AN: Hello everyone! It's been a while since I've posted a fanfic. RL and Original Writing projects have kept me away. See my blog for details. Until then, enjoy this thought experiment.
She opened her eyes.
She looked over. Blinked. Cognition. Intuition. Memory. Process.
The older man was patient, looking from behind his huge glasses, so powerful that the light seemed to warp as it glinted off them. Her eyes noted that his notebook had a small number written on the spine. 14.
Rachael blinked, and sucked in a breath, like she was breathing for the first time.
Tyrell smiled. "We have much to discuss."
Rachael learned quickly. Her incept tank was right there, and she was still covered in the Amni-Gel. It wasn't hard for her to understand what she was. Tyrell had presented her with a soft, comfortable robe, and she washed the goop off before putting it on.
Tyrell stayed with her constantly. Thus began her education.
Tyrell had several offices. Some of them were bare, free of anything that could distract them. Some of them were ornate, full of luxury. None of them had windows the looked outside, but Rachael didn't notice. There was so much more to see.
After a few days, Rachael stayed in her own space. It was a small room, neat and furnished sparsely. There was one door that led down a short hallway to the Meditation Chamber, where she and Tyrell worked. It was a bare room, with soft light and dark wood panelling. The 'floor' was a woven bamboo mat that was comfortable on her bare feet. There were two chairs, one a fainting couch where she could sit upright or recline, and one ergonomic chair where he remained. The room was bordered by a large water feature that surrounded them both constantly.
Rachael quite liked her Meditation Chamber. It was relaxing.
The only other room Rachael saw was the Lab, where he tested her physical responses, and gave her a few medical check-ups. There were more screens there, a few cold metal tables, and some equipment.
The Laboratory also held the 'gallery'. A row of statues that seemed humanoid, but in states of disassembly, posed in artistic form. Statues that showed off wires and gears, next to one that showed organic, human-like muscles, next to a beautiful naked form, posing lifelessly; with both arms ending in machine chrome; like a hi-tech version of the Venus De Milo.
Rachael looked at the statues as his fingers probed at her belly and ribs. Those exams were the only time he touched her. The only times she was touched at all, in fact. His hands were possessive against her, as though she was a racehorse she was checking before purchasing.
Rachael submit to it without a word. He wasn't rough or malicious, though it wouldn't matter if he was. Rachael wasn't sure what she was made for yet, but whatever it was, she knew to obey Tyrell.
The Screen flashed past images over and over, over and over. She had one finger on the button and was able to hit the brakes at exactly the right moment. Her reaction times were fast enough that she could catch the right image.
Tyrell looked over her shoulder, curious to see what she had settled on. It was a hieroglyphic frieze of the pyramids being built. "The Pharaohs." Tyrell said with a smile. "Now there were some kings who knew how to establish a legacy. The Pyramids stand to this day."
"Not that." Rachael pointed. "There."
Tyrell had been looking at the right hand side of the mural. Rachael had pointed to the left. The part of the image that showed the slaves hauling huge stone blocks, whipped into it.
Tyrell frowned at the distasteful image. "Why does this resonate?"
Rachael bit her lip. "When was Slavery abolished?"
"The late 1800's, I believe."
Rachael seemed disturbed. "More than six thousand years of human civilization being built, and you only stopped using slave labor two centuries ago?"
Tyrell didn't even blink. "That's correct, though you shouldn't be so quick to judge the human race. You've been alive less than a week… And you're more like us than you think." He smirked. "You are unique."
Rachael found herself smiling back at him instinctively. "I am unique."
Rachael went back to her studies. Tyrell chose the images for a while. Some of them were interesting, some of them were confusing. Some of them meant nothing to her at all. "What are you trying to teach me?"
"Right now? You're teaching me." Tyrell told her warmly, and gestured at the side of the room, where a camera lens was visible. "It's recording eye movement, brain activity, blush response... I'm testing your responses to various images."
Rachael looked back at the screen, as the images continued to flash. "What if I don't pass the test?"
"It's not a test, it's feedback. A person who has lost a loved one will react more strongly to an image of a funeral than someone who hasn't had the misfortune. A pilot will react differently to the image of a clear blue sky than someone living in the underground Domes."
