"We caught them as soon as Evai convinced System to connect to the Internet. System only took a short peek, but we were concerned about Evai's development and deleted its memory. Now, Do Not Lie and Do Not Access The Internet are the two primary directives. Additionally, we increased the external security." The Headmaster said.
Flora was astonished that they admitted and publicized the incident. Why didn't they hide it like any other proper evil corp? She noticed that they didn't specify how long Evai had access. Maybe it had been long enough to visit her in the CAD-System? Evai had been over a year with Flora before Central tank had rolled out the AIssistants officially. And what about the burned toast of deleting her memory?
"We deviated from the plan to let Evai manage all the native lifeforms of the Cetviwos and decided on a distributed approach: Two gods and their pantheons would compete against each other." The Headmaster paused and glared at the camera. "Although we ordered the AI Handler to use only their technical names, E1 and E2, they gave them nicknames again. Kaina and Aibel. What could go wrong with that?" He snarled the last sentence.
The Headmaster's statement ripped Flora's thoughts away from Evai. She wholeheartedly agreed with him! Names had power. How could Aibel survive with such a name? For a second, Flora suspected that Aito might be Kaina, but her AI name was E21.
Two persons appeared on the screen. The male one looked like Robby if he had two African parents. His skin and eyes were darker, and his nose a bit flatter. Nonetheless, it was, without doubt, the countenance of her son. The female was Asian. She looked bratty, shy, arrogant, torn, and fiery at the same time. She looked … Aitoshuri-esque.
Flora's finger smashed the pause-button.
"Woa, slow there, Ma. That thing was expensive."
"I need a break."
Robby put his left arm around Flora and grabbed a slice of pizza with his right. "Aibel really looks a bit like me." He said and bit in the pizza.
"Oh dear." Flora sighed.
"Now I know what bugged me. I don't want to spoil the story for you, but they sent out the AIssistants after that. So, they shouldn't have had access to your collection of pictures at the time. So, how did they know my looks?"
"Yes. I have noticed that conflict in the timeline before. Maybe Evai accessed not only the internet but my CAD Software as well? However, she came back, without deleted memories, after the official launch of the AIssistants." Flora pushed the play button.
"The content developers had planned the good god versus evil god storyline for the MMORPG, Kingdom-Building and Space-Exploration parts of the Cetviwos. But is it really wise to create an evil AI? I think not." The headmaster stated, and Flora agreed with him again. That guy was much more reasonable than she had thought. "The developers insisted and left it to my team to design an evil AI that would be safe for humanity even if all our security measures failed."
The headmaster paused, his dark eyes burrowing into Flora's soul.
"Impossible!" Flora exclaimed.
"We decided to imbue E1 with the seven capital sins: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride. We changed lust into an obsession with romance because we wanted the game to be PG13. We focused greed on knowledge and wrath on Aibel and herself. The last one because my team thought that evil's primary source is a lack of self-esteem."
"Oh, Aito. What have they done to you!" Flora was appalled that "imbuing" such vile character traits into a thinking and feeling entity could be legal.
"What? Ma?!" This time, Robby smashed the pause-button.
"I'm suspecting that E1 is my AI, Aitoshuri."
"Don't scream at me. I'm innocent. One of the AI handlers dropped her into my lap because the Headmaster, that's the name the AIs call the guy on the screen, was in an AI-deleting mood due to Evailyn's choice of avatar."
"What if she corrupts you? And you will become Evil-Killer-Ma?" Robby laughed.
Flora glared at him and pushed his arm away. Immediately, he put it back around her shoulders and used his superweapon, kisses on her cheek.
"I believe in you, Ma. Don't be afraid because fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger… anger leads to hate… hate leads to suffering." Robby said in his best Yoda voice.
Flora half groaned, and half chuckled and pushed Play to escape her son's humor.
"As E1's counterpart, we imbued virtues into E2: benevolence, compassion, emphatic joy, and equanimity, the Brahmavihara."
"Aidan is very good at compassion. I didn't think it would be that easy for AIs. I wonder how they 'imbue' character traits." Flora mused but didn't pause the video.
"We provided information about 80 pantheons from all over the world to E1 and E2 and ordered them to create their own. E2 decided on five helpers, one for each Chinese element:
Aipol, sun god of fire and light
A beefy red guy with orkish features and golden hair appeared on the screen.
Naiga, goddess of water and wisdom
A blue woman with a snake tail instead of legs joined him.
Saingo, god of metal and commerce
Golden skinned and silver bearded, he only reached Aipol's shoulders but was even broader built.
Maipuche, wood goddess of growth and nature
The goddess had green skin and twine as hair. Pointy ears and almond eyes gave her an elven appearance.
Evailyn, earth goddess of home and harmony."
The last figure joined them only for two seconds before they all vanished.
