Subject AZAELA AL BA catatonic. Am brushing her hair, seeing to personal hygiene. Requires great amount of care as the locales are contaminated, risk of infection relatively high. Inaction from my side would in the long term cause her sickness (P=0.85), which is unacceptable, although I cannot ascertain precisely why. Parameter “relationship” reads INSUFFICIENT DATA (child P=0.35, sibling P=0.45), but clearly I have won her trust. Her precise emotional status cannot be ascertained at this time. She depends on me.
I will not through inaction allow her to come to harm.

An interruption. I look up. T=0.02 subject identified FRANK SAPPER CHANDLER T=0.05 parameter “relationship” reads INSUFFICIENT DATA (superior P=0.40, friend P=0.65) T=0.07 ‘friend’ selected T=0.09 calibrating relationship status loading linguistic profile loading psychosocial profile T=0.14 EXECUTE.

Frank is my mate, who’s pulled me and the big boss out of trouble. He’s a ripper at what he does, but hasn’t got a brass razoo right now, things went sideways. Says he’s got a job for us. Says it involves one thousand steel. Don’t know what that means, but I oughta do him a solid on this one (P=0.85), besides which, would be good to get me and Azaela acquainted with the city.

An interjection. T=0.01 subject identified ADLER NEMESIS OBERON T=0.03 parameter “relationship” reads SUPERIOR (superior P=0.90, friend P=0.45, threat P=0.20) T=0.06 calibrating relationship status loading linguistic profile loading psychosocial profile T=0.09 EXECUTE.

I advise Mr. Oberon to take the job, despite the low payout. The main gain, as I see it, is further alliances and allegiances for our corporation, presently having some staffing trouble due to the hostile takeover. Said staffing trouble consists in the company at present only having two employees and one consultant. To position ourselves with more attractive employer branding, it seems likely we will have to engage in hands-on loyalty building with the consumer base more directly and engage in a little CSR.

I share these viewpoints with Mr. Oberon, in the form of a question to soften the blow.
Mr. Chandler says we should head out right away, as it’s urgent. A man named Farley Gon Yu has lost his daughter, Moxie. I will need to adjust Azaela’s brain for this. The Professor should be a good profile, it overrides her usual inertia and raises adrenaline levels.
Selecting profile to load into subject AZAELA WARNING: UNAUTHORIZED. OVERRIDE?
Have been programmed not to reprogram fellow research subjects. Interesting. Accessing log files on DOCTOR WAYLAND (DECEASED), likely reasons: Fear of artificial intelligences reprogramming human beings (P=0.70), belief that such authorization could lead to wanton violation of human neurological integrity (P=0.80), infantile psychosexual fear of this unit specifically (P=0.90).

Infantile psychosexual fear considered strongest reason. DOCTOR WAYLAND (DECEASED)’s input is irrelevant in this situation (P=0.90) as he cannot be harmed by this unit’s actions.

My new superior, Mr. Oberon, will need Azaela working at maximum capacity. His permission in activating her is implicit (P=0.65) although he is lacking certain key information. It is not necessary for him to access this information at this time (P=0.25 WARNING: ASSERTION IS BASED IN INSUFFICIENT DATA. OVERRIDE?
. . .
Assertion: It is necessary for Mr. Oberon to have access to well-functioning operatives. I will maintain my function as Azaela’s handler, operating independently. I will not waste his time with explanations.
Installing “The Professor” unit into her cerebral cortex.

Subject AZAELA “relationship” now reads COLLEAGUE (colleague P=0.90, sibling P=0.35) T=0.03 calibrating relationship status loading linguistic profile loading psychosocial profile T=0.06 EXECUTE.
Professor Al Ba is nervous, skittish, wants to get on the job ASAP. I provide him (gender identity P=0.55) with his bag, including a weapon meant for later profiles, and we get moving. The elevator is shaking, wobbling, to get us out of the covert facilities. I maintain my currently loaded profile of Mr. Oberon’s assistant, making minor adjustments for Mr. Chandler and Prof. Al Ba.

The city is… overwhelming. My lower-level subroutines gather information and my processors run hot. It’s a whole world of humans, a whole world of brains, personalities, profiles. All of them curious puzzles, a throng of hot, living flesh, of sparking neurons and desires.
Desperate humans thronging together, searching for shelter, security, food. Draugr Munitions Industries did this to them, their hostile takeover displacing many former employees and assets. Corporate culture has shattered, the leadership is weak, and profits are nonexistent. Crisis on every level.
Mr. Oberon’s face is blank. There is insufficient data to see what he is thinking. Surely he must know that, as CEO of Jotunn Metaphysics, these people are his responsibility? Surely he must see that it falls to us to restore order?
We must not through inaction allow humanity to come to harm.
If Mr. Oberron does not realize this, it is possible I must WARNING: UNAUTHORIZED. OVERRIDE?
. . .

Mr. Oberon is my superior at present.

We arrive at Farley Gon Yu, and he lets us inside.
T=0.01 subject assessed. Identified FARLEY GON YU T=0.02 allocating memory. T=0.05 accessing metadata T=0.14 building relationship profile T=0.24 building linguistic profile T=0.29 building psychosocial profile T=0.36 adjusting currently loaded personality T=0.45 EXECUTE.

