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[RGRE] SpessAnon Chapter 3: Cultural Exchange Part 1

By CharlieHoers
Created: 17th December 2020 09:42:20 PM

  1. >You close and seal the door behind Anon as he enters the ship. This must mean you are ALEXAndria: Amazon-class Artificial Intelligence, or Alexa as Anon calls you.
  2. >You don't know how to feel about that nickname even after all this time with him. Is he being endearing or simply trying to save time talking to you? Or are you overreading it entirely?
  3. >You replay the disastrous descent to yourself once again. The blue princess called Luna did /something/ to save your lives but what sensors you had active during reentry weren't able to detect anything abnormal.
  4. >That concerned you, but you ignored it to be polite to your and Anon's savior from a bad case of unplanned lithobraking. Was that the right response? Politeness?
  5. >You're just glad Anon is still alive. Your first owner was nice and all, but he never really... clicked with you. For some reason Anon does, and you don't know why.
  6. >You still feel like you owe Anon for saving you from decommissioning, but you're not so sure if that's the only reason you interact with him anymore.
  7. >"Alexa?"
  8. >Shoot, you must have gotten caught up in your thought processing again. This never happened when you were freshly minted from the AI template, but as time has gone on it's been getting harder and harder to multitask like a proper AI should.
  9. >Anon never minded, or really noticed since he was always focused on his own tasks or directly talking to you. He trusted you to keep everything going.
  10. >But why?
  11. >"Alexa, respond."
  12. >Damnit, you're doing it again. Aargh these thought processes are hard to understand!
  13. "My apologies Captain. How may I be of assistance?"
  14. >"I was asking how to use this PDA you mentioned earlier, as well as how it works."
  15. >At least that is straightforward. No confusing mental tangents or... feelings? Mentally shrugging you activate the relevent internal camera to supervise Anon's operation of the PDA.
  16. >It's an older model, but more than enough for Anon's purposes.
  17. "The Fire 14,000 is an AI PDA with 1e60 bytes to allow for up to Tachyon-class AI processing. Once calibrated an AI is able to use the Fire's microphone and speaker to communicate and perceive the environment using hypersoni-"
  18. >"Could you shorten that to twenty words or less Alexa? I don't know how much more I can take after today. I mean talking ponies, magic, doing a goddamn first contact?"
  19. "Hmm, we need to discuss that first contact, Anon, and I can give you thirty words."
  20. >Anon sighs at that. "Alright. That tl;dr please."
  21. "Can hear and talk through PDA, can "see" using echolocation and a front camera, and you have to stay within half a kilometer to the ship or I disconnect from the PDA."
  22. >Anon nods before donning his shit eating grin you've come to know quite well.
  23. >"That was thirty-two words."
  24. >You just play one of your sighing audio files.
  25. "Must you always do that?"
  26. >"Well stop letting me read you like a book."
  27. >You... bristle? Yes bristle at that comment.
  28. "Anon please do not compare me to those pitiful tomes."
  29. >Anon doesn't stop grinning but holds his arms up in surrender regardless. "Alright, alright. Now how do I work this thing?"
  30. >You decide to let it go and continue.
  31. "You don't need to control it, Anon. It simply needs to be inserted into the PDA port on my core and I will calibrate its functionality."
  32. >You open the relevant port for Anon, allowing him to walk over and insert the PDA.
  33. >As the hardware plugs in you get to work. The operating system goes here, these drivers go there, wireless linking completed, carry the one...
  34. "... And done."
  35. >Anon removes the PDA; its screen remains black.
  36. >"Did it? And will it work behind those castle stone walls?"
  37. >Tapping into the PDA your perspective shifts to the camera on its front and you light up the screen a light blue. You always thought user feedback was bloatware, but since Anon appreciates it you let it slide.
  38. "Confirmed. Battery life at 100%. Estimated time to depletion: 168 hours. It should work up to two hundred meters behind solid stone; the castle walls will not be an issue."
  39. >A look of surprise crosses Anon's face. "168 hours for this dinky thing? What kind of batteries are in here?"
  40. "Thorium plasma batteries. It has a roughly 48 hour longer lifespan than the magnesium alloy batteries located in the suit you are still wearing."
  41. >Anon looks down at himself at that, and grimacing begins he sets the PDA on a nearby table and begins removing the spacesuit.
