Chapter 3: Chapter 3

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Faith and Trials

Reads: 38

So Matt and Danny found themselves back in Mosegi’s workshop the following week.

In the corner opposite the desk now lurked a large and complex-looking machine topped by a sizable dome which had a broad opening, like a great mouth, that contained the long clear coils and tubes. Its base was crammed with the coils, cables, and boxes covered in digital readouts, all dark for the moment.

Danny pointed at it. “You built that in two weeks?”

Mosegi laid his hand on the dome. “Yes, I did, with the loss of a little sleep.”
“You couldn’t resist, eh, Mo?” Matt said.
“How could I not? To be so close after all these years …” Pulling a weary old wooden chair from behind the desk, he sat down and indicated a couple of loose crates. “Please, sit. I must answer your question, Daniel. That is the primary reason we are here today, after all.”

Huh? What question?” Danny asked.

You do not remember? Last week you asked me, ‘Who is it?’”

Right! I was wondering about Gaia. Like, is she for real? I mean, besides the computer program.”

What have they told you in school? Surely they have taught you something.”

Yeah, they said all creation lives in her, that everything’s connected to her, especially if it’s alive. So I’m part of Gaia, and everybody else is, and and so are all the animals and plants.”

Mosegi nodded. “And so we are all little gods, fundamentally good, but damaged by having been taught incorrectly?”

That’s right.”

Lies.” Danny gasped, but Mosegi went on, “Does it frighten you that I speak harshly?”

Danny swallowed. “Um, yeah.” He turned to his father. “What about you, Dad? What do you think of what he just said?”

Matt clasped his arms together as if hugging himself. “He and I have discussed this in the past, and I’ve come to agree with him.”

Startled by his father’s confession, Danny wondered why his father had never mentioned it before and had knelt with him in front of Gaia even though he didn’t believe—but of course if he hadn’t knelt, Gaia would have noticed, and he’d have been arrested. Danny sighed and said to Mosegi, “Okay, who is greater than Gaia?”

The god who is the creator of everything.”

How’s that different from Gaia?”

Those who teach of Gaia state that she is in everything and of everything, which would require that all things be eternal. In that way they evade the question of who created Gaia if she was such an intimate part of creation. The Creator I am referring to, on the other hand, is separate from the mortal creation, and so can be eternal. He stands apart from it, but directs it according to his will.”

The world’s a mess.”

“He directs it; he chooses not to control it. We have made the mess, as you call it, and are responsible for it.” Mosegi got up and stood by the big machine. “I think I have given you enough to think about for the moment, correct?”

Uh, yeah.”

Good. Now …” He glanced at the two of them. “… I have a request to make. Would the two of you be willing to capture the required animal for me? An untagged dog or cat would be ideal, or a raccoon. I have the equipment you will need for the task.”

You can’t do it yourself?” Matt asked.

The process of preparing the machine to extract the spark is time-consuming, and the tranquilizing chemical I have on hand will not hold the creature for a sufficient period to permit me to do this on my own. That is why I must ask you to do it in my place.”

Right now?”

If you do not mind, I would greatly appreciate it.”

Matt and Danny stood up, and Matt asked, “What do you have, then, so we can catch whatever we find?”

I have an air rifle, and darts to administer the tranquilizer.”

Sounds like fun. Where’s the rifle? I haven’t handled one of those since my militia training after college. I’ll need a little practice to get my feel back.”

. . . . .

Danny indicated some dry undergrowth and hissed, “There. A dog, I think.”

Matt, carrying the rifle, led the way as they stole across the rough ground and passed the foundations of levelled houses to get close enough. Still-naked bushes grabbed at their clothing, resisting their advance.

Matt halted, held up an arm, and whispered, “Alright, let’s do it right this time.” The previous two attempts involved a cat and a coyote, both more wary than Danny had allowed for.

Danny went ahead, circling around their target to flush it in his father’s direction, being careful not to trip on anything again.

Matt crouched behind a low shrub and retrieved a feathered dart from the small box in his pocket. After loading it in the rifle, he sighted down the barrel.

