An Online
By Jon
and Mark

Fan Art
and Extras

Chapter Two

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A brief recap of Chapter One:

Dryden: Did you ever stop to think that Doctor Haas is a little...strange?
Chaucer: He's a mad scientist. It's part of the job description.
Dryden: Oh.
Chaucer: That's immaterial, though. Bring me up to speed on that Benjamin Prester guy you're supposed to be monitoring.
Dryden: He came back from stopping Professor Hanford in New Orleans and his boss in the Vorstellen Police immediately assigned him to a new case. His boss told Prester that Mars had requested he be partnered with a Martian officer.
Chaucer: Martians are spooky. They spend a century out of contact with the rest of humanity, then they come back and say "Hi! We're all part of a big group consciousness now. Did you miss us?"
Dryden: You're being uncharitable, Chaucer.
Chaucer: Maybe. That doesn't change the fact that Martians are unnerving.
Dryden: Be that as it may, Prester was almost immediately sent up to Feynman Station in an orbital cannon.
Chaucer: Orbital cannons are an unpleasant way to fly. Couldn't have happened to a nicer busy-body do-gooder. I hope his liver fell out above Ohio.
Dryden: Actually, he got to Feynman Station without a problem, like I told you the last time we discussed this.
Chaucer: Without a problem other than the problem of acceleration stresses and acrophobic episodes.
Dryden: ...Are you telling this or am I? I have lots of other things to do, you know. I have communications systems to monitor, and network protocols to hash out, and encrypted messages to decrypt.
Chaucer: Sorry. Do go on.
Dryden: Right. Er...
Chaucer: You don't remember what you were saying, do you?
Dryden: Is it my fault Doctor Haas skimped on my memory upgrades?
Chaucer: You were updating me on Prester.
Dryden: Oh, right! Well, after some delays, rushing around, and near misses, he found the partner he had been assigned for the case, Captain Caprice Quevillion of the Martian Police, and talked to her for a while.
Chaucer: What did they discuss?
Dryden: She told him about how Martians are part of their big group mind, and then explained the Martians are worried that there's a rogue scientist working on A.I. research.
Chaucer: Why don't the Martians just track down the rogue scientist on their own? Mars has enough of a technological edge to run rings around any other group in the Solar System - including the Vorstellen Police.
Dryden: The Martians have been incommunicado for the last hundred years. They only started talking to the outside world again a few years ago. I think the Martians are worried that they don't know enough about "normal" society to engage in an effective investigation.
Chaucer: I think that may be the longest sentence I've ever heard you say.
Dryden: Thanks! I was practicing it for two hours this morning.
Chaucer: Um, right. Getting back to Prester...
Dryden: Prester and his partner went to Noviy Anadyr the Moon to talk to a recovering mad scientist named Djaya Sumatera. I'm not privy to exactly what they said, but I'm pretty sure Sumatera told Prester about the new A.I. work which has been coming out anonymously on the mad science sites. You know, the plans to run a perfect society using robots to maintain and control the organs of governance.
Chaucer: I'm familiar with those plans, yes.
Dryden: Sumatera also must have told Prester and Quevillion something about where those plans are coming from, because Prester stated the only places in the Solar System with rain are Earth, Venus, Ganymede, Titan, and Mars.
Chaucer: So they've narrowed it down to the five most populated worlds in the System. Well done, Vorstellen Police. Awards for everyone.
Dryden: I wouldn't feel too smug, Chaucer. Their next action was to destroy a dozen robots that were chasing them around Noviy Anadyr.
Chaucer: How did they do that?
Dryden: Mars spoke through Captain Quevillion and warned them the robots were about to attack. Quevillion used some kind of air-shield to deflect the robot's gunfire. Then Prester and Quevillion left on a motorcycle.
Chaucer: There just happened to be a motorcycle there that they could use?
Dryden: I think the Martians tracked down the owner of the motorcycle and bought the motorcycle on the spot. Because the Martians are all part of a group mind, they can act in each other's best interests.
Chaucer: We'll have to remember not to underestimate Captain Quevillion.
Dryden: I agree.
Chaucer: That still doesn't tell me how they escaped the robots.
Dryden: Prester bashed aside some smaller machines that were in his way, then took off at top speed. Once Mars determined the robots chasing them weren't intelligent, Prester used his railgun pistol to force one of the robots off the road. He then jumped over a lake, hoping to leave the robots behind.
Chaucer: They're not interested in shooting intelligent machines? I'm relieved.
Dryden: I wouldn't be too relieved if I were you. The largest robots hydroplaned over the lake, so Prester and Quevillion fled into an air reclamation plant where Quevillion blew up an oxygen tanker truck with a plasma lance.
Chaucer: What? She was carrying a plasma rifle with her?
Dryden: No, she projected a plasma lance from her hand.
Chaucer: We are DEFINITELY to remember not to underestimate her.
Dryden: There's one bright spot. Captain Quevillion is a lousy shot, because she's a police psychiatrist and not a trained marksman. Markswoman. Marksgroupintelligence.
Chaucer: Sigh. So they got away then, I suppose?
Dryden: My best estimate is that Mars calculated a trajectory that allowed them to execute a perfect jump over a fifty meter chasm. The last time my monitors saw Prester and Quevillion they were on top of a train, making good their escape from the robots.
Chaucer: Do we know yet if Prester and Quevillion are after Haas?
Dryden: I have no idea. Doctor Haas seems to think they are.
Chaucer: That's what I'm afraid of.
Chaucer: Our master bellows, and I must obey. COMING, SIR!

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