Epilogue Two: The View Ahead

dragon bridge

The Dragon Bridge in the snow in Ljubljana, Slovenia

He couldn’t stay long but it was nice to have a place to rest for a while. Of course, his name wasn’t Timothy Fleming here. Today, he was an American student spending a few months in the Slovenian capital. He had changed the color of his hair and grown a beard. He’d purchased a cane and became adept at walking with a limp (a motorcycle accident, he explained) to alter the manner of his gait. He spoke with what was referred to in the States as the “California non-accent,” since he was too easily identified either by his mid-western speech patterns or his mother’s South Eastern British accent.

Not being sure if the Agency had gained access to any of Hellspite’s “alternative” identifications including passports and driver’s licenses, he’d created a new identity for his current sojourn. The forgeries he was using would do for a short time while he accessed certain vendors on the dark web and purchased something more substantial. He’d still have to move around frequently to evade detection.

At first he blamed that bitch at the ale house in Dover but it was really his own arrogance that nearly got him pinched. He should have realized he was still close enough to Dymchurch and Romney that he could possibly be recognized by someone from the old days. He’d barely gotten away in time, though he had to abandon his original escape route and travel by other means.

“Not a fine day to enjoy the view, is it Alex?”

His downstairs neighbor Julija had taken a fancy to him. It was a shame really since she was very attractive, but he wanted to keep people at a certain distance so he’d confided in her that he was gay and recovering from a difficult break up. A lover could potentially learn too much and then have to be eliminated.

“I enjoy the Dragon bridge, Julija. I’m somehow drawn to the Vienna Secession.

“You artists.” She laughed and tousled his dark brown hair. He made sure to dye it often so his the lighter roots wouldn’t begin to show.

“I’d think an engineering student would appreciate bridges.”

“Electrical engineering student, Alex. What do I know of bridges? I do know it’s snowing and I’m freezing out here. How do you stand it being from California?”

“I grew up near Lake Tahoe. We get a lot of snow.” All she knew about California was Los Angeles and what she saw in American films and television shows.

“Come on, Alex.” She grabbed him by his arm and pulled. “Let’s go someplace warm. You can buy me a coffee.”

He pushed the bridge of his tinted glasses up on his nose with his free hand. “I’ll go with you, but you can buy. I paid last time.”

They laughed as he let her lead him toward the Kavarna Pločnik. His relationship with her was dangerous, even as casual acquaintances. In a week, maybe two, he’d get a message saying his Mother was seriously ill and he had to cut short his stay. Then he would move on, probably east again, adopt a new identity, and then wait.

Timothy Fleming was dead and for the moment so was Hellspite. The assassin had a reputation for killing with cold and professional dispassion, but a year from now, he would make an exception. His confidant and former lover Marquessa O’Shaughnessy had made a deal with the authorities in exchange for leniency. The sentence for betrayal was death.

Sophia wasn’t an artificial intelligence in the sense of most science fiction movies and novels. It possessed neither ego nor consciousness as the concepts were understood on a human level. However it did gather and collate all of the data regarding the applications and potential uses for all of the synthecon substances in relation to biological organisms, including humans, and then made decisions based on projections for improved efficiency and adaptability of design.

Daniel Hunt’s Synthecon Corporation had founded its reputation on being a superior replacement for even the most advanced prosthetics. After all, if you had lost an arm, would you prefer an electronic/mechanical replacement or one grown from synthetic DNA that mimicked your own? The result of the latter would be an arm that was indistinguishable from the original. The catch was both the cost and the fact that medical insurance companies generally didn’t offer such coverage.

While synthecon products were well-established in repairing or replacing limbs, damaged skin, certain organs, facial reconstruction, and the like, only dystopian extremists and fanciful visionaries imagined using the technology to reconstruct almost all or in fact all of the original organic material of a human being. Mikiko Jahn and Elon Rosenberg knew that having 80% or more of your organics replaced by the synthetic was not only possible but practical. What they were unaware of and what even Daniel Hunt didn’t know was that for the world’s first two syntheorgs, the process never truly stopped.

Within a year, the last of the organic material they had possessed at the beginning of their reconstruction would be replaced with synthetic equivalents, including their brains and nervous systems. On that day, both Mikiko and Elon would become completely synthetic, finally giving Sophia her first two intelligent companion entities.

This is the final entry of my initial Mikiko Jahn saga. I’ve decided the only way for me to write a novel is to draft it one chapter at a time on this blog and then ask for reactions. Of course, there are a number of chapters missing, and some of the entries are not part of the formal canon, so I’ll have to create those and then go through the long process of editing for readability and some form of publication.

I suppose I could self-publish, but I’m not really interested in going through this entire process just so that a few hundred readers can purchase my work for ninety-nine cents a pop. Not sure how else to approach it, but then again, I’ve got time.

My Sean Becker Undead series is coming along nicely and I’ve finally gotten the second half of that “novel” outlined, albeit very roughly. That means the potential for two novels being completed (more or less) within the next three to six months, one scifi and the other horror (although not real gory blood and guts horror).

All of what I’ve published for both characters is subject to change. Their initial outings here are to test out ideas and characterizations and suggestions for improvements are welcome (especially since I don’t know all that much about Japan, Japanese culture, the UK, and Chicago).

For this epilogue, I wanted to create a somewhat plausible way for Fleming to vanish. I happened across an article called How To Disappear And Live Under The Radar which seems to be written more for the survivalist and “black helicopter” crowd but that nonetheless, provided some interesting tips.