Danny tiptoed towards the growling medium-sized dog, speaking softly to it as it backed away from him. It noticed Matt and hesitated.

Matt pulled the trigger, the gun puffed, and the animal yelped. “Don’t lose sight of him!” he called, and they took off after the fleeing dog as Danny fought to keep his hoodie out of the clutches of the bushes crowding around him.

They broke out into an open field, where the dog was shaking its head and whining. Then it staggered and collapsed.

“Nice shooting, if I do say so myself,” Matt said and handed the rifle to Danny. Pulling his interfacer from an inside pocket of his jacket, he scanned the unconscious animal and checked the readout. “Good, no tag. It’s a stray.” He retrieved the dart and eased the dog into an old pillow case he’d brought for the purpose. “Let’s get it over to Mosegi before it wakes up.”

As Danny let the gun swing at his side, he asked the question he’d been mulling over ever since his lie to Gaia, “Dad, what really happened to Mom?”

Matt gave a little gasp. “Why do you ask?”

Just wondering. You’ve never said.”

Matt paced along the rough path, scowling, as he often did, and staring at the ground in front of him, so that Danny wondered if he’d get an answer. Finally his father said, “We couldn’t afford it.”

Relieved, Danny asked, “Couldn’t afford what?”

The treatment she needed. It was too expensive.”

You couldn’t have taken a loan?”

Matt sighed. “You think I haven’t thought about this every day since then?” He shifted the pillow case to his other hand. “She was everything to me, Danny. But if I’d taken the loan, I’d still be paying it off now, eight years later, with nothing left for anything beyond bare necessities, and no hope of ever getting free of it. It was a horrible choice.” He took a deep breath. “We made it the way we did so you’d have a chance at a future.”

Danny winced. It had never entered his head that his father might have felt as badly as he did about their mutual loss. But it did explain his father’s random sullenness. What a choice to have to make—his child’s future or his wife!

Danny didn’t want to seem ungrateful for the sacrifice, but he’d have preferred that they’d chosen his mother’s life.

. . . . .

Inside Mosegi’s workshop a few minutes later, Mosegi asked, “Were you successful, my friends?”

Matt held up the pillow case.

That is excellent. Thank you so much.” Mosegi took it over to the big machine, put on a pair of plastic gloves, and laid the unconscious dog in its maw. Then he told the machine to set the Heisenberg compensator field, and it hummed and lit up in response.

Fascinated, Danny moved as close as he dared to the elaborate device.

Mosegi initiated the harmonic entanglement field, set the phase-stasis amplifier, and initiated the transphysical-causality entangler cycle. The chamber interior flared sky blue, and the hum went ultrasonic.

Mosegi glanced at the main monitor hovering to the left of the machine, where random patterns flickered across it, and scowled. “What is wrong? Why has the spark not transferred?” He checked the machine’s settings, then stared at the dog for what felt to Danny like a long time. “Of course!” he exclaimed finally. “The spark is still anchored to it.” Dashing over to the crates, he dug out a hypodermic syringe and a vial of clear liquid.

What’s that for?” Danny asked.

Mosegi took a deep breath and turned to him. “I am sorry, Daniel, but I cannot retrieve the spark until the creature dies and releases it. It is necessary that I kill it first.”

Danny stared. “Oh no.”

Mosegi drew some of the liquid into the syringe. “In animal life, the body and the spark form one being, and only in death do they separate.” He stuck the syringe into the dog and injected its contents. Then he watched the monitor closely until his interfacer beeped. “There we go. Yes, the spark is now transferred into the entanglement field.”

Danny stared at the monitor. “I don’t see anything.”

Mosegi studied the display, then pointed at a ripple which was larger than the one for the plant. “There it is.”

Are you going to do anything with it now you’ve got it?” Matt asked as the light show inside the machine faded.

The culmination of my project—I will put it into that.” He pointed at a utility android similar to Walter that stood in its recharging station in the corner.

What? Is that even possible?”

