Experiment 36

- 30th September - Ironhallow University, Afternoon -

“Now!” Lilith hauled hard on the lightning switch and pointed up at Bennett, the lenses of her goggles glinting in the flaglight “Engage the floo cyclones!”

Up on the gantry, the young apprentice scrambled to comply; splaying his fingers to slide all the primary and tertiary potentiometers up to their maximum.

Striding across the lab, Lilith clacked three lever switches down into position, engaging the main flux array. Green fire arced between the contacts as she did so, filling the air with smoke and the acrid scent of ozone.

“Prepare the receptibility enhancer” she shouted above whine of the floo cyclones.

“I don’t like this!”

“This is science!” Lilith rounded on the test subject who had just spoken. He was sat, strapped into a chair, with the upper part of his head and much of his face obscured by the neural imprinter. Thick wires and coils of brass tubing spiralled up from the imprinter towards the phase modulator, looming overhead between the two volunteers.

“No. I want- I want you to stop”

“What’s going on?” called the woman sat strapped into the other chair “What’s happening?”

“Initialise the feed!” Lilith yelled above the increasing howl of the cyclones.

The test subjects stiffened as Bennett hammered a large button with the ball of his fist. Two prongs thunked inwards from the imprinters, making them yelp in pain; the man frantically thumbing the kill switch set into the arm of his chair.

Lilith smiled; she’d disabled those ages ago, but felt that offering them was a nice touch “Stand by!” she called as both subjects suddenly went limp.

Bracing herself, she pulled hard on a series of floor-mounted switch levers, engaging the wraith machines and bringing the furnace conduits onto the main grid.

Green lightning flickered within the hearts of the machines, making the deck plates vibrate underfoot as gears slid home and the generators started turning. The air took on an unpleasant, greasy quality that made you want to retch.

“Two. One. Now!” Lilith hauled hard on the last lever, completing the circuit in a shower of sparks that erupted from the phase modulator “Vitals?”

“One twenty one and holding steady” Bennett called back, feverishly pumping the handle on the thrombic oscillator

“Make sure they stay above ninety-eight” Lilith’s brows knitted as she peered up at the blackened glass of the transferometer, willing the experiment to work.

Amid the howl of the floo cyclones and the thrum of generators running at full tilt, the test subjects twitched and spasmed in their restraints.

“Come on. Come on...”

Colours swirled in the glass of the transferometer; pinkish blue and brackish yellow, slowly separating into their constituent parts.

“It’s working!”

“Yes!” Bennett yelled back, still pumping hard on the oscillator.

“Almost there… Another ten… nine… eight...”

The countdown was interrupted by an explosion and a cloud of smoke belching from beneath the deck plates.

“No!”

“Generator three has gone” Bennett yelled.

Fearing a chain reaction that would kill them all, Lilith dashed to the master control panel and activated the circuit breakers to isolate the faulty generator. Another explosion rocked the lab, but the danger was over; the system was already cycling down and before long fell silent, with only the cyclones left ticking over to extract the last of the smoke.

“It looks like we lost generator four as well” Bennett peered at the bank of statometers “Let’s hope they aren’t melted to slag like the last one”

“Damnit” Lilith scowled as she busied herself with unstrapping the slowly stirring test subjects and removing their neural imprinters “How do you feel?” she asked as the woman’s eyes flickered open.

“What happened?”

“Ah, you can talk! Everything went splendidly, darling. The experiment was a great success. Can I ask you what you had for luncheon?”

“Pie” the woman frowned “I bought it from one of the stalls in the Centrum”

Lilith smiled. The experiment really had been a success. She turned to the man “You?”

“A sandwich. I was looking after the children… I don’t have children...” he looked confused

“Excellent” Lilith turned away from them both “Bennett? Be a dear, would you and run all the usual tests. I need to check those generators”


Later, once the erasal procedure had been completed and the test subjects paid and sent on their way, Lilith sat down with Bennett to pore over the test results. Neither subject seemed to have suffered any permanent damage and in both cases had been largely unaware that the last six hours of memories hadn’t been their own.

“So we’ve learned two things today, Bennett” Lilith counted them off on her fingers “One, that the male and female mind is identical in form and function. Hardly a surprise, but we now have empirical experimental data that proves the hypothesis.”

Bennett nodded thoughtfully “That man didn’t have children. It should be interesting to see if we can transfer more radically incompatible memories. Childbirth for example?”

“Exactly - Or other, deeper learned behaviours? Phobias and neuroses? Skills, even? Imagine knowing how to fly an airship without ever having set foot on one. Training times could be slashed - With this technology, we actually could put an old head on young shoulders!”

Bennett smiled. He was used to this sort of tangential thought process. If these things were even possible, they were years from being able to do them “What else did we learn?”

“Ah, yes - Secondly, we have established that we don’t need all the generators running for the entire transfer sequence. We should look into spinning them down before completion. If nothing else, it’ll save on parts”

“How bad is the damage?”

“Severe, but not a complete write-off. I’m going to have to source another couple of reflux armateurs from somewhere and an iambic hex modulator” Lilith drummed her fingers on the desk in frustration “The modulator is awkward”

Abruptly, she stood “I’ll organise those parts. Can you put a proposal together for a new power management system? Something along the lines of Saunderson and Young’s later work.”

“I’ll look it up”

Eyeing the rain lashing against the windows, Lilith took her coat down from it’s hook and pulled it on “A day should suffice. We’ll go over it at the fourth bell, tomorrow afternoon. Good day Mr. Bennett”

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