NaNo: Chapter 27

Chapter 27: Truu Takes a Dive

Chein looks tired, Truu thought, scrutinizing the face on the screen.  Tired, and a bit defeated.

It wasn’t the first time Truu had been a part of a large conference call, nor would it be the last, they thought, sadly.  Of the four participants, Chein was the only familiar face, and most of the conversation was about topics Truu found utterly irrelevant to the special assignment as Truu understood it.

“…but given the results from yesterday,” one of the participants- the information screen identified the speaker as Wyndos- said, “I believe we need actual uploads on each plane, each tethered to the prior plane through comms.”

“That’s where you come in, Truu,” said Chein.  “Were you able to fashion the comm device we discussed?”

“Yes,” said Truu, starting slightly at the sound of their own name.  “This device should allow you to communicate through up to five monitors, where each one only communicates with one or two others.  There will be about a half-second delay, but that can’t be worked out of the system without a lot more work.”

“This is perfect for our purposes,” said Chein.  “Wyndos, do you think this will suffice?

“In all likelihood, yes,” said Wyndos.  “So Chein, walk me through the order of operations for today.”

“We preserved the test plane that was used in the, uh, problematic experiment,” said Chein.  “My intention is to utilize the recruit you found for the time-lapse test and station them there.  Then Vair will descent, first to the test plane, and then to the second plane. From there, we hope to make contact with Carem, and manually bring them back up.”

Wyndos was thoughtful for a moment.

“I see two problems with your plan, and one matter in need of clarification,” said Wyndos, slowly articulating each word.  “First, we no longer have the services of my recruit. That was not a reassigned worker, but a retiree by whom I was owed a favor.  That currency has now been spent.”

“Damn,” said Chein, “I wish you had told me that.  I could have arranged for somebody else. We still can, it will just delay things a couple of hours. Wyndos, any chance you can do the first-level upload yourself?”

“No,” said Wyndos.  “I do not traverse the sim planes.”

“At all?” said Chein.  “Like, ever?”

“I can go,” said Truu.  

Now why did I say that?  

The others all looked at Truu through the screen.  

“I mean, if you want.  I’m already here.”

Please say no.

“Have you ever gone into a test plane before?” said Chein.

“Well, no-”

Chein turned to Wyndos.  “I’d rather get somebody experienced.  It’s worth the extra time.”

“I defer to your expertise,” said Wyndos.  “We shall reconvene in two hours, which will give me an opportunity-”


The exclamation came from the third person on the link, who had not yet spoken.  Truu noted the name Vair.

Wyndos looked surprised, but stopped speaking.

“We need to go now!” said Vair.  “Don’t you understand? We have no idea how long Carem has been trapped in there.  Two hours is about the length of a regular sim, right?”

Chein slowly nodded.

“That means Carem could be stuck in there, stuck in NOTHING, for an entire lifetime over the next two hours.  This has been too long already. We need to go now!”

What the hell happened in there? Truu thought.

Wyndos rubbed the side of their head.  “When we did the time-lapse test, that recruit had no prior test plane training.  I trust the role will not involve any specialized skills?”

“No,” said Chein, tentatively.  “But still, something this important-”

“Vair raises a valid point.  Our understand about how relative time works is limited, but from what little we do know, it is highly likely that Carem is experiencing time at a much slower pace than we are.”

“Carem won’t even remember it when we extract though, right?” said Chein.  “That’s something else we know with virtual certainty.”

“True,” said Wyndos.  “Which brings us to the value judgment: do we have a moral obligation to reduce suffering, even if we know that suffering will be entirely forgotten?  For myriad reasons, I posit that we do owe such a duty.”

Chein straightened up in the chair.  “But does that duty trump the duty to bring Carem back safely at all?  I mean, if an additional two hours would broaden the chances of a safe return, doesn’t that outweigh the discomfort that may be added during whatever that amount of time feels like to Carem?”

“The broadening to which you refer is tentative and minor at best,” said Wyndos, “and is more than offset by the increased peril of permanent damage to Carem from extended exposure to the void of the empty test plane.”

“If you two don’t mind,” said Vair, “let’s have the ethics debate after we’ve gotten Carem safely home.  I’m ready to go, like, now.”

“If that’s okay with you, Wyndos, then I can get started,” said Chein.

Wyndos raised a hand.  “If you will recall, I reported two problems and one concern.  We have addressed but one. I do not approve of having Vair descend beneath the first test plane, under any circumstances.”

“What? Why?” said Vair.

“That will complicate things,” said Chein.  “Unless you’re willing to take one for the team, Wyndos.”

“As I said, I do not traverse the planes,” said Wyndos.  

“Why not?  I mean, everybody goes into sims.  And test planes aren’t really THAT different from-”

“I do not enter any planes, test or otherwise.  I never have, and never will,” said Wyndos.

Chein and Vair looked at Wyndos in disbelief.

“Okay, then…” said Chein.  “I guess the only option that leaves is for Truu to go to the second level.  I still have my reservations- no offense, Truu.”

“None taken.”

“But if you’re insisting on going immediately, without recruiting more help-”

“And I am!” said Vair.

“Then the only things we can do,” continued Chein, “is to have Vair on the first level, and send Truu to the second.  Am I missing anything, Wyndos?”

“Yes,” said Wyndos, “and this is my concern.  It is vitally important that the comms be opened and tested at each intermediary step.  You will upload, then do a comm check. Then upload further, and then comm check. Only when comm checks have been verified to my satisfaction will the exercise proceed.”

“Understood,” said Vair and Truu, at the same time.

“Okay, so, Truu and Vair, get ready for your first uploads,” said Chein.  “Let’s see if we can bring my wayward partner home.”

(1106 words)

Published in: on November 29, 2018 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

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