The Acquaintances

The Acquaintances

The door slammed shut.

A click of a switch later, the room came into life on it's own; the desklamp lighted itself, the desktop hummed into activity. The kettle started to re-heat the water held within. Richard gently set down his takeout on the table, careful not to spill his drink, before proceeding to unload his keys, wallet, cell phone, and PET onto the same table. His eye twitched slightly as he set the PET down, mostly at the PET's bulky and childish design, but commented nothing.

It was, after all, silly to comment out loud alone in his quarters.

Ever since he picked up a job with the Dentech University, life had turned out normal, workable, "alright". It was not particularly exciting, and Richard inwardly was not very happy about that fact. Imagine his degree of joy when he found an abandoned AI program, enough for a tech idiot like him to mould into a Navigator-- Richard was absolutely, thoroughly thrilled with the idea.

At the back end of the studio apartment, an array of historical reads could be found on a nondescript book shelf, painting a picture of Richard's occupation with their mere existence. He was what one would call a "retro boy" in this day and age-- after all, even in his generation, the medieval times and stories of knighthood were no longer as popular as they were in the previous century. Of course, not being exactly a boring character, the shelf also seemed to stock other interesting titles, such as "The Fisherman" and "Netspeak 101".

Linking the PET to his desktop with a basic cable, he watched as the executable booted for the first time. As the settings calibrated, the Navigator took form-- as a projected, small hologram on the table top.

Richard stared blankly at the hologram for a moment, jaws slightly agape.

Standing before Richard was a Navigator, at least, technically-- but its' design was hardly conventional. Having not touched majority of the coding out of fear of breaking it, Richard merely transferred the AI into the newly purchased PET to be converted into a Navigator. ... Of course, perhaps a different story could be said underneath the dark cloak that he seemed to wear. Richard swore that the Navigator was folding his arms underneath all that cloth.

"... I suppose these are not the hands that brought me into creation, judging from your face and gesture," the Navigator said, looking briefly at Richard's fingers before engaging in eye contact with the human. "No, I'm not," Richard managed to squeak, quickly flipping through the PET manual in an attempt to make sense of things. He failed horribly, of course.

Drawing an earnest smile across his face, the Navigator turned around, and began to walk towards the PET. A few holographic screens appeared, describing the PET's general usage and the Navigator's role to aid Operators. "I see that you require assistance. Allow me to be your guide."

... A little while later.

"Alright, I think I know how this sort of works now," Richard commented, running an exasperated hand across his hair as he did so. "It is disconcerting at first, I agree," the Navigator shrugged, standing with his weight leaning on one leg. "However, the ability to adapt and educate oneself is one of mankind's greatest gifts."

Richard shook his head. There was no way he was talking to some software.

"I'll keep that in mind, thanks," Richard started, but paused for a while before continuing. "I think we should introduce ourselves. Common courtesy, you know?" Richard said with a laugh. "The name's Birkenhead. Buuut you can call me Richard," the middle aged man eyed the Navigator, leaning almost painfully close to the table to hear the magical name of the Navigator, who was basically scripted off a slab of history.

"... My apologies if this upsets you, but the manuscript bore no name of the author. I also have no recollection of any names being given to me," the program frowned, as if displeased with the notion of being nameless. "Well that can be easily solved!" Richard brightened up immediately, standing up and shuffling over to the shelves. The Navigator's gaze followed, turning his frame to watch as Richard poured over a mythos encyclopedia. "You're going to be named, lesee, Dullahan! Does that work? Rolls off my tongue easily at least," the lecturer beamed proudly, turning over to see the program's response.

Dullahan merely shrugged. "That sounds hardly factual, coming from a historian," he said with a smile.
The wonderfully timeless sound of pen drawing across paper accompanied the occasional creak of the desk chair, as the writer paused, contemplated, wrote, and paused. And wrote again.

Dear diary,

Today marked a new chapter of my journey, with the introduction of Dullahan, a charming individual from the digital realms. Though I have never taken fancy on the new technological advancements of society, especially on the idea of creating a Navigator that suited your liking (it feels masturbatory, even), my brief interaction with Dullahan thus far has proven to me that there is more to it than that. In fact, I even feel slight regret that I had not taken interest in this field earlier.

Rather than ranting further about my misperception, allow me to sum up my findings thus far. Dullahan is indeed modelled after the author of the original manuscript, as his personality and speech pattern had shown. Unfortunately for both of us, the manuscript, at a quick glance, involved more combat notes and occasional philosophical musings, and little else on the author himself. Rather than a journal, it was beginning to look more like a handbook for fresh squires and knights.

A pause, but before long, the pen began to move again.

That being said, however, it would seem that Dullahan himself despises the concept of combat. He explained something about how his personality setting is 'extrapolated' from the bits written in the manuscript, and I can see how that is a possible way of explaining his odd personality bits. There's still a lot more that I don't know about him at this point, though, so I'll refrain from commenting too much on his behaviour.

As to why Dullahan was scripted into existence in the first place, both of us do not know the answer, either; nor do I know where to begin looking, being the fool of technology that I am. The good news is, however, we had both come to an agreement that each others' company is acceptable. And that is good news for me; this means that I can finally use some tech-savvy equipment in Dentech University.

I can't wait.


The owner of the diary huffed, shutting the leather-bound book and tightening the strap around it before putting it away. The entire room was dark, save for the desk lamp illuminating the space where Richard was writing; and the lone hologram seated next to the PET, the Navigator's back resting against it. Seeing that his Operator was done with his private writing, Dullahan spoke. "I would've imagined that mankind today have given up on the pen and paper," he started, and Richard shrugged at his comment. "It's just my personal preference. Most people today microblog, instead. Saves time and whatnot, but where's the fun in that?" the lecturer said with a grin, giving the Navigator a reminder that his occupation was to make matters of old retain its' relevance and interesting for the newer generations.

Dullahan blinked, then nodded slightly, looking away with a small smile in apology.

"Well, the clock says that I better be hitting the sack," Richard said, yawning and stretching in his seat soon after to support his statement. "I don't suppose you, ah, need to recharge your batteries or something? Do I need to turn anything off or plug anything in?" Dullahan managed a chuckle at that statement, waving a hand towards the studio apartment's switches, immediately switching off the desklamp and plunging the room into darkness. "It's fine. I'm an insomniac. Good night, Birkenhead."

Confused as to how the Navigator had already navigated his way into the access for the house's switches and electricity, Richard brought that piece of mind food into the slumberland with him.

On the other side of the apartment, still on the desk sat Dullahan, the 'insomniac' Navigator who had dimmed his holograph brightness in order not to stand out like a sore thumb in the lightless room. In his hand, he held a digital version of Birkenhead's leather-bound diary-- recreated from what Dullahan could see earlier. Though it only had the latest page, the Navigator was still having a jolly good time reading through fine penmanship on a relatively real book.
Some time later, Dullahan proposed for a trip down to the Netsquare.

Thus far, Richard encountered no problems trying to get himself used to all the technojargons of localised networks, file names, and how to operate his PET in general... Well, the basics, at least. His new Navigator was helpful enough to do a step-by-step tutorial to make the functions accessible from his cellphone, too-- thankfully. The last thing he needed was to look childish in public.

"Granted, the Netsquare is not exactly a physical location that you can walk into," the Navigator provided helpfully, as if catching Richard's train of thoughts before they left his lips. The man frowned. Was the technology so advanced as to being able to mind read? He sincerely hoped not. But he still caught me good there.

Richard sighed in resignation, asking Dullahan to lead the way as they began their first venture into the worldwide network.

[[To NetSquare]]