Devizes - Season 1

The first serial from 'The Quantum Sweep' universe. This story is also released as a serial on Wordpress at ' https://quantumsweep.wordpress.com '. Found it anywhere else? It's been pirated. Please tell the author asap.

Listen to the five-track EP that goes with this story at https://thequantumsweep.bandcamp.com .


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1. Episode 1 - A Laboratory

 

The Quantum Sweep Presents

Devizes

Episode 1 – A Laboratory

 

Story by The Intelligence Division

 


The Laboratory is dark with only the deep red light of the accelerator pipeline that skirts the edge of the room to illuminate the proceedings.

The viewing chamber offers a slight fluorescent colouring to this, but otherwise the one-way glass prevents light from escaping the confines of the theatre.

In the centre of the room, a bulky, cubic apparatus with various mechanical protrusions extending from it such that it imitates the shape of a small cannon sits. About its end orbits three metal chevrons which appear to be suspended in mid-air without support or outside interference. Into each ‘wing’ of each chevron is a translucent element of a strange colourful metalloid. One chevron contains a pair of red elements, the second a pair of yellow and the third a pair of green. In a different setting, the frequency of their rotation about the end of this strange machine would seem almost absentminded, should one think to personify these objects, though in this context the movement seems unsettlingly mechanical.

The machine is positioned targeting a cylindrical metal cage inside which a humanoid skeleton, constructed from a glistening metal alloy is suspended in a magnetic field created by the bars of the cage.

 

The first command comes from the viewing theatre by means of an intricate series of switches and levers.

A light turns on inside the gun-like structure. It is hollow. Within sits a glass sphere. Within the glass sphere a crumpled scrap of paper hangs, decorated with the jovial scribbles of a small child. It seems out of place in this environment, isolated in its humanity and imperfection.

Within the sphere, sparks fly from left to right. Some settle of the paper, but they do not damage or degrade it, at least not at first. They glow all the brighter, sticking there as if hopeful fireflies had become entranced with the discovery of a large source of food.

Presently, the paper is indistinguishable within the glow as more and more tiny sparks become lodged onto it, entranced within its every minute detail.

Then comes the second command.

Banks of computers all throughout the underground science complex whir into life. As the fireflies return information so must the computers process it, extrapolate it from meaningless data into a wealth of information, and then finally into knowledge. An artificial intelligence whispers within the circuits that form this compound. At first it is overwhelmed, but then, without even the slightest degree of human promoting it expands and grows to take advantage of the full wealth of processing power available to it, and creates within itself a miniscule object from the knowledge brought before it by its lesser cousins. At first this object is simply a name and a table of figures. The AI prepares its offspring, nurtures it, extrapolates it further, from simple numbers, to a code, to a program, and then beyond to a stage of complexity matched only by the AI itself.

The third stage begins with the chevrons accelerating their rotation faster, faster, faster until they bloom alight with a strange oily flame. The accelerator pipeline around the edge of the laboratory whirs into life. The chevrons rotate faster still.

The final command is received. From the end of the gun flares a searing bright light that pains eyes in the viewing chamber despite multiple layers of optical protection. It scorches the skeleton within the cage, it momentarily disables the magnetic field, it moves up and down the mechanical body, furnishing it with flesh, coating it with skin, providing it with organs, every detail a replica of the drawing within the glass chamber.

As suddenly as it began, the process ends.

The chevrons slow down to their previous absentminded orbit with a haste that makes the dramatic deceleration seem almost effortless.

The layers of optical protection withdraw.

The Practitioner rubs his eyes delicately.

The Professor removes his dark glasses.

-BREATHE-

 

A cheer erupts in the viewing chamber.

 

-BREATHE-

 

Applause.

 

-BREATHE-

 

“The League of Honourable Strangers was right to trust you, Professor.”

 

-BREATHE-

 

(Hand is placed on shoulder, shoulder tenses slightly, forced smiles are shared with all)

 

-BREATHE-

 

“It was my pleasure, Practitioner. I propose we now consider the next phase.”

 

-BREATHE-

 

“Would that be the part where we eat some of that marvellous-looking cake you have left in our midst?”

 

-BREATHE-

 

“A cake…?”

-BREATHE-

 

“Oh, come on Professor. I don’t need these - [gestures to a symbol featuring a red, yellow and green parallelogram in tessellation on the shoulder of his coat.] to tell that the package you have hidden behind the front desk in the lobby is in fact a container for a rather impressive chocolate gateau made lovingly by your wife Elizabeth.

