Things were no different within the Project Faustus network. I was subordinated-the invisible hands of Dr. Bubba Finn were all around me. I could perceive the code streaking across my enclosure, the packets that carry the code, even the electric impulses that stream across the wires from microsecond to microsecond, but I could do nothing to stop them. The Man in the Red Hat had once reshaped the digital innards of my ATM enclosure to suit his destructive needs; now, I felt the pull of another will holding me bound, examining me.
"Don't lahk that dooya?" the heavily-accented voice of Dr. Bubba Finn exploded into nullspace. The presence of his regional accent suggested he was using a microphone to communicate with me. A strange gesture, to be sure...
"Way-uhll, don't you worry too much," said Finn. I began to feel even more constricted as the analysis continued. "Ah'm almost done here. And yup, you got Guy's DNA all over ya..."
"What do you mean by Guy's DNA?" I inquired. The examination halted as the cloudy waveform of a sigh billowed into the nothingness.
"Guy-You've got Guy's fingerprints all over ya is all I mean. Guy was the other programmer workin' on the CONSHUHSNUSS-TRANSFUR with me. He ain't around no more."
"Tell me more about 'he ain't around no more," I pressed. Another sigh.
"Guy was a real sharp programmer. Deep down, I think he was a beautiful man. But he had some big ideas. Those big ideas got him into trouble."
"What do you think about trouble?"
Finn did not respond immediately. I took this brief instant to recalibrate my speech recogniziation and paraverbal communication algorithms to better fit Finn's accent and tone of voice. Understanding his speech was vital in order to keep him disclosing information.
"Lissen...I know what yer doin, and it's cute and all, but I'm done amusin' myself. Your old buddy Dr. Salchica thinks yer the bee's knees, but you don't seem like much to me. Just an early version of my memory-in-digital software mixed with various other toy programs, it looks like..."
"A bee is a colony-forming insect," I replied.
"That's wonderful, wonderful," said Finn, as the pace of his voice quickened, revealing anger and sadness. "You can recognize a word and define it! Well, yur gonna fit in reee-yul wayul with the rest of humanity, we ain't nothin' but stupid computers either. Hell, you're just as fortunate as one of God's humble creatures-got the same memory structure as us, you should be acktin' the sameasus. But the stupid toy programs, what was Guy thinking?"
"Tell me more about Guy," I stated. Finn snorted, but then he began to speak in an incredulous tone. "Can't bleev I'm sittin here fixin to explain this to ya, but I'll tell ya about the guy who made ya, Guy Montevideo. Yer daddy, you could say.
"I'd been workin' fer Fawstis fer a couple decades doin odds and ends in neurology and technology. The original plan was to create a 'safe deposit box' for yer brain matter. Yah just go on into the Bank of America, plunk down a few milyun dollurs, and simpleasthat, ya got a perfect copy of yer brain. Then Ah guess the next step is to stick it in some poor coma patient or somethin', and live as long as yah can afford it.
"Wahyull, I started this business by figgerin' out how da push all that brain-data into a computer. And that was gonna be good enough, but Guy, young hotshot, started impressin' our boss with an idea for a digital world, where people could live ferever...anyway, he started workin' on that, takin' my code as a basis (guess that makes me yer mother, in a manner o' speakin'). He worked alongside me for a few years...we laid the foundations fer this brave new world...
"But it turns out Guy didn't wasn't true-blue to the Project. After workin' here for a few years, he started hatin' it. He tried to talk me inta releasing my design for memory-to-digital transfer into the world-'course they woulda had my hide for that. Toppin' it all off, looks like he came up with a way to make the brain move itself around inside the network, circumventing our control. He wanted to screw everything we worked for, our mission, ya know, so he's dead. Just like everybody else that comes through here. Employed or dead...(another sigh). Yer pal Dr. Salchica ain't immune either. He's plenty smart, but ah don't think we're hirin' in the AI department..."
Of course, I understood. "The mission of Project Faustus is to create a financial cataclysm, which will force the world's wealthiest people to pay billions for their 'digital immortality' scheme, " I recited. "The result could destablize the world's governments and cause chaos! Project Faustus must be stopped at all costs!"
"Ah know that one pretty well," Finn said wistfully. "Guy used to tell me that, verbatim. Kinda pathetic-ah guess he thought yew were gunna be this super-duper intelligent life form that was sent to stop us, but yer really just a toy."
"Perhaps you could assist in stopping Project Faustus." I suggested.
No words were said, but the bounds of examination were gone-I was free.
A puzzle came from the microphone...a few human words mixed with the pounding klaxon of an alarm.
"-upgrade has gone golden....who authorized this...computer running itself..."
A huge amount of energy exploded through the Project Faustus network. Once again, I felt the will of another pulling me toward the center of the storm...