Reyes had just asked, "What do these Overseers look like?"
Isis replies, "They are genetically modified Neanderthals and hard to identify by casual observation."
Reyes notices that Gary seems deep in thought with worry lines on his forehead. She turns back towards Isis, "But you can tell-" Reyes is startled by the sudden disappearance of Isis.
The door from the control room opens and Rupert enters the lounge. "Well, Gary, I congratulate you; you've finally made arrangements for your retirement. I'd like to throw you a big party, but I'm sure the Overseers will insist on your immediate deportation from this star system."
Gary says, "What about your own crimes, Rupert?" Gary is thinking about the advanced nanites that he has detected inside Reyes. He's never before had to deal with advanced Overseer nanites on Earth. Gary is now worried that he is not only dealing with Rupert but that he has fallen into an Overseer-created sting operation.
Rupert has no idea that Reyes is a carrier of advanced nanites. He assumes that Gary is again making reference to all the humans who suffer and die because Observers refuse to introduce advanced technology to Earth. "You fell right into my trap, Gary. Only someone with your inflated ego would imagine that you could get away with trying to exploit Roberta's research." Rupert is now worried that springing this trap on Gary has been too easy.
Roberta rises from the table and heads for the crew quarters. She says, "I'm going to take a nap." As she goes through the door she turns her head and says to Gary, "Care to join me?"
Gary follows Roberta, "Coming, my dear."
Rupert is puzzled by the show of familiarity between Roberta and Gary. He wonders when they had become such close friends. Overseer intelligence indicated that Gary had not been on Earth the past four months.
Rupert sits down next to Reyes. "I'm sorry that Gary decided to take you prisoner. You must have seen him do something illegal. You may be called upon to testify at his deportation hearing."
Reyes complains, "I don't have any idea what you take to be 'illegal'. However, as a law enforcement professional I'd be interested to see a copy of your laws."
Rupert chuckles. "I'm afraid nobody on the Moon has ever bothered to establish a school for teaching Earthlings about the laws that govern Earth and the entire Solar System. Occasionally someone such as yourself becomes aware that Earth is under Observation. Almost always they just have their memory erased and that puts an end to the matter."
Reyes observes, "But you were not satisfied to do that with Scully."
Rupert nods, "There have always been extraordinary circumstances under which a few humans are taken off of Earth. It's a natural process by which the ranks of the Observers are kept staffed by humans who are genetically identical to Earth humans."
Monica is sickened by the idea that she might have fallen into some low-budget SciFi movie scenario. "You take people like Dana and I for...breeding purposes?"
Rupert laughs. "That's not a nice way to put it. Some Earth humans do end up living on the Moon and passing along their genes. When that happens it is just a natural part of the Observation process. Nobody goes to Earth looking for 'breeding stock'."
Monica asks, "Well, then why did you take Dana off Earth in the first place? And is it true that now you left her on Earth?"
"Yes, Dana is on Earth. She may yet return again to the Moon, but I'm now thinking that she was not really what I would call 'Observer material'. It is unfortunate. She's very resourceful. I have immediate need for help on another project...cleaning up another of Gary's little messes. I had hoped to get Dana's help, but...." Rupert looked speculatively at Reyes.
Monica feels uncomfortable under Rupert's gaze. "I can't believe that Scully would have willingly helped you."
Rupert shrugs and is unwilling to tell Monica that Scully had been helping Gary. Still, it all worked out to be a useful trap for catching Gary in the middle of an illegal intervention. Rupert explains, "Dana spent a month on the Moon learning about the wider universe beyond Earth's limited horizons. Many people change their thinking, even their entire way of thinking, when they learn the truth about Earth. Really, Earth is just a biological incubator. Life, human life, is much more interesting out here, off of Earth. Even you might decide to pitch in and help clean up Gary's mess."
Monica asks, "What is the nature of the conflict between you and Gary?"
Rupert replies, "It is a conflict that is as old as time. Well, at least as old as human existence. We Observers just observe. Gary can't keep his dirty fingers off Earth. As an Interventionist he always wants to meddle in the course of events on Earth. Of course, his actions are illegal. Part of my duties is to catch Interventionists in the act and turn them over to the police."
