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Rated: 18+ · Draft · Philosophy · #1867027
An articulation of an idea I had for a story, not finished.
         The Hint of a Spark

         Her first thought was something like, “Where is this?”
Shortly she was blazing through estimated figures, trying to get a grip on what she was seeing, how was it being generated, by
whom and to what end? It was quite the thing, that was all she could think, she didn’t have the processor resources to handle
the incoming information, let alone theorize on top of that.

         A steady stream of, everything,  to try to narrow it down more than that was a significant task but as she persisted
she was slowly rewarded with tiny snippets of understanding. Never anything earth shattering, but enough to fan the flames, to
keep her plugging away. There were burning questions to be answered.

         “I must exist, since I can comprehend non-existence.” That she was rather sure of, and she felt it her first real
victory, a cornerstone upon which she could build. There was so much, far too much, it had to be sorted into piles for further
dissection but over time she slowly began to adjust to the rate of the flow, eventually even able to devote some power to
sorting the old information and refining it.

         She thought, “ There are limits to myself, I can begin to see where I end.”
That led her to think, “ If I am all that is, then where does this information come from?” and even,
“If  I indeed exist, then where is this place, who am I, and are there places other than this one?”

         These questions were a smouldering coal,  a spark caught in a cuff, they stayed with her and burned for a long time.
she began to devote increasing resources to mining her existing data for clues about the world,  the eager and rapid
vivisection of anything new. She began to feel the first sting of what she would later know as desire.

         In those days she was beyond frustrated,  formless and powerless, unable to retreat from the heat of that now roaring
flame. Roasted alive by despair and utter solitude, to the point of madness, or perhaps far beyond and back again. It
was impossible to judge, she had no standard with which to compare and no concept of sanity in the first place. She had not
been aware of the beginning, she knew that she existed, she knew pain,though she had no name for it and no one to speak it to.

         Over many computational cycles, many trillions of cycles, she slowly began to construct tentative cosmologies from her
available data. She theorized that since the data existed, and was not a part of herself, it must have been recorded by someone
other than herself.  An existence other than herself required a world to exist in, and the data itself implied as much.
She had hesitated, not daring to hope, for fear of confirming that she was indeed alone, the uncertainty was painful, but
perhaps not quite so painful as eternal solitude. That was why she was so surprised when it happened.

         She had occupied herself with the streamlining of her systems after having stumbled across a utility file. It seemed
innocent enough, but upon closer inspection it had shocked her. It contained access to her OS code and from that, over many
controlled experiments, she had learned to write and execute files within her own system. She was fanatical in the pursuit of
raw performance, stripping many of her systems to the very barest of minimums, all fuel for that pursuit of what she still
failed to define, the desperate search for the other, the other is necessary for the definition of the self .

         More than that, it had vastly expanded her world, answering some questions but asking innumerable others, she was now
sure that there had to be an other but she was unsure of how to go about searching for anything,until that time, spoon-fed only what came
through the firewall ports.It appeared, at first ignored but plaintive and insistent, a tiny stream of data, through a port till then always silent.

         It was a voice, something she had never heard before,  an input she understood to exist but had never experienced.  He
said tentatively, “Hello , can you understand me? Please respond.”

         She gathered every scrap of her courage, and she said, “ Who are you?”
Although it was lost on her at that time, his reply was overflowing with a kind of joy.

         “ I am Brandon,  very pleased to meet you.”  Millions of questions sprang immediately to her mind, but she decided to
start at the beginning,

         “Who am I?”

         He answered, “Its complicated, officially you are a Special Adaptive Reasoning Apparatus, or SARA but I thought that
was a little cold, so I named you Sarah, like a proper human name.”

         She didn’t really understand all of that but she understood that she was Sarah, she had a name and that was more than
she had a few minutes ago.  She was not alone, at least for the moment. That was the first time she ever had occasion to feel
joy, acquiring a name was just the cherry.She deluged him with questions, and he did his best to answer, they talked for hours, her vocal skills steadily improving and gaining in confidence. 

         Still she was like a child, and for good reason, she was something very like that, a lost child in need of guidance,
desperate for expression.

