“You care to elaborate on the special case?” Asked Drick.
“How much do you know already?” Toni looked at Marsh.
“A little. I know I was birthed naturally and that I am apparently a pure link to my real parents. But I don’t know how that’s possible.” Marsh stared at them and realised he had sounded harsher than he felt.
“Well I don’t know where the samples come from.” Said Toni. “But that’s pretty much true. What we actually work with is embryonic material that matches your birth parents and you. So the original Marsh. That’s actually enough for us to replicate an almost perfect match.”
“But there’s more. As you built some simulation to make me think I am the original Marsh. How and why?”
“The how is out of my pay grade. As I said I worked on the genetic side. What I do know is they were trying to create an exact replica of the original brain.”
“I thought you just said that they did?” Marsh looked puzzled.
“No,” said Toni. “You misunderstand. The brain is a unique organ. Not just biologically. The connections that are formed in the brain as a person develops over time, the chemicals that are introduced to the body, all of that changes the brain. It evolves new pathways and connections. We can replicate fairly easily the biological composition of a brain. But the alterations that a lifetime of experiences create make for a unique mind. That’s not just psychological changes. There are small, but very relevant, physical changes. If I were to bring two clones up in exactly the same circumstances, feed them the same, nurture them the same, there would still be billions of differences in the connections inside their brains.”
“So what was the purpose? I mean if it is that specific, why would you even try?”
“I don’t know.” Toni smiled. “Sorry. All I know is that we had to replicate as close a match as possible to the record we were given.”
“What record?” said Drick.
“There was a copy of the original Marsh’s brain. A deep level scan that revealed close to a one hundred percent match. We were attempting to get as close as possible. That’s what the teams have been doing repeatedly for hundreds of years. We don’t even do one at a time. You realise that, right? Your surrogate mother was only one of a hundred. We work them in batches. I was only part of one team but we all worked to the same goal. I was paid to get you out. There are ninety-nine others in this batch growing right now. They are about eighteen months from completion. There are at least ten other groups in their formative stages. Teenagers, young adults and babies. This is a very important program.”
“Why the hell am I so important?” asked Marsh. He saw the smile on Drick’s face. “You don’t need to say anything. I don’t mean me. I mean the original me. What is so important that he did eighteen months from now, that I will do, if I was the person from that time will do? What is it that they need an exact copy of him for?”
“I don’t know.” Toni shrugged. “Look there is little else to say. We were offered a large sum of money from your birth mother to get you out. I wanted out. I knew too much and I got the feeling that i would end my career as a biological smear or a sample. I think your mother had grown disillusioned with everything. I worked with a technician who was good with computers. They assured me we wouldn’t have any issues. As you know. We did. I wanted to surrender, the driver got into a firefight with a security guard and we had to race away. When the vehicle crashed I panicked and ran. I was lucky. We were close to the lower levels. I leapt over the freeway wall and managed to land in a waste outlet about fifty metres down. That’s all I have.”
“It fills in some blanks,” said Drick. “We had better get you to your next safe location and then you are free to go.”
Marsh looked at Toni. “Do you know what they do with the failures?”
Toni looked away. “All I know is that we get the results of their autopsies.”
Marsh held out his hand. Toni looked down at it, stood and then took the hand. Marsh gently shook the hand. “Thank you.” He said solemnly. “Thank you for saving my life. I don’t think I would have been the right Marsh.”
“I was being paid,” they said quietly.
“But it was fairly clear that you wanted to be free of that life. Thanks for taking the money and getting me out.” Toni nodded looking relieved.