“01001000 01000101 01001100 01010000,” – Hannibal, Rogue VI on Luna, 2183 CE. After being decommissioned, Hannibal went on to become the core intelligence behind the Enhanced Defense Intelligence, now known as EDI.
They were sitting in the lounge, Elias with a small robotic spider on his hand and Arkara with a bottle of beer.
“Want to talk about it?” Elias asked as he looked at the data feeds scrolling through his visor.
“I’m a clone,” Arkara grunted. “And not really.”
“You could have been Chief,” Elias said.
“I’d be a terrible Chief,” Arkara said. “Leaving the Shaman in charge was the right thing to do. What’s that?”
“A gift from Rayne,” Elias said. “Tiny spider spy cam. I killed its feed and took control of it. Not that it would be much use now we’ve jumped universes, but still.”
“Is that what she left in your room?”
“No, she left music chit for me. I found this in the cargo bay. Judging by the capacitor wiring it’s quarian made. Don’t see that configuration outside our envirosuits much.”
“What did she want?”
“No idea,” Elias said, putting the spider into an equally tiny compartment inside his suit. “I’m glad she was around to get Sync back though. And talk Cicepia down.”
Arkara glanced towards the Turian’s room, where she’d retreated once they’d boarded the ship. Occasionally there’d been the sound of a biotic field hitting the wall. The krogan shrugged and took another gulp of beer.
“If he’ll help my people, I’d prefer that Chen human alive.”
“That’s a pretty big if.”
Arkara shrugged again and drained her beer. “You certain you get get sample of genophage cured krogan tissue to Rayne?”
“Sure,” Elias said. “I’ll pay someone if I can’t find a willing volunteer.”
“Okay,” Arkara said, belching loudly and clambering to her feet. “I need more beer.”
“Do I want to know how many you’ve had?”
The krogan shook her head. “Not enough. There’s a line of bottles in the kitchen to keep score…”
“Knock yourself out,” Elias said. “Maybe not literally. I’m going to check in on Sync.”
“Creator Elias, if Thek Arkara is typical of her species, it would take at least fifty standard drinks to incapacitate her, assuming fully formed secondary organs.”
Elias blinked. “Thanks Pi, I’ll keep that in mind if I ever decide to get into a drinking contest with her.”
“With a full supply of tox filters, and if you didn’t actually drink all the alcohol piped into your suit, you should be able to go for at least sixty standard drinks, Creator Elias.”
Elias paused at the door of the med bay. “Pi are you suggesting I should cheat in a drinking contest?”
“Of course not, Creator Elias,” Pi said. “I merely suggested a method by which you could win should you so desire.”
“Sure, just lay all the moral decisions onto the organic.”
“You are not fully organic anymore, Creator Elias.”
“You’re changing the subject.”
The med bay had two sets of doors, and a short corridor with discreet decontamination. It was one of the things that kept a clean room clean, although the med bay had windows and speakers that helped it sound like it was easily down the hallway from the rest of the ship, rather than being it’s own sealed environment. That feature could, of course, be turned off, but Elias quite liked the noise. He was used to the way human, turian and asari spacecraft didn’t get have the thrumming, squeaking and chatter of the migrant fleet, although the fleet itself was but a memory now. He wasn’t, however, used to the near silence of sealed rooms. When on the Citadel, he’d found himself turning on the television just for noise, or turning off the sound dampeners on the windows to hear the buzz of skycars flying past. Sync was sitting up on one of the beds, propped up against a pile of pillows. A datapad lay unnoticed in his lap as he stared off into the distance somewhere on the other side of the far wall.
“You look a bit better than dead,” Elias said.
“Hey,” Sync said, turning to look at him. “Thanks for saving me back down there. Cicepia said you did a lot of the work.”
Elias shrugged “I’m just glad I remembered enough human medicine to know what to do,” he said.
“I didn’t realise you kept medicine on you.”
“With my immune system? Please I always have something,” Elias said. “But your medical system seemed to have pretty much everything diagnosed. I just had to remember what the treatments were.”
Sync’s bionic eye stared accusingly at him. “Wait, what? You…hacked into my systems to medicate me?”
“No, your survival subroutines kicked in. Popped up with a holoscreen display and voice interface. Sounded a lot like Tricey actually—um, Beatrice.”
