Author: Jes Sanders

“This is war now.” Murfree Tain blinked his retinal feed off and scowled at the cityscape sliding beneath him. He couldn’t bear watching his company’s stock dive any further.

His companion, Bill, clicked a Zendorphin dispenser that doled out one measured dose and held it out to Murfree, “We’re gonna get this new super AI, this ‘Project Senecio, and everything will work out. But I need you cool right now. Close the deal.”

Murfree snorted up the Zendorphin without making eye contact. “Don’t tell me how to do my job.”

The air car politely informed its passengers that they were arriving, and the public air dock of the QuanTech R&D tower slid up to meet them. Moments later, Murfree and Bill were entering Dr. Jao Ochoa’s office with handshakes and generous smiles.

“Excuse the mess. Please, sit.” The room was littered with half-completed constructions, nests of notes, towers of peer reviews. A young man came in, Spanish, like Doctor Ochoa and dressed in a sport coat to try to add some credibility to his too-short slacks and tennis shoes. “This is my son, Arturo.”

“Arturo,” the man-child confirmed. He fiddled with his fingers as if working some invisible abacus, and looked only at some non-existent point in space. “Magenta maybe,” he muttered, “Not violet, though..”

Murfree asked, “Is it appropriate for your son to be a party to sensitive meetings, such as this?”

Bill sensed the strain in his voice, and very quietly said, “Coool. Be cool.”

Doctor Ochoa shrugged, “If he makes you uncomfortable, you are free to leave.”

Murfree chewed the inside of his lip until he tasted blood.

One screen and station in the corner looked orderly and new and sleek.

“Is that the secret weapon?” Murfree asked. “Is that Senecio?”

Doctor Ochoa laughed lightly, “ That is the instrument, the hammer. But,” he pointed a finger up, “who holds the hammer, and to what end – these are the larger questions.”

Murfree leaned to the edge of the seat. “Can it really do everything I’ve heard? It can intuit an enemy’s moves and devise an unbeatable strategy?”

“That and more. Not only can Senecio defeat your enemy, Senecio can do so in the style of any past war. Want to march on a foreign shore in the manner of Patton? We can show you where to deploy your troops. Or maybe you want to corrupt another corporation’s ledger. We can infiltrate like 4Ten9. But,” Doctor Ochoa said, “only if we believe the ends better humanity.”

Arturo drew right up to Bill and examined him. “Hm. Orange. Orange.”

“Arturo, go get a soda.” Arturo obeyed and began drifting around the office.

“I will give you any amount of money you name.”

“So will any one of a thousand governments, companies or cartels.”

“AfriCorps is murdering us out there!, “Murfree barked. “They have tapped into a vein of pristine grey matter that we can’t begin to touch! I need your machine to take them down.”

Arturo grew agitated as Murfree’s tone escalated. “Magenta. Magenta. Violet!” He backed towards the sleek workstation.

“For God’s sake, get that idiot away from the Senecio!”

“Red! Red! Red!” Arturo exclaimed, and backed into the workstation, spilling his soda over the keyboard.

Doctor Ochoa moved to the office door and opened it, inviting his guests to leave. “Mister Tain,” he said, “Arturo is not an idiot; he is a savant. That machine isn’t our secret weapon. Arturo is. He sees everything in music and color: battle plans, economies, even people. And he can see through you, Mister Tain, can see that your aims are not in keeping with our principles. To him, you are red, when you should have been yellow. You lose, Mister Tain. You lose.”