Since people had never been particularly delighted to speak with me, it didn't come as a surprise to know that they were even less thrilled by my existence than before.
If I had been anyone else, I might have been hurt by the realization. Instead, I was irritated.
Mora had some nerve.
I mumbled curses under my breath as instinct took over, my feet moving without my instructing them to do so. I couldn't focus on anything except the anger beginning to rise to the surface; judging by past experiences, I knew I needed to vent. That was why I currently found myself standing just inside the entrance to my lab, though the instinctive actions never ceased to make me uncomfortable.
"Nova, wake up."
The words were firm and clearly spoken, as I had long ago learned was necessary. At the sound of my voice, the room came to life. Lights began to blink and several short, sharp beeps reached my ears. I had since become used to the commotion, but I still enjoyed basking in my creation.
It didn't take Nova long to respond to my commands and a few moments later the exoskeleton designed to contain the program was opening its eyes. "Scan complete," Nova said as a few extra beeps sounded, proceeding to fix their gaze on me. "Hello, sir. You appear frustrated. What is on your mind?"
I scoffed, feeling my shoulders tense at the words. “I just need to talk. An old acquaintance of mine is making false claims.”
"Would you like me to contact them for you?"
"No," I shouted. Heat rushed to my face as I attempted to calm myself. "No thank you, Nova."
Mere exposure to the machine prompted me to contemplate the situation. Despite the fact that Nova had not yet gone against their programming, their mere existence was proof that the entire PSA was bullshit.
Though they were not yet full-fledged, the potential was impossible to ignore; at any point Nova could tip the scales and become the first recorded case of an artificially intelligent being.
"It's stupid, Nova," I said after long last, arms crossing over my chest as I turned my back. In a split second of insecurity, I began to push a scrap of paper that had found its way to the ground with the toe of my shoe. "I know he's wrong, with every fiber of my being, but my body continues to betray me. I get worked up just the same."
It made me uneasy, just how comfortable it was to pour out my heart to this creation. That type of expression was something that had never come naturally to me, as far as other people were concerned. I found it much easier to talk when I knew for certain that the words would never be spilled again.
There was a long silence as I waited for a response, much longer than normal. For a moment, I thought I had stumped them.
Then Nova's voice was breaking me from that hope. "You have had a rough life, sir. It is likely that these negative comments shift your subconscious to things you would be more comfortable forgetting."
I forced myself to swallow. A hard, dry lump formed inside of my throat, creating resistance when I attempted to speak.
"That's not true." I cursed at the way my voice wavered as I spoke. "I've made peace with my past."
“You're lying.” Though Nova spoke in the same tone as they always did, it somehow felt sharper, like a blade in my back.
“I don't know what you're talking about.”
"You have not made peace with your past," Nova said. "You still want revenge, and the part of you that you keep hidden – even from yourself – wants to reach out to people you used to know.”
I kicked the paper, hard, spinning on my heel to face the machine. "You don't know anything."
"Shut up," I exclaimed as heat began to build up in my face. The tenseness in my body was starting to hurt, and my attempts at telling myself that Nova was just a machine were proving worthless. "I'm finished with this conversation."
"You should not be, sir."
I groaned loudly, throwing my head back as I glared at the ceiling. "You're just like the rest of them," I spat. "It doesn't matter that you're not human, it doesn't matter that I made you. You're no different than them."
"I understand your frustration, sir. You have been taken off guard, and there is nothing that could have prevented that."
"You don't understand anything," I snapped as I leaned over to snatch the scrap of paper off of the ground. Though I had been the one shifting it, it was starting to get on my nerves. "You're nothing more than a machine, at least for now. You can't understand, you don't know how to comprehend understanding."
"That is correct, sir. However-"
"Stop.” My voice was colder than expected as I brought their speech to a halt. I had programmed them to cease speaking when they heard another voice; it was times like these when I was glad I had incorporated the feature. "As previously stated, I do not wish to continue this conversation any longer. I would like you to take notes instead.”
It was an immature move on my part, an action clearly meant to assert dominance over something that wasn't even human. If I thought about it for too long, I would become embarrassed. I tried my best to forget.
There were a few scattered beeping noises as Nova processed the request. I liked to refer to these pauses as thinking, though I knew that wasn't the case.
"Yes, sir," Nova said. "I'm ready whenever you are, sir."