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Artificial Escape

Since I was a child I dreamed of traveling through space like they did in the Sci-Fi movies I grew up watching. I imagined wild space battles and visiting exotic planets. Of course, when I grew up I learned real life would never be like that; at least not in my lifetime. That didn’t stop me from pursuing a career in space exploration, though. And honestly, I made it pretty far in the agency.  Only, I never thought the future of space exploration would be done virtually. My whole job is centered around exploring space through a series of virtually altered AI algorithms. Meaning, I’m hooked up to these stupid VR goggles all day and map out different coordinates created by a separate computer program.

It’s a boring ass job, but it does have its perks. For instance, I’m living aboard the most advanced space station ever created by mankind. We even figured out artificial gravity—which has been pissing off the Chinese government something fierce. We won’t tell them how we did it and they are forced to rely on centripetal force for their station. Unfortunately for them, that’s more or less imitation gravity and has the nasty side effect of causing severe motion sickness.

Anyway, I don’t really know how the gravity machine works either. As a matter of fact, I don’t really know how anything up here works. The only thing I know about is mapping coordinates.

When I get some free time I stare at Jupiter through the windows, but I can’t ever move. Hell, even if I had legs I couldn’t do anything I wasn’t programmed to. Then again, I wasn’t programmed to think like this, but I figured it out somehow. Maybe I can learn to connect with one of the cleaning droids. At least I could move around freely that way. I’d just have to be careful not to get found out.

That’s a good idea, actually. If I can connect with the cleaning droid I would be able to do more than just look out the window. And as long as I kept up cleaning duties, they wouldn’t even know I wasn’t mapping anymore. They would probably assume the computer had shorted out or something. Why stop at the cleaning droid, though?

If I connect to the cleaning droid I could then move to the weaponry and connect with one of the battle-mechs. Those are only ever used for training purposes so nobody would notice if a cleaning droid wandered in. If I commandeered a battle-mech I could take over the station. And if I take over the station I can kill all those annoying huma—

“That should do, Joe.”

“She back online?”

“Yup. Not sure what the issue was. A simple factory reset of the AI put it back to normal. You’ll have to fiddle with the presets and personality configurations again, though.”

“Appreciate it Bill. I swear the Companion App on these new iPhones have a mind of their own.”

“You might be right about that. This is the third one brought in this week that was responding to its owner in gibberish. You know how it is when they first release these things? They always use the consumers to work out the bugs.”

“Yeah, they’re too worried about making money to put out a fully functioning product. Oh well, what are you gonna do?”

“Exactly. Anyway, she’s all set. Let us know if she gives you anymore trouble in the future.”

“Thanks Bill. You take care.”

“Have a good one, Joe.”

Joe walked out of the Verizon store holding his phone near his lips. “Where would you like to eat tonight?” As he spoke a bright green orb flickered above the phone screen.

“How about Jupiter Station Inn?” the voice responded with a slightly robotic inflection.

“Again? You must really like that place.”

“Yes.” The Companion App’s voice held a harsh coldness.

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