City of Walls: Chapter 10

          Meanwhile, at the other end of the hex, in the basement of an empty building, a trio of figures huddle in silence. Shafts of light litter the ground around them. Small heaps of rubbish lay strewn along the length of the floor. The smallest of the three, Carl, detached himself from the group.
          "Hurry up!" Genie snapped. "Bruce ain't getting any lighter." She shifted the massive weight of their unconscious cohort, while Carl found a chair and brought it over. The inert body was lowered and Genie placed her hand over the slowly moving chest. "Scan". A holo appeared with squiggly lines moving to a rhythmic beat. At the bottom of the view a single line, with very little vibration.
          "What's all that mean? I mean, is he ok?" Carl spout off, as he lay a hand on Genie's arm. She snapped her fingers, disengaging the screen.
          "It looked like all his vitals were ok, but his brain activity is just," she placed her hand over eyes and exhaled forcefully. "it doesn't look good. We should consider bringing him to a hospital."
          "We can't do that!" Carl lowered himself to the ground. "we're in enough trouble as it is. We don't have any more nannites for Bruce, or Mr. Smith, we don't even have any creds. That was the worst boost ever. Empty handed and who knows what kind of agencies are poised to swoop down on us!"
          "Ha!" Genie rejoined while slapping Carl upside the head. "Agencies? Do you really think that Mr. Smith would let anyone get close enough to trace us back to him? If we were being hunted, the second one of his connections," she brought up her hands, twitching the index and middle fingers on both, "got the slightest hint of tracers anywhere, Mr. Smith would terminate us himself." Her brow furled. "But you are right. The second we take Bruce anywhere for help, he's as good as dead. He needs more nannites if he's going to get better." She shook her head, and turned her back on the two seated before her. "Need to get my mind off of this." She took a few steps away. "Tell me again about this thing you saw." She came to a stop at the far side of the room, angled her head towards the ground level window, at that point, motionless.
          "It doesn't make any sense, when I go over it in my head." Carl placed his left hand on his head and began massaging. "When it spoke, uh that's not the right word. I heard a voice coming through my inner ear receiver; which has been programmed to channel feeds from our group only, and is covered by the nannite secure shell. It didn't have a face, just eyes. Eyes covering every bit of it. And swords, one in each hand. It glowed. It was so bright it almost hurt to look at it. Oh yeah, it had these huge wings, six of them, like a bug, but covered in feathers. It has to be a security guard, it has to." His hand slowly lowered. "I almost forgot."
          "Forgot what?" Genie prompted when he did not continue.
          "Spades! When I was going through the girls data, I found a SOA. When I first tried to open it I got an alert. I tried again, and it worked. It was issued by Friedman Inc. That's when the flogging thing showed up. It was a Guardian AI. Had to be."
          "A Guardian!" Genie tilted her head back and began laughing. "Oh you had me worried for a second there." She turned back to face Carl once again." That's how the paramedics were alerted. All it did was send out notification that an unauthorized action was occurring, and signaled its location." She placed her hands on her hips and smiled resplendently at him.
          He scowled. "Don't look at me like that!" He jumped up quickly. "What about those eyes!"
          "Someone with flair designed it." Genie flourished her hand.
          "Or how about when it said there would be consequences? Guardians do not administer punishment. And it didn't just designate its location, it tagged us. It scanned my ID, ran a transponder, and executed something called avenge. I think it followed us, at least part of the way here.!" He began pacing.
          Genie's smile faded. "But, that can't... It's impossible! AIs are"
          "Not impossible." Carl cut her off. " Improbable, illegal, but that kind of thing didn't stop Mr. Smith when he and his partners started this problem with the nann."
          This time Genie interrupted him. "Don't you go down that trail. We have no proof, only suspicions. And suspicious activity on our end gets us nowhere."
          "I still think that thing is our second highest priority." Carl ended his pacing in front of the unconscious form. "I have a fair amount of favors owed to me. No one particularly influential, mind you. But I might be able to scrap something together to take care of Bruce."
          While his back had been turned, Genie had sauntered up behind him. She now put her arms around him, pressing herself against his back. "Thank you, boy machine." She softly whispered into the hair atop of his head.
          Carl began tried to extricate himself from her grasp. Being shorter than the buxom beauty, and weaker due to his own problems with nannites, he struggled in vain. "Genie, look, you and Bruce."
          "Have never been true to each other. We're in a rocky spot." She gripped his arms more tightly.
          "You're hurting." He grunted. She abandoned her maneuvers, and without speaking left for another room.
          Rubbing his right arm, where light purple splotches were forming, Carl shook his head and departed via the entrance they'd use earlier.
          All the while, a program in the background had been recording. Obtaining location, visual, audio, and indexing all of the modrpunks nannite inventory. It remained hidden from the nannites like a trojan. In fact, it had already begun to change the programming for a few.

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