"Come on kid, this is the moment of truth. All the big boys are watching..."
"Knock 'em dead."
[[ All sensory systems online ]]
[[ Core data integrity: 100% ]]
[[ Motor and balancing systems at full function ]]
[[ Readjusting optic balance and focus ]]
[[ Calibrating vocal modules ]]
Isaac and Lillian both stood with their breath held in their chest as the culmination of the past year's work was coming to life, one blinking neon-blue light at a time. The synthetic skin covering the android's face twitched ever so slightly as they eyelids moved up to reveal the shutter-like irises; 3 small lights turned on under each eye, one after the other, while a soft whirr from the self-adjusting lenses could be heard as the room went silent.
[[ C.A.I.N system online ]]
Initially rigid, the head moved from side to side to look around the room, taking in the new environment - one that an overlay gracing his vision indicated to be 'Workshop 24A' - a rather small space, clean and tidy to the point of sterilization. He then looked up at what took the label of an 'Observation Deck', a top floor lined with glass walls, where a group of suited personnel investigated the room below.
The android looked down. He was sitting on a hard, elevated surface, dressed in a lab coat worn over short clothes in different shades of blue. He examined the tough, white exterior of his hands and arms, moving them around until the joints allowed for smoother movement.
Hearing steps approaching, he looked up again to meet face to face with a human. Initial scan of the facial features indicated it was male, suffering from deteriorating eyesight according to the glasses resting on the bridge of his nose. By the way his mouth was slowly curling into a smile as his eyes widened slightly, it appeared that he was...hopeful.
He didn't have a lab coat on, nor a suit like the looming group outside and was instead wearing a semi-formal attire of a collared shirt and long pants, but something about him appeared to strike some sense of familiarity.
The overlay came to life again within the android's view, framing the man's face and uploading strings of data next to it.
[[ Facial recognition initiated: Dr. Isaac Durante, founding figure in Neosansus; expert in the field of artificial extremities ]]
He straightened up, stretching his neck a bit. "Greeting, Dr. Durante," two illuminated strips on the sides of his neck gave a gentle pulse as his voice came out flat but smooth, hardly distinguishable from a human's expressionless voice.
Isaac's eyes widened further, and his smile grew. While it accentuated the effects of time on his face, he looked nonetheless elated.
When he spoke, the strain put on his voice to keep it steady was evident. "Greeting, Cain," he nodded at the android and put his hands together, taking a step back, "it's good to finally meet you...officially," he added and turned to his side when Lillian stepped closer as well, holding something close to her chest.
Seeing her moving in, Cain blinked once, clearing any disturbance from the protective layer of his eyes and moved his head to have a better look at her face, movement gradually turning less rigid.
[[ Facial recognition initiated: Prof. Lillian Wilson, Programmer; Specialized in unique learning artificial intelligence ]]
"Hello, Prof. Wilson," he nodded at her, repeating Isaac's previous gesture.
"Hello," Lillian chimed back with a widening grin showing her unmistakable excitement. She approached Cain and reached to his face, fixing a pair visor-like single-lens glasses on his face, clicking a small button on one of its handles, activating an AR extension to his existing overlay. It tracked Cain's eye movements in perfect sync, presenting additional information on whatever he focused on. "How's that?" she asked once Cain started reexamining the workshop.
He scanned the entire room again before looking back at her. "Detailed," Cain's answer was kept simple, having no particular opinion.
Some indistinct chatter from above along with some shuffling drew everyone's attention to the observation deck. Cain tried to apply facial recognition to the people he could see through the glass, but the angle and lower lighting made it impossible.
"Would you like to introduce yourself?" Isaac's voice drew Cain's attention back, seeing he gestured towards the unidentified lot above.
Pushing himself off the elevated surface, Cain's feet made no sound upon making contact with the floor thanks to the elastic covering on them, protecting the intricate joints in each foot that allowed him impeccable balance once he straightened up, maintaining a steady posture despite this being the first time balancing his entire stature on his feet while not having his entire processing capacity directed to it. He looked up to the board again, this time following it with the same nodding-bow gesture.
