“Tell me if I got this straight.” Engstrom said. “Your expertise is in creating artificial intelligence algorithms that mimic the thought patterns of real people, primarily the recently deceased. You’re good at it. You’re the best in your field. You are one of those workaholics that like to take their work home and tinker with it. You, Dr. Gammon, created a way to digitize faces and copy / paste them to the digital bodies of others. Say you saw an intern with a hot ass that you liked, but you wouldn’t have a chance with her in real life. You take a few pictures of her, or hack some video, run her image through the program you created, and voila, there she is in the virtual flesh in one of your holo-scenarios.”
“Why are you here, Mr. whatever your name is? You’re looking for money, aren’t you?”
“You didn’t erase everything.” Engstrom answered. “We had to go through the records by a couple of months back, but we found the messages you sent Kennet and Kerenski, and a few others. You found them through Linkster. You ran their public profiles through your algorithms and you figured out they were the hard-working loner types that took their work home, just like you. You are that kind of person, and you figured they would be interested in your simulation program. And they were, weren’t they? They were as excited as you were when you told them about it. You like young Asian girls, and they, well, they had their own fetishes, and they told you all about them on the Deep Web.
“It was Kerenski, wasn’t it, who told you how he was hiding money offshore so the government couldn’t tax it. You were skeptical about that, until Kennet and the others started their accounts the same way. Did you have your hackers try to find that money? Is that what convinced you to give it a try, when they couldn’t locate it?”
“I’m not saying anything!” Gammon rumbled.
“You needed a secret account, didn’t you?” Engstrom continued. “You implemented that into your plan to get killed in a terrorist attack, and have your Q-drive sent to China, where you would be cloned and then you could withdraw your money out after the dust settled. You were so convinced this would work that you told other people in your plan about it, and they made secret accounts, and a lot of dead, rich people in the Q-drives said they wanted in.”
“That did not happen!” Gammon argued.
“Oh, but it did, didn’t it? Living people, dead people, they all believed your plan would succeed, and they all made secret accounts they could access after they were cloned in China. It was quite a fortune, wasn’t it? How many millions? Or was it tens of millions?”
“I’m done listening!” Gammon turned to head back in.
“Your Q-drives are still sitting in the server partition at the university.” Engstrom said. “The students said the drives were moved, but they weren’t. The students said your IP address could not be tracked, and that was true up until we knew where to look.”
Gammon spun around, his face as white as a sheet.
“You’re not going to China, Dr. Gammon.” Engstrom said. “You’re going to hell. It’s a very special version of hell, designed by my boss and inspired by the classic, Dante’s Inferno. You and all of your conspirators are going to do the Hokey-Pokey on the hottest dance floor ever conceived of by a human mind.”
“I have my rights.” Gammon replied. “I demand to see my lawyer.”
“Dead people do have rights, in this day and age.” Engstrom nodded. “Even artificial intelligences like the Asian girls you have here can be considered citizens in some parts of the world, Saudi Arabia to mention just one. The thing is, your quantum memories are considered lost and possibly destroyed. As far as the world is concerned, you and your collaborators are no longer here.” He suspired. “It’s too bad about the secret accounts. All that money will be lost because we don’t have the names, account numbers and passwords. You and your friends used sophisticated encryption to make sure those wouldn’t be hacked. Oh, wait. You emailed yourself a hard-copy of the names of everyone who created a secret account. We’re talking about a couple of hundred names.”
“The names won’t get you anywhere.”
“It is a start.” Engstrom smiled. “We have the names, we have the physical location of the accounts, meaning where the primary servers are, and we have a couple of resources to help us crack those codes.”
“Bullshit.” Gammon replied.
“You should have sent the money directly into the Chinese Union. Why didn’t you? Is it because you don’t trust China, despite that you’ve worked all of your life to give that nation the chance to railroad the United States? That is so unpatriotic of you! I wonder if the banking people in Panama, where the accounts are located, might give us some of the information for the right incentive? What could Stem Corp offer politicians in Panama for their cooperation?”
Gammon’s face whitened again.
“They might help.” Engstrom said. “I know what you’re going to say. I still don’t have the passwords, and your encryption is very good. I happen to be in touch with a company that does encryption and de-encryption on a quantum level. You know a little about quantum physics. How did you get your brain to push a sex bot’s brain out and take over the bot? Don’t bother trying to explain it, because I wouldn’t gronk it anyway. All I’m saying is that maybe someone in quantum encryption can, you know, push your password out of the way and plug in a new one that will open up that box of goodies and let all that money come pouring out.”
“What do you want?” Gammon asked. “I’m ready to cut a deal. I know some things about China that might help you.”
“Let me give you a scenario.” Engstrom replied. “Last night, you fell asleep here in your virtual mansion. This morning, you woke up. You are in virtual reality. How do you know that we did not make five copies of you while you slept? Maybe four copies of you already told us what we want to know, and you’re the asshole who thinks he can be stubborn and not squeal. Maybe I’ve been telling you and your copies that the first Gammon that talks will live, and the other ones will be erased. That will give you something to think about. I’ll come back tomorrow. You’d better be ready to convince me that you’re the one who gets to live.”
“You’re bluffing!” Gammon called out, his voice shaky.
“As soon as I leave, your Asian girls are going to disappear and your scenario is going to get a lot darker, and a lot hotter.” Engstrom left, walking towards the golf cart he’d driven into that scenario. “Enjoy your time in hell, Dr. Gammon. You earned it!”
Gammon watched the man get into the cart and roll away. He really, really hated that man.
To be continued.