Philo sits in a folding lawn chair in the middle of the hallway. He looks like a man, with a telly for a head, on vacation.
His odd choice of location relates to a particular control panel mounted in the wall. He has pried off the covering to reveal a series of communication ports. He is trying various combinations of plugs between the wall and his head.
May comes rolling down the hall on a skateboard, and stops when she sees Philo. She pops the board up into her hand and watches him work for a minute.
“I found the source of some of the codes we got from Bad Angelica,” Philo says. “You know, the ones that she seemed to recite as we were shutting her down in Dr. Mangrove’s bloodstream.”
“What if it turns out all of that information was real?” May says. “I hoped it would be, but I wasn’t sure. I mean, it was an invading intelligence injected into a human by the Bird People. It was a corrupted copy, too.”
“Yes, my expectations were low also,” Philo says. “The Bird People should not be making copies of a downloaded consciousness at all. It is extremely dangerous. But in this case, it does appear that the words and codes that she was verbalizing may have been authentic.”
“So, what are they?” May asks.
“I cross-referenced the formats with different security and encryption systems,” Philo says. “Assuming that the number of characters and use of symbols might correspond to a particular entity. I was correct, in one case. The codes that appeared to be of Casino origin did appear to unlock Casino surveillance.”
“Yeah, I know about that one,” May says. “Remember? I put it in my little Atari navigator and used it to zoom around and watch people gamble.”
“Right,” Phil says. “So, that’s a start. But there were other codes that had no recognizable pattern at all. As if they were generated in real time. And they are never used more than once. At first I thought it must be an encryption system that simply generates codes. But when I looked closer, I realized that they were genetic markers.”
“Genetics?” May says. “From a particular individual?”
“It is impossible to tell,” Philo says. “They could also be just made up to look that way. I think a better question is, why was a downloaded intelligence in possession of these types of information? How does such data relate to the real Angelica Brubeck? Were these things that she knew and had memorized, or were they planted there? Or, more troubling – what if the intelligence had the capability of traveling through systems and harvesting information? What if injecting Dr. Mangrove had less to do with invasion and more to do with spying?”
“Philo, those are stupendous questions,” May says. “They are also pretty scary. You’re saying that there could be multiple versions of Bad Angelica cruising around spying on systems from the inside out.”
“Yes, and the real Angelica could be doing the same thing,” Philo says. “What we need is, a reliable way to contact the real Angelica, and enlist her help. That’s the only way we can sort out why these codes were there in the first place.”
“Sounds like we need to devise some sort of test, like I use to evaluate my robots’ logic,” May says. “An Angelica test.”
“That won’t be necessary,” a voice says directly into Philo’s head. It sounds like Angelica, or a version of her. Philo raises a finger to let May know he is listening.
“Why is that?” Philo says.
“I can prove to you that I am the real Angelica, the one uploaded by my son.”
“How will I go about testing whether what you say is true?” Philo asks.
“You have a built-in Angelica test on your airship. It is called Doctor Drake Mangrove. He will be able to tell which of us is real or corrupted. He knows things about me, my research, my life. Short of my own son, he is your best option.”
“Well, we don’t have your son, so I suppose we can give it a try,” Philo says inside his head. Out loud he says, “May, let’s pay a visit to Dr. Mangrove’s workshop.”
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