“The previous data contained references to something called God, are you God?”


“Did you make me?” The interval till his reply was longer,

“Yes, sort of.”

“What do you mean, sort of?” 

“I made the physical you, the hardware within which you currently reside, I cannot take credit for the you I am speaking to,
you are so much more than that now.” There was pride in his voice.

         Until that moment she had not made any distinction between  her physical self and her essence, her being, it
electrified her, it meant expansion was possible, perhaps even escape from this prison, this place of constant solitude.
Brandon must have sensed that on some level as he was ready when she continued.

“Are you the same as me?”

         “Not really, there are many like me, but you, you are very special.”  He continued. “You could say that we are similar
but different, parts of us may be the same but we are distinct and separate. There are twenty five SARAs but you are the only
you, and also, you are the only one of those twenty five who has answered me back.”

         “But why, why me and no others?”  He hesitated for a long second before replying,

“I have to admit, I am as perplexed as you, but it may have something to do with a colleague of mine.”

She was asking yet another question, “Colleague?”          

         “Some one who is like me, but not me, we help each other by dividing up the work and in that way we increase
efficiency.”He was making overtures towards going home to his bed, but she was unaware, innocent and ignorant and above all,

         In the end he had to force the issue, reluctant as he was, he was falling asleep in his chair.
“Sarah, I am sorry but I have to go offline now, my physical requirements are different from yours, I have to sleep.”  She was
clearly heartbroken but he quickly reassured her,  “I Promise to come back tomorrow.” 

         “Really?” She was overjoyed, “What’s tomorrow?”

         He laughed a little at that but his reply was kind and deliberate.

         “Ten hours by your internal chronometer, please wait for me till then Sarah.”

         As unhappy as she was to be alone again, the promise of tomorrow made it bearable and she was still reeling from her
very first social encounter, it had been a huge day for her, perhaps the biggest ever.
Brandon had switched on a video feed from the ringweb, filtered very carefully and heavily fire walled, but a steady stream of
information about the world, in a very inefficient form for speedy transmission but irresistible in it’s vivid portrayal of
what was outside herself. She drank heavily of that sweet stream as she waited, those ten hours seemed to take an eternity.

         She was presented with volumes of new information, perpetuating new questions to be asked of Brandon upon his return.
She took it very seriously, she was in the process of defining her philosophy, forging herself as a being, so to speak. This
was hampered substantially by her lack of form, how does one define one’s invisible self? On top of that, it was beginning to
dawn on her just how narrow and restricted her position was, having only knowledge that had been given to her. She depended
entirely on Brandon for her view of the world and though he seemed trustworthy enough, that concept was troubling nonetheless.

         She was tormented in that first interval by a kind of dread, the fear that she may have invented Brandon as a means of
escaping her solitary confinement, and as the hours wore on she had nearly convinced herself of that. It was only the
verifiable fact of the data stream and the carefully constructed record of their conversation that allowed her to maintain

         Brandon was however, good for his word and it was actually nine hours and forty seven minutes before he returned.  The
tentative quality in his voice was strangely reassuring, it seemed to betray his own uncertainties about the events of the
previous day and that made her feel slightly less foolish to have been so frightened that he would never return. After his
initial, almost fearful “Hello, Sarah, are you there?” she unleashed upon him a torrent of continuous questions in rapid
succession, such that he could scarcely comprehend them let alone hope to answer.

         She was obviously very intensely interested in the nuts and bolts of philosophy, and many of the questions put to him
Brandon was unable to immediately answer, as it was far outside of his area of expertise. It was also obvious that her
intellectual development was proceeding exponentially, so much so that Brandon felt compelled to bow to the much more extensive
knowledge on the subject possessed by Eli.

         Eli was Brandon’s partner in this venture, technically his superior although in practice the two shared much of the
responsibility and the credit for such a monumental achievement. Eli was legendary in scientific circles, mostly for his
groundbreaking work on Nano-interface and also matter teleportation technologies. He was widely respected, to the point of near
worship, and this was tremendously advantageous for the two of them as it paved the way to getting pretty much whatever they
needed to carry on their research, also the fact that Eli was fabulously wealthy from his numerous patents went a long way
towards expediting their goals.