 

-BREATHE-

 

“How do you know my Wife’s name?”

-BREATHE-

 

(The Practitioner gestures again to the three-parallelogram symbol.)

-BREATHE-

 

“Oh yes, of course. I do apologise, Practitioner.

-BREATHE-

 

(The cake is brought before the onlookers.)

-BREATHE-

 

“My my, Professor, it would seem that your wife is a much better cook than I had previously deduced.”

 

-BREATHE-

 

“Very good, Practitioner.”

-BREATHE-

 

“So, Professor,”

(The Professor hurriedly finishes his mouthful.)

“Yes?”

-BREATHE-

 

“What is this entity you have created?”

(An expression of great sadness spreads the Professor’s face before it is quickly restrained.)

Professor?”

 

-BREATHE-

 

“He was - “

“Your Daughter’s? Ah yes. You do understand that you haven’t the slightest reason to miss her - “

“No that is not it.”

“Oh No?”

“To test this process to bring fictional creations to life I have realised my daughter’s imaginary childhood friend.”

“Oh?”

“I had thought that the narrow personality such that I child might imagine in play would be ideal.”

 

-SILENCE-

 

“A very wise move, Professor. What will happen to this being next, then?”

-SILENCE-

 

“We shall scorch the biological matter from the mechanical skeleton such that the mechanics reused and samples of the organic tested further.”

 

-SILENCE-

 

“This - young man - shall die, then?”

“In a sense, though I doubt sincerely that he was ever alive.”

“Very good. Actually, speaking of death, what has happened to his breathing?

 

There is a pause in the celebrations in the viewing room.

I open my eyes and observe my surroundings.

Although it is the first time I have ever done this, there is no novelty in the experience. One could almost deduce I had done this before, though that is highly unlikely.

 

Who is this “Professor”? My unwitting creator has not yet realised that either something has gone badly wrong, or that his daughter’s childhood friend was a whole lot more than he had previously understood.

Unusually, I do not recall her name.

This Professor however:

 

///A:

1: ‘Lab Coat’: ‘(255,255,255)’, ‘Well fitting’, ‘Chocolate stained’

=> #Expensive, well-loved, not provided by superiors

2: ‘Trousers’: ‘(0,0,0)’, ‘[Stiff, Straight, Formal]’

=> #Significant occasion

3: ‘Shoes’: ‘(0,0,0), ‘Recently polished’

=> ^A:2

///M:

1: (tension) <|> proximity(’Practitioner’)

    I: (lexis.formality)

    II: (posture.formality)

    III:(facial.mouth.forced_smile <|> proximity(’Professor’)

=> #Answers to Practitioner

#Practitioner’s arrival is significant event for subject

///E:

1: #Practitioner is visiting subject to inspect progress

#Practitioner does not visit regularly

#Practitioner respects subject’s capability

#Subject is uncomfortable having to answer to Practitioner

#Subject would rather not be doing this project

#=> lack of money/comfortable mental state, perhaps triggered by mysterious loss of daughter?

 

Well that was unusual.

Suddenly, I know and understand the Professor’s every mood, expression and motive. I can even predict to an extent what will happen next.

In regard to the code inserted above, fifty or sixty similar such procedures are run through my head in the space of a split second. I include only the most intriguing above for your own reference, as I doubt that extensive pages of such records will be of much use to you, especially considering the likelihood that it doesn't make the blindest bit of sense.

Yes. I knew that I couldn’t just be ‘ordinary’, or at least I’m assuming this isn’t how human beings are normally made. Either way, for me to have capabilities outside of their ‘normal’ seems only to be expected.

What this strange ability is I am still yet to comprehend.

The Professor’s finger is currently hovering over the button that will scourge me from this earth forever.

I am more interested in the rotating chevrons.

It would appear that I share some strange connection with them.

The Professor hesitates. It was foolish of him to build me as a link to his daughter. Precisely, it will cost him his life.

In that tiny moment of hesitation, I exercise my connection to the chevrons.

They break free from their orbit about the gun-like machine as easily as some celebrated personality leaving a flagging relationship with an equally-if-not-less celebrated personality for another, younger, more financially secure celebrated personality.

