The Project – Chapter 8

The Project – Chapter 8

Chapter 8

 

“Thanks for telling me about this,” AI Dyan said to Future Richard. “I’m the only one, right?”

“Yes,” Future Richard said to the tiny hologram, projecting from an outlet in the hallway. “I don’t know if I can trust anyone else with this. I don’t know for sure if I can trust you.”

“Don’t worry about that,” AI Dyan said. “I’m trustworthy enough for you.” She put her hand on her chin, digitally suggesting she was deep in thought and not just computing data. “I’ve had my suspicions of Dyan in the past, but this seems like it could be a big deal. You really think she’s working for someone, doing all this?”

“I have no idea,” Future Richard said. “It doesn’t make any sense to me. Maybe I’m just paranoid or something.”

“No, no,” AI Dyan said. “You’re absolutely right to be suspicious. She may be doing things that she hasn’t told any of us.”

“Even you?”

“Perhaps.” She paused for a moment. “I will investigate this further. You should just keep getting some rest, alright?”

“Alright.”

AI Dyan’s image vanished, and Future Richard was alone. She began to wheel her way back to her hospital room before anyone noticed she was gone. Her first of many surgeries was coming up very soon and the doctors would freak out if they knew she was being kept up, worrying about some sinister plot run by Dyan.

Surely, it couldn’t be true, could it? But AI Dyan just seemed a little.. off about it. Like as if she knew something that was even more suspicious and didn’t want Future Richard to know about it.

It would be absolutely terrible if everything they’d been working for, everything that had kept Richard at the ISRFA, was a sham for… something. It was almost unthinkable.

But not unthinkable enough.

***

Hannah and Richard were in a small cave complex connected to the savanna biome. Hannah was using some equipment to monitor the distribution of animals in the sector, while Richard was taking samples from various bats, and testing them for genetic variation to make sure they have ample chance for evolution. She laughed to herself at the thought of sentient bats. They would all look like Christian Bale, she hoped.

“Why did you stay here for this project, anyway?” Hannah asked, suddenly. “It was literally the day you were going to retire that you were recruited into this thing. Was it an impulse?”

Richard thought about this for a moment. “Yeah, maybe,” she said. “But Dyan simply made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I didn’t have to think about it.”

“To work for months and months on something that we won’t even live to see without time travel?” she asked. She pushed some buttons on her device and made a loud beeping sound. The bat in Richard’s hand was shocked awake and flew away. Luckily, she had already collected the sample.

“Well, we do get to see it with time travel, if that means anything.” Richard stood up and began pacing around. The cave was too damp to stay in one place for too long. Bad for the lungs. “And it will contribute vastly to our scientific knowledge in modern times as well.”

“I don’t know,” Hannah said. “Sounds more like you want your name plastered all over a Hollywood biopic ten years from now than to contribute to the body of scientific knowledge.”

“I think it’d be a TV biopic if they ever made one at all,” Richard said. “But you may be right. I don’t know why I stayed, except that I did.”

“Well, if you didn’t, I’d probably be in charge, so… Thank you,” Hannah said. Richard laughed, but she knew Hannah was probably completely serious about her gratitude.

To tell the truth, she really didn’t know. She continued to pace around, looking at the last bat’s DNA sample to compare it to the previous six, but she mostly thought about her point here in the facility. Did she even matter when the smarter and more experienced Future Richard was always there? She certainly deserved it, being the one who got maimed and injured during this long, ridiculously complicated experiment.

No, that was stupid to think. If anything, Future Richard was the one who needed to be sent home, and given a permanent, lovely vacation. That’s what she deserved. She’d get the rest she needed, and the fame she craved. The fame they probably both craved. Of course it was what they both craved.

Then Richard’s foot hit something metallic. She stopped moving and looked back at where she had stepped. There was a small piece of metal pipe sticking out of the ground. It was obviously part of something much longer, but she had no clue what it could be. In all the complex structures and advanced climate control systems, she had never seen anything that involved a metal pipe in the middle of a cave.

“Hey Hannah,” she said. “Can you check this out?” Hannah rushed over. “Do you know what this is supposed to be?” she asked.

Hannah shook her head. “Is it part of the climate control system?”

“Not that I ever knew of,” she said. And since she supervised the construction of each of these biomes, she would know about something like this, surely.

It was just very… weird.

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