Chapter Eight – Transduction
“Signal transduction science recognizes that the fate and behaviour of an organism is directly linked to its perception of the environment.” Bruce H. Lipton, The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles.
Part I – Depolarisation
“We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.” Stephen Hawking.
Joel was the only one not happy about their situation, he had met his uncle before all this kicked off, and they had virtually been chucked out. At least that was how he viewed it. Probably Uncle Madison would say his work was all important. Well good for fucking him, Joel harboured a lot of animosity towards his uncle over those previous events.
“Can you stop playing around!” Joel almost shouted at the other two who were rolling around on the huge bed.
Jack crawled over Mark and sat up on the edge. “What's up?” He could see Joel was in one of those moods. But why? He didn't have a clue.
“Who's got the sat phone? We need to make that call to Kado.”
“Don't you think we should hold off until we meet your uncle?” Jack asked.
“Why? That's not gonna change the fact that we found him here like Kado hoped.”
“What Jack is trying to say is that maybe it’s best to hear what your uncle has to say about things before telling Kado.”
Mark was sitting up next to Jack. Joel didn't look too pleased, actually Mark thought he looked as though he wanted to hit him, and they were supposed to be in love. What's wrong with him? Mark couldn't work it out. Why so heavy, must be to do with meeting his uncle?
“Alright, suppose you have a point,” Joel admitted grudgingly.
“What is it with you and your uncle?” As soon as the words were out of his mouth Mark regretted saying it.
“Nothing,” Joel scowled.
An uneasy silence entered the room. Jack looked at Mark who was staring at the floor. Neither wanted to speak for fear of the reaction they might get. Joel paced around the room, stopped at the bookshelf on the far side, opposite them, and picked up a photo. It was in a neat little black plastic frame, not big, unusual. You wouldn't normally see printed framed photos, it was so old fashioned. People didn't do that anymore. It was the oddness of having a photo on the bookcase shelf that diverted Joel's attention, and the picture itself. A family portrait of him, Charlie and their mother, who was standing behind them. It must have been taken some years ago, because he looked about fourteen and Charlie would have been nine, or there abouts. The difference in their height made Joel look like he towered over Charlie. He was quite tall, but that photo emphasised it.
“That was taken about five years ago.”
The voice startled him and made him look up. His uncle had come into the room and was standing there with Joseph his assistant.
“I know why you’re here. You've been sent to find me. I was expecting corporation people, so this is different, but whoever sent you here, it doesn't matter. They want to stop the cloud seeding and Project Weatherman.”
Joel listened, Jack and Mark were watching him and his uncle.
“It's too late! You can report back that the cloud seeding began yesterday and they will know that once started it’s irreversible. But you Joel, and your friends here,” he looked over at Jack and Mark. “You need to know that this is a last chance. By that I mean this project works or everything is finished. Everything meaning life on this planet and probably the planet itself.”
Jack stared intensely, wondering if this was some kind of show, a ploy in the game, or real. Mark was thinking about it being the end of everything when things were only starting for him, and Joel was trying to figure where that left them.
“There are no guarantees it will work, but there is a Plan B.” His Uncle once again looked over at Jack and Mark. They were only boys, he didn't know how they would react. How would anyone react to this?
“A Plan B?” Joel questioned.
“Do you all know about Operation ReGen?” He asked them.
“Operation ReGen?” Joel looked blank.
“You can watch the video later, but it amounts to this; three interstellar space craft were launched to establish human colonies on suitable habitable planets they may find. They will be travelling for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, carrying human seed and eggs. Manned by robots, these craft would eventually found new life on distant stars.”
Joel didn't react, neither did the other two boys. They were all shocked, they had not realised that things were so bad that the government would abandon the planet.
“So that's the Plan B?” Joel thought that sucked, because they were left on a dying planet if the professor's project was unsuccessful.
“No actually that is simply a means to ensure the survival of mankind. The Plan B is another interstellar spacecraft that will also take human seed and eggs with it, but the robots will be different.”
“I'm getting to that. They will have a copy of the memories of humans, in fact each robot will become a replica of a person.”
“You mean like so we live forever as robots!” Mark exclaimed excited by the professor’s announcement. “And do we get one of these robots?”
“Yes you get one of these robots, but it is your memories which will be preserved and developed, that is not exactly the same as offering you immortality. Just as the human seed will fertilise those eggs to ensure the survival of the human race, so the robots with human memories will, in a way, ensure those individuals continue to live.”
The concept of what was being explained was pretty difficult to grasp. Mark wondered what the difference was between his memories living and developing, and himself. Then it hit him – feelings – the robots would have his memory, but not his emotions, not even how he thinks. He would live on like the character in a story, developing and changing, but not quite real, although how do you know what’s real?
“Right now we need to work out, together, what to do immediately. What you report back. Joseph here will take care of the robot transfer, but it would be good if we could get everyone together, I mean your mother and Charlie.”
“And Steve and Grif,” Mark added.
“Your friends?” Uncle Madison asked.
“My brother and our friend. Actually Steve was sent to find Joel's mom and brother.” Jack kicked Mark when he said that. It was too much information.
