SIRT 1 : Thoughts of a Dying AI (Part 48 of many)
SIRT 1 : Thoughts of a Dying AI (Part 48 of many) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2
ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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A disapproval, a discover and a disappointment. Pft, life eh? Who'd have thought it?

SIRT 1 : Thoughts of a Dying AI (Part 48 of many)

"The report at the time included an investigation among the nearer Gu-Nar settlements.

They were reluctant to talk at first but it seems that at the time the 'Trespassers', that's what they called them, arrived all contact was lost with two villages on the river.

They were never seen or heard of again and the sites of the settlements can't be found."

A new picture appeared on everyone's screen.

"That is until about six months after the Asbjorn was reburied. Rumours started appearing that there had been a survivor." The picture showed a very old man in tribal attire.

Toothless, bald and with only one eye. "This is Willum. He is being cared for by the people of a small village a day's travel west of here.

If we can talk to him, he might have useful information."

Bodil was looking at the picture of the old man, nodding her head.

"Great work you two. It looks like young Willum here is our best lead." She lifted her head. "Harry, this is right up your professional bailiwick.

I'd like you and Amy to go see this man and find out as much as you can about what happened here all those years ago and how 'W Cst' and 'F' fit into it all."

Doctor Awolowo nodded. Amy positively beamed. Cybil, less so. Bodil turned to her next.

"Cybil. I want you to start compiling everyone's reports into one single report for sending to Ellie.

I'll compose a proposal of what we intend to do next and get it to you later today after I've chased down Victor and found out what all this gun stuff is about."

That pretty much brought the meeting to a close. Bodil caught Cybil before she left.

"A moment please Cybil."

The young conservator stopped and turned. She hugged her notebook to her chest, biting her lip. Bodil observed her for a second or two, noticing the mannerism.

"Your and Amy's report was very well put together, well done."

"Thank you."

"I'm curious, though. Essentially, this was an archaeological presentation. So why did Amy, an anthropologist, present it when it was much more in line with your field of expertise?"

Cybil shuffled awkwardly and looked uncomfortable.

"I... I was going to, but Amy is a much better speaker than me. And, well, I thought it would just sound better, more professional, if she did it."

"And she did it very well. I'm sure Doctor Awolowo is very proud of her. But tell me. How are you going to get better at presenting if you let someone else do it?"

Cybil bobbed her head.

"I know. I'm sorry Professor."

"Academia is a highly competitive world Cybil. You can't afford to miss any chance to get your name out there. You have to fight to be noticed and the fight can get dirty at times, very dirty.

You don't just have to be the best at what you do to be top in your field, you also have to make sure that everyone knows it."

Cybil's head had been dropping throughout the dressing-down until now she was looking at her boots. Bodil decided to end it.

Cybil obviously had a confidence problem and too much criticism was not going to help the situation.

"You can go." Cybil turned on her heel. "One more thing. When you come to right up your report on the Asbjorn, make sure your name comes first. Understand?"

"Yes Professor." Cybil just managed to stop short of running from the room.

Bodil didn't locate Victor until later that afternoon. When she did, it was to find him sequestered behind a locked door among the offices he had requisitioned for the Troy party.

Affronted by this denial of entry and with anti-Troy suspicions rising like the hackles on a dog, Bodil took to pounding on the door.

It took a good half minute for the door to be opened. When it finally was, Bodil was not surprised to see obvious signs of things being 'tidied up'. For tidied up read 'covered up'.

For covered up read 'hidden'.

That aside, Bodil was met with a cluttered desk facing a wall festooned with printouts and grainy pictures.

"So, this is what you have been doing all day?"

Victor stood by the desk, hands on hips, looking at the decorated wall.

"Pretty much."

She came and stood next to him, trying to see what he had been looking for.

"Do you want to tell me? Or do you want me to stand here for the next however many hours figuring it out?"

"I'm not sure if Ellie..."

"You mean the Ellie who left me in charge?"

"... I haven't been able to reach her..."

"So, still in charge then, hmm?"

Victor sighed.

"Fine." He went to stand, teacher-like, in front of the wall of information and pointed at a picture. "This is the picture of the rifle Doctor Awolowo took." Bodil nodded.

