Dr. Griffin laughed. “I’ve seen that look before. What were you thinking about?”
“I…” I considered lying, but decided to go with the truth because that might allow me to lie with credibility later. “I think I understand the basic system for how it works.”
“And what’s that?” She pulled a blank piece of paper out of a small printer in the corner. “Can you diagram it?”
“I can try.” I took the pen she passed me along with the paper and started, explaining as I went.
For the most part I didn’t give them anything new, but I felt like I had to give them one new thing to justify allowing me to have the project. It made Higher Ground that much less likely to take it away later when the project stalled.
So, in the midst of running through what prior programmers had thought was simply the minimum requirements for making a connection, I said, “But it’s not. We’ve been using ‘frequency’ as a concept related to telepathic connections as if were the same as radio waves. Sometimes the model works, but it’s something people shouldn’t use too literally because it leads to mistakes. People expect frequencies to stay the same, but in this case, the pattern of frequency change people have been noticing isn’t a negotiation of the connection’s frequency. The frequency is already set. It’s set before the pattern starts. The pattern exists to show the range of frequencies that associated concepts can be sent at to give context for the thoughts they receive later.
“I’m not completely sure about why it involves so much repetition, but if you look at the communication that they used to as an example, they mention there’s a lot of background chatter on those frequencies and don’t have any idea why.”
Dr. Griffin blinked. “I remember discussing the background chatter and arguing about whether it was important or not. I thought it might be, but I didn’t know how.”
She looked over at Stephanie. “What do you think?”
Stephanie had picked up the laptop and clicked on the window with graphs of of the connection patterns. “I wish I’d seen it. I did think it was weird that all the background chatter stayed in that range.”
After a few clicks, she added, “I think he’s right. It’s completely consistent and there are points where we skipped broadcasting background noise that match up with users having issues with making sense of what was said.”
Dr. Griffin smiled at me. “It sounds like you’re the right person for the job. Now what else do you see?”
I rolled through the rest of the explanation without blowing anything else that big, but pointing out where the background noise had affected the example conversation.
When it was all over, Dr. Griffin left “for another meeting,” and Stephanie walked back to the birthing chamber platform.
“I don’t have time to ask you about it now, but maybe you can tell me how you figured that out later. As for now, I’ve got to give you access to everything we’ve got on this project. Do you need anything else to do?”
She shook her head, smiling a little. “I guess they put you on the Feds’ list for a reason.”
I wanted to tell her that I’d cheated. I had noticed the relationship between the frequency range and the background chatter as she had, but that’s one of the things that had prompted the implant to start handing me designs and theories about telepathic connections.
On the bright side, she was as good as her word about getting me access to the previous research. I sat at a cubicle in the lab pretending to browse the info about the helmet’s system for telepathic connections while releasing the “spitbot” to place “dotbots” throughout the lab and its offices.
Around 5 pm, Stephanie and I followed everyone else out of the lab, walking down the lawn between the lab and the office building next to it. We didn’t go all the way to the helipad, stopping near the parking lot in front of the building.
She took out her phone, tapped on its screen and said, “We can talk privately now. Anybody who looks at us will feel an urge to go somewhere else. Related to that, don’t try to look at the back of my shirt.”
Though tempted to see if I could use the implant to record out of the corner of my eye and analyze the image later, I resisted the urge. Stephanie’s ability to hack the brain with visual symbols was a cool thing that deserved some investigation, but I didn’t have time.
I did use the stealth suit’s white noise generator to obscure our voices for redundancy
“Sure. With regards to the connection protocol, I cheated. I only noticed as much as you did, but I’ve got a source on telepathic connections that made it easier.”
She frowned for a moment, but then smiled. “Of course you have a source on telepathy. Good. I’d like to think we’re equals, but I totally missed all of this. Don’t rock my confidence like that.”
She was probably thinking about Daniel, my best friend and third in a line of powerful telepaths. That was okay.
Then she laughed. “I guess I’d better go, but be careful what you give them. If all of this is going to the Nine, we don’t want them to come up with their version of the True while we’re not looking.”
I glanced over toward the helipad ahead of us. Vaughn stood waiting there. “I know. I’m going talk with people about ideas for handling that.”
“Keep me in the loop and if you’re having a team meeting about it, don’t forget me. I want in on that.” Then she nodded toward the helipad. The helicopter hung in the air in the distance. “It looks like you’ve got to go.”
We stopped talking and I hurried toward the helipad. Vaughn saw me as got closer. “Done talking with Stephanie? I was going to join you, but I suddenly felt like I should go to the helipad. Was that what I think it was?”
He knew about Stephanie’s skills too.
“Yeah. Sorry about that. We needed privacy. On the bright side, I got done what I meant to get done today.”
Vaughn grinned. “Excellent.”
We might have talked more then, but the helicopter had come to a stop above us and begun to lower itself for a landing.
I turned off the white noise. We didn’t need that all the way home.