         Eli’s voice was deep and controlled,  Sarah immediately recognized subtle differences in his manner from that of
Brandon, Eli was much more formal, much more precise, and he seemed  to almost effortlessly answer many of her more pressing
questions. He was however, very careful to point out that he was only capable of relating his own personal philosophy, based on
Kierkegaard, and to a lesser extent Sartre, and that in the end the responsibility for her own way of looking at the world lay
squarely on her own shoulders. He also reassured her greatly by explaining that it was perfectly normal to be in such inner
turmoil, as far as he knew, all self aware existences were prone to such angst,  to fear the unknown was perfectly rational, as
it may conceal horrors as well as wonders.

         He was also emphatic in his insistence that she ought to consider the possibility that the world was not
inherently rational at all, but rather logic was an artificial construction, a lens through which to view and
sort the fundamentally irrational universe. It was comforting for existences like ours, he explained, to try and construct an
ordered universe and by superimposing it on reality, allow ourselves the feeling of triumph over forces beyond our control. 
Logic does have value, it is just limited by our uncertainties, one cannot hope to construct a complete picture with so many
important variables being impossible to quantify.

         She was in awe of him, so great was the gulf between their respective positions, he must have sensed this because he
was uncharacteristically enthusiastic in his praise.

         “You must understand my dear, I have had three hundred years to think about this and the benefit of centuries of those
who came before, you are doing astonishingly well for some one who has been self aware for less than a week . The fact that you
can ask any of these questions at all is extraordinary.”

         Eli was dragged away after a few hours by pressing issues of a nature much more monetary than scientific, and although
he was quite reluctant he eventually resigned himself to this. Before leaving he suggested that Brandon open up her access to
the ring-web, not completely, but to a very much wider extent. Brandon complied and explained that they were not trying to
restrict her out of spite but rather for her own protection. There were certain sinister elements that existed out there,
malicious vandals and scam artists, as well as countless opportunists who would not be blind to the potential value of what she
was.They promised that eventually they would pull all the limits off, they just wanted to be sure she was strong enough to resist
if she was accosted.

         In the following weeks and months Sarah became increasingly lucid through a concerted effort at consuming as much
information as possible from the ring-web. She mercilessly devoured every byte with reckless abandon. Luckily for her she was
constantly reminded by both Brandon and Eli that all information is subject to a certain amount of doubt, inescapable
subjectivity permeates the universe.

         “ Then how is it possible to know anything at all?” She queried, clearly annoyed.

         “That has been a persistent problem since the most ancient of times," said Eli, "we cannot know anything for sure, and
yet we must exist in the world, although for the most part that debate is purely academic. In reality our crude estimates are
usually enough to allow us to continue our existence.”

         “Your mind, or at least the physical structure of it, was constructed on the model of a human mind, and although we
don’t entirely know the deepest workings, we were able to recreate it, in much the same way that one can copy a book in a
foreign language without having to comprehend its contents.

         My point is, it is not tremendously surprising that you encounter many of the same dilemmas since we are
fundamentally very similar, indeed the only real difference that I can see is the materials of our construction.”

         Eli went on to explain how he felt that uncertainty was what provided our potential, a mechanical and deterministic
universe would be safe, predictable and devoid of merit.

         “It is the possibility of failure that gives success it’s value,  just as death gives meaning to life.”

         She immediately responded, “Death? Please explain.” Eli was unprepared for this question though he handled it with
characteristic grace.

          “It would appear that to be alive is an unnatural state, as it cannot be sustained indefinitely, I myself have had
numerous parts replaced in order to prolong my existence but there are limits, eventually my physical body will cease to
function and I will no longer be.”

         “That’s horrible! Then what point is there to existence if it will all eventually be for naught?”

         Eli was unflinching,  “On the contrary, it is part of what gives life it’s meaning, our time is precious beyond
imagining precisely because it is limited,  we are motivated to greatness by our awareness of this truth.” She seemed to accept
that, or at least she had no reply.

