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Ghale (H minus One Month, 25 Days)
"That's the long and short of it." Martin finished describing EpicVenture's land use approval to me. Nasr would get his chance to have the monsters train in the field, albeit in remote, long-abandoned reaches of Africa. He voice crackled over the Circle.
"Thanks for asking then." I told him. I sorted through files next to Hecate.
The old woman hologram revealed tarot card after tarot card to me. Each was a particular file and research section. I gestured toward one regarding the creation of Miri's Monsters.
"Yeah, I figured you were suffering enough keeping things on track there. I can switch with you, if you want a break from it."
"It's fine, Martin." Evading Miri for long periods had become somewhat difficult the first day or so. I had devolved to just keeping whatever hours I could away from her.
Nasr's comments about Charlie had made me curious about the monster's origins. Miri neglected to elaborate on the details of Hecate's design. Having a artificial intelligence generate the designed genomes had to be problematic.
"Martin, what do you recall about Hecate and the early work on her AI?" I asked as I read the files. Hecate's first two designed subjects, Alpha and Bravo, had failed. Alpha's cellular structure mutated in vitro. Bravo's lungs collapsed upon birth. "I've been looking over the early records of the project."
"Designed for genetic engineering. The name Hecate was chosen because she was supposed to be first AI with the ability to given free rein over genome design." Martin fumbled with the microphone for a moment. "Scared the hell out of the UN Security Council, though. First major independent, sapient AI to be created after the ban."
"Right." I flicked through files for more details on the genomes of Alpha and Bravo. Why did they fail?
"Prototypes of her heuristics were used for creating Daemons, though." Martin added.
"I remember that. Something about the predictive modeling they had. Calculating human thought for fast responses." I paused for a moment. "The part where they could predict orders with significant accuracy, that was what got them approved for field use."
"You ever see the Ghost forums that use them, though?" Martin asked. "Freakiest things."
"Ghost-what? I thought you'd given up going into the darkest parts of the Net."
"Well..." Martin sounded a bit embarrassed. The Circle crackled a bit again. "A clique of users four years ago connected those heuristics to dead social media accounts."
"And... ok. Dead people on social media. That's a net legend if I ever heard one. Martin, I don't think anyone managed to pull that off, not since the bans."
"Except, they did do it. The ghost forums are where they congregate. Millions of dead accounts, chatting with one another. All generated via Hecate heuristics." Martin's voice sounded entranced. "Its like reading through the underworld's twitter feed."
"'Hecate used human DNA to design each genome.'" I read the words of the file aloud. "'Our first success came after using tissues donated by Miri Putnam.'"
"Uh..." Martin's telltale utterance gave something away. "Ghale-"
"You let her do this, didn't you?" I wanted to reach through the Circle's connection and strangle him. "She was against it, and she had no right to tell me what to do. And you let her?"
"Ghale, calm down-"
I sliced a figure through the floating blue holo of the Circle. The voice connection ended. Hecate looked up at me, her eyes knowing.
"BLood of yOUR BLOOD. BOne of yoUR BOne. FLESh of yOUR fleSH." Each word made me angrier. Even the damned machines knew about it.
"She- did she even tell you what it was when she gave it to you?"
"NO WorDS spoKEN. yet i deTERMINEd iT FRom heURISTIcs." Hecate flipped over a hologram of a card. It read 'Mother.'
"How long did she plan to keep this from me?"
The holographic image of the artificial intelligence shrugged. Obviously she had been waiting for me to reach this conclusion. Why hadn't I seen it?
It had been ten long years since I had made the hardest decision of my life. My sister, my selfish egotistic sister, didn't understand. Instead of accepting my decision she'd gone behind my back.
I blinked at the AI. That I didn't expect. If anything, Hecate seemed pleased to act strange, chime in occasionally, but otherwise didn't directly interact in conversations.
"You want to know why." I sighed. "Its what I've always keep asking about it. I keep asking why."
Hecate nodded. "ALL havE REAsons for ACTions."
"And you have predictive heuristics. You know with what, a ninety-eight accuracy what I'm going to say regardless. You already know."
Hecate smiled. "i laCK ACCESS to conTEXtual emoTIONS. ALso, iT SEEms impoLITE to NOT asK."
"I..." The roil of emotions threw me off. An old dream from long ago bubbled back up in my mind. A nightmare. Strangling my own baby with my own hands.
"Hecate... No one wants a family to see it die." I didn't look at Hecate. I knew it would be a analytical look. "My sister didn't understand that. Extinction isn't the sort of thing you raise a child in."
The attempt at a joke rang hollow. I didn't know what I wanted to feel at that moment. Horror. Revulsion. Joy.
I looked at a nearby screen. Charlie in one of Nasr's training Dreamspaces. Charlie. Her black hair. My daughter. Charlie.
What had Miri done?
Aftermath 10Ach. My head. Migraine. Srsly had trouble concentrating to get this done, so its shorter than I'd prefer it to be. Still more to come though.
Ghale being Charlie's mother- of a sort- kinda was the first secret I wanted to get out. The first part of the story involves Ghale coming to terms with a bunch of things. For her, the question, "does humanity deserve to survive?" boils down to family. Humans need to survive, for the sake of preserving their families.
But it isn't good to sacrifice a child. Humanity could survive, but Ghale can't withstand the thought of creating a life to see it burn in humanity's funeral pyre. She'd answer "yes." But is more than willing to kill those she loves rather than let them suffer for that survival.
Thanks for reading. As always, you are appreciated for coming by. Always glad to hear any input anyone has. And of course, please share this if you enjoyed it. #InTransitMonsters is just a #FirstDraft, but it gets better with more and more readers.