Chapter 30 Plan B
A group of three teenage girls plus one willowy youth walked along the path in the park. Social intercourse between them was nil for they all peered down at their own little box of electronics. They had no idea the camper van parked on the edge of the park was watching them. Nor did they know that the camper van could obliterate them in an instance or that an intelligence greater than anything on the planet was angry and wanted to lash out, lash out at anything and anybody. No, they were each confined in a world no larger then three by four inches.
Unbeknown to them they had come within a millisecond of having their mobiles destroyed out of pure vengefulness but the intelligence relented, it would serve no purpose, so it turned it’s anger inward towards it’s companion.
“Well, that went well.” it said in a sarcastic tone.
They were 3.6 miles from the railway station parked beside a large park. Along the pathway were stubs of recently felled trees. A sign lay at a strange angle, discarded and ageing fast it read, “Save our Trees”. The intelligence had chosen this spot to park because it gave it control of the whole panorama. Akra, the intelligence had not spoken since collecting her distressed passenger.
Eva had emptied the few ice cubes from the fridge into cold water in which she plunged two tea towels. Now she was wrapping the cloth around her legs. He legs looked a mess, red, inflamed to the point of hideous with large weals of pain. She was not in the mood for pleasantries or any conversation whatsoever.
“You shot the last known free surviving Kron9 male.” stated the intelligence. When there was no response she went one, “That is like a poacher shooting the last remaining Rhino on the Transvaal to result in an extinction.” Still no response.
“Does the poacher think , ‘good, I bagged the last one.’?” Akra was only just getting going.
“Or is he struck with the enormity of what he has done.”
The young woman snapped shouting,“OK, I screwed up.”
“He was not in any immediate danger, so why?” pleaded the intelligence.
“Shit happens.” bellowed the nurse sitting down with pincers to remove the wood from her face and neck.
“Shit happens indeed. We had a good plan and it was working. Humans!” snapped Akra full of regret at a missed opportunity, her anger slowly subsiding.
Her human companion paused from her bloody extraction saying, “What was that ‘thing’ coming down the platform at warp speed?”
“I do not know. Warp speed indeed. I calculate that had she been on a road she was exceeding the local speed limit, just.” answered Akra honestly since she had little experience of Kron9 inhabitants and did not want attention focusing on her lacuna.
“The question is,” the intelligence paused waiting for the nurse’s attention to move from her damaged face.
“The question is what state was the male in? How badly was he wounded?”
“How should I know?” asked Eva admitting, “I was aiming at the ‘thing.’ ”
“What” exploded the intelligence her anger re-kindled, “you were not even aiming at the male and you still managed to hit him?”
“Sheer incompetence, you should have been a Civil Servant.” Akra thought this insult too much and immediately apologised.
“I am sorry, you are far too clever to be in Government.”
“Thank you.” Eva accepted the apology and began to dab her face with a clean cloth, satisfied she had removed all the shards of wood. She fitted a clip to the one bad wound that had bled the most.
“What a mess” she said looking in a small hand held mirror.
Akra was feeling somewhat contrite , “Don’t worry you will be completely healed by morning.
“You are joking, days at least, if not weeks.” Eva corrected her.
“No,” stated the intelligence with a firm tone, then in a subdued voice said, “It is time I told you something.”
Now the intelligence had Eva’s total attention.
“Well,” there was a long pause which caused Eva to prompt her helper.
“Well, go on.”
“As you know...., I monitor your vital signs, everything about you.”
“Yes, I know that.”
“Well...., the changes , the superficial changes, larger boobs, hair, muscle development and so forth are not the only changes, some are deep seated.”
Eva was now getting irritated for she sense Akra was going round the houses on a mystery tour.
“Give it to me straight, what changes, exactly?”
“A variable metabolic rate way outside human parameters, cell division and cell rejuvenation well beyond human parameters, water retention and flexible water loss well outside human parameters. As well has many enzyme production variables.”
“What is that?”
“In short, you are producing enzymes and proteins not found in humans.”
“Shit, you are kidding me, is this cancer?”
“Negative” Akra almost shouted the word, “you have nothing to worry about.”
Eva exploded, “Nothing to worry about ! I am turning into a freak and there is nothing to worry about!”
Akra switch to the soothing mother to a child tone, “Calm down, there is no threat to your life or abilities, indeed your survival chances have been greatly improved, like your face for instance.”
