Cogito Patris

Random Thoughts for Random People

The Story of J: Chapter 10 – Recruiting

=====Work of Fiction=====

Chapter 9 – Confrontation
Table of Contents Next:
Chapter 11 – A Cold Day In…

The Office of Mentalic Affairs was indistinguishable from the surrounding Official Government Offices in the section of Trantor that was officially the “Emperor’s Estate”, but bore the unofficial moniker of “The Bureaucrat’s Playground”.    The building was labeled…a lack of labelling in this district would be quite odd.  But, of course, the label did not carry the name of the actual organization located inside the halls of the surprisingly plain building.  The label said “Office of Government Affairs”.  Part of the building was a place where “Government Affairs” were handled, but a vast majority of the building was in actual fact the “Office of Mentalic Affairs”.

Once inside, J and Kat were brought in to a plain room with no mirrors or windows or decorations.  After a couple of hours, the female “officer” entered the room.  J looked calm, but Kat was showing signs of frustration at being kept waiting so long.  in fact, it was Kat who spoke first, interrupting the first attempted syllable from the woman.

“Who are you and what are we doing here?”

“I am Dr. Olivia Thompson.” She said, to J. “We would just like to ask you a few questions, then you can be on your way.”

“We?” Kat asked, bringing a small smile to J’s lips.

“My organizations prefers to remain anonymous.  The rest of my…friends…are in an adjacent room monitoring us.”  J instinctively looked around for a camera.  Realizing that if one existed, it was probably so well hidden, and so small, that he wouldn’t see it.

Kat sat back in her chair and said “OK, ask your questions.” She then crossed her arms in a subconscious maneuver to shield herself.  She didn’t realize that her mind was wide open to the other’s penetrating mind…even more so to her…’Firends’.

“What is your name?” She was still looking only at J.

“J” He said, speaking for the first time since the space port.

“No, what is your full name?”

“That is my full name to the best of my knowledge.” J answered, deciding to be more devil’s advocate than helpful resource.  They had been picked up for some reason and he wanted to find out why.  If he was too cooperative his interrogator would get all of the information out of the exchange and he would get none.

“Fine” She said, and made a note on an electrical tablet she had in front of her.  “What is your occupation?”

These were obviously standard questions, more to probe his state of mind that to get useful information.

J decided to be straight forward with his response this time. “I am a bum.” He responded.

Without questioning his words, Olivia marked the answer on her tablet.

“May I ask a question?  Where is Leo?”  J asked

“He is in the field.”

“Why lie to me?” He waited a moment for the good doctor to recover from his words.  “I would like for him to be present for this interview.  I know he is here.”

“How?” Olivia asked with a little more interest that she intended.

“Is here here?” J asked, recognizing that he could get t least one straight answer out of her because of her interest.

“Yes.” She answered directly.

“He is obviously fascinated by us for some reason.  So, unless he was ordered out of the building he would probably prefer to stay and ‘observe’ us…that is the word you used, right?  I am a full believer that two minds are better than one and being the intelligent person that you obviously are I doubt that you disagree with that assessment.  You would have allowed him to stay, at least through the duration of the interview to ‘observe’ us. So, why not have him ‘observe’ us from in here?”

At that, the door opened at Leo walked in.

“I was given permission to join you.” He said to Olivia, with a little jerk of the head that indicated he received his instructions from someone higher in the organization than she was.  He took his stance behind his superior (there were no chairs left in the room).

“OK, now that you have the presence of Agent Leo, maybe we can continue.” J nodded internally happy that he had pushed this organization in to conceding to him, even if it was just a minor point.

“What are you doing on Trantor?” Olivia asked.

“We are here to look for evidence of an ancient race that may be extinct now.  We are not archaeologists by trade, but both of us have a vested interest in finding this race…or at least evidence of them.”

“And what race is this?” Olivia asked, Leo looking uncomfortable standing behind her.

“You already know.  Leo, “J said, changing his gaze from her to him “I see that you have a question.”

“Yes…” He paused for, and received, a nod from his superior. “You call this collection of beings a ‘race’.  But are you not looking for machines?  Robits?”  He said, purposely mispronouncing the last word.

“Robots.” Kat corrected him, bringing another smile from J, and a frown from Leo.  Leo had hoped that J would respond.  At least that would tell him if J had the mental capacity for reading minds.  So far, his explanations for the deductions he has made have been logical…and have neither confirmed nor denied his Mental Capabilities (with a capital ‘M’).  With Kat responding, he couldn’t tell if J knew he had purposely mispronounced the word.

“Robots are machines.” J said “that look and ‘think’ vaguely like human beings.  Isn’t that enough to call them a race?” J said with a slight tilt of his head.

“But they were just tools.  They didn’t actually think, they simply imitated the process of thinking.” Leo said.

