Master PC – Mind Magi
When Sally and I arrived at the hotel, Sever was wide awake and fighting vigorously against her bonds. Charlotte and Chloe were anxious. Neither of them were happy having Sever there but they understood that we couldn’t dump her just anywhere.
I went over and picked her up. She fought against me, but I carried her over to the bed and dumped her on it with little fuss.
She squirmed and rolled over to face me. Her look alone told me more than enough to know what she would do if she got loose.
There were no qualms about leaning over her and clamping my hands to the sides of her head. She struggled but I was too strong.
It only took a second for my power to wash through her. The instant it did, her struggles ceased and fear rolled out from her.
As I made the change, another memory flashed. I was in a frozen tundra. There was a massive animal with tusks laying on the ground. Men with primitive spears were cheering over their hard fought victory and the meals the animal represented.
Just as fast as it started, the memory left my consciousness.
I untied Sever’s gag and sat back. The girls watched from a safe distance as I asked, “What’s your name?” Of course, I could have just found out by taking her memories, but I wanted to test her to see if I had removed Master PC’s influence.
Charlotte had already found out from Cicely that Sever’s real name was Meg Bowers. She had tried pulling her up before Sally and I had arrived, but, like the other Dragons, Meg was password protected.
Meg stared at me. “What did you do to me?”
Her fear felt quite genuine, but I wasn’t going to allow that to sway what I said or did. “Answer me first.”
She looked at the others and then said, “I’m Meg Bowers. I’m a member of House Zamora.”
“I’m guessing you know who I am and my status?” I asked.
She nodded slowly, still avoiding looking at me. “You’re a new House Leader, Lord Setton of House Nautikuus.”
I asked, “Do you remember everything that’s happened over the last thirty-six hours Meg?”
She glanced at me in puzzlement. “I do. I remember helping to take people hostage. The other Dragons and I contacted the House Leaders to let them know that if they didn’t follow our instructions then the hostages, made up of members of their family, would suffer.”
“We went out and ensured the House Leaders remained in their hotels.” She looked up again but quickly bowed her head. “I remember Russ and Roy calling to tell us that you fought them and got away. Other Dragons went out to rein you in, but none of them seemed able to stop you. For some reason it made me mad and I struck out on my own to take you down, permanently if it became necessary.”
I sat there waiting, not sure what exactly I was waiting for.
Meg shook her head as if trying to throw off the emotions she was feeling. “Lord Setton, I would have never attacked you, but I had this overwhelming urge, an impulse screaming in my head to get to you and stop you,” she said further.
“Do you remember attacking the crowd in front of my store?” I asked.
She nodded. “I do. We weren’t supposed to actually hurt anyone, just get you to respond by using your abilities.” She looked up. “And you did.”
Leaning in close, I made sure we had good eye contact. The emotions coming from Meg were that of regret and confusion. “The ones shooting did hit three people.. One of which would have died if I hadn’t saved her.”
Her eyes widened. “We weren’t supposed to hurt anyone.”
“Did you call the news crews before the attack, sending more to the opening?”
She frowned at that and shook her head. “No.”
“Ral, I don’t think she’s under the influence of the program any more,” Charlotte said softly.
I nodded. “I agree.” Reaching behind Meg, I untied her bonds and she sat back rubbing her wrists and ankles.
“What do you mean? What program?” she asked looking from me to Charlotte.
“Someone took control of you and the other Dragons with Master PC,” I explained.
Of course she didn’t believe me, when we showed her the display. With access to her being secured, we couldn’t do anything. With Chloe’s assistance, however, we not only showed her the display, but also used it to make minor changes that were too wild not to be some other kind of trick.
When we were finished some of Meg’s resolve had returned, but nothing like it had been when influenced. “I want to help. I have to make amends to you and the rest of the House Leaders for what I’ve done.”
I nodded but said, “I can’t let you.”
“Whoever used the program on you could do it again. At the worst possible moment you could go from ally to enemy,” I answered.
Looking up at Charlotte, who was standing next to me, I asked, “Charlotte, any luck cracking the password for Meg?”
She went back to the table where her laptop was sitting. “I have an idea I want to try...”
After a moment of her hammering away at the keyboard she said, “There!” and hit the enter key dramatically. All of us held our collective breaths but nothing seemed to happen.
“What did you do?” I asked.
She smiled at me. “I just gave myself the working knowledge of how to bypass software security.”
“Wouldn’t knowing how to bypass Master PC passwords be enough?”
She shook her head. “I had tried that earlier, when you were on your way. The program won’t allow a user to gain or grant knowledge pertaining to the program itself, but for software in general, there are no restrictions.”
“Clever,” I said nodding. “How long will it take?”
“I have to write up a couple of programs to do the core of the work. I’d say about two hours.” She seemed quite confident in that answer.
“Get started then, because I want access to the rest of the Dragons. This will simplify matters immensely.”
