Robin de Voh
there's never enough stories

Nanoprep 2019 Day 14: Another Few

By Robin de Voh on 2019-10-23

"Why are they chasing us?!" Amy yelled, running across the field as quickly as she could, slipping here and there but making good ground.
"I don't know!" Jason shouted back, also having trouble keeping his footing on the slippery grass.

Guns blasted and bullets dug their way into the grass around them. So far they had been extremely lucky but both of them knew luck could not be counted on.

"We're almost far away enough," Jason shouted, and pointed at a large building in the distance. "There! Let's go there and hide!"

Amy nodded, but Jason couldn't see. It was getting pretty dark, and that was going to be in their favor. They ran as fast as they could, sweating profusely. They hopped a fence in front of the building and went around to at least be hidden by it.

"Here!" Jason shouted as he saw a door. He ran towards it and tried to open it. Locked. There was a padlock on the handle. Jason looked around and found a steel bar. He jammed it in the padlock's metal loop and pushed as hard as he could. Amy added her weight to the bar as well, and the metal creaked until the padlock suddenly blasted away from the door in pieces.

Jason slammed the door open and pushed Amy inside, after which he also went in and slammed it shut again.

He exhaled loudly, then looked around. He couldn't see much, as it was really dark, but as his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he saw that it was an abandoned warehouse. A workshop of some sort. He didn't care. All he cared about was a place to hide.

"Look for somewhere to hide!" he yelled at Amy as he darted off towards what looked like a building-within-a-building, which he assumed had offices inside. Amy, meanwhile, adjusted slower to the darkness and eventually went a different direction.

Jason checked the offices, and found that there wasn't much place to hide. Even if they hid there, they would be found quickly. Turning on the lights would likely be enough.

"Jason!" Amy shouted from far away. He hardly heard her, but he turned and ran. He assumed she'd found something.

She was standing over an opening in the ground, holding a hatch open.

"Perfect," he said as he peered in. A stairway led down. "Let's go in," she said, causing Jason to move immediately. Amy went in after him and closed the hatch carefully. It didn't seem to let through any light, which was a good thing.

It was even darker there, and by feeling around they found their way into a corner, behind some crates. Amy found a tarp of some sort, kinda sticky and smelling badly, but she didn't care. She covered them under it and they shimmied into the corner as far as they could.

"I don't understand, Jason," Amy said quietly, in a hushed voice.
"Me neither," he said similarly.

He considered what had happened. They had been walking together, and suddenly there had been shouting. When he had looked, two black vans had stopped haphazardly in the middle of the street behind them and angry-looking, armor-wearing men had come out of them. They were carrying weapons, and they were aiming them at them.

From that moment on, it had simply been adrenalin-filled running and weaving, trying not to get shot by people they didn't even know, for reasons they didn't even understand a little.

"What made them come after us?" Amy asked.

He wanted to say he didn't know either, but something in his mind pinged. Not with an answer, but with a vague hunch.

"I... I think I'm supposed to know," he said.
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know either," he said, pausing for a second. "But I feel like I do know, you know? Somewhere? Deep inside."
"I don't," she said. "What do you mean?"
"You know how sometimes you can't quite get at information you know you're supposed to know? Like when you're trying to come up with someone's name and you've almost got it, but you can't quite get there. A weird itching feeling in your mind, that you can't help but try to scratch?"
"Sure, yeah, when it's on the tip of your tongue, right?"
"Exactly!" he said, realizing he'd been a bit louder than he'd intended. "It's like that. Don't you have that? About this whole situation?"

She was silent for a while.

"There's something about us," she eventually said, "that makes us special."
"Yes, yes! That's it, we're... Different?"

They heard a noise upstairs. Muffled voices in the distance, too far and quiet to make out. But they knew it was them. The angry-looking men with guns.

"Sssh," Amy said, gripping Jason's arm a bit harder.

They stayed quiet for a bit, but both of them were doing their best to remember that thing they couldn't remember. That information they were so close to but so far away from at the same time.

Then something pinged in Jason's mind again.

"When did we meet, Amy?" he said.
"I... A while ago," she said resolutely.
"But when? Because I don't really remember," he said, hesitantly.
"Oh, thanks!" she said with disdain in her voice. "Glad I matter, especially with us going to get shot soon."
"That's not what I mean, and I think you know that," he said. "I remember meeting you, and I remember talking to you for the first time. But I don't remember when it was."

He could hear Amy breathing, but she didn't say anything. Then she squeezed his arm.

"Me neither," she said. "How? How can we not know that?"
"There's something wrong here," he said.

Then the lights were suddenly turned on.

"GET OUT HERE!" someone shouted. "SHOW YOURSELVES!"

They didn't move. They could hear footsteps moving in the distance, from where the stairway was. They were slowly, methodically, getting closer.

Then someone threw something heavy on the tarp. It hit Jason and he grunted.


The tarp was pulled from them suddenly and the light blinded them. A small group of armed men was in front of them, visible enough through painful and hazy eyes.

With guns trained on them, they were forced to stand up and they were separated. They were forced up the stairs and into the main warehouse, where even more armed men were waiting for them.

One seemed to be without weapons, however, and was standing slightly to the back.

"Jason," he said, looking at him. "Amy," he said, looking at her.

He took a step forward.

"I'm Jeffers. Not my real name, but in my line of business that's normal. My mandate is to take you down or in. You ran, so down was the option. Now you're here, so taking you in is still on the table. If you come calmly, we won't have to hurt you."

Jason grunted. "Why are you even after us?"

"You don't know? Interesting. Guess your programming is hiding the truth from you."

Jason looked at Amy, a few meters away from him, being held by the arms by two armed men. They both looked confused.

Then something in Jason's brain pinged again and loose threads connected.

"You remembered?" Jeffers said. "Good. Then you also know why we're taking you in?"
"I do now."

Amy looked at Jason, confused, and obviously was not quite on the same page yet.

"It's okay, Amy," Jason said. "Don't worry. Stop fighting."
"I'll tell you," Jeffers said as he walked over to her.

He nodded to one of the men holding her arms and he let go. Jeffers grabbed her arm instead, and with his other hand grabbed his knife. Amy shrieked and struggled. Jason looked away, saying nothing. The man who'd been holding her arm now held her by the shoulder, trying to keep her still.

"This won't hurt," Jeffers said.

He straightened out her arm and carefully sliced into her skin. Amy screamed and struggled even more. He traced as straight a line as he could, red fluid oozing up slowly as he did so. He then cut perpendicular to his original cut, and then again. Eventually he had cut 3/4ths of a square and lifted the skin up with his knife's edge.

Amy had tears in her eyes by now, and was not standing as securely as she had been.

"Look," Jeffers said, nodding towards her arm. "Look!"

Amy shook her head to clear her mind and with hesitation looked at her arm, where Jeffers had removed her skin from her... Not flesh.

A series of metal tubes and wiring ran through her arm under her skin.

And her mind pinged.

"Exactly," Jeffers said. "So now you both know why we're taking you in?"

Jason nodded, and Amy did the same.

"Can't have errant AI running around in stolen bodies, now can we? I don't know how you got them, and I don't know what you did to your processes to forget you were AI at all, but it ends here."

He nodded to the men holding both Amy and Jason and they started to walk them towards the warehouse exit.

"Targets secured," Jeffers said into his comm. "Bringing them back mostly intact," he added.

It was about time to do more with this. See This One. and Another First One for previous AI stories.