[What did you have planned for this contingency?] Jay asked.
Tachi took over. “We are going to divide the A.I. and our remaining resources into four identical bags and assign one to each of us at random. The fourth bag we post out of Japan on a forwarding loop until we need to retrieve it. The network I’ve established will keep it moving from city to city for the next month if left undisturbed. All post has been paid for in advance so it will not be interrupted. Once out of Japan we each go our separate ways to hide for two weeks.”
“I’m going to Disneyland.” Noodles said.
I smirked. Tachi gave him the ‘not in front of the boss’ look.
Tachi continued. “After two weeks we meet up again at the rendezvous, where we compare who ended up with what and determine whether or not to retrieve the package.”
“Then it’s all yours big guy.” I said. “And we all get to retire in style.”
Jay beamed at us. [Excellent. Now before I depart, may I please see the A.I. for myself. Our benefactors would appreciate a photograph for verification.]
“Wait, you mean they’ve seen the A.I. before?” I asked.
Jay smirked. [No. No-one outside of Silicon Dreams’ R&D team have. So we could give them a picture of a toaster for all they know. Could, but won’t. May I see the A.I.?]
I opened up the smaller bag and pulled out the A.I.’s biopod. One of the extra thumb drives fell to the floor.
Tachi picked it up. “Hello. Just what could this be?”
[If we are very lucky, they will be Professor Sakazato’s notes.] Jay said.
“If we’re not, it’ll be her porn.” Noodles added.
Tachi sighed at him. “Doubtful, a high-level researcher like Sakazato is much more likely to be using a secure wetdrive in her head.”
Noodles rubbed his chin. “You know, after all the eavesdropping and dumpster diving we did, I’m surprised we don’t already know what her kinks are.”
“She’s got daddy issues.” I said. “We know that much from her profile.”
Jay looked thoughtful. [We’ll just have to preserve the mystery for when we all meet up again. In the meantime, thank you for the photo Tachi and good luck gentlemen.]
Jay closed down the vidwindow and disappeared.
A few minutes later Noodles had four identical black and red backpacks arranged on the planning table. Tachi and I had packed our weapons and other belongings away and changed out of our electro camouflage fatigues. I’d stretched a surgical mask across my face to hide how messed up I was.
“Alright.” Began Noodles. “I’ve put the A.I, the spare electro-camo fatigues and all my decks and compy gear into three of the bags. The last bag’s getting Tachi’s old head and Prof Sakazato’s thumb drives.”
“Slight difference in value don’t you think?” I asked. “A ten-thousand nuyen computer suite, two suits of electronic camouflage costing several thousand each, a billion nuyen artificial intelligence and a prosthetic head worth maybe two kay if the mark is gullible and thumb drives that could be worthless.”
Noodles turned his hands up. “Call it a ‘Dark Horse’. We can always put the damaged fatigues you and Tachi were wearing into the same bag to pad out the value. Anyway the plan works better with four valuable objects of roughly equal weight, so just pass me the head already.”
All of this was in aid of our escape from Japan. By now Silicon Dreams would have brought the bad news to their multinational parent. Across the pacific, while the wage-slaves were bitching about gridlocked traffic, execs were being rudely awakened by screaming C.E.O’s. Their prize creation was lost and their considerable corporate weight was getting thrown into the hunt to reclaim it. Calls were being made, favours were getting called in and difficult men to find were in the process of being located.
All the more reason for us to be out of the country as soon as possible and all the more reason to make determining where the A.I. was as complicated as possible.
If an investigative team got so close to us as to identify the three of us leaving Japan, they would have no way of knowing which of us had the goods. And if they discovered the posted package they’d suspect we were pulling a shell game and go right for the box. By the time they’d worked out it wasn’t the right pack, we’d be deeply embedded in our chosen hideouts.
It wasn’t perfect, obviously, Roxorgh had a lot of resources and they would certainly be capable of sending multiple teams after us. But anything we could do to keep them guessing would be more than worth it.
Noodles took the four bags into a room, then returned empty-handed. Tachi and I played paper-scissors-rock (I used the avalanche gambit and lost), so Tachi was the first to choose a bag. Tachi grabbed the closest bag to the door, I chose the opposite, just in case Noodles had deliberately planned to put the most valuable bag where we were least likely go. Then Noodles picked the third bag.
When we had finished stuffing the last bag into the package we piled into the rental car and headed to the airport.