If Professor Madison noticed the kick, he said nothing. He told them Joseph would take them now to prepare the robotisation of their memories. A totally painless experience that would be like dreaming and had no bad side effects.
“So, I need to get back and see how things are going with the cloud seeding. I'll come and see you all tonight and we can work out what to do next.”
“Follow me,” Joseph indicated for them to come with him.
The room they found themselves in was large. One wall was covered in electronics, it reminded Joel of the control room in his uncle's house where they had stayed. Joseph went over the procedure, explaining that they would each lie down on one of the trolleys he had had moved into the room. One of the staff, they had been joined by half a dozen guys in surgical gowns, wearing gloves and masks, would administer an injection.
This would be like a sedative and they would drift off, falling asleep. It would, he repeated what Joel's uncle had told them, be just like dreaming. Before things could start they each needed to change into a gown, removing all clothing.
What neither Joel's uncle nor Joseph had told them was that the procedure was revolutionary. On a par with the cloud seeding project, it had never been done before. Of course, if they had explained that the boys were guinea pigs in a mad scientist's experiment akin to Frankenstein, they most likely would not have agreed to take part.
Eve was certain that now was the right time to act, they couldn’t wait to find out the situation with Professor Madison, they had to hack into the X-Corp mainframe and get some information on their situation. It was a big risk, but it seemed like they had no viable alternative. However, she wouldn't make that decision alone, they all had to agree.
“Well team, my personal opinion is that now is the right time to find out what exactly is going on. At least to try, but I need your agreement, because we do it together or not at all. So, what do you all think?” She looked from one to the other and waited.
Andre spoke up first, “I agree.”
Evan was next, “I'm in.”
And finally Mark, “Yeah, let's do it.”
Evan took the main seat in front of the monitor, with the others spread out behind him. Everyone was peering at the screen.
“Here goes nothing,” He keyed in the mainframe address, bringing up the security screen. There was a two phase password and security alpha numeric code.
After a brief moment the screen went blank before they were staring at the X-Corp mainframe menu, underneath a message gave their location and stated Access level 2. Evan keyed in a search for ICEX and Weatherman. They waited.
Again the screen blanked, which was not usual, if not what you would expect. In about five seconds a list appeared, punctuating the screen with numbered lines that gave a title and one line summary.
Each of them read through the list. Mark shouted out, “Twelve.”
“Yeah, I see it,” Andre chipped in.
Eve read it out loud, “Evacuation Executive – Escape pod locations, memory download station, executive list.”
As Eve was reading it Evan hit twelve, then one. A list of pod locations appeared together with a series of instructions, access codes and procedures, checklists and something called data control coordinates vector analysis.
Eve pointed out Morro Bay which Andre had caught sight of at the same time. Mark saw Mount Columbus, then there were about twenty other sites.
“Download the codes and data for those two, there's nothing nearer.” As Eve gave him the instruction Evan hit the key sequence to download Morro Bay. He put a memory stick into the keypad, somehow he didn't trust instant cloud transfer.
Complete, flashed on screen and he moved to repeat the process for Mount Columbus, but at that moment the screen died.
“That's it,” Eve told them. “We need to get out and grab a car before all hell brakes loose. It won't take them long to locate the unauthorised access point and shut everything down.”
Evan pocketed the memory stick and they were out of there making their way to the south exit vehicle bay. It seemed like a long way, but it was the mixture of adrenaline and the thought of what they were doing that made it long.
“Key in any destination,” Eve told Andre when they were in the car. “We'll have to stop and reprogram it once we're out of here.”
It was at just that instant that the red lights came on with the message lockdown sequence initiated.
“Go! Go!” Evan urged.
The car lifted and shot forward through the car park and out of the exit. They couldn’t really see, but they each suspected that they just made it in time.
Depolarisation Joseph had called it, but that meant very little to Joel, Jack or Mark. After the injection he had drifted off as if floating across an endlessly smooth soft landscape. Joel saw Charlie, his mom, the centre and Grif. The images were like a replay of all the recent events, but then he started thinking back further.
The strangest of feelings overcame him, a sensation that he could get lost in his own memories. That he might endlessly pursue past experiences and in a detail as real as when they had happened, but he might not be able to make his way back. He could forever be spinning around inside his own head, full of thoughts and sensations that he'd already lived.
He started to panic, because the events were getting mixed up, they were no longer in sequence. He had started going back in time, but then he, then he had the weirdest thing happen. It was as if all of a sudden, he stepped outside himself. It was so very odd, not normal. No, none of this was normal.
Joel was looking at a baby being born. He was watching his own mother giving birth. That's not possible, he thought. This can’t be my memory, because I wasn't there when Charlie was born. He was getting spooked, but at the same time he couldn’t look away or think about how to get back. Then it hit him like a thunderbolt. It was him. He was watching his own birth. NOT POSSIBLE! He screamed out those words, he was losing his sanity. Something is not right here.
The landscape then spread out in front as far as the eye could see. A desert plain and two figures dressed in sweeping white robes and wearing head scarves were riding two magnificent white horses. The dust of the desert swirled around the horses hooves. He was still outside his body, but who the hell was he looking at. It was like a film, not his memory.