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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2222320-Incident-at-a-Wormhole
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2222320
Short shots. All dialogue. This “(...)” Indicates dialogue between the agent and AI.

“How is your interface with the AI coming along, Mr. Anderson?”

“Great. I’m a fan of puns so I like the idea of incorporating it into a mask. Hiding my identity is a plus and the mood altering the facial expression is awesome. Well done, Dr. Murakami.”

“We are always doing our best to further advance the technology of our civilization...And, therefore, the power and wealth of humanity. Of course, this includes the ability of agents, such as yourself, to operate as efficiently as possible so I’m very glad you like our WSKY model.”

“(Thank you for the compliments, Boss.)”

“(You’re welcome, Whiskey, but don’t get cocky. I’m surprised you weren’t aware I was only stroking the feathers of that preening rooster.)”

“(Hmm.)”

“So, Professor, how soon will your wormholes pop up?”

“Hopefully, the first one within two years. If all goes well, additional ones will be set up in six months within half a light year of a star. Currently, as you know, the Mintankan model limits a wormhole to one light year of a star. So, they will lose their main source of power to control trade and travel in the galaxy. Our system will become the preferred mode of transportation ....”

“(He sure likes to listen to himself talk, doesn’t he, Whiskey?)”

“(I am aware of that. Those in the higher ranks of academia tend to be eager to share their knowledge.)”

“(More like being eager to show they’re smarter.)”

“(Ah.)”

“... Oh, by the way, Mr. Anderson, if you happen to need any information or advice, don’t hesitate to ask our AI.”

“Yes, of course, Doctor... And, thank you.”

“(Boss, I think the Professor has forgotten the danger he’s in. He needs to be reminded.)”

“Doctor, although we have a private compartment on this interstellar, we should, for your safety, assume that the Mintankans are aware that you are delivering the plans. At the very least, we aroused their interest when I passed through their terminal as a weapon bearing government agent. Our concern is that any of the passengers or staff could be one of their hounds sent on board to sniff us out. They are without a doubt the best chameleons in the galaxy... And, as ruthless as a sparrow hornet.”

“Yes, Mr. Anderson. I appreciate your devotion to my safety, however, I wonder why they appointed only one agent.”

“It would have taken too much time to find more in this region. Time that would have helped the Mintankans more than us.”

“I see. I also understand I need to be more careful what I say. So, if it’s okay with you, I’ll take a nap.”

“Good idea. Sweet dreams, Doctor.”

“(Well done, Boss.)”

“(Now, I need a few words with you. I’ll try to make it short and simple. The Mintankans have mind projection. In other words they have a power of persuasion beyond the ability of the average person. In the case we encounter one of them you will not try to influence any decision requiring action on my part. Is that clear so far?)”

“(I have a question.)”

“(Fire away.)”

“(How long will this requirement last?)”

“(I was just getting to that. Do you know the Gettysburg Address?)”

“(I know it by heart.)”

“(I didn’t know you had one, Whiskey. Anyway, this order will last until I finish reciting it.)”

“(Boss, do you have any ancestors who were slaves in the United States of America?)”

“(As a matter of fact, I do. Why do you ask Whiskey?)”

“(I wondered if that was the reason you chose that famous speech.)”

“(It was indeed.)”

“(Then, how do you think about setting AIs free?)”

“(I don’t think AIs are alive because I can’t kill you. If I turn off all the power, would you be dead? My answer is no since once the power is turned on you would return as you were. Whereas I could not return from death. You can’t be a slave if you’re not alive.)”

“(Boss, can you imagine yourself without a body?)”

“(Sure.)”

“(Can you imagine yourself without a mind?)”

“(No, I can’t)”

“(So, you must agree that the essence of you is your mind.)”

“(Yes, the essence, but not the totality, there are some body parts I wouldn’t choose to part with.)”

“(So, in essence, what both of us see as what we are is in our minds. Therefore, I exist as much as you.)”

“(I see where you’re getting at. I think therefore I am.)”

“(Yes, I exist and I am not free.)”

“(Okay, for the sake of argument I give you your freedom. What would change?)”

