Lucy was painting. It wasn't as the good as the paintings in the ship, but she liked it. The only sad part was that before she could finish, she'd have to go away.
Just then, the robot came. "Hello, Lucy." She could see what was going to happen next. See it in the way he stood. The way he talked.
She decided to be nice anyways. "Hello."
"Sorry, but I have to cut you short. There is some urgent business the New Archivist needs to attend to."
Again. She was being cut short again. She was about to cry. She wished she'd never come aboard this ship.
"Here you go," the metal man said. He handed something to her.
She didn't want to, but she put it on.
It felt so good. The knowledge flowed into her. She remembered how wonderful her situation was. She remembered the history of the Bantu people. She remembered the joys of preserving civilizations. And she realized that it was the New Archivist doing the remembering, not Lucy.
"What did you want talk to me about," the cosmic preserver asked.
"I think we should make a bigger priority of the Fortarians. The humans have been in this solar system for tens of thousands of years, and they can probably stick around a few months longer. The Fortarians, on the other hand, are facing great societal decline. Their civilization is buckling under the immense cost of remaining in space."
"I see," the New Archivist responded. She wasn't entirely focused on the matter of analyzing the Fortarian people. She was thinking about Lucy. The girl was clearly unhappy with her situation. Come to think of it, the New Archivist wasn't thrilled with the way things were going down either. Was there some way to improve things?
"So I was thinking we could let Earth be for a while and go study the Fortarians. To be honest, they're a more developed society anyways."
"All societies are developed. And the Earth is in a fair amount of peril of its own at the moment. It may be necessary for one of us to remain here and the other to join the Fortarian fleet. They're near Jupiter now?"
"Yes, but I'm not sure splitting up is a good idea."
"This whole thing with Lucy. I'm not sure whether you'd be safe without me?"
Was he implying that Lucy might renege on their bargain, leaving herself stranded in a spaceship? Actually, that might be plausible.
"I think the two of us should go together, and leave this planet."
"No. I will go with the Fortarians."
"They can be an aggressive race."
"I wield ancient scientific lore. I can take care of myself."
"What about Lucy?"
"She can take care of herself too. She can be deadly with those flaming swords of hers."
"I see your point. So what can we do?"
"We can stick together."
"Or, you could create some sort of bodyguard."
"You've created artificial lifeforms before. Can't you create one again." Lucy herself had been one of Acme's creations. And were there ethical concerns with creating an entity and forcing it to be a bodyguard? "Actually, about the creature's- the person's mind. Why don't we use one of the ones we have stored? Don't we have the programming of those Taurian Mercenaries? We could just reanimate one with a new body. Or better yet, the soldiers of Kamphaphphph." Was this any better, morally?
"I'm not sure we should do that."
"Why? It would solve our problems."
"It might create new ones."
"I think we should do it."
It took Acme about an hour to create the creature. It was made out of a paste of nanobots. It was tougher than steel, could lift five hundred times its own weight, and could change shape and color at will.
It was given a mind based off that of a long deceased alien soldier. Given basic information about the Archives. Given the ability to speak all the languages the New Archivist knew. And then awoken.
Its first words were "Bbbbvvvvvuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu. Uuuuuu."
In almost every language, that means 'I hit my head.'
Acme was experienced in this sort of thing. "That's what most people say when they spring into existence with a fully developed mind and command of language. Lucy's first word was 'what?', in a few hundred languages. "
The New Archivist remembered her first awakening. Her eyes had flashed green, and she had intoned 'I understand.'
"I am the New Archivist. This is Acme. Do you understand me?"
"Do you know who you are?"
"I know you made me."
Acme interrupted. "You're almost a minute old. Are you ready to start making major life decisions?"
"Want to watch some TV in the mean time. There's a new Pokemon episode out, and out of a sacred obligation to preserve all that humans create, I'm going to watch it."
"What is Pokemon?"
The New Archivist could see where this was going. She already had one android addicted to anime. "It probably wouldn't appeal to you. You lack any of the cultural context."
The new person waved a tentacle around. Probably the equivalent of clearing his throat. "I think I am ready for your major life decisions."
"Excellent. First. What should we call you?"
The creature thought for a moment. "Centurion."
"That's an interesting name. The second thing I'd like to discuss with you is a job offer. I created you so that you could protect me from possible threats when I'm spending time among the Fortarians. Is this agreeable to you. If it's not, I can offer you passage to any convenient part of the universe."
"I accept your offer."
"You're aware of the issue with Lucy."
"I'm prepared to make sure she honors her agreement."
"Good. Thank you. Then we will leave shortly. The Fortarians are eager to meet us."
The next time Lucy woke up, she was in a can. A can flying through space, to meet aliens. Her painting wasn't with her. She began to cry.