Many Worlds Chapter 35
There was only a small moment of time for Jules to consider how nice the suit was before he felt himself being grabbed and dragged around to the ground. Jules might have panicked if he’d not just been running for his life. Instead, he took a moment to recollect himself and figure out what was going on. Behind him, there was a loud thumping sound, and some grunts of physical exertion. Jules senses told him there were two men in suits. One was over him, holding him down. However, it wasn’t painful. He just couldn’t get up. This was fine, because the man was also completely between him and the gun Colwyn had. Jules wouldn’t exactly say he was comfortable, but compared to how Colwyn was now, he felt pretty good. Jules hadn’t even known arms and legs could bend that way. However, he also hadn’t heard any sounds of popping or breaking, so apparently they could. Based on the amount of swearing coming from that direction, it wasn’t particularly pleasant though.
“Background check.” The man on top of and somewhat intermixed with Colwyn’s limbs said to the one over Jules.
There was a short pause, as the second one raised his hand to over his ear, though his other one was still theoretically holding Jules down. Jules was pretty tired from running, however, so he didn’t mind being collapsed on the ground here. Then the man pointed toward Colwyn. “That’s Colwyn Milligan. Fits the descriptor of a wanted criminal. No gun license. Also suspected of various offenses separately, including creating illegal surveillance dampening equipment.” The man stood, up, bringing Jules with him. Then he dusted off Jules’ front. “This one’s clean.” Jules couldn’t help snickering at the pun, intentional or not. He looked at the agent, who paused, as if waiting for something.
“Go ahead and give him the wristband,” came Herbert’s voice. Jules handed it over.
“Thank you citizen.” The man gave a perfunctory nod. Then he walked off, followed closely by the other well dressed man. Jules was surprised to find Colwyn now had all of his limbs cuffed together, which rolled him up in a backwards bending ball… and that he was being carried by the man, who didn’t seem to be exerting himself too much. Then, Jules found himself alone in an alleyway, though it was closely adjacent to a main street.
He looked around and scratched his head. Well, apparently that was over now. As he turned to leave, he spotted something on the ground, which he couldn’t help but pick up. It just looked like a small box of some sort, but Jules suspected he knew what it was. “Umm… should I turn this in?”
“Well, I’m not paying you for that. You can if you want to.”
“Isn’t this illegal? Shouldn’t you care about that?”
“Should I? I’m more concerned with ethics, myself. Especially since it’s not that hard to change laws, in the right circumstances. Are you planning to use it to rob people and hide from security cameras?”
“No, but…” Jules thought about it for a while. In the end, he hadn’t really made a decision.
Upon Jules telling them the story of that day, his friends all had one thing to say.
“You’re an idiot. You could have just floated the wristband into the sky,” Douglas admonished.
“I agree, you’re an idiot. Based on your description, it should be this model of gun. Look at this schematic. See that little spring? You could have bent that. Also, there’s a safety switch on the side of most guns in a similar place as shown there,” Isaac added.
“You’re an idiot. Why would you even consider giving up a piece of technology that can hide you from the cameras? How are you even going to be a superhero without cool gadgets?” Robert offered his opinion last.
“Umm…” Jules wasn’t sure how to respond, so he didn’t.
“Also, you should make sure to stay safe. We wouldn’t want to see you hurt,” Douglas finished. The others nodded and voiced their agreement.
“So, did you get paid yet?” Robert asked. “If so, you might want to invest in a nice bullet resistant vest, and a gun. As well as a license.”
Jules looked at his account. “Yeah, I got paid. Wouldn’t it be a problem if I shot at someone on a job like this? It’s not exactly self defense if I go looking for them.”
“It’s fine,” came Herbert’s voice. All of the friends tensed up.
“Umm…” Robert started, “Maybe we should also have a discussion about the alien AI, if we can somehow get out of earshot.”
“I can stop listening. Alternatively, you can just not have the wristbands with you. It won’t be a problem to leave them in another room for a while.”
After everyone had gone and left their wristbands out of easy earshot, they continued the conversation. “So… do you think he can still hear us somehow?”
Robert shook his head, which people could see on the video screen. “Nah, it seems to be pretty local to the wristbands. Unless we get particularly loud.”
“Disregarding its origins, why do you think this AI is so willing to talk to you, Jules?” Douglas asked, seriously.
“Why? Probably… he’s lonely. I bet he doesn’t get to talk to people much.”
“Can AI get lonely?” Isaac asked.
“If they’re powerful enough to have a real consciousness, they could, yeah,” Robert answered. “Do you think that’s the case?”
Jules shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m not an expert on the criteria to judge it, but he seems pretty… consciousy. He’s also talked about things he *wants* to do, as well as what he can and should do. It’s not a problem to treat him as if he’s real until we find out otherwise. Otherwise, it could hurt his feelings. Assuming he has the same kind of feelings as us, being made by aliens and all.”
Everyone agreed with the general idea. Perhaps it wouldn’t be that easy to accept, if it weren’t for the alien technology involved. “So, about those aliens…” Douglas started, “What are the bets? Personally, I’m all for this AI being a test they left behind, before ascending to another plane of existence.”
Robert spoke up next, “I’ll put mine in on science going too far, and a mysterious wipeout of the species.”
Isaac shrugged. “Probably just wiped out by someone more dangerous.”
Jules thought about it for a few moments. “I mean… they could still be around, yeah? Alternatively, we could just stop guessing and ask Herbert. He could tell us.”
Everyone agreed that it was certainly true, but also too easy. Where would be the fun in that?