Old Friends & Enemies: Part 6

Slumping into her seat, Tara shook her head before turning to look around at the group, “I’m sorry. I need to get out of True headspace for a little while. It’s exhausting to look at the world that way even though I know we need it. We need to find Master Martian first, though, and from what I was seeing, we need to find him today. When the Dominators know we met with Bullet, they’ll go after Master Martian and maybe after the woman too.”

Cassie glanced back toward Tara before turning back to the front, “I thought the woman was a Dominator.”

Holding up her hands, Tara said “I don’t know. It was obvious when I was thinking like the True, but I think it’s like this—whoever’s been working on Bullet wasn’t reinforcing what the Amethyst Archer did to him. I don’t know how I got there, but before I stopped, I worked out that she might be part of a different faction or maybe she left the Dominators. You don’t need me to figure this out. Hal and Daniel can do it.”

“Oh man,” Vaughn muttered. “This is going to get messy.”

At about the same time Yoselin spoke with me implant-to-implant, Why can’t she stay in “True headspace?”

It wears on her. I think it’s partly that she hates what the True become when they let their abilities make their choices for them. From what she’s told me, it’s not that they become emotionless. It’s more like they’re unaware of how their emotions are guiding them because they’re completely involved in the analysis. Also, I guess it’s exhausting over the long term—though maybe more so for her. The impression I get is that since she’s a combination of two types of True, she’s better than normal somehow, but needs more rest.

The thought left me as quickly as it passed through my mind.

Yoselin met my eyes, shaking her head, Back in Cuba, I knew that my life was stranger than my friends’, but I didn’t have quite so many types of heroes. I’d never heard of Tara or the True before coming here.

I know what you mean. For the last few years, my life has felt like someone shook a can of pop and then opened it right next to my head. She laughed and we listened as Daniel replied to Tara.

Nodding, he said, “Rest. Hal and I can handle it. Hal, pull in any leads you can find and I’ll test them with my prescience. Also, Cassie, could you fly at the speed of a normal jet? If we’re lucky, we might get a lead on Master Martian while we’re still in the air.”

From the front, Cassie flashed Daniel a grin, “Sure, I don’t have anything planned today.”

“I do,” Haley said, turning back toward the rest of us, “but I can skip class for this.”

Thanks to my implant’s connection to the jet, I could feel the sudden increase in the amount of data the jet pulled in. Even as I saw the numbers on its various connections shoot upward, Hal contacted me through my implant.

[Requesting permission to exchange information with other AIs.]

I thought back, What for? Don’t you normally?

[No. I discuss issues with them and participate in activities that demonstrate trust and friendship, but I don’t conduct conversations that risk information about your activities being passed along to other AIs. If, as I suspect, you want me to get information about Master Martian’s location to you as quickly as possible, I’m going to need to call in favors from other AIs. It won’t be anything that puts organic life at risk.]

Hal’s makers, along with the majority of interstellar civilization, were paranoid about a computer uprising and programmed their paranoia into the AI’s security system. It was far from the first time Hal needed my permission to do something. I thought back to it, Permission granted.

It might be that I should have required a transcript of the conversation Hal had with them or demanded to be able to listen, but I trusted the AI enough that I didn’t think he would conspire to destroy or enslave organic life. Learning more about the private conversations of Earth’s AI population might be interesting though.

In my next thought, I wondered if we were the only group with an in with the secret AI network, and if not, who else had one? Even as that thought passed through my brain, I began to think about the fact that Hal said he was calling in a couple of favors to help us. It implied that he’d done favors. I couldn’t help wonder which AI he’d done them for and who they were connected to if anyone.

It didn’t seem like the right moment to ask, especially given that he was using them to our benefit, but in the long run, it seemed too important to ignore.

Before I had time to give any real thought to when I’d look into it, the AI connected to my implant.

[Master Martian located in Washington D.C. Information incoming.]

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