Once the slow work of caring for all the embryos was completed, PQ12 led TO further to the back of the room and showed them to a smaller laboratory. They opened the door and revealed a dimly lit room with a spacious desk at one end. The walls were covered in vials of the orange fluid that they had been feeling the embryos, each one set over a little chip in the racks they were set in. TO went up to the wall and held their implant up, activating it’s sensor. A moment later they were given a little box of information about the vial before them.
KDC 1123 S2 D13
Viscosity seems to be decreased, though appears to have a tendency to form strands; may cause issues with transference of nutrients.
“That’s nothing interesting to you yet.” PQ12 said as they noticed TO checking the notes, “Just some reminders for myself. Perhaps if you spend some time to understand what I’m doing, you’ll find it interesting” they turned towards their desk, “You should be able to take off your goggles here.” they said, “The lights are dimmer, and more comfortable. The work isn’t quite so delicate. Intricate-“ they gave TO a sharp look, driving in the point that they were not disparaging their own work, “but not as delicate.”
TO gratefully pulled off their goggles and set them down on a nearby desk before they started looking closely at the bottles. “This is the nutrient fluid?”
“Correct.” PQ12 said, “This is where I make it.”
TO turned and looked at PQ, their brows furrowing, “I thought that this was one of those things that King Decon made.” They said, “Things that we’re not able to understand.”
PQ12 stifled a snort and shook their head, “Ah, no. The nutrient fluid is far simpler. Something that even a synth can create… or improve on.” They grinned. “It’s simple, in theory. There’s an assortment of various micronutrients in the fluid. It has to be dense enough to be able to provide enough nutrients to the embryos, but thin enough that it can properly flow through the rudimentary circulatory system. As well, there’s only a certain amount that each embryo can process each day.”
“So...” TO said slowly as they looked at the vials, “If you’re trying to improve on it, then I’m guessing that you’re trying to find a way to put more nutrients into the same amount of fluid without affecting how thick the fluid is?”
“And without using any chemicals that might hurt the embryos, or make the nutrients themselves have a lesser effect. Or without causing the embryonic fluids to react poorly. Yes.” They gestured to the vials on the walls, “Each one as some primary cells harvested from… essentially leftovers of the development process. I leave that in the sample for a span, and then measure the growth afterwards. If there’s substantially more growth than what we’re currently using, then it goes run through a synthetic placentia- “
“A replica of those things you saw on the inside of the tanks.” PQ12 said, “What the embryos were attached to. It’s basically a way the embryo processes the nutrients. They keep those up until a certain stage of development. It has to be able to run effectively though those to be effective.”
“Then it gets used on the synths?”
“Then it gets a trial, yes.” They said, “I’ve not been able to go all the way to a proper trial In spans; It was before you left the tanks, anyway.” They sighed. “ I’m getting ahead of myself.” They pointed to a desk next to theirs, “I could use the help going through some primary simulations of some formulae that I developed, to see that it won’t have immediate, negative effects.”
“Yes. Officer.” TO said, “If we get this right, then less synths will get sick, right?”
PQ12 gave a quick, brief smile, their ears flicking up, “Correct. Less sick synths, and more strong, healthy ones.” Their smile faltered, and they turned back to their computer. “More healthy synths to serve King Decon. There is no better way I myself may serve.”
TO froze. There was an unmistakable hint of sarcasm in PQ12’s voice, laced with bitterness and anger. They saw the sudden flick back of PQ12’s ears, and realized that they were in fact angry.
“Have I offended you?” TO asked.
“Oh... oh no.” PQ12 said quickly, “It’s not you. Don’t worry about it.”
PQ12 wasn’t lying, but they also didn’t elaborate. Well, it didn’t matter– it wasn’t TO’s place to pry. After a moment, they wondered if the Officer was simply angry with PQ03 because of the argument they had overheard eariler.
TO sat down and opened up the programs they would need through the computer on the table. Their task was simple, and it only took PQ12 a moment to show TO how to run the program.
It only took another five minutes for TO to realize that it was not just intricate work, but tedious and relatively boring work.
Step 1: Input all the chemical components into the program. No thought is needed for this; It’s just copying formulae.
Step 2: Run the program. This takes about 3-5 minutes during which the main thing to do is to wait.
