A LONG TIME AGO
I had just been told the medical procedure had been a success. I should have said “told”, in quotes, as it wasn’t a literal voice that was spoken, but rather something I had heard inside of my skull.
“How am I hearing you?” I asked out loud, not sure who I was speaking to as there was nobody present in the small, dimly lit room with me. I sat upright on a medical gurney, some type of gown draped over the front of me yet partially exposed at the back. The room itself had a single light in the ceiling that shone neutral white radiance across the room. The walls were white, as was the floor. It was stark with no decorations or furniture aside from the aforementioned gurney.
:: Through your implants :: the female voice replied. :: Subvocalization across the information network. You should try it ::
:: LIKE THIS? :: I replied, trying not to speak, but to focus my throat and thoughts to a reply.
:: There is no need to yell, capsuleer, but yes, that is the idea :: the female voice replied, a hint of annoyance and amusement in her voice.
:: WHO ARE … who are you? :: I asked.
:: I am Aura :: came the formal introduction.
:: You mentioned previously that the medical procedure was a success. Can you explain to me exactly how this all works? ::
:: Of course. In simplest terms you have a small computer and transceiver that acts as both a communicator and a running on-site backup of your mind ::
:: Wait a second :: I said, well subvocalized, :: Did you say backup? ::
:: Of course I did :: Aura replied, as though it were the most natural thing in the universe. :: You’ve got to store it somewhere, don’t you? Your implant is positioned just anterior of the pineal gland, in the groove between the two thalami :: An overlay displayed in front of me showing the exact position in the human brain. I waved my hand through the projection, and shouldn’t have been so amazed that the holographic imagery was displayed from within my mind.
Aura continued. :: The thalami function as relay stations for nerve impulses carrying sensory information to the brain, right? They receive sensory inputs and inputs from other parts of the brain, and determine which of these signals goes on to the cerebral cortex. The thinking meat, in other words. And since the implant inserts itself into the cortico-thalamo-cortical recurrent loops, intercepting and interpreting sensory input, modifying and modulating as appropriate:: she added, :: it is capable of capturing a still image of the mind at any given moment. In the event of death, this information can travel light years and provide the template to bring you back in another body ::
:: Unless the information cannot be retrieved :: Aura said, and I could sense her scowling. :: In which case the individual is just brought back using the most recent template on record ::
:: OK. OK :: I said, cutting her off, not realizing I had resorted to yelling again. :: That’s a lot to take in. Please give me some time to take it all in ::
:: Of course, Capsuleer :: Aura replied smoothly. :: You have all the time you will ever need ::
I swear I could hear a smile in her voice.
I sat in my new clone, remembering the previous life of the me before me, or was it still really the same me all along, when that original dialogue between Aura and myself flashed into my mind. I had been cloned many times during my existence as a capsuleer, but I had never stopped to question the whole “template” thing before.
I mean, would I know if something had gone wrong? Or if my backup had failed? I always tried to keep my storage capacity payments up to date so that my entire skill set and memory base would be backed up, but how could I really know if it was all there? The memory would be gone, no recollection, no way for me to ever, tangibly quantify the process.
I supposed that if it was something major, either the clone techs I paid for would inform me, or colleagues that noticed any aberrant behaviour or apparent gaps in memory would speak up and tell me, but still, as a capsuleer, I could spend months at a time merged with my ship, completely out of contact with the universe around me if I so chose.
So how would they know? How could I know?
I would’ve relegated it a philosophical debate was it not for the woman on the other side of the viewing glass in what was supposed to be a private medical chamber. She was gorgeous, her brunette hair and dark eyes only outdone by her breathtaking smile, which was directed at me. Her eyes were alight with affection, and she waved at me, such an incredibly cute gesture. Her other arm was extended downwards, resting across the shoulders of a young boy, who stood there pointing at me, laughing to himself.
They looked at me as a family would.
The problem was I had no idea who they were.