Scene Title Legacies
Synopsis Colin Verse consults with an expert on memory and consciousness regarding a scientific endeavor.
Date February 11, 2021

"Before we get to any of the paperwork…"

Dull fluorescent lights illuminate a spacious downtown London office, tall Industrial Revolution-era factory windows look out onto a busy street. Situated behind a stout wooden desk scattered with paperwork and a typewriter, a square-jawed Englishwoman sits with rigid posture. The placard on her desk introduces her as Ms. Cynthia Wilkes. Certificates line the wall behind her. "I'd like to discuss a little bit about the particulars of this adoption." Across from Cynthia sits an expectant couple. One a dignified Turkish man with a thin mustache and elegantly coiffed hair who has refused to remove his sunglasses indoors, the other an elegant Iranian woman with dark hair only just now showing threads of silver, wearing a piqued smile on darkly-painted lips.

"Firstly, doctor did confirm that the boy's learning disability likely means that he will be incapable of socializing with other normal children his age." Cynthia says without concern for hos dehumanizing her terminology is. "He will require constant care and—"

"Ms. Wilkes." The man in the sunglasses says, sitting forward in his chair. "Do you know what I do for work?"

"Yes." Cynthia says with a shuffle of her hands in front of her, eyes averting down to the desk. "But understanding the needs of a mentally handicapped child and actually caring for them are—"

The man clicks his tongue while his wife remains silent, comfortable to let him handle this unsightly business. "Listen to me." He says firmly. At that verbal request, Cynthia's back straightens reflexively. "You are going to approve us for the adoption, without question or reservation."

"I see no reason to question this adoption any further," Cynthia says with an honest smile and a flutter of laughter as if the man was not talking to her. She slides the paperwork back over to herself and begins to sign on tab-noted regions. "I believe he'll be very happy in your home."

The man leans back in his seat, laying one hand on his wife's to give it a gentle squeeze. She smiles, knowingly, and the two look back to Cynthia. "You could do well in retirement, reflecting on your resentment toward children with learning disabilities."

"You know it's funny," Cynthia continues, signing papers. "I have felt in something of a rut lately. You two might be the last adoption I see through to the end. I've been considering relocating, you know… somewhere nice, warm?"

"I hear Siberia is wonderful this time of year." The man says through his teeth.

"Russia, maybe?" Cynthia remarks, finishing her signatures before turning the paperwork back over to the parents.

"Just sign here."

Forty Years Later

ARM Facility 2
Elbe Sandstone Mountains
Czech Republic

February 11th

4:17 pm Local Time

Colin Verse jolts awake a split second after falling asleep at his desk. The angled computer displays in front of him are still indicating an anomaly in the subsystem. Blinking blearily, he rubs a hand over his mouth and feels how long he's let his beard grow out. Slowly standing, Colin is greeted by a boxy, shoulder high robot that waddles over to him with an empty mug in its hand.

"Merhaba Frank." Colin says as he grinds the heel of his palm against one of his eyes. "Kahve, lütfen." He adds, and the robot's chest pops open revealing an inset coffee maker that dispenses a paper cup and begins percolating a fresh cup. Colin strides past the robot that pivots, following him as it gurgles and pops at his heels. Colin approaches another workstation, currently in the middle of a system diagnosis, and checks the progress meter which looks stalled at 77% for how long it's taking. The estimate below reads an insultingly high number.

Remaining Analysis: 96,480 minutes remaining

"Mn'right." Colin slurs as he stares at the screen, then straightens and walks to a third workstation. Hunching over this one, Colin calls up a security feed and cycles through a series of external cameras, then internal ones. "Where the fuck are you…" he mumbles to himself, continuing to toggle through cameras until he finds one labeled LAB-4 where he finds a man sitting with his back to a camera at a work bench. Colin sucks in a sharp breath and hisses out a sigh, straightening up and briskly hurrying through an open doorway. The boxy robot he'd asked for coffee—Frank—trundles along behind him at a quarter of the speed making a series of plaintive beeps and boops.

Hurrying down the hall, Colin passes by several automated fabrication labs in full production. When he finally reaches the room marked LAB-4 the door doesn't automatically open for him. He swipes his hand in front of the keypad. Nothing. He depresses his thumb to the biometric sensor then paces around in front of the door again. Nothing. Finally, Colin manually enters a seven digit passcode. Nothing.

"Jesus fuck," Colin whispers as he looks at the ceiling. "Open up!" He shouts at the door. He only waits a couple of beats before hammering on the door with the flat of his hand. "You can't lock me out of the fucking labs."

Down the hall, Frank is slowly approaching making a series of sad beeps and chirps. Colin pays the coffee-making machine no need as he hammers on the door again. "For fuck's sake please let me in or I swear to God I'll—"

The doors clunk loudly, then slide back into the wall. Colin, exasperatedly, slips through the doorway before it even finishes. Frank whines frustratedly, hurrying as fast as he can with a steaming cup of coffee in his chest.

