His job requires a physical presence at the Ministry building, hard to say why. They cannot be so backward as to think themselves safe behind concrete walls and armed sentries, can they? It’s quite probable that the main function of this heavy, squat building is providing the locals something to look at and be reassured. “Whatever happens, we have the military to protect us”. As if.

The security checks at the entrance are amusingly basic: backscatter scan, explosives sniffer, full x-ray (“Watch out, he might be a KILLER CYBORG”), EM pulse to fry bugs. It would be hilarious, if it wasn’t so sad.

He walks the corridors and I peer through his eyes, bored out of his skull. Having nothing to do is sublimely frustrating. I amuse myself by trying to guess whether any of these people has a passenger in his mind. Maybe it’s the grim faced sentry, or maybe the plain looking secretary? I have no way of knowing – until they activate.

Locked in his TEMPEST-shielded cubicle, he dons the virch goggles and starts working. I try to pay a conscious attention, but it’s really hard: most of his work is just stupid organizing, or doling out info – something a software agent would be much better at. It’s a senseless waste of human mind, that’s what it is, both his and mine (let’s assume I’m human, just for sake of the argument). Why didn’t they at least tweak the parameters of this mind? When you can split and reintegrate sentience state vectors, tweaking for more resilience to boredom cannot be hard. I try to focus again, hoping that the pattern recog subroutine is still buried in this skull, scanning the images and sounds with more patience than I have at the moment.

When the recognition comes, it comes as a shock.

I was expecting something in their files, some interesting snippet of information about the deals this polity made with the unbodied, but the subroutine tripped at something entirely different: a person. My host was on lunch break, eating something not entirely devoid of taste, when we saw him. Host paid him no mind, why would he, it’s just another mid-level manager or whoever. I recognized him by his walk, by the way he was moving, in a body like an ill-fitting suit. They might see it as a slight clumsiness, easily explained by lack of sleep or distraction, then promptly forgotten. To me it was a red flag, a sign of mindjacker invasion.

Now for the hard part: how do I notify these docile fish that a shark is hiding in their midst?


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