Peregrine flight

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Feeler Chapter II

"What do you mean, he wanted to know how the vice president was feeling, what f*cking business does he have with how the vice president is feeling," the superior bellowed.

It was Agent Pennington's turn to be cowed. "I don't know sir, he's a goddamn, lowly E-5 empath.  Maybe he saw him on the television."

The tall agent fished a non filter out of the Camel soft  pack and nursed it out of the box with his lips. He offered one to Pennington, who wordlessly declined with a shake of his tightly cropped head. Lighting the cigarette with his old fashioned zippo lighter with the eagle emblazoned on the side, he took a huge drag and stared out the picture window.

"The tech guys said that no one would be able to tell. They said that the sims were perfect. Absolute organically grown skin, real toenails and fingernails. Offsite real time reboots. Cognitive functioning of Albert Einstein. But no one thought about the fucking empaths." He slammed his hand down on the top of the credenza, sending a pile of papers hurtling off the flat surface. The 6G version of simulacrum were perfect copies, down to the pimples and the foul breath. They had been assured that every conceivable test had been run on the sims, and that they even registered the same electromorphogenetic field as humans. Lysine racemization, retinal scanning, dendritic topography, genomic cryptotect®, logic riddling, heat signature, every conceivable test for humanity passing with flying colors.

There had been one serious glitch. The sim machines couldn't handle humor and irony real well, which occasionally sent them into a visible loop flutter. The engineers had managed to get around the hiccup by ramping up the facial recog circuitry.  People tended to laugh at their own jokes, and the small muscular twitches gave the sims all the advance warning necessary to join in the revelry.

But the designers hadn't reckoned with a junior grade telepath. Whatever footprint the techies had engineered for the simulacrum, it's boundaries obviously did not extend to the etheric plane or wherever these freaks were picking up their information.

When the Vice President took ill, the head of the Federal Reserve and the Comptroller of the Currency voiced their concerns about what his passing would mean to a jittery market.  A crash now would make 2008 look like a picnic.  In a modern day equivalent of the Manhattan Project,   the consortium of the M.I.T. Advanced Robotics Division parlayed their expertise with the government's own new and very secret BIO-ZOA division located underneath a mountain rumored to be located somewhere in Colorado.

This Department had been formed as a small and invisible underground colony whose stated purpose was to repopulate the United States in the event of a nuclear strike or major pandemic.  Its proud subjects were the best physical, cerebral and morally upright citizens that could be found in the nation, with the principal breeding stock conveniently plucked from the Air Force Base in nearby Colorado Springs.

Unfortunately, the offspring, which had been genomically selected and matched with the most advanced algorithmic formulas, was popping up with some very curious mutations. Although the babies grew up to be tall, slender, frankly beautiful men and women, the line breeding encouraged an odd psychological trait of hyperactivity and autism, much like an overbred spaniel. The necessary scrapping of the "inferior work product" led to curious emotional outbursts and even hunger strikes by the breeders and the program had to be temporarily shut down. Rumors that the progeny had been utilized in the simulacrum program had never been officially corroborated.

No one outside of the highest echelons of government knew exactly how many of these sims were out there functioning somewhere. When the Vice President was taken off life support, the administration was reasonably assured that his doppelganger would seamlessly step into his shoes, literally.

"Do you think this Sloane will play ball with us?" the dour man asked Pennington.

"Hard to tell - unfortunately I don't think we can take the risk."

"Get me a readout on this guy.  I want 24/7 surveillance.  If he farts in the shower I want to know what key. What did he eat for breakfast last tuesday morning? Evaluate his work product for us from day one. I know he's single but is he dating, is he gay?, we have to find a way to crucify him if it becomes necessary. For the good of the republic. Freaking telepath."

Pennington said, "I am going to call Denver. Those mad scientists got us into this mess and they better have some brilliant idea to get us out. Before America figures out that we got a bunch of cyborgs running the show. You know what something like that would do to the markets? The guys at Goldman will be simply furious."
(to be continued)