chapter 102: Mike talks to Gamma

== MIKE’s House, Aristillus, Lunar Nearside

Mike walked through the empty house, and looked at a sweater Darcy had left behind. He picked it up and held it in his hands, feeling the softness of the cotton. He should have –

His phone rang and he looked at it, eager for the distraction. An anonymous call, but it had a high priority flag. He answered it. “Hello?”

“Hello Michael.”

The voice was cool, emotionless – and unfamiliar. “Who is this?”

“This is Gamma.”

“Gamma?” Mike was incredulous. “How do I know it’s you?”

“You received an anonymous text in the midst of the Wookie hijacking at exactly XXX PM on XXX date on this phone. The text read ‘Wookie hijacked by PK forces. One dozen aggressors. Hostages taken. Darcy alive.’ Only you and I know that I sent that text.”

Mike breathed in and out. OK, it was Gamma. Gamma! He’d known that the AI was out at Sinus Lunicus 80 klicks to the south west, but it almost never deigned to interact with anyone other than John. “Well. Wow. This is – uh – an honor.” Shit. He was sounding like an idiot. What does one say to an AI? “Uh, sorry if that sounded tripe. I’ve never spoken to an AI before.”

“As I am the only AI, I know that.”

Mike winced. “Right. Of course. Uh.” Mike realized he was stammering, but the conversation had him reeling. He was talking to a non-human! A machine! It was bizarre. “So, uh – why don’t we talk more?” As soon as the words were out of his mouth realized how stupid they sounded.

“It is not clear that use of a human psychological term is appropriate, but one might choose to call me an introvert. Or to use an economic term, my revealed preferences are to minimize my real-time interactions with humans.”

Mike squinted as he continued pacing. He pushed through a door and stepped out onto his front porch without looking around at the apple trees or the garden. “Ah – OK.” What did that even mean? “So, uh, Gamma – should I be worried about this call? I mean, the last time you deigned to communicate with me was when the Wookie was hijacked.” He tried to put some levity into his voice, but it fell flat. Should he be worried about a bad joke? Probably not. It’s not like Gamma had a sense of humor. Or did it? And for that matter, was it right to call Gamma an “it” – or was it a “he”? Or a “she”?

“I am calling to talk to you about the fact that Earth forces have burned my lunar satellite network.”

Mike furrowed his brow. “Uh, yeah. But why call me over that? I mean, you didn’t call me when it happened the first time a few months ago.”

“I’m calling you this time because when my new generation of armored satellites were launched four days ago, they were burned. So then yesterday I launched another batch of satellites – and they were burned within minutes of launch. And then, one hour and nine minutes later, my launch facility was destroyed by the same directed energy weapons.”

Mike’s eyes widened. Not only did the Earth governments feel free to destroy lunar satellites, but they were targeting surface industrial facilities? “Jesus. We’re really at war, aren’t we?”

“That’s exactly why I’m calling you, Mike.”

“They’re going to land here next. I know it.”

“I concur.”

Jesus. Mike reached up to wipe the sweat off his brow and realized that he was still holding Darcy’s sweater. He put it down, draping it over an arm of one of the Adirondack chairs.

“So, Gamma, do you have a plan?”

“I do not. That’s why I’ve contacted you, despite my general disinclination.”

Mike decided he’d puzzle over that one more later. “So if you don’t have a plan -”

“I’m trying to formulate a plan. But because Aristillus’ survival is key to my own survival, I wanted to alert you to the pending threat.”

Mike took a deep breath. “How long do we have until the invasion gets here?”

“I have no idea.”

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2 Responses to chapter 102: Mike talks to Gamma

  1. Sol says:

    “sounded trite”, perhaps?

  2. Max Lybbert says:

    I like it. Gamma’s mysterious, and he makes people jump. And the people we’re talking about aren’t easily put off-balance.

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