Gideon woke up in a soft bed, while he was stretching he suddenly remembered where he was, he was in space! Only moments later he found himself confused and mildly disappointed, if he was really in space he should be floating around, there was supposed to be no gravity up here. He rolled himself off the mattress and heard his boots hit the hard metal plate floor.
“Oh look, the sleepy head is up” he heard his mother coo from across the small room.
“Good morning mom!” Gideon looked around the room, searching for a window or some other way to tell the time of day but failed, finding only dull gray walls. “It is morning…right?”
“I think so,” his mother said, a thoughtful and curious smile spreading across her face, “I suppose day and night don’t have as much meaning up here.”
“So we’re in space?!” Gideon asked, excitement coloring his voice.
“Yes honey, we’re in space. Remember, you promised me you’d behave.” His mother gave him a stern look, and her voice carried a warning.
“But if we’re in space, why aren’t we floating around?” His voice now the color of confusion.
“The gravity generators are keeping us on the deck you silly goose.” His father answered.
“So we’re on the ship?” Gideon looked around the room again, suddenly the walls were no longer a dull and boring grey, they were the walls of a spaceship! “How long was I asleep? How long till we leave? How long till we get to the new planet?” The questions were bubbling up in Gideon’s mind faster than he could understand them.
“Slow down there mr. astronaut, yes we’re your fathers ship. You were asleep for about 7 hours, I don’t know and I don’t know.” His mom shot him another look.
Gideon was about to launch another series of questions at her but thought better of it, taking a deep breath he tried to calm himself down “So what do we do now? Can we go explore the ship!?” He asked as he launched himself at his father.
His father caught him and held him in a hug, then frowned at him. “I’m sorry buddy I don’t have time to show you around the ship. Lots of stuff to get done before people start boarding tomorrow.” Gideon Jr. felt crushed, he did not want to stay here in the room with his mom. There was nothing to do here, he wanted to go out and do something! This trip into space was beginning to be a big disappointment.
“But, I can arrange a guide for you, they’ll take you anywhere you want to go, thats safe.”
Gideon Jr.’s eyes lit up, his father just promised him that he could explore the ship!
His mother joined the conversation “I don’t think it’s a wise idea to send our boy out into the ship with some strange man.” His mothers eyes expressed a great deal more concern and threat than her voice and words did.
“I didn’t say anything about sending him out into the ship with a strange man.” His father smiled at his mother, “I said a guide.” Pulling a small silver band from his pocket he offered it to his son, “Here buddy, put this on.” He turned back to his wife, “This bracelet will tell us where is within the ship at all times, it will even feed his vital signs back to us so we’ll know how he’s feeling, if he’s hurt, anything like that. Additionally, it will serve as his guide and protector.” He turned back to his son, the silver band now securely around his wrist, and pressed his pinky, index finger, and thumb against the bracelet.
Gentle blues and greens illuminated beneath the surface silvery surface of the bracelet for a moment before fading back out. Gideon Sr. cleared his throat, “ViVi are you there?”.
“Hello Dr. Plock, what can I do for you?” a soothing almost inhuman voice replied.
“ViVi, this is my son, Gideon Jr. I would like you to monitor him and answer any questions he has for you until the other passengers start to arrive. He is admitted to all areas of the ship save any areas requiring special safety training. Please make sure that he is back here with his mother when the guests begin arriving for the ceremony. Understood?”
“Yes Dr. Plock, I would be happy to escort your son while ensuring his well being. I will also do my best to ensure he returns to this room before any other passengers arrive.”
“Thank you ViVi.” His dad turned back to him “There you go buddy, just don’t take the bracelet off and ViVi will answer any questions you have, and help you get around.”
Gideon Jr.’s eyes widened into large coins as he ran his fingers over his new bracelet. His mind was going a mile a minute trying to figure out where to go first, he decided he wanted to go a window first. His mothers voice cut through the flurry of thoughts in his mind.
“I’m not really comfortable with him going around with some strange woman either, Gideon.” He could tell his mother was talking to his father. His dad chuckled a bit, then replied.
“ViVi isn’t a woman either honey, ViVi is the ship. Her name stands for Very Interactive Virtual Intelligence. She won’t let Gideon go anywhere he could possibly hurt himself.”
“I still don’t think its a good idea.” His mother folded his arms, Gideon felt himself deflating again as his adventures escaped his grasp.
“Well then why don’t you go with them? I’m going to be a busy for a while still and it’s not like you have much else to do until the ceremony tomorrow.”
His mother cocked her head to the side for a moment, she usually did that when she was thinking about something, then she shrugged. “Well if I can keep an eye on him and that bracelet will help us get around, It would be nice to stretch my legs a bit. You’re sure we’re the only ones on the ship?”
“I saw the rest of the construction and preparation crew off myself. Most of them seemed glad to be leaving.” His father assured.
She smiled down at her son, then reached down taking his hand in hers. “Lets go exploring kiddo.” Her smile widened as her son’s eyes lit up with an excitement she’d rarely seen.
