Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Cat and Mouse: Saturday

Hello avid readers! It’s time to welcome me home at last. I’ve had quite a day, I can tell you. When I last recorded an update, Professor Maria Thessifus had been killed, then restored from a mind backup into a new body clone. Given her state of confusion (as evidenced by the fact that she had not immediately resumed chasing me), I surmised that this was an old backup and that she would have to get up to speed by reading her blog entry from the other day.

I wasted no time, although I was a little miffed that my minicruiser’s cloaking device was out of alignment and had to be adjusted. This cost me vital minutes, but it was crucial work if I wanted to remain undetected. Once I was in orbit I transferred to the Earth Lagrange L2 point to set up my instruments. I was sniffing for remnants of the original transmission of the mind data from the backup pod, hoping for reflected signals to arrive after ricochet from multiple Kuiper belt objects, back and forth across the solar system multiple times, each taking hours, over the last two days.

This, as you can imagine, was a long shot.

My equipment is extremely advanced, with molecular membrane antennae and miniaturised quantum computers to perform the nightmarish fourier analyses that this would require, given the vast number of reflected signals that would have blended together like images in an enormous Hall of Mirrors. Sadly, it was not enough. After an hour or two of gathering data, and a further hour analysing it and finding no clear directional source for the signal, I proceeded to Plan B.

A brief scan via my remote probe revealed that Professor Maria T was still in her office in Hamburg. I am not a natural gambler, and the next part was a leap of faith that made me slightly uncomfortable, I have to admit. I made the assumption that the Hamburg location would also be the location from which the request for another mind restore would be sent, in the event of her death. I deployed a ring of membrane antennae in orbit around Earth in the plane of the solar system. Again, I was gambling: I assumed that the mind backup pod was somewhere in that plane. I hope you’re keeping count of these!

I then activated the microdrone I had previously concealed in Berlin, and it covered the distance to Hamburg in about 100 seconds. Damn, those things are fast. I wish I could build them, but I can’t take credit I’m afraid: I get them on mail order from Analemma, which is kind of the galactic version of Amazon, only it’s allowed to sell evil weapons.

Now came my third and final gamble. I hoped her window was open. Three times, I had relied on luck. I was feeling a little nauseated, frankly. I don’t like loose ends. But it paid off. The microdrone found its target, and a death signal was picked up by fourteen of my antennae. I projected the signal outward and found it was heading for Saturn.

Making a mental note to collect the antennae later, I punched the co-ordinates in and warped over almost all the way there, which took all of five seconds. I positioned myself directly between Earth and Saturn, waiting.

I had to wait a further hour for the signal to arrive. Luckily, I had brought a deck of cards with me. I do enjoy your Earth games! Did you know that there are so many permutations of a deck of cards that every time you shuffle one thoroughly it’s almost certain to be a sequence that nobody in the whole history of your planet has ever produced before? Of course, I’ve produced them all, by placing a robotic shuffling arm inside a multiverse multiplier… but that was on Grootix when I was at college, and even I can’t afford to own that sort of equipment, so you can stop worrying: it’s still the case that nobody has produced every permutation yet — on Earth, at least.

The signal arrived, and I waited for the reply from the pod. When it came, I pinpointed it to within about 100 km. It was still going to be tricky, but I wasn’t too worried.

That is, until I noticed that it was right inside the rings.

I had to admit she had style. It was a perfect camouflage! It made finding it very arduous, and it took me a good three hours of nosing in and out of the ring material. But I finally got it! Can you believe, the thing was only 10m long? The rings are 1km thick, so we’re talking needles and haystacks. My eyes are still tired.

Having blasted the pod into dust, I returned on warp power, and waited. Of course, it wasn’t over at that point because a new clone would be waiting for the light-speed signal still en route — or so I imagined.

I had quite a nasty shock.

The signal arrived, all right. But there was some sort of failsafe in place, probably triggered by two deaths within a day or two of each other. It downloaded the data, but it copied it into multiple clones. I used a probe to count them, and there were fifty-two. When that figure came up on my screen, I used a word that would have got me expelled from Grootix Academy for sure.

The rest of that day was rather dramatic. Obviously I couldn’t be sure of killing all of those clones before one of them got me, it was too risky. This called for a more intelligent approach. Remaining in orbit for safety, and constantly alert for a launch from Hamburg just in case, I busied myself with the data I’d collected during the return signal from the pod. I had to decode the format used, but there wasn’t any strong encryption on it. I mean, why bother, right? The stupid humans would never even recognise what it was anyway. A process of elimination gave me the likely patterns used to push an update to the clones. I reasoned that this would be a feature, given that I have such a thing myself. Sometimes new information reaches the pod and needs to be made known to the current living copy. It’s a way of creating memories of things that would otherwise be unknown.

In the end, it was laughably easy. I sent a faked signal with information about a certain Lord Dszira, who had been detected hiding out at a spot in the middle of Antarctica. Watching the Thessifus clones join forces and converge on the bait was amusing. I had already programmed the slow fusion bomb to deploy from my silo in Argentina, and sit there beneath the ice, having melted its way down, waiting for them to arrive. The survey teams may one day be baffled by the odd crater there, but maybe there will be a conspiracy theory that the US government were testing a secret weapon. And maybe it will just end up as a regular item doing the rounds on the internet tinfoil hat sites. Nobody will seriously believe it at that point. In fact, I may give it a small helping hand. I need to go now and start joining a few chatrooms. See you later!