Come dance with the Wanderers... Circulation: 175,178,569 Issue: 372 | 19th day of Celebrating, Y10
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To Love

by silent_snow


Welcome to Virtunix.

These machines are a shared resource. If you fail to be considerate of other users, you will be brought into custody by blaster-equipped guards.

We at Virtupets would like to wish all of our users a Safe Christmas. May the holiday spirit not bring upon you an untimely demise.




Wed Cel 24 14:23:42 VST Yr.10




Codebase Dictionary LogicCore MechanicalOperator ProbabilitySimulator VocalSynthesizer announcement.txt backup bin confidential configurations notes readme.txt preferences private public shared templates tests multipleTestRun.c

%cat readme.txt


     Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was sad.

     The file and his now-running memory drive told him that that emotion was due to his failure as an experiment. His audio receptors had taken in the scientists’ sound waves and processed them into the form of data that he could understand. The Grundos who had made him were disappointed, for his programming had not worked out as they had originally intended. 2.44 now understood that he was the last project that the scientists had the funds to work on. Since he was a failure, they would have to return to simple processing work, instead of the research they all craved.

     The metal slides over his “eyes” slid up, and data began to pour in through his visual receptors. There were no living entities in the surrounding area. The scientists, conclusively, had left. A requested data stream from the main database told him that, according to the laboratory rules, all projects that had resulted in failure were to have their energy sources removed once the scientists in question had finished with their tests. His power cell, he could tell, had not been removed. Therefore, the scientists had not followed the laboratory rules.

     Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was angry.

     This new emotion required that 2.44 look deeper into himself, and discover what his programming meant for him to do. As he viewed his coding, 2.44 understood. He was primarily a normal robot, yes, with the usual prerogatives, duties, etcetera. But there was another part which was not usual. The coding, as far as he could tell, allowed him to internally feel emotions, unlike any other robot that had ever come in contact with the laboratory’s database. However, there were only three emotions, each specifically programmed in. And each could only be felt by themselves, not with another emotion as well.

     The anger vanished, to instantly be replaced with a familiar emotion. Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was sad.

     The reason for failure was apparent. The scientists had wished for him to display an array of emotions, and he could only utilize three; sadness, anger, and a currently unidentified emotion. What was the third emotion? The main database had records of sensations such as pride, jealousy, frustration. He now understood the effect they had on a living entity, but to him, they meant nothing.

     He was wasting precious time on this analysis of himself. His current mission, dictated by himself, was to find the scientists who had not followed the rules and secure them until an official came to administer the punishment. He had spent a full three seconds processing information since his visual receptors had started taking in data. It was time to move.

     Gears turned, and 2.44 stood. His visual receptors located an opening in the wall, which he headed towards, his metallic limbs moving as smoothly as those of any real pet. He reached the opening, and walked through.

     2.44 carefully rotated his head, his visual receptors taking in the new surroundings. It was a hallway of some sort, and there were other moving objects- people. Many were robots, due to the slight clanking sound waves that came from their directions. A few of the people walked more haphazardly, without metallic sounds, indicating that they were ‘alive’. The robots walked or rolled with pinpoint precision, of course.

     He attempted to access the security cameras, to gain knowledge of where the scientists had gone, but his data request precipitated a call for a password. He had no such password, so he attempted to override the request. The system cut him off.

     Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was angry.

     Now that he was fully active, the emotion was apparent in his actions; his limbs moved more swiftly, and the images which were processed through his visual receptors were tinted red. He stored the reactions into permanent files automatically, recognizing the need to keep a record of the experience for officials to observe. With no solid facts, he would have to rely on probability to find the rogue scientists. How terribly imprecise. 2.44 stopped walking and began running simulations, to find his next course of action.

     An object hit him from behind, and he automatically swiveled around from his torso, leaving his legs pointed in the opposite direction and grabbing the attacker. It was soft, jittery, and female- human. A reflexive scan produced no noticeable weapons on the creature. He relaxed his grip and let her go.

