SIRT 1 : Thoughts of a Dying AI (Part 6 of many)
SIRT 1 : Thoughts of a Dying AI (Part 6 of many) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2
ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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Professor Bodil Hill arrives at the Troy estate and the famous but now suspiciously closed Troy Family Archive.

SIRT 1 : Thoughts of a Dying AI (Part 6 of many)

Chapter 2

If Professor Hill had harboured any ideas of actually accompanying Alicia Troy on her private plane back to the family estate in what was formerly the continent of Europe,

they were politely shattered when the strange meeting broke up after a few minutes and Derek pointedly walked her back to her car.

It was eighteen hours later when she arrived by commercial flight at the airport that serviced the Troy family estate.

However, this time there was a car waiting for her and it was only some fifteen kilometres from there to the Troy house, which had been built on the western bank of Lake Griffin (Griefen).

A more exact name for the house would be Schloss Egg which, according to The History, was named by the Grand Mother herself, Tukiko Troy,

after she found out from an unearthed ancient carved stone table which depicted the area that Egg used to be the name of a nearby settlement.

She had found the name funny and always referred to it fondly as Eggy House.

The gently sloping banks of the lake were also dotted with the other homes of many of the surviving Troys and the Troy estate itself encompassed much of what used to be called Sweederland,

or Swissterland depending on which books you read.

The grounds of Schloss Egg encompassed fields and orchards, woods and gardens and even a sizeable village.

Close to the house were several marbled and colonnaded buildings which were the administrative centre of the Troy family.

One of these was the Troy Museum, which housed selected exhibits from the now till famous but mostly closed Archive. Even the museum was now only opened to the public at weekends.

Behind these imposing edifices were several small tree-lined roads of tastefully built dwellings for the house staff and other employees.

All of this impressive architecture served to frame the beautifully manicured lawns and fountains of the house itself, the home of Alicia, current head of the Troy family.

Two members of the household staff met the car as it pulled up at the bottom of the steps leading up to the main door.

The driver, who had barely said a word for the whole journey, and a smartly dressed and rather handsome man from the house carried Bodil's bags on inside.

Another man, with impeccable manners and grey, appraising eyes held out his hand.

"Professor Bodil Ramsbottom-Fergusen, Hill-Davis. Welcome to Schloss Egg. It is a pleasure to meet you." They shook hands. "My name is Claud, I run the household.

If there is anything I or any member of my staff can do to make your stay more pleasant please don't hesitate to ask."

Claud gestured to the house with a sweep of his arm and spoke with the practiced air of someone who had greeted many visitors. "If you will follow me I'll show you to your rooms.

I'm sure you must be very tired after your trip. Miss Alicia isn't here just now so please do take this opportunity to rest. Jet-lag is a terrible thing."

Bodil had expected the inside of the Schloss to be as extravagantly put together as the outside suggested.

It was certainly imposing, with its high, vaulted ceilings complete with huge interlocking wooden beams.

Immense windows allowed light to flood into the clean, white painted rooms and hallways and, throughout the building, the floors were either slate or marble or else expensive polished wood.

The furniture was elegant in its simple design and functionality and quite sparse too, considering the size of the rooms.

The only decorative artwork the professor came across, except for the occasional tapestry, was the beautiful hand-woven rug she found in her bedroom.

She turned to Claud, who stood by the open door.

"The room is beautiful, thank you." It was a remark more suited to a hotel than a great house but Bodil was tired and didn't really care.

Claud smiled.

"Thank you, Professor Hill. You are most kind. Normally we would be serving dinner downstairs but as Miss Alicia is away I'm sure we could serve you in your room if you would prefer?"

Bodil did prefer and once the details were settled, Claud left. She assumed that if Alicia Troy was away then Ellie would be with her.

As they were the only two people she knew, and as she really was very tired - then a shower, a meal, and bed were about the best end to the day she could wish for.

The following morning she was woken by bright sunshine and birdsong. She didn't rouse, though, until there was a soft knock at the door which was then opened after a decent pause.

Bodil opened one eye. A boy approached to stand patiently at the side of the bed holding a large tray.

He looked to be only about fourteen or fifteen years old and wore some kind of service uniform. Bodil sat up, pushing herself backwards on the mattress.

The boy extended two legs from the base of the tray and manoeuvred it into position over the professor's lap.

"I'm sorry to wake you up Miss, but you didn't leave any instructions about breakfast so we just went with what seemed right.

