Sunday, July 18, 2010, throughout the day and following week
As Gidget gathers her things, she feels the subtle presence of another Promethean. She decides to look outside, and seeing nothing, she walks around the outside of the motel. Still seeing nothing, but feeling the same presence, she makes another circuit, and is then greeted by the sound of a clearing throat. She turns around to see a woman — tall, tanned, attractive, fit, and wearing sunglasses, a tank top, black BDU pants, and combat boots. With her strange double-vision, however, Gidget sees her as she truly is — a synthetic humanoid of plastic and metal, just like Gidget. Initially too stunned to speak, Gidget finally murmurs that the woman is just like herself. The woman agrees. Gidget excitedly extends her hand and begins to introduce herself, and as the woman returns the gesture, she only gets to introduce herself as “M—” before looking to the side and telling Gidget to run. Gidget glances to see two men in BDUs wielding submachine guns. They order the two to get on the ground; Gidget responds by running. As she runs around the side of the building, she hears the man in pursuit. She tries to lose him in the woods behind the motel, but he catches up to her and attempts to tackle her. She dodges to the side, and as he starts to raise his weapon, she stares him down, hypnotizing him. She instructs him to relax and leave her alone, and then scampers off into the woods and hides behind a tree. He seems confused and disoriented at first, but finally jogs back to the front of the building.
Gidget then scampers up a tree to see if she can get a look at things. After a bit, she sees the mysterious woman speed away on a motorcycle. Shortly thereafter, she sees the two men leave in a black Hummer. Climbing down, she returns to her room, grabs the last of her things, and quickly checks out. She drives after them, but is not terribly surprised when she cannot find them. She then finds a place with Wi-Fi and first posts a “Missed Connections” advert on Craigslist, obliquely referring to her encounter with “M.” She then calls Lilith, describing the encounter and asking her if she knows anything about “M.” Lilith says she is unfamiliar, but if she happens to hear any references to “M,” she will let Gidget know. Gidget also emails Dr. Zirpoli, referring to her discovery.
Gidget then starts driving for New Orleans. Along the way, she emails Billy Taylor to let him know that she will be in the area, and to inform him of her progress. When she checks her email as she nears New Orleans, he asks if she would care to meet him for lunch tomorrow. Responds affirmatively, and arrives in New Orleans around midnight. She finds a hotel and goes to sleep.
The next morning, Gidget walks around the city for a few hours before meeting with Billy at a nearby restaurant. They talk about how things are going with his oil recovery efforts, and Gidget tells him that she encountered another robot such as herself, though she had little opportunity to talk to her because they were attacked by the uniformed men. Billy says they sounded military or paramilitary, and said the whole incident seemed to remind him of something, though he couldn’t place what. He said he would let her know if he remembered, though.
After lunch, Gidget accompanies Billy down to the delta, where he puts his raft and netting to use, collecting tar balls. Despite the hard work, Gidget is interested in the process, and returns the next day to aid him before indicating that she is leaving New Orleans. He wishes her luck and says he will contact her if anything interesting happens or he remembers anything.
She stays in the city that night, leaving New Orleans on Wednesday morning. She makes the trip to Arlington, VA over the course of two days, sleeping in her car at night and calling Paul St. Claire to ask if he can recommend a good hotel. He indicates that he knows somebody who works at a hotel, and that he can get her a discount.
She arrives at the hotel Thursday evening, and meets Paul. He introduces her to his friend, Gene, who gives her the employee discount. Gene says he will catch up with them later, and then the two proceed to retire to her room and discuss what has happened. Paul says he has not been doing anything terribly exciting since returning to Arlington, and Gidget informs him of her encounter with “M.” She indicates that she has little to go on — just a description and the first letter of her name — though Paul then proceeds to ask about the uninvestigated leads she still has. She eventually determines that she still does not know the full scope of the mystery surrounding Dr. Frye’s death, and she also has not spoken to Dr. Henry Gutermuth in Los Angeles (though she did send an email and never received a response), Dr. Rose Morgan in Pittsburgh, or Dr. Katashi Kimura in a mental institution in Seattle. She also has not recounted the full events of her meeting with “M” to Dr. Zirpoli. In addition, they determine that this is all probably related to Project: REGINA that Gillian Palmer mentioned in Las Vegas. Paul also dissuades her from putting out information to search for “M,” particularly if some unknown government group is looking for her. Despite the fact that it occurs to her that “M” might stand for a title rather than a name, and thus she might have a little less information than she thought. She sends an email to Gillian Palmer to ask if she might know anything further about Project: REGINA, and she sends an email to Dr. Rose Morgan saying she is related to Dr. Robert Frye and that she is interested if Dr. Morgan could tell her anything noteworthy.