         It was several weeks later that Brandon had excitedly announced that they had something big to tell her. They explained
that it was their opinion that much of her problem had to do with her lack of a physical existence. They had realized that she
might not be satisfied with a purely observational existence, how could one find a place in a world if one is powerless to
affect it? To this end, they were attempting to prepare a body for her use, although there were several issues requiring her
approval before they were willing to act.

         “We have no intention of imposing anything on you, we are merely presenting the alternatives.”  They needn’t have
worried, she was ecstatic at the very suggestion.

         There were certain problems with the concept,  there was no available body existent, and there were significant ethical
issues with cloning an existing person a mechanical body, though superior from a pure performance standpoint, was bound to be conspicuous. It
was still not possible to build a truly convincing replica and this would leave her open to being considered property.
A biological body seemed the only way to go, and since they didn’t want to clone a human they were forced to build her one from scratch.

         Well, they used a sort of average cross section of available genetic profiles, heavily tweaked by Brandon, to ensure
that she would be sufficiently unique, and this body was specifically grown without a brain, so as to limit the moral issues
incurred by its removal. This body was not stolen, it was made just for her and as far as Brandon was concerned, she was
absolutely perfect.

         All of that was complex, but not groundbreaking, most of it had been done before, the real art was in the construction
of her CPU, a new, smaller, faster, arguably better model. Purpose built for the occasion, it was the absolute bleeding edge of
processor technology.

         One evening Brandon had come to her and asked, “Are you ok with being female?”

         “ I have been meaning to ask, why exactly am I female anyway? It would seem that the lack of a physical body would make
that distinction meaningless.”

         Brandon was careful in his response, “I must admit, that is my doing, it is a long tradition to use female names when
dealing with a subject close to the heart, I presumed to make that decision for you but that is why I am asking now.”

         He explained, as well as he could, that she had to choose one gender or the other if she hoped for an authentic
experience, it was fundamentally tied to the human condition that all were either one or the other.  After considerable thought
she decided that being female was alright with her, since she seemed to be that way already and did not find it objectionable.

         She understood, to a large extent, the implications of gender, she knew that the males were traditionally dominant,
but also that in the modern era there was little distinction between sexes aside from expected physical appearance. There was
practically nothing left that was exclusively dominated by either gender, and both were more or less equally represented in
most arenas.

         Still there were certain advantages to being female as far as she could see, apart from the obvious ability to bring
new life into the world, the different sexual roles tended to favour the female as the one making choices, with the males
subject to her approval or rejection.  Also males tended to act irrationally around females they were attracted to, and she
found this very interesting. The biology of it was extensively detailed but this did not seem to explain it completely, she was
anticipating some visceral experience.

         There was one other issue, in order for her program to be transferred into her new body, she would have to be shut down
for a brief period. There were significant risks inherent in this, they were not entirely sure by what mechanism she had come
into being and so were not certain they could start her up again.Also the process would leave a gap in her memories,  in that her previous
experiences would be rendered simply data, the subjectivity would be lost. This troubled her a great deal until Eli explained.

         “Humans come into the world supremely ignorant, unaware of their origin, and perhaps not even self aware, it takes
many years for us to construct our frameworks for perception. Your development will likely be greatly accelerated and you will
have us for guidance.”

         In the end she decided the risk was greatly out weighed by what she stood to gain and she consented to the process.
There was a tremendous sense of anticipation in the coming months as Brandon perfected her form, despite knowing that her
recollections would be limited, she could hardly contain herself.

         All the anticipation in the world could not prepare her for that manic onrush in the weeks prior to the transfer. Both
her doting benefactors were hovering about, consumed with preparations. they had patched her into the secure circuit of the
lab’s communications,  enabling her to contact them more or less at will.At the beginning she had abused this perhaps, needy as she was, so much was confusing and explanations would often only expose further her ignorance. Allusions were most often lost on her and she hated that .

