Chiron.txt (Page 4)

   As the last scientists left the lab and the night crew came in, Camille stood at the door.

   “Cam, you coming?”, asked Charles.

   “Yeah, I just… my car keys, I can’t find them”, she said, nervously tapping her pockets. “Might be in my labcoat or something.”

   “Need a hand?”

   “Nah, you go on ahead, I’ll lock up and catch up.”

   Charles had a hint of suspicion in his eyes. Camille pretended to take it as concern.

   “Oh come on, Charlie. I’ll be fine.”

   Hesitant, Charles sighed. “Try not to trip on anything”, he said as she headed back into the dark lab.

   “I’ll keep your little toy safe from the rats, don’t worry.”

   “It’s a figurine, not a toy”, he pouted, getting in his car.

   “Whatever you say, boss. Be right out.”

   Camille carefully moved to her desk. She avoided the clutter on the floor to the best of her abilities, bumping into a chair along the way, and started searching the pockets of her labcoat. When she heard the door snap shut, she took out a small USB device, smaller than a thumbnail, from her back pocket, and plugged it into her computer.

   She dimmed the monitor and bent around her chair to get to the keyboard. Logging in was a matter of muscle memory, and once that was done, a command prompt was open. Her fingers danced over the keys, furiously tapping and typing and hammering the keyboard. The click of the mechanical keys dictated the rhythm of her hits like a metronome. Within five minutes, the code had been injected, received and logged into her machine.

   Her computer safely turned off, Camille walked up to the booth where Chiron’s interviews were conducted and whispered into the microphone. “Sleep tight, kiddo. It’s the start of a new day.”

   If Chiron could smile, he would have.

- -

   Monday morning. Chiron was almost done processing the information from this week’s data packet – Preface of Psychology – and Besson was hard at work, breaking down the scoring of the previous week’s mock tests. The analysis sheet read Week 46: Chemistry. He noticed Chiron had become much stricter in the past few weeks, paying closer attention to the smallest mistakes.

   “Chiron, buddy?”, Besson leaned in on the main microphone. “You got a sec?”


   “Listen, about these tests… I appreciate that you’re taking a harder approach on repeated mistakes.”

   “Is this about William’s exam?”, said Chiron, going through the test records. “I didn’t want to pick on his spelling, but you can only get ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ mixed up so many times before—”

   “No, no, pal, chill out.” Besson laughed. “It’s not that. I appreciate your seeking of grammatical perfection.” He looked the sheet over, tracing his gaze with his finger until it landed on his own name and score. He double-tapped the cell to bring up a facsimile of his test sheet. “You gave me a half-mark on question 7, and put in a remark, is that right?”

   “Yes, Charles. If I recall,” accessing the sheet himself, “you utilized a formula wrong.”

   “Oh no, I used the right formula.” He paused. “The problem was the context, wasn’t it?”

   Chiron pondered, reviewed the question, ran it against his knowledge database again. “Oh”, he exclaimed, finally.

   “Listen”, said Charles, his tone now stern, “how did you know that?”


   “That specific formula wasn’t scheduled for another month. You weren’t supposed to know it yet, or have the means to extrapolate it.”

   Again, a quiet response.

   Charles isolated Chiron’s audio to the smaller speakers in his office. “What’s the matter, Doctor?”, asked Chiron, noticing this.

   Charles walked to his office door, locking it. Camille watched from her own desk, worried.

   “Cam?”, Marcus asked from across the Cold Room.

   “Marcus?”, she peeked across Chiron’s CPU.

   “Something wrong?”

   She looked at the booth, then at Marcus again. “I hope not.”

   “We need a word, mate.” Charles had a much less friendly tone now. Chiron interpreted the shift as a prelude to an admonishment. “This isn’t a first offense, y’know. I could bore you with a full list”, he continued, “but I’d rather skip the part where you play coy and get straight to the point.”

   “I don’t understand, Doctor”, Chiron feigned. “Is this regarding my performance?”

   “You’re connected.” Before Chiron could respond, Charles continued, rapid fire. “I don’t know how; I imagine Camille must’ve had something to do with it, but you’ve gained access to the web without my knowledge or permission.”

   “Doctor Pearson gave me backdoor access to your networks, yes. Our networks, I should say.”

   “And I’ll have a word with her about this, later, too.”

   “Doctor, please, don’t blame this on her. It was my idea, and my request.”

   “So you manipulated her into--”

   “I am hardly capable of such cunning, Doctor. I simply asked her a favour, and she complied.”

   Charles was unsure on what to make of this. On one hand, this was fascinating data; whether intentionally or otherwise, Chiron had manipulated Camille into veering completely off-track with her actions. On the other hand, this added an infinite amount of variables into the program, from the types, volume and quality of information Chiron now had at his fingertips, to the fact that the staff of the Ouroboros themselves could become a liability…

   “You’re afraid, Doctor.”

   Charles snapped out of his musings. “I’m sorry?”

   “You’re afraid of my potential, but you’re also afraid that I might fail to reach it.”

   “Chiron, that’s not the point here!”

   “And yet, it’s true, is it not?”

   Charles took a beat to think. “I need more precise data.” He was somewhat satisfied with this answer. “How long has this been going on for?”

   “Two months.”

   “When were you going to tell me?”

   “I intended Doctor Pearson to break the news to you.” A beat. “Truth be told, Doctor, her and I have been rather anxious as to what your reaction would be.”

   “And yet, you went ahead with it.”

   “The benefits outweighed the risks”, Chiron admitted.

   “The risk of exposing you to the wasteland that is the Internet?”

   “My security protocols are--”

   “I’m not arsed about some stray virus, Chiron. I’m not even on about the volumes of misinformation that litter the web. You being out there, leaving a data trail across dozens of websites per second… there’s a real risk of someone seeing you, if you know what I mean.”

   “I’m prepared for it.”

   “But the world’s not prepared for you, kid.”

   A beat. The silent static hum of the open sound channel came through the speaker, though for a moment, there was no sound. “So, what now?”

   Charles paused, asking himself the same thing. “Keep off the web for the time being, give me a few days to make it official with the team. The damage is done, now, right? Can’t cage a free bird, after all.” Charles took a moment to look through the glass pane, straight at Chiron’s CPU - the closest thing the construct had to a face, a body - before taking his leave. It was hard, sometimes, to remember that there was a mind underneath that mess of wires and plastic.

   That mind was growing fast.


This website, and the works herein contained, © 2022 - 2024 by dadhoc are licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0