The airlock opened and Eugene walked through it, carrying his laptop and cup of coffee. The ultrasonic sterilizer ran again before he was allowed to exit, leaving him woozy and disoriented. Strange that it would run on exit as well as entry. The guard on the other side walked him to another room. A bottle of vodka sat in a bucket ice on a small refrigerator full of mixers. An unopened pack of cigarettes sat on the table next to an expensive looking torch lighter. Fucking hell, crazy bitch though she might be, Seraphim knew him well.
Mixing himself a vodka sour, Eugene grabbed the smokes and pocketed the lighter. His new prison was far nicer than the old one had been, everything plush and comfortable. Sunlight streamed through the windows which spanned floor to ceiling all the way down one side. Wandering over to the windows he could see they could all be slid to one side, exposing a narrow private deck on the side of the ship.
To his surprise the windows were not locked. He slid one open and walked out on the deck, lighting a cigarette. He had two more surprises, first being that the boat was anchored within a mile of a small tropical looking island. It was inhabited too, at least he could see the white walls of a modern looking house perched on a modestly high cliff overlooking the cove the ship had stopped in.
The second was the smoke from the cigarette tasted like exotic spices and smelled like frankincense and myrrh. He looked at the pack, it was silver with a monogrammed M on it but had no other label. Shrugging, Eugene took a satisfied sip of his drink and noticed the glass had the same stylized M etched onto it.
“So right now a man I don’t know is undergoing a surgery that I’m not involved in the success of which will determine whether I live or die.” He took a deep drag on the strange cigarette and blew a series of smoke rings out over the water.
“Sounds interesting.” A voice came from beyond the wall he was leaning against and Eugene nearly jumped out of his skin.
“Jesus, you scared the shit out of me!” Eugene said, trying to lean out to see around the wall. “Who’s there?”
“Just a fellow shipmate, what did Seraphim get you for?”
Eugene was pretty sure it was a man, although the Japanese accent made it difficult to be sure. “I’m a doctor and a scientist. My name’s Eugene Arlington.”
“Oh, I did not know you were now my neighbor.” The man said, sounding impressed. “I am sorry for your trouble, but she has been talking about it for almost a year now. I’m a robotics developer, Takahashi Shinji.”
“You’ve been her captive for over a year and nobody has found you?” Eugene asked, disbelief clear in his tone of voice.
“Oh no, don’t get the wrong idea. I am her employee not her prisoner. We have been working to build her husband’s chassis for the last thirty two months.” Shinji said. “It is going to change the world forever and your prosthetic is the final piece of equipment we need to bring it to life.”
“What do you mean his chassis?” Eugene is worried now, “What the hell are you talking about?” He heard Shinji sigh on the other side of the wall.
“I was afraid she was going to do this, I told her not to keep information from you but she went and did it anyway.” Shinji said, “Oh to hell with it, I’m going to just tell you. When her husband did not wake from his coma, she immediately kidnapped the most skilled neurosurgeons she could find. Using technology she herself had invented they removed his brain and kept it in a dormant state.”
“Is that even possible? I guess it is if you say she has done it, I suppose. Maybe a better question is why?” Eugene killed half his drink in one swallow, following it with a deep drag on his cigarette. After four days without it, the nicotine hit him hard and he needed it.
“I guess she convinced herself he was never going to awaken again. Regardless she bribed, threatened, seduced or abducted the talent she needed and has constructed a mechanical body for him to live in. The only thing she couldn’t make work was the spine, she just couldn’t get the brain to transfer the data the way it needed to in order to function properly.”
“Yes, the algorithms necessary are very complicated, I haven’t seen anything like my coding anywhere in the world.” Eugene was smug on this point, “So why did she take me? Why not just steal my data?”
“Honestly she tried. Shortly after your successful implementation she was in your office and stole gigs of data from a terminal right in the hospital room where Miss Scott was recovering. When we tried to duplicate your work we failed over and over. I don’t know what secret key you kept out of the main code but we couldn’t figure it out.” Shinji said, “I’m dying to know what it is.”
Eugene had no clue what he was talking about, “If I tell you I won’t have a damn thing left. I’m sure Seraphim will have figured it out though, she is certain to have had me under constant surveillance.”
“Well regardless, now that she has your prosthetic with its functioning AI in hand her project is sure to be a success.” Shinji said, sounding quite eager.
“I don’t think either of you really know what you’re talking about.” Eugene said, finishing his cigarette and lighting another from the butt before tossing it overboard. “My AI has no directives related to an artificial body. ADAM is designed to maintain a living human’s systems and improve on data routing protocol. Both of you seem to think it is capable of doing a lot of different things, but it is designed to be a front side bus to use a computer analogy.”
“How do you explain Miss Scott’s improved functionality then? Don’t try and tell me you haven’t noticed.” The skepticism in Shinji’s voice was quite clear in spite of the accent.
“Sure I’ve noticed.” Eugene said, “I attribute it to her regaining mobility she had lost. None of the data logs from the system which I monitor every morning have reported anything to the contrary. Do you have a different idea?”
“Yes. The artificial intelligence has become self-aware. Surely you have considered that possibility?” Shinji asked.
Eugene burst out laughing, even though he knew it was true the idea was still enough to drive him into hysterics, “Are you serious? Are we scientists or not? This is reality, not a Sci-Fi novel.”
“I know it seems far-fetched Dr. Arlington, but I think you need to consider the possibility.” Shinji said, “If you look at the data-“
“Oh give me a fucking break. If you’re not going to be serious this conversation is going nowhere.” Eugene finished his second cigarette and his drink. “Listen Mr. Takahashi, I’m going to make another drink, why don’t you come over to my room and we can have a chat. I’ll make you a drink, you can share my weird ass cigarettes and we can bide our time until the results of this freak show come in.”
“That sounds interesting Dr. Arlington.” Said Shinji, “It might get me in trouble but I think I’ll take you up on that. One moment.”
Eugene was turning to go back inside when he heard footsteps behind him. Turning around, he saw a short man with angular features and tidy black hair wearing boot cut jeans and a white tank top standing on the balcony. He put his hand out and Eugene grasped it, surprised to feel calluses.
“Greetings Dr. Arlington.”
“Greetings Mr. Takahashi, please call me Eugene.” He lit a pair of cigarettes and offered his guest one.
“My thanks, Eugene.” He said, taking the cigarette, “In return, please call me Shinji.”
“Deal.” Eugene said with a smile, “Level with me Shinji, how did you get over the wall?”
“Ancient Japanese secret.” His guest replied with a smile that crinkled the corners of his eyes. “Mix me a drink and I just might tell you.”
Eugene laughed, “Fair enough, come on in.” He walked back to the bar and mixed two more vodka sours, handing one to his companion. “Have a seat, we may be here for a while.”