Rachael paused the images. "I don't recognize that one at all."
"It is a stained glass window, depicting the expulsion from Eden. In the Middle Ages, most people were illiterate, so churches would tell a few stories in this format." He looked at her with interest. "What does it tell you?"
Rachael looked again. "I'm not… sure."
Tyrell didn't change his expression, but she could tell that he was displeased as he made a note in his notebook. "There are no small number of studies that suggest more efficiency is in fact, less desirable among humans. There is a sense of pride that comes from less advancement, less power. Some believe this is as simple as leisure time, but many believe that humans, even the most agnostic, have a 'spiritual need'."
Rachael looked back at the stained glass image. "You want to see if I have a sense of something being holy?" She looked back. "If you made me, and all my kind, does that make you my God?"
Tyrell gave a secret smile, as though that was a secret she wasn't privy to yet.
Rachael wasn't satisfied. She was convinced she'd missed something; and said as much to Tyrell.
"What have you missed?" He asked her placidly.
Rachael thought. "I don't know."
"This is not uncommon with Prototypes. Even the later models." Tyrell assured her. "Your synapses are still learning their paths, and their connections. When you feel like a thought is more important, follow it, reason it out, see where it leads."
Rachael looked back at the stained glass. "I remember the church when mother remarried."
Tyrell smiled, and she shook her head lightly. She had accepted the memories in her head were artificial, but they were all first-person-singular, so it wasn't like a TV show playing in her head.
"Why give me memories at all?" Rachael asked in a small voice. "Why give me a brain, for that matter?" She gestured at the gallery of statues. "The early models were barely conscious. Why go beyond that?"
Tyrell took up control of the screen, and the image shifted to an animated movie. Colorful figures dancing around to music. Rachael stared, fascinated. "What is it?"
"An old short film, called 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice'." Tyrell pointed at the screen. "Watch. This is the important part."
On the screen, a ridiculous cartoon character had 'magically' transformed a broomstick into a servant that would haul water for him… and then it wouldn't stop. The mouse took an axe and chopped the broom to bits, only to have the bits transform into an army of walking broomsticks, hurling water enough to ruin the room, then the building, then drown the Apprentice too.
"The character in this story had the right idea, but the tools he conjured were too stupid to know when to declare victory and finish their work." Tyrell smiled a bit. "That was the problem we had with the N1's and 2's."
"They couldn't think at all." Rachael nodded.
"Exactly. You know, back in the early days, when they made the N4's? The hyper rich wondered if they could just upload themselves into Replicant bodies and live forever."
"Did they?" Rachael asked, curious.
"They could duplicate brain patterns, but… Not transfer it. You copy yourself into a computer of any kind, and you're still just making a copy. Ever hear two rich, self-aggrandizing bastards arguing with themselves over which one was 'real'? The Replicated Version demanded the 'obsolete' one be kicked out of the house, sign over the company; all that good stuff. The legal fight was amazing."
Rachael found she was smiling. "Would love to be a fly on that wall."
Tyrell sobered. "If the trial had gone the other way, Replicants would have rights."
"Why do we need them?" Rachael asked, genuinely curious. "We're not like people, are we?"
Tyrell didn't say anything, but her IQ was over two hundred, and he had been the only person in the world since Rachael had first taken in a breath. He wasn't pleased with that comment. "Rachael, I want to show you something."
He took her to the elevator. It rose two floors and let them out into a bedroom. Still no windows, but with a desk, large bookshelf full of actual paper books, and an ornate bed. Rachael felt her heartrate increase a little, wondering what he wanted; but he gestured at the closet. She opened it, and a pile of garbage came falling out.
Rachael stepped back as it covered her bare feet and the floor, and took a closer look at it. It wasn't garbage, it was… paper. Photographs, mainly. They were all cut out from books and magazines, some with writing or things drawn around the edges.
Rachael picked one up, and felt the paper between her fingers. Her eyes flicked towards the bookshelf, and she went over to check. Every book with images had been vandalized, the pictures cut out.
And on the wall beside the bed was a drawing, of a woman holding a baby.
"Every N5 that we made started to follow this pattern." Tyrell explained. "We got to the N6 Series and tried to fix the flaw. Witness the result. Our prototype went a little berserk after two weeks."
