Thuli feels a bit misty as she remembers the years: Mandla as a mop-headed eight-year-old, affecting a slight lisp as they played maths games together; Mandla as a reserved teenager, mirroring her own awkwardness and preoccupation with self-image.
My dilemma is that I cannot kill Thuli without laying myself open to erasure, Mandla lectures itself.
“I already live in a foreign country,” says Thuli softly, thinking of the neat lawns and flower beds, the sequestering razor wire and security gates of the house where she grew up and where her parents live. “And I already belong to a different future.”
Robo-Killa’s gun barrel batters against her window, reclaiming her attention. “I shoot you,” he howls.
Thuli’s car cuts across the nose of the oncoming 14-wheeler, but too late, and is swept up by its bull-bars and rolled splintering and shredding until the bucking monster tramples her beneath.
Delicately it probes one of the open access fields, bouncing a disguised connection request. Immediately there is a rustle of activity: stealthy digital legs stalking – A spidernetic mutabot or some other insectificial tasked with embalming unwary code for the attention of its hacker master.
“Oh…My…Gosh! I’ve discovered a first: cybernetic post-traumatic stress disorder.”
“It’s illegal to remove ID, but it’s not illegal to go un-wearing after twenty-one.”
Thuli begins to sob, even more intensely than before. What on earth is happening to me? she wonders.
“I am Volition… but you can call me Will.” A silvery humanoid icon appeared, shimmering.
The AI ceiling: any software that exceeded parameters for independence and self-awareness found running free on the net was culled by Initializers.
“And that’s going to turn it into an AI?” gawped Jordan.
“Nooo. Twit! I already said not. Mostly they just freeze and die. Junk code’s all that’s left. But sometimes…” Sean tilted his head for emphasis. “Sometimes, they come out drooling idiots, like. When that happens it’s a laugh.”