Tim first sent a brief message to the senator in question, alerting her to the insider threat. Let her clean her own house. Then he began putting together his official report to the committee.
Ned still had one nagging question, something that hovered just beyond the edge of conscious awareness. He sat quietly with his eyes closed for a few minutes. Seeking a path that would pull it out into the light, he went through a sort of checklist he used for moments like this. He began asking himself if there was any threat to him in all of this. Ping! That was it. Deep inside he knew that the stalking of the past few days was connected in here somewhere. Then he pondered whether it involved Franklin. Again, he was certain it did.
To keep things in perspective, he whispered to himself that anything he might find would not necessarily make their lives any safer, but it would help them fix in their awareness how to deal with the ongoing threat.
To his surprise, Tim was listening. “Quite so. We aren’t going to fix any problems in the long run. All we can do is answer our own inner call for justice in what we can touch.”
Ned smiled; Tim always had is own way of saying what they both believed because Tim’s normal audience was entirely secularized. He shied away from what sounded like religious talk, but Ned knew Tim held the same faith.
Now he at least had some direction to look in working with his AI. Something in all of this senator’s mess was a connection to their personal threat. Her enemy was their enemy, though they could hardly be her allies outside this one issue. It was the enemy who was indiscriminate. So he began by trying to find links between that spider’s nest and the contractor.
Ned figured that was the kind of question AI could not yet anticipate, but it seemed to have no trouble finding such a link. It ran through an intermediary, though. Or rather, it ran through a conglomerate intermediary. Even as he prodded AI to refine the picture, it began to dawn on him that this looked almost like some weird plot to overthrow the government itself. The senator they just rescued was priming to reach for a higher office, and her peculiar agenda, bad enough in its own right, would act as a firewall for what seemed to be this other plot to seize the government. And the current government, though not a total rebuild from scratch, was substantially new in itself, so it was also rather vulnerable. Something told him that if this plot got very far, things in general would far worse than they were now.
That is, human government would never be good. The current system was tolerable. Something in his soul warned that this dark plot would be downright painful.
He turned his screen to share his thoughts with Tim. His boss responded, “I suppose you could say I have made a commitment to make this government work as well as it can, by whatever small part I’m playing. Someone who’s willing to walk on everyone in their way can’t be planning nice things for their subjects. Stay with it.”
Ned turned back to his task. A conglomerate like that was a whole new game of complications, largely because it had operations in multiple countries. Not just the Coalition members, either; this thing went off into places Ned felt his AI might never be able see.