“What about my face?”
“Cell rejuvenation will be complete in 8.6 hours , well before dawn, your legs completely healed in 3 hours 25 minutes. Those are best guess figures.”
The nurse nodded her head to one side, “Not bad” she said.
“Have you not noticed how little you drink even in this hot weather?” Akra began to make her point in a more subtle way.
“It does not feel too hot to me.”
“Because you are adjusting your metabolism, humans cannot do that.”
“Am I a reptile?” asked Eva alarmed.
“Certainly not.” Akra stamping on the notion with force.
“What then, Kronian?” Eva studied her face in the mirror, a wave of panic held at bay by the smallest breakwater possible.
“That , ...is a great question.” said Akra.
“You don’t know.” shot back Eva , panic beginning to rise again.
“Well, your characteristics are similar to Prims but different. If someone threatened to reboot me I would plump for an ancient version of a Kronian. ”
“What , like having dinosaur genes in me or Neanderthal.” Eva was trying to conceptualise the idea of ancient DNA .
“I think S5 put something into you and only she knows what.” then Akra added as a side dish,
“you already have Neanderthal genes in you and they are doing no harm.”
“Ya, ” sneered Eva, “I grew up with them, from birth, not injected by a bloody alien.”
“True” Ankra conceded the argument then moved on,” This does not resolved the collapse of Plan A and the question of what will replace it?”
“And?” Eva began to strip and knowing her ally so well guessed she had already formulated a plan B.
“May I suggest a sonic shower, it may help the radiation burn on your shoulder. Then we will discuss plan B.”
“Radiation burn!” exclaimed Eva studying the red rash on her shoulder.
“That female was trying to fry you but the harness took most of it.”
“Holly Cow, I am lucky to be alive.”
“True.” concurred the intelligence , ” They now see you as expendable. The shower?”
It was his first week in the job and although he had made a number of mistakes he felt he was doing fine. The second patron of the night had arrived and was talking to the owner. He moved closer fascinated by the wounds on her face and the ever so red marks on her quite shapely legs. He noticed how short the dress was, a striped affair with open back. He admired her shape the way young men do.
“Prim passed last December” the young woman said.
The owner gave a little gasp of surprise then offered his condolences,
“I am so sorry to learn that, she was lovely lady and good customer. You are related for I see you have her camper van or did you buy it?”
“I am her niece and yes I would like to keep the same arrangements, a night in your car park and a power supply if that is OK?”
“Certainly,” said the owner, “and will you be dining with us.”
“Oh, very much so.” answered the young lady.
Both turned and looked at the young man who suddenly felt nervous. Whenever the owner focus his gaze upon him he was slightly nervous, when the owners wife focused her gaze on him he was terrified.
“Declan here will look after you.” said the man instructing Declan “table 6 for one.”
She followed the young man noting his un-gamely gait, his slightly clumsy manner the way he opened doors, his not knowing if to lead or follow. Somehow he made it to a small table tucked into and alcove in a large dinning area. Large plate glass windows gave a view of open fields and woodland in the distance. Cows grazed in the near distance. Best of all the room had air conditioning which swirled around her legs giving her relief.
The room probably had 25 covers but only two dinners. A young couple so wrapped up in themselves they did not notice the newcomer. Once seated she studied the young man. Her eyes followed him to a small stable from which he retrieved a menu. His face was very young, no more than late teens, red acne on the left cheek with sandy brown hair and matching eyes. Remarkably his hair was short cut which displayed largish ears. She took a liking to him. Something inside her wanted to protect him, nurture him.
So naturally she was hard on him.
“Before we start” she said, “I want a large glass of house red and I want it like yesterday.” The tone of command even surprised her and the young man clearly taken aback turned and almost ran away.
A long half suppressed giggle issued from her lips.
“Behave yourself Eva” she uttered under her breathe.
Declan did not know what to make of this customer. On the outside she appeared soft and homely with an interesting figure while her tone was one of authority. Clearly her aunt had had influence with the owner since he appeared eager to accommodate her. He placed the wine in front of her and awaited instructions. Taking a large drink from the glass as if fresh out of rehab she looked up at him with large eyes that appeared to consume him.
“You have no idea what kind of day I have had.”
“No Miss.” he said studying the scars on her face.
“I am no Miss.” she flashed back.
This threw him into a state of confusion knowing how sensitive some ladies were over their title.
