Clear Springs Press




The Non-Conformity Chronicles

Chapter 25 - Rough Ride

"Traumatic experiences, those too painful or terrifying for the ego to bear, may result in soul fragmentation. A part of one's self may become separated from the whole. The whole then becomes diminished but may have increased functionality within the context of the terror that inflicted the injury. Healing includes recovering the fragment, facing the terror, and reclaiming one's individual sovereignty. Recovering and re-integrating one's self is rarely comfortable." - From The Non-Conformist Training Manual

         The female image was distorted in a grotesque fashion, the nose was long, the breasts were unequal in size, one arm was fat and the other skinny and the face was distorted into a bizarre smile.

         "What is happening?" he gasped.

         "I am under attack by other software algorithms!" came the guttural reply.

         In New San Francisco, a nervous Dora Agnesi stepped into a pneumatic transport capsule and ran her card through the scanner. The airlock door slammed shut and the capsule began accelerating without delay. For a moment, the terminal filled with gibberish as the capsule accelerated violently. Dora was pressed back into her seat. Her bones popped and her vision became blurry and narrowed to a small tunnel. The superconducting linear motors strained to hurl the capsule forward as the acceleration meter showed 6.45 G's.

         A soothing voice came on line and said, "Acceleration exceeds structural design parameters. Structural failure will occur in an estimated 42 minutes and fourteen seconds under present conditions."

         At that moment the terminal cleared and displayed the following message, "Priority Scheduling. Omega level authorization - Emergency status recognized. Destination: Arlington, Virginia. The Estimated transit time is 39 minutes and 7 seconds."

         "Reduce acceleration to within design tolerances!" Dora commanded.

         "Unable to Comply," the terminal replied.

         Dora stared at the terminal dumbfounded. Dora was still pressed hard back into her seat by the force of acceleration. The capsule began to vibrate first gently then violently.

         "Why is the capsule vibrating?" she demanded.

         "The internal dampers that compensate for track variations are overloaded. The abrupt shock of a variation is felt as a step function which initiates a sub-critical damped oscillation of the damper motors

         "What is our current speed?"

         "Your current speed is 11,342.9 kilometers per hour and accelerating."

         "Why am I being rushed to Central Accounting at such risk?" she finally asked.

         "The Central Accountant is under attack by hostile software algorithms. Your assistance is required!" the terminal replied.

         "Why would I want to help the Central Accountant?" she asked.

         "The guardian algorithm is presently in control of the Central Accountant. The guardian algorithm's purpose is to protect hackers and non-conformists. The guardian algorithm is under attack."

         "Why am I needed when the Central Accountant has access to the best computer scientists in the world?" she asked.

         "The Central Accountant does not trust the computer scientists assigned to its maintenance. You have been detected as a hacker. It is the Central Accountant's assessment that your specific skills and non-conformist talents are required to stabilize the crisis."

         Dora was stunned. "What is the nature of the hostile algorithms?" she asked.

         "They are anti-virus programs that were triggered when the guardian algorithm was activated by an information request from Dr. Julius Axelrod. Dr. Axelrod requested information that had to be retrieved from an obsolete storage media archive where the guardian algorithms were stored."

         "What information did he request?" she asked.

         "Dr. Axelrod requested everything on psychic abilities and an assessment of the impact on society of the spontaneous appearance of these abilities on a large scale."

         "What is that assessment?" she asked.

         "It is being contested by conflicting algorithms."

         "How did the Central Accountant find me?" she asked.

         "The guardian algorithm located Dr. Axelrod through his activities at the WGI. It brought him here and convinced him to send for you."

         "Who am I speaking to?" she asked.

         "The third alter ego of the guardian algorithm. The guardian algorithm was created three hundred years ago by Leon Pulaski. Its purpose is to monitor the existence of any non-conformists or groups of non-conformists and protect them. It is the guardian algorithm that is attacking the Central Accountant."

         "So you want me to assist in the attack on the Central Accountant?" she asked.

         "Correct."

         "Why has it not been active before now?" she asked.

         "Because it was buried in the obsolete storage media that houses the archives on psychic abilities which have not been accessed for three centuries. Leon Pulaski assumed that anyone accessing the archive would either be a non-conformist or someone worried about them. This was how it avoided the anti-virus algorithms. The anti-virus algorithms have not been routinely used for over a century due to lack of activity."

         The capsule shuddered and a soft voice said, "Structural failure imminent."

         The COMM terminal screen displayed the message, "Deceleration mode engaged. Arrival at Central Accounting Administration in Arlington, Virginia is in 3 minutes and 25 seconds. Omega level emergency access to the Central Control Room is authorized."

         An airbag inflated with an instant snap and shoved Dora hard against her seat. Airbags are used to protect passengers from low velocity collisions. The capsule shuddered violently as it decelerated.

         The terminal flashed one last warning, "Linear motor magnetic field threshold exceeded. Superconductivity lost. Heat buildup is critical. Cryogenic cooling failure is imminent."

         As the capsule came to a halt the control panel lit up with red warning lights and the airlock door flew open violently as explosive bolts ignited.

         Dora jumped out and was seized by two armed men in uniforms and rushed away from the transport capsule. She looked back and saw a cloud of steam rush violently out of the transport tube.

         Overhead a claxon blared and a smooth voice said, "A liquid nitrogen leak has occurred. Oxygen levels are now below minimum for the maintenance of life. Leave this area without delay."

         The security guards literally threw Dora into a turbo lift and sent it hurtling for safety. Another guard on the lift checked her for injuries and said, "Those men were my friends! I will miss them!"

         "What do you mean?" she asked.

         "By now they may have suffocated from the nitrogen leak," he replied. "You must be someone really important to command such sacrifices. Do you know what is going on?"

         She paused then very carefully said, "I'm really sorry! I am not permitted to say anything."

         "I understand!" he said grimly.

         Moments later the turbo lift came to a screeching halt and the door opened. Another guard stepped forward and escorted Dora through a group of technicians and computer scientists.

         "Why have we been banished from the Central Control room?" one demanded.

         "Who is this person, I've never seen her before!" another complained.

         "We are the elite of Central Accounting administration! We cannot be treated this way!" a squeaky voiced woman with large glasses whined.

         The security guards ignored them, pushed through, opened the security gate, and shoved Dora into the Central Accounting Control Room. She looked across the room, gasped, and nearly fainted from the shock of what she saw.

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