“Well, that was pretty uneventful,” I say, stepping off the auto-conbini after it FINALLY makes a new stop somewhere else in the city. It took forever!
“I mean, not like we were doing anything better, right…”
Karina’s grumpy. She’s been grumpy ever since we got stuck on the vehicle thanks to those protestors trapping us inside while chanting slogans (also, I can hear another group of protestors shouting a few blocks away, which is terrible). But honestly, Karina’s been in a bad mood the last few times we’ve met up. I wonder what’s up with her.
Nah, I’m overthinking things. The best I can do is help her solve whatever the hell this Magitek Soda thing is about.
And now we’ve ended up in the financial district, the part of town that was Atlanta’s pride and joy even before the world. All of the biggest banks in Georgia have their headquarters in the gigantic skyscrapers, including my very own Atlanta Cares.
It’s getting to closing time for the banks, though, so the offices are shutting down and bankers are filing out all of the buildings, creating a sea of black and navy suits shambling into the city.
I bet all the auto-conbini robots mark up their prices by fifty percent when they come around here.
“So, what do you think we’ve learned so far?” I ask. “Just from the ride we took. There’s some evidence, for sure.”
“Well, we’ve learned that I have no idea what I’m doing.”
“Shut up, Morgan.”
“You’re the detective,” she says, accusingly.
“I’m– I’m not a detective! I’m a loser with a crappy apartment and crappy job who doesn’t do anything all day but follow some dumb robot’s orders. I don’t detect anything.”
“You said that investigating was in your blood earlier.”
“I was trying to save face.”
“And you’re the one who deduced that the Social Media Killer was a teenager at a high school in Cobb County all on your own.”
“Definitely not all on my own. You were there. Mr. Dumb Robot was also there.”
“I was asleep, and R8PR was not there.”
“You’re better than me!” I shout. “Admit it.”
“You’re such a jerk,” Karina says. “What is your goal here, to make me snap into a rage and somehow figure out where the soda is?”
“Maybe? I’m sorry, I don’t know what I was–”
“No, I’m sorry for calling you a jerk.”
“Even though it’s true?”
“Don’t you start!”
We take a moment to pause and collect ourselves.
Karina takes a really deep breath and exhales slowly, and I follow suit. It’s pretty calming. Frustration is stupid and bad. Let’s not do that anymore.
“So,” Karina says.
“So,” I reply.
“Where do we go from here?”
“You mean like, in the future, with hoverboards and stuff–” is what I WOULD say, but as I am not an asshole, all I say is, “What do you think?”
“My very first thought?”
“Your very first thought is good. It’s a start.”
“My very first thought is, why did the auto-conbini we rode drive from Juniper all the way over here?”
“Where are we, by the way?”
“Look at the sign right next to us…”
“Oh yeah.” It’s Yates Street. This is why I get lost, isn’t it? “So you’ve figured out your first clue.”
“A lead to investigate,” I say. “Why did this auto-conbini go from there. Solve that, and you can maybe solve the question of where the vehicle you saw earlier might have gone.”
“Ah, I get it. You actually make sense.”
“I’m a true genius, an absolute savant of a sleuth, right?”
“I am feeling such emotional whiplash about my own capabilities today…”
“But yeah,” Karina continues. “The secret to finding the Street Chaser auto-conbini that I saw is figuring out why these vehicles go to the places they go. What kind of algorithm they use to move from street to street to make the most money. But that’s only something we could do if we had a team of data analysts and a whole lot of time.”
Wait a minute. I’ve got it.
I’ve figured out the answer to all our current problems and I’m gonna blow Karina away with a new, stunning fix to our predicament. Here it goes.
“Well, no, we couldn’t figure out the algorithms ourselves. Not unless we had a super advanced AI at our disposal to do that analysis for us…”
“Huh-uh, no, not doing it,” Karina says. “Absolutely not.”
“What? Why not?”
“I’m not going back to R8PR with my tail between my legs because I couldn’t figure it out without his computer skills. This is the first case I’ve ever gotten and so it means a lot to me.”
“You don’t have a tail.”
“Also, I wasn’t talking about R8PR,” I say. “I didn’t realize we weren’t on the same page here.”
“Then who were you talking about?”
“Lamar, of course!”
“I was kind of thinking that you’d rather leave him out of the sort of stuff that would make the AI in his brain more active, considering the last time he used it a lot…”
“Oh, uh, yeah. But he’s a lot better now. He can handle it.”
“I want to believe you, I really do…”
“Then it’s decided. I’m calling Lamar over to help us out, because that’s what friends are for.” (The implication to that statement is, “They are for convenient access at all times.” Oops.)
“And if he says no?”
“We’ll, uh, figure something out, that hopefully doesn’t involve wandering around aimlessly trying to conveniently find the right auto-conbini at the right time.”
“You inspire great confidence,” Karina says.
Yeah, definitely. I have complete confidence in the fact that Lamar will show up to help us out. Hopefully.