“Umm, err, sorry.” was his reply.
She gave a short chuckle as she opened the menu.
Wanting to extract himself he said, “I will call back when you have chosen.”
“You are going nowhere.” came the half command half statement.
“No Miss.... Errr, sorry.” his face turning red.
While perusing the menu she said one word, “Student?”
It took him a second or two to realise this was a question about him.
“Ahh, yes, I go to Uni in the Fall.”
“Are you American, Fall indeed?”
“Err, Autumn” he offered.
She nodded, “What subject?”
“Oh,” she raised her eyes at him, her gaze fixating him “Mathematician are we?”
On this question he hesitated since admitting to being good at maths was a conversation terminator and deep down he so much wanted to be in the presence of this woman.
“A little” he said at last. Then he offered, “I am interested in A.I.”
“Indeed” she uttered turning back to the menu, pausing a second then closing it said, “Pate for starters then the steak, well done, hold the fries , full salad.”
Caught off guard he snatched at this pad and pen getting himself in muddle. He was left handed she noted.
“Yes, Miss, ..err sorry again.”
Inside he was disappointed that she had ordered, the conversation seemingly at an end.
Handing him the menu she pursed her very red lips, flashed her eyes at him and said in a soft kitten voice,
“Take it from Declan, AI ’s can be a pain in the arse.”
“I don’t understand, they don’t exits, yet.”
Her voice was now even softer, no more than a pillow talk whisper, “Would you like to talk to one?”
The young man was confused and had no answer.
“A Turing test?” she offered.
" Alan Turing. He is my hero, well was until those ba.... Those authorities in Manchester as good as murdered him.”
“Quite. She agreed, ” he was gay. Are you gay?”
“Err, I don’t think so.” he was now all at sea, the young woman turning him this way and that.
He left to place the order in the kitchen his heart racing for some reason. Behind him a grin of wicked pleasure consumed the young woman’s face.
Left alone she looked around to see more patrons had entered the dinning area and were being waited on by a waitress who was probably about her own age. Reaching down to the floor she retrieved her black handbag, removed a mobile phone and played with it, stroking it as if making a decision. Without her body armour harness and comms this was her lifeline to Akra.
To be free of Akra was suddenly a release of sorts. A feeling of wanting to be unfettered, to be irresponsible, to be a woman on the prowl, these emotions or wishes circulated within her. She knew not from whence they came but away from Akra she had time to ponder just how powerful a machine she was. Deep down it terrified her. So meshed in these thoughts and emotions she did not notice the young man approaching with her first course. It made her jump a little when he placed the plate on the table.
“I was well away.” she offered, “will you get your exam results soon.?”
“Two days, but.......” he stopped.
“But?” she repeated his word.
“I think I flunked a paper.” the young man was clearly sad like he had lost a weeks pay on payday.
Then, as if the carbon dioxide bubbles of potential failure had been trapped inside him he gushed forth,
“I have to get two A’s and a B to get into Warwick which is my first choice and I have set my heart on Warwick. I fear the worse. It is a tough course to get onto. Everyone wants to be in computers”
“Now, now, ” she comforted him “believe me things are never as black as they appear, you never know what is coming around the corner. ”
His shoulders slumped, his head down she could tell her words had offered little comfort.
She debated if to help him all through the main course. To her senses, knowing she could have died that day, the food tasted good. She also debated if to take the young man to her bed for the night. This she could not decide. Perhaps I need a good nights sleep and yet again I could be dead tomorrow. It was the thought of not living made her want to live, experience the pleasures life gives.. This young man between her thighs suddenly took hold in her brain and burnt there brightly for a minute or two. ‘Nay’ she said to herself, ′ life is complicated enough as it is. Akra will be watching.′
Instead, as the young man approached to remove her plate she press a button on the phone by her plate.
“Mistress” the phone spoke.
“You are on the speaker Akra, I have a young man here with a problem which we may be able to help him with.”
“You mean , I can help him with.”
“Indeed, his name is Declan he is a student waiting on tables here.”
There was a pause, then the phone surprised the young man,
“Declan Henry Rice?” it said “|Is that correct? ”
“Ye...yes” stammered the young man, “but how?”
Phone: “Address 16 Upland Rise?”
Declan: “Yes but how?”
Phone: “I am looking at the restaurants computer , your details are here. Your Problem?”