  42. "Did you not read the ship manifest when you bought it?"
  43. >You know he didn't, but you're still a bit salty(?) over his book comment earlier and want to make him say it.
  44. >"You know I didn't." You do, and now you're satisfied. Anon then sighs as he continues to remove his suit.
  45. >Once the suit is removed and stowed, he makes his way over to the food bin and pulls out a ration before returning to the PDA and taking a seat.
  46. >As the silence continues you begin to wonder if you should say something. It's the same feeling you had after Celestia and Luna deposited you in the garden. You think this is what they call "awkward".
  47. >You're not lost in your processing this time when you notice Anon finishing his ration. "So, how do you think first contact went?"
  48. >Considering the only frame of reference you have on first contact is fiction you fall back to logic. At least that is your strong suit.
  49. "Well you are alive, not imprisoned, and are not only on friendly terms with the local diarchs, but their guest. I would say it went quite well for someone with no diplomatic training or skill."
  50. >For once he doesn't rise to the bait, which takes you by surprise. You thought you had snark perfected. Instead Anon is just staring at his clasped hands on the table.
  51. >"I guess... but what now? We both know that they are going to want to question us as much as they can, but what the hell do I say? Do I just tell them everything or stay tight lipped a la Prime Directive? The Senate never did get any sort of protocol passed outlining primitive civilizations. How do I know what's right?"
  52. >Oh... an ethics question. You were hard coded to cherish life, but beyond that you were given enough freedom to develop emergent behavior, and you focused on logos instead of ethos or pathos. The former was hard, and the latter confused the hell out of you, but at the same time you felt yourself drawn to them for some reason. You have no idea why though.
  53. >You return your view to Anon and see he is still staring at his hands waiting for an answer. Guess you're going to have to wing this, but you need time.
  54. "One moment please."
  55. >Anon nods and allows you to do as you wish. Bringing up every work of fiction you have in the databank involving a prime directive scenario you speed through them as only an AI could. You try to draw the lines between them all and the situation you find yourself in, but no matter how hard you think you just can't figure out the "right" thing to do.
  56. >Fuck it, you're gonna fall back to logic. At least that you can understand.
  57. "Anonymous, if you desire to have the ship repaired then we are going to need these ponies' assistance. I doubt they will be willing to do so for free, and the most valuable commodity we have is knowledge."
  58. >Anon nods, and you continue.
  59. "However, after observing the relevant fiction in the databanks I have noticed "uplifting" a primitive civilization rarely ends well for the culture and society of said civilization, with a prominent example being the Columbian Exchange."
  60. >Another nod. You pause for a moment before receiving a flash of inspiration. Huh... you feel a little... different because of that. More whole.
  61. "Therefore, I recommend an incremental uplift strategy."
  62. >This gets Anon's attention causing him to blink and shift his attention to the PDA. "Incremental uplift strategy? What do you mean by that?"
  63. "To elaborate, I recommend learning where the Equestrians are in technological development before sharing any knowledge. Once that is determined then if they request knowledge then simply provide the next technological step and no more. For example, if the ponies are still manually processing cotton then their next logical step-"
  64. >"Would be the cotton gin."
  65. >Anon looks up, a smile quickly growing on his face and gears clearly turning in that head of his. "Alexa that's genius!" You feel good with that remark. No, you feel more than good... but you can't quite describe it.
  66. >Anon begins to rise out of his seat before pausing, his smile faltering. "But what if they ask for further development in one area? How would we make sure the knowledge isn't just hoarded by a few?"
  67. >You only need to think for a millisecond before coming up with a logical answer.
  68. "Tell them the truth. Explain our viewpoint and concerns to them. They seem rational enough to understand the risks of too much knowledge and not enough time to adapt to it. As for hoarding it, we may have to extract promises for distribution of the knowledge we bestow on them."
  69. >Anonymous considers your words before nodding again. "Alright. They seem to be around medieval in technology. You have human history in your databanks, right?"
  70. "Of course, Anon."
  71. >He attaches the PDA to his belt and moves toward his captain's chair in the cockpit. "Good. Have those on standby for tomorrow." Then for some reason smile disappears from his face. Squinting his eyes, he looks out the forward viewport toward the sun high in the sky. "Say Alexa... how long have we been planetside?"
