Part The Final

Which continues from over here:

“Well,” said Maufrais. “Any last questions, Jupiter?”

It was about three weeks later, and Jupiter had undergone the agency’s limited training. Actually, Maufrais amended, he hadn’t just gone through it – the entire tutorial book was now a neatly compressed binary file inside the droid’s brain, and Jupiter had now developed a silent gliding walk that had scared Maufrais witless when he’d first encountered it. He was as ready as he’d ever be. Actually, with all that Spinoza, probably far readier.

“None, sir, thank you,” said Jupiter, with his pleasantly modulated voice that owed nothing at all to organic vocal cords.

Maufrais clapped his hands together. “Right then! Either Pennell or Jon will check in on you every fifty years or so. Might take a week for us, in real-time – you know we’re not allowed more than two thirty-minute jumps a day if we’re not Chron people. Either way, they’ll let you know when we can meet to get your report on the final check.”

He felt almost paternal as Jupiter and he shook hands solemnly, and then watched as the droid shook hands with everyone else (carefully reducing his grip for Peggy, Maufrais noticed).

And then they were waiting for the transport vehicle, sent on by Andre once his coldjump period was up; strapping themselves in and waiting for that final prick in the neck; unconscious to dimensions warping as space-time fluxed around them and unfolded in an active jump room, centuries into the future.

Almost exactly one and a half years after Jupiter (although he had now taken a new name) first arrived in his new surroundings, he received a note from the agency as he was twenty-three seconds into his shave. He usually took twenty five seconds to reach the edge of his cheekbone, but he was compensating for running late, having overslept. And he had overslept because his mind had encountered a dream – the third he had had, as far as he was aware.

The note informed him that he had now been engaged by a gentleman, to act as a gentleman’s gentleman. He was also given an address at which to report, which he duly did. Upon arriving, he perceived that the gentleman had, perhaps, supped too well the night before, and was in considerable pain. Since he had some experience in these matters, Jupiter continued into the kitchen to find the necessary ingredients that would, hopefully, restore the gentleman’s spirits.

Jupiter watched closely as the gentleman swallowed the restorative and waited for the series of symptoms that would tell him that the cure was operating successfully. And in due course, Bertram Wooster recovered himself enough to cry, “You’re engaged!”

“Thank you, sir,” said the droid, respectfully. “My name is Jeeves.”

Centuries across time and quite a bit of distance away, Maufrais allowed his brain to begin functioning again. He couldn’t tell exactly what they’d put in the alcohol, but whatever it was, dinner had gone extremely well.

“Anyway,” he said sleepily, with the air of someone continuing an amicable argument, “you never struck me as the glamor-job type girl. You know. Coldjumping. All that.”

Peggy extricated her arm from under the pillow and propped herself up on it. “Wouldn’t mind the glamor, to be frank. But then he said something indulgent about research and how I should maybe get out more and see multiple timelines, and then I lost it.”

Maufrais tried not to laugh too hard. “I think he may have meant ‘get out more with me‘, actually.”

Peggy considered this while he turned to face her, fingers drifting across skin.

“…. oh.”

[message commences]

Attn: Dr. Maufrais

Project Codename Jupiter

Artificial Intelligence Laboratories

Department of Quantum Biology

The International University

Dr. Maufrais,

Congratulations on the successful conclusion of your retrograde testing with the Artificial Intelligence project codenamed Jupiter. As preliminary test reports come in, collaborations between your technicians and our test runners have conclusively proven Jupiter’s stability, both mental and physical, through two hundred and fifty seven years. These preliminary results have proven to be highly encouraging.

Nevertheless, the question of Jupiter’s psychological suitability to our present purposes has yet to be fully answered. As Dr. Adit no doubt mentioned, the psychology of human-robot interaction is still in its infant stages, and initial hypotheses are subject to intense revision. More specifically, the Aditan Theory that human-robot interactions must be sufficiently seamless and human-reminiscent is being re-considered. Dr. Adit’s recent tests have indicated severe levels of discomfort amongst humans who are initially unaware of the presence of an android (as opposed to another human; please refer to “Droid and Prejudice: Establishing Preference in a Human-Android Integrated Environment”, Adit, Sing, Choi).

Pursuant to this, we regret to inform you that the decision to allow Jupiter-like droids to operate in integrated human environments has been withdrawn. We wish to review the details of the case with your team and yourself; an appointment has been made with the Board of Global Controllers Reviews Committee.

Any queries can be directed towards the Under Secretary for Integrated Technology, Dr. Wayes.

[This missive bears a holographic signature. Access with authorized biosecurity]

[message terminates]

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