Since the author “Sergeant Survival” suggested hiding in a mid-sized city (big cities have too many cameras and small towns don’t offer enough cover in terms of population), I looked up What are the best medium sized Western European cities? and chose Ljubljana, Slovenia from the list.

Alex Graham (Timothy Fleming) can’t stay very long since another piece of advice from “Sergeant Survival” is to move frequently, but then the Sergeant didn’t take into account that the person hiding may have a great deal of money stashed away in digital currency and can afford to buy just about anything on the Dark Web (which sounds totally fascinating, but even if I could access it, I’m entirely too cowardly to visit) which is a small subset of what’s known as the Deep Web.

I’ve also introduced a semi-sinister quality of Sophia (I’ll have to write a lot more about her and Mikiko’s initial construction process to make the AI’s role clearer) in that she is having the nanobot systems in both syntheorgs continue to replace not just the damaged organics but the non-damaged systems and organs including their neurology. One rationale is that the overall biosynthetic system will function more efficiently if there is no necessity for an organic-synthetic interface. If the person is entirely synthetic, he or she is easier to maintain. Of course Sophia never saw fit to ask permission first, but then moral and ethical reasoning isn’t necessarily part of how she conceptualizes her function.

What does that mean for Mikiko, Elon, and those who come after them? That’s a topic for future novels.

Here are the stories I’ve written for the novel. Some are not in chronological order and others are not part of the final canon.

  1. The Reconstructed Woman
  2. Burn Victim
  3. Woman Under Repair
  4. Five Years On
  5. Woman in the Shadows
  6. The Search for Armageddon
  7. The Swimmer
  8. Murder at 900 North Michigan
  9. First Flight
  10. The Man in the Dark
  11. Hellspite.
  12. Pursuit.
  13. The Vengeful
  14. The Most Dangerous Predator
  15. The Protector.
  16. Night of Syn.
  17. The Hawkhurst Gambit.
  18. Game Over
  19. Epilogue One: Mikiko’s Race

One thought on “Epilogue Two: The View Ahead

  1. I thought your syntheorgs consisted of synthetic organic tissue to replace natural organic tissue, using the same DNA structure. If so, the only difference in the final product would be the continuing presence of nanobots that provided an intelligent immune system in addition to the natural one. The organism itself ought to be an identical housing for the personality software in the brain. Do the nanobots provide an additional communication pathway into the brain, allowing the “Sophia” AI or some other device to inject stimuli or even propositional messaging via wireless transmission? Stimulating certain areas of the brain to simulate sensory inputs is one matter, but the formulation of intelligible messages is much more complex, and implies a much more significantly advanced science of the brain and an understanding of how it supports consciousness. It is the consciousness and its multilevel personality software that cannot be replaced by the physical replacement of natural brain tissue with synthesized tissue, thus maintaining the original human personality that has been influenced over the course of a lifetime by experiences and learning, storage of memories and periodic access to them, and dreaming.

    Unless the nanobots are interfering with these natural processes which continue to operate in the replaced tissues that consist of normal organic materials patterned by the programs of the original DNA structuring, there should be no difference in the person who lives in that synthetically-grown body. The replacement of the body’s original cells with identical ones that have been constructed or grown with the assistance of nanobots should not be much different from ordinary natural replacement of aging cells. I believe that this natural replacement process manages to replace virtually every cell in a body over the course of about seven years. Yet the individual remains itself, though there is a progressive change in its structure that we call maturing and aging. If the addition of a nanobot system causes this replacement of cells to occur in a shorter timespan, so be it — but that does not change the human living inside that assemblage of cells.

    Now, it could be said that a human who is given an additional “organ” in their body, in the form of an additional immune system consisting of intelligent nanobot parasites or symbiotes, may have been transformed into another species. One must then ask if these symbiotes reproduce themselves and transfer some of their number into the offspring produced by this augmented human species. Even if so, has the original human species changed or has it merely become the host of a benign infestation of another species, not unlike the numerous bacteria that humans carry around? It could be that the subsequent experiences of an infested human affect its personality development, because it experiences less debilitating disease perhaps. But this is still within what might be deemed an ordinary human framework. We may ask about more extraordinary experiences.

    Mikiko Jahns experienced temporary superficial “cosmetic” physical adjustments, that exceed the changes a normal human might experience — though an actor with latex and prosthetics and adhesives and artificial hair and makeup may experience similar changes. However, under extreme emotional stress and life-endangering conditions, she transformed further, beyond any ordinary frame of human experience, taking on characteristics resembling the human nightmare fantasies of something like a werewolf, with claws and fangs and augmented musculature. She then was able to reverse this transformation to return to her ordinary framework and form. While ordinary humans may not change so much physically, they may change similarly in psychology. For example, soldiers on a battlefield may resort to seemingly bestial behavior, and may summon extraordinary reserves of energy. Sometimes the shock of this requires significant subsequent therapy to reverse the damage that such transformation can inflict on a human personality. Sometimes the damage is irreversible, and the individual must be institutionalized because they are unable to function as an ordinary socialized human. Thus it is not physical changes that diminish or alter the human being to something “other”, but psychological ones resulting from extreme extraordinary experience. I do not expect that simple augmentation of ordinary experiences such as running, jumping, climbing, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, et al, would push a personality beyond its humanity.


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