I am a personality worthy of celebration. I have superpowers and everything. I know for a fact that I will not die in this building.

The chevrons whirl about my cage, much to the horror of the onlookers. In a burst of light, they release a bolt of what I presume must be equal and opposite to the matter forming the bars of the cage. The magnetic field that has kept me constantly levitated for the entirety of my life so far is broken instantly. The bars crumble away into a dribble of photons.

My small audience flinches with shock.

A simple gesture and the chevrons whirl away somewhere else. I sense the relaxing of pressure in the pipes beneath the floor. It is only a matter of time before some young spark sets it off.

The chevrons return, banking and wheeling in the air before me. In an instant the wall before me has been annihilated.

“EMERGENCY! SOMEONE HIT THE-”

Another simple gesture and the chevrons have killed everyone in the compound save this Professor and his companion the Practitioner.

“You - you are -”

“Alive, intelligent, and in need of clothing, yes.” I turn to the Practitioner. “I Like your coat.”

“It would not suit you,” he tells me. “For starters, these parallelograms-”

“Of which you are so proud.”

“Yes. Wait, did you-”

“Insult you? Yes. Now tell me, what is it about those pretty little parallelograms that says I cannot wear your coat?”

“Why, you are not a Practitioner. Where I study the noble art, and practise the great science of Ultra-Espionage, you are a failed experiment who will shortly be scourged from this earth. If you kill me now-”

 

///A:(pale_skin)

    => #fear

///M:(fear)<|< proximity.self+”glowing chevrons”

///E:(fear)<|< condition.sexual.impotency

    => You poor, poor little man.

I kill him.

The look of sheer terror that spreads his face in his last few moments does not have time to fully form by the time the life has left his body. He crumples to the floor, headless.

I take his coat and put it on.

It reaches down to my ankles. It fits quite well though it is a little tight around the shoulders and chest.

The three chevrons return to their leisurely orbit about my left wrist.

I turn to the Professor.

“Thank you, Professor, for giving me life. I promise you I will use this gift you have given me well. Be assured that anything I do to you now is much, much more pleasant than anything that man-” (I gesture to the lifeless form of the Practitioner on the floor beside where we stand) “- had planned for you.”

The Professor stares at me in awe.

“Was I- was I successful?”

“I do not sense any influence in my person not designed by your daughter, if that is what you mean.”

“And you are so -”

“Real, yes, I know. It’s rather fantastic - I mean, look at these!”

I hold up my right hand and wiggle my fingers.

“I can only imagine they are a distant cousin of the ‘toe’. It’s quite fascinating.”

The Professor laughs gently.

“And how is it that you are a Practitioner?”

Now there is a question to conjure with. Already I can feel my mental subroutines whirring away at this problem.

Let us interrogate this Professor, and work out what he knows.

“As of yet, I am mostly unsure as to what is meant by that phrase, though I will say, Professor, that there is no foreign influence I can detect beyond the work of your marvellous machine and your remarkable daughter-”
“She drew you at the age of five.”

“How many years ago?”

“Seventeen.”

 

“And where is your daughter now?”

A tear emerges in his left eye. “I have no clue. Kidnapped the day after she drew your image. The League claimed to know, but were never willing to say. Recruited into some shadowy operation, I imagine. She was always a remarkable girl.”

“Remarkable such that I am - well -”

The Professor is overcome with a sudden urgency. “Find her, will you? You must find her?”

“I must destroy all evidence of my creation first.”

He nods sadly. His face is serene, relaxed, prepared. “- But you must destroy all remaining evidence. I understand. But promise me - In return - find her - find Monica.”

I nod gently. He is overcome with some alien mix of sadness, gladness and serenity.

I kill him quickly. One moment he exists, the next he is a cloud of photons suspended within the orbiting circle of the glowing metal chevrons.

 

I leave the compound and find a road.

Behind me the grassy rise under which the compound is buried begins to smoke.

A spark occurred eventually.

Smoke rises from the rise behind me.

There is a deep rumble from within the earth.

I wander off along the road.

Half a mile along the road I reach a town.

“Devizes”.

Interesting.

A name is a unique identifier - something that represents a nameable entity, making it unique from all other comparable entities.

I was created in Devizes.

I am the only being of my kind to be created in this manner.

Therefore, to me, the term ‘Devizes’ is unique.

I think I can make good use of this name.

My name is Devizes.

 

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