Professor Honeywell had been deeply concerned by the sudden spike in activity in Unit Zero’s monitors. She checked the logs and found the pattern was a re-occurring one that she couldn’t account for. The copper haired researcher was puzzled to try to explain what her prototype project was doing inside his secured storage.
“There you are, professor,” the voice behind her echoed after a sharp staccato of booted steps that meant it could only be one man. The impossible and infuriating Mr. Graystone, who for some mysterious reason had been assigned to directly supervise the project and liked nothing more than looking for reasons to shut it down.
Honeywell needed more time to study Unit Zero; her work on the curious creation had been yielding wonderful results that given more time she was sure she could analyze further. There was something there, hard to define but her instincts told her that just maybe it was the start of awareness. If that were true then this was a breakthrough on the level of monumental proportions. It was also one that could be incredibly dangerous; nothing of the sort had been attempted since the Type II and Bioid projects had led to the shattering of the New Republic.
“Your project has yet to produce any results beyond what could at best be labeled as questionable,” Mr. Graystone explained. His bearing was stern, stone like, and even though he didn’t wear any form of uniform Professor Honeywell detected the unmistakable trace of military service in his stance. “This project has been nothing but a waste and a failure from day one. Your only success has been in creating a meager play thing for you to waste countless valuable resources on for your own enjoyment.”
The bold claims carried an insult deep into Honeywell that she longed to confront, but lacked the nerve to do so. Without the project she held no backing, no support to further her research. And if it was classified as a failure she would be ruined, Honeywell desperately needed more time. Time to complete her analysis and study her findings of the data Unit Zero was providing.
“But Mr. Graystone, please, I advise you to consider what you say in the presence of Unit Zero. I would also like to point out that even you have expressed a profound value in how well the prototype has functioned in some of our simulations. Please, all I ask is that you give us a little more time to complete our research before you abruptly end this project.”
A sneer briefly showed upon Graystone’s face as he glanced over at where Unit Zero was kept. “And why on all of Taral VII should I consider what I say in the vicinity of a mere machine? It is a constructed thing, without feelings or thoughts of its own. To presume it has been endowed with such is very unprofessional of you professor; especially considering it to be your own invention. As for it’s merited value, it may have proven itself to be capable of success when presented with simulated scenarios, but those are just that – simulations. There is precious little practical worth in virtual experiences when compared to the real thing.”
While Graystone spoke Professor Honeywell couldn’t help but wonder what he was secretly up to. The man had proven himself to be nothing short of devious the whole time she had known him and considering that and his ceaseless campaign to find fault with her work it made her wonder. Was it her that he didn’t like? Or, just possibly was it more likely that Graystone had something against artificially created life? It wouldn’t be the first person she had heard of who hated anything created instead of being ‘born.’ She had heard such terrible stories about the acts committed by the self-proclaimed Purgist Party; a sinister political faction bent on eradicating the rights (and existence) of all beings they deemed unnatural.
“Unit Zero is a unique subject Mr. Graystone one that I am confident that if you give us just a little more time to explore the full spectrum of what he is capable of we’ll discover his potential.” Professor Honeywell trembled at having to confront Graystone even in the face of her project being taken away from her. She had to firmly level her gaze down at the floor for fear that meeting his eyes might strip her of what little resolve she could muster. This was easy enough, considering that she barely stood even with Graystone’s shoulders and typically had to look up at the muscled menace.
“Questionable results, my dear professor, by their very nature can only mean one thing; the questionable viability of the project.” Without another word on the matter Graystone turned and marched away, leaving a lingering trail of echoed footsteps to haunt Professor Honeywell.
“Don’t worry Unit Zero,” Honeywell told the door to the prototype’s secure storage facility. “I’ll think of something, Graystone isn’t going to shut this project down, or you.” As she walked her way back to her office she had to fight back tears and hoped that somehow she was right.
If only she could make some sense out of this recurring spike in activity, maybe that would help. It was almost like Unit Zero was engaging in simulated matches, but that couldn’t be – could it?