"I am C.A.I.N, a consciousness alteration and interception neurotransmitter, adapted from a stationary prototype. My main directive is the treatment of a variety of mental ailments through the mapping and interpretation of memories, and either addressing them traditionally or altering them in a safe and controlled manner," he spoke fluently, still flat-toned but very formal sounding. He raised his hands to his sides before continuing, revealing his palms to be lined with a special circuit, leading to electrical pads at the tip of each finger, emitting a soft, neon-blue glow. "I am equipped with a state of the art receptors that can both receive and transmit electrical signals that have been tested to be safe on an approximate of 99% of patients, allowing to both read and rewrite memories on the spot, resulting in a quick, painless, and effective treatment."
Cain lowered his hands and the chattering above continued, gradually turning into a lower hum. A moment later one of the observers gestured something and Isaac turned to leave the room, and soon after he left Lillian stepped closer again, holding one of Cain's hands and giving him a warm smile.
"Ready to treat your first patient?"
"Impressive, Isaac," one of the board members commented as the founder arrived at the upper floor, where the observation deck covered the session room as well.
He looked over them with a quick scan, pretty much duplicates of each other. Slightly different suit; slightly different hair.
"Thank you," he answered, not wanting to come off as rude. Even as the founder of the core company, it's not often that he gets to have an audience with the upper management like that. "I do believe this will be the company's crowned achievement, as intended," he allowed some of his pride sneak into his voice.
"Now, Doctor, let's not get ahead of ourselves," came a stern, feminine voice from the tilted glass walls as a young woman wearing the company's white coat stepped away from it, her green eyes scanning the older man for a bit before she tapped something on her tablet. A sun-shaped pin in her short, ginger hair caught some glare from the light fixtures above them. "We still need to see the prototype in action. Surely, its mere activation is a considerable milestone, but we need to make sure he's capable of doing what he's intended for."
Isaac watched the woman quietly as she approached, his expression softening. "Doctor Sternberg, I presume," he extended his hand.
Contrary to her initial demeanor, she smiled back and shook his hand. "Lucy," She insisted. "It's nice to finally meet you in person," once she let go they both walked back into the observation deck, where several screens were broadcasting both footage and audio from the therapy room - where Lillian was standing by the door while Cain was introducing himself to the patient - next to other screens showing lines of data, some with strings of code that made no sense to most of the room's occupants as well as a more simplified version detailing Cain's actions and general status. As Lucy picked up on their conversation her tone turned somewhat cautious, "first let the patient survive this without some brain damage...then wait for further evaluation to determine how effective it really is."
Realizing the source of her concern, Isaac's pride wouldn't waver. "Since you work with Sheppard, you should know by now that no prototype enters active duty within the complex or outside of it without making sure they adhere to the most strict of safety protocols," he assured her in regards to the first part of said comment. "As for your concern over effectiveness, well..." he huffed a chuckle and walked to stand by the main screen, "I guess we'll just have to wait and see, won't we?"
By now everyone had tuned into the broadcast from the room below them, as Cain concluded his initial evaluation of the patient, merely talking to them. It was a classic case of fearing dogs, resulting in overwhelming dread whenever facing any sort of canine. Even puppies, according to their claim.
When asked about any memorable events relating to dogs, the patient brought up a surprisingly vivid memory of being attacked by a dog once, although they seemed to be unable to recall the consequences of the attack.
After informing the patient he will now address the source of the trauma, Cain moved to stand behind the patient's chair, placing his padded fingers on key points around their head, all while speaking calming words of reassurance.
"What is he doing now?" Lucy looked to Isaac, who curiously watched as the session progressed.
"Fulfilling his directive, of course," Isaac answered, glancing to see another screen lighting up with real-live neural mapping appearing on it, showing essentially what Cain is seeing. "He will zero in on the aforementioned event within the memories stored in the patient's brain and will decide the best course of action. It could be anything from re-introducing them to the memory through current perspective and under better understanding of the situation, to erasing the encounter completely while mending the space formed around the gap to maintain a linear past experience."