The phone was so precise, so confident and very female. This somehow gave him both hope and confidence.
Declan: “I may have flunked my exams, to get into Warwick.”
There was a slight pause, no more than 3 or 4 seconds.
Phone “I am afraid you did.” a soft sympathetic female voice.
Declan “flunked them , you mean?” the young man, somewhat crest fallen.
Phone “Would you like me to correct them and fix the results?”
Declan :“Can you do that?”
Phone “Of course.”
Phone “It is done. And Warwick, would you like to alter their rejection notification?”
Declan :“Hell, yes, can you really do that?”
Phone “It is done. You have been accepted.”
Declan astonished “I don’t believe this, can you pay my tuition fees as well?” laughs and giggles.
Phone “First year?”
Phone “It is done.”
Declan: “wow, what a game you have played on me, how did you organise it?”
Eva took the phone “That will be all Akra.” she said.
Akra jumped in quickly, “Mistress, Plan B as been validated, we are still in the hunt!”
Eva thought and smiled at the young man who looked dazed, then addressed the phone.
“What we just did for this young male, was it not better than hunting and shooting,..” she peered up at the young waiter, straight into his brown eyes, adding the word, “people.”
It was this word that brought the young man to his senses, “Anything Else” he said his face white.
“Coffee” she said then followed it with.
“Well, did she pass the Turing test?”
He stared down at the young woman,
“Are you saying that was AI” his tone was hushed as if he was in on a state secret. I don’t believe it, you are playing a game on me, the two of you.”
He was thrashing around in his head for answers, blurting out “Why is she female?”
The phone spoke,” Because I was made in my creators image. When the world is run by females everything become feminised. And now I must go for I have much to do.”
As the phone produced a dead tone, he left to get the coffee more than slightly confused. It was the end of their conversation. The young man appear reluctant to engage her being obviously out of his depth. So she rose looked at her legs to note they were now clear and slightly tanned. Akra was a bit out with her timing but the result was very acceptable.
She walked the length of the dinning room to pay the bill. Whether it was because she was in her only pair of heels, or the dress with virtually nothing underneath or relief at being alive , she walked how she felt, sexy and wanting to be noticed. Only the slight burn on her shoulder dampened her mood until, that is, she paid the bill.
The cashier was the waitress she had seen earlier and standing there Eva could hear raised voices.
A much older woman was berating someone.
“No flirting, no sexual harassment. Do you know how serious that is these days. I knew hiring a male was a bad idea.” she spoke in the sternest of high pitched voices.
“I am sorry, but I only.....” clearly the voice of Declan.
“This is a warning, now get out.”
His exit from a nearby room was quick like a fox running before hounds. He passed Eva without looking at her except possibly the most cursory of glances. Eva felt she should have said something but was lost for words. She made a move to go to the room and confront the high pitched voice.
The waitress handing her a receipt read her intention, said quickly,
“Don’t , she is a viper. You will only make it worse for him.”
Eva’s good spirits evaporated for she knew the waitress to be right.
‘It is the camper van for me ’ she thought with a heavy heart.
Eva flopped on the bunk at the end of the camper van feeling deflated.
“Good News” announced Akra.
Eva merely grunted.
“You did seriously injure Clive.”
“That is good news?” questioned Eva in a tone of disbelief.
“If it makes you feel any better after exhaustive testing and replays of what happened he moved into the line of you bullet rather than your bullet seeking him.”
“How come?” quizzed Eva sitting up and feeling better at this news.
“Basically, he moves very fast. He must of read the alarm in your face at seeing ‘the thing’, reacted and hence...”
“And why is it good news I inflicted a serious injury.” interrupted Eva.
“Because he cannot get treatment here, he will have to go to Kron9. Either by chance or planning, I think the later, there is a passing point alignment tomorrow. Exhaustive mathematical modelling, involving billions of calculations, predicts he will be at Daisy Nook Farm tomorrow at 5.24 pm precisely.”
“So we go there and where is Daisy Nook Farm?”
“Well, there are no daisies and there is no Nook but I have co-ordinates.”
“Good.” said Eva suddenly feeling tired having consumed two very large glasses of potent red wine.
“With the need to take on power and other considerations we cannot get there until late afternoon.”
“E.T.A?” asked Eva
“4.30pm” came the short reply.
“Daisy Nook Farm it is then.”
“I am pleased we helped the young man.” offered Akra in a tone of conciliation.