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Not The Routine Experiment, Part Two MAG
Last month, in Part One of "Not the Routine Experiment," we met Adam. Adam lives sometime in the future in a self-contained microcosm in outer space. Adam has been sent home from an intergalactic science fair in disgrace, after his experimental teleportation machine malfunctions and transports his science officer outside the protective hull of their ship.
On returning home, he angrily throws the faulty machine across the room, cracking the supposedly impenetrable hull that separates his quarters from the depths of space. Before the automatic defense system is able to repair the crack, the room temperature drops to below 0 Celsius. When the hull is repaired moments later, Adam finds that the dramatic drop in temperature has caused the skin on his right hand to split and crack apart, exposing not bone and muscle, as Adam expected, but a mass of wires and metal parts. The name "S.Carter" is inscribed on one of the rods inside his hand.
Adam seeks out the mysterious S.Carter at Conceptions, Inc., in Space Station A3.
Here is the conclusion of "Not the Routine Experiment."
She had black hair, permed in the style of the late twentieth century, a fitting match to the furnishings of the room. The woman wore a red, blue, and yellow rugby shirt and blue jeans, as well as, though Adam could not tell how he knew, contact lenses. Not quite the garb of a scientist, Adam noted silently. He slowly moved toward the desk, extending his gloved hand. "Hello, Mrs. ... " he began uneasily.
"Susan Carter," she completed his greeting, standing courteously. She could tell from his surprise that he wasn't expecting a woman. "Call me Susan. I'm sorry that there aren't any other seats, but I wasn't expecting a visit from you quite yet." As she shook his hand the woman noticed the glove, eagerly asking what had happened. Adam carefully described the events leading up to his discovery. Her face lit up with pride as he removed the glove and showed her the condition of his hand.
It was obvious that he didn't find anything admirable in his mechanical body part. "Are you responsible for this?" he questioned her bluntly.
Susan was slightly shocked. Regaining her composure, the scientist explained. "Yes. It was rude of me not to fully introduce myself," she admitted. "I work for Conceptions Incorp ..."
"Am I human?"
The direct nature of his conversation took Susan by surprise. "Umm ...," she faltered. "I ... let me finish explaining. I work for Conceptions Incor-porated. Several years ago I was commissioned to work on a very special project for the government, forbidden to tell anyone about what I was doing. I think I can tell you," she chuckled, "since you're the basis of it."
Adam didn't smile at her last comment, standing dispassionately in front of the scientist, waiting for an answer. Susan's smile was lost in Adam's silent gaze, and she hastily returned to her explanation.
"I was told that I had to create an android that was so perfect that the droid itself would believe itself human." She took a deep breath. "You are my masterpiece."
Adam's gaze remained unemotional, but Susan could have sworn she saw a brief flash of incredulity surface on the android's darkened visage.
She was unsure of what to say next. "I'll explain what we've done with you," she said, clumsily grasping at words. "Your so-called Askin' is a mixture of different types of plastics we've developed. It makes a virtually impermeable covering that protects your metallic skeleton. Unfortunately, the skin isn't impervious to extreme temperatures , you can see the results of that for yourself."
Susan pointed to Adam's metal claw, but the boy made no acknowledgment of her gesture.
Susan continued. "Your eyesight has an amplification feature, allowing you to see the most minuscule details. That's how you could see that I'm wearing contacts."
Adam finally spoke. "How did you know that?"
Susan smiled, pleased that she finally got a reaction from him. "Your brain is the greatest masterpiece of all. It is, obviously, computerized, regulating all functions that your body has to carry out. Your brain has the capability to think, and your thoughts are sent out like radio waves and picked up by my computer. Thus we have a constant link between you and your thoughts.
"There is one small detail that we were unable to work out, though," she confessed. "The program responsible for your emotions was not fully developed , we were rushed and couldn't wait for it to be perfected. It was installed as a rudimentary machine, one that could be replaced once the new one was created. The program running now handles simple emotions , anger, fear, joy, etc. However, when two or more extreme emotions are combined at the same time, problems arise. When you were sent home today from the science fair, you were disappointed with your failure, envious of the Venusian student who beat you, and mad at the people who laughed at you. This Aemotional overload' triggered the strength centers of your brain, and you were thus physically able to break the ship's hull."
"So I'm not human," he observed sadly.
Susan frowned. "I'm sorry, Adam. Six weeks ago you didn't even exist."
"What happens to me now?"
Susan sat back down and took a deep breath. "The government is a very secretive organization, and they don't want anyone to get their hands on any information regarding this project. According to my contract, I ...," she faltered, realizing for the first time that this was not the routine experiment, but that she was , though she hated to admit it , becoming emotionally involved. He was just a robot, she tried to tell herself, he's not real. But as she looked into his sad eyes, she felt as if she were about to kill her own son. She took a deep breath before proceeding. "My contract states that after you become aware of your status, you are to be ... deactivated."
Adam slammed his fist down upon the table. "You can't do this! Why ... if you terminate me, then all of your work will be erased!"
Susan smiled inwardly because it appeared as if the "Self-Preservation" fail-safe mechanism was operational. Once activated, no matter what the android's actions, all energy was directly rerouted to any and all actions that would lead toward the android's continued existence. Seeing Susan in a life-threatening position to him, Adam tried to convince the scientist to change her mind. Susan looked into Adam's artificial eyes, his face still full of sadness.
"I took notes from start to finish, and stored them on a floppy disk. You won't have to remain functioning, because we already know the experiment worked and that a new prototype can be identically recreated with my data."
Susan ashamedly turned around, looking out the great window into space, contemplating her position. After a brief pause, she whirled around, smiling broadly. "Scan the area," she commanded, "for the link connecting this room to the main security system."
Adam glanced at her questioningly, but did what he was told. Looking up at the ceiling, the android's super vision pierced through the ceiling and located the clump of wires that would alert the security guards in case of an emergency. "Done," he replied.
"Rip them out."
The ceiling was low, and so Adam punched his fist through and easily removed the wires, disconnecting them from the main computer.
"We don't have much time," she said anxiously. She put the floppy disk into the disk drive and formatted it. "Adam, I need you to crush the computer console."
The droid took the rectangular device and crushed it in on itself. Sue groped hurriedly through her pockets, but finally found the packet of matches she was looking for. She ran from the desk to one of the bookcases, lighting the books.
"Quickly! We have to get out of here before they realize the security circuit was cut!"
In all her haste, though, they both briefly paused to watch as the fiery tendrils extending from the heart of the blaze enveloped the room. Adam opened the door and the two fled down the hallway, leaving the portal open to allow extra air to feed the fire, giving the government the opportunity to wonder about what had happened. n
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