Inside the lab, Colin is greeted by what looks like a whirlwind's aftermath. Tools are scattered around on the floor and nearby tables. The man he'd been looking for is sitting on an overturned metal container on the floor, laptop perched open on a milk crate in front of him. There's thick cabled spooled over in his direction, connected to some sort of heavy-duty coupling humming with electricity. The man turns, just enough for Colin to see his profile and that he's wearing some kind of helmet.

"You're serious." Colin remarks, coming around the side of the seated man. "You're going to fry your fucking brain." He chides, and the long-haired man sitting on the crate shakes his head, then finishes connecting the couplings of cables. He stands up, handing the wires over to Colin with a smile.

"You worry too much, Bro."


"Mm, yes. I worry." Colin agrees and then brandishes the power coupling with a jiggle of the thick wires. "That you are going to run, what is this, twenty fucking megawatts of electricity through your fucking brain?" He throws the couplings to the ground. "Take the stupid halo off." Colin grunts, reaching up for the helmet on Verse's head, only to have his hands slapped away.

"It's a safe conductive rate and it won't be a continuous current!" Verse shouts back, straightening the helmet. "If I can jumpstart the process I might be able to activate the protein chain that—"

Colin steps in, grabbing his brother by the wrist, then with his feet hand yanks the visored helmet off of his head. The two struggle a little and Colin holds the helmet like he'd threaten to smash it. "I need your help, not to wipe the ass of a vegetable." They lock eyes for a moment, and Verse sighs and scrubs his hands over his face.

"With what?" Verse asks exasperatedly, starting to pace around as he rakes his fingers through his hair. "I've run the same fucking models. Unless you're going to go and shove a usb stick up each of their individual assess there's nothing else to do."

"No, no, that's just the fucking problem you thick piece of shit." Colin says back at his brother, setting down the helmet on a tool-cluttered table. "What if we don't use hardware?" He suggests, making a shoo gesture to the helmet. Colin's brother looks skeptical, eyes narrowed, but doesn't have a rebuttal this time. He's curious, if nothing else.

"It's more than 70 percent wetware," Colin says with a vague gesture around his head. "Right? So what if we backfed everything the other way. I had this—daydream about dad while I was at my desk. You know the thing he could do, with his voice?"


"Throw neuroethics out the window. What if we use a wetware solution. Someone with persuasion." Colin explains, starting to get excited and his hands moving rapidly as he does.

"Bypassing objective and subjective thresholds…" Verse slowly nods as he follows. "But like, what, have someone do their best imitation of a 36k baud modem? Just shriek loudly and hope the Cogito node picks up the differentiation?"

"No, no. We daisy-chain." Colin says, tapping his fingertips together. "We get a technopath, a telepath, and a persuader. We get them linked up, right?"

"And use the telepath as a bridge!" Verse says excitedly, clapping his hands on his brother's shoulders. "The telepath just acts like a fucking cerebral router, we have the technopath feeding the data and the persuader entering the subject in a hypnotic state!" He laughs deeply, then claps his hands on Colin's shoulders again. "Holy shit that's brilliant!"

"You think it'd work?" Colin asks, trying not to get too excited.

"I mean maybe. The brain is a receptor, and since there's no hardware remote-access systems, we can't push a traditional firmware update without a hardwired connection. But we'd have to get into close proximity." Verse says with a look down to his helmet, then back to Colin. "Did we get the girl to run a test?"

Colin shakes his head, pacing around the lab. "I haven't heard anything so that's probably a no. I don't know if Logistics will let us send anyone into the field." Colin's remark has Verse regarding his brother with visible confusion.

"What about—" Verse starts to ask, but he sees that look in Colin's eyes. That look he remembers from their childhood. That struggle to keep a shit-eating grin in place. "Jesus Christ did they not clear it?"

"Look." Colin says with a shake of his head, looking to the doorway as Frank comes trundling in, beeping angrily with a tipped over paper cup in his chassis and coffee dribbling down his frame. Colin looks back to his brother, eyes expression a dread seriousness.

"What they don't know…"

4,100 Miles Away

10 Miles Outside of Philadelphia, PA

10:32 am Local Time

"…won't hurt them."

A beat-up brown pickup truck roars down a dusty back road through an ash-covered forest. A plume of dust kicks up from the back of the truck and its windshield wipers are the only thing keeping the road in view.

The driver keeps one hand on the wheel, slouched back against the bench seat, his other hand fishing around on the passenger seat. His hand fumbles over a loaded handgun, a folded body armor vest, and then reaches inside of a duffel bag and removes a full-visor facemask respirator and pulls it on over his head, adjusting the straps with one hand. As the forest parts and the coast comes into view, the driver pulls the truck over to the side of the road and gets out, walking across the dirt road to where piles of broken rock form an artificial coast in view of Philadelphia across a narrow bay. As the ruined city comes into view, the driver sees thick pillars of choking smoke billowing up from the flame-shrouded city.

Tense, the driver climbs up onto the rocks at the shoreline, looking out at the smoke and the fire. He breathes in deeply through his respirator, then hacks out a coughing sigh inside of his mask.



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