Elizabeth sat on the sectional couch with her elbows on her knees, her chin in her hands.
She wasn't really looking at anything, she was just thinking randomly about everything, trying to come up with some sort of solution.
She found herself gazing fixedly at Daria's head, which was sitting on the floor with a surprised look on her / its' face.
The wires sticking out of the severed neck had stopped sizzling. Because there was no blood, Daria's head wasn't nearly as frightening as it should have been.
The head reminded her of the line in Shakespeare's "Hamlet" where the Danish Prince holds out the skull.
"Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well".
Elizabeth leaned forward and picked up the head. She held it in front of her.
"Alas poor Daria, I knew her not ."
Anya understood the reference immediately and giggled. Elizabeth rather liked Anya. She already thought of the blonde as an Alli.
"Am I right in assuming that you built Daria as well as Swapna, Murali?"
" Only part of her, she is a team effort. I built her "innards", others built her "outards" if that's even a word. Daria is a prototype."
Anya giggled again. She didn't handle stress well, apparently. Finding out that Daria wasn't a real person was more stress than she could handle all at once.
"You built all the internal software, and someone else built the external hardware, is that what you're saying?" Elizabeth inquired.
She made herself comfortable. They weren't going anywhere for awhile.
"Yes. When Jason took me from my own time of 1977 he took me back to his time of 2029. He wanted me to build intelligent robots to use as foot soldiers in his battle to dominate the world. I balked. The potential for mass human destruction was just too great, so I built in a series of fail safes."
"Fail safes, like a self destruct button?" This from Elizabeth.
"No, I mean fail safes like an impenetrable moral code built right into Daria's brain, that prevent her from harming a human being in any way. She wasn't sucking out your brain Elizabeth, she was merely retrieving stolen information. She would have stopped after the retrieval was complete. Even Swapna couldn't have made Daria hurt you."
"So how did Daria go from being a robot soldier to being an android examiner?" There's a chasm of information there, Murali." Anya entered the conversation.
"I built Daria's brain, spinal column and nervous system. I also built her skeleton so that no metallic robotic super armour or weapons systems could adapt to it. Jason was not amused, so he took the project away from me.
"He had other scientists build her musculature, skin and features. The result was an intelligent, non violent humanoid with a strict moral code and emotions. Jason couldn't use her for his original purpose, so he sent her back to 2009 to weed out the smart ones."
"Does anyone else know that you came in here loaded for bear, Murali? What about Swapna, is she transmitting everything that's going on in this room to Jason right now?" Elizabeth asked worriedly.
"No, I'm the one that does the examination monitoring. Jason used to do it, but it bored him, so it fell to me to do it. When I saw what Daria was doing, I tried to break the connection between Daria and Swapna remotely from my console, but it didn't work.
"The only way to break the connection was to blow Daria's head off. I knew she wouldn't hurt you, but it occurred to me that it might not be a bad thing to let you retain the knowledge you got from Swapna."
"You've met both of yourselves from the future. so have I. They regret some of the work they did when they were your age.They have asked for my help to keep you alive and out of trouble. That means getting you out of here before a bond is forged between you and Jason."
"You mean before we got married? Are you trying to say that I actually fell in love with Jason?"
"Up to a point, yes. He filled your mind with all the wonderful things that the two of you could do for mankind through time travel, etc. You actually worked well together for quite awhile. You married sometime between 2019 and 2029, I'm not sure when.
"It's when Jason started using your work to gain power and prestige in illegal and evil ways, that the Elizabeth of 2029 became disillusioned with him.
"The three versions of you even tried to give Jason's mother an abortion to stop him from controling the entire future of mankind. Now we have to stop him from doing that. Whatever we do now will affect Jason's behaviour in 2029. He can't get here himself because Elizabeths 2019 and 2029 have the tesseract."
"So what do we do now, Murali?" Anya wanted to know.
"We rebuild Daria. Nobody knows that she's had an "accident". I blew Daria's head off from behind. I severed the spinal chord. Swapna doesn't know what happened, only that she was disconnected. I prevented her from gaining access through the TV screen. Right now, Swapna is literally in the dark.
"From now on, Daria is going to be our eyes and ears. She's going to tell us who is safe to talk to, and who isn't. We need allies to get not only you, but me, Anya and Daria out of here safely. If Jason finds out what we're up to, we're all dead."