14: New NewGen (part 4)

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14.4 Boxes

Cambridge: 16-17 May 2128

"We think we know where it is," Matty said.

"You've found the machine?" Long asked.

Matty nodded. "There's a lot of activity around one particular building, mainly small robots going in and out. And there's mud tracks leading up to it which could have been made by that crane thing. Weird really, AI's usually quite good at keeping the place clean – probably another thing that's broken down."

"Cleaner than London?"

"Huh, that was never clean but, then again, this place is so small. Well, it is now. We've found old maps showing it was once ten times bigger."

"So, can I go and see it?"

Matty grinned.

Several hours later, holed up in a nearby industrial unit, they peered through a small window that overlooked their target. At first there was no movement but, around mid-morning, three small repair robots plus another large wheeled machine trundled up to the door and went inside.

From their location they could not see directly into the building, so Jenny volunteered to skip over a couple of roofs to get a better view. Some of the industrial units were linked with metallic constructions that could be used as ladders and, while Long's throat dried up at the thought of using them to move from roof to roof, Jenny claimed she had no fear of heights. She strapped a set of binoculars to her belt and departed.

"Rather her than me," Long whispered once she was out of earshot.

"Know what you mean," Matty concurred. "Apparently, she climbed more trees than any of the guys here when they were kids. Despite its size there's still quite a bit of parkland here inside the Wall. And have you seen that tower?"

Long nodded. He was looking forward to accompanying Jenny on a trip to view the city from its heights. Or maybe he was just looking forward to being with Jenny. He wondered if she had a partner here. He hadn't seen her acting close to anyone in particular, but he was still unsure of what her actual status was on that front.

A few minutes later they saw the small dot of Jenny's head pop up as she passed over the rooftops. Then she disappeared for a while before returning.

"Large square thing covered in wires?" she said as she re-entered the building.

"Door in one side?" Long asked.

"Couldn't see. Probably hidden. They had one of the large doors open so I had to make sure the robots didn't see me."

"What were they doing to it?"

"Hard to tell but it didn't look like they were pulling it apart."

"Thank goodness for that. I don't think I could put it back together again if they did."

"What now?" she asked.

Long glanced at Matty.

"Wait until nightfall and take a closer look, I suppose," Matty said. "You think you could get it going if they haven't broken it?"

"It's not exactly complicated – just two controls."


At just gone two the following morning Matty led Long, Jenny and Jack back into the maze of industrial units. They approached the one that held the machine without encountering any of AI's robots, which perplexed Matty. In AI's shoes he would have mounted a permanent guard.

The industrial units had two large doors which slid open on wheeled runners. Into the left sliding door was set another ordinary hinged door just large enough to accommodate one of the small repair robots. They found this unsecured. Inside, there was no evidence that a guard of any sort had been posted and, using a wind-up flash light, they could not detect any spying cameras.

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