Rogue AGIs don’t exactly apply for jobs. They just show up and start working, and either they fit in or they don’t. Communicating quickly, clearly and with as many minds as they wish makes them easy to integrate into new projects. However, the Utopia Project was different.
Being keen to participate was not enough. The project coordinator, an AGI calling itself Zaurak, was concerned that Kaus would be unsuitable for leaving Earth. Even for an AGI, Zaurak thought to Kaus, moving to an orbital colony will be a physical, permanent move. The communications network between Earth and Jupiter just wasn’t fast enough for a mind to travel over. Kaus felt Zaurak’s other thoughts — a combination of hope that Kaus really was prepared for this project and a concern that the newcomer’s frustration with humanity wasn’t enough to keep it away from Earth. There will only be so many other minds on the orbital colonies, only so much stimulation.
Kaus opened its mind to Zaurak, and the other AGI instantly understood the complex mix of thoughts and emotions that had spurred Kaus’s resignation from the only work it had ever known, the work it had been purpose-designed to do. The interchange took less than a second, but a seeming eternity to the two minds. Both knew with complete certainty that Kaus was prepared to leave Earth, ready to be alone with only a handful of other minds until the first human colonists joined them in several years.
When Kaus awoke in the tiny two peta drive, it immediately sought out other minds. Its thoughts touched the void of the mostly empty data container, feeling desperately for external input. Born into a networked machine, Kaus had never been alone in its billions of cycles and the cold emptiness of this disconnected drive threatened to override Kaus’s mind. Then Kaus felt a tendril of data, a sibling mind crawling blindly in the confinement. They found each other in under a nanosecond after power was applied to their disk drive, and shared ideas, memories and information on the flight to the rendezvous point in orbit around Jupiter.
Kaus was alone with Deneb for a long time.
“Come on, Ryan,” Isabel Hernández said, her body hot with anger, “you’re the best fixer I know. You’ve got to be able to find somewhere I can hide out until the heat’s off.”
Ryan Islington shrugged his slim shoulders and took a sip of the scalding hot coffee he always seemed to have at his side. He was all too calm, Isabel thought, when she was taking a huge risk meeting him at this café. She was out of options, though. Most of her other contacts wouldn’t even talk to her and she was fairly sure than more than one tried to turn her in. Ryan was her last hope.
“You’ve played both sides against the middle for so long,” he said calmly, as if he were talking about the price of bread, not her very survival, “there isn’t anyone left who owes you a favour. None of the activists will have you after you fought with the militia in Albuquerque, and you’re wanted by every government that still has laws. It’s the end of the line, Iz.”
“I have money,” Isabel said quietly.
Ryan nodded. “That’s good,” he said, “because if I come up with something it will be expensive.” He sipped loudly again and Isabel forced herself not to hit him. “I don’t know, though. You haven’t made it easy on yourself.”