Alpha Bugs – Prologue

Continuing the story from Full Orientation. The True AR team have to deal with their first major bug in the wild.


debrief interview with project engineer

initially identified as subject 4 in quarantine zone, backup personality reinstalled per protocol with no reported memory loss of events


Ok, Mark. Let’s get this over with. I know you’ve been through a lot this last couple of days, and we’re glad to have you back. But we need this on record.

So who was this girl, and why was she involved at all. This paperwork says she was… your house sitter, seriously?

Hey, I’m not even going to pretend I didn’t hire her because she was hot. I mean, you saw her Facebook photos. Even before all this happened, she was unbelievable.

So I had the prototype True AR system checked out at home, fully installed and secured. It was all above board, I swear. I just wanted an interesting test subject.

She was 19, well 18 when I first hired her. Dog and house sitting on weekends. I let her know it was all being monitored, got her to sign the usual waiver. Of course, after a few months of subtle adjusting, the fact there were cameras there didn’t matter at all.

She quickly forgot I could see everything at any time. On the rare occasion she remembered, a newly discovered exhibitionist fetish would creep in. Nothing that broke plausible deniability. She was sitting with a pillow in her lap, hiding a hand down her jeans. A little flash when changing out from a rain-soaked shirt. You get the idea.

And where were you? Watching remotely?

Yeah. I’m not a crazy voyeur but I’m not denying there was serious appeal. There were legit reasons for me to be out of town 90% of the time: investor meetings, negotiating our manufacturing contacts in China, and so on.

In fact this last weekend was the only time I’d ever faked leaving town. Set myself up in a hotel the next city over, so I could watch everything in real time.

Uh-huh. I’ll have the boys in legal look over the papers again, but it seems like you’ve covered your ass here. She was unquestionably ‘in control’ up until the other night, and I think we can write this fiasco off as “Act of God”. Count your blessings the courts haven’t come to grips with the whole ‘altering reality vs free will’ question yet.

Now, you’ve got this girl coming by… Ashley? And but this weekend she brings a friend?

Yup, not a total accident. I ‘suggested’ Ashley sneak some booze last month, and she’s been getting more bold as time goes on. This time I just left a 24 pack in the fridge with a post it note that said ‘Enjoy!’

God damn it, Mark. I’ll be damned if we’re brought in on some underage drinking charge. I guess she’s technically no longer 19 now. Last I checked, seemed like ‘Ashley’ was just shy of 25.

35 actually.

That woman in debrief room B is supposed to be 35??

I know, she looks good for her age. Or her new age… or… Well, you know what I mean.

So this time, she brings over a couple of friends: a girl named Megan and some nerdy guy named Josh. Again, not a total accident. On a conscious level, it was to study, order pizza and maybe have a beer or two.

Really, this Josh kid was going to get the best night of his life. I wanted to try out the Automated-Calibration feature we’d been building. Set the system to read what turned him on and nudge reality in that direction.

At first it was just some vanilla stuff. Ashley and Megan teasing each other, some very minor cosmetic tweaks to their looks.

You had the physical alteration safety off?

Didn’t really have a choice, the Auto-Cal system doesn’t support safe modes yet. In my defense, no one but me ever had direct access to the system. At least until their little game of strip poker.

Before that though, Josh’s deeper desires started to creep in. Those girls went from independent to aspiring Stepford wives before pizza even arrived…

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