“So she might be from outer space after all,” Sam said.
“Or from the future,” Nila said. “Maybe she’s building an army of machines to take over the world and enslave humanity, Terminator-style.”
“That seems like a bit of a stretch,” Frederica said.
“Why?” Nila asked. “She wouldn’t be the first person from the future we’ve met.”
Sam raised an eyebrow.
“Who was the first?” they said.
“My sister,” Frederica replied. “Ozzy—Angela—it’s complicated. Anyway, I don’t think we should jump to conclusions quite yet.”
“Then what should we do?” Sam asked.
Frederica crossed her arms, glanced back. She rapped her fingers on her elbow, staring up at the building receding in the distance. She could see Jeannette’s office window from here.
“The photo,” she said.
“What photo?” Nila asked.
Frederica opened the image on her phone and held it out.
“We assumed they’re her parents,” Frederica said. “But maybe… maybe they’re the ones who built her. Do they look familiar to you?”
Nila leaned in close, studying the photo. She shook her head.
“Sorry, robotics isn’t really my field,” she said. “If you were looking for an astronaut or an exobiologist, I could totally hook you up.”
“Yeah, I don’t think that’ll help,” she said. “I’m going to text Leigh. She’s more of a hacktivist be she knows the tech world better than I do.” She attached the photo to a text message and typed, “Weird question, but do you recognize these people? They may be involved with robotics or artificial intelligence research.”
A minute later, Leigh replied:
“Sorry, can’t help you there. If these folks are local you might want to check the Computer Science department at VCU. A lot of AI specialists come out of there.”