"That... that's not real," Ashley shook her head, trembling all over. "That can't be Matt."
Lucas swiped to another picture on his tablet. It very distinctly showed Matt with a canine snout.
"I don't know what this is all about," Ashley got up from the couch, "but you guys are insane. I don't know why you're showing me some AI - edited picture of Matt or something, and why you're trying to lie to me, but I'm not buying it one bit."
"Okay," Lucas said. "You can deny it of course, but you're going to have to see him after all this is said and done."
"Whatever. I'm going to school now. You just made this an unbelievably weird day. I don't understand what's going on at your work, or what's going on with Matt, but it's super sketchy. I want out of it."
Ashley picked up her backpack and rushed out the door. Meagan walked over and sat on the couch next to Lucas.
"Well that went well."
"I guess that's to be expected," Lucas sighed. "When it would be trivially easy to fake that, why on Earth would she believe that her brother was transforming into a dog person? Gosh things are going to go absolutely down the toilet when the news breaks to the world. There's going to be so many conspiracy theories... and poor people like Matt are going to have all these people gawking at him, trying to get a glimpse of if it's actually true."
Meagan hugged him. "Don't worry about that now. Worry about what you can do right at this moment - more specifically, getting some sleep."
"I can't sleep," he said.
"Neither can I, but we need to at least try our best. We'll be no good to Matt if we're about to collapse from exhaustion."
Lucas kissed her. "Have a good day at work."
Meagan forced a silent smile in return. Lucas had intended on taking a shower, but he was getting extremely exhausted. He collapsed down onto his bed, only taking the time to kick of his shoes and unbutton his shirt.
He finally was able to sleep. Sometime after he fell asleep, his tablet began ringing. It took him a bit to even get out of the fog of sleep, and then spent about ten more seconds fumbling around the nightstand for it, before finally picking up.
"Augh," he grunted. It was all he could muster.
"Wake up," Clive's commanding voice said.
"I was expecting Tessa, call me back when -"
There was muffled sound. "Give me the tablet for crying out loud..."
Lucas felt himself begin to nod off.
"Sorry," Tessa said, "but I tried calling you thirty minutes ago and you picked up, but didn't respond."
"Huh... are you sure?"
"Gosh you are really sleep deprived Lucas. I was going to say hop on over here but you need to sleep."
"Just get through it quick."
"We isolated the genes that may have the cancer resisting properties."
"Fantastic," Lucas said.
"Bad news," Tessa said, "we are certain that these ones are the culprit, but for some reason, they still don't show any resistance to the cancer unless paired with other genes."
"But we can cut out more genes than before?"
"Yes. The problem is we're reaching the upper limit of even what a quantum supercomputer can help us with."
"What effect would the isolated genes have on someone if we excluded all the genes that you can cut out?"
"I'm not sure what you mean."
"If an individual did not have the cancer, but was administered the genes through the virus -"
"Lucas that would be extremely stupid."
"It would provide data."
"People like Matt and Jackie were immeasurably lucky. They are enduring this horrible transformation, but their bodies are still functioning. If you took an even more unproven treatment it could make your whole body go completely cancerous."
"Lucas, this isn't a comic book. You aren't going to turn into the Hulk, you're going to turn into a dead man."
"What other choices do we have?"
"Infinity more that are better than that."
"Would they get us real tangible results nearly as quickly?"
".... Lucas, I know that when you set your mind to something, you don't usually let people persuade you. But I am asking you as a friend - "
"I understand. I'll think it over."
"Also Lucas, update on, em, other stuff. We've slowly been getting what data we can from the computer. We're taking the automatic backups and copying them into SD cards that we can easily hide. Clive is then going into the system log and deleting instances relating to the transfer of code onto the SD cards."
"And I hope you appreciate that," Clive said in the background, "it is a massive pain digging through all that."
"Are you copying over the information or simply moving it."
"Copying" Tessa said. "We'd be very quickly caught if whole sections of logs were missing."
Lucas closed his eyes for a moment in thought. Part of him wanted to outright steal the data, make Generation pay. Make it so that they couldn't sell this off to someone who would use it for nefarious purposes. What was happening was awful, and painful to watch, but he could hardly imagine watching people profit off of the misfortune.
"I'm here," he groaned.
"Get some sleep, we'll be waiting."
Lucas sat still for a moment after the call. He made the decision to actually change into something more comfortable and close the blinds. The prospect of using himself to test things weighed on his mind. It would be incredibly foolish, but potentially incredibly beneficial.
But that was a concern for later. He turned off the lights, and barely got into bed before he instantly fell asleep.
A golden retriever that knows how to use a computer
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