     “Thanks for catching me,” she gasped, standing upright. 2.44 quickly stored a physical profile on her; light brown hair, dark green eyes, a distinctively stunted nose. She looked directly at him, squinting, then screamed “ANDREW!” and flung her arms around his torso.

     (His logic core had a scramble for more than a few milliseconds in order to find a proper response, and the only result he could come up with was to restrain the human by holding her shoulders firmly).

     “Oh my dear Fyora, do you have any idea how long I’ve been searching for you? And didn’t I tell you that we were meeting at the café? Three hours ago?” She sighed and stepped back (his arms briefly extended, then snapped back into place as he let go). “Well, you could say that you’re sorry, sweetheart.”

     The situation, as far as he could tell, was entirely non-optimal. Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was sad.

     “Uh... I think that’s the sad face, right?” She was squinting at his torso like it held something interesting, and a quick scan of his mechanical processing found that there was a screen there, which was currently displaying a colon and an left parenthesis. How very meaningless. “I guess that’ll do for now. C’mon, we need to go and book tickets right now if we’re going to get back home by tonight.”

     Orders from a master overrode actions determined by a robot. As she started walking down the corridor, 2.44 turned his torso to face in the correct direction and followed. He only took one action- to run a search on her physical characteristics in the user database. A few names popped up, but one fit her apparent situation well.

cd /vss/


Guides Information Waiver credentials.txt diary info.txt

%cat info.txt


Date of Arrival:24.12.Yr10


Robot Nimmo


     The spaceship that provided citizens with transportation between the Space Station and Neopia was uninteresting to Project EMOTE Version 2.44, but the human seemed continuously fascinated by it. He had quickly deduced from her actions and speech that she had lost some form of visual aid in the station, and that her sight was severely impaired as a result. The human was depending on him for safety, and guidance, which overrode the generic command to stay within the boundaries of the station.

     Still, as the ship rocketed out into space, 2.44 felt continual sadness at the lack of a network. With nothing but his own basic and personal data files to take in, how could he remain productive?

     “Did you break something, so that you can’t talk?” the human suddenly questioned, turning to face him in her seat. “You haven’t said a word since I found you. You’re not just trying to keep your mouth shut about which Christmas presents you bought, are you?”

     An answer was required, and his vocal processor kicked in. “I am in perfect working condition, madam. There has been nothing I needed to say.”

     She chuckled, looking back out at the window. “Still playing the robot? Gosh, Andrew, it’s been five days since the ray zapped you into this! Aren’t you ever going to get sick of it?”

     The facts clicked into place. He had unintentionally misled this human. He gathered that she had been searching for a Robot Nimmo, but one that was a real Neopet once, who had the name Andrew. He was not Andrew. He had caused a misunderstanding, and it had to be uncovered--

     Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was angry.

     Why should he say anything? Why shouldn’t he replace Andrew, and be a human’s Neopet a quadrillion times better than any real Neopet ever could? He was a robot, and therefore, he was perfect. Who was to say he didn’t deserve this chance?

     Then, as swiftly as the thoughts came, 2.44 backed away from them. These strange emotions were clouding his logic core, turning him away from the right decisions. He would have to be cautious, so that they would not make him make mistakes. But... she hadn’t asked that particular question. He didn’t need to speak.

%cd ~

%cd confidential

confidential: Permission denied.


Why!: Command not found.

     “We’re home!” Mary called out, flinging open the front door of the tiny house.

     Neopia was a confusing planet. There were a great many volatile beings, whose actions he could not always accurately predict. The lack of smooth metal walls and floors, and how overbearing it was that everything was so open, had led 2.44 to take on a passive role during the trip. The human filled up his silence with chatter, which allowed him to give his visual receptors a chance to roam and take the surroundings in. And the surroundings! Everything seemed covered in white and green and red, and great blinking lights, and there was the most disturbingly cheerful music floating through the air. The human associated it all with the idea of Christmas. He thought it dreadful.

