A Free Online Science Fiction Novel- “Liberty”- Chapter 26
When Tony met House
*A short prologue is in chapter one. Each chapter links to the next to make reading easier.
This is chapter twenty-six of an online novel, Liberty, A Daughter Universe Novel.
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Tony relaxed in the old armchair while Dex typed furiously on the projected keyboard, keeping multiple monitors in use, and thought back to when he had first met House and the difference that had made. He had left an alley and was walking along a sidewalk, on his way to the safe house Dex was using that day when a mature, somewhat confused man said he was lost and in need of directions to find his home. The man told Tony his address and while Tony gave him directions there, the man spoke without looking at him.
“I’m not really lost, Tony,” the man said in a kind voice. “And I know where you’re going.”
Tony’s head snapped up. “What do you mean, where I’m going? And how do you know my name?” Tony sounded nervous, as anyone would.
“How I know your name isn’t important,” the man had told him. “As to where you’re headed, you’re on your way to this address.” The man said and showed Tony the holo-readout that popped into the air his wrist. Tony paled. That’s where Dex is today! I can’t believe someone tracked me; I take a different route through the city every day. And I just prepped that address last night; there’s no way the law could have it.
“Look man, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Yes, you do, Tony. You’re on your way to take information to the Council’s computer expert,” House saw the fight or flight response in Tony’s physiological readings.
“Don’t panic,” House said. “I’m not with the government or law enforcement; I’m here to help you. My name is House, and I’ve tracked you from Seaside to wherever your friend is for three days and once to where the ‘Council’ met. If I wanted to turn you or your hacker buddy over to the authorities, I could have done it at any time.”
“You tracked me? How?”
House raised his head, a small smile on his face and looked at tony. “See that fly buzzing around the trash dumpster?” Tony had to peer closely as House pointed at what looked like a regular housefly. “Yeah, I see it. Why?”
“Watch.” House waved his hand and the fly the fly flew over and landed on Tony’s hand. A holographic video of Tony leaving his house and moving through the tunnel and city appeared above it. “It’s mine.”
“It’s a spybot? I’ve never seen one that small.”
“And you won’t. One has been following you and another following your ‘hacker’ friend for three days and neither of you noticed them. If it had been one of those bulky ones the government uses, you wouldn’t have missed it.”
Tony smiled, still wary. “No, the kids have fun knocking those things onto the ground and then crushing them.”
House chuckled. “I suppose they do. But to the point, I want to help the Resistance, but I can’t do it publicly. One way I can help is to get your friend better computers. And whatever upgraded computers or servers he wants… Those things he’s using are practically ancient as far as technology goes. But he’s managed so much with them that I must say I am dutifully impressed with his surprising skills.”
Tony smiled and nodded. “Yeah, Dex is the best.”
“Then that’s his name. I hadn’t been able to learn it. Dex- a good generic name.”
“No,” Tony started. He’d realized his mistake as soon as he’d said Dex’s name. “No, that’s not his name, it’s uh. it’s one of his hacker names.”
“His hacker’s name, of course,” House replied. “So, will you check with your hacker friend, ‘Dex’, and tell him that you can get him whatever he may need? I’ve already arranged to have a new tablet delivered to where he’s working today. It will arrive in,” House made a show of checking the time, “twenty minutes from now. You’ll be there by then. It’s as good as what the military uses.”
“Wait a minute,” Tony said. “How do we know we can trust you?”
House shrugged. “I didn’t turn you in for the huge reward, did I? Take the fly-bot with you and show it to your friend. The fly flew up and landed on Tony’s shoulder. “See what he thinks of it. Oh, and the new tablet. He’ll run it and the tablet sand-boxed, of course; that’s what I’d do. I promise there’s no malware on it and no tracking devices.”
“De- uh, he’ll know how to check it without infecting his network.”
“I’m sure he will. But he’ll see that it’s a Class V AI in the tablet and wouldn’t need malware. It could easily overwhelm his security and take over his network entirely.”
“You really think so?” Tony said doubtfully.
“I know so,” House replied. “It found your friend, and you, and two dozen others who never existed as far as the government knows. I believe your friend erased all digital personal records of them, as well as himself. An impressive feat for anyone but especially difficult using, ahem, antique hardware. My home AI also ran multiple searches on your friend’s face but was never able to find his- Dex’s- name, though. Or yours. Interesting.”
“You can really get us all those things?” Tony asked, incredulous.
House nodded. “Yes, and more if needed. See what your friend thinks of the fly-bot and the tablet he’ll be receiving soon.” He turned to leave, then said, “And my apologies to your friend on having one of my drones deliver the tablet. Assure him it can’t be tracked but, in the future, it may be better if we set a neutral pickup location.”
“How do you know your drone can’t be tracked? He’ll want to know that.”
“Take my word for it, it can’t. In fact, it’s nearly invisible from certain angles and it puts city cameras on a feedback look until it passes by and out of sight.”
Tony could not believe what he was hearing. A drone that’s nearly invisible, a spy-bot the size of a housefly-this man, House, must really be rich!
“And tell your friend, ‘Dex’, that my AI only found him by back tracing some of his prior ‘activities’ on city officials’ computers and entered his network long enough for a face capture. But assure him that no one else can do that; my AI has a greater reach than any government network, so he’s safe.”
“Hey,” Tony said. “How do I contact you?”
“No need,” House said as he walked away. “If you use the same tunnel home that you came in through, I’ll have a fly wait for you with a location that I believe is a safe place to pick up equipment as needed.”
Tony considered himself a good judge of character and this ‘House’ person impressed him as someone to be trusted.
“Wait,” Tony called after House, and he turned back to face Tony. “No one does something for nothing and you’re offering some pretty amazing things. What do you want for all of this?”
“That’s a bit more complicated but I have a huge quota to meet, and I need someone, you, to act as an intermediary, a go-between me and people in need whom you think are deserving of a little extra help.”
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This was originally posted on Simily.co
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