Mad Crab Mojave: Chapter 69

In which Jones is boats against the current

Jones woke in Marvin’s backseat. His forehead hurt. He reached up to touch it. It was bandaged. When he pulled his fingers away, he saw that they were tinged with blood. Agent Moss and Hal sat in the seat opposite from him, staring intently.

“Where am I?” he asked. 

“Marvin has generously offered us a ride back to the Bay,” said Agent Moss. 

“What happened?” asked Jones. “Marvin, you’re such a good driver. Why did you crash into me?”

“At the crucial moment, I could not override my programming,” Marvin explained. “The Hoover Dam is a restricted area, and I could not bring myself to damage it. The moment required a purer will. I allowed Hal to take the wheel.”

“Such sacrifice,” said Jones. 

“I just wanted to help,” said Marvin. “Agent Moss told me you were in trouble.”

“Does your fender hurt?” Jones asked.

Marvin sighed. “I was built by engineers, not sadists. They designed feedback mechanisms superior to pain to aid my learning.”

“Where’s Bugs? Is he ok?”

Agent Moss nodded. “He got a ride back with one of those cyborgs. He agreed that you were safer with Marvin.”

“You didn’t arrest Mad Crab?”

“For what?” Agent Moss asked. “Standing next to Federal government property? Hal was the one who actually knocked the computer into the lake. We might as well have arrested you for hugging it. Or your friend Bugs, for standing on top of a Federally managed dam.”

“They stole it,” Jones protested. 

Agent Moss frowned and wiggled her hands back and forth. “Fran stole it. But she wasn’t there.”

“BeyondMelinda was there,” offered Hal.

“Not in the arrestable sense.”

Jones felt faint. He pressed his head into his hands. “The military grade quantum super computer. Can you recover it?”

“Definitely not the cleanest resolution,” said Agent Moss. “Maybe at some point, we’ll send a salvage team. It’s not out in the private sector, that’s the most important thing.”

“Some would argue that it would be better for science if it were,” said Hal. 

“Ok, Sergey Brin,” said Agent Moss. “But I checked with the Army and they don’t want it back.”

“Now they don’t have to figure out how to turn it on,” said Marvin.

“Zing!” said Agent Moss.

“I can’t feel my tongue,” mumbled Jones. He tried to lift his head.Agent Moss looked farther away than she had a minute ago.

“Marvin, please take us straight to a hospital,” Agent Moss said. Hal pressed a water bottle to his mouth. Jones tried to push it away. 

“Give it to my fern,” he mumbled vaguely,  and passed out.