A Philosophical Moment and a Trip to the Bathroom

Doc opens up his comlink to the Office of External Vehicular Interception. An automated response asks him to leave a message.

"Veronica, it's Doc. We're here on board the ship and we need to talk to you right away."

The automated secretary tells him that his message has been logged and to expect a response within 3 to 5 days.

"There's got to be another way to get hold of her," Doc tells Steve. "Doesn't she have a communicator in her head?"

"I already tried that. I think she may have disabled it, maybe to get by security devices, maybe to be more human. She wouldn't get very far in the EDF if they thought she was bugged. I can't imagine how she's avoided an X-Ray all this time, though. Her components may be organic, but one look at her internal structure and you know what she is."

The tour group continues forward. Lt. Roeker continues babbling on about everything he finds great about the ship's self contained food service industry. Doc and Steve fall farther behind. Steve keeps looking all the locked doors that they pass.

"Steve, I just had a thought. Forgive me if this sounds stupid, but do we need Alyss? Could you program Veronica with all the skills, memories, and reflexes of Alyss? I'm sure it would be complicated, but you are a smart guy. Couldn't we replicate her and save ourselves the trouble of chasing all over time looking for a woman who doesn't exist? We wouldn't have to get her exactly right, I mean what does it matter if we get her favorite color wrong, just as long as her piloting skills were complete. Besides, Veronica would be faster than Alyss ever could be as she can interface with the ship itself. There have to be detailed records somewhere of her flights. We could use those as a jumping off point. What do you think?"

"I think you're right. I've got a theory about this. It struck me the instant I found out Alyss Valia didn't exist. The fabric of space-time is incredibly complex, and our consciousnesses are tied in with it. Veronica's sentience forms from this relationship just as much as ours. But when she was activated, that consciousness had to come from somewhere."

"Are you saying she is Alyss Valia? That we inadvertently trapped her soul in a robot three hundred years before she was born?"

"It's just an hypothesis. Since she was programmed to pilot a very complicated ship and the nature of her brain was to remain open to heuristic learning, perhaps she was the perfect vessel for a certain consciousness waiting to be released into the universe. She no longer had to wait for Alyss Valia to be born. Perhaps we created the conditions which drew her out."

"You're talking about an afterlife. By proposing this hypothesis, you suggest that you can perform an experiment to prove the existence of life after death."

"I guess that's one way of putting it. I wouldn't call it that, really. I suggest that we exist as a potential for consciousness in a quantum particle-field energy which interacts with space-time in the sixth dimension. When the conditions are right, that field energy manifests its self as consciousness, just as particle interactions with the Higgs field creates mass. Think of it like an hourglass. Except this hourglass only allows grains of a certain size and shape to fall through. The grains in the top of the hourglass, field particles in the sixth dimension, have a potential energy to fall through the gap, which in this case is the material form; the physical shape of the universe, into the bottom bit, which represents our energy interactions with the physical universe. The shape of the gap is determined by quantum fluxuations of probabliltiy and causality, which we know can be manipulated from the bottom of the hourglass by our own actions. The question is, can it be manipulated from the top? Can we call ourselves into existance, and is that the case with Alyss Valia? Your extrordinary abilities seem to suggest that it is possible to freely exchange energy between the two sides of the hourglass, and that the physical universe can be manipulated not only physically, but mentally."

"So Alyss is a psycic potential that either called herself into existance, which affected the universe, or we affected the universe and called her into existance?"

"Probably both simultaneously. It depends on the observer. Since we cannot prove that Alyss intended to exist, or indeed that consciousness potentials are even capable of intention, we must assume that our effects on the universe called her into existance."

"But doesn't my ability prove that a consciousness can effect the physical universe?"

"It does, but since you already exist in the physical universe, we know you are capable of intent. What we don't know is whether potentials that don't exist phyisically are capable of manifesting themselves on their own, or if they experience consciousness while non-existant. Thus, we still don't know if there is an afterlife. Besides, we've no way of knowing whether Veronica is really Alyss Valia or another consciousness entirely. I just find it a fascinating coincidence that in a timeline where one exists, the other does not, and that they're both so similar in character."

"So do we need to continue after Alyss Valia? Can Veronica get the job done?"

"It's entirely possible. We won't know until we find her, though. Aha!"

Steve has stopped at a door. Like all the others, it is distinguished only by a series of letters and numbers which make little sense.

"What is it?" Doc asks.

"The only door our VIP cards can open." Steve opens the door. It's the bathroom.

It's a large bathroom with lockers and shower stalls, some of which are occupied.

"What are you doing, Steve?"

"We need some better security badges. And uniforms." Steve goes over to one of the lockers. It's a simple electronic combo lock. Steve pulls out a tool from his lab coat. It looks a bit like an electronic leatherman. He sticks a screwdriver end between the lock and the frame. He hits a button on the tool and jiggles it around in the lock. Nothing happens.

"Damn. Let's try another one." Steve says.

"Maybe we should try something entirely different," says Doc, unsure about this course of action.

"I have every confidence in your ability to talk us out of trouble," Steve replies.

"Paul? S'at you?" calls someone from a shower. Getting no response, the crewman continues humming and bathing.

Steve moves to the next locker and uses the tool again. Again, he can't get it open. "Shit!"

"Paul? I know it's you." The shower stops. "You tryin' to put itching powder in my suit again?" The crewman steps out of the shower wrapped in a towel. "Hey! You guy's ain't Paul."


ERR said...

Steve Disable Device 6(2+4) vs. DC15, Failed XP+2
Crewman Listen Check 6(11-5) vs Steve Move Silently 7(8-1), Steve wins. XP+6
Steve Disable Device 11(7+4) vs. DC15, Failed XP+2
Crewman Listen Check 13(18-5) vs Steve Move Silently 10(11-1), Steve Fails, XP+1

Doc said...

"Hey Sailor, need someone to scrub your back? If not, I'll just take a pee and be out of your hair."

Use -1 chi to bluff this guy into thinking I'm coming on to him, and pray he isn't up for that.