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"Yes sir, on my way," Zamler responded internally and spoke to Becca. "It seems the boss wants me."
Becca hurried over to the unit he was working on.
He turned around. "Oh it's almost done. Just attach the right leg.” He took a few steps out of the room.
"Zamler wait!" Beeca called.
He poked his head back in. "Yes?"
Becca stared at the opening in the leg he just finished wiring and pointed. "You have a wire out of place."
He paused, uncertain if he heard her right. "No, that can't be."
She waved for him to come over and showed him how he had mixed some of the wiring. It was true, the wires were crossed, connected to the wrong circuits.
Becca eyed him with those wrinkle lines deepening. "I really need to run that diagnostic on you."
Zamler stared, the circuits in his mind surging. A mistake? I made a mistake? How can this be?
“Zamler?” Becca asked.
"Yes, yes," he agreed. "But when?"
"I'll do it tonight, after the A.I's are in place."
He nodded, a vibe of disturbance went through his circuits, especially since Becca looked at him with worry all the way down the hall.
Zamler reached Adam’s office and pressed the buzzer near the door. No way would he tell Adam about his mistake, but he would ask him about Suzy. The door automatically opened. Adam motioned for him to come inside. His desk was at the rear of the room while the right side was a lab with tools, parts, and a few monitors. He recognized the remains of Ralph all unassembled on the counter - his head, mutilated with wires hanging out due to the gun shot. Zamler winced at seeing Ralph that way and remembered the first time he’d seen the inside of an A.I. It used to horrify him to know that he contained the same circuits and wires as a machine.
But that was along time ago. One time Becca’s mother had told him,
Humans don’t like to see what’s inside them either. I would rather see circuits than blood and guts any day. She chuckled.
He smiled thinking back. There were other parts on the counters, perhaps from other A.I’s, some of which were brain cores. Is one of them Suzy?
"Zamler, you're on time as usual. Please have a seat." Adam motioned to one of the chairs in front of his desk.
Zamler wanted to yell at him and demand to know what happened to Suzy’s brain core. Instead, he sat down, anticipating some sort of lecture about how he shouldn’t be helping Becca.
Adam folded his hands on the desk. "It's difficult for me to bring this up, but it's time to start planning your decommission."
"What? Why?" Hearing it out loud so abruptly confirmed his worst fears.
Adam chuckled ironically. "Surely you have suspected that this might be coming especially since Ralph and Suzy are gone now and the other A.I’s are working circles around you. Face it, you’ve come to the end of a very long life span."
“But do I even have a life span? Many of my parts have been replaced. I mean couldn’t I be upgraded?"
“Most upgrades require a new brain core. We could replace it and you could go on, but your personality wouldn’t carry over much at all. I mean we're talking about replacing a brain core over two-hundred and fifty years old. New brain cores are built on the practical side. True, Dr. Zamler made unique and talented A.I’s, but we don't really need your kind with such advanced characteristics anymore, but at least you have a choice - a new brain core or decommission."
"That’s no choice." Zamler dreaded the idea of being like the other A.I’s.
“Just think, you've lived over double the life span of a human. We all have to deal death at some point."
“But I’m perfectly fine,” Zamler said, telling himself that a few tiny glitches meant nothing. “I am a resource that can still work. Why waste such a resource?”
“Because there were no clear signs of breakdown with Ralph and Suzy. Then disaster struck.”
“What do you mean?” Zamler asked.
Adam blinked. "We don’t want this getting out, but Suzy was the pilot of the shuttle that crashed last month. There’s significant evidence she caused the crash.”
Zamler saw no reason to tell him found the shuttle. “So how long have you known this?”
“Since two days ago.” He got up, went to the bench and picked up a brain core, setting it on the desk. "This was Suzy’s brain core. I’m going to keep it and yours could be a long side it. Unfortunately Ralph’s brain core was destroyed.”
Great, I’m going to be on a shelf.
“But how do you know Suzy caused the crash?” Zamler asked.
"There was one lone survivor of the crash, Dale, a biologist. He was able to explain what happened after he got out of surgery. He said Suzy became confused, but she wouldn't leave the helm. She crashed the shuttle into the Noctis Labyrinthus. Now six others are dead and Dale’s in a wheelchair."
“That just doesn’t sound right,” Zamler said.
"What about Ralph?" Adam walked over and picked up Ralph’s head, turning it to the side where the bullet penetrated the skull. “It’s no coincidence Suzy malfunctioned only a month after Ralph shot himself. I’ll never know what went wrong with him, except for one thing. Ralph told his technician that he was having some memories that surfaced and was upset that his "family" was long since dead."
Becca was also Ralph’s technician. Every fiber of Zamler’s being pulsed internally for a second.
Hope everyone had a good Memorial Day weekend. Next week, more about Zamler and my trip to the Mammoth Caves in Kentucky.