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Project Golem - Activation

Posted on Sat Nov 11th, 2017 @ 7:55am by Captain Akiva ben-Avram & Biynah

Mission: Mission 0: Everybody Has A Story
Location: USS Vindex
Timeline: 2388

Akiva could scarcely believe the day had arrived at last. After all the effort and hard work put into creating perhaps one of the most advanced androids known to Starfleet, it seemed surreal to be planning a Simchat Bat, a candlelit ceremony held to welcome a newborn baby girl and introduce her to the world. But, if Biynah was to ever be an individual lifeform, he had to treat her as such before HaShem and the galaxy.

For all intents and purposes, Akiva was about to become a father.

He normally did not advertise his heritage, but this was a momentous occasion. Rather than wear his Starfleet uniform, he wore a simple black suit with a cloth gartel belt around his waist and a tallit shawl draped over his shoulders. The tzatzit strings dangling from the edges of the tallit were soothing in his sweaty palms. With the odd look that Jaya had shot him when she first entered the room, he was glad he had avoided the bulky and blocky tefillin traditionally strapped to his arm and forehead.

As he waited for everyone to arrive, he assessed the minimal decor he had arranged in the general use space reserved for formal occasions. The menorahs in each corner were lit on bronze stands, the banner with his family crest and motto hung fast on the wall, and Biynah herself laid at rest near a short table which bore the ceremony implements. All seemed in order, save for the ship counselor who would not stop sampling the food at the buffet table.

"Counselor Maera," Akiva scolded with mock chagrin, "please save some for the other guests."

Jaya's mouth curved in a coy grin around the baklava she had pushed into her mouth. "What other guests?" she asked, licking her finger clean.

Akiva had to admit the counselor had a point. There was nobody present except for the two of them. "Do you think they'll come?" His voice nearly quivered with anxiety. "I tried to keep this subtle. Believe me, on Hebron there would be a full choir and minstrels and..."

"I'm sure they're on their way," Jaya interrupted. She playfully tugged at his tallit. "You know it's not every day we get to see this side of you."

"Ah, well, yes." Akiva looked away in boyish embarrassment.

Jaya picked up on his distress and changed the subject. "Paul did an amazing job catering all this food, as always. Is all of this native Hebron cuisine?"

"In truth, almost none of it." Akiva chuckled. "Standard Mediterranean fare seemed to be the closest the chef could manage. It will do though." His passing glance over the buffet table suggested that he feared it would not be.

"Trust me," Jaya said, plucking a sarma wrap from another platter, "it's all delicious."

While they talked, several others slid into the room. One by one, all of the people who had aided in Project Golem made timid progress toward the buffet table.

"Thank you for making time. It means a lot to me." Akiva pressed his hands together to keep them from trembling.

Jaya took her place among the assembled guests and quietly mingled until Akiva called them to order.

"This has been an arduous process," Akiva began. He swayed a little, jostling his tzatzit strings. "We're here to welcome a new creature into the world. And in order to give her some context and help process the inundation of new information and experiences, I've prepared this in the best way I know." He coughed into his hand. "So, please, bear with me here. And, as we proceed, I will be naming off each of you, so if you could step forward or otherwise indicate yourself at that time, it would be great." He turned toward the biobed and Biynah herself, then stopped and looked back toward everyone.
"Oh, and one more thing: she will almost definitely have a photographic memory. Do keep that in mind with first impressions." He swallowed the lump in his throat and added quietly, "HaShem knows I am."

Without further ado, Akiva moved to the head of the biobed and activated the control console. He had already performed a submicron matrix transfer from the old positronic matrix, so all that remained was to activate the quantum subprocessor and thereby awaken Biynah for the first time. This would be the moment of success or failure.

All eyes were on Biynah. The android did not move at first, though that was to be expected. She was not programmed to simulate breathing as is common with many androids. When at last her eyelids first fluttered and then opened, Akiva gasped.

"Hello, Biynah." His words were quiet and solemn. "How do you feel?" It seemed a stupid question, but he knew of no other.

"Father-Creator?" Biynah's face was expressionless. "I feel... what is 'feel'?"

"I have given you sensory perception akin to my own," Akiva explained. "We collectively refer to it and our internal responses as 'feelings.' Your new quantum positronic subprocessor should acclimate soon."

Biynah's face was transfixed on Akiva's every word. She assessed him and then everyone in the room. Her straight mouth broke into a bright smile. "I understand," she said. "Where am I? How did this come to be?" She paused for a moment, then looked back to Akiva with a serenely somber look. "And, Father-Creator, why?"

The flurry of questions was as nothing compared to the lucid stream of consciousness that Akiva witnessed. "I know you have many questions, Biynah, and I will answer them in a moment. Before I do, among my people there is a traditional litany that fathers speak over their daughters. I would like to recite it now:

Ye'simech Elohim ke-Sarah, Rivka, Rachel, ve-Leah.
Ye'varech'echa Adonai panav eilecha viy chuneka.
Yisa Adonai panav eilecha ve-yaseim lecha shalom

Akiva cleared his throat. "It means--"

"Tav toda," Biynah said. "That sounded...beautiful."

Akiva blinked. "You... you understand Hebrew?"

"Slih'a, Father-Creator." Biynah furled her brow in mimicry of Akiva's expression. "Should I not?"

