So far, so good, Flip thought. The human was following the newly effective communicators. There was a tense moment when he just screamed for no reason. If she hadn’t spent so much time with the Captain, she might have reacted badly. As it was, the human’s guides almost dissipated themselves. But they held together and didn’t show much outward reaction. They were well trained, even if their construct leader was a little loopy.
They led their charge to the building with the machines. This whole area of the city was dedicated to cultural pursuits. One section was an art gallery, another a media repository. Within that building, in a protected bunker well beneath the eroding surface structures, lived the machines. Not all of the machines. But the majority of those that were found in this city. And only the sentients. Before the Abandonment, humanity maintained an unhealthy dependance on computers. Of course, this led to the eventual transformation of those left behind into the form Flip now held. But the machines, stupid and only barely alive, were still treated with disdain amongst those left behind.
And now they held the key to communicating with the newcomer. Flip watched the man as he walked calmly behind his guides. Flip assumed he was calm. Apart from the screaming he hadn’t shown any signs of agitation. But of course, the last time Flip had seen an agitated human was her own reflection in the mirror as the drill came down towards her skull to insert the probes…
The Captain came up behind her to see what was happening. ‘Is that. A real person?’
‘Yes, Captain,’ Flip replied. ‘I am sorry that I upset you.’
‘Me? Never. Everything will be. All right. In the end. The Enterprise is. Probably looking for me. Right now.’ Flip gave an affirmative signal. Of course, Kirk had been created almost a thousand years ago now, so if he had come here in a transporter accident, as he maintained, there was little chance of his crew still trying to find him.
‘Where are. They going?’ the Captain asked.
‘Down to the machines,’ Flip answered. ‘We cannot communicate with him. He cannot hear us and his technology is too different to interface with our systems. At least the machines can talk directly to him. Work as intermediaries.’
‘Don’t trust. The Machines,’ Kirk said. ‘Every time. We’ve encountered a. Sentient computer. It has tried. To kill us!’
‘That doesn’t sound plausible,’ Flip said, still watching the screen. The human was following his guides down a flight of metal stairs, into the lair of the machines. ‘Of course, we did have some problems with the machines wanting to take over in the early days, but now, they are under our control. They do our bidding.’
The Captain snorted. ‘How many times. Have I heard. That?’
‘We are pure energy. They cannot harm us,’ Flip said.
‘And your human. Visitor?’
Flip hadn’t sworn in a thousand years, but when the shooting started, she let out a curse that burnt out the circuits on the viewscreen. But by then, she was long gone.