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Two Spirits: Pandora
A self-aware computer using recombinant DNA creates the perfect human female.
Musselwhite, James E.
Two Spirits: Pandora
1. Fiction - Computers, Internet, Terrorists, New Age Movement
2. Computers - Internet, Artificial Intelligence
3. Genetics, DNA Restructuring by Computer
© 2012 James Musselwhite
Cover art and illustrations © 2012 Hannah Sky Musselwhite
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Ever since Herb Glazer had taken over as chief of the Central Division of CSIS, he had regretted the decision to move up in the ranks more and more. First, there was the fiasco of faking the death of 'Graham Bell' and the messy business of creating a new identity for Ted Graham. Then, there was the constant headache of dealing with all of the computers infected with the Two Spirits Virus, and his struggle with the CIA. Now, to top it all off, he had to meet with Ed Barber. Although he was a friend, he was not the easiest man to talk with at the best of times. A seemingly emotionless man, Ed's poker face made Herb uncomfortable because he relied heavily on body language, and he was intimidated by Ed because he was infinitely more intelligent. On the other hand, he was arguably one of the most talented computer programmers in the world, and Marcie's new husband.
Herb made his way down to the sub-basement and pressed the intercom buzzer outside of the computer lab.
Ed's voice came through the speaker along with the cacophonous sound of thunderous music. “What?” he asked.
“It's Herb. Let me in.”
A buzzer sounded and Herb pushed the door open. Inside the large room, filled to overflowing with computer equipment, Ed's 6'4” frame was squeezed into a ragged leather office chair. In front of him, along with the usual computer interfaces, was an old IBM Selectric typewriter. Ed swivelled the chair around, turned down the music and swivelled back to face Herb.
Herb asked, “How are you? I haven’t seen much of you since the wedding.”
“Good.” Ed replied. “I've gained a few pounds because of all the celebrations, but I'll get back on my diet now that I'm cooking for two.”
Herb thought to himself that 'a few pounds' was a bit of an understatement. He guessed that Ed's weight must be close to 400 lbs. He didn't look healthy at all. “Marcie's working?” he asked.
“She's off to Central America on another rescue mission.”
Herb nodded, knowing full well where Marcie was and what she was doing, but he wasn't about to share that with Ed. “I've got something to tell you,” he said, changing the subject, “and I also need to ask you a favour. The trouble is, I don't know what to do first.”
“Bad news?” Ed asked. “Look, if this is about the directive from the Pentagon, all I can say is that I've seen them, I've done what they told me to do, but I'm still pissed. Their plan won't work, we'll be in twice as much trouble as we are now. It will cause massive disruptions, much worse than after the bombings.”
“I know,” Herb replied. “I read your report. By the way, your typing sucks.”
“I rely on auto-correct and you've forced me to use a typewriter. It's bothersome.”
“You could have handwritten it. That's what everyone else is doing,” Herb told him.
“Perhaps, but I think you’d find that my writing is worse than my typing.”
“Never mind.” Herb said. “Do you want the news first, or the favour?”
“What exactly do you mean by favour? Is this an order, or a friendly request?”
“The favour has nothing to do with work.”
“Fascinating.” Ed said, Spock-like. “Tell me this so-called favour first.”
“Okay, this is for your ears only and top secret, as they say. You know that Marcie is rich because Ted Graham gave her half of his royalties from Two Spirits.”
“You also are probably aware that Ted, now that he is living the life of Greg Stevens, is not rich.”
“So Marcie told me,” Ed said. “Since then, I've postulated several theories concerning that.”
“Well, I have Ted's - I mean Greg's - other half,” Herb said.
Ed smiled and steepled his fingertips. “Interesting. Go on.”
“I have to figure out what to do with it. It's just numbers in a Swiss bank account right now, but it might disappear.”
“Because it came from Alexander and you think that the Americans might trace it?” Ed asked. “That's doubtful. The anti-virus won't affect it. The Swiss are old school when it comes to record-keeping.”
Herb ignored him and continued, “I've been sitting on this now for too long. I've been wracking my brains about what to do with it and I think I've got a plan, I need your help to carry it out.”
“If it's something to do with computers, it won't work,” Ed told him. “Alexander's still monitoring everything. Ever since Malachi Burin was killed, he's been meddling with everything again. It's getting worse every day.”
“I know, but this is strictly pen-and-paper and it's not exactly legal. I want you to help me move the money from one account to another.”
“To whose account?” Ed asked.
“I think it will be safe there. If you transfer it personally, it won't have anything to do with Alexander or me.”
“Alexander will know.”
“Hopefully, he'll be out of the picture soon.”
Ed shook his head and was about to object one more time. Instead, he said, doubtfully, “It's possible. So what do you want me to do?”
“You are now married to Marcie, and she's told me that you have full access to her bank account…”
Ed interrupted Herb before he had a chance to finish his sentence.“It's Marcie's money, not mine.”
“Isn't it both of yours?” Herb asked.
“Even if it is, I don't want anything to do with it.”
“Fine, “ Herb said. “All I'm asking you is to go to Switzerland, withdraw it from one account and deposit it into another, not take it.”
“How can I do that?” Ed protested. “What does either account have to do with me?”
“You're Marcie's husband and you have signing authority.”
“Yes, but what about your account, Herb?”
“I hid it for Ted's sake, but it's not my account. I couldn't risk having anything to do with that amount of money. Marcie opened a numbered account for me, and she and I have signing authority. She already had a lot of money and could afford to go to Switzerland and I couldn't. She took care of it when she went to buy her company's planes. Now, you'll have to go, pretend to be me and clear out the account.”
“Why not get Marcie to do it?” Ed asked.
“Because Marcie is a busy woman and you're not.”
“You're joking. I'm going to be up to my ears in shit once this stupid anti-virus starts taking effect.”
“Well, actually you're not. I'm officially firing you.”
“You're no longer the head of Computer Services.”
Herb took a deep breath, and said, “At the rather strong request of the CIA, you've been officially dismissed, but secretly I'm promoting you. I'm making you a field agent.”
“You're kidding. Me? I don't have any training. Remember, Herb, I'm just a hacker that you saved from going to jail.”
“That's why you're the perfect man for the job.”
“What do you want me to do?” Ed asked.
“Oh, you're going to love it,” Herb told him, grinning. “It's literally out of this world. You'll start as soon as I leave this room. After that, you are going to Switzerland.” He handed Ed a sheet of paper. Ed looked at it and scowled.