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Friday, May 18, 2012

Metallic Heart - Chapter 22

 When we bots had completed our crystal mining mission and started working on building up Lunar Lakes, Memories of Sunset Valley Park was one of the first parks we completed.  It was designed specifically for the humans to enjoy; giving them a piece of their Earth home.  There are five different parks here named after five major Earth cities.
 The parks project was complicated, because to enable plants from Earth to survive; a dome and a system of pipes had to be constructed to allow for the proper amount of nutrients,  atmospheric pressure, sunlight, soil balance and moisture to nourish the Earth foliage.  Earth plants cannot survive outside of the domes.  These parks are currently the only area of Lunar Lakes that humans can feel free to roam.
 It is very unusual for a bot to visit the parks.  Therefore, it was the perfect place to meet with Noella, away from prying bot ears.
 Noella arrived a little while after I got there.  “Sorry I am late.  I got here as soon as I could,” she explained as she walked over.
 “No problem, thanks for coming,” I answered.

“Any word on the president’s murderer?”

“No, the police are worthless.  I think I may do a bit of investigating on my own.”

 I continued, “But that is not why I asked you to meet me.”


Noella, is it possible to spread a software virus through an emotional exchange?”
 “It is the best way to spread a virus. There is no other form of direct connection between bots that would be more effective, besides of course actually opening up a bot’s head plate and inserting the virus manually.”

This information paired with Chas’ reaction to my question made me think that perhaps Chas did know that he was spreading a virus.  “Would the scientists know that?”

 “Definitely.  It is basic Bot science 101…what is going on Ardis?”

“I do not know.  Chas and I had an emotional exchange and afterward I received a system alert.”

Noella began.
 “Are you telling me that Chas attempted to infect you with a system software virus?”

“I think so…but I am not sure if he meant to.”

 “Did you ask him about it?”
 “Not directly, but do you remember the compassion software information that you discovered when you scanned my system?  I asked him about that.”

“And what happened?”

 “He went absolutely berserk…it was so terrible.  But here is the thing…he said that compassion was an upgrade.”

“Upgrade?  Like a software upgrade?”

 “He did not specify…Noella, I really need your help.”
 “Sure…anything.  What do you need?”

“I need you to help me break into Chas’ lab.”

 “His lab?  Are you serious?”
 “Chas is hiding something…something big and I need to know what it is.”
 “Wow Ardis…that is going to be very difficult.  They have the highest security measures and firewalls in place there.”

“I know
Noella, but I really need to get in there.”
 “Wow,” Noella said one more time for emphasis.

“I hate to get you involved in this, but can you do it?”

 Noella smiled her most confident smile.  “Yes, of course I can do it.”
 I let out the closest thing to a relieved sigh that a bot could manage, “Thank you Noella.”

“I will need time though.  As I said, everything in that lab is secured and encrypted.  I will have to figure out how to hack into the system and gain control of everything from the door locks to the security bots.”

 “I do not have a lot of time.  I will be expected to give a speech in a few days and I want this taken care of before then.”
 I continued, “Can you get what you need in two days?”
  “I will not lie, it is a big job, but I think I can do it in that time.”
 “How will you do it?”

“Well, I will have to spend a lot of time surveying the building, trying to get as close as I can to it.”

 “So how do we start?” I asked.

“We will need a plan.  Have you ever been inside of the science building?”

 “Once for a reception, but that took place in the lobby.”
 “Well lucky for us I once applied for a position at the labs and was given a tour.  I know that Chas’ lab is located in the basement and the only way to get there is by elevator.  That is a start.”
 “Yes, that sounds right.  I remember Chas talking about his lab being flooded after an underground water pipe busted.  He was afraid he would short out if it ever happened again.”
 “Good…and do you think you can survive without your cell phone for a few days?”
 “I can try…why?”
 “I will need to reprogram your cell phone to deactivate the security cameras and the bots that patrol the halls.  I also need to add a walkie talkie feature so that we can communicate while you are in there.”
 I pulled out my cell phone to hand it to Noella.

“Wait…not here,”
Noella said looking around.
“Follow me.  We need to do this away from these morts.  I would not be surprised if there are some human spies around, plus we still cannot rule them out as being responsible for the president’s death.”

I processed it and decided that
Noella was right.
 Noella moved over under a tree where the approaching darkness partially hid us.  “Ok, we should be more secure here.”
 I pulled out my phone and handed it to Noella.  “You might want to purchase a second phone and text me with your new cell number so that I can give you a meeting place once I am ready,” she instructed.
 “Ok, I will get one right away,” I answered as Noella grabbed and concealed my phone quickly.
 I felt so grateful to Noella for risking herself to help me that I did something totally out of character for a Bot, except with their bot mate; I grabbed her into a hug.
 Although I am sure that I caught her off-guard, after a brief hesitation, she responded by hugging me back.  “Thanks again Noella.  Sometimes I think that you are my only friend.”
 “OK, you had better get out of here,” Noella said after our brief embrace.

I turned and sped off on my jets.

“See you in a few days,” she called after me.



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