It was a couple of weeks before Kepa and Maite found time to drive back to Bizkaia. They had bounced back and forth with Ainhoa about a time to meet but with classes starting for Maite and Ainhoa’s band gigs, it was hard to find a good time.
In some ways, Kepa relished the down time. He needed a break from being shot at and pursued by homicidal maniacs. He found a job manning the bar at a pub in Donostia’s Parte Vieja – the old part of town. It was very different from anything he had done before. The constant barrage of tourists was both interesting and tiring. He enjoyed meeting new people and getting a glimpse of far away lands, but he couldn’t stand how rude and just generally annoying most of them tended to be. They were always barking orders at him, not giving him even a moment to fulfill the last order before the next came flying over the bar counter.
He was almost slumped in the driver’s seat as he navigated the car down the narrow roads that took them deep into the interior of Bizkaia. He had done this drive so many times he was nearly on autopilot. However, a light xirimiri covered the road with a thin layer of water, so he was careful to not take the turns too quickly. He had seen enough accidents in his time to know how dangerous wet roads could be.
“So,” said Kepa, breaking the silence that filled the car, “has Garuna figured out anything yet?”
WIth Maite’s day classes and his nighttime job, he and Maite hadn’t had a lot of time to just sit and be, to catch up about anything, really. He was beginning to wonder if he should quit the job, maybe find something that was a bit more aligned with Maite’s schedule. But, they needed the income to help pay for the apartment and everything else that came with living in the big city, and he wasn’t sure what else he could easily do.
Maite sighed, shaking her head. “Ez.” She paused a moment before continuing. “I’ve actually asked it to go quiet, at least while I’m taking classes.”
“Zergatik?” asked Kepa. “Why?”
“I don’t think it would be fair, to me or to my classmates. Garuna is a massive AI that already knows everything in my textbooks, and much more. It knows about so many things that we haven’t even discovered yet. It could easily help me ace my tests and perform the most amazing research. But, it wouldn’t be me. It would be cheating.”
Kepa nodded. “Yeah, I can see that. It’s tricky. You could easily become one of the most celebrated scientists in our time if you used the AI. That’s got to be tempting.”
Maite blushed. “It’s not like I haven’t thought about it. I could do some remarkable things. I could really make a difference in the world. And, I admit, there is a part of me that would enjoy the celebrity and recognition that comes with it. There is a lot of ego wrapped up in doing this kind of work.” Maite paused again. “But, I would know it wasn’t me, that it was Garuna, and that would always put a tarnish on anything I did.”
“Do you think Garuna will stay quiet?”
“It has so far. I told it that it could only ‘talk’ to me when we were discussing the zatiak and De Lancre. Not anything to do with my classes or research. I don’t think it was happy, and I think it is in the back of my head pouting…”
“I do not pout,” a voice rumbled in the back of her head.
Maite flinched. “But, it is always there, always listening, always observing. I just hope I can always tell the difference between my thoughts and its thoughts.” She looked over at Kepa, tears welling in her eyes. “I’m so afraid that it might take over.”
“Take over you?”
Maite nodded. “What if it takes over my mind, that I become some kind of living vessel for this AI?”
“Can it do that?” asked Kepa, panic rising in his voice.
Maite’s response was almost a whisper. “I don’t know,” she replied, her body trembling.
If you get this post via email, the return-to address goes no where, so please write firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get in touch with me.