     And now, this house. He looked at it, and Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was sad. Linked to the definition of house was the word ‘home’, but this was not a home to him. Had he been expecting otherwise? How troubling these emotions were. They took his attention away from what was important too easily, to be sure.

     A Neopet of the Xweetok species (striped, female, extremely tiny) had met the human at the door, to overflow with words and gushing emotions. The human responded in a similar fashion, referring to the Xweetok as Celia. How could these creatures feel so much, yet remain rational? He was having enough trouble with just two emotions.

     The Xweetok leaned around the human to look at him, then stepped back. “That’s not Andrew,” she said, her voice shrill and frightened.

     Why had his simulator not accounted for this situation? He had no planned reactions.

     “What are you talking about?” the human turned around and squinted again. “Of course it’s-“

     “That’s not my brother, mom,” Celia said, louder this time. “The Andrew I know and love doesn’t stand up perfectly straight like that-- and that robot isn’t even smiling. Andrew always smiles!” A technical impossibility: the gears surrounding his ‘mouth’ could not turn the corners upward. How could this Andrew smile? The Xweetok glared at him, and shouted, “who are you?”

     An automatic response initiated. “Project EMOTE Version 2.44, property of Virtupets Laboratories.”

     The human was shocked, and the Xweetok furious. He looked from one to the other, trying to assess their reactions, and he briefly oscillated between Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was angry/Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was sad. As the options flicked back and forth, the other two continued to speak.

     Celia turned to the human. “You left Andrew at the Space Station? On Christmas Eve?

     “I didn’t know!” Mary wailed, rubbing her hands together. “I lost my glasses, and we were running late, and--“

     “I swear, half the time it feels like I’m the only adult here,” the Xweetok grumbled, crossing her arms. “Look, Mom, we can fix this. We’ll send a message up to the Space Station, since I’m sure Andrew’s still wandering around.”

     The human sniffled. “I think I can get him a ticket from here. I can try, anyway. But, Celia, he’s not going to get back by tomorrow morning.”

     The Xweetok sat down on the steps leading up to the door, and sighed. “We’ll have to deal with that. Anyway, what’re we going to do about the robot?”

     He could escape. He could find a way back to the Space Station. His programming did not provide the option of living permanently off of the Station, but there were still millions of options that 2.44 could think of.

     The human smiled. “He can stay with us. It’s Christmas; we can’t exactly turn him out.”

     He hadn’t thought of that one in particular, but he instantaneously classified it as the best choice.

%cd Dictionary

%grep Christmas C.txt

Christmas: aka, Day of Giving. A holiday on the 25th of the Month of Celebrating in which it is customary to exchange gifts with those close to you...

     He spent the night sitting silently in the kitchen of the house, scanning through the variety of files on Christmas he had stored away. He had settled into Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was sad quite a while ago, and was beginning to consider that he might have permanently stuck himself into the state.

     And, when the Xweetok trotted down the stairs in the morning, he felt a compulsion to speak without being spoken to. Such a thing had never occurred to him before.

     “Today is Christmas.”

     The Xweetok looked at him, her gaze frosty. “I guess so.”

     “You will celebrate?”

     “Not ‘til Andrew gets home.” The pet opened up a cabinet and took out a box with colorful pictures on the front. “Mom and I already talked about it. The three of us usually spend the morning together, talking around the tree about the previous year, but we’ll just have to put it off for a bit this time.” She slammed the cabinet door shut. “Anyway, it’s your fault.”

     He didn’t respond. According to his logic core, his emotion was supposed to switch to anger— but it didn’t. And 2.44 wasn’t sure what that was supposed to mean.

     The Xweetok opened the box and poured a wheat-based substance into a bowl. “Well? Aren’t you going to say anything?”

     “What do you wish me to say?”

     “Say you’re sorry.” Celia glared into the bowl, and started attacking the substance with a spoon she had taken from a drawer. “Say you’ll take care of everything, produce some kind of miracle. This is the day for those kinds of things, isn’t it?”