Gideon and his mother had been exploring in the ship for several hours now, they had gone to the observation deck and looked down on earth. Gideon thought it looked like a big blue and green marble. Then they had walked through a giant room filled with all kinds of construction and farming equipment. ViVi explained to them that the equipment was intended to help the passengers grow food and erect buildings after they arrived at their destination. There had been several rooms that ViVi did not allow them access to, stating that they contained dangerous equipment or that they were restricted to engineering personnel. There had been lots of other rooms they could go into though, and those rooms contained everything from clothes to medicine.
Gideon’s favorite part had not been any of the rooms they found though, it had been when, with his mother’s permission, ViVi turned off the gravity generators for a particularly large and un-used gym. His mother had thought the presence of a gym odd, but ViVi explained that it was for use after the ship had landed, and the answer seemed to appease her. Gideon had not been concerned with that thought, he was too busy floating and tumbling around in zero gravity. It had been one of the best experiences of Gideon’s life, he liked it even more than looking down at earth.
Gideon was unsure of what to do next. He and his mom had not seen anywhere near all the ship, but according to ViVi much of it was storage similar to what he’d seen already. He wondered what his dad was working on. Deciding that that subject was interesting enough he asked ViVi where his father was rewarded with a short list of directions to where his father was.
Pulling his mother along a grated walkway, then down a narrow hallway he came to a large room that was noticeably warmer than the previous rooms.
Gentle hums, clicks, and whirrs, surrounded him and his mother. The room they found themselves was even warmer than the room before, and great white towers stretched from floor to ceiling. They paused, taking a moment to absorb the unusual room they were in, but were quickly interrupted by ViVi.
“You have ceased travel in the Server Room. The individual you seek, Gideon Plock, is not in this room. Please resume travel, you are near your destination.”
“Well then.” His mother said to the bracelet on his wrist, taking a few seconds more before she began walking again. Fortunately the next room they entered was much cooler and much more inviting.
“Hello? Anyone there?” They heard a familiar voice call out.
“Found you!” Gideon and his mother cried together as Gideon Sr. came into view.
His father looked like he nearly jumped out of his skin, and did jump back a couple of feet. This caused Gideon Jr. and his mother to collapse in a heap of laughter on the floor. He stared down at them in mild disbelief as he regained his composure.
“How did you find the server room?” his father’s voice betrayed his puzzled state.
Gideon and his mother were beginning to collect themselves as their laughter subsided, holding his wrist up Gideon pointed to the silver band on it. Suppressing a fit of laughter his mothers sounded out between giggles, “ViVi lead us right to you, all we had to do was ask.” Both of them breathed deeply and worked to quell their laughter.
“Hrmph, I suppose she would.” His father sounded a little displeased, but he was not sure why. “Well since you two are here, would you like to meet Alice?” His father asked.
“Who is Alice?” Both Gideon Jr. and his mother asked in unison.
“Why don’t you both come with me and see?” With that his father had spun on his heels and walked back around the corner just ahead of them. “Come on slow pokes!” he called from out of sight.
Gideon and his mother both got up off the floor and walked down the short hallway before them before they turned into a large room full of computer equipment. His father stood in front of a computer terminal, as mother and son approached he threw his arms apart as if present something.
“Meet Alice!” He said proudly.
“I don’t see anyone dad.” Gideon Jr. said looking around the room.
“That’s because Alice isn’t a person, she’s ViVi’s sister and in the computer.. Heck she IS the computer. She’s the intelligence that is going to be monitoring us all on the trip, she’ll also handle the majority of the piloting, navigation, and other major ship functions. A.L.I.C.E. stands for Artificial Living Intelligent Control Entity.”His father paused for a moment and looked around the room, “Say hello Alice, this is my wife and son.”
A gentle female voice played over the ships speakers, similar to ViVi’s but its subtleties and qualities made it much more human sounding than ViVi’s voice. “Hello Stacy and Gideon Jr. I am looking forward to seeing to your needs during our trip. Your father has given me special instructions and equipped me with additional programming to meet your needs Gideon Jr. I am looking forward to carrying the routines out.”
Gideon’s mother looked at his father “Exactly what kind of special instructions have you given the computer in regards to our son?” She asked, Gideon did not like the edge in her voice.
His father smiled charismatically at his mother “It’s nothing to worry about honey, just some school information. Lesson plans, educational topics, teacher personalities, things like that don’t come standard on Alice.” His father glanced down at him, his look at a meaning to it. Gideon was unsure of what it meant, but he knew there was a meaning there.
The look evaporated from his father’s face, “Are you guys hungry? Why don’t we go get something to eat. The cafeteria robots will be shutting down to go into extended storage soon. Last chance we’ll get to eat for a while.”
Gideon had not noticed it, but he was starving. He and his mother had been running around the ship almost all day and had not had a thing to eat. His stomach let out a surprisingly loud grumble that in turn caused his to laugh as they all set off together towards the cafeteria.