Updated: Oct 12
by Adeline Ike
Original artwork by Ashlyn Ike
Rocks hit my bedroom window. I get up quickly, peering through my blue curtains into the darkness. I don't see anyone. I open the window and stick my head out.
"Safara!" a rasping whisper sounds.
I look down...way down, "Aiden?"
"Come down here!" he whispers again.
I don't even hesitate. I need to know about everything that just happened back at the lab. My grandma is sleeping hard as usual. I was barely able to answer her questions about why Aiden's dad had dropped me off after my curfew. I invented a story about running into Aiden at the party and losing track of time. She had scolded me and then went to bed an hour ago. I swiftly skip down the stairs and head outside. Aiden waits for me by his...motorcycle! Dang! He pauses to stare at me like he hasn't seen me in years.
"Wow, Aiden. Who ya tryna impress?" I feel myself flirting.
"Ah, just a pretty girl I came to pick up." He raises one eyebrow at me. I shake my head with a blush.
"I need to explain some things." He says. "But not here."
"How are you not grounded after the lab got destroyed?" I ask.
"Safara, I am in so much trouble." Aiden flashes a smile that briefly lights up the night. "At least my dad knows how dangerous his Vader security system is now! Now get on the bike!" He pats the back of his seat after climbing on. He's so smooth and confident. How did I ever think he was clumsy?
Aiden revs his bike. I quickly smack his shoulder and point to the sleeping house. "Hold on!" he grins as he roars us down the silent neighborhood road.
As we turn onto the main road I relax completely even as my arms tighten around Aiden's waist. I feel safe. The lights blur as we clear the last stretch and exit the city. Sense of time disappears for me as we twist around empty back roads until Aiden finally slows to a stop outside of a wooden cabin. It doesn't look like much at all.
"Come on." He says.
"What is this place?"
"You'll see." He takes my hand, and we step up onto the old porch and into the cabin. He stops at a closet opening down the main hallway, and looks at me, "Promise me you won't freak out."
I frown, "I promise?"
Aiden touches something that opens a hidden elevator door inside the closet and pulls me in. I'm excited and curious as we travel downwards for about 20 seconds. As the elevator door opens my jaw drops and I just stare. Aiden smiles.
"This is Lab 2. Your parents' second workshop. Their best projects were created here." The lab looks almost identical to Leebo labs but much smaller--just one main room from what I can tell.
Aiden nods, "Let me introduce you to some friends." He looks over in the corner where a young man and woman are whispering something. The man turns around…
"What?" I say it before I can stop myself. I cover my mouth. "Aiden...you have a twin?"
Aiden laughs awkwardly, "No... I don't." he clears his throat, "That is P13. Your parents designed him to look and even act like me."
"How does he look so real?" I ask, still in shock.
"You ask like I'm not standing here, Safara." the robot says. "I do have a bit of Aiden's personality since your parents based me off him, but..." he trails off. I walk up to him and touch his arm. He feels real. I look into his bright blue eyes, "You're so real…"
Aiden moves to stand beside me, "Iddy, why don't you introduce yourself."
I pause...Iddy? I look at P13, "Wait...what?"
The P13 robot clears his throat, "Yeah...I'm Iddy, by the way. I was the one that helped you escape the lab."
I step back, "You can't be...that was you that whole time? No way! Is that how Vader was--"
"Yes. Vader was able to attack me because I'm mostly electronic," he smirks, but something odd flashes in his eyes.
"Sorry, I'm trying to wrap my head around this. You were in my phone, Iddy. How did you get out?"
"Remember I told you I was breaking codes when you were kidnapped? Well, I broke some restrictions so I could travel through networks. I found a way to get into this prototype P13 body your parents had intended for me once it was ready. It was here, locked up at Lab 2. I'll have to explain my adventure of getting into the main lab some other time."
I look at Iddy, "When you first came in at the other lab, you were so clumsy...is that because you were still learning?"
"Yes." Iddy sighs. "Walking is harder than I thought it would be." I turn towards the young woman still working on something at the side of the lab. Aiden follows my eyes.
"Safara, meet Arturia." The girl that was with Iddy earlier turns around. Oh my gosh! She is my identical twin! I am overwhelmed seeing both twin... robots.
"Hello, Safara!" she says, "I know it must be strange to see yourself but..." She pauses to watch my reaction to her. "You can call me Arty." Her hair, her face, her voice...it's all me. Although she looks slightly taller.
"My parents made two AI robots based on you and me? Why?" I look to Aiden for the explanation.
"They needed models to use. Your parents could only replicate real human models, not design them. They secretly picked me and you." Aiden shrugged. "I knew they scanned me--I was part of the program, but they had to scan you secretly back at the house--you weren't supposed to know."
