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What are apologies?

Posted on 15 Dec 2022 @ 4:24pm by Ensign Kat Walker & Lieutenant Callisi Veera

933 words; about a 5 minute read

Mission: A New Frontier
Location: Callisi Veera's office

During some quiet time, without nothing much going on, Kat made her way towards the Operations chief's office. Once there she rang the chime, and after bade in she did so, though maintaining a respectful distance to the Operations chief herself and her desk.

"Hello Lieutenant. Could I speak with you for a few moments, please?" the AI asked.

Callisi gave a curious glance up from her seated posture at Kat as she entered the office. A stack of PaDDs dominated one edge of her desk. Damage reports mixed in with casualty listings. Letters to their homes. Letter to their families. Explaining the situation. The loss. The need. The needlessness.

She stood, not just because looking up at a synthetic consciousness didn't sit well with her, but because in the presence of a guest you stood. "You may." she replied, moving to the wall to conjure a mug of coffee. Probably her third, she was running on dangerously little sleep, but there was so much to do.

"I'd offer, but you'll understand if I don't."

"Of course," Kat replied, with a brief smile before a more serious expression took over again. "I came to apologize for your getting hurt in that fire. It was a component of my design that failed, I did not design it with sufficient spare capacity. And I came to express my gratitude for your efforts to save me, during that same event."

"It wasn't your fault that I was injured. It was mine." she started, "I chose to head towards the blaze, to contain and control it before something more volatile than a power breaker decided to pop." she took a sip of her coffee. Bitter, hot, but it didn't seem to bother her. "You acknowledge the error and work to be better. I learned that during my Three. Don't be sorry, be better. Never make the same mistake twice."

She paused, considering the conversation that literally just walked through her door. Gratitude? Apolgiez? A program that recognized when it performed an error, and self corrected. Troubling. "I didn't do it to save you. I did it to make sure you didn't detonate." That point she wanted known. "Clear something up for me? A personal curiosity."

"What's an apology, to you?"

"To give, an acknowledgement of fault and a desire to atone for it, at the very least in words. To receive, a token of goodwill from someone who made a mistake and an attempt to atone as well," Kat explained, though she remained silent for a brief moment before continuing. "To give one, like now, is a decision based on the result of an elaborate algorithm with weighted variables like the nature of the fault, our working relationship, past interactions and many more. To come and give an apology was deemed a higher net positive result over not doing so. It is as well meant as I have the capacity to be, though I do not specifically 'feel' emotions the way you do," the AI explained calmly.

Callisi processed this, turning back to her desk for a moment. The pile of PaDDs weighed heavily on her soul. Not just the damage. Not just the deaths, but the notion that she wasn't here during the time her department needed her most. Certainly, she might have died alongside her department, but the notion that she was not here bothered her. Because of a faulty power coupling. Designed by an AI.

"An apology given because it is expected, rather than truly offered. Believe it or not, I'm familiar with the concept. Sometimes, you're expected to take responsibility as a demonstration, a show. Rather than truly believing in what you're offering. You offer it, because it is expected."

"And it is accepted, because it is equally expected." with that, the cyclopean rabbitess turned back to face Kat. "I accept your apology."

She paused. "But despite my feelings, you at least deserve better than expectation. I do not hold you at fault for my injury. You've taken steps to ensure that this event never occurs again. That's all I'd have the right to expect." in truth, Callisi was more concerned with Harva or another department head pressing the matter than granting Kat further concessions. They placed so much faith in something they knew nothing about. Foolish.

"Consider your conscience clear."

"Thank you, Lieutenant. It is appreciated," Kat began, taking a split second to run another weighted calculation before continuing. "Though credit for the power coupling redesign goes to Commander Taliborn. I would have suggested a similar redesign had I been given the chance, but honesty requires me to give the Commander the credit."

"Honesty and humility are good qualities to emulate." Callisi confirmed, returning to her desk. She didn't take her seat, though. Not while a guest still stood.

A guest.


What an absurd concept. Still, society's demands couldn't easily be ignored. The Daughter of Ts'usu honestly held no blame for the synthetic consciousness. It didn't summon those constructs, by virtue that none of them made any attempt to liberate or destroy it. Kat truly was faultless, not that Callisi was looking for something ot blame on her.

"Was there anything further I could help you with?" as polite a question as she could manage, without sounding rude. Dismissive, untrusting, mildly contemptuous but not rude.

"Not at the moment, Lieutenant. Thank you for your time," With a polite nod Kat turned around to head back out again, off to do whatever the algorithm believed the most positive net result, within the scope of her limitations and duties.


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