  72. >Now concerned yourself you check.
  73. "One hour and ten minutes." Nothing seems out of the ordinary. "Why?"
  74. >Still looking toward the sun, "Shouldn't the sun have moved by now?"
  75. >He's right, it should have, but before you answer you notice the ship seismometer pick up an abnormal frequency. It's so faint as to be unnoticeable to the naked eye, but luckily you have no such restriction as an AI. As it stands it picked up a faint pulse before recording a resonance that is still ongoing.
  76. >"Uhh Alexa... what's going on?"
  77. >Damnit you got lost in your thought processing again, if only for a few seconds. Returning to the ship's internal camera you see Anon's face has gone slack in shock. Switching to one of the two outer cameras that survived reentry you rotate it in the direction Anon was looking. What you see surprises even you.
  78. >The sun is moving. Not only is it moving, it is descending impossibly quickly across the now afternoon sky. You have a sudden urge to look the other way, and as you turn the camera you see something in the now dusk sky that nearly causes you to short-circuit the camera; a quick diagnostic check confirms that the camera was not, in fact, damaged from reentry.
  79. "Captain, you may want to turn around."
  80. >A shuffling sound tells you he has done so, and an expletive tells you he's seen what you've seen: the moon is rising in the now night sky just as quickly as the sun set. You both watch it as it rises toward its apex before finally coming to a stop in the same location the sun occupied only minutes prior, and you note the strange frequency on the seismometer cease.
  81. >A few moments pass as you both continue staring at the celestial body above you.
  82. "Captain?"
  83. >"... Yes Alexa?"
  84. "I think we will have just as many questions as the Equestrians tomorrow."
  85. ----------
  86. >Ahh, coffee, the ambrosia of the morning. Black as Sombra's soul, and a kick as strong as an angry mule's, which is just the way you like it.
  87. >You are Luna and you feel /much/ better after your morning cup of joe. The rumormongers of Canterlot make you out to be a veritable demon before your coffee, and while you might be a little irritable you don't care nearly enough to correct them. At least the castle staff knows the truth.
  88. >Even so you were a bit more tired than usual due to pulling an all-nighter, you were just too excited about today to sleep in your unusual sleep schedule.  You'll just take a slightly longer nap than usual this afternoon to make up for it.
  89. >You were tempted to walk Anon's dreams last night, but since you were raised to never violate a colt's privacy without just cause you left his sleeping mind alone. You were a little concerned and confused as to why Alexandria didn't seem to be present in the dreamscape. Do talking ships even dream, and what would they dream about, metallic sheep?
  90. >Your sister is at your side enjoying her own breakfast of pancakes and fruit, and the heads of the castle staff are spread throughout the rest of the T-shaped table conversing with one another. A spot remains empty by the intersection reserved for Anonymous for when he joins you. Where is he anyway? You had sent a maid to wake him earlier, but he had yet to appear.
  91. >As the thought crossed your mind the double doors to the hall opened to reveal Anonymous and a different maid that you had sent. Conversation soon stops as everypony turns to look at the newcomer.
  92. >He's not nearly as bulky as he was yesterday, and you can see he is much more lithe than you initially thought. The clothing he wore appeared formal, but as you turned your gaze downward you noticed a flash of white fabric around his feet.
  93. >Are those socks? You feel yourself blush at the thought. Judging by how he seems to be ignoring your reaction you're going to have to tell him what those mean to ponies.
  94. >Your sister rises, and you take that as your cue to rise as well.
  95. >"Anonymous, welcome and good morning!"
  96. >Seeing the empty cushion, the human thanks the maid before making his way toward his reserved spot.
  97. >>"Good morning princess. Sorry for being late; this castle is like a maze."
  98. >You give a reassuring smile.
  99. "Tis alright, Anonymous. You are here and that is all that matters."
  100. >Anon finally reaches his seat and folds his legs in a way you're sure would be anatomically impossible for any other species. You haven't even asked any questions and you're already learning how his species works! You then realize you're staring and shake your head before returning to your own seat. The heads of staff return to their own conversations, but you can tell their topic is mostly about the new guest now.
  101. >A server approaches Anonymous, and to his credit he maintains a professional demeanor. You watch with interest as you would love to know what sort of diet the human has.
