NaNo: Chapter 24

Chapter 24: Wyndos Makes a Plan

Wyndos felt a rushing sensation throughout their body, waiting for the link to Chein to re-open.  

I told Vair to steer clear of this project, but that advice evidently went unheeded.  And now, lost somewhere among the planes, where is Vair now? Are they even aware of that advice?  Does memory penetrate that deeply?

The blame and resentment was a cover; Wyndos was scared for Vair, and was painfully self-aware of the misdirected anger at the young charge.  

I’ve had dozens and dozens of mentees, but you were my favorite.  Irreverent, independent, and capable. It would not surprise me to see you in leadership one day.  Assuming, of course, that we get you back with your mind intact.

After what seemed like ages, the link opened, and Chein appeared.

“Chein, this is Wyndos.  Tell me everything.”

“Hi Wyndos, it’s been a busy morning,” said Chein.  “I’m assembling a special team to get us some extraction options, and it should be ready within a day or two.”

“What was the name of the missing tech?”

Wyndos involuntarily took and held a deep breath, arms shuddering.

“Carem, my main co-tech.”

Oh thank god.

“I see,” Wyndos tried not to betray any relief.  “Walk me through the circumstances of the disappearance.”

“Okay, well, it was supposed to be a further investigation of the multi-plane jumps.  We already knew that beyond one level, we had no comms, and returnees had no memories of the later stage.  So we wanted to test whether that was true of all jumps of greater than one plane, or if perhaps it alternated, like an odd number is fine, but not an even number.  So we set up a test.”

“Please describe the test.”

“Carem and my trainee, Vair, went to experimental plane one.  Vair installed what was supposed to be a clone of the upload station I designed onto plane two for Carem to use, and then waited while Carem descended to level two, and then level three.”

“From ‘supposed to be’ I am assuming there was a problem with the clone?”

“That’s correct.  You see, Vair had made a correct clone of the upload functions, but not the auto-extraction functions, so when Carem made the leap from level two to level three, we lost them completely.”

“Lost how?”

“No comms, no data, and no set time for extraction.  In other words, we have no idea how long Carem will be stuck in that plane.”

Wyndos thought for a moment.  “Forgive me if this is an ill-educated question, but when we upload people into planes in the ordinary course, they return within the space of an hour, regardless of how long their subjective experience on the plane lasted, correct?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“So in this case, I would expect Carem to return just as quickly, even if the unfortunate programming error caused their experience to be substantially longer than anticipated.”

“Yes,” said Chein, “I thought that too.  The truth is, we don’t know much about how time works when we cross multiple levels.  It’s entirely possible that if we were on level two, Carem’s absence would only last a brief time, as you said.  But we are three levels removed from wherever Carem is now, and we haven’t done any research whatsoever on time effects over multiple levels, or meta-planes, if you will.”

“That seems to be an important piece of datum.  I will arrange for a standalone test on that today,” said Wyndos.

“That would be helpful!  Just find out if the time elapsed and time experienced holds true over multiple levels, but don’t forget to also test if having an observer on the intermediate level affects the outcome.”

Wyndos nodded. “I would like to borrow Vair for this assignment.”

“Of course.  That will be good.  Vair needs something constructive to focus on, instead of just self-flagellating about the screw up.  When would you like to reconvene?” said Chein.

“In six hours.  I know that is beyond your scheduled time, Chein, but I trust you will permit us to make some scheduling accommodations given-”

“Of course,” Chein interrupted.  “Carem is my friend. I’ll do whatever it takes, and we can figure out the details after they’re back.”

“Very good,” said Wyndos, ending the link.

At least it wasn’t Vair, Wyndos thought.  Still, we need a plan to solve this.  I’m not sure why the time issue was not more fully explored.  We can fix that now. Vair will be glad to help, as it puts the focus on a planning issue, rather than the failure of the clone.  Still, I need another set of hands, so to speak, someone I can trust, to do the actual upload. I do not want to place Vair at risk.

No names immediately came to mind.  

Should I be updating Reesh about this?  It would be best to avoid another angry confrontation on that front.  Perhaps I will provide an update after today’s tests, so that Reesh can feel as though they are at the cutting edge of our efforts.

Though the plan was only half-formed, Wyndos decided to get moving, and opened a link to Vair.

“Hi Wyndos,” said Vair, eyes puffy. “I guess you’ve heard about what happened?”

“Yes, Vair, I’m so sorry to hear about Carem.”

“It was all my fault,” Vair said, palms upturned.  “I just didn’t think about how the sim would end, and I should have!  I decided to just copy the parts of the program I thought were relevant, and totally forgot about the exit strategy.  And now, who knows where Carem is? Probably in the dark, alone, and scared!”

“Do you suppose that agonizing over it will bring Carem back?” said Wyndos, calmly.

Vair sniffed loudly.  “No.”

“Well, then let’s figure out something constructive we can do.  As it happens, I need your help with something directly related to our recovery efforts.  Are you willing to help me?”

“Of course!” said Vair.

“Good.  This may require a little bit of time beyond your usual assigned hours, but rest assured that we will compensate you for the time you spend.”

“I don’t care about that, at all.  I’ll do whatever it takes,” said Vair, indignantly.

“I appreciate your passion, but ask that you temper it.  We can’t have any mistakes in this new research.”

“Okay, I understand,” Vair said.  “So, what’s the assignment?”

“We are going to run a test on time perception over multiple levels.  I will need you to quickly program one of the upload stations, just like the one you created for Carem.”

“Ugh, does it have to be that?”

“It does, Vair.  You are the only person aside from Chein who I trust to create them, and Chein is otherwise occupied.  Will this be a problem?”

“No, Wyndos, no problem.  I can do it. When do you need it?”

“An hour, if possible.”

“Oh, wow!  Yeah, let me get right to it,” said Vair.

“Contact me as soon as it is completed,” said Wyndos, ending the link.

Now, to find a guinea pig.  No specialized skills needed, just somebody willing.  Maybe somebody who owes me a favor…

All at once, a thought occurred to Wyndos.  

They’re retired, loyal to me, and used to difficult work.  Yes, this will be perfect!

Smiling, Wyndos opened a link.

(1221 words)

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Published in: on November 27, 2018 at 3:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

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