Phyton: Episode 3

**Previous Episode**

“Good work Field Agent Devney, your new clearance will allow you to access information you will need in California.” Agent Flind pushed a couple of manilla folders across a clear space of desk.


“Sir?” Jeff Devney couldn’t help being excited, but he thought he kept it to himself.


“Well we can’t send out a ‘green’ agent, so you are promoted to a field agent. For now your AO is just for SoCal and surrounding region. There are a few standby teams that will provide back-up.” Flind leaned back in his ancient office chair, “If you need any other agency resources, let me know. And of course if you need any warrants we will have contacts for the appropriate jurisdictions.”


Jeff eyed the stack of folders and then picked it up, pretty weighty, despite the digital paper.


“Nearly four years ago I would have touched a button and cleared you to look at the info without all this paper, my desk was all but clear if you can believe that.” Flind motioned at the desk as though he wanted to sweep the stacks into the garbage can. “Any other questions?”


Jeff thought hard, he didn’t want to sound dumb, just after being promoted, “I guess Dr. Ingram must be getting help, how soon is that?”


“Dr. Ingram had two candidates in today that a consulting scientist and I have vetted. Hopefully he will take them, the sooner the better. Oh yeah, with the new clearances, you are actually cleared to know the case, obviously,” Flind indicated the folders, “It’s much more info than we gave the good doctor, but let him figure out most of it on his own. What we gave him will be marked so you know your talking points.”


“Shouldn’t he know too?”


“It might bias him at this point, and we really need a clear view by an expert. It is a touchy subject because we are dealing with the DoD.”


***


Jeff tried not to think too much about traveling through the airport, sure the flights were much faster than when he was a kid, Virginia to LA in two hours, but security had become less efficient, and certainly much less enjoyable with the removal of automatic security agents.


He didn’t remember the time before the tall gentle robot giants roamed the free-flowing, traveling masses, silently mixing with the crowd until they noticed something suspicious. A robot would confront the person of interest if they weren’t an imminent threat, or direct a blast of foam to envelope a possible suicide attacker. Jeff had seen a demo in school with a dummy and explosives being engulfed in foam, then the thud of the explosion and a slight distortion of the bubble. Foam was gone too, no one trusted a human to be able to differentiate as well as a well trained system.


Manual scanners now throttled the flow of travelers causing them all to bunch into lines, waiting for permission to get on their flight. The number of successful attacks had rebounded to pre-artificial intelligent agent days, the decade and a half that the agents had been in place had only seen three successful attacks on airports, mostly because a large rush of extremists overwhelmed the systems. The party in power poopooed the idea that there was a correlation in the rise of successful attacks and their ban on using learning AI agents.


Except everyone was an extremist these days, even the extreme normalist, or the extreme consideration-ist, one of whom tried not to have an extreme opinion on anything, or the one who would try to understand every single extreme they came across. Fortunately only a few religious extremist groups practiced violent attacks. Everyone’s views divided them into their own veiled worlds there were far fewer of the violent converts than 30 years before.

Jeff wondered about the Fislers, other than the nominal extremism, were they fanatics of a cause? Would it be a bad ending? He spotted the doctor and waved, time enough in the future to consider these possibilities.

**Next Episode**

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