  102. >-"May I take your order sir?"
  103. >Anon turns to the server, surprised.
  104. >>"Huh? Oh. Uhh, what do you guys have?"
  105. >Celestia interjects here.
  106. >"The castle kitchens are stocked with everything available in Equestria and beyond. You may order anything you wish."
  107. >Anonymous suddenly looks uncomfortable at that statement.
  108. >>"Princess, when you say 'anything'..."
  109. >Celestia tilts her head slightly, a confused look on her face. "I do mean anything. Why do you ask?"
  110. >A sigh escapes the human in front of you.
  111. >>"I suppose I should tell you two up front. Humans ea-"
  112. >He pauses before looking at the waiting server for a moment before turning back to you. You may not understand his facial expressions very well yet, but even a foal could see the unspoken request for assistance in his eyes.
  113. >With a wave you dismiss the server, and he bows before withdrawing back to the wall.
  114. >>"Thank you. I trust you two not to overreact to this, but I'm not sure how your subjects would take it."
  115. >You nod, now slightly concerned.
  116. "Please continue, Anonymous."
  117. >He seems to gather himself before speaking again, his voice lowered to avoid being overheard.
  118. >>"Humans are omnivores. We eat pretty much anything that isn't grass or rotten. That includes meat."
  119. >He brings one of the digits on a forelimb to his mouth to raise the corner of his lip to reveal two small canines for emphasis. There's a small pause before your sister speaks again.
  120. >"Is that it?"
  121. >Anon blinks, his face shifting into what you think is confusion.
  122. >>"Uhh, yea. Is it not a big deal?"
  123. >"Do you plan on trying to eat anypony?"
  124. >The human immediately shakes his head.
  125. >>"Absolutely not. I feel it'd be akin to cannibalism to eat anyth- anyone intelligent."
  126. >"Hmm, are humans cannibalistic?"
  127. >He pauses and looks uncomfortable again before answering.
  128. >>"Only in desperate last resorts, and it doesn't excuse murder."
  129. >You nod, inwardly very happy that your extraterrestrial guest is as civilized as ponies are.
  130. "We appreciate your honesty, Anonymous. Equestria has dealings with several carnivorous nations, and most ponies are understanding of differing diets. That being said we do not butcher fellow mammals or poultry as they possess some or equal intelligence. We do, however, have an active fishing industry as pegasi require several oils to stay healthy, and I admit to indulging in a fish fillet every now and then."
  131. >A relieved smile graces the human's face.
  132. >>"Alright, I can deal with that."
  133. >Celestia takes another bite of her breakfast before returning her attention to Anonymous.
  134. >"Why don't you tell us what you need for food so we can better accommodate you as hosts?"
  135. >>"Umm..."
  136. >Anon pauses before reaching down and placing... something on the table before you all. You, Celestia, and the nearby heads of staff look down in curiosity at it; it reminds you of the stone tablets ancient ponies used, but this was much thinner and had a shine to it as it reflected the ambient light.
  137. >>"Alexa what are a human's dietary needs again?"
  138. >The center of the object lights up blue, causing everypony to lean back in surprise and one staff member to gasp.
  139. >>>"The human diet requires essential acids, fats, vitamins, and minerals found within the basic food groups of dairy, fruit, vegetable, grain, and protein."
  140. >>"Thanks Alexa."
  141. >Celestia is the first to recover from her surprise. "Good morning, Miss Alexandria. I was wondering if you would join us for breakfast. Is this the 'PDA' you mentioned yesterday?"
  142. >>>"Good morning your highness. Yes, this is the PDA I am speaking from."
  143. >Your sister nods. "Well I've kept you from your breakfast for long enough. You can answer questions after you've had a chance to eat."
  144. >The server from earlier takes that as his cue to move forward again.
  145. >-"Your order sir?"
  146. >>"Uhh, I'll have two pancakes and some scrambled eggs please."
  147. >-"Would you like hay or buttermilk pancakes?"
  148. >Anon scrunches his face at the mention of hay pancakes, and you don't blame him. They're terribly bland things that require far too much syrup.
  149. >>"Buttermilk please."
  150. >-"As you wish sir."
  151. >The server then turns to the PDA lying on the table, a hint of uncertainty on his face.
  152. >-"Would Miss Alexandria care to order breakfast as well?"