Victor moved his hand to one of the close ups. "This is the mechanism that works the gun. It's called the action."

"And?"

"The action is way too modern for the technological development of the indigenous tribes."

Bodil started to understand.

"Sooooo someone has been supplying them with modern tech?"

"That's what ranger Hancock and I talked about. Seems he's a bit of a gun nut." Victor tapped the picture. "This, is a recent copy of an action found on weapons of the Pre Sirtuin era."

Bodil's interest sharpened and she stepped close to the wall, looking at the other pictures, especially the enlargements. Her finger stabbed the initials Hancock had pointed out to Victor.

"I know this. This is one of the re-enactment societies, the... 'Sons of...' something."

"Sons of the Survivors Historical Society."

"That's it. Ellie and I talked about these groups. It seems that some of them do more than just refight old battles."

Victor pulled a printout from the wall and showed it to her.

"This one certainly does."

It was a shipping note. Ellie read it. Entries on the long list included such things as.

'Replica 50cal machine gun x 5', 'Replica fragmentation grenade x 2000' and, right near the bottom of the list and underlined in red by Victor was, 'Replica SOCOM rifle action x 100'.

Victor tapped the top of the piece of paper.

"Look here, Prof."

The shipping address was to a company in Iceland but underneath it, in brackets, was '(Fwd. to Warwick C. earliest)'

Bodil looked at Victor over the top of the printout.

"W. Cst?"

"I did a search of the Brasilia University database, and..." Victor turned to his desk. He pinned a new picture to the wall.

It was a copy of an ancient poster with a strikingly familiar picture at its centre. 'Warwick Castle'

"It seems," Victor said, turning to Bodil. "That 'Arsen's Tale' might have some truth to it.

There was already an air of despondency in the room when Ellie walked in, accompanied by a much recovered and way much happier Gregor.

She sat, or maybe collapsed, into one of the seats around the large table.

Bodil looked around the faces before asking the question they were all thinking.

"How did it go?"

Ellie, looking exhausted, sighed.

"About as well as you'd expect." She accompanied her words with a shrug that suggested she didn't want to talk about the meeting with Timothy Hobbes' family back in Brasilia.

Bodil understood. It was something she had had to do twice in her long career and it was a heart-breaking experience both times. She changed the subject, injecting a lighter mood into her words.

"We expected you back a couple of days ago."

Whether it was the jet-lag, frustration or more likely a combination of both, Ellie let out a huge groan. The business back at the Troy house had not gone well.

At such an important time she really should have been there. But... being in London just now was equally important, if not more so.

"URRRGHHH!" He forehead met the table top with an impressive 'thunk'. "Mothers! Somebody save me from possessive, overprotective, interfering mothers.

" She lifted her head and looked dazedly at the surprised faces around her. "So. What's been happening here? Not much from Victor's reports."

Bodil couldn't help but bristle at the inferred slight and she cast a glance at Victor that could have curdled milk.

In the intervening days since Ellie's departure for her unenviable task in Brasilia, the team had actually been very busy. They just hadn't gotten the results they wanted.

The first disappointment had been the satellite imagery from the 'borrowed' meteorological satellite which covered the European latitudes. The results were surprisingly negative.

Where the team had hoped to discern at least some evidence of heat given off by the southward bound cable from the underground generating facility, there had been nothing. Nothing at all.

The enigmatic 'F' on the distribution board they had discovered would, it seemed, remain so. At least for now.

The second, and major, disappointment had been Sergeant Glasser's cheerful refusal to provide any of her Rangers, or their equipment, for further expeditions by the Troy Foundation team.

Appeals to her immediate superior made no difference as he just repeated and emphasised Glasser's reasoning that all resources were required to work with the government radiation personnel

who had descended on the ancient underground station which contained the jury-rigged nuclear plant.

The only good news to balance this had been Gregor's continuing rapid recovery under the able ministrations of the facility's well-equipped medical personnel.

This had cheered them all up, even more so when the news and accompanying photos of a grinning and waving Gregor had been forwarded to Ellie.

That had been all the good news, well until yesterday. During a 'chance' meeting with Specialist Weis in one of the several bars, the little ranger had slurringly informed Victor about 'Goliath'.

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