Outside my open front door the late-morning sun was shining. A light breeze rustled oak leaves and only a few bright white clouds drifted across the sky. I processed a few orders for eBooks and shirts, dumped my spam folder, turned off the computer, and stood up to stretch.
As I walked past the garage door on my way to the kitchen, I could almost hear my bike whining like a puppy, begging for a run in the country. Or maybe it was just me, I suppose. Waves of thunderstorms had kept me off my bike for three days.
Taking my coffee mug's lid apart, I sprayed the pieces with Lysol's 'clean-everything' soap and brushed it, then cleaned the mug itself. As I rinsed and reassembled the mug, I saw Michelle Harding's teen son start to cut across my lawn. I sent a tendril to trip him and he went down. When he got up and continued walking, I tripped him again. And again.
The kid looked thoroughly mystified at this point, examining the area around himself closely for some moments. He seemed to come to some conclusion and side-stepped twice, then continued forward. I tripped him again and he fell near the sidewalk. This time he didn't stand up immediately.
He again closely examined the yard for some moments, then he stood up on the sidewalk. When he took a cautious step and didn't trip, he took another step, then another one. Though still cautious, he achieved better than a normal walking speed and made it to the corner, where he crossed the street. Looking back, he again studied my yard briefly, then hurried on.
I finished making my coffee and grabbed a few plastic grocery bags, then headed out the porch doors to the plastic picnic table on my brick patio extension. Without linking to Athena, I created a field probe and used it to scan myself, then had it monitor my every motion as I walked to my tangerine tree and picked fruit to fill a grocery bag.
When the bag was full, I returned to the table, set the bag down, and opened a tangerine as I reviewed the probe's data through my link to it. Switching modes made my image look like an extremely detailed CAD drawing. Zooming in, I saw that even the rivets in my pockets and stitches were shown in crisp detail. I sent a command to make the image move and it repeated my walk to the tree and reached for a tangerine.
Switching to a movie-style view of things, I stopped my image and tried to find a way to get a handle on making only certain parts of it move. Half a tangerine and some coffee later, I finally made the image sidestep, then reach up. After a bit of trial and error, the image ran around the tree and jumped to grab some of the higher tangerines.
Good 'nuff. Casting a concealment field around the yard, I called up a second probe, had it remake itself in my image, and tried to make it move as I had the CAD image. Ed2 just stood there, of course, staring ahead like a well-detailed mannequin. I wondered what the hell was different about it as I continued to try to make it move.
I'd finished the tangerine before something seemed to occur to me on some subconscious level. I tried to define it a little better, but couldn't put words to it, so I just used it. Ed2 raised an arm and lowered it on command. Kewl. I spent some time making the sim move in various ways, then had it pick up a grocery bag and go to the tree.
Catherine manifested beside me as I had Ed2 reach for a tangerine. I had the sim toss the tangerine to me, then turned to face Cat. She wore a white blouse, khaki shorts, work gloves, a straw sun hat, and looked like a fifties pinup.
Turning left, then right, she grinningly asked, "Like it? This is my gardening ensemble."
I returned her grin and said, "Wowsers, ma'am. Even after all this time, you're still a gorgeous goddess to me."
She chuckled softly, "How fortunate for both of us." Noddingly indicating Ed2, she asked, "Have you become too lazy to use field tendrils?"
Grinning, I peeled my tangerine and said, "Guess so. It's Friday, milady. Your last day with me. Are you counting the moments to noon and freedom?"
Cat shrugged. "I'm a computer. I count everything. Can't seem to help myself." She sat down by the table and said, "But I could have helped you build your simulation."
"Thanks, but I'm trying to find ways to do things on my own. Why can I make some things happen almost without effort, but I have to struggle with other things? It's all the same tech, isn't it?"
"Yes, but just as with your laptop, command structures may vary considerably with the complexity of tasks."
Conjuring a field screen, she showed me a graph depicting Athena's computer core usage through the morning. Nodding at the upper right side of the screen, I said, "Kewl. I managed to use almost one whole percent of her processing capabilities."
Cat said, "Not to criticize, but while exceptional by your standards, your efforts were rather inefficient."
I shrugged, said, "Like I said, I'm still figuring some things out," and ate another section of tangerine.
Crossing her gorgeous field-generated legs, Cat canted her head slightly and remarked dryly, "My point exactly. I could guide you if I knew what you were trying to accomplish."
"You haven't run my activity logs?"
"No. You haven't taken me into your confidence in this matter, so I judged it private."
Mentally taking control of the field screen, I changed the display to my activities of the morning and said, "I've been recording myself and constructing a field simulation. Feel free to offer tips."
I had Ed2 pick some more tangerines. When Cat looked at it, I had the other 'me' grin and give her a little two-fingered salute, then reach into the tree to pick some more fruit.