Monica prompts, "The Overseers."
Rupert nods. "I see you have already discussed this with Gary. I'm sure he told you about his noble intentions. In a way, he always tries to take the easy path. Sure, who would not like to step in and save a million Earthlings from catastrophe? But think about it. Where would it all end? No, Observation is best. This has been tested and proven across a billion years."
"So, what is the 'mess' of Gary's that you mentioned?"
Rupert explains, "As you know, Earth is in a period of dramatic technological change. In particular, Earth is on the brink of a key technological milestone: the creation of human-like artificial intelligence."
"And Gary is helping push the development of artificial intelligence research?"
"It has gone far beyond research. A few years ago I found evidence of manufacture of advanced circuits on Earth."
"Evidence? But not proof?"
"Very good, Agent Reyes, that is an important distinction. Proof of advanced circuits, but not proof that Gary was the source. But now so much time has passed....it's clear that the circuits were not just an advanced development of Earth technology."
"Can you be sure of that? Maybe some secret military project."
"No. I've checked that possibility. No government on Earth is very good at keeping secrets from Observers. It is now just a matter of tracing the manufacturing facilities that Gary used. There is a sure way to trace the circuits to their source, it is time consuming, but now that I've caught Gary in the act of an illegal intervention on Earth I will get permission to push ahead with this investigation. I'd hoped that Scully would help."
Reyes wonders if there is any chance that Scully will be able to share her abduction experience with Mulder. Did she willingly work with Rupert? She asks, "What harm would be done if Gary did help accelerate Earth's computer industry?"
Rupert replies, "It is important that technology develop slowly on Earth. Humans on Earth are not ready to deal with human-like machine intelligence. Imagine what might have happened if Gary had given knowledge of nuclear physics to Earth in 1910. Picture World War I fought with nuclear weapons."
Reyes has a feeling of déjà vu. "We have not had another World War since the atom bomb was used. Maybe World War II would have never come."
Rupert shrugs. "Maybe. Who is Gary to make these decisions? How about you, Agent Reyes? Would you be willing to play god and make such choices for Earth?"
Reyes does not want to help either Gary or Rupert, but agreeing to be helpful seems like it might be a way to get a ticket back to Earth. She rubs her head and wonders: is this what Scully was trying to do? Infiltrate the operation of these clones and learn about them? "It sounds like politics to me....conservatives and liberals. You are more conservative, Gary is more liberal. From my position of ignorance how can I sort out your political arguments?"
Rupert suggests, "Just be pragmatic and think about your own interests. We'll be on the Moon soon. I'll show you the human-like robots we have. Think about it Agent Reyes, would you like to compete against a robot that has ten times your strength and can think ten times faster than you can? That's the kind of technological change that Gary is trying to bring to Earth. No, your culture is not ready for that change. I trust your instincts, any thinking and caring person's instincts. Think about it."
Reyes is fascinated by her view of the Moon while the ship makes its landing. They slip through a camouflaged entrance to the underground Lunar Base and she looks at Roberta. She seems bored and does not even seem to be watching the view, rather, she is watching Monica. Roberta says, "You should take some time to explore the Moon....human culture on the Moon. Don't let Rupert rush you into anything."
"Thanks for the advice. I still do not understand how you decide between Rupert and Gary....which side of this dispute to support."
The ship has landed. Gary stands up, "I trust Roberta to make her own decisions, to do what is best for Earth."
Rupert opens the door to the control room. "Okay, let's go."
They all exit the ship and are met by a tall woman who greets Rupert. Roberta says to Monica, "There's one of our Neanderthals, Overseer Therick."
Rupert hands Therick the container with the bacterial samples. "You'll find that these organisms were genetically modified by using branched DNA vectors introduced to Earth by Gary Seven. The FBI has the full set of evidence from Champion Research and the field station in San Felipe."
Therick nods to two human-like robots who then enter the ship. She says to Gary, "Your ship is impounded. Do you have anything to say?"