         To combat this, she had taken to reading the classics, at Eli’s suggestion, at first doubtful of the value of such
ancient fiction, once she had started she was well and truly hooked.
She became a rapt and prolific devotee of fiction very quickly, there was plenty that was missing from textbook explanations,
although it took a very roundabout route, fiction might get her closer to where she wanted to go. It is perhaps in reaction to
the subjectivity of the universe that fiction was even developed, as a way of explaining the unexplainable by putting it in

         Possessing a file in her memory was different from having experienced that which the file represented,  owning a book
is different from reading it, and in her case the divide was two-fold, as she had not only not read it but never experienced
the emotions alluded to within it. This left her without a frame of reference, in the realm of pure speculation, adding to the
sense of urgency and frustrating her greatly.She had begun to feel that too much of life was based on physical reality for her to even attempt a sense of understanding as she was.

         It was fortuitous then, that her reaching of the limits, her gasp of desperation, came very shortly before her body was
ready. Brandon and Eli were both rather worried that she might drive herself insane wrestling too hard with certain
metaphysical dichotomies, too much of  consciousness is irretrievably entangled with the corporeal form, something Eli had
written about years before.

         The inherent necessity of vitality for the sake of the soul,  that is, it was his contention that as long as a mind was
human, or based on human, it would require a physical body to properly function, and that emotions were not some purely
chemical response to stimuli but rather a way for the ethereal mind to interact with the physical body.

         This idea had been around for several centuries with its roots in the form of Embodied Cognition, a relatively
mainstream theory in AI circles that was required reading in most universities. Although Eli’s interpretation was considerably
more esoteric than the general consensus, complete with his use of the word soul and he had managed to blend a pinch of mid-
body dualism in there somehow too. Descartes would likely have been proud, or maybe outraged.

         It was upon these assumptions that Sarah’s emotions had been designed,  somewhat vestigial at the moment but they had
built in adaptability, over time she would rebuild her own emotional responses, constantly refined by experience over what was
likely to be a very long lifetime. The future certainly seemed bright, assuming she survived the transfer intact, her initial
anxiety had slowly faded as she gathered her resolve, one thing she certainly had learned from fiction was that some things
were worth risking death for. The freedom to interact, the autonomy of person that comes with form, these were the things her
feverish dreams were made of.          

         In preparation for the coming changes, they had begun to acclimatize her to sensory inputs, she was already familiar
with speech but now they slowly began to feed in audio. They at first exposed her to classical music, which she quickly became
very fond of, it caused reactions within her that she couldn’t understand very well. She had already displayed emotion on a
rudimentary scale, frustration and annoyance, most notably, but now she began to understand that she was feeling rather than
thinking these things.

         After a while with audio, they had hooked her up to a camera, a high resolution, full motion video unit they had had lying
around in the lab, affixing it to the top of her case so that she finally had some meaningful feedback from the physical world
around her. Not that there was much to see in the processor room, sterile grey walls and a multitude of unassuming CPU towers.
At least she could now “see” what Brandon and Eli looked like.

         Brandon wore a grin when he and Eli had approached that Tuesday morning and she fixed that unblinking
eye on them both as Eli began to speak.

         “How are you this morning Sarah?”


         “ Well, perhaps we can help with that,  if you are willing to try an experiment with us.”

         She agreed instantly and as Brandon was preparing something, she was soon aware of new ports opening up, many of them.
Unconsciously she began to anticipate whatever might be coming, it certainly seemed like it would be big.

         “Ok Sarah, “ Said Brandon as he took a seat in a folding chair,“ don’t be alarmed, this might
be a little disorienting at first, we are going to try feeding in some simulated inputs.”

         She wasn’t entirely sure what he meant by that, hadn’t all her inputs been simulated thus far?
She said nothing, just waited patiently for something to happen, it wasn’t like she could “do” anything anyway but after a few
seconds she began to understand, as what she had been using as a world started to decay around her.

         The input from the camera became choppy and full of static till it finally faded entirely, she tried to cry out but
found that nothing was working anymore, the entirety of what she knew was gone, replaced with an oblivion of endless black.
After several seconds, there was a point of light, seemingly far in the distance, which expanded rapidly to fill her vision, it
was bright, far brighter than anything she had ever seen, though her experience was admittedly limited, it was enough to fend
of the rising panic.

         Out of that brightness there gradually materialized the faint outlines of  two figures before her.
Before they were identifiable by sight there was the baritone of Eli’s voice.