     “I cannot feel sorrow, specifically,” 2.44 said, his voice even and synthetic. “But I do feel sadness.”

     “For no one but yourself, I’m sure,” the Xweetok murmured, before turning her attention fully to her food.

     Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was angry. But, underneath the anger, he was almost certain that he could still feel sadness.


     They were all waiting, which 2.44 considered incredibly tedious, especially since the Xweetok had developed a grand vendetta against him for no apparent reason. He was restless, with no purpose. Why again had he decided to stay in the house? He couldn’t follow the reasoning for the decision before.

     Had he messed up? Had he let emotions guide his choices? He had seen what being emotional did to the human and the Xweetok. They made mistakes, errors, and bad choices. He did not wish to be an imperfect being, like them.

     Then the door opened, and he automatically turned. There was a robot there, a robot who looked exactly like himself.

     Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was... was... it took a few milliseconds to define this new emotion, the one he had not experienced before. Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was happy. But why?

     “Andrew!” The human jumped up, ran to the door, laughed, and threw her arms around the new robot, to hold him close. “Thank Fyora you got back safe, we were so worried about you! And don’t you ever scare me like that again, okay?”

     “Deal.” The robot’s voice was synthetic, monotone, and yet- and yet. There was something in it that 2.44 couldn’t identify. And, though his face was not turned into a smile, there was something about the positioning of his head, the glow of his eyes, that almost suggested a smile. “You guys haven’t opened the presents yet? You didn’t have to wait for me.”

     “Of course we waited!” The tiny Xweetok had latched herself onto Andrew’s leg, and there were spots of water on her face. There was that same something in her voice, something that he was currently trying to match with his previous experiences. “Christmas wouldn’t be the same without you.”

     He had run through all of his recorded soundtracks, and had found it, that particular inflection. The Xweetok had used it before, when she had shouted that he wasn’t her brother, wasn’t the Andrew she knew and loved. Loved? It was a word he didn’t understand, which was unusual, since his vocabulary consisted of over 500,000 words in various dialects and languages.

     He exited the scene quietly; the family took no notice of him. ‘Love’. A search of his systems found no reference to the word. Inconceivable. Could there have been such a fatal flaw in his programming, that what appeared to be such a simple concept had been entirely left out? He had to discover its meaning, to determine what implications it had for his existence. There was no wireless network, here on the planet, but there was an outlet in the entry hall, one that he had avoided earlier (as it was incredibly primitive). He connected himself to it, his circuits running more easily with heaps of information surrounding him again.


Permission denied.

     Impossible, that such a file could be denied to him, when one so simple as the Xweetok could know of it. This system was trivial, compared to the Station’s; he hacked around the required protocol effortlessly.

%chmod a+r EMOTION_LOVE.txt


Warning: System incapable of supporting data platform. Abort-

     The information slammed into him, engulfing him so that all incoming data streams, vision, sound, system checks, all were lost. To give – To need. These concepts, these definitions, he understood the words, but there was an added element this time that he could not-- could not-- To cherish – To honor. It wasn’t only the words, it was memories, it was tiny scenes, it was stories that had been written many years ago. To protect – To wait. The electrons in his system were flying through their circuits too fast, and the heat rising from his core was unpleasant, severely unpleasant. Ineffable, eternal, forever expanding and extending its reaches to the furthest possible extents of our kind. There were precious few thoughts, only the continuously repeating stream of Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was sad-- Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was angry-- Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was happy-- To understand. But there were other strange emotions, now, overwhelming individually, combining themselves into such complexities as he was incapable of understanding, he, a robot, who was supposed to be more intelligent, more useful, than any of those inferior living beings, To –, Project EMOTE Version 2.44 was FILE_NOT_FOUND, To- He could almost understand, could almost grasp what it all meant, even as--


10110001001100001011000100110110001100101 SEGMENTATION FAULT.

System Overflow.

Automatic shut-off initiated.

The End

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