Part 5

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Tobias locked his hands together and pushed his fingers outwards to psych himself up, then smoothed his long black hair neatly into a ponytail.  He was dressed in stark contrast to his other team members in a heavy-rock T-shirt and outdoor hiking gear. Except for this and his scraggy greying beard, which hung below the V on his T-shirt, his keen blue eyes defied his forty-five years. Tobias had worked at Vipercall Technologies for three years as a Senior developer and was responsible for mentoring new recruits.  An avid gamer, he'd also jointly organised a weekly Peril Quest games nights with Carly which the team had used to let off steam between projects.  He tightened the band on his ponytail then selected Edward's attendee profile on the video call.  "I skimmed through the document a few days ago," Tobias said "but you've read the full project specification for the Senti 2 program right Edward? What are the actual games about and do you think we'll have a good chance of success?"

Edward stretched in his well-worn office chair and thought as he picked at yellow foam that protruded through the seat before answering. "I've read most of the game modules.  At its heart, the program runs a powerful A.I engine that projects simulated experiences," He explained confidently, savouring the air of authority he had commanded. "Within the games, the players are set an objective whereupon,  based on the player's choices, the program decides whether they are honourable or not."

"Should be a walk in the park for highly principled people like us then!" Tobias said sarcastically.  "And I read that the engine itself if powered by a stable quantum computer, has the ability to resolve issues not only those we are unable to solve but those we don't even realise exist yet."

Sian nodded in agreement. "The main game in the program is A.I Winter at Castle Peaks.  This is the central game that all the other game modules hang from.  It's a vast game.  I've read through it but to write and test the safety parameters for that entire game would have taken us a couple of years! but we've got to remember," Sian said optimistically.  "The game simulations are just hypothesised walk-through scenarios which offer the gamers a choice of options.  I don't see there being anything sinister in store for anyone based on their choices."  Sian explained putting the team at ease.

"Well, if it comes down to a game of wit to test our technical knowledge, then I think there's no better team than us!" Carly finished. "So I think we've got a decent game on our hands." She declared with a mischievous grin.  Carly was chomping at the bit to get started as she reached into her rucksack and pulled out a small velvet bag. "And I've got all the dice we're ever gonna need." She said spilling out about thirty different dice onto her small desk.

Zlaab shifted uncomfortably from his ethereal gas plane.
Have you decided on a suitable game they know how to play and can win?  the great minds of a nearby galaxy cluster concurred. It can't be too challenging.  Have you confirmed all the team characters profiles and skills?
Zlaab pondered, then thought I've got the perfect game for them. They'll all need an upgrade...

A lucid paragraph of text appeared directly on the team's video call.  Tobias and Sian did a double-take while Carly stared in disbelief and played a pair of dice through her fingers.

The Senti 2 Program has assigned you the following characters.

The software developer - Edward
The enlightened Professor - Tobias
The quantum physicist - Sian
The random character within hidden abilities - Carly

Sian pumped her fist.

"Awesome!" Carly whooped. "I always knew I had hidden abilities.  I'm not one to predict the future or anything but I'm guessing this game's gonna be a hell of a lot more challenging than Peril Quest."

No sooner had the words left Carly's lips the following appeared on their screens.

Predicting the future is easy.  People do it all the time.
Getting your prediction right is a bit harder.

Carly laughed.  "I like this Zlaab character. He has a good sense of humour."

A.I Winter at Castle Peaks	Where stories live. Discover now