"No, of course!" Akiva laughed. "That is to be expected, I suppose. Just... I did not predict... so soon." He nodded amidst his stammering. "It's indeed to be expected."

Akiva remembered himself and started again. "Now, in order to best explain your unprecedented metamorphosis from bodiless AI into the amazing...person..." Akiva found the word easier to say than he expected. "... you are today, I have prepared a brief midrash... um, homily... to commemorate as well as explain the entire process."

He turned to the small table near the biobed and lit the candle. Biynah sat up, jolting at the sight of her own arms as she did so, but quickly turned her attention back to Akiva.

"In the beginning, I had a bright idea," he said, looking away from the PADD he had taken up with a half smirk. "I thought, 'What if I could make an android unlike any other?' So I decided to make one like me. I went to the captain of my ship and asked permission to construct an android out of an artificial intelligence." He extended his hand toward the small crowd.

"And there was evening and morning--the first day," Akiva said. "After that, I realized that in order to give you every advantage as a burgeoning sentience, you would require a subprocessor greater than any known model in existence." He nodded toward the crowd again. "Our chief engineer oversees the warp core whose antimatter reaction chamber powers the entire vessel. I called upon him to assist me in devising and fabricating a suitable means to power your positronic processes."

"Thank you," Biynah said.

Akiva smiled at their interaction. "And there was evening and morning--the second day." He resumed reading from his PADD. "Once your new hardware systems were prepared, I wanted to ensure the successful transfer of your code and subroutines to your new positronic matrix, and so I called upon Counselor Jaya Maera, a wise old crone, to assist in the safe-handling of your nascent mind."

Jaya nodded, but could not help but feel as though she were looking at an inanimate object. The android's mental and emotional processes were unknowable to her, if they even existed.

"At any rate," Akiva went on to say, "I then moved on to your physical frame. I began with your endo-frame, which is comprised of polyalloy--a very strong metallic material, though not as strong as the duranium which encases your positronic brain." He looked up from his PADD and saw Biynah's adoring look as she processed everything he was telling her. He choked up a moment, which surprised him. An emotional expression from an android seemed out of turn--surely it was only an imitation, but nonetheless he found himself reciprocating.

"I enlisted a brilliant doctor to devise a suitable anatomical framework for you," Akiva continued, trying not to bite his lip, "and an imminently helpful fabricator to oversee the additive manufacturing of that framework." He pointed them out. "They were indispensable in constructing your form."

Biynah smiled at each one. "Thank you."

"And there was evening and morning--the fourth day." Akiva took a breath. This was certainly taking awhile, but then he would never have another opportunity like this, so he pressed on.

"While your endo-frame was being developed, I was unsure of how to proceed with your exo-frame. I deliberated on several possibilities, and presented them to a new friend with a dual discipline in both the sciences and hands-on engineering." He pointed to Elsa.
"And so our chief science officer brought my theories of intermolecular generation of your skin and flesh to life, as well as the development of the bio-neural circuitry that connects your gel packs, nodes, and internal sensors."

"All of this is amazing," Biynah said. She held up her hands and spread her fingers apart, turning them one way and another. After a moment, she looked to Elsa and Saalkan. "Thank you, Elsa Johansson and Saalkan."

"And there was evening and morning--the fifth day." Akiva turned back to the small table and took up a small wafer.

"And, then, the time came to assemble all of the pieces together." Akiva offered Biynah the wafer. "In the secondary machine shop, I had your endo-frame outfitted with the intermolecular motors, power cells, and bio-neural components. And there was evening and morning, the sixth day."

Biynah had held the wafer until Akiva was finished speaking. "What am I to do with this?" she asked.

"Oh, right," Akiva said, scratching his neck. "It is customary to eat during a celebration, and you are able to consume various silicone compounds and isotopes to repair your synth-flesh and bioneural systems. There was evening and morning on this seventh day, so we shall rest and rejuvenate ourselves." He smiled. "Silicone is toxic to us, so we'll just eat from the buffet table." Akiva turned to the crowd of antsy guests. "But, before we do, please indulge me in one last observance."

Akiva turned to Biynah. "You asked how I made you, and so I have answered at length. But you also asked why, and my answer is thus..." He resumed reading from his PADD.
"I name you Biynah, for it is the word of 'wisdom' and the sacred motto and virtue of my father's house. We bear it as a reminder of times and fathers past, and as an emblem for the future time and seed."

He looked up at Biynah whose face turned quizzical.

How to express... Akiva's face turned grave.

"You are my daughter, for I have wrought you. You are graven in my hand, for you are so much more than I dreamed, and so I can only offer this pledge." Akiva sobbed and made himself ignore the analytical side of his mind which questioned his emotional public display. "I promise to protect, guide, and teach you as I send you out into this vast universe. Learn, my child, and grow."

He looked down at his feet, feeling drained and naked. "And... that's all I have prepared."

A silence had overtaken the room during Akiva's presentation. Quiet clapping slowly arose from the small assembly of engineers and science officers.

Biynah cocked her head to one side. "Father-Creator," she said. "I loved it." She pulled herself out of the biobed and stood her full stature of 160cm in front of Akiva. "How can I show you?"

"Affection is best expressed with an embrace." Akiva held his hands out. "Like this."

Biynah melted into his arms, and her likeness to a living being was uncanny. Akiva then knew that he may have accomplished his life's goal, and that rather than having lost meaning, it had given him a whole new one.


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