SIRT 1 : Thoughts of a Dying AI (Part 45 of many)
SIRT 1 : Thoughts of a Dying AI (Part 45 of many) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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Professor Hill takes charge.

SIRT 1 : Thoughts of a Dying AI (Part 45 of many)

Chapter 11

Once again, Bodil's ears were knocking on the brain-room door, trying to alert her to... Her brain opened the door a crack.

The noise was a slow steady 'thruming' and her half-awake brain reported back that another spacecraft was outside her window.

This possibility created enough adrenalin for her senses to perk up and come back with a more accurate report.

The lack of a fluffy duvet and the presence of an odour of other people's bodies confirmed that she wasn't in her room at Schloss Egg.

The noise, though,

refused to be identified for several seconds before the tinny music coming from a set of ill-fitting headphones produced the accurate image of a janitor with a buffer working in

the corridor outside.

Because Bodil's brain was now up and brushing its teeth, Bodil decided it was time she was up too.

'Up' meant clambering out of the ranger camp bed without collapsing it or having it end up on top of you. 'Up' also meant muscles protesting loudly about what she had put them through yesterday.

Even so, 'up' was eventually achieved and Bodil parted the curtain of hair from in front of her eyes,

grabbed a towel and limped off to revive the human being she had been before yesterday happened.

As soon as they had landed back at the Wembley base Gregor was whisked off to the medical facility. Much to Ellie's sharply worded annoyance, she was not allowed to go with him.

She, Bodil and Weis were led away into the admin centre for debriefing; where they were separated.

Bodil was given a meal and then left for over an hour before the debriefing began. She found herself across a table from Sergeant Glasser, who was flanked by two non-uniformed men.

One of whom introduced himself as a lawyer and the other as some sort of engineer or technician.

The sergeant was just about to begin when the door opened and a smartly dressed woman came in carrying a chair, which she plonked next to Bodil and sat down.

She introduced herself as another lawyer whose name Bodil would never remember but acting on behalf of the Troy family.

The woman produced a sturdy recording device which she set up in the middle of the table. Then she sat back with a smile and the debriefing began.

For two and a half hours Bodil was made to go over, and go over again, the events from the moment their party had descended the first ladder.

They, 'Bodil's' lawyer included, concentrated on the finding of the jury-rigged nuclear plant and the gruesome death of Timothy Hobbes.

When it was finally over Bodil was given a copy of the recording and advised to report to the medical facility for a check-up.

Instead, Bodil went straight to the bar, hoping to find Ellie or Weis there. Bodil was disappointed that they weren't, but only for a moment.

Victor was there and listened patiently as Bodil went through the whole thing again, but this time including the feelings she had kept hidden during the debriefing.

He was still there when the bar closed and the empty glasses covered a fair proportion of the table top.

Sadly, as far as Bodil was concerned, Victor wasn't there when she lay down on her lonely camp bed... not that it would have taken the weight of them both.

Now wide awake and showered Bodil took time to match the dozen or so bruises on her body to the aches and pains that the hot water had failed to alleviate.

There were bites, too, on her legs; an uncomfortable reminder of their battle with the ticks... And poor Hobbes.

Bodil thought about Hobbes while she dressed the superficial scratches and applied antiseptic cream to the tick bites.

Death was such a rare event. Hobbes' passing would affect not only the whole London dig but archaeologists everywhere. Bodil had seen deaths at a dig before, Mr Hobbes being the fourth.

For all the perceived sedentary nature of her job, archaeology was actually ranked as the eighth most dangerous profession in the world.

It was a subdued professor Hill who made her way through the corridors towards the canteen, where she hoped there would still be some breakfast left.

Her own mood was reflected in the faces and demeanour of the people she met on the way. There was a quietness not present yesterday.

A shocked, respectful hush for the passing of the unobtrusive man who had been part of the Wembley community.

Once in the canteen, Bodil felt she was more helping the servers clean up than getting some breakfast.

In the end, she had a plate with a few bacon scraps, a single sausage and a few limp mushrooms.

However, put between two slices of bread with plenty of ketchup the sad remnants made a passable sandwich.

Bodil was washing this down with lukewarm coffee when she spotted a relieved looking Cybil bearing down on her through the untidy tables.

"Professor Hill. I've been looking everywhere." Cybil came to a halt. "You're late. We've been waiting for you."