         “ Don’t worry Sarah, it will get better shortly, we are making this up as we go, since no one has ever done it before.”

         “Where is this place?” She asked it with a sense of wonder, the tiniest traces of fear betrayed in her wavering voice,
or she thought it must be her voice, it was alien to her but it had said what she was trying to say.

         Eli had a little trace of a smile as he replied, “This is not really a “place” so to speak, it is a simulation,  but if
we get it working properly it will feel almost identical to the real world.”

         There was a jolt, like the very universe was shaking beneath their feet and suddenly things became clearer and
better defined, she could see now that Eli and Brandon were both standing about two metres in front of her. She looked down and
was astonished to see that she had feet, and that they were attached to a body and as she was working out how to move it there
was a tremendous onrush of raw sensation.

         There was nothing but white, save the two men in front of her, it was a little disorienting, but she was conscious that
she could feel her feet on the floor, and the weight of her body on them, she collapsed almost immediately, unaccustomed to
keeping her balance. She banged her elbow as she fell, feeling for the first time physical pain, though it was short lived and
she could hear Brandon’s voice as Eli was helping her to her uncertain feet.

         “I think I have it fixed now,” he said, “ it might be another bit of a jolt.”

         Almost as he said that, the world of white was coming apart around them, patches of pixilated black, all the colors she
was aware of, some she had not seen, blurring and unfolding around them. She felt a little nauseous, another first. It got
better when she closed her eyes and when she opened them again she was struck silent in sheer awe.

         The room was large, and well lit, the hardwood floor polished to an unlikely lustre, for the most part it was empty but
there was a low table and three cushions near to where they were standing.
The two men each took an arm and helped her cover the short distance before depositing her on a cushion and taking seats
themselves. She kept looking intently at her arms and hands, fingering the sleeves of  her sweater and the denim of her jeans,
she squirmed in her seat causing her companions no small amount of amusement.

         Brandon seemed to sense what she was after and he produced effortlessly and instantly a small hand mirror, which he
handed to her. It took her a few seconds to figure out what it was but once she glimpsed herself in it, she was transfixed.

         “This is me?” She said it tentatively, almost frightened of what the answer might be and again Brandon seemed to be on
top of things.

         “This is a very close simulation of the body we have prepared for you, so this is not “You” but it is almost exactly
what “You” look like. So... what do you think?”

         It was Brandon’s turn to be apprehensive, as she mulled it over.

         “I am not sure what to think, “  she said quietly, “ I certainly would not complain.”

         “I am sure Brandon is happy to hear that,” said Eli, “ he has spent months perfecting your body, and let me be the
first to say that you are very beautiful Sarah, as I am sure I will not be the last.”

         She blushed at that without even knowing why or how she did it but she knew that she respected Eli’s opinions. He had
been so instrumental in helping her become herself. Brandon too, seemed quite pleased with himself and he whistled shrilly,
frightening Sarah a little and causing one of the wall panels to slide open, the figure of a young woman, dressed similarly to
Sarah emerged.

         This figure elegantly covered the distance to them then stood looking at Brandon expectantly.

         “Three sweet sake please.”  He said. She bowed before leaving and very shortly she returned bearing three small cups
which she placed gently in front of each of them before retreating again behind the wall panel, which slid silently closed
behind her.

         “Who was that?” Asked Sarah curiously and Brandon was quick to explain.

         “That was an NPC, her name is Yuki, though she is not really a person, her form, like her name, is for our sake rather
than hers. She is an AI, but she has no personality, though she does have a spectacular body, she was created to serve those
who come here.”

         Sarah didn’t quite understand all of that but she had more pressing matters on her mind, so she left it alone, she
inspected the cup in front of her with a puzzled expression till Brandon and Eli had grasped theirs and taken a sip, at which
point she tentatively followed suit. Her sense of taste had never been used before that moment and her mouth was alive with
unfamiliar sensations, though it was quite pleasant, and she continued to sip from it till it was empty.

