Isolation: Part 3

With that thought, I gave up on worrying about Jody until I had a more solid reason to worry about him. I considered asking Daniel or maybe Tara, but I knew that Daniel was sleeping without even looking.

Our childhood link did that much even if it didn’t allow me to borrow his powers while he was unconscious.

Tara lay in one of the cots, not far from Cassie, and sleeping. She’d taken one of the 3 or 4 am slots and deserved the chance to sleep. I wasn’t going to wake her up, especially when there wasn’t any rational reason to think she’d have any special insight. I could show her the recording later. Maybe I could talk to Hal. He might not have any special insight on Jody either, but he’d likely have some useful ideas as to how Major Justice would go about taking us out.

As an AI, he’d even be awake for it.

So, that’s how I spent the next half hour running thought experiments on how Major Justice would likely attack us and what we could do about it—literally using Hal for the purpose for which he’d been designed.

The big picture based on Major Justice’s observed patterns was that he’d attempt to isolate us and then attack. In Hal’s simulations, he should still be collecting allies for the next day, but there were a percentage of times where he offered us a final deal this morning and attacked if we didn’t immediately surrender.

Hal footnoted these simulations with references to other times Major Justice had mobilized allies, noting that this increase in efficiency had only happened in the last five years so far as he could tell.

I asked, “Is there any date you can trace the difference to?”

Hal’s reply appeared in my HUD.

[There was gap of six months in that year in which he did not need to gather allies as the resources of his own team were sufficient. If the change had a specific moment, the gap leaves too large of a window place it.]

Still, if the change were the result of working with the Nine, it meant that Major Justice might have been recruited five years ago.

I texted back, “Could you check for any other changes that started five years ago for Major Justice? Increased resources? New team members or meetings with other groups?”

[I’ll check, but be aware that I will be limited to what’s available in the government databases that you have access to and whatever is available on the internet.]

“Good enough,” I wrote back.

Then I walked to the kitchen to get breakfast, discovering that we were better stocked than I’d expected. Not wanting to put together a real meal, I warmed up a frozen breakfast burrito.

While the microwaved hummed, I found myself running through the simulations I’d done with Hal in my head. The ones where we did best where ones where we took the initiative and attacked Major Justice first. Those scenarios were also the ones where events had the best chance of going chaotically wrong, isolating our group from outside support.

Going a “safer” route meant that Major Justice could still cut us off from help, but it happened less quickly. All the same, we still had a lower chance of success.

The situation felt tailor made for analysis paralysis even though I knew better. Hal’s simulation were dependent on the information he had. If he didn’t have data, he’d be wrong.

I found myself wanting to wake everyone up immediately to start doing something while knowing that I didn’t have a direction to send the group. I’d be waking them up for no specific reason and hoping we’d come up with a useful approach.

What could I do? I took a breath, conscious of that fact that I was seated at one of the tables near the kitchen and had already taken a few bites from the burrito.

It wasn’t a bad burrito, but I couldn’t remember tasting much of it at all.

What could I do? I could call allies in Michigan to check if they were working with Major Justice. I could send some of my bots to find Major Justice. I could call Major Justice and try to persuade him to leave us alone.

I didn’t hold out much hope that he’d talk to us. We’d talked more than once and it didn’t go anywhere.

As I sat there, staring at my plate and thinking, Haley sat in the chair on the other side of the table. She wore an oversized hockey t-shirt that ended halfway down her thighs.

“I noticed that you got up,” she said. Tapping her nose, she added, “And I could tell that you’re worrying about something.”

“I am,” I tried to think of a way I could summarize what I’d been thinking in a sentence or two.

My phone started to ring and it wasn’t ringing as a phone. It rang as a League communicator. Not only that, it was ringing through the secret account that I’d set up for Isaac Lim, an account that allowed our official FBI contact to call us unofficially.

That never meant anything good.

8 thoughts on “Isolation: Part 3”

  1. Is Nick normal enough to start wondering if she’s wearing anything else under the oversize shirt?

    1. I just spent 6 hours trying to figure this out. The source of the issue is somewhere in WordPress’ Jetpack plugin which use for a bunch of things. There are a bunch of things that are active by default though and I haven’t yet turned all of them off. I’ll try again later.

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