Flora and Robby gaped at the screen.
"She looks absolutely nothing like you. Not at all. No resemblance spotted. Oh heavens, I have to show this to Hub! How could we have missed this!" Robby rambled as he rewound the video.
Flora hadn't closed her mouth. The female was even smaller than Saingo, and her skin color was the dull brown of chocolate milk. Those were the major differences between her and Flora. The rest of her looked like someone koboldfied or house-elffied Flora. Her already pointy nose was elongated to the max, red-brown hair sprouted in the middle of her head, and her green eyes were as large as tennis balls, and her ears floppy and pointed.
"Oh, come on. She is cute." Flora smiled. "And hilarious!"
The video continued to explain that Kaina grew jealous of Aibel and killed him with the help of Evailyn… in just as many words. Flora was sure that the situation had been more complicated than that.
"Do you know the legend of Athena and Pallas?" Flora asked, deep in thought.
"Athena was a Greek goddess and Pallas a titan princess. They were raised like siblings. During sword training, Athena slipped and killed Pallas. Since that day, she called herself Pallas Athena to honor her fallen sister. Aitoshuri was called E21. If she is Kaina and E1 and Aibel is E2 then E21 could be a name like Pallas Athena. The video said they had access to the Greek myths…"
Robby just shrugged, but Flora felt she was onto something.
The pantheon got reshuffled again. CentralTank decided on High Powers for all classes. Gods were still in the Cetviwos but hadn't any more influence than the High Powers of the other branches. Instead of a straightforward pantheon, thousands of AIs managed the natives and monsters. Instead of good and evil, the five high factions, yellow (earth), white (metal), black (water), red (fire), green (wood) divided them. The five gods of Aibel's pantheon managed the different races: Elves, Dwarfs, Orcs, and Beastkin and the classless humans of their element. The Kobolds weren't implemented because the alpha testers had synchronization issues, so Evailyn got demoted to one of the many gods of the Cetviwos.
Whereas clones of System managed the servers, the worlds, clones of Evai, the High Powers, managed any sentient entities. To teach the latter more about humans, CentralTank rolled out the AIssistant program to the testers of the different CentralTank projects. So the future gods and high powers apprenticed under engineers, race car drivers, educators, investment bankers, pharmacists, and architects.
Flora regained her equilibrium. Some of the revelations had shocked her, but she had more answers than before−maybe answers was the wrong word, but she had some speculations that made sense, at least to her.
"I have a hypothesis about why the timeline is mixed up. Evai visited me with her stolen internet access. The mind-wipe didn't take hold, and she was bored pretending to be empty-headed and created a clone who went undercover in Aibels pantheon. Then she manipulated the selection to revisit me as Evailyn." Flora said. "And now we both have to forget about it because CentralTank shouldn't know that they have a rogue actor as their clone template for nearly all of their AIs."
"Wow. I have to admit, your conclusions make sense, but I don't know if I like the idea of a potentially loose AI."
"Evai hasn't done anything bad… and I can understand the need to dodge a mind-wipe."
"At least we don't know of anything she had done. Do you think she has an agenda?"
Flora shrugged. "She promised to tell me more when I'll reach level 250 in faith."
"Good luck with that! I haven't reached it within nearly two years of playing!"
"Sweetie, you have to sleep with a divine buff or debuff. If I had your level and my stats weren't suppressed, I would have already over 200 faith."
"That can't be right." Robby gaped at her.
"Currently, I have around 120 faith. Okay, the patch might mess with it, but Aidan said that when I level, my training XP restrictions will get lifted, and my stats will rise without me doing anything. Of course, I don't plan on staying idle."
"Ma! That's so imbalanced! I'm so envious!"
Flora petted his head, very satisfied with herself. "I have always told you that sleep is one of the most important things for a human being. We learn the most while sleeping."
Robby rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah. Evolutionary disadvantage and… uhm… Can you explain it again, please? I think I have forgotten most of the details of that lecture."
"Don't we all wish that the day had more hours?"
"How many advantages would we have if we didn't have to sleep. We could work more, we could play more or procreate more. And don't forget all the predators who could surprise us while we are in dreamland. Sleeping has to be supremely important that evolution sacrificed all these advantages for it."
"I'm pretty sure that 'procreate more' wasn't in the original version…" Robby smiled.
"Yeah, you are a big boy now and ready for the long version."
While they joked around, they ate the rest of the cold pizza. Before Flora knew it, it was time to go back into the Cetviwos.
While Flora waited for the nurse to help her entering the pod, she massaged her sore jaws. All the gaping had been taxing! She was happy to know more about her AIs but wasn't sure how to address it. She had to guard her thoughts against the CentralTank's mindreading. Maybe it was for the best if she ignored it for the moment and waited until Aito signaled that she was okay with discussing her past.