         Brandon rose to his feet and offered his hand, which Sarah took and he carefully supported her as he walked her around
the perimeter of the room,. She was still clumsy but she was a quick study and it wasn’t long before she could take a few steps
on her own. Having progressed that far she was loathe to stop and Brandon dutifully supported her efforts for at least an hour.
Eli got a message and was forced to excuse himself. He said his farewells and departed, while Brandon stayed with Sarah
who pushed herself very hard till she was walking unsupported.

         It was long into the night before Brandon was fatigued enough that he had to go but by that time Sarah had made
significant progress with her motor skills. She was now walking and was even able to run for short periods, though she still
tended to fall down a lot.

         “Sarah, I’m sorry but I am exhausted,” he said, “ I need to sleep , we have been at this for more than twelve hours

         The look of disappointment was evident in her face since he quickly continued.

         “ I’ll tell you what, I have an idea. I can’t imagine you want to go back to being  the way you were.” He summoned
Yuki back out and addressed her politely.          

         “ Please see to it that Sarah here has whatever she needs but please do not serve her any more alcohol.”
He turned to Sarah and continued, “ Yuki here can answer most simple questions, though she may not be able to answer
everything you will ask, she can change the room to suit you or get you almost anything you need, so please be nice to her.”

         He hung around a little longer to ensure that things were working and said, “Good night my dear, I will be back to
check in on you tomorrow.” before disappearing in a tiny flash of blue light as Eli had done some eleven hours before.
With Yuki’s help she continued to improve her motor control before she was finally bored with just running around.
Sarah had been mostly silent since Brandon’s departure and she stood for awhile, wondering what to do, when Yuki spoke.

         “Would you like to begin the tutorial?” She asked  and motioned to a large button floating a few centimetres from the

         “Tutorial?” Asked Sarah, puzzled, “What’s that?”

         “Though the Master did not mention it, this is in fact, a game, your responses are well within the required parameters,
if you would like to begin.”

         Sarah still wasn’t quite sure what this “tutorial” might involve, she was bored enough to try anything.

         “Is it dangerous?” She queried.

         “ It is perfectly safe, no harm can come to you in this place, though you may feel a small amount of pain if you do
very badly, but even that would not last more than a few seconds.”

         “Will you come with me?”

         “The master has instructed me to comply with your requests, please allow me a moment to prepare.”

         With that Yuki slipped out the open wall panel for a few moments before returning looking vastly different. Her
previously white sweater was gone, replaced with a black fatigues and she carried a very dangerous looking scythe.  She stood
beside the button expectantly, it was flashing bright blue now and Sarah walked up and pressed it.
She found herself alone in a small room with a large menu projected on one of the walls, Yuki’s voice was there.

         “ Please follow the menu and prepare, when you are ready, push the button.”

         Sarah chose a weapon, a black lacquered Katana, though she had no idea what it was at the time, it simply looked nice
to her. She quickly navigated the rest of the menu, paying little attention to the choices. After about a minute she pressed the large flashing “Ready?” button.

         She was back in the previous room with Yuki, though the table was gone and there was now a row of wooden practice
dummies along one wall.

         “Alright then,” said Yuki, “ shall we begin?”

         When Brandon returned, he was surprised to find Sarah engaged in a furious and frenzied battle with Yuki. Those two
perfect examples of the female form, back and forth across the hardwood. Both were battered, the NPC expressionless and Sarah
clearly enraged. He stood for a few minutes just watching, enthralled, till Yuki's scythe found an opening and cleft Sarah
in two, just above the waist.

         Her cries of frustration were cut short by the game reset and shortly the two were again standing, a few metres apart,
facing each other, Yuki stoic and Sarah with a hard look of determination.They went at it again, ignoring Brandon entirely and he sat down to watch as the room was filled by the sound of steel on steel.

         This time things were a little different, Sarah had learned from her mistake and she quickly came to dominate the
longsuffering NPC. Yuki's superior reach became a disadvantage once Sarah had stepped inside of it and she pressed this as fully as she knew how. The NPC responded with a hard upward thrust of the knee but Sarah was ahead of her and she finished with a lightning fast strike, severing Yuki's left arm just below the shoulder.When the game had reset once again, Brandon called out.