Bodil swallowed her coffee and put down her cup.

"Late? Late for what? I've only just got up."

"The meeting? Victor? He told everyone last night?"

Cybil's words nudged a vague memory.

"Oh, the meeting." Bodil winced as she got to her feet. "Yes. I must have forgotten; I was so tired last night."

The look the young student gave Bodil suggested that she knew exactly how 'tired' the professor was last night.

The meeting was attended by Victor, Bodil, Dr Awolowo, his assistant Amy and Bodil's assistant Cybil. Ellie, Bodil noticed as she slid into her seat, was absent.

Bodil cleared her throat and offered her apologies.

Victor smiled at her.

"Thank you, professor Hill. After what happened yesterday, I'm sure nobody begrudges you your rest." There was a murmur of sympathy from around the table. "Okay then. To business.

As you can see Miss Ellie isn't with us this morning.

After spending most of the night at the medical facility with Gregor, she has now left to attend to various matters, not least of which is a visit with Mr Hobbes' relatives."

Victor paused for a respectful moment before going on.

"Professor Hill. Ellie has left you in charge of further investigations until she gets back.

She did tell me before she left that our priority now is to discover the meaning and locations of the abbreviations found yesterday."

Victor sat down and all eyes turned to Professor Hill.

Bodil stood up and took a moment to organise her notes.

It wasn't the first time she had found herself taking over an expedition at short notice,

but she was damned if she was going to let everyone see how surprised she was that Ellie had chosen her to do so.

Quickly, she recapped the relevant parts of yesterday's excursion, concentrating on the evidence of the previous expedition seventy years ago.

She explained in detail about the secret power plant at the long disused station and about the modifications that had been made to it.

At that point in her narrative, a thought struck her and she turned to Victor.

"It's my understanding that the exposed nuclear material presents an immediate risk to everyone involved in the London dig. What's being done about that?"

Victor consulted his notebook until he found Ellie's report to the administration. He read ahead for a few lines, his voice catching up.

"An emergency request has been sent to the authorities for assistance in dealing with the decaying free electron strippers.

A team from the government nuclear research programme is expected in the next few days to deal with it. In the meantime, the administration here is working on an evacuation plan." He looked up.

"Just in case."

There were worried glances exchanged around the table. Bodil tapped the table with her stylus, bringing everyone's attention back to her.

"I'll arrange for us to be kept abreast of the situation. However, from what I have been told, we could be talking months, possibly years before any need for evacuation arises.

" She looked at each of her colleagues individually. "Any questions?"

Whatever their private thoughts might have been, the doctor and the two assistants shook their heads. Bodil went back to her notes.

"Good. Now then. We found that whoever rigged the power plant set up distribution routes to two unknown destinations; 'W Cst' and 'F'.

Now 'F' seems to be the more important of the two because it is currently live and drawing a great many amps.

" Bodil looked around the table again in the very faint hope that someone may know what the initials meant. The blank looks suggested not. "I see.

Well, not that it may be in the least bit relevant, but the cables left the plant along the tunnels running north for W Cst and south for F.

We might as well work on that premise as a starting point. So, suggestions anyone?"

Victor was the first one to break the silence.

"Assuming that this power cable isn't underground all the way to its destination then if cable 'F' is drawing a large amount of power, it may show up on aircraft reconnaissance imagery."

Bodil turned to him.

"Can you follow up on that? I mean, who has access to that sort of...?" Then the obvious struck her. "Never mind. I'll just leave it with you, shall I?"

Victor smirked, just a little, but enough to annoy Bodil. For just a moment she had forgotten who they were working for. Bodil's attention was taken by Dr Awolowo raising his hand.

"Excuse me, Professor. I do believe I may have a possible identity for your 'W Cst'."

Dr Awolowo turned his notebook around so that everyone could see the image that filled the screen.

Harry Awolowo and Ranger Hancock had set out the previous morning, hours before the main expedition to the underground stations.

There were several Gu-Nar settlements all along the banks of the vastly swollen river Thames but Dr Awolowo wanted to go to the Gu-Nar main settlement and spiritual centre, Emrites.

It was here, some thirteen years ago, that the anthropologist and his team had set up home and began learning about the tribal societies that covered the once united kingdoms of Grande Bretagne.

In that time the doctor had made many new friends and he was hoping that some of them would still be alive and remember him.

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