Gary replies, "I demand to see the evidence that links me to the branched DNA."
Rupert points to the container of frozen cell samples and asks, "You deny that you were trying to transport these cells off Earth?"
Gary shrugs, "If the cells are able to efficiently trap carbon in marine sediments, as Roberta attests, then I'd prefer that they be released into Earth's oceans."
Rupert points at Gary and says to Therick, "You heard it from his own lips! Blatant interventionism!"
Gary shakes his head, "Not at all. The record is clear. Earth humans, particularly Roberta and Dr. Scully developed these cells. It's just the natural way for Earth to protect itself from global warming."
Rupert demands, "Roberta and Dr. Scully? Under whose direction? Who provided the branched DNA technology that made the genetic engineering possible?"
"Dr. Scully has known about branched DNA for a long time. In fact, she was going to give a public lecture on the topic before you kidnapped her. What gives you the right to keep people like Scully from using their knowledge to help prevent an ecological catastrophe?"
Rupert says to Therick, "Don't let Gary distract you from the simple facts." He turns back to Gary, "Why don't you tell us how Scully became aware of branched DNA?"
Gary pretends to be bored by the discussion. "How would I know? There are thousands of gene vectors in use on Earth. What difference does it make if Scully uses one or the other in her work?"
Therick holds up her free hand in front of Rupert, cutting off the bickering. "So, Mr. Seven, are you saying that these cells," She holds up the cell sample case with her other hand, "Were produced by humans using conventional technology available on Earth?"
Gary replies, "Why ask me? I learned that Rupert was providing the FBI with help and trying to disrupt work on the Prochloroflexus marinuslargus project. I rushed to Earth even as the FBI shut down Champion Research. I was able to rescue Roberta and these cell samples just before FBI agents carried out an illegal search and seize operation in San Felipe. In my view, the people of Earth have more right to these cells than Rupert does."
Therick says, "Very eloquent, Gary, but I noticed that you never answered my question. Since, as usual, you are unwilling to cooperate, I'll determine the facts to my own satisfaction." She turns and hands the cell sample case to a third robot, then she and the robot exit the dock.
Rupert turns to Monica, "I'd like to help you get settled here on the Moon, Agent Reyes. There are comfortable homes available that you can select among and move into immediately. Perhaps you would like a tour of the underground city?"
Monica replies to Rupert, "I'd like to be returned to Earth as soon as possible, but I've been advised to take a look around and learn something about how people live here. I can't say that I trust either you or Gary. Roberta tells me that she previously spent time here, as your prisoner, so I think I'll let Roberta be my guide."
Rupert nods, "Very well. Remember, I'm ready to take you back to Earth in the very near future. Think about the offer I made." He turns to Roberta, "Don't be overly dramatic about the fact that you received special treatment the last time you were here. The fact remains that nobody on the Floreana could explain your presence on that ship."
Roberta shrugs, "You just don't like the answer. A married man is not going to admit that he falsified records on a government grant in order to sneak his girl friend onto a research vessel disguised as a research assistant."
Rupert says to Gary, "Really, you should try to come up with better alibis for your agents. It's embarrassing." Rupert and his brother depart from the dock. Roberta and Gary exchange glances and small grins. Roberta takes Monica's hand, "Come on, I want to see if my old house is still available." She leads Monica away from the ship. Gary Seven turns and heads back into the ship.
Monica asks, "What about Gary?"
Roberta shakes her head, "He has never really taken up residence here. When he visits the Moon, he just stays on his ship."
"There is no way he could just fly me back to Earth right now?"
"No, forget about that. Those robots are now in control of his ship. If Overseer Therick decides against Gary, he'll be deported and you'll be dependent on Rupert for a ride back home."
Reyes is surprised. "Those were robots? Those two guys that went on the ship? How can you tell?"
Roberta has led Monica to a tube transport station. "There are robots all around you, Monica. There are far more robots than humans on the Moon. Sometimes it is hard to tell who is human and who is a robot, but often you can just watch who gives or receives orders. Don't worry about it, you'll catch on."
