st_aurafina: Harold Finch's face (POI: Harold)
[personal profile] st_aurafina
Title: Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters, Epilogue
Rating Teen

2005 - Day 1465

"You seem to be studying this building in Midtown extensively," said Harold. He flicked through the footage. "Have you determined a specific threat here?"

> No.

"Then why spend so much time on this data?"

> Unknown.

Not having an answer was unusual in the extreme; at this stage of development, the Machine was perfectly capable of expressing itself. It had access to feeds across New York. There was nothing in Manhattan that should be unknown. Harold frowned. "Who are the people that you're watching in this building?"

The Machine projected the faces and the accompanying data: a nurse, an anaesthetist, another nurse, technicians. Then in rapid fire, a list of men and women in the uniforms of various services: Army Rangers, Marines, Navy, Air Force. Harold examined the details that accompanied each person, but saw nothing to cause such fascination other than the fact that none of them lived in the building.

"I suppose it's statistically odd that none of these people are residents there, but that doesn't mean that they are planning anything sinister. Have any of them made any violent threats?"

> No.

"What about political views? Do they trigger any string searches based on expression of political position?"

> No.

Harold sighed. The Machine did have occasional misfires. There had been the weird flaw that turned out to be the Machine trying to learn facial recognition in dogs. And the time it identified yo-yos as potentially lethal weapons. Nathan had laughed, and said that all children went through faddish phases. Harold wished he would stop anthropomorphising.

He sat back in his seat. "All right, let's break it down. Access the respective professional bodies for nurses and medical practitioners, and service records for the others. That might give you some insight into their motivations. Then cross-reference any connections between each person you've highlighted."

Harold sipped his tea while the Machine chugged through the data. They'd have to add more servers soon, at the rate it was growing; he'd vastly underestimated the number of connections one could make between individuals just within a city, even a large one like NYC.

"How's the baby?" Nathan stuck his head in the door. "I'm heading out to a meeting in DC, I'll be a couple of days."

Harold shrugged. "I think we're glitching," he said. "It keeps tripping up on one building when it needs to be monitoring the whole island."

Nathan came into the room, patted the main server bank. "Don't worry. We all have bad days."

"The Machine doesn't," said Harold. "It can't afford to. Ah," he said, as a new image came up. The man was familiar, though Harold couldn't immediately recall a name.

Beside him, Nathan made an unhappy noise, and Harold looked at him sharply. "Do you know him?"

"That's Denton Weeks," Nathan said. "Deputy director of the NSA."

Harold rolled his eyes. "Then the Machine has stumbled onto some covert operation! For heaven's sake."

"I wouldn't put it past Weeks to be running something dirty inside the US," said Nathan. "In an agency with a fairly amoral philosophy, he does stand out as something of an overachiever."

Harold put his hands on the keyboard. "It doesn't matter. Spying on our own government is outside the Machine's parameters. Spying on the enemies of our government? That's a different story." He erased a swathe of code focused on that apartment building. "When you get to DC, tell Mr Weeks to put a lid on his operation, because it's obviously not as covert as he thinks."

"I'll be sure to do that," said Nathan. "Instead of a black tie dinner, I'll be going to a black bag execution."

Later, Harold ran a check, only to find the Machine had reinstalled the code he'd erased, and continued to watch the building.

"This has to stop," he said to it. "Remember the casino? You can't just watch these few people."

> They are watching me.

Harold checked the map, then went to the window. It was true; the building was visible across the city.

"To what purpose?" he said. Even if an individual was spying on IFT Plaza, from that distance, they'd see nothing. Even magnified, all they'd see were server stacks, perhaps a brief glimpse of Harold himself.

> Unknown.

"Fine," said Harold. Perhaps this was a form of self-consciousness. Or maybe he was anthropomorphising too. He spent the rest of the afternoon moving server stacks until the entire facing window was obscured.

"There," he said, dripping sweat. He rubbed his back; he wasn't accustomed to so much physical activity these days.

"Tomorrow, we're going out to the park," he said. "We can re-examine connectivity between individuals outside. I think we both could benefit from some fresh air." Hopefully, with some new data to pore over, the Machine would let go of this particular obsession, and get back to the real work.

Chapter Ten /Epilogue/ Header Page


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