Turning back to Meg I said, “I hope you understand that until we get into your profile we can’t guarantee that you won’t go postal on us.”
“Didn’t you just remove those commands? Couldn’t you do it again if you had to?” she asked.
“I can and will if necessary.”
“Ral, you just removed the code that had been entered into the program?” Sally asked.
I nodded. “But if the person who added the password pulls her up again, all they have to do is type in more code and she could be back to attacking or worse.”
“Can’t you just make her immune to the program altogether?”
I considered that. “I wouldn’t know where to begin. The program can influence her in many ways.”
Sally shook her head, “You’re thinking too small. Keep it simple. Give her blanket immunity to the program in general.”
“We don’t have any way to test it...” I started.
Chloe said, “You can test it on me.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Charlotte nod. “It’s a good idea,” she offered.
“How would I will this?” I asked.
“Well, thinking from a programmer standpoint,” Charlotte replied, “if you don’t want the user to add text to a text box, you simply turn on the option of that text box that makes it read only.”
I had known she knew a lot about computers, but I had never taken the time to find out just how much. “So....I make Chloe ‘read only’?”
Charlotte shrugged. “Sounds good to me, but only as far as additional entries with Master PC are concerned. Otherwise, you might affect her memory.”
“Read only means what it says. No new information can be added. In the case of a person, new information would be memories. Those are the building blocks of learning and decision making.”
I slumped. “Thanks, now I have that to worry about.”
“No, like Sally said, keep this to the program. Don’t think about Chloe, but how the program affects her.”
Nodding I turned to Chloe. “Are you sure about this?”
She looked at me with not only a touch of adoration but a certainty too. “I wouldn’t have volunteered if there were any doubts.”
Having her complete confidence was a touch unnerving. I had grown accustomed and even used her desire to do whatever I said, but this was different. Following orders, making the decision to blindly do what she was told was one thing. To completely forego any control and having blind faith in me was something on a whole new level.
Chloe moved closer and knelt in front of me. I reached out and held her hands. “You understand what could happen if something goes wrong, don’t you?” I asked.
She nodded. “I also understand that you’ll do everything in your power or resources to fix it too.”
Her simple addition helped calm me. She didn’t have blind faith of my infallibility, but she did believe that I would do what I could to keep her safe. And that was something I agreed with.
After a glance at Charlotte and seeing her nod that she was ready, I focused on Chloe. As Charlotte had suggested, I thought about the effect Master PC could have on Chloe and willed her to have immunity to it. The flow of power was quick.
Another memory flash, that of men in robes speaking in what I knew to be old Greek. They were discussing philosophy but before I spoke the memory ended.
Charlotte was typing in commands on her computer. “Whatever you did Ral, it’s working,” she said. “I’ve tried commanding her to do simple things, like get up and leave, or go to the bathroom or even punch you, but she’s just sitting there.”
Chloe smiled up at me. I couldn’t help but to smile back.
“If you can make her immune to the program, you can do the same for the rest of us, right?” Sally asked.
I nodded, and held my hand out to her. She took it. Again, my power flowed. Charlotte got the same. With both changes I also witnessed some event from history, however, each memory was less and less invasive. They were still very distinct but didn’t remove my consciousness from current events. Finally, I turned to Meg.
She had been watching us, and seemed to feel more relaxed than before. Her fear had subsided. Whether it had been because of her lack of control or what she expected me to do to her I wasn’t sure.
“Are you ready?” I asked.
“Before you do this, I have a couple of questions,” she said.
She glanced at the others and seemed a touch sheepish. “You had told me in the car you had banished me. Is there any way to reverse that since it wasn’t the Council’s ritual?”
I had blocked her powers with the intent of returning them when I felt she deserved it. Now that I knew her actions had been influenced by Master PC, the punishment was unjust. Add to that the confirmation that I could make individuals immune to the program’s influence, and I had no reason to keep her powers from her. Finally, I nodded and said, “Yes they can.”
Then she cocked her head to the side. “And why are your eyes amber?”
That made me blink and look away. “I’m not sure at the moment.”
She could tell it was something that bothered me and didn’t say anything else about it.
We clasped hands and my power passed into her. With that warm liquid sensation, I felt more confident about what to expect from Meg.
Also with that use of power, I had another memory flash. This was closer to recent history however.
A woman was telling me about something she was building. I didn’t understand what she was talking about but I could tell she was excited.
She looked at me, her hair and eyes were dark brown. They reminded me of someone but I couldn’t think of who. Then she said, most vividly, “We will finally have everything we’ve been working for.”
I could feel myself smile but I didn’t feel happy. She leapt at me, kissing and hugging. With that the memory ended.
The old man knew about so much and had so many memories about events throughout human history. What was it the woman meant? Did it have anything to do with what was happening now?
I had to have those answers, especially if they helped me resolve the events currently going on with the Mind Magi.