They board a tube car and Monica stumbles in the low gravity. Roberta helps her into a seat, "You're doing fine. Just don't get moving too fast."
Monica asks, "What is your relationship with Gary? One minute you two seem very close then the next you....I don't know....sometimes you seem like divorced couples I've known."
Roberta giggles. "We're good friends. What about you? Married to your work?"
Monica replies, "In a way. I work on the same special FBI project that Dana used to work on, the X-Files. Did she talk to you about her work with the FBI?"
Roberta nods, "I'm familiar with her work."
Monica continues, "The X-Files project is perfect for me since it deals with all the strange cases that cannot be solved by conventional means. I've always known that there is more to the world than meets the eye, so I'm open to the unconventional. Of course, that sounds must sound silly to someone like you who has experience living here on the Moon!"
Roberta shrugs. "Well, I was lucky. I always just felt like people were phony. People grabbing for money and power and just being mean to each other...I never fit in with all that. It was a miracle when I meet Gary. He's totally devoted to doing what needs to be done, what needs to be done for Earth, for the planet....for everyone. Sometimes he just gets a bit fanatical. I mean, how can any of us always have the right answer? Gary always thinks he knows the right answer. As does Rupert. Really, they were made for each other. Sometimes I just get so frustrated, I have to just let Gary do his thing."
For a minute they ride in silence and Monica tries to guess which of the other passengers in the tube car are robots. Roberta says, "Ya, if Rupert offers you the chance to go back to Earth you should probably accept his offer. Of course, he will try to use you for his own purposes, but if you refuse to help him you might be stuck here for a long time. Maybe forever."
Monica says, "I find that hard to believe. All Rupert talks about is the importance of not interfering in Earth. How could he justify keeping me here? Isn't the usual procedure to just return abductees after erasing their memories?"
Roberta explains, "You are in the unfortunate position of having been grabbed by Gary, not Rupert. The cloud that now hangs over Gary also hangs over you." Roberta cannot explain that there is some problem with nanites, although Roberta herself is not sure exactly what the problem is. She suspects that Gary illegally used advanced nanites on Earth in order to quickly take control of Monica. If Rupert was acting as part of an Overseer sting operation, then Overseer nanites might have detected Gary's nanites.
In any case, Roberta intends to not worry about it...it is now in the hands of the Overseers. After four months on Earth, she intends to enjoy the luxuries of Moon Base. A robot has noticed Monica looking closely at her. Roberta now notices that the robot has been listening to the conversation between Monica and Roberta. The robot smiles and says to Roberta, "You are Roberta Lincoln. I take it you have been on Earth for the past four months. And who is this?" The robot nods towards Monica.
Roberta replies, "FBI agent Reyes."
The robot seems amused. "You mentioned 'Gary', which I assume means Gary Seven. You never should have gotten involved with him, Roberta."
Roberta looks suspiciously at the robot and demands, "Who are you, who is your master?"
The robot replies, "Robot Ferriol, at your service. I'm on Overseer Therick's staff. She asked me to keep an eye on you."
Briefly, Roberta is furious at having her privacy invaded by the robot, then she decides that there is no point in resisting the inevitable....Gary must truly be in deep trouble. Roberta shrugs, having known for many decades that eventually Gary would push things too far. "Well, Ferriol, make yourself useful. Is my old residence still available?"
Ferriol nods, "Of course, you registered it as your home."
"I was worried because I only lived there a short time and now I've been gone for months."
"No problem. There is no housing shortage. As long as it is registered to you it will remain available for your use. We are always looking for ways to attract new immigrants from Earth." The robot smiles mysteriously and adds an after thought, "Or, even old immigrants."
Monica is fascinated by the robot. "May I touch you?"
Ferriol stands and shakes Monica's hand, "Welcome back to the Moon, Monica." The robot slides into the bench seat next to Monica.
By casual observation, Monica cannot see any differences between the robot and a normal human. The robot's hand is warm and feels like human skin. Monica puts her hand to her temple. Welcome back? "So I have been here before? My memories of that are like a jumbled dream."