The two men looked at each other for a moment
“You…didn’t know you had that?” Elias asked finally.
“Can you keep a secret?” Sync asked.
“Well, yes, but it’s probably a little late now.”
Wordlessly, Sync pressed a corner of his metal chest piece, and a small section opened, from which he extracted a small data cube, which he handed to Elias.
“Scanning,” Pi said.
An image of the chip’s internal data started scrolling up on Elias’ helmet display. “Sync this isn’t a VI chip…”
“I call it OI,” Sync said. “It’s Original Intelligence.”
“That’s my wife.”
“Yes, okay, but is it an imprint of her consciousness, a reconstruction based on observed traits—”
“That is her consciousness.”
“Wait, you created a synthetic clone of Beatrice including her mind?”
Sync shrugged. “Long story short, a friend and I were working on different aspects of the same research—he found a way to turn human DNA into binary code. I came up with a way to incorporate binary body parts into human flesh. I guess we were both working towards what you already have: synthesis. I used the machine to save a copy of my wife. I hoped I’d be able to… with synthesis I can bring her back.”
“So you can reverse engineer her DNA from this,” Elias said, staring down at the chip. “No, no, that wouldn’t work. DNA doesn’t contain her mind. It would just be her clone.”
“That’s what I’ve been working on,” Sync said. “How to bring her back—my Beatrice, not just a clone. She’s never activated in my systems before—she just…the lights are from her,” he said.
“If this is her,” Elias said. “Including all of her memories and her mind—if she’s sentient inside of your systems to a degree…do you not want to…activate her?”
“I do and I don’t.”
“She’s activated once on her own.”
“Not like that,” Sync said. “I tried to activate her once. Properly.”
“It brings back bad memories.”
“For you,” Elias said. “She’s the one having her consciousness turned off.”
Sync stared at him for a long time, and Elias thought he saw fear, longing and loneliness warring on the man’s features. “Maybe another time,” Sync said finally. “It’s been a hell of day and I don’t know if I’m up to it, if you understand?”
“I understand where you’re coming from,” Elia said, holding the electronic chip up to the medbay lights. “But if this is your wife, if this is really the consciousness of your wife-don’t you think she deserves to be…well…conscious?”
Sync’s fingers smoothed the bedsheets over his thighs. “I never thought of it that way,” he said finally. “What would you suggest?”
“I can build an isolated AI platform for her. Basic optics and speech, no networking capabilities or visibility of ship systems and modular, portable storage. I think I saw some old blue boxes in Drimi’s stash and I suppose now I know why. Build one, plug her in and see what she wants to do.”
“Okay,” Sync said. “I think she’d appreciate that. I do too.”
“Do you want to be around for it?” Elias asked.
“Not at first,” Sync said. “If it doesn’t go well, I don’t think I could…you know…”
Elias nodded. “Sure. I’ll set up an area in the conference centre and I’ll let you know if it works. I’ll need to hang on to this though.”
“Okay then. Glad to see you’re conscious again, Captain.”
Sync gave him a half smile. “Thanks for saving my life back there.”
As the outer door of the medbay snicked open, Elias nearly ran into Cicepia, who looked poised to enter the doorway.
“How is he?” Cicepia asked.
“Physically, he’s fine,” Elias said. “How are you?”
The turian shrugged. “Stewing.”
“It shows,” Elias said. “You know your get a dark energy flicker around your headcrest when you’re mad?”
“Just listening to him… no remorse. I know it wasn’t my Octavius, but—”
“Octavius killed his daughter,” Elias pointed out. “I don’t think it’s that simple.”
“She was probably Cerberus too,” Cicepia fumed, pacing up and down the corridor.
“And if Octavius had been working for an organisation like Cerberus would you suddenly not love him as much?” Elias asked. “Does that mean Book Chen couldn’t love his daughter?”
Cicepia sighed. “Turians aren’t good at moral dilemmas, Elias,” she said. “It one of the things that make us turian. I just… after how I reacted down there? I wonder if I’m really all that different from my selves in the other universes.”
“Are you planning on assassinating the Shadow Broker?” Elias asked. “Or backstabbing your fellow cops to get a promotion?”
“Then I’d say you’re doing better than them.”
Cicepia chuckled. “I’m going to go say hi to the Captain,” she said.
“Sure,” Elias said. “Take care of yourself.”