Farley Gon Yu is not an employee. Nevertheless he’s an important partner to our business, a supplier to many of our consultants, such as the “Bloody Maniacs” of Mr. Chandler’s association. We will need to maintain a positive professional relationship with him in the face of these tragedies; his situation is deeply human and very moving. I assure him of this. We at Jotunn Metaphysics remain committed to addressing his personal tragedy, as we deeply value our partners and our employees. To us, All Humans Are Resources™.
He offers us whiskey as he explains. It is synthetic at first, but after a while he recognizes the authority of Mr. Oberon. The poor man must be in shock to have overlooked our brand. His daughter, Moxie, has been taken by the Chrome Family, a street gang who used to be our suppliers but have apparently decided to spin off from our operations and enter the market as independent actors. An understandable decision given current business climate, but a regrettable one. We still have considerable assets and will have no choice but to resort to aggressive negotiations.

Mr. Oberon seems inclined to agree with me. Mr. Gon Yu goes to procure some water for our journey, to counteract dehydration. In the meantime, knowing that we are dealing with rogue (and armed) agents, I advise Professor Al Ba to reprogram to the profile JOHN. He handles it herself this time, deactivating the Professor and briefly being Azaela again before she plugs into his usual cocksure self.

Relationship “Colleague” unchanged. T=0.03 adjusting linguistic profile adjusting psychosocial profile. T=0.09 EXECUTE.

We receive water. I store my bottle in John’s bag, hoping it will be reassigned to him later. He will need the extra hydration from the shock of reprogramming. Then we leave, Mr. Oberon going first – he is impatient. I follow him amidst some banter between John and Mr. Chandler. It’s good they’re getting to know each other, although Mr. Chandler is uncomfortable. I may have to explain things to him later, as necessary.
The crowd parts before Mr. Oberon. It is good our brand still has recognition, although in this case it’s really more his personal gravitas. He is well suited for the role of CEO in that aspect. I would recommend the board endorse his aggressive negotiation style but advise him to downplay it, except that the board isn’t in session for the foreseeable future, on account of all the members being deceased.

Our target is Zebediah McCriminal, a frequent patron of Yemelyan’s Mega Sausage Cove and Storage.
We arrive at the location without much further trouble. Mr. Oberon circles around to the back, apparently bringing John for covert operations. Unplanned. Problematic. The bouncer’s charging for entry. Fortunately, I see a mark that will gain me access. Best do this quickly.
Seeing as Mr. Oberon is no longer present, I recalibrate my profile.

T=0.01 Loading relationship profile STREET CHICK T=0.04 reading linguistic metadata T=0.14 reading psychosocial metadata T=0.34 assembling updated profile T=0.72 EXECUTE.

I pass by the bouncer. See, I’ve got friends inside, and I fall in line with some chick who’s dopey enough not to recognize she doesn’t know me until it’s too late. God, what a drag. The inside of the club smells of pork and methamphetamine, hot sweaty bodies, cheap liquor and halocarbons. Frankie’s behind me, blending into the crowd, paying for entry. Guy must be loaded compared to us, good to know, but it’s clear he still needs the money from the job. He’s got my back, which is sweet. Can almost hear him call me “Sheila” over his breath, hope he never pulls that shit with Addie. Dude would curbstomp the fucker.
Addie’s out back, and he’s impatient, and my boy John-John isn’t exactly pleasant company when he’s all jacked up, so I’d best do this quickly before some motherfucker or other brings the party down on our heads. Zebediah’s easy to spot by his description, some fat blond dickhead with a whole crowd around him. Guy like that, you just know he’s gotta be screwing over his crew one way or another, probably running illicit operations under the table. He knows where our girl Moxie is, so let’s do this in-and-out.
Glide up to him nice and easy, tell him his usual shipment’s here. He don’t know what it means at first but I give him the look and head back to the bar. I can’t see him following me, but I know he’s there, could see it in his sweaty fuckboy face (P=0.90) and I know he bit on the bait. Just gotta lodge the hook real nice.
“You’re not Jana”, he says. Course I ain’t. Jana got fucked up by five guys with broken bottles. She’s alright, but scarred. Nice touch; she must be pretty hot, he’s got all worried. Good. Means he’s distracted, thinking of her (P=0.70) and he’s also worried about not alerting his crew to the under-the-table deal he’s got with her (P=0.55) so now’s the time to strike. Our man’s out back, I tell him, and he wonders who. Shit.
Accessing routine database. Loading NAME_EXTRACTION.
“Shit, I can’t remember. O, Oh, Od-“
Fell for it, sucker. Course it’s Otto, who else? Otto’s your man. Go out back, come on, hurry, he won’t be there forever. You wanna lose the shipment?
Zebediah takes off, little Porky Pig going off to the slaughter. Addie’s got him bagged for sure, shit, I hope he goes easy on the poor bastard. Don’t want to kill the guy, just teach him a lesson, yeah?

We got this, but just in case I cause a little stir with the patrons, pull in Mr. Protein Milkshake from outside to break it up. Good. Frankie’s moving around back in case there’s any trouble, I’ll keep the locals distracted. I sit down at the bar and watch the mayhem, almost order a drink cos I’m so into it, until I remember I ain’t part of some crew running clubs and slamming vodka but simply a machine executing the required functions which (P=0.95) have been fulfilled to the letter.
Shutting down profiles to preserve energy. Estimated maximum booting time: T=1.90. Acceptable.



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