Sands

It takes several weeks before the scientists manage to successfully install memories in their synthetic test subject, Oliver. Initially, they had sought to find compatible memories from an actual human to implant, but Roger had quickly brought that to a swift close. He didn’t want to take such a risk. He had deemed it unnecessary and dangerous.

The scientists, if they had been honest and asked of their opinions, had been relieved their boss had made such a decision. But not for the same reasons as Roger. They didn’t perceive there would be any risk in such an act, no; instead they simply couldn’t find a set of compatible human memories that would have been appropriate for use. The reality the scientists found was that synthetics were just too different for the implantation to be successful.

Instead an array of fabricated memories were constructed, scrutinized, tested and then finally implanted. Following which another set of rigorous tests were performed while the synthetic, Oliver, was sealed in a containment unit. The scientists were essentially retreading the path they’d followed during the initial pre-trails. But, whereas the original pre-trails had been predominantly successful, these new pre-trails were universally successful, without a single point of failure. In fact, on top of that Oliver was both quicker and clearer when completing tasks provided to him. The scientists had rejoiced at their successes, while both Roger and Charles had remained subdued. Both had their reservations, but for very different reasons.

Roger fears that they have been too successful up to this point and is sure failure is soon to come, likely at the worst possible time, and he knows what that will mean for him and Mammoth Tech. Charles on the other hand, fears what this continued success may bring. After all, humanity had made a mistake much like this one before and it had nearly cost the survival of the species. As a former spy Charles doesn’t like the idea of risking everything when the previous simulations were showing progress, however slow it may have been.

Charles knows the problem lies not with the technology but with humanity itself. Impatience has always got the better of mankind and as a result has cost them dearly. Few are willing, especially among the members of the House, to play the long game and chip away at the problem until the solution naturally manifests. In that way Charles is much like a scientist. Sure breakthroughs are marvellous, but rare, and should never be expected and treated as though they are a foregone conclusion en lieu of good solid work and research. Advancements take time, he notes to himself. They are rarely an overnight phenomenon comparable to how a bullet comes out of a gun.

Before long the day comes for the beginning of the new simulation attempts. Charles and Roger having both insisted on several mock runs, as well as a slow build up before allowing the precept seventy three evading synthetic known as Oliver to begin a full uninterrupted run.

“We’re ready to begin.” A young spectacled scientist says as he looks over at Roger and Charles, who are stood side-by-side.

Roger, who has watched the young genius approach then now looks to Charles, who is a hair closer to the scientist than he, for a few seconds. But during the short glance Charles gives no indication of issue with the simulation beginning. So Roger turns back to the young scientist.

“Begin.” Roger says with a nod.

The simulation fires up and they watch as Oliver awakens on a deserted sandy beach, surveys his immediate surroundings, and then swims to the largest island. There the synthetic rests for a time before venturing into the palms. It’s the furthest the synthetic has ever reached in the simulation.  Charles and Roger watch with baited breath as Oliver contemplates the questions that he thinks make him human. Oliver ponders where he came from and gets an answer, New York. Then he wonders why he was on the cruise ship, he knows it’s a cruise ship, vacation. After the conclusion of his vacation to Haiti he’ll be starting a new job in Miami, Florida. It all makes sense to Oliver, a coherent past, a story which gives believability as to why and how he got here. He still has gaps. Like he has no idea how he’s gone from being on the cruise ship to waking up on a small sandy island, but he doesn’t question himself. Those small gaps can all be explained away.

It’s a miracle, Roger and Charles both think. They have finally done it. All it took was a simple change, an addition really, that made it possible to break through the stalemate of failure after failure.

Oliver though still feels off. His skin crawls, but he can’t explain why. Then he realises that it feels as though he is being watched. He scans around him but finds nothing. He is clearly alone, so why does he feel a presence. Multiple presences, sixteen of them in fact, and all of them are… In that moment Oliver turns in the direction of where it feels the presences are and stares.

Roger, Charles and the scientists freeze in place. Oliver has turned toward them and is staring at them like he can see them. Oliver can’t see them. It’s not possible they all think as they stay motionless for a few minutes and then Oliver’s eyes glow blue. It’s a faint glow at first but it quickly gets brighter and more obvious. Roger, Charles and the scientists all gulp loudly in response as they wonder: what have they done?

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