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   Chapter 25 No.25

Bypass Gemini By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5209

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02


The speaker next to the door was clearly part of an automated system, but it had the characteristic screwed-up inflection and awkward pauses of a message assembled by slicing the words out of other messages. It sounded like the words had been sampled from announcements from at least three different women.

"Please state your name."

"Uh. . . Lex."

"It sounded like you said. . . Alex. . . Is that right?"

"No. Alexander. Trevor Alexander."

"It sounded like you said. . . AlexanderTrevorAlexander, " it droned, pronouncing the full name as one word and without pauses. The name was spoken in a fourth, clearly synthetic attempt at a female voice. "Is that right?"

"No. Trevor Alexander, " he groaned through clenched teeth.

"It sounded like you said. . . Trevor Alexander. . . Is that--"

"Yes."

"Thank you. Now, please--"

"Listen, can I talk to a real person? Or at least a better computer?"

"Processing. I'm sorry, but the real person is busy doing very important things. And insulting the computer is not going to win you any friends, " the voices said, somehow managing to sound petulant despite the comment being assembled from unrelated ones.

"Uh. . ."

The doors of the lab slid open and a green stripe illuminated along the wall of the hallway within.

"Please follow the green lights to workshop F. And you are officially on my S-list, Mr. Alexander."

Lex stood at the door, opening and closing his mouth as he tried to put his confusion to words. Finally, he shrugged.

"Why would things start making sense now

u sent the bus. My name's--"

"In a minute. Gotta bleed this valve. Very important."

"What is that, a plasma manifold? You can't bleed a valve on one when it's running."

"Sure you can, you just need to time it right. See, watch."

Lex took a cautious step back as his mystery host started loosening fittings. The hunk of machinery started to stutter and vibrate, prompting the downed pilot to strap his helmet back on.

"See, you just twist here, three quarters of a turn. Wait for that to actuate, then loosen and--"

There was a short, sharp hiss. The room filled with a powerful scent of heat, ozone, and char, and the wall and ceiling received a spritzing of blood. Something pinged off of Lex's helmet and bounced across the room.

"Son of a--!" the mechanic barked in pain, clutching his left hand to his chest as he gingerly re-tightened a fitting with his right. "Forgot I changed the sequence."

"Oh, god! Are you okay?"

"Nope, nope. No, I lost some fingers, " he said quickly, holding up the afflicted hand.

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