Step 3: Record any potential negative reactions as indicated by the computer.
Step 4: Save all results, and start again.
TO found it horrifically tedious, and wondered how GiDI had managed to last as long as they had in weapons production. If GiDi’s work was half as awful as this, then TO had a newfound respect for GiDi’s patience.
Still, working here was better than working on the developing synths. Even knowing that it was unlikely that they’d be involved in anything like the dissection again made TO feel better. Still...That abnormal curiosity was eating at them.
“... What’s the procedure that PQ03 is working on?” TO asked carefully. “They said it’s a surgery?”
PQ12 had been typing away at their own computer, but their fingers stopped, hovering in the air over the keyboard display on the surface of the desk. “Would you have preferred to go with them?”
“NO! No no. I mean.” They stopped themselves, realizing that they might have responded a tad too quick, “I… I’m enjoying learning about the nutrient-“
“Don’t lie.” PQ12 said as they turned back to their own computer, “I can see it in your ears, you know.”
“... I’m sorry.” TO muttered as their ears flicked down and flushed blue with shame.
“It’s fine.” PQ03 said. “I know most people think it’s boring work. It can be, unless you’re invested in it.” They glanced back at TO, “But, I figured you’d rather work here than in surgery.
TO nodded, suppressing a shudder as they did, “Yes.” They said, “I don’t think I enjoy being involved in surgery.”
“Clearly.” PQ12 said, but there was no malice in their voice.
“But I am still curious as to the procedure being done?”
PQ12 nodded, “I understand.” They said, “The knowledge and information can be fascinating, but seeing it all with your own eyes…” They cast a glance at TO, and saw their ears flicking back. “Well. No matter.”
“Will it hurt them?”
“Hmm? Oh! Oh no, not at all.” PQ12 said, “In the tanks, they don’t really feel physical pain- Their entire consciousness is taken up by the simulations in their head. And even given that we give them anestesia before surgeries are performed.”
“PQ03 said something about removing organs?” TO asked, “But, why would we have organs that need to be removed? We’re designed, so theoretically we should have no organs that are unnecessary, correct?”
“Correct in theory.” PQ12 said, “But not so much in practice. Such work is beyond me, but as brilliant and capable as King Decon is, there’s limitations to natural laws. For now. There’s an organ that’s necessary during earlier stages of development; It quickens growth, and many aspects of physical development. When we approach maturity, then there’s no need for this organ and it can just cause further problems later on.” They shook their head, “Tumors, auto-immune issues, cysts, and a general malfunctioning as the organ very slowly degrades within the body. Better to cut it out before it causes problems. “
“What kind of organ is it?”
PQ12 was about to say something, then stopped, and gave TO a funny look; like they were considering them deeply. It wasn’t quite that look that TO used to get from other synths; the one where they were regarded as something so strange and so different that TO’s very existence was confusing. No, this was different; This was deeply calculating, and pensive.
“We are told simply that they’re organs that produce a variety of hormones and which triggers exponential growth. We are told that they help speed up the development process, and thus need to be kept until development is complete. After that point, we are told that keeping them will result in complications that can shorten a synth's lifespan and productivity; as such, the organs are removed.
“... but what is it?” TO asked again.
PQ12 frowned, their ears twitching with worry that TO was not used to seeing on other synths, especially not officers, “If I were to say that you’re better off not knowing, would you accept that?”
“Some knowledge can be dangerous. That’s something important you should know.”
TO’s ears suddenly flicked down, and they turned their full attention back to the computer, “ My apologies, Officer.”
“... It's fine. Just keep that in mind.”
“I will. “
A brief moment of silence passed between them, and then as though offering a small peace offering, PQ12 said, “We don’t have to track the growth ourselves, you know.” They said, “We don’t have to measure the hormone levels, or track their peaks and declines. The computers track all that for us, and we just do what we’re supposed to when we’re told to.”
“I think it’d be more interesting to watch the patterns, don’t you?” TO asked, “Wouldn’t that allow you to see potential issues and prevent future sickness.”
“Perhaps.” PQ12 said without looking away from the computer, “But we do as we’re told.”
Bio: A writer and Illustrator with scenes to show and stories to tell