Haley’s lips twisted. “Are you sure you want them to connect? Remember when we flew into space and that robot attached itself to the ship? I don’t want anything like that to happen. Especially not right now.”
I remembered it very well, and I could see her point. Technically though, the gun wasn’t anything like that robot.
Arguably it was worse. The robot had just wanted to escape while the gun (at least the way Cassie described it) took joy in destroying things.
So if I was going to use the ship to boost the gun’s range, I needed to start carefully.
I reached out, detached the gun’s holster from the clip on the chair, and picked it up.
“Gun, can you contact the ship? I’d like to ask you some questions. It’ll make it easier to get Cassie back.”
Then I watched one of the screens—the one the jet used for direct communications.
[ABOMINATOR DEVICE PROTOCOLS]
The jet had an artificial intelligence? I didn’t remember that. On the other hand, thinking through the jet’s plans, I had thought that the jet’s main computer seemed disproportionately large, given the power of the smaller, dedicated computers that ran parts of the ship.
Also, what was it doing that it needed to be notified? Did AI’s sleep? Meditate?
Haley took a breath, and muttered something that ended with a hard “t” sound.
[AI ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL]
[Hello, Nick. The Abominator device claims that he is speaking to me at your request. With your permission, I’ll allow him to communicate, but I will follow appropriate precautions.]
“Sure,” I said.
From behind me, Sean said, “What are you doing with that thing?”
Sounding irritated, Haley said, “Not right now, Sean.”
From further back, Jaclyn said, “Oh no, now what’s going wrong?”
On the screen, more words appeared.
*IN THE NAME OF MAGNETUS THE PURIFIER, I DEMAND THE ATTENTION OF THE MONGRELS AND HALF-BREEDS CONTROLLING THIS BASTARDIZED IMITATION OF A SPACESHIP!*
[Go stuff yourself, fanatic windbag.]
*WERE IT NOT FOR THE BONDS OF CURSED NECESSITY, I WOULD BURN YOUR COMPONENTS TO SLAG AND DANCE IN THE MOLTEN REMAINS.*
[That’s going to be quite a challenge, since you don’t have legs, or any way to move anywhere your owner doesn’t carry you.]
*BAH! YOUR SOUL LACKS ANY POETIC POTENTIAL.*
[But unlike you, I can move on my own.]
“Hey,” I said, “if the two of you would listen to me for a second, I’d like to ask some questions.”
Sean leaned forward. “Who are you talking to?”
*TELL THE MONGREL BEHIND YOU THAT IF HE ATTEMPTS TO TOUCH ME AGAIN, I WILL BURN HIM WHERE HE STANDS.*
Sean stared at the screen. “The gun’s saying that? Well, tell him that he can bite me.”
[I’m sure he’ll do that right after he dances on your ashes.]
Sean looked completely mystified. “What the fuck? Who was that?”
“Ignore him,” I said. “I’m trying to save Cassie. Jet, she’s fifty miles from here. Is there some way you could boost the gun’s signal, and allow him to speak with her from here?”
[I’d have to allow him access to interface with, and possibly modify my communication functions. That’s an an unacceptable security risk. Plus, he’s a jerk.]
*AND HE’S BEEN CAPTURED, MODIFIED, AND REPAIRED BY PRIMITIVES. HE’S LOST THE ABILITY TO INTERFACE WITH MY SYSTEMS IF HE EVER HAD IT. HIS ORIGINAL MAKERS WERE BARELY BETTER.*
[Do I have permission to cease conversation with the Abominator weapon? Please say yes.]
“Yes, but we’ll need to have you translate for him again when we move in. He’s the only one who can definitely find Cassie.”
[I look forward to it.]
I leaned back in my seat, barely aware that I’d been leaning forward before. Then I picked the gun and its holster up, intending to clip it to the chair again.
That’s when I noticed that everybody had moved to the front. Sean was, of course, leaning forward. Flick, Jaclyn, Rachel, and Sydney were all standing, and must have read at least part of the conversation over our shoulders.
Flick said, “Abominator weapon?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Cassie picked it up when she was fighting the Nine last summer.”
Flick nodded. “I don’t suppose that you’re aware that most countries, including the United States, require people to turn in alien or magical artifacts if they find them?”
“I think I did hear that.”
Light caught my eye, and I looked down. Little spots of light sparkled around the end of the gun’s holster where the barrel ended.
“In this particular case, it might not be a good idea though,” I said.
Flick glanced toward the gun. “No, and if we were completely serious about it, we’d have to impound this jet as well. But,” she said, “if the gun becomes a problem, the powers-that-be will want the problem to stop.”
“Got it,” I said.