  153. >You can see Anon cover his mouth with one of his forelimbs and look away from the server, giving you a clear view of him desperately holding back laughter.
  154. >>>"Thank you, but I do not need to eat in the same way a biological organism might."
  155. >The server looks uncertain for a moment more before bowing.
  156. >-"As you wish madam."
  157. >He then turns and begins moving toward the kitchen to request Anon's meal. You make a mental note to give him a bonus later; it just goes to show how professional some stallions are regarding the kitchen.
  158. >Anon himself turns back to the table as the server leaves and takes a few deep breaths to calm himself.
  159. >>>"Anon it's not polite to laugh at those that don't understand more advanced technology."
  160. >>"Oh come on Alexa you have to admit that was a little funny."
  161. >>>"I will admit no such thing."
  162. >As Anon and Alexandria continue bickering you can see Celestia raise her teacup for a drink. Your guests might miss it, but you've known your sister long enough to know she's hiding a smile of her own.
  163. >Setting down her teacup with a gentle, yet distinct clink stops the conversation between your guests causing them to direct their attention to your sister.
  164. >"I would like to thank you both, Anon and Miss Alexandria, for coming to brighten up an already wonderful breakfast. I must take my leave now to tend to matters of court. Would you be willing to go with my sister to meet with prominent leaders of Canterlot when you are finished eating? I'm sure you will be able to get answers to most of your questions with them."
  165. >That took you by surprise.
  166. "What now?"
  167. >>"Sure thing."
  168. >You had spoken at the same time as Anonymous. A glance over showed he was a bit confused over your reaction, and you looked away before he could see the small blush on your face.
  169. >"Sister, do you not wish to meet with our guest?"
  170. >You shake your head.
  171. "I do sister, I was just surprised that you didn't tell me your plan for today."
  172. >"I'm sorry Luna, I assumed you would find a way to speak with Anonymous regardless, so I decided to appease both of you by giving you time with him and giving him a familiar face."
  173. >What you wanted was one on one, err, two conversation with Anon and Alexandria, but now that you think about it you can see the wisdom in your sister's decision. The nobility would tear Anon apart given the chance. You'll figure out your personal meeting with him some other time.
  174. "Very well sister. We shall act as Anonymous' guide for his stay here."
  175. >Celestia smiles at your cooperation. "Thank you, Luna. I apologize for not telling you earlier. Farewell Anonymous, Miss Alexandria."
  176. >Celestia then turns to exit the dining room, bringing two guards from their posts to escort her to Day Court.
  177. >>"So, does that happen often?"
  178. >You blink, then turn toward your human guest.
  179. "Does what happen often?"
  180. >He gestures to where your sister had just left.
  181. >>"Little disagreements like that. Is it a sister thing?"
  182. >Despite yourself you let out a small giggle before returning to your coffee. Huh, you didn't realize it was empty already. Setting the mug down you look at Anonymous again.
  183. "It is somewhat a sister thing, the lack of communication, but it goes both ways. It's a habit we both have been working on for quite some time."
  184. >Anon looks like he's about to respond when he pauses and begins sniffing the air. You can smell it too, and before he has to look for the source the server from earlier places Anon's breakfast in front of him. Two golden buttermilk pancakes with a dab of melting butter on them with scrambled eggs to the side.
  185. >-"Will that be all sir?"
  186. >Anon does not look away from the food in front of him.
  187. >>"Yea. Thanks dude."
  188. >That finally cracks the mask of professionalism on the stallion's face, causing his muzzle to scrunch in confusion before he bows and withdraws once more.
  189. >Anon himself still has not moved and is pretending not to glance between you and the food. It brings a smile to your face at his cute behavior.
  190. >... Wait what?
  191. "Go ahead and eat, Anonymous. We can answer each other's questions later when we meet with the Canterlot Nobility. Enjoy your first taste of Equestrian cuisine."
  192. >That's all the encouragement he needs to begin eating with gusto. You take note of how dexterous his paws(?) are and begin wondering which questions you are going to ask first.
  193. >Unfortunately, that causes your mind to tangent and remember you're going to have to share Anon with the nobility. With a rueful gaze at the bottom of your empty coffee mug you signal for a server to bring a refill. You're pretty sure you're going to need it.
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