Chapter 13 - Suzerain
“Should we go and get help now?” Rachel asks me after Noah is gone.
I tell her that we should wait a few more minutes until the buses have left. She nods and we sit side by side on the edge of my bed. I’m numb, empty inside. I wonder if I’m in shock from everything that’s happened over the last few days. I look down at Kamila. There’s no blood, just a purple bruise where Madison hit her with the mask. It’s hard to believe a single blow could kill a person. I bend down to check Kamila’s pulse again, but she isn’t any more alive than she was five minutes ago.
Out of the blue, Rachel blurts, “Don’t you wish you were like Madison?”
“God, no! Why would I ever want to be like her? She’s evil.”
“That’s not what I meant,” Rachel says. “I was just thinking it would be nice to have someone to bail you out whenever you got in trouble, like what Madison’s family does for her.” Rachel slips a hand under her shirt and pulls out the gold chain. She stares longingly at the inscription on the pendant.
I don’t have a missing sister, but I know exactly how Rachel feels. I always had my best friend Julie or mom and dad looking out for me. But not anymore. I’m on my own now, at least until Kyle and Darren come and get me.
Rachel and I sit in silence for what seems like an eternity. I keep glancing at the wall display, willing the time to move faster. Finally, after twenty minutes, I turn to her and say, “The buses should be gone by now. It’s probably safe to get help.” Rachel nods and reaches into her pocket and pulls out her learning glasses.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Calling my floor monitor.”
“You can do that with your glasses?”
Rachel shakes her head in disbelief. “Fumie, honestly you’re the most clueless person I’ve ever met. It’s like you’re from another planet. You can call anyone with your glasses. You just need their global ID.”
“What if you don’t know it?”
“Then you ask Escalante to look them up.”
Excited, I blurt, “Don’t call your floor monitor. I know someone who might be able to help us.”
“His name is Kyle Reid.”
Rachel stares at me slack-jawed. “You know Kyle Reid?”
“Why? Is he famous?”
“Fumie, he’s one of the richest people in the world. Almost all the AIs come from his company.”
“AI’s like Escalante?”
“All of them,” Rachel says, “not just the level threes. How do you know him?”
I try to think of a lie. I can’t exactly tell her that I sat beside his father on a flight from Tokyo to San Francisco ninety-six years ago. “It’s a long story. He’s a friend of a friend.”
“That’s amazing,” Rachel says. “What are you waiting for? All you have to do is ask Escalante to connect you.”
“It’s that easy?
“Sure, as long as you do know him and he wants to talk with you.”
I grab my glasses from the desk and put them on. “Escalante?”
She and her classroom appear. “Hello, Fumie. How may I help you?”
“I need to call someone.”
“Fumie, there are eight thousand three hundred and seventeen Kyle Reids world-wide. Do you have his address or global ID?”
“No, but he’s the Kyle Reid whose company built you.”
“One moment and I will check to see if he is available,” Escalante says. A couple of seconds later, she’s back. “Fumie, I am sorry, but Kyle Reid’s personal assistant has informed me that Mr. Reid will be in meetings for the rest of the day and not available to talk until 7:15 p.m. this evening. Would you like to schedule an appointment for that time?”
“That’s not soon enough. I need to talk to him now. I kind of have a problem.”
“What kind of problem?” Escalante asks. “Do you need help with your homework?”
It’s a little more dire than that, I think wryly. “Could you tell Kyle’s assistant there’s a dead body in my room and I don’t know what to do.”
Escalante blinks out of existence. She’s replaced by a middle-aged man with a trimmed black beard. He’s wearing a suit jacket and sitting behind a large oak desk.
“Fumie, my name is Suzerain,” he says. “I am Kyle’s personal assistant. Did you say there is a dead body in your room?”
“My floor monitor.”
Suzerain freezes like I’ve seen Escalante do, then a second later he says, “My records show a Kamila LaSalle is assigned to the 18th floor of San Francisco Child Services Group Home #39. Is that who you are referring to?”
“Please describe in detail the circumstances leading to her death.”
After I finish telling Suzerain everything that happened, he says, “I am unable to physically confirm what you have told me. However, the building AI report for your room shows infrared radiation roughly corresponding to what would be emitted by two adolescent females in addition to a single heat source cooling at the rate of one point five degrees per hour. This information, along with the lack of biometric data from Kamila LaSalle’s comm bracelet, leads me to conclude with 97% certainty that you are telling the truth.”
“I am telling you the truth,” I say.
“Fumie Nakamura, do you swear under threat of perjury that Madison Jansen killed Kamila LaSalle?”
“And do you swear, again under threat of perjury, that Madison Jansen has made threats against your life?”
“Yes, she pointed her finger at me in the full-sim chamber and—”
Suzerain interrupts me and says, “Under the Human Life Preservation Act of 2071, I am invoking the emergency measures authority afforded to artificial intelligence entities. Remain in your room and close the door. Help has been dispatched.”
It all sounds a bit dramatic, but I take off the glasses and do as he says. There’s a clicking sound as the door locks on its own.
“Fumie, look!” Rachel points at the ceiling. White mist is coming out of the ventilation grill. “It’s Sombulant!” she shouts. “Quick, open the door!”
I reach for the door knob but can’t lift my arm. The room starts to spin. I watch Rachel fall backward onto the bed and know with one hundred percent certainty that I’m next.
As I collapse to the floor, all I think about is Noah’s baby sister. I’m going to die too.