering me for a moment?”
Maar showed a dubious expression, but as Koume dived into the room without waiting for a reply, she saw her off with a fed-up look on her face.
“Oyy, Maar!! Have you seen Koume anywhere!!?”
What is it this time, she thought as she turned to Tarou’s voice. From the same direction Koume appeared, an out of breath Taroun ran up. Breathing wildly with his nose, “Where’d that girl disspear to?” he said.
“No, I haven’t seen her… did Koume do something?”
With that prior conversation with Allan, Maar was a bit nervous as she asked. “She did more than just somethin’,” Tarou spread his arms out wide.
“I was sittin’ on the toilet in my own room… um, well. Just goin’ about my business. And then, see, I noticed a button I’d never seen before in arm’s reach. You’d push it, right? Anyone out there would push it, right? It’s clearly there to be pushed, right?”
Tarou slowly closed in with his fervent speech. Maar backed away lightly as, “Yeah, okay,” she returned.
“So I did!! I thought something like a bidet was comin’ out, when I heard a high pitched sound you’d hear at a dentist’s office comin’ from down below. A real Griiiiiiiiiiiiiiin. Looking closely, there was a high speed drill risin’ up from under my ass. I don’t get it. What does it all mean? That rubber drill was even politely coated in lotion.”
At the contents Tarou spoke of, Maar clankly opened her mouth.
“Um, it was a prank? By Koume?”
“A prank? This wasn’t anythin’ so cute and innocent. Why do I want to discard that virginity before my primary one!!?”
“Ah, you admitted it.”
“I ain’t no virgin!!!!”
Tarou ran off with just as much momentum as he came. It’s not as if she didn’t feel a shred of sympathy, but Maar couldn’t understand why he’d go to such lengths to deny his virginity.
“… Hah. Could you call it a storm of a night? Koume, the man has left the building.”
She called into the room; Koume timidly showed herself before long.
“You have my gratitude, Miss Maar. I finally installed the drill he so desired on the ship, but Mister Teirow seemed considerably angry. What do you think poor me should do?”
“Yeah… well, if he was really angry, I’m sure he’d search you out with BISHOP, so I don’t think you have to worry. It’s a good thing he’s so energetic.”
As Maar said that with a wink, she pointed her thumb into the room.
“More importantly, Koume. About the child-sized clothing you wanted. The package came in, so why not try it on? There were quite a few pieces that’d suit you well… ah, right. While we’re at it, why don’t we go to Teirow’s place? There’s no doubt he’ll forget his anger and praise you to high heavens.”
Leading Koume by the hand, Maar entered the room. There was no way this outstanding AI that even paid attention to fashion could be a dangerous existence. Maar reaffirmed it as she made a full-faced smile.