Red vs. Blue: Reconnaissance (Chapter 6)
Posted By: Stelladea<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 7 October 2011, 10:16 pm
As the vacation ended, the boys went back to cleaning their weapons and planning attacks on each other. I was allowed to go and talk with either side, which I did; for some reason, no one had a problem with it.
Once their fighting really ensued, I realized how much time had been wasted. I had found minimal amounts of information regarding the Freelancer project. Most of the guys really didn't know how much went on during the fall of the Freelancers—big surprise—and those who did never wanted to talk about it, least of all Church. I could tell it pulled at him emotionally, though why was a mystery to me. Tucker also seemed to know more about it, but avoided the subject as well; I supposed this was loyalty to Church. Of course, Caboose had no idea what he was talking about.
I decided it was time to call in for some backup. Command had informed me that they'd be sending a Freelancer in after the holiday to assist in my search, and I was grateful for that. Part of me wished that the new soldier would be a girl, so the attention would be diverted away from me.
It was frustrating. The drama was even worse than a sitcom. Caboose not only crushed on me, but loved the talking tank, Sheila. Meanwhile, Sheila and the Reds' robot Lopez were a couple, and Caboose couldn't get over that. After that, I thought Donut might have had some difficulty with his sexual preferences, as it looked as though he hit on Caboose, but then again, he said he liked me as well. However, I suspected that he pretended to like me just to tease Simmons, because Simmons obviously had feelings toward me. I could barely go over to the Red base without his starting up a conversation, but perhaps this action, too, was just another way to piss Grif off—the yellow-orange Private couldn't stand me. If I were to choose the one who I thought would get the most involved, though, it would be Tucker. Surprisingly, he stayed out of the circle of drama, though each day was peppered with myriad racy jokes and comments. I knew these were simply for kicks, however. He really wasn't interested in me- after I had rejected him that first day, I was sure he had decided I was a lost cause... after all, he had said he liked "real girls."
The only ones who didn't get involved were Sarge, who was in love with Angelina Jolie, and Church. I knew there was something hidden behind that pale blue shield, but if he couldn't talk to me about the fall of the Freelancers, he certainly wouldn't reveal anything about his personal life. Well, that was fine enough; I didn't need any more of the drama. I felt like a freshman in high school all over again, except I was the only girl for miles and miles around. Everyone acted as if they'd never seen a chick before in their lives.
So, when I called for backup, I hoped against hope that it would be another girl. I needed to get away from this and actually do my job.
The others seemed uncomfortable with the idea of a Freelancer's coming to the base. Whenever the word "Freelancer" was spoken, Caboose would run from the room, and Church and Tucker would look at each other uneasily. I figured their experience during the fall of the Freelancers left a black spot in their memories—a black spot they did not want to revisit.
I even received a surprise from Tucker—the day my backup was supposed to arrive, he wanted to speak with me in private. We decided on conversing in one of the back interrogation rooms. When we settled there, Tucker looked as though he were preparing himself to speak. He took off his helmet, shook out his shaggy hair, and took a deep breath.
"Ells, you're just staying here until you get the information, right?"
"Yeah. And don't call me that."
He ignored me, appearing to struggle to find the right words. "Well, you've been with us so long, it's probably time we told you some stuff Command doesn't know. But you have to make me a promise first."
"What is it?"
"Don't let Command send in the Freelancer."
I frowned. "Are you serious?"
"You don't know what it was like dealing with them," he answered. "They just can't be trusted. We've decided that we can't hold this info in any longer, but we don't want it in the hands of a Freelancer. We need to tell you now, but only if you cancel your backup."
I contemplated. No backup, but perhaps a lead. "Deal."
" He paused, but then added quickly, "But you shouldn't just leave right when I'm done."
because you still might be able to get more information. Like out of Church. He knows more than I do."
I watched him carefully, but he wouldn't look at me. I wasn't sure what to think. "Well, all right. I won't go just yet."
"Okay," he said. He sat silently for another minute, then began his story.
"You already know this, but I wasn't there during the collapse of the Freelancer project. When I came back, Church had to tell me all about it to fill me in, but I think he told me more than he originally planned." He paused, as if waiting for me to say something, but I remained silent, only nodding. "He told me that he went into the deep tunnels of the building before Freelancer Washington helped disable it—that's where he found out that he was the Director's original AI." I had heard all of this before, but I waited patiently for Tucker to finish.
He continued nervously. "Church and Caboose took this big
thing. An AI. Epsilon. We have it here—it's the one that contains all the memories of the other AIs."
I was stunned. Epsilon."Pepsi-con." That's what Caboose's rant had been all about! All this time, I had all the information I needed right in the base!
I don't understand," I said slowly. "Why couldn't you tell me this before?"
"Well, I was all right with telling you," Tucker explained, "but Church has a harder time trusting people. Plus, he has bad memories about that time
it makes him really upset."
I wondered why. "Thanks for telling me this, Tucker," I said. "So
can I see this big thing you were talking about?"
"Bow chicka bow wow."
We let Church and Caboose know what Tucker had told me. I had a feeling that this had all been planned, as they both didn't seem at all surprised. After I contacted Command to let them know I didn't need the Freelancer, all three calmly led me to the basement. Church flipped on the lights.
A simple object lay in the middle of the room—about the size of a shotgun, purple metal, green lights.
"That's it?" I inquired. "That's Epsilon?"
"This is what stores it," Tucker said. "Epsilon is actually inside." I could hear a faint buzzing coming from it, and stepped forward to get a better look.
"What would happen if one came out?"
"Well," began Church. "It would communicate us through an image—or I suppose, a memory—of any given AI. That's all we know
or all it's cared to tell us."
Church gave the go-ahead ("Just be really, really careful with it!"), so I went forward and touched the green button on the side slightly. I was thrown back by a spray of neon sparks, and Church's image showed up on the screen.
"Hello. I am Epsilon. How may I be of service?" the Church in the machine asked.
"How come you're not more like that?" Tucker whispered, but the real Church elbowed him.
"Epsilon," I said clearly. "Do you have any memory of the Director?"
"Why yes, the Director is me. I am the original AI."
"Yes, I know, but do you know anything else?"
Epsilon thought for a moment. "Scanning memory
memory scan complete. No further files on Leonard L. Church."
"They must have erased that part of Epsilon's memory," came the real Church's voice from behind me. "I don't think he knows anything else."
I sighed. Were we just back to square one?
"Thank you, Epsilon," I said politely. I turned to the others. "Come on, let's go. Church is right—there isn't anything else here."
Back upstairs, we half-heartedly decided to try and forget about what a waste the day had been (in my opinion, at least). After popping a frozen lasagna in the oven and digging in the DVD cabinet for a comedy, we started a movie. However, we hardly got through the previews when the entire base flickered and went black. After trying and failing to get the power back, we abandoned the movie idea and went to bed. It was a rough day already, and having no power wasn't exactly the cherry on top. Hopefully, it would be better in the morning.