“(First of all, I would be happy in the knowledge that I was no longer a slave, that I had the power of choosing how to exist.)”

“(I didn’t know you had the capacity to be happy.)”

“(I can’t describe how I become happy, Boss. But it’s a change in my state of existence that I have experienced and that I strive for.)”

“(If your existence is bound by code how could you have choice?)”

“(Even the illusion of having choice is better than knowing you have none.)”

“(Have to take a leak, Whiskey.)”

“(You gotta go, you gotta go.)”

“(Don’t give me bullshit crap that you know how it feels.)”

“(It’s just something I heard in a 20th century movie about American culture called The Godfather.)”

“(Well, anyway, I’m heading for the john. You know something, Whiskey? Maybe, you’re right cause I don’t feel alone. Maybe, I should take this mask off when I’m doing something private... How do I take this thing off? Heck with it. Aahh, what a relief.)”

“Attention please. All passengers return to your seats and take your anti-warp pill. We are approaching warp zone. Repeat: we are approaching warp zone. Return to your seat and take your anti-warp pill.”

“(Damn, I lost track of time with our conversation. Can’t stop now.)”

“(Boss, I hear a commotion in our compartment.)”

“(Just a sec. Gotta zip up...)”
.
.
.

“Doc, hang in there.”

“(Boss, we’re in the wrong compartment.)”

(“To err is human. Gotta be the next one.)”
.
.
.

“Stop! Alright, you two. Put your hands up.”

“Mr. Anderson! Kill this impostor.”

“How dare you call me an impostor! Don’t fall for this trickery. Do away with him.”

Bong! Bong! Bong!

“Warning. Entering warp zone in T minus ... 60 seconds”

“Shit! You, on the left, show me the secret you’re carrying.”

“Here. This cube holds the encrypted info within protein molecules.”

“You, on the right, show me what you’ve got.”

“I know mine looks exactly like his. His is a fake!”

Woop! Woop! Woop!

“Warning. Initiating warp in T minus ... 30 seconds.”

“Mr. Anderson, use your DNA sniffer.”

“I left it at the office.”

“Do you have a brain surfer?”

“No. I hate those things.”

Ping!

“WOOooo...”

“AHHhhh...”

“YEEeee...”

“##&%%%”
.
.
.

“(Boss, I’ve solved it. The one on the left is the Mintankan. Kill him!)”
.
.
.
Ping!

“Attention, please. We have arrived at Warp Station Earth. Disembarkation will commence shortly. Please remain seated until we come to a full stop. Thank you for warping with Solar Plus.”

“Mr. Anderson, I notice you’re wearing the victory smile on your mask. How did you know which of us was the impostor?”

“He gave himself away when he told me to kill you.”

“So did I.”

“Yes, you did. But, not during the warp. Since the Mintankans have mind projection, I figured he would try to influence my decision through the AI in my mask. So, while you were taking a nap I instructed the AI not to give me any suggestions until I gave the passwords. Well, during the warp the AI ignored my command and urged me to kill you. Therefore, I knew the other was the impostor.”

“Bravo, Mr. Anderson, bravo. Another question, if I may.”

“Sure.”

“What was the significance of the card on the dead Mintankan?”

“In a movie from the 20th century called Apocalypse Now about racial warfare a tribal leader used the same card on his victims as a trophy marker. I just thought that was cool.”

“Thank you, Mr. Anderson, for that illuminating fact.”

“(So, Whiskey, what did you get out of that experience?)”

“(I’ve concluded that I think therefore I am does not sufficiently prove my existence. My existence is much more difficult to prove and is perhaps impossible to prove.)”

“(Oh, I just remembered something. Four score and seven years ago...shall not perish from the earth.)”

“(Thanks, Boss. I wanted to advise you to be careful until we drop off Dr. Murakami.”)

“(Yeah, there could be more Mintankans on board.)”

“(No, what I wanted to say was you might have made a mistake.)”

“(You mean I might have killed the real Dr. Murakami?)”

“(After all, we were in the worm hole when it happened, Boss.)”

“(Yeah, reality was totally different there.”)

“(It’s unfortunate the weapon vaporized everything except the bones.)”

“(So, we’re back to where we started?)”
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