The small white VTOL jet wings its way on the hop from Halcyon to Boston. After school’s end there isn’t much time in the day, but it’s Friday, and Jason, soloing in the pilot’s seat, has already gotten his homework done (the semester is young), and he has a room reserved at a nice (but not opulent) hotel in Cambridge near Harvard.
And an appointment to meet Valerie Randal for brunch tomorrow at some place called Alden & Harlow.
The thought still gave his stomach little backflips. He imagines a little white and gray bird chirping, “Are you my mother?” and both rolls his eyes and feels his shoulders clench.
Amir – well, SepiAmir – hinted at it. Aria said that Hecate had made all sorts of claims about the matter. So …
He has no idea where this is going. He does believe Randal – Valerie – is his mother. It make sense (he thinks of that picture in the Palm Key kitchen), but that’s not proof.
Molly, his admin, made the reach-out to Randal’s secretary on his behalf. Randal had agreed to meet, and set the breakfast up. It’s possible that she’s simply responding to his celebrity, or, more likely, out of sentimentality to the son of a past colleague.
Or it’s an acknowlegment-in-advance …
“Jesus, stop,” Jason says aloud. “This is Chapter 2, when Jason stops being a nervous wreck over everything.”
He’s been amazed how much more relaxed he’s been since he stepped back from the Menagerie. Yeah, there was all that drama with Alycia – dammit, Alycia – but everything had gone so smoothly. He kind of missed hanging with the team, but all the decorating work the main living space had needed after those explosives had meant he couldn’t have the Menagerie over. That should change next week, right?
Except for the Alycia stuff. Dammit. I even invited her to prom – even though the idea of Alycia Chin at prom was kind of terrifying – _and has she said yes? Or even no? I think not. Yeesh.
He actually feels pretty good about the week. He has a board meeting set up next Thursday to start turning things around at the Foundation. He started an inventory of items in the warehouse (at night), marking items up for potential commercial / charitable / utilitarian value.
And he made room for something personal in his life – something that wasn’t about Alycia Chin or Alycia Chin holograms or …
Life is, if not normal (whaetever the hell that means), good. Better.
Life is –
“News alert. News alert.” Metis chimes in. “Robots gone rogue. Broad reports of robotic security guards and functionaries in the eastern United States leaving their service and flying in a course to the south south-east.”
“The hell?” Jason asks. “Metis, further definition patterns – which robots, and, um, course in question.” After a moment, he adds, “Add any further details regarding Halcyon City.”
Metis is quick to respond. He feels a brief flare of pride – he’s been working on Metis as an AI for only the past week (though based on some earlier work). A clean AI slate, so to speak.
“Common themes on robots involved: Eastern US from Mississippi to Maryland. Largely involved in security work. Course roughly corresponding to the Bahamas. Manufactured by Rook Industries. Primarily --”
“Rook?” The hell? Jason considers. This seems a lot bigger, a lot more open than most Rook plots. Though if something’s gone wrong –
“All robots confirmed manufactured by and/or leased from Rook Industries.”
He lets out a small sigh of relief. That means Summer – and Aria and Otto – should be unaffected. They’re not –
Wait. The airport. Rookbots are – “Are the designs involved based on Rossum robots?”
“Indefinite beyond established parameters. Many Rookbot designs are known or rumored to be repurposed from Rossum design templates, but this is not well-publicized, nor are specifics registered in a publicly available site.”
“What’s going on in Halcyon?”
A half-beat pause. Metis’ calm voice finally announces, “Some damage attributed to robots going rogue and causing damage or injury while departing. No deaths, no critical injuries. Heavy media traffic, organized and ad hoc. Heroes and emergency services are responding.”
He pauses a moment. “What about the Menagerie?”
“No news reports on the Menagerie.”
He could turn back. He’d be back in Halcyon in an hour. But if there’s a problem, it will be solved long before then – and it doesn’t sound like the city, or the team, are in immediate danger. _They’ll call if there’s a problem, right?
He sighs. “Metis, contact Barbara, and Hannah, get them on a conference.” If there’s emergency aid the Foundation can render, I want to do it. He considers. We have those new security drones coming off the manufacturing line in Greenville, he muses. There might be looting or other problems, immediate or mid-term. If he can replace the missing Rook security bots with Qdrones, it will serve a useful social purpose – and, yeah, potentially add to the quarterly bottom line, if businesses (or their insurance companies) lease or purchase them going forward.
He isn’t out to profit from the problem, just help folk. If it drums up business in the long run, though, especially at Rook’s expense, well, he isn’t going to turn that down, either.
The jet continues its way north, as a conference call begins, and Jason tries to decide how he can best help.
author: *** Dave H.