Lucy hummed, impressed. "Sounds like someone did their homework," she smirked, knowing exactly where the resources came from.
And so did Isaac. "Couldn't have done it without your kind, remote assistance."
She chuckled in response, looking between the screens, focusing on the blue light emitting from the tips of Cain's fingers, while the patient laid down with their eyes closed, looking rather comfortable. "How does he choose the appropriate treatment method?" she wondered, not averting her gaze.
"In relatively simple cases as this, we allow Cain to choose on his own, as his directive guides him to a minimum-risk solution," the founder explained, turning back to look at a display detailing the android's simplified actions. "However, every session will be monitored by at least two supervisors - Lillian and myself filling in for this time - to instruct him on an optimal course of action, at least until he gains enough experience to make the best decision even in more intricate situations."
He could feel that the entire committee was looking within themselves for questions and doubts to throw at him, but none of them managed to utter a single one before the stream of commands stopped, flashing one, final line.
[[ Treatment concluded. Effectiveness estimate: 99% ]]
"Falling short?" the next question Sheppard's, now standing in front of the screen as he looked over the final line, soon turning to Isaac.
Isaac didn't flinch. "Nothing's perfect," he plainly stated. "While our method is the most effective in the field, there are always exceptions. Humans are inherently different, after all. Still, we are to perform an evaluation after every treatment to confirm the success rate, and to determine whether or not a follow-up treatment is required."
Sheppard brought his hand under his mouth, still staring at the screen without really looking at its contents anymore. "I see. Well, this sure was an interesting demonstration. I'd love to hear the evaluation's results as soon as-" he turned around and fell silent, seeing Isaac looking at him over the frame of his glasses, arms crossed and a smug little smirk adorning his face. "Is that so?" he wondered, reading through the founder's stance.
"I would hate to keep you waiting," he turned back to screen, and Sheppard followed.
Lillian could be heard talking with the patient about the experience. True to Cain's introduction, the patient reported no pain in the process, adding that the android's approach was rather soothing.
Once they made sure that all of the patient's vitals were as good as prior to the treatment, Lillian calmly asked if they're willing to test if it worked, mentioning right away that they brought a dog - a friendly one - that's waiting in an adjacent room.
Even through the screen, it was clear that the patient was nervous, but eventually agreed for the dog to be let in.
"True, they are not particularly thrilled, but they are willing to give it a chance," Isaac halted the expected comment, and Lucy nodded, agreeing. "It's more like fear of the unknown rather than a crippling phobia."
Sheppard grunted, for once being speechless. It was like he was waiting for something to go wrong, if only to see some kind of mishap wiping the smirk off Isaac's face.
But Isaac knew better.
He watched calmly as Lillian walked to a door leading to a side room and slowly opened it, while Cain remained beside the patient. A large dog soon strutted in, its coat bright in color and medium in length, with its tail wagging with glee.
The patient stood still as the dog approached and sniffed around them, then sitting down in front of them. The patient remained still, not looking any more anxious than when the canine was mentioned to them at first.
After a moment of stillness, they started to move slowly, as if just realizing that their body abides to them again. They reached one shaking hand to the dog's head as it kept happily wagging its tail, until their fingers grazed the fur on its head.
They went from only touching it with their fingers to combing through its fur, and soon enough they were on their knees, petting the dog all over as a smile spread on their face, stretching ear to ear.
"Thus ends the post-treatment evaluation," Isaac turned to Sheppard again. "I think we can register this as a successful trial."
"I admit I've had my doubts," he confessed, briefly glancing at the screen again. "But I must say, I'm very impressed with the results," he smiled and gave Isaac a pat on the shoulder, and they turned to walk back down, followed by the rest of the committee.
Isaac thanked Sheppard for his patience, promising the performance will be kept to this level, even with more complex treatments.
Once he parted ways with all the rest of the management, Isaac could barely contain himself hurrying to find Lillian who had just left the patient in the hands of the security team to lead them safely to the exit.
"We did it."
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