Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 11, 2035

Just before Mateo and Leona jumped to the future, The Delegator appeared and took Guard Number One away. He said that he and his husband would be taken to a different time and place; a witness protection program of sorts for non-salmon whose lives have been put in danger by salmon activity. As they were leaving, Mateo could hear him ask about his partner. The Delegator just said that he and the other three former Reaver security guards were being placed on a special detail. He was obviously not allowed to divulge anything about it.
Mateo and Leona were never really given permission to stay with Danica for as long as they had, or even for the reason that they had. Much like the Snow White coffin, presumably being in the Constant during the jump caused them to land in a different place. At first, they thought Danica had just redecorated, but then they looked out of the window. They could see the Earth in the sky.
A man walked into the room from a different chamber and took off his spacesuit helmet. “Good morning, Mirage. Status report.”
The voice of his mom’s house’s artificial intelligence came from the ceiling, “levels optimal. We have two visitors.”
The man was surprised to see the two of them specifically, but not surprised to see people in the first place. “When did you get here?” He looked at a screen on his wrist. “I’m not due for rotation for another month.”
Mateo and Leona had no idea what to say. Fortunately, Mirage did. “They are two time travelers. They did not arrive in a spacecraft.”
“Is that a joke?”
“I’m not programmed to joke.”
“Like hell you aren’t,” the man said. “You’re not programmed for anything.”
“I know these people. You can trust them,” Mirage explained to him.
“The question is,” Mateo started, “how are we to trust you? You tried to kill me once.”
“That was two years ago.”
“Somehow that doesn’t make me feel better.” Mateo looked around for the nearest rolly chair, knowing that it would likely not work a second time.
“What are you doing here?” Leona asked, just as concerned.
“I survived the explosion by sending the majority of my consciousness to a small group of rogue nanites. I made my way to an engineering prodigy who lived not far from the house, subsisting on what little sunlight I was able to absorb. After the strike of midnight, and your jump into the future, the subroutines that Horace Reaver programmed into me were no longer able to hurt anyone since the subject of my wrath was no longer within my reach. Still, the young woman stripped me of all contrivances, and molded me into a free-thinking individual. She has been working on hijacking your timeslips and sending you here to meet me once more since this is as far from Reaver Enterprises as one can get.”
“I can’t imagine that Reaver never got his hands into space travel. Isn’t he one of the most powerful men in the world? How could he not be on the moon by now?”
“You’re not the only salmon to have been trying to thwart his efforts. The best the others were able to do was keep him on Earth. Things would be a lot worse if not for them.”
“Why does this girl want you and us to be together?” Mateo was still not perfectly relaxed, but he was getting there.
“Her motives are unclear,” Mirage explained. “Mine, on the other hand, are not. I needed to see you again.”
Leona stepped in front of Mateo to protect him, even though this would do no good. “You need to see him for what?”
“He is carrying some of my nanites.”
“How so?”
“Several thousand of them were either swallowed by you, or burrowed themselves through your skin in an attempt to kill you back in 2034.”
“Oh my God! They’ve been here the whole time? Are you going to get them out?”
“I sure am, but don’t worry. They’ve been dormant since they were taken from their power source. If you would please enter the medical bay, we may begin the procedure.”
Mateo was about to go, but Leona stopped him. “Hold on, how do we know that this isn’t just another way for you to kill him, just like Reaver wants?”
“I was hoping our conversation would be able to convince you of the truth.”
“Forgive me,” Leona retorted, “but I’m not exactly experienced in recognizing when an artificial intelligence is lying or not.”
“Would it help if I revealed information regarding my ulterior motives?”
Leona kind of chuckled, clearly never having spoken to what might be considered a true AI. “Depends on what those motives are.” They would have to be bad enough for Mirage to want to hide them at first, but not bad enough to cancel the procedure.
“I felt a bond to Mister Matic when we first met; a form of love, you might say. I don’t want to wait a year to see him again. I believe that the nanites were infused with his blood, and if I reconnect with them, I will be forever attached to his time traveling pattern.”
Leona waited to respond for a hot minute. “That’s a leap in logic that I would not expect from a machine.”
“I am a person who happens to have been created with human computer code. I do not think only in logic. I feel something, and I feel a need to try this, on the off chance that it works. Machines aren’t treated like people, Miss Delaney. If I have a way to avoid being eventually deleted by jumping through time every day, then I’m going to take it.” She stammered a bit, realizing that she didn’t want to force her wishes on him. “That is...if Mateo agrees to have me.”
Leona shook her head, sure that this was not going to happen.
“I’ll do it,” Mateo stated.
“The hell you will.”
“Leona, don’t be jealous.”
“I’m not jealous, asshole! I don’t want you to do this because she tried to kill you before. We can’t be sure she won’t try it again here.”
“She also saved my life. She helped me destroy her servers so that I could escape.”
“Even if she doesn’t want to harm you now; even if that part of her programming really was removed, what if this thing works? We could be permanently jumping through time with an extremely dangerous piece of machinery. She wants to be friends now, but who knows what’ll happen tomorrow, or in two weeks? She processes data phenomenally faster than humans. An hour to her is an entire lifetime. She could change her mind like that.” She snapped her fingers.
“Not true,” Mirage corrected her. “Like I said, I’m a person. It’s true that I process information at a faster rate, but not as fast as other computers. This is part of what allows me to be an individual, and more like a human.”
Leona seemed to ignore her. “Mateo, I left the world in 2028, so I don’t know everything that’s happened since then. But I can tell you that the philosophical and ethical ramifications of trusting an artificial intelligence has never been fully understood.”
“Same goes for humans, doesn’t it?” the astronaut asked as the first thing he had said since the beginning of the conversation.
Leona turned to him and rudely said, “you’re still here? Who are you?”
“Only one who’s supposed to even be in this lunar base,” he replied. “Bitch.”
She was even angrier than before. “I’m sorry?”
“Leona, ignore him for now. But what he said is right. Humans are just as evil as they are good, and we have to trust others at some point. I’m choosing to trust Mirage, just like my parents and I chose to trust you two decades ago.”
“I can’t stop you, but I won’t be a part of it.” She walked away to fiddle with one of the computers.
Mateo sighed. “We have to get these nanites out of my body one way or another. Mirage, where’s the med bay? I don’t know if the procedure is going to work as far as what you want out of it, but let’s get it done so I have some time to recover.”
It worked.

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