Jace stared at the woman on the other side of the transparent wall. He started to ask a question but was interrupted.
“Your tracer chip has been removed. We’ve also re-sequenced your DNA. Any biological tracers have been rendered inert. Your wristcomp, communicator, and hazmat suit have all been incinerated. Anything that could be used to track you has been destroyed.”
“That’s great. What about the drones. At least 2 were following me and would have seen me enter that door.”
Maggie smiled, “We fed them a false feed. As far as Maggie.AI knows, you walked into Section 7 and died from some nasty chemical burns right before the drone sent to execute you put at 50 caliber slug in your brain.”
Jace blinked a few times then laughed. “Hah! You’re joking, right? There’s no way to send a false video feed to Maggie. She’d recognize it in an instant. Wait, what did you say you name was?”
“Maggie,” the woman said wryly.
“This is a dangerous prank you’re playing here, Maggie. It took me years to get those cisterns built and I just got power to that decrepit warehouse. I did that all under the watchful eyes in the sky. The only reason I’d made that much progress is because of my designation. You can’t just snatch me away and not expect a full-scale investigation.”
“Yes. You’ve got quite a skill set. GlobalCom rates you as one of their top drone technicians. That’s why we recruited you. Your cell group leader recommended you to us. We, however, have a trump card,” Maggie retorted.
“Oh yeah, what’s your trump card?” Jace asked mockingly.
Jace rolled his eyes. “You said your name was Maggie?”
“Listen Maggie, I’ve spent years getting that location prepped for The Resistance and you just nullified all of my work…” Then it hit him. Jace’s voice trailed off as he sat on the cot. That voice he’d heard directing him into the small structure. It wasn’t an AI. It was this woman, Maggie, who just happened to have the same name as GlobalCom’s AI.
“Ah, you’re starting to figure it out, aren’t you? Let me save you some time.” Maggie sat in a chair opposite Jace but still on the other side of the transparent wall.
“My name is Maggie DuFreis. My great-grandmother was named Maggie Olson. Maggie.AI, as we like to call it, was modeled after my great-grandmother’s brain.
“Version one of Maggie.AI’s digital brain was an exact duplicate of a human brain. It was flawed, though, too emotional. They tried just erasing the emotional data but it ended up corrupting the programming.
“Several copies of my great-grandmother’s brain were made. Each copy contained flaws. Every time her brain was copied it produced tumors and she’d have to go through a round of treatment to eliminate the tumors. There were no pills for that back then.
“She spent the last 30 years of her life in and out of surgery to attach and remove the electrodes used to map her brain. My great-grandmother suffered through chemo- and radiation therapy more times than you can imagine. They pushed her body beyond its normal limits. She lived to be 107 years old before they finally got a ‘clean’ copy of her mind.”
Jace sat slack-jawed and stared at Maggie.
“How did they finally do it,” he whispered.
“Eventually, the biotech team brought in a neurologist who disconnected the emotional portions from the learning portions of my great-grandmother’s brain. She was a vegetable. Non-responsive unless you plugged her into a terminal. She actually became the first Maggie.AI.”
“Wet-tech was outlawed hundreds of years ago!” Jace replied.
“That didn’t stop GlobalCom from experimenting in secret.” Maggie took a deep breath and continued. “Eventually they got their ‘clean copy’ and started to modify it. 125 years ago they announced the creation of the first all-digital brain. The first true AI. It was named after my great-grandmother.
“Ironically, she was the lead researcher when the project started. She willingly donated the map of her mind at the beginning of the research project but when it left her sick and nearly dead she refused to continue.
“Her brain was the most compatible with the tech at the time so GlobalCom couldn’t afford to lose her. They faked her death and kept her locked in a laboratory until her life ended and Maggie the AI was revealed to the world.”
“How do you know all of this?” Jace asked. “Surely this isn’t in the public records.”
“Some scientists who were opposed to the project fled with records GlobalCom had kept. By then it was too late, though. Nobody would listen to them. GlobalCom had its tendrils in the government and all the media outlets.
“The data was passed along to my grandparents, my parents, and eventually me. My parents were the first ones to act upon the data. I think I was 12 when we went underground here in Section 7.
“That was the scariest and saddest day of my life. My parents and I left our friends and family behind, knowing they would all be killed. GlobalCom can’t leave any loose ends.”
Jace put his face in his hands and took a deep breath. “So your parents started The Resistance?”
“No. Some of those original scientists started it. My parents joined much later. The Resistance has been around a lot longer than most people are aware of. They stayed quiet for a long time before going public.”
“And you recruited me. Why?”
Maggie took a deep breath, “Jace Greyson. 17 years old. Designation: Drone Technician, Senior. Accolades: GlobalCom Founder’s Award, GlobalCom Technician of the Year, GlobalCom Spirit Award. Residence: Domicile 37, Block 93, Section 42, North America. No known family. Very few acquaintances. You’re perfect. Nobody would suspect you. Not even an AI.”
Jace raised an eyebrow, “You did your homework. How did you manage to fool the AI?”
Maggie’s eyes brightened, “It’s my DNA and brain activity. My brain functions follow patterns similar to Maggie.AI’s. The tertiary and secondary AIs that are supposed to watch for falsified data streams can’t differentiate between our brain patterns. I provided the false data.”
Maggie turned sideways and lifted the hair from her shoulders and away from her neck. A port protruded from the base of her skull.
“You’re using wet tech?” Jace was astonished.
“Necessary evil,” Maggie sighed.
“Does it hurt?”
“Only when I use it.”
Jace stood and walked to the wall. He placed one hand above his head and leaned against it.
“Thanks for the history lesson. Now, will you let me out of here?”
Maggie looked at his arm. Tattooed on his forearm right below the elbow was a small “A” inside an omega symbol. “You’re a Believer.”
“Yeah,” Jace lowered his arm and covered the tattoo subconsciously with his left hand. “Is that a problem?”
“No. We don’t normally get many of your kind in The Resistance.”
Jace looked at her quizzically, “My kind?”
“Forget it,” Maggie pressed a button and the transparent wall went opaque in an instant and then slid up into the ceiling. “Faith isn’t my thing but at least I know you’re not dangerous. You take a vow not to harm any man or woman, right?”
Jace closed his eyes, “Knowing that The Creator’s image is upon all humankind, I vow not to harm His image-bearers through my actions or lack of action even at the risk of my own life.”
Maggie smiled. “Right. So I don’t need to worry about you snitching on us because that would lead to all of our deaths.”
Maggie waved her hand. “Anyway, you seem harmless enough. Follow me. We’ll get you setup in a room. Your cell group leader will want to debrief you in the morning.”
Jace stepped out of the room and followed Maggie down the hall.
“Richard is here? Wow! I can’t wait to see him.”
Maggie’s shoulders slumped. “Yeah, he’s here. He can never go back. Neither can you.”
Jace followed Maggie down the hall in silence. The only sounds he heard were their footfalls echoing down the corridor.