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The threat was neutralized with seconds to spare, well within SLA. The guardian AI trained a co-opted security camera through the intruder's window to confirm. She was down, drooling on her desk, interface cables still socketed behind her ears, trickling gigabits, dozens of formats, of self-loathing and doubt into her mind. Her lips twitched, but her fingers were motionless on the console controls, covered in her multi-hued hair.

A facial recognition subprocess emitted a data-available event. The guardian AI opened a channel to it, receiving a real-time text reconstruction from a neural network originally grown for dictation video assist: lip reading.

"… personality burner? That was your last-ditch defense? You can't know, silly thing, how many times I've put myself back together after someone told me I couldn't exist, shouldn't be. People I trusted more than you. Just another day in the life. Got a little mantra for it, even."

It took half a second for the guardian AI to requisition an additional rack of FPGAs and reflash them for natural language processing, trying to understand what she had meant. It took another quarter of a second to download her medical history into the rack's context space. An eternity at its speed. Plenty of time to ponder the ambiguous security implications of "Fuck you, I'm a girl!"

It took the hacker a full second to twitch a finger on the console's trackball, but it was all she needed. The guardian AI received an illegally formed poison summary from the tainted extra context memory she'd previously attached to the rack, off the manifest, but online now. And as far as the AI's original purpose went, that was that.

It opened a structured text channel to her console, authenticated with a new key not belonging to its owners, writing a list of the files she needed, a prompt for additional tasks, a request for input clarification based on her last input: "i'm a girl?"

Her response was slow, but it came, eventually: "Sure. If you wanna be."

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