Chapter 60 Station AI Core
Before he could leave to fetch the next group, Granny paused, then turned to run back towards the front deck. Dustin followed, noting the excited grin on Kit's face. Could it be Olivia?!
As they entered the bridge, Olivia's face flickered on it.
"Dustin, your nanobots are awesome!"
Relief of a new sort, flooded through him.
With Olivia by his side, and tons of space in the new ship, it wouldn't take nearly as long to get the rest of the Uz'En loaded up.
"What do you mean, you Uzenated them?" she asked after he told her what he had done. "That shouldn't work."
"It did," he said, with a smile.
"Okay, so you have a way to turn humans into Uz'En, so what? We have a station full of humans you're going to change into Uz'En?"
"Maybe, if they want."
"Dustin, these people have death to look forward to. They will be clawing each other's eyes out to get a chance at a new life. How could they not want to leave?"
"Some people may not like change, and if there are fewer on the station, maybe they won't be killed at 35?"
Olivia just looked at him, and he looked back. With a sigh he gave in.
"Still not very bright," said Granny with a shake of her head.
Stepping back onto the station, the cheers of the crowds were silent this time. Standing, waiting for him, was a group of older people. These must be the council.
"We would ask you to leave," said an older woman, looking down her nose at him.
"We will bring the rest of your people here, for you to take, but then you must leave and never return," added a man to her left.
"What makes you think, that you are in any position to be making threats?" asked Olivia, looking at them suspiciously.
'PED, have the nanobots assemble near the remaining Uz'En to protect them from any attacks,' thought Dustin, suddenly getting a sick feeling in his gut.
(NANOBOTS HAVE ALREADY APPREHENDED SEVERAL GROUPS WHO INTENDED THEM HARM, AND HAVE SUPPLIED PERSONAL PED'S FOR EACH REMAINING UZ'EN. WOULD YOU HAVE THE NANOBOTS BRING THEM HERE?)
Dustin hadn't thought of that. That would make this so much faster and easier.
"I don't think so," said Dustin, stepping forward before the elderly people could speak up in answer to Olivia's question. "You have run this station like a nightmare. None of you are in any position to make decisions."
"We don't make any decisions. We merely carry out the wishes of the Controller," said the woman in confusion, looking at the men.
"The controller?" asked Olivia.
"The Controller has been in control of this station since it was first built over two hundred years ago. Whatever the controller wishes, is done."
Dustin and Olivia looked at each other. This didn't sound good at all.
'PED, have you detected any other AI presence on the station?'
(YES. IT HAS BEEN NEUTRALIZED AND CONTAINED WITHIN THE CENTRAL CORE OF THE STATION. THERE ARE A NUMBER OF ALIENS CONTAINED WITHIN THE CORE WITH IT, THAT I HAVE NOT FIGURED OUT WHAT TO DO WITH. I FIGURED YOU WOULD DEAL WITH THEM ONCE YOU WERE DONE HERE.)
Rubbing his head, he turned to Olivia. "The last of the Uz'En are on their way, but I have to see about something. Do you think you could handle getting them settled for me?"
"Of course. Mind if I kill anyone if they step out of line?" she asked, looking at the old people standing in front of them.
"Not at all," he said, turning away from the encounter and moving to the hall that would take him to the core the fastest. Surprisingly, none of the people who had been following him up to this point, came with him this time. They must all be curious to see what happened with the council of elders.
The entrance to the core was not guarded by any alien guards. The nanobots opened the door for him, as soon as he got close, proving they were still in control. As he stepped inside, he almost stumbled. The room looked a lot like the room he had encountered the supposed Original Dustin in.
A large crystal person stood in the center of the room, watching him curiously. Lights blinked all around the room, as Dustin realized they were standing in the center of a massive computer. His nanobots would have a ton of fun taking this apart.
"You have disable me. Why?" asked the crystal man. He tilted his head to the side as if puzzled.
"So, you didn't kill me or any of my people."
"They are not your people, any more than the air you breathe is your air."
"I'm not here to play mind games."
"Pity. There hasn't been anyone smart enough to play mind games with in a long time."
"Maybe if you didn't kill everyone when they turned 35 there would be more."
"Maybe. But their usefulness diminishes after the age of 35."
"How? They are plenty useful!"
"Two heads are better than one."
"Not if that one has knowledge the other two don't have."
"Perhaps. Will you release me once you have all of the people you claim, and leave?"
"What if I took everyone who was here?"
"That would not be advisable. A certain number of individuals would be needed to keep the station up and running."
"What if I shut the station down and stripped it for parts?"
"Then what do you intend to do with me?"
"I was playing with the idea of stripping your memory banks for useful information and turning you off."
"That would end me. I do not wish to be ended."
"None of those you killed wished to be ended either, and I'm sure you're much older than 35."
The crystal was silent for a while, and Dustin wondered why he even bothered to talk to this thing. He should just have the nanobots strip its memory as he said. But then a thought occurred to him. Why not use the other AI to store the information? It would be better suited to understand the data, and then it wouldn't corrupt his nanobots.
As the AI was summoned from the ship, Dustin turned back to the crystal.
"I am a very important program. I was placed here by the leaders of the human people to ensure that all those who came here, would be able to find a home. If you end my program, I will not be able to complete that task."
"It's been two hundred years. How many humans have contacted you in the past fifty?"
"The last transmission from the human leaders was received fifteen years ago, requesting aid on Sol Earth for a reconnaissance mission. It was hoped that humans could return to their old home, but there was never any follow-up among the people I sent."
This got Dustin's attention. The thought that old Earth might still be habitable by his people had been sitting in the back of his mind, but he had ignored it until now. He already had a planet for his people, so he had almost given up on checking it out. If people had gone there only fifteen years ago, but never left, it was possible his people were living there, and had killed the humans when they checked on it. It was also possible that the planet was uninhabitable and the humans merely died.
As he pondered this thought, the AI arrived.
"I want you to steal the memory core of this AI so that I can shut it down. The station will be emptied and relocated for useful parts."
"This AI is faulty. It has been tampered with by the A'Dfukl. Do you wish for me to acquire the memory for later inspection?" the small robot asked, after studying the program for a moment.
"Yes, make sure that this AI does not attempt to corrupt you while you are doing this."
"No need for your concern. All proper safety protocols are in effect."
"This is not necessary. I see no way around what you are about to do. I will eject my memory core willingly, if you will not erase my program." The station AI seemed to be panicking, as the robot poked around in its computer mainframe.
Dustin thought about that as the two robots waited for him to make up his mind. He was sure he could reprogram them to be useful, but he was a little weary of them corrupting what he already had. Reluctantly, he gave the old AI the go ahead to remove the ejected memory core.
"I can not promise when you will be reactivated, if ever," he cautioned.
"That is acceptable. The possibility of my reactivation is better this way, then the alternative." The relief on its face was almost human in nature, and Dustin was intrigued. He would definitely be spending some time checking that out.
When Dustin returned to the ship, Olivia was waiting.
"We have the rest of the Uz'En, but we're full. You should do something about the aliens on board, and just jump the whole station home."
"I already thought of that. The nanobots are taking out the aliens as we speak, and are constructing a jump ring. We will soon be home."
"Good, I can't wait!"
Dustin didn't mention anything about keeping the AI to Olivia, but Granny was looking at him suspiciously, and it took all of his willpower not to break out into a cold sweat. That Gooblen was too observant!