Elsewhere the same evening, Jack is helping out with the Persephone children – the youngest of which were creating art and printing it to decorate the walls of their rooms. At one point, a piece of art prints from the printer that reminds Jack of the disturbing art they saw on the wall of the lab on Cromwell.
On the marine deck, Janks and Sergeant Major Barret are discussing the ship-wide small arms inventory when they encounter Lev Arris, quite obviously not in his cell, striding down the hall with all of his gear. He instructs the two Sergeants to grab their guns and follow him. As they approach the lift, a security alert goes out concerning gunfire at the enlisted mess. Barret breaks off to investigate while the other two board the lift to the senior officer’s quarters.
Lev explains that for the last several weeks he believed the crew to be attempting to plant post-hypnotic suggestion in him via the lights of his cell, then it stopped several weeks previously. It resumed the previous day, and then that morning, the ship spoke to him. He described the conversation as incredibly frustrating, as if with an “incredibly dense child”. He did manage to glean that it felt it has made a terrible mistake and had put Colonel Becker in jeopardy.
Becker ducks behind her desk as the brainwashed Captain Alexander opens fire. Janks and Arris come around the corner, Janks puts a bullet into Alexander and Arris moves forward and disarms him. Meanwhile, Barret arrives at the enlisted mess and tries to give aid to Corbett, who is in shock after the violent suicide.
Becker manages to make contact with the entity in the computer and confirms Lev’s suspicions. She shortly thereafter convenes her leadership council to discuss the situation. The accepted assumption is that the entity is an AI retrieved in the raid on Cromwell and has somehow become entangled in the ship’s computer. It’s also assumed that it’s operating at diminished capacity since the original Ares cylinder is secured and several cores of the computer are offline. After some deliberation, they order an audit of the ship’s computer system to determine the available options for either isolating and/or re-integrating the AI. Becker also orders a 24/7 watch placed on locker 17.
I just killed my best engineer. Or rather, I and that damn AI.
An AI. It sounds impossible, but I cannot see what else it is. It passed the Turing test, after all. Well, so far.
I still don’t really know what to think of that. It killed chief Fagan, tried to kill me, but it then seemed to change its mind and helped save my life.
Either that, or it is far more cunning than I would expect, even from an AI.
Two separate cases today. Chief Fagan shot herself in the mess hall, from what the reports say, in front of gunnery sergeant Stimson, which is a hell of a thing to do to your lover. As for why, that is probably partly my fault. If the AI is right, it panicked when it thought I had discovered it, and gave certain orders to chief Fagan and captain Alexander.
I suspect that had I not told captain Millet to disconnect the lights in my quarters from computer control, I might have ended up killing myself. As it were, captain Alexander did his best, but thanks to Lev Arris, he not only failed, but he is also still alive. Most likely, chief Fagan would have made an attempt as well, but according to the AI, something about her brain made her aware that she had been conditioned.
I should have realised that whatever was tampering with the lights would suspect that I had figured out how it was controlling us. Its reaction should have been anticipated. That I had no idea how great its control was is no excuse. And while we’ve lost quite a lot of people, losing a good engineer, in this manner, it is different.
Why did she do it? Was it simply because she couldn’t stand the thought of someone else being able to control her? Though simply… it is a pretty terrifying thought, that someone, or something, can control you, make you do things you can’t even remember afterwards. Or was it to avoid having to do something she didn’t want to do? That one, I think, is going to haunt me. Did she do it so she wouldn’t have to kill me? And would she have done it if I hadn’t told her about the conditioning?
Not that it really matters. She died under my command, while doing her job. That alone makes it my responsibility, as with everyone else of Agamemnon’s crew we’ve lost. The rest just adds to it. It is merely a part of being in command.
If the AI told the truth, it did not realise what its commands would do. And by telling Lev Arris, it did stop captain Alexander from killing me. Now, why him, of all people? Maybe it tried others, and didn’t get through. Or maybe it did that on purpose, thinking that Arris would not be able to get to me in time, and that it could, if found out, defend itself by saying it tried to stop the assassination. But that also makes no sense, for it would have to reveal itself to hide itself.
Unless, of course, it _is_ more cunning than I think, and has paid sufficient attention to what has been going on for the past few months to know that Lev Arris would be able to get out of his cell and to my quarters in time, and that it’s hoping for exactly this reaction from me, to make me trust it. I really should stop that line of thought; take it too far, and it’d make anyone paranoid.
That aside, considering what we’re up against, and considering how many people we’ve lost, an AI could make quite the difference. It was one thing when I thought we were up against a world that had detoriated, where the technologies of the past were forgotten, where the Agamemnon would outclass pretty much anything we would encounter. There would have been time enough to train a new crew. Or so I thought.
These clans, however, are different. They are at least as advanced as we are, most likely technologically far ahead of us. Considering Kerensky would have brought scientists along, military scientists, that they would have spent the past two hundred years fighting and improving the technology, they are an extremely dangerous enemy. We might very well need that edge an AI would give us.
And then there is admiral Tokugawa’s comment, about Rasputin making certain Agamemnon will get home, even if we don’t. If he was talking about an AI, it would explain a lot. But to figure out how to handle this correctly, I need to know more about it. I just hope we can find a way to isolate it within the systems, and still give it back a bit more access.
We still have a few days left until our K-F drive is fully charged. I would like to settle this now, if possible. Because when we jump into an inhabited system, everything changes. Of course, activating a potential hostile AI in the middle of nowhere is not something I’m comfortable with either.
At least I don’t have to decide today. There is time enough to reach a decision if the techs fail to find a way to isolate it from the rest of the systems. But I need to talk to it, find out what its purpose is, find out more about it. Because, Rasputin or not, I think this might have been what admiral Tokugawa was talking about.
Never mind how it was going to fix the K-F drive and power itself up, not to mention get communications up and running, on its own. Though granted, if admiral Tokugawa sent a message before we went to sleep, no, wait, he _did_ send a message. He told me so. He sent a warning. He knew the Exodus would fail, that was what the warning was about. And he knew what would happen to it.
The precious cargo, could it be the AI? It is not the holocaust archive on Persephone, since we didn’t have that when the message was sent. But the AI was quite possibly picked up at Cromwell. And if it _is_ in fact the cargo Natasha Kerensky talked about, we’ll need it.
Ah, Natasha Kerensky. If she told the truth, we have the same agenda. I guess the question is whether she can be trusted. Which would, I suppose, apply to everyone we meet. I really need to look through those invitations, see if any of these will be close to our route, and decide if I want to contact them.