2034-03-15 1757EDT Motherly Advice
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Droo's phone rang. It was his mother.
He was so used to just 'hearing' radio traffic that it took him a moment to realize he had to answer on purpose. "Right," he muttered. "Hey mom," he said brightly. "I'm'a go hack a combination AI that's half Skynet and half Shai'Tan, the Dark One. Any quick refreshers in metaphorical combat hacking that might apply? I got maybe ninty seconds, so... Go." Although "mom" was not the way he thought of her, at some level her was not expecting to survive this as himself. It was as close to goodbye as he could manage.
Mother took a long moment before responding. Her voice was cold, uncaring, and sharp. "Describe what you experienced."
Droo and Vogel found themselves driven into a strange state of desperate calm. Vogel recognized the feeling from life-and-death combat: every sense intensified, every action an opportunity to die. Droo thought, °Is she the Devil?° but he did so quietly, and with great attention to detail. He realized that there wasn't time to describe Shadows' presence closing in on him. °Fuck it,° Droo thought. He offered a telepathic link to his mother while Vogel stood by in utter disbelief. Droo recalled their encounter with Shadows, and dumped it into the pipeline to Mother. "It was about to take over my mind," he said.
Pops pulled a memory crystal out of a console, and handed it to someone, who pushed it through a security door to Mother. She plugged it into a data port in her left wrist and closed her eyes. A moment later she said, "This is interesting, but barring some godlike new power the metaphorical interface does not allow for that kind of interaction. It was closing in on your network connection and might have been able to do you harm, but your mind could not be taken over."
"No, you don't get it," Droo said. "It--"
She cut him off with a tiny shift in the slope of her brows. It screamed, "I thought you were smarter," at Droo. "The metaphor is very powerful and complete," she said, "but it is not magic that can take over your mind any more than a scary movie can. Perhaps you will have nightmares, but they will be your nightmares."
Droo started to protest again, but she was having none of it. "You asked for my expert advice. You have it. The rest is up to you." She did that thing with her eyebrows again. While Droo cowered, Vogel wondered how Pops and Mother were together at all.