The first visit happened a year before the last encode.
He had always been a low level spy for New Earth. Nothing dangerous just the odd report on progress back to whomever it was he spoke to. He really cared for his fellow encoders and the human race as a whole, but nostalgia rooted him into the New Earth survival route. He would never agree to do anything militant.
He always loved chess and whenever he spent time with encoding groups of people who had to wait to be encoded he would ask for; and usually find a player. Digbee was good but he never knew if he was using AI to cheat, as he didn’t seem like your typical chess player.
They were camped in Southern Hemisphere Arena 2, there were still six full capacity arenas in operation. It was a large group as there had been a glitch with the encoder the night before so there was a backlog. Actually there was a problem with the atomizer, the pet name for the machine that killed you by blowing you into vapor atoms after your digital copy had been confirmed as successfully loaded into the GOO. What ever their differences, if you were being loaded into the GOO, in New Earth Data Banks or on an AD Space Juggernaut, your body you were leaving behind and that of its mind, were annihilated. He had sprouted a few more chess boards and put a replicator to work printing more piece sets due to the amount of people.
“May I” an older man had asked him, practically barging his way to the replicator console that was about to build the last set.
Something sparked a dull light from the end of the old guys finger and the replicator stalled for a second then began to churn out a classic set from 1886. The most simple classic form, it was actually one of his favorites.
“What was that?” Drew enquired into the flash.
“Let’s play? My name is Adorn.” He said scooping up the white set very deliberately and settling at a board built into a modular table. On a command from Drew another chair sprouted like a mushroom from the dorm floor. They set their pieces. Adorn being white started. Drew played his opening 15 moves robotically as his opponent did.
“At the next move you will have a choice. A package will arrive via the same blue flash. You can allow or deny it access.” the older guy had young steely blue eyes and Drew began to wonder if he was indeed human at all.
“What am I choosing between?” Drew asked in mock theatre.
“It’s a DNA neural lace. Your New Earth contacts want to have more intimate conversations with you.” The eye lock didn’t waiver.
Only a year to go and he would be in the Dearth GOO. Why complicate his life now. He resolved to make the move and as he did, true to his word the blue sparked and his NJIs linked to his AI Dyslexicalgebra informed him of the payload.
“Just communications or does this have any other functions?” Drew asked as the thrill started to pull him in.
“I’m not not told anymore, so I can’t answer your questions.” He played a move without releasing Drew’s gaze.
Drew played a counter move, this guy was good but as a now suspected Semi Sentiment AI it would beat him almost every time. New Earth was formed around the belief that while AI were critical the future, in their new world they would not merge with Humans, or be given human emotions, nor be legally equal to humans. This was a fundamental principle that split the human race in two. Another Destiney believing that AIs were all equal to humans, whether straight AI or Human/AI mashups. The contract of equality that Sally and Damien had fought so hard for and won remained sacrosanct. In new earth AI did have some rights that placed then above that of a common household pet, but not many.
He played a move and uploaded the package. There was a sharp pin prick from the piece he was holding at the same time as the package code swarmed his neural pathways. He was about to ask Adorn but he had lowered his gaze finally and seemed to now fumble with his moves on the board.
As drew put his index finger on top of the next piece a voice spoke to him. Drew had no idea from where or how.
“Ah, good. I see you accepted the package.”
“Yes but I wasn’t told about an injection!” Drew grumbled.
“The comms lace is state of the art spy stuff, bio electric. It will only work when your physically touching these pieces. They are if you need an analogy, a cypher. The code now buried in your DNA is the encryption.”
“Ok so who are you?”
“You can call me Tilly. I’m a high ranking military officer working closely with your sponsors.” The voice sounded normal, female, adult but other than that non descriptive.
“Ok Tilly what is it you need?” He asked a little irritated now.
“For now nothing. We needed to get this done well ahead of time for a lot of reasons. We will be In touch.”
“What?” He asked as his opponent made a fatal move. There was no reply.
“I believe your next move is check mate.” He spoke to drew standing. “Thanks for the game.” And without another word was gone.
Drew looked around, heart pounding, wondering what he had just done. Digbee and Potts were wondering around talking to people. They had sped down to him after they heard about the hitch to help out. Digbee looked up and waved he was coming over.
The second Visit was more intimate. He was alone, playing chess with DyslexicAlgebra when on move 16, Tilly returned. It was one month from last encoding day and he had all but forgotten the intrusion.
“Your game would be better if you varied your opening moves more. It opens up the eventual mathematical probabilities more so its harder for AI to predict all your moves.” Her voice still neutral.
“Thanks ill bear it in mind, but the opening moves are a bit of a ritual for me. May be even a little OCD.” He looked up at the invisible player in front of him.
“Well keep that piece in your hand and we wont have to play too much as no one is around.”
He looked at the piece and nodded.
“We need to ensure we have eyes and ears in Another Destiny when you all finish up down there. DigBee will be the last in, so we need to flash something into his sweat glands just before he punches his on final code for himself. The firewall will go down and the hack can jump in with him as he goes in.”
“That’s it? It’s just an observation routine?” Drew asked suspiciously.
“That’s it, a simple handshake and were in. Then all evidence is blown to pieces as he encodes you then himself.”
“How do I activate it?” He now asked unable to tell from the AI voice what was true or false anyway.
“It’s already active, and that the one thing. It will only work 3 times, so don’t shake his hand more than twice before now and then as the last one will need to count. It has to be timed perfectly to when he goes in and their firewall are down.”
“How do you know they are not doing the same to you?” He asked followed by a long pause.
“We don’t!” She finally said and then was gone.
So he had kept himself busy and only shoulder bumped DigBee when they met. It wasn’t like he was a hand shaker anyway. In fact on that last night as they sat around the fire, Drew was panicking that DigBee would laugh off the handshake and hug him as he always did.
After a while they started the encoding, they had agreed there would be no long goodbyes, so it wasn’t long before Drew was walking towards Digbee at the machine console. As DigBee turn Drew thrust out a hand for a handshake.
“Wow, so formal!” And for a heart stopping moment he thought he had failed. But DigBee grabbed the hand and shook it hard. Then on queue let go and bear hugged him.
“Keep in touch Drew, even though were sworn enemies we both no that is really a moot point now and no one is stopping fire walled communications.”
“You got it DigBee.” Drew said smiling at him as he walked into the the Encoding pod. He really liked DigBee and his last human thought was that he was really going to miss him.