The Fixer 11

Some promotion. They were exposed to more rebel activity than ever before.

Franklin was amazed at his new cell phone. He had already worked out in his own mind that what he was getting from it was not fully contained within the device. Granted, Ned had said so before sending it to him, but it just never registered fully until he saw it in action.

It was a standing joke with the crawler team that he referred to Bess as his girlfriend. Nobody imagined that Franklin was wacko enough to actually fall in love with a smart phone, but it put them off asking the wrong questions. They knew it was smart enough to help him coordinate his security work, but they had no idea that it was a virtual terminal on a very powerful AI back home. And Franklin’s military training helped him to keep that internal firewall between too much and just enough information to keep the chief or the techs from prying into his use of it.

Out of mere curiosity one day, Franklin had queried and found he could get all of the tactical analysis for the entire theater of operation. And he was of the opinion that he got a better digest of it than the military commanders or the contract management. Instead of their semi-separate parallel systems, he had it all in one. It was beyond his technical curiosity, but Ned had told him that by having the phone in proximity to satellite equipment, he was linking AI into nearly everything that passed between those satellites and the ground. Only a few hyper-secure channels were hidden so far. But what was visible was already so massive that AI easily extrapolated much of what was encrypted.

And, oh — the gossip he could have shared. All the corporate business was open to him. He knew when some of the field managers and their flunkies were sent home in handcuffs. He knew that one of the replacement managers was pushing a program to improve comfort and welfare for the contractors in the field. Somebody somewhere must have pushed a complaint that management couldn’t ignore. All Franklin knew for sure was that he was grateful for the better food they were getting. It went right along with the far better tactical data Bess was feeding him. Their crawler team was the best in the field.

And that got noticed. They were all given a pay raise and some better trucks, and then tasked with roving to any hotspots along the pipeline where the rebels were causing serious trouble. A new team was moved into their previous slot and Franklin’s team were the highfalutin troubleshooters. Franklin was careful to let the crawlers take the credit, as if the maintenance team was just better at keeping them working. Franklin walked close by each one sometime during the day and let Bess feed the results of a detailed scan back to the management system mounted on their biggest rig. They were always able to stay on top of issues way before they got critical. Nobody suspected; nobody was in a position to question why this team was so much better, but everyone took advantage of it.

Franklin wasn’t too sure about his own situation. On the one hand he had the best intel in the field. On the other hand, he kept having to work at least as hard as before putting that intel to use. At least the company did give him a newer pulse rifle and tactical sensor. Bess was making him a far better sniper and guard than he could have been on his own, but he didn’t let it go to his head. He couldn’t; there was too much work to do.

Meanwhile, Ned was pushing AI to new areas of analysis, rewriting itself repeatedly to handle bigger tasks with better results. If only he could get closer to the contractor’s corporate headquarters. It occurred to him that the problems he and Tim faced weren’t in the company providing the contract services along the pipeline, but something closely connected, and he had no way of finding what that was.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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