“Whether they imitated thinking or actually thought, isn’t that enough?  Perhaps they were not sentient.  But neither is a dog.  Yet we call a dog a race…in a strictly biological fashion.” J said, sounding more like a professor of philosophy than an interrogatee.

Leo began to speak again, but was cut off by Olivia. “Why come to Trantor to look for your robots?  Surely some human on Trantor would notice a humanoid-looking machine walking around Trantor.  It may be easier to hide on a less-populated planet.”

“I think you know that also.  We were not looking for robots here, we were looking for evidence of robots.  The galaxy is a big place.  I would prefer not to search planet by planet.”

“And did you find evidence?” Leo asked.

“Not exactly.” J answered simply, without explaining. “Why does the Office of Metallic Affairs want to know for anyway?”

Olivia answered this time. “Because if Robots exist, then it may be an unhandled variable in our phychohistorical processes.”

“But Phychohistory is over.  Seldon’s plan was only supposed to last a millennium and ended with the Foundation’s move to Trantor almost 800 years ago.” Kat said.

“That is what the populous was supposed to think.  But remember, for Phychohistory to be effective, the populous must not know that they are being controlled by Phychohistory .  I am amazed that Seldon’s Plan worked considering everyone knew they were being controlled.  In fact, the whole thing almost came crashing down on more than one occasion.  Now, we have taken great care to eliminate any thought of Phychohistory from the minds of the populous.”  Olivia said, in the longest speech J had ever heard from her.

“So why tell us?” J asked…a little too eagerly.

“What evidence did you find of robots?” Olivia asked with a small smile.

“I suppose it is only fair that we share.  We found some really old documents outlining a place that may have had robots at one time, unless it was just a grammatical mistake in the original document, or our translation.” J said.

“And where is this planet?”

“No idea.  We are trying to solve two mysteries here.  The robots are one, and my identity is the other.  We have evidence that I may have been taught to speak at a planet with an old dialect.  Since robots are also old, we thought we would continue our research on one of the planets that claimed to be the planet of origin.  Now, why did you tell us about Phychohistory ?”

“It seemed like a plausible explanation to you and therefore got me more information.” Olivia said with a smile.

“I asked that you not lie to me.” J said, turning his attention back to Leo. “What planet would go to if you were looking for the planet of origin?”

Leo picked up a marker off a shelf that seemed to appear on the wall, and started to draw a crude representation of the galaxy above the shelf. “The common knowledge is that the planet of origin, if it exists, had to be outside the densest part of the galaxy so that it would not be bombarded with asteroids.  However, there also had to be stars in the sky to entice space exploration, so it couldn’t be too far out on the periphery.  So, if the planet of origin exists, it would have to be in a region that extends around the disk of the galaxy in this range. ”  Leo ended his last sentence by coloring in a circle that surrounded the middle of the galaxy, but included a large portion of the galaxy in itself.

“That isn’t much help.  Which planet would you go to?”

“Well, the problem is that we have to take in to account the drift of the various solar systems over the past two empires.  Not a simple thing in and of itself.”  Leo continued to draw lines on the wall, indicating the solar drift.

“OK, so where would you go?” J asked strictly this time.

Leo’s voice slurred almost imperceptibly and then he said “I would try a planet located in this sector.” and he colored in a sector that was much more manageable.

J decided to let that go and accepted the answer he was given.

“So, where would you go?” Olivia asked.

“We were on our way to Baleysworld.  It is apparently one of the older planets in the galaxy and, if I am not mistaken, is located in that small square drawn by leo.”

Leo drew a small dot that was just barely inside the shaded area he had indicated. “It is approximately here.”

“May I ask a favor?” J asked in a polite tone.  “I would like for Leo to join us on our little quest.  You want to see the inside of my ship and you want to know if your precious Phychohistory is safe.  It seems logical to send someone with us.”

Olivia sat back in her chair, seeming to contemplate the request.  What the two interrogatees could not tell was that she was in mental communication with her superiors.  After a short time, and after being told in no uncertain terms that she was NOT to go herself, she agreed to the request.

“In that case, I was wondering if you could arrange for an XG class extension module to be provided for my ship.  We will install it, but two people on the little ship was cramped, three will be ridiculous.” J said.

“We can provide you with a roomier ship, and faster as well.” Olivia responded.

“That ship is itself a clue.  We will need it on our journey.” Kat said.

Olivia simply nodded her head, and in some distant office arrangements were already being made for the extension module.

Chapter 9 – Confrontation
Table of Contents Next:
Chapter 11 – A Cold Day In…

March 6, 2008 - Posted by | Random Thoughts

1 Comment »

  1. […] Next: Chapter 10 – Recruiting […]

    Pingback by The Story of J: Chapter 9 - Confrontation « Cogito Patris | May 15, 2008 | Reply

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