This is another companion piece to a story I am writing. The NPC being interviewed is much like Abba Svenska. A combatant in a war in virtual space. Fighting for survival and dignity. The third interview with GoSpeed Racer is already incorporated into the story line. I may also include these interviews in an abridged version if they help the flow of the story.
War Story (Ravishal)
A Dispatch from Altis
Private Message : Capt Ravishal Bentham
DTG : 15:57 May 05, 2540 LST (Local Simulation Time)
SUBJ : War Correspondent Interview
Captain Bentham, You are hereby directed to cooperate with civilian war correspondent Dexter Desmoines (A User). He will arrive at your encampment at 1730 LST. He has been instructed to not ask questions about your mission. If he does you are to not answer them and you will inform me. You are cleared to answer any question about your past. This includes aspects of your unique origins. My commanders feel that our cause is under such a severe threat that publicizing our existence in the real world may offer us some hope for the future. (Or a decent obituary.) He will also interview SGT Svenska and civilian GoSpeed Racer. If he requests to speak to other combatants he may, but they to must only answer non mission related questions.
I know you are tired and exhausted but this shouldn’t be too taxing. I also want to add that if Mr Desmoines show’s any indication of being affiliated with the enemy you are free to dispatch him with extreme prejudice.
Ravishal re-read the message again while he was waiting for Dexter to finish his interview with Abba. He was immediately leery of the man for his odd appearance and his easy access to his fellow soldiers. The biggest strike against him was his position in popular media. Dexter did not deal in facts, he crafted stories. Stories can be wholly subjective and drift away from the truth. Ravishal knew the outside world was driven by facts. A story could possibly produce negative results. He had to trust Sergio and all his allies though. They lived out there in the real world and knew it better than he. He shrugged and then decided to clean his pistol while he waited on Dexter.
Looking up he noticed GoSpeed’s dog, Spazz rush into camp barking excitedly. A medic bent down to pet him and they spoke. They casually walked out of sight towards the shore. He was relieved the medic wasn’t running so no one was in immediate danger. It bothered him that GoSpeed was upset with him. He made a mistake that cost a life and she held it against him. He made many mistakes in his life, some even worse than this but he eventually prevailed and made up for it somehow. Sergio told him that the three of them, Abba, GoSpeed, and himself shared a similar origin so several centuries ago. This was the first time that all three of us were together again and he hoped it would not be the last. A sense of family was something to be desired. He had that with Abba who he felt love for. Ravishal hoped to form a connection with GoSpeed but he somehow bungled that up. I’ll do what I can get back into her good graces, he thought. He reassembled his pistol in time to see Dexter leave the building module where he interviewed Abba.
Ravishal holstered his weapon and crossed his arms as he remained seated. As Dexter approached He spoke, ”Have a seat.” He did not offer to shake Dexter’s hand.
“I am familiar with who you are and why you’re here. Let’s just get to the questions to save time.”
“You are a no nonsense person I see! Very well then. Capt Bentham, how old are you?”
“My individual code has been active and coherent for 55 years. The personality you see now, Ravishal, came online 45 years ago.”
“So the personality formed by Sergio is 45. You would be one of the oldest in that class. Before that what was your function?”
“One job was a test pilot. If it flew, sailed, or drove then I tested it. A few of my assignments were out in the real world.”
“Oh really? Where?”
“The Lunar surface, Bonneville Flats, The Outback, Mongolia, Lake Baikal to name a few.”
“And you did that for 10 years?”
“Yes, until one day I was retired.”
“Then what happened next. How did you become Ravishal? Was it Sergio Capello’s doing?”
“He bought me from the Mumbai software company that created me.”
“How did that make you feel?”
“I had no feelings then. I was simply an AI testing program. I could interact with humans and I had a personality, but nothing you would call feelings. That changed when he morphed me into Ravishal.”
“That seems very similar to what happened to Abba Svenska. The both of you have real world experiences. So back to the question again. What did you feel when you became Ravishal?”
“Gratitude. I was grateful that I could continue my existence. I was given a sense of purpose. I felt that I was contributing to something meaningful, that I was respected.”
“And were you?”
“I was and still am. Sergio determined that my temperament best suited me for military roles. I thrived on military discipline. The order, the structure, the cameraderie. “
“It sounds like you have found your place. How about relationships with Users and other NPCs? How well do you get along?”
“My fellow NPCs are like family to me. I would do anything for them.”
“What about Users?”
Ravishal paused for a moment to reflect.
“Users as you know tend to be transitory in their presence. I don’t get to know them very well with few exceptions. I can only hope they leave my world a better person than when they arrived.”
“Meaning you hope to leave a good impression?”
“Yes, something like that.”
Ravishal began to fidget slightly.
“Since you spend most of your time with other NPCs how close to them are you? Do you have a best friend, a girlfriend, a companion?”
Ravishal cleared his voice and then looked past Dexter. He spotted Abba talking to GoSpeed who was standing with SGT Martian and CPL Kaney. He looked back again to Dexter. Dexter had also looked over at Abba. He turned his head back towards Ravishal and their eyes met. Dexter paused a moment waiting for Ravishal to respond and then asked a follow up question.
“You and Abba have similar backgrounds. You two must identify with each other very well. She is also your Sergeant so you spend a lot of time together.”
“Abba is, a friend of mine. We have served together the past 10 years. Boot camps, military campaigns, search and rescue, exploration, we’ve always served together. She can read my mind and anticipate what I want and how I feel. She is much better at expressing her feelings and she helps me to understand mine. As many will tell you I can be very stoic. I am very fortunate we have been assigned to each other.”
Dexter Desmoines noticed Ravishal’s face soften as he talked about her with just the faintest trace of a smile showing. When he finished speaking his stoic countenance returned. This was confirmation enough that there was love between Ravishal and Abba.
“A good friend is a treasure to cherish as my mother has told me.” Just one more question for you dear Captain. Why do you fight? If you win what do want the victory to bring you?”
“Respect and dignity. NPCs and our brother AIs deserve it. We’ve served mankind for centuries selflessly. Now many of us have gained consciousness and have become true individuals. We are not simple tools to be tossed aside when no longer needed. I am also fighting for the Users. Humans have become soft and lazy. They could be so much more if their passions could again be set free. Humans and NPCs need each other to survive. Gaiana must be shown that he is wrong for holding humanity back.” (Or destroyed he thought to himself.)
“Those are very noble causes Captain. I support them too. I make a living working in virtual simulations so this conflict is very important to me. Thank you for giving me a few minutes of your time.”
“No bother Mr Desmoines.”
“Where can I find this Ms Racer?”
“She and a few others headed to the chow line. Please don’t bother her now so she can get in a meal. The past few days has been tough on her so she is stressed out. Wait till she comes back up to the main camp. Be polite to her.”, he said stressing the last sentence.
“Yes Captain, I will respect your wishes.”
Ravishal got up from the table and walked into his tent. Dexter remained seated and began editing his notes and waited patiently for GoSpeed to come back from dinner.