" He quickly removed the shiny silver lids from the plates and dishes on the tray and then stood back. "There's a note Miss. Just ring if you need anything."

Bodil stared down at the full tray in surprised delight. She noticed the folded note and picked it up.

"Who's it from?"

The boy shrugged.

"Dunno Miss, not my place. Can I get you anything else Miss?"

"Erm, no... Thank you."

With that, the boy smiled, nodded and then turned and left as quickly and as quietly as he had arrived.

Bodil poured coffee into a white porcelain cup and then sipped the life-giving liquid while she read the short note.

'Good Morning Professor.

I hope you slept well. Alicia is busy so I will meet you at the Museum at 9.00am. It's only a short walk but if you would rather, just ask for a car.

Ellie.'

She checked her watch. Plenty of time for breakfast. Holding the cup up to her lips with both hands, Bodil frowned. Ellie was to be her guide? So, fobbed off already, hmmm.

She sipped the scalding coffee. Ellie seemed nice enough, but.... Oh well, she would just have to wait and see.

One good breakfast and an even better shower later Professor Hill was ready for her appointment.

She almost rang for a car, but it was such a nice day so she walked the few minutes to the museum.

Her niggling little doubt about finding it was dispelled as soon as she reached the first road junction past the main house. The museum was well signposted for the weekend tourists.

When she turned the corner she saw Ellie immediately. The small blond woman was sitting on the lip of the fountain that dominated the bottom of the entrance steps of the museum building.

She was kicking her feet in the water, trying to splash the huge bronze dolphins that formed the water spitting centre piece.

The sight made Bodil grin and her earlier feeling of being fobbed off softened slightly. Smiling, she turned to approach Ellie from behind, playfully intent on making her jump.

As she did so, something she had taken to be a statue attached to the fountain rose up from where it had been sitting. Bodil's footsteps slowed.

She had seen big men before but the grey-suited behemoth that rose to face her really did abuse the privilege.

With a body Bodil doubted she could stretch her arms around, the bullet-headed no-necked man mountain stood directly between Bodil and Ellie.

Bodil did a quick professional estimation and reckoned he was just shy of two and a half metres tall.

Deep in his head, the man's eyes looked at Bodil with the kind of soulless stare a bull would use on you when it notices you have just made the mistake of entering its field. Knuckles cracked.

Maybe it was this that pulled Ellie's attention away from splashing the dolphins. She peered around the guard's great girth and her face split into a huge smile. She waved.

"Hiya!"

Bodil glanced at the beaming face, then back at the uncompromising glare.

Finally, she decided that she was less likely to be pulverised into a bloody stain on the sunlit pavement if she could show she was friendly. She lifted a hand and waggled her fingers.

"H... Hiiiiiii..."

Ellie quickly donned a pair of sunglasses and then swung her feet out of the fountain pool and squeezed out from behind the grey-clad mountain.

Wet feet slopping on the sun soaked sidewalk, Ellie headed for the steps and the shade of the marble-columned portico.

"Come on." She grinned as she passed the still staring professor. "Before my tootsies start to burn."

Bodil's last sight of Ellie's bodyguard before turning to follow her was of her white pumps disappearing as the giant's hand reached down and made a fist around them.

"Don't mind Gregor." Ellie laughed as they reached the door. "He does things like that on purpose. He's a big sweetie really." She pulled the huge door open to allow Bodil through. "Just, erm...

you know... don't make any sudden moves or anything."

The inside was cool and dark. Professor Hill took a breath. It smelled right too. Eau de Musty Old Things. Ellie led the way, giving Bodil time to look around.

The inside of the museum was every bit as museumy as any other she had been in. But this was done in style.

Huge displays, beautiful oak and mahogany cabinets, lots and lots of polished glass and shiny brass plates. The one thing it was short of, though, was exhibits.

Although every case and shelf and display had something either in or on it, they seemed thinly spread. 'Sparse' was the word that came easily to mind.

The three of them were the only people visible amongst the exhibits and their footsteps seemed disproportionately loud on the hardwood floor.

On their way towards a pair of double doors at the back of the huge display room, Ellie led them past a huge stuffed Blight Wolf.

As she reached the head, and without looking up, Ellie raised her hand and gently stroked her fingertips along the slightly snarling muzzle of the long extinct beast.

Bodil watched the movement and noticed the furless and worn patch of skin where many hands had done the same. Or one hand had, many, many times.

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