Izzy looked up at me, raising her eyebrow a little. Knowing how powerful her hearing was (powerful enough that it was actually sonar), I knew that if my heartbeat had risen, she’d heard it.
She might also be able to see which glands were firing off. I didn’t know that, but having experienced her sonar secondhand through telepathy, I could believe almost anything. She could see a lot, and in a lot of detail.
“If you want me to go into detail,” I said, “we’ll have to go someplace more private.”
“This is private,” she said. “No one’s nearby, and I can hear if the elevator begins to slow down.”
Well, if she said so, I was prepared to believe it. I explained everything.
She listened intently, nodded at the right moments, and finally said, “I’m in.”
“But,” and here she drew out the word, “there are conditions. We’re not going to go in and take over the country.”
“Okay. I don’t want to do that in the first place.”
“Good. Second, I don’t want us to stop if it doesn’t work. We come up with something better. This shouldn’t be something we drop if we get bored.”
“The last thing is this. If innocents get in trouble because of us, we need to intervene.”
I blinked. Then I opened my mouth, stopped, thought better of it, and spoke again, finally getting out, “That’s going to be hard. They’re killing innocents already when we’re not involved. I mean, if nothing else, it’s going to be really hard to tell which ones are our fault, and which ones aren’t. And that doesn’t even get into the question of how we’d stop them without going over there and obviously interfering in a sovereign country’s affairs–which would definitely get us in a lot of trouble.”
Izzy nodded. “Exactly. It’s going to be hard, and I haven’t worked out everything either, but if we’re going to do this we need to be dedicated, and we need to remember who we’re doing this for–the people of Turkmenistan. The moment killing the people of Turkmenistan begins to look like a good idea, we need to stop. For this, I think the best thing we can do is to avoid violence.”
“I agree with you about avoiding violence. I’m hoping it’s as simple as making all the secrets known, and then the people who live there will solve their own problems. I’m a little worried that it won’t be. It’s got to be pretty obvious to the people who live there that their rulers aren’t good people already, and they still haven’t done anything about it. Probably,” I guessed, “because they’re pretty sure they’ll be executed.”
Izzy nodded, but more excitedly that time. “Exactly. We’re going to need to talk about that before we release any information to anybody.”
“Alright,” I said. “I guess I should start working on my end of things.”
“And I think we should get everyone involved together, and talk about this soon. I’ll schedule the meeting if you don’t.”
* * *
The days settled into a rhythm. In the mornings we’d exercise, fight, and run obstacle courses. In the afternoons, we’d train to rescue people from fires, floods, and natural disasters.
Then people would head to their elective courses–which meant I’d head to the lab.
I couldn’t go with the best possible solution which would have been improving the bots’ ability to handle themselves between directions from me, and creating a communications system that I fully controlled.
I had to do a hack job where I left the bots’ logic largely alone, and then create a new bot with the purpose of plugging into whichever communications system would get the best connection to me–telephone cables, cell phone towers, or direct satellite connection.
I spent every day after supper in the lab working on it, sometimes with the television or radio on in the background, allowing me to listen to on-going coverage of the news, and a lot about Turkmenistan.
Governments all over the world were making statements of protest against the regime’s actions against its citizens.
None of them were doing anything at all.
At any rate, none of them were doing anything that made the news.
Around 9:50pm on Thursday evening, Haley came into the lab. I heard her voice before I saw her. She talked to one of the other technology students (I couldn’t remember his name), and had a slightly longer conversation with Courtney.
I hadn’t realized Courtney was in the labs.
Then she walked through my doorway. I looked up from the bot. It had successfully penetrated a cable, and was communicating on the network.
Haley wore black jeans and light blue shirt. Her hair hung to her shoulders, and she smiled as she saw me. She looked good, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen much of her this past week.
She pulled up a chair, and sat next to me at the table. “So, how’s it going?”
“Okay, I think. Everything basically works.” I looked over to see her response.
“Good,” she said. “I’m feeling ignored.”
She’d almost certainly used those words to help me recall a conversation we’d had one time when I’d been a little too involved in creating the next version of the Rocket suit. The most memorable words of that conversation had been, “Ignored girlfriends become ex-girlfriends.”
She didn’t seem to be angry, so a change in relationship status didn’t appear to be imminent, but she’d used those words for a reason.
“Oh,” I said.
“A bunch of us are going out on Friday. I’d like you to come too.”