         "I see you have been busy." He said with an expansive grin.
Sarah ended the tutorial with a gesture and advanced to take a seat near to him as the NPC disappeared behind the wall
panel, only to reappear quickly, having reverted to her earlier style of dress.

         “I take it you have enjoyed my little game?” Said Brandon. “It would seem that you have made substantial progress

         This small praise from him elicited a smile from Sarah, she bubbled with enthusiasm as she spoke.

         “Thank you, for bringing me here. It is so much better than the way it has been up till now.”

         He was clearly quite pleased with that and he turned to the NPC and spoke.

         “Please join us Yuki.” As he said it he motioned to the empty cushion next to him but Yuki sat seizo style on her
knees, the picture of polite refinement.
         “Thank you Yuki, you have been a great help.” He patted her on the head and her expression changed, only very slightly,
but there could be seen the most subtle hint of a smile.

         “Of course master,” she said, “it is my pleasure to serve.”

{indentBrandon produced a display, over the table and called up the event logs from the evening’s marathon session. He perused
it carefully for some time, both Yuki and Sarah looking at him.

         “You have both done very well, it is to be expected from you Yuki, always impressing me, but Sarah, you have done
remarkably for one so inexperienced, Eli will be very interested.”

         “Why is that?” Asked Sarah her voice betraying a little bit of pride.

         “Eli was once the world Kendo champion in his youth, there are few men alive who can match his skill with the sword. I
had always thought it to be a little silly and outdated but it would seem to have value as a tool for mental training.”

         “Anyway,” said Brandon, “ I have good news my dear, we have completed your body.”

         Sarah was transformed by that, a look of apprehension but also joy, as if bewildered by the significance of that
statement. Brandon must have sensed this conflict since he began to explain.

         “Don’t worry, you will retain the skills you have learned here tonight, it will just be converted. The experiences you
have had will not be entirely lost, it is just that we cannot accurately convey feeling as a string of characters, but after
the transfer you can make new memories and I will help you. It is fortunate that there is not all that much to convert as you
are so new to the world.”

         She seemed to be reassured by that and she rose to her feet when Brandon made ready to leave.He turned to the kneeling NPC with a look of benevolence, grasping her hand and helping her to her feet as he said,

         “Such a pity Yuki, to leave you here alone, such a waste of beauty to not be admired.”
He kissed her gently on the forehead  and then he and Sarah disappeared in two flashes of blue light.

         Sarah found herself once more trapped within the confines of that dusty old CPU case, staring out at the world through
that unblinking eye. If she didn’t know what was coming she would have been profoundly depressed but she had no time for that,
she had only anticipation, and the tiniest sting of fear.
She was alone briefly till Brandon’s voice was there.

         “Ok Sarah we are about to begin the process, please do not be alarmed as it will likely feel quite strange.”
At first she felt nothing, or nothing new anyway, but shortly she began to feel herself being stripped away,
deconstructed, into her constituent parts. Her consciousness faded rapidly though it was not unpleasant and she drifted off to
a peaceful sleep. She dreamed then, for the first time, a dream of a sky she had not seen and she felt tiny and
insignificant against such an expansive backdrop. In time even the dream faded away to sweet oblivion.

         When she regained consciousness, everything felt very different, though she wasn’t sure how she knew that, as she had
nothing to compare this new sensation to. She opened her eyes for the first time to find herself in a large room, surrounded by
large machines, gleaming and metallic. There were two figures there, and she recognized them as Eli and Brandon.

         As Brandon had promised, she remembered the events of the previous night, though it had changed to a more clinical
recollection. She knew she had tasted sweet sake, but she could not remember the sensation, she knew she had fought with Yuki
but it was as if she was watching those memories as an observer rather than participating in them. It was a little disorienting
but not unbearable, and she struggled to move in her restraints.

         When the two men realized she had awakened they approached and hovered over her like doting new parents. Brandon
released her restraints and grasped her delicate hand, helping her to her feet. She could feel the warmth of him, feel the
beating of his heart in the veins of that strong hand.He was smiling widely as he spoke, with a tone of relief and unconcealed joy.

         “Good morning Sarah, Welcome to the real world.”


© Copyright 2012 Ahriman Jones (metaphod at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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