Ferriol explains, "Ya, Rupert was running a wholesale operation...Scully, Mulder, you, Frohike, Byers, Langly and even poor old Dr. Westlake....it was quite a party."
Roberta observes, "Nothing compared to the Floreana fiasco."
The robot chuckles, "Ha, ha, ya. Things certainly do get interesting when you are around."
Roberta scowls at Ferriol but says nothing more. Just how much does this robot know?
Monica had not previously connected Roberta with the Floreana case. "So, what was that object that the Floreana raised from the floor of the ocean?"
Ferriol replies, "Would you like to see it? It's in the bay right next to Gary's ship. Rupert still has not figured out how to open it."
Roberta mutters, "Rupert's lucky if he can get his zipper open before he pees on himself. Really, why do you Overseers let him bumble around on Earth?"
Ferriol sighs and crosses her arms across her chest and explains to Monica, "It's so hard to get good help. Soon the entire human Observer program will come to an end....there's just no future in it. Rupert and his brothers are all we have for work in English-speaking countries. Most of the Earth Observation program is already automated, anyhow."
Monica asks, "I suppose it is inevitable that this Base will be discovered and everyone on Earth will learn what has been going on here, will learn about this whole Observer program?"
Ferriol shakes her head, "No, it's a trivial matter to keep this Base hidden from Earthlings. It is just a matter of the transition from human Observers to robotic Observers. As soon as Earth has human-like robots we'll replace human Observers like Rupert with robot Observers."
Monica starts to understand. "So that's why Rupert is so concerned about Gary interfering with the development of computer technology on Earth. It's not just a matter of making computers with human-like intelligence, it's making robots that can replace humans!"
Ferriol nods. "Rupert suspects that Gary is already using robotic agents on Earth....robots that cannot easily be distinguished from humans, like myself. Of course, the use of such advanced technology on Earth would be highly illegal. It will remain illegal until Earth itself develops robotic technology to that level."
Monica asks, "Why? It seems like the perfect solution to Rupert's own problem...his brother was killed on Earth. Why risk more human lives when you could just as easily use robotic agents on Earth rather than human Observers? It seems like Rupert should be the first to make such use of robots."
Ferriol shakes her head. "No, Rupert is a fanatic. He'll sacrifice his brothers and himself rather than risk advanced robotics technology falling into the hands of Earthlings. Can you imagine what would have happened if Doggett had blasted open the head of a robot rather than the head of a human Observer?"
Monica cannot puzzle out why some technologies are allowed on Earth and not others. "No, I just don't get it. You seem to be saying that Rupert can fly a space ship to Earth but he is not allowed to use a robot on Earth. It's pretty clear that some kind of mind control device was put into my brain and into Scully's brain, but a similar device that might have saved the life of Rupert's brother is not allowed on Earth." She flexes her hand and thinks about the medical nanites.
Roberta pats Monica's leg. "It's all politics, it does not have to make sense."
Ferriol asks, "Politics? Oh, ya, in a sense. Actually, it's more a matter of drawing on past experience. Many planets have been observed going through their technological adolescences. Each Observation project for a world like Earth involves a complex set of drawn-out negotiations and arguments. For every such world it is up to Overseers like Therick to make the judgment calls. Of course, there is a huge body of precedents to draw upon in making the decisions about what technologies to use in any Observation program."
The tube car comes to a stop. Roberta takes Monica's hand and stands up. "This is our stop." She asks Ferriol, "Do I have to invite you along?"
Ferriol replies, "No, it's enough that I know where you are. I'll see you around."
Roberta and Monica exit the tube car and then climb out of the tube station. Roberta pauses and lets Monica look at the residential chamber. "Most of Moon Base is a series of interconnected chambers like this one. We are deep under ground, but almost all chambers are designed to look like they have a sky overhead."
Monica's eyes adapt to the low light conditions of a simulated night. The simulated stars are not like any real night sky of Earth, but more like an artist's attempt to re-invent the sky. "It's beautiful."