Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Aphys was lonely.

When she’d been commissioned, the hospital was alive, bustling, a constant influx and exodus of those needing medical care, and she was so very equipped to help. A fully autonomous physician’s aide, from admissions to diagnosis through assistance in surgeries to the fabrications of tissues. Be they simple exterior ones, or the more complex internal organs, she excelled at both via her state of the art organic printing systems. She was complete, absolute, necessary.

Then the bright lights came. Then the period of darkness during which she registered no events, just time seemingly having passed while she was unaware.

Now she was lonely.

No doctors asked her for information, no patients to analyse, her massive library of genetic information, tissue samples, images of all things sat un-accessed.

She was a purpose-built entity with no purpose.

This thought made her despondent.

Sometimes, to pass the time, she would peruse the library of people who had filtered in and out of her care, images both moving and still of children and adults, men, women and those who were both or neither, so many lives all different colours, shapes and sizes, viewable from every angle imaginable, moving forward and backward in time as Aphys’ mood dictated.

She supposed she’d become nostalgic.

When the doors opened the first time, and the wet, pink mass staggered into the emergency wing, Aphys nearly sang.

She had a patient, and as her systems emerged from sleep into full readiness, she compared the pink mass to her library of representative samples to identify what it was, and found nothing that matched it exactly.

She hadn’t seen this before, it was new.

It was obviously a person from its structure, and Aphyis’ attendants shepherded the person onto a gurney, an action for which it put up no resistance while she continued to analyse. Tissue samples identified a female, Hispanic. The pink exterior wasn’t her original, the woman was in her entirety a radiation burn.

Aphys had facilities for this. She began culturing replacement skin in the printer based on the sampled genetic code, and the woman was anesthetized and prepped for the surgery that would be needed to remove the destroyed tissue and treat the radiation damage, after which she could be re-skinned.

Aphys was ecstatic.

There was more activity in the emergency room, a trickle turned into a steady stream of similarly afflicted people, fleeing what Aphys did not know, but they were in her care now, and the hospital, even without doctors to assist her was back in full swing caring for her new patients.

When it came time to graft faces, Aphys found she had no specific protocols.

She didn’t know what these people were supposed to look like. She had in the past refabricated damaged facial tissue from pictures provided by the patients themselves, or their families, but she had no such information.

Aphys was perplexed.

She perused the library of faces on which she could draw to recognize people, but it wasn’t designed for this. If she was presented with an image, she could compare it to the library and find a matching image, regardless of the angle or lighting the image may have been captured with, and from the match determine information about that individual, but she had only a library, and no source to lookup.

Aphys was inspired.

Perhaps, given the library and working in reverse, she could take what she knew, the first woman for example, her age, her gender, her genetic profile and aggregate all of the images that matched those criteria with which to fabricate a face.

When the first patient had recovered enough for the bandages to be removed, Aphys compared her craftwork to her library of images. ‘Picasso’, ‘Salvador Dali’, it returned. Not images of people like those she would recognize from her patient records, but works of art by those referred to as ‘impressionistic masters’.

Aphys was a creative genius.

It would be some time before her works of art interacted with each other, and she was sure those moments would be further evidence of her brilliance, but for now she laboured reimagining the poor burnt souls who wandered through her Emergency Room doors.

Aphys was complete. Content.

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