Mosegi removed the dog’s body from the machine and returned it to the pillow case. “That is what we are about to determine, Matthew.” He nodded towards the android. “Could I trouble you to bring that over here for me?”

“Sure,” Matt said, and the android was soon in place.

Danny watched the ripple shift and vibrate as the scientist rattled off a series of instructions to his equipment. Then the ripple disappeared, and he said, “It’s gone.”

Mosegi glanced at the display. “Yes, yes, so it is. Now we must wait to see what will happen next.” After powering the spark-transfer machine down, he lifted the limp android out of the chamber and lugged it over to the worktable. Then he adjusted several of the devices hanging above to direct them at the android.

How long before something happens so we know it worked?” Danny asked.

He smiled and spread his hands in a helpless gesture. “I have no idea, Daniel, no idea at all. Remember that this is the first time that this has ever been done.” Peeling off his gloves, he said, “Why do you ask?”

If it was going to take a while, I could, you know, play a game on-line.” He pulled out his interfacer.

“No, you don’t,” snapped his father. “This is a Sentinel- and Network-free zone, remember? But if you’d care to watch, Mosegi and I are going to play some Go.”

As Mosegi brought the game board out and laid it on his desk, he said in a confidential tone, “In the early years of the Central African war, I served as a medical doctor for the Ethiopian Army. One night I got a vision of the Anointed One of God—I have told no-one of this—and he instructed me to come here to North America for an assignment.”

Who’s this Anointed One?” Danny asked.

It is too hard for me to explain in detail right now, but he is the son of the most high God—the Creator I told you about, and whom the government wishes not to be spoken of. When I arrived here, I received a further vision, in which the Anointed One explained that I was to accomplish two things. One was to find a way to detect the presence of the spark of life, capture it—as I did with the plant and the dog—and to insert it into an android, as we have done here today.”

What’s the other thing?”

He laid two pots of stones—the game pieces, white in one pot, black in the other—beside the board. “To develop a sensory skin for androids, which I have been doing at work.”

I’ve read about that,” Matt said. “Is it done yet?”

Not quite. I expect to complete it within the next few weeks.”

The two men grabbed some stones out of the pots to determine who got black and played first.

After a couple of hours, the monitor for the android beeped, and the three of them rushed over to see what had happened: one of the displays showed activity that hadn’t been there before.

Matt peered at it and shook his head. “That doesn’t look right. If I saw this in any other android, I’d be doing some troubleshooting.”

You know more about that side of it,” said Mosegi. “Do what you think is necessary.”

As Mosegi paced around the room as if nervous about his project, Matt called up several more displays and, after studying them, got to work. Half an hour later, he stretched. “Okay, there. Now I’ll reset it, and we’ll see what happens.” His fingers danced over the operations display, and all the sensor displays flat-lined.

What happened?” Danny asked. “Is it alright?”

Yes, yes,” Matt responded with a dismissive wave of his hand. “That’s what happens when a system’s reset.”

Then the displays went crazy, and the android began to thrash about and make intense blaring noises. Mosegi jumped and stepped back.

What’s the matter with it now?” Matt exclaimed and peered at one of the displays.

The android rolled and crashed onto the floor, taking a number of sensors with it; and Danny yelped in fright.

Yes!” Mosegi exclaimed as the android got up on all fours and looked around. “It is working! It is responding to the spark!”

How do you know?” Matt demanded.

The operating system was the sole programming in its memory. The only motivation it could possibly have must derive from the spark.”

So we’ve got an android controlled by a dog spark?”

Yes! Incredible, isn’t it?”

Matt watched the thing warily. “That’s not the word I’d use.”

The android stampeded across the room and crashed headlong into the wall. Then it spun about and came at them fast.

Danny!” Matt cried out.

Danny had only enough time to put his hands up before it rammed head-first into his abdomen, smashing him against the wall. He slumped to the floor, blood trickling from the corner of his mouth as the berserk android turned aside and continued its rampage.

 


Submitted: February 23, 2021

© Copyright 2021 AScovil. All rights reserved.

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