Gideon's Chip, Part Ten
I did not answer the ICON. What does one say to characters from children's
"I am Charles, but you can refer to me as Chuck. I want to be your friend.
Please sit down." My deck stirred, sending my brain a report of what was
happening in Wonderland. I knew the architecture was changing even before the
overgrown mushroom appeared. I sat on it. Then one popped in for Charles. He
sat down too, although his expression reflected the fact that he was much
happier about the situation than I was.
Comfortably seated, he continued. "I was running checks on the Net,
sifting through data tables and lost bits, and your name came up. More
accurately, I found what was left of an inquiry into your background and
"I see," I said non-committally.
"Since you were the person my father got the chip from, I was very
interested to see what the report said. When I reconstructed it, I found it
wasn't as spectacular as I thought it might be." He sighed.
Little warning bells were trilling in my head. Not that I had relaxed. I
was still trapped in a botched run and wanted out. But as soon as the Mad
Hatter said his father had taken the chip from me, I said, ah ha. Now I was
afraid for my life and very interested to hear what the cartoon character had
to say next.
"The chip isn't very good. Parts of the data are just missing. My father
had me try to reconstruct it, but I couldn't. That's how I know about the
clones. But now that you're here, you can give me the rest of the data. Isn't
Yeah, great. The Mad Hatter was beaming on the mushroom across from mine.
I had to tell him. "I don't have the rest of it."
He frowned. "Why not?"
"I just don't. It wasn't my chip."
The ICON's brows drew together as he sat contemplating the situation. I
sat nervously on my cute chair. After a moment, the Mad Hatter regarded me
and with a few serious tone said, "Then you have to get it for me. The rest
of the data about cloning."
"Why don't you just get it yourself? With all the reconstruction work
you've been doing, you're obviously good with electronics."
"I can't," said the Hatter.
"Well, why not?" I asked, mildly exasperated. I knew he could damn well
"I'm not real."
I had to ask. "Not real?"
"I am a computer generated personality. An artificial intelligence. I
can't leave here."
I was so startled I almost fell off my mushroom. An AI? Half a dozen
questions came bubbling up from my mind at once. Why couldn't he leave? What
was he purpose? And if the company had resources for an AI, why didn't it
have advanced cloning projects of it own already?
Finally I said, "If you're an AI, why do you want data about cloning?"
He smiled. "So I can have a body, of course."