Eugene had been working for twelve or sixteen hours straight and his head was starting to spin a little. It had been so long since he had sat to do this kind of work he had forgotten how absorbing it was. The laser lathe was finishing the machine work on the final piece of titanium for the new prosthetic and he had done the initial coding for the AI.
Most of the code was already written, but he needed to eliminate some of the more dangerous pieces that the General had insisted on him writing. He was also leaving out any wireless capabilities and putting much more harsh restrictions on the organic and digital brain interactions. Knowing what he knew now Eugene was certain that it was a one in a billion chance that Victoria had survived and he couldn’t risk that kind of integration going wrong here. Whatever bargain that girl had managed to strike up with A.D.A.M. had saved her life, but he couldn’t gamble that Seraphim’s husband would be able to do the same thing.
He dredged through the code, trying to find what had allowed the connection to happen. Trying to figure out exactly what had been the catalyst for that acceptance between human and computer was like trying to remember a dream right after he had awakened. Even as Eugene recreated the physical components of his masterpiece he tried to figure out how to modify its code to help facilitate that integral connection between the organic and mechanical.
Seraphim hadn’t contacted him at all during this time but he was certain he could feel her watching him. She was a puzzle for certain, he didn’t remember anyone fitting her description or representing this organization ever contacting him. Either she was trying to make him feel guilty or he supposed there was the possibility she had used some other channels to try and contact him.
He had mined his computer for any emails or contacts from anyone even close to her and the only one that was any kind of a match was a message from a medical technologies company in Minnesota. The CEO was asking for the rights to produce the parts and was willing to cut him a deal if he was willing to sell her husband the first one so that it might be possible for him to awaken from his coma.
The main clue there was that nobody outside of his team knew about Victoria being stuck in a coma for weeks, there was really no reason for anyone to think that this technology would help with a coma patient. He wished he knew just how much Angela had shared. He assumed everything but then again he didn’t know how much data her level of clearance would afford her anyway.
Eugene double checked the lathe program to make sure it was running as it should and then turned his attention to the bed. Passing a hand in front of his eyes, he decided it was time to get some rest before he started making stupid mistakes.
When he awoke, it was to the sound of the laser lathe’s clear chime that indicated it had finished the process at hand. He had only slept for a few hours but still felt a lot better than he had before. Going into the tiny nook that held the food dispensers, he grabbed a banana and pushed a button to receive a hot cup of coffee in a paper cup. Living out of vending machines brought him back to college.
When he went back to check on the progress of his work, Eugene discovered someone had been tampering with things. The polymer spacers that connected the titanium vertebra were already constructed and the Nano-molecular musculature of the augmentation system was waving out of them like sea anemone as they lay in their bath of neurosynth fluid. It annoyed him but was helpful nonetheless. After triple checking the mystery helper’s work he turned back to the main issue.
“Hey Seraphim, I’m going to need more than physical measurements here to complete this work. I figure you’re listening in so let me know when you want to give me the rest of the info.” Eugene sipped his coffee and then slid his hands into the gloves that extended into the assembly tank. Using precise care, he connected the vertebra and spacers, nudging the tiny wisps of Nanomuscle into the proper holes with electromagnetic pulses.
The beauty of the neurosynth fluid was this could all be achieved through electronic waves, after all its main function was to transmit signals and each tiny thread had its own magnetic signature. In an hour or so he had the full shell of the spine assembled and was ready to create the conduit that would run through the center of the spine, giving rigidity and housing the flexible battery cells. Eugene looked at what he had built with pride.
“Not even one day has passed and yet you have accomplished more than I feared you could do in a week. You amaze me Dr. Arlington.” Seraphim’s face appeared on the wall monitor. “What additional information do you require?”
“I need the age of the patient, his current status, how long he has been in a coma, if he responds to stimuli, what medications have been used, how his state is being maintained and honestly I need to examine him before I can feel completely confident about the success of the operation.” Eugene pushed his glasses into a more comfortable place on his nose. “I will probably have more questions before we are done as well.”
“He is forty one, he is currently in a coma where he has been for thirty six months. He was in a car accident and never regained consciousness when the paramedics brought him to the hospital. We have not been able to get him to respond to anything but pain. He has not been given any medications as he is otherwise sound of body. He is fully stabilized and is only on a saline drip to keep him hydrated and a feeding tube to ensure he does not starve to death.”
“I’m afraid that does not bode well. Why do you think my device will awaken him from the coma? If he responds to stimuli it means his spine is not the problem, he likely has massive brain damage.”
“I know you have the necessary skills to write the programs that will awaken him Dr. Arlington. Your success with Victoria Scott proved it to me.” Seraphim replied, “I met her briefly you know? Her adaptive and regenerative capabilities right after her operation were what convinced me I must have your technology for my husband.”
“Well, I can’t promise anything really. This is an untested brand new technology there is just no way to guarantee success.” Eugene said, trying to sound nonchalant, “I will do whatever I can to try and make it work but in the end it is the AI talking to your husband. Once the switch is flipped all bets are off.”
“Do not fail me Dr. Arlington or the consequences will be dire. Failure is not an option, do you understand me?” With that the wall flickered blank again. Eugene shuddered, the look in her eyes had been one promising pain for as long as she could keep him alive.
Walking to the sink, he splashed water on his face. He had seen that kind of desperation before and it never ended well. Christ, he’d been there before and it was only luck and good friends that had saved him from disaster. Whatever was going on with Seraphim was beyond his control though; all he could do was attempt to make her happy enough to let him go. Well that and look for any opening to escape or call for help.