Author: Lola Starr

The clinking of metal was irksome as it bounced off the walls of the warehouse. Wires coiled around a pale hand as it was inserted into the metallic torso-like shell.
“Auggh!” A frustrated vibrato broke through the metallic friction. Frustration was followed by the jarring ricochet of a wrench contacting the floor. The young woman abruptly rose, kicking the wood stool out from under her.
“Where did I put those Alanauts?” She questioned to the rusty old room. Swiftly making her way toward a specific copper drawer unit edged with orangish-brown rust. After erratically investigating the content of each drawer, she defeatedly fell to her knees and bowed her head.

IO had few interactions with AI, but she was skilled in their compositions. Maybe that is why she had thought this would be easy. She laughed at the irony of anything being easy for her. The shell she had created was without flaw and had all of the appropriate outlets, so why was the core malfunctioning? The bright red error hologram blared every time the activation code was input.
“Zzt!” The wires short-circuited again and the familiar bubbling feeling stunned her fingertips.
“I need to take this core apart and combine it with my Nkenkon globe.” To do this requires a lot of strength. The young woman’s body was weaker than usual, as a result of trading her rations for the parts of the unfinished AI.

Her hands shook as she used a tremendous amount of strength to pull apart the iron shield of the core. Believe it or not, this was the easy part. After revealing the glowing surging core she equipped her irionstone face shield and gloves. Her attempt at grasping the core led to it breaking free and whipping a light blue flash all around the warehouse. Metal was disturbed, and she was becoming dizzy while chasing the flash. Left, then right, then behind her. The chase pulled her in every direction.
“Come back here! You maladapted lightbulb!!”
Her frustration could only rise from this moment on, as she spent what felt like centuries playing cat and mouse with the core. Her fatigue caught the better of her as the menace of a power core shook itself trying to bait her. “As if I have any energy left you insufferable brat!” She huffed.
The power core suddenly halted its bad behavior.

Remorsefully the bad blue light darkened its color and drifted closer to IO who had turned her back on it. The orb slowly peeked around at her just to suddenly be immobilized. IO’s plan had worked!
“I got you!”
The woman held the core in both of her palms pressed tight to keep it from escaping again. The core vibrated violently in rebellion.
“I know, I understand it’s scary. It’s gonna be okay, though, yeah? You’re gonna become something new and helpful!”
She consoled as she pressed the orb into the copper globe.
“It was fun playing with you, I’m sure we’ll do it again soon.”
The copper globe materialized and engulfed the orb as she broke through to the last of her strength. A flash of light bled out as the orb and globe finally merged.

“Now insert this into the shell and hope we don’t blow up.”
She placed the mechanism into the shell and a whirring sound occurred. A flash of light caught her eyes before the green hologram spelled out ENCODING IN PROGRESS. A sigh of relief escaped her as she prepared for her wait.