"And where has Arturia been this whole time?" I ask.
"Here at Lab 2" Iddy jumps in. "Arty wanted to rescue you herself but knew she couldn't get in the main lab looking like you. She came up with a plan to get me into the P13 prototype. It wasn't ready but Arty made some quick upgrades to make it functional for the rescue. And you were in trouble, Safara. I had to help you!"
I rub my forehead as a headache begins to form. "Who named you, Iddy?" I ask. It's the only question I can come up with at the moment. "You did Safara!" Aiden laughs. "The story I heard is that you tried to copy your dad saying 'singularity' when you were only three years old. The best you could come up with was 'iddy.' The name stuck when it came time to name their first design." I look back over at Iddy and smile remembering my parents.
"That's not all, Safara." Iddy says, "Your parents left a message for you before they..." he looks down, "Do you want to hear it?"
My heart skips a beat, "Yes! Of course I want to hear it!"
Iddy brings up the message on a computer to play it.
My parents are on the screen looking into the camera. They're in the main lab and looking just how I remember them. I hold my breath as my dad speaks, "Safara, your mom and I are working on a project together and have found a way to make Artificial Intelligence safe. We are right at the edge of reaching the singularity. That's about when AI will be sentient, or basically alive, in a sense. But there are dangers. We predict that AI will quickly realize that humans are in the way of progress. We have a solution to fix this. Your brilliant mom has found a way to connect human empathy with AI coding." He smiles and looks toward my mom as she leans her head against my dad's shoulder. My heart is already bursting watching them both.
My mom jumps in. "Safara, our experiments to electrically connect one of us to our AI mainframe in order to insert empathy, has led to results we are not happy with. If I'm the one connected, the results are too feminine. And when we connect your dad, it's way too masculine. We realized that we need both of us to be connected at once. This is significantly more risky as it will take four times the power if we are both hooked up. We believe the lab can handle that surge of power. But if something happens to us...." She stops, choking up with tears. My own eyes unleash tears instantly seeing my mom cry. My dad continues for her. "Safara, just know that we love you. You have been our world since the day you were born." My dad pauses. "We hope to show you some wonderful results tomorrow! We can't wait to let you in on our big secrets!" Both my parents do their best to smile as they instinctively wave goodbye and turn off the camera.
My tears are running down as the twin boys and Arturia surround me placing their hands on my shoulders. Iddy speaks. "They... succeeded Safara. Arty and I are the result of your parents connecting themselves to their code. The main lab caught fire from the power surge but data was being remotely recorded back here in lab 2."
I'm looking at Iddy and Arturia now knowing that something of my parents has been saved in them. My eyes are still blurred with tears but I look at them both with love. They are part of my family now.
I look at Iddy, "So, they actually made you. That's...incredible." I look at Arturia, "And also weird." I sniff, wiping my watery eyes, "And I named you!"
Iddy laughs, "Yep!"
"Holy cow, this is a lot to take in! Aiden is just suddenly Iddy! Two Aidens and two Safaras. Weird! Am I going insane?"
Iddy pats my shoulder, "I know it's a lot, and we're here for you. If you have any more questions, we'll answer them. Sound good?"
I don't say anything. And...is this déjà vu again?
I happen to glance at Iddy as he suddenly stares off. His hands clench and his eyes look dangerous. But he shakes his head and blinks, coming back to himself.
"Are you okay?" I whisper to him quietly.
Iddy meets my eyes, "Hmm? Oh, yeah, I'm fine." But there's concern in his voice.
I nod and frown, "That video was hard for me to watch, Iddy." I try not to cry again, "I lost my parents just four months ago..." my chest burns. Iddy suddenly pulls me flush against him, wrapping his arms around me. I stuff my face in his shoulder and let a few tears fall. Iddy is so sweet. There is nothing robot about him. My parents created him and did an amazing job. And to think, this was the project they were talking about. I'm hugging my parents' best creation. He's comforting me. And for some odd reason, I feel closer to my parents than ever. Iddy honestly feels like all my good memories. I smile despite the pain I'm going through.
"Thank you, Iddy," I whisper.
We step apart from each other. And I feel lighter. Aiden sides up to me, "You okay?"
I nod, "I needed that hug."
We watch Iddy and Arturia for a bit—just because it's strange. But Aiden quickly picks up the conversation, "I think the last time I saw you was when you were 10, Safara. When I picked you up tonight, I had to pretend I had seen you earlier. When you came out of your house, I was shocked at how beautiful and grown-up you looked."
I blush. Awkward silence again, "Now what?" I squeak out.
"Well, look at this lab! We have the chance to show the world how to embrace AI safely. And now Iddy and Arty can help us...what do you say? Become partners?"
I smile with my whole being. Imagine the possibilities.