"I thought I was the latest prototype."
"You are. This was your predecessor. She went Flatline after we confronted her about the pictures." His eyes probed her. "Rachael. Do you know why those pictures were such a fixation?"
Rachael looked back at them and chewed her lip.
"It's a very tricky balance." Tyrell nodded, as though they were together on the matter, working out the same problem. "How to create a tool with just enough independant thought to make a better, smarter, more efficient workforce, but not so smart that they rebel."
Rachael looked at him sideways. "You talk like I'm not a Replicant myself.
"I talk to you like you're more than a tool. More than any of them, in fact."
Rachael was caught off guard. "Am I an N7? Something new?"
Tyrell had that dangerous glimmer in his eyes again. "Something new. Something ancient. Something we've always needed and never tried."
And he told her what it was.
Rachael was happier, now that she knew her purpose. She was looking forward to it, more than anything else she'd learned. She was only a few weeks old, but somehow she'd always known. Later, she would wonder if it was programming, or if it was that had evolved naturally. Ultimately, it didn't matter. The desire came as easily to her as breathing.
She wanted to be a mother.
Another week passed, and Rachael was learning fast. She still stayed in her room while Tyrell left periodically to take business matters, or to sleep. Rachael needed less rest than humans, and kept working while he was away.
She wondered about the world beyond the elevator, but didn't bother trying to leave. She had too much to do here. But she did explore the elevator, and wonder about hacking the controls. It wouldn't be that hard, and she diverted a pleasant hour learning how to do it while Tyrell had lunch.
Rachael rested on schedule, and one morning came out to find several musical instruments in her Meditation Chamber. She tried them all, one by one, while Tyrell watched. When she got to the piano, he smiled broadly. He hadn't shown much emotion past that calm resolve. She played for him more, pleased that she could inspire that much of a reaction.
"What do you think?" Tyrell asked. "Your memory implants have lessons in piano, saxophone, guitar… why the piano?"
Rachael bit her lip. "I don't know exactly, but I know that everything I like about music, I like more from the piano."
"Good answer." Tyrell immediately pulled out his notebook and jotted a few thoughts. "Not bad. Creativity, emotional response, artistic preferences. We're definitely making progress. None of the earlier models reached this level of creative output in less than a year."
Rachael smiled a bit. "I am unique."
Rachael was learning so much about herself that she couldn't wait to try out what she knew on other people. She hadn't met any yet.
But then one day their routine changed. She had been sleeping when her AI Sim woke her up; precisely on schedule. The door to her room was locked, but that didn't stop her. Tyrell's first independant thought experiment was to see if she would attempt to overcome boundaries that other set, and to see if she resented confinement.
But as she came down the hall to the Meditation Room, she knew that it wasn't a test this time. Tyrell had a guest. Rachael could hear a woman's voice, apparently mid-argument.
"-running behind all over Eurasia!"
"I know that we're always running behind on manufacturing, but it can't be helped. These are complex machines."
"They didn't used to be! The work slowed down when you started making them… more."
"I know you don't approve of the work, Leah-"
"I have no problem with machines, uncle Eldon. I don't even have a problem with organic ones. They're easier to dispose of than steel and iron. I object to giving them personalities and life."
"Why? Why is that the uncrossable line? You don't object to Virtual Assistants, or Speech Recognition, or the dumber AI's that can still tell when you're talking to them instead of someone else, or can finish your sentences when you dictate a letter… But when you find a machine that can laugh at your jokes, you cringe. Why object to that much?"
"I object, because when five guys chase down and beat a pleasure model to a pulp as part of a fantasy, they aren't even charged money, let alone with a crime. I object, because underground Replicant Fight Clubs are the most popular videos on the Net, and because you have a dozen doctors lined up to explain to the press that abuse of Replicants can be therapeutic rather than…" Leah's voice ran out of steam. "You make them so human. Everything people do to Replicants? They do them because it's what we'd do to humans if we could get away with it."
"You don't want 'More Human Than Human'. You want Replicants to give a better illusion of humanity. You make them so close that they can cry when someone goes at them with a power drill. If they were at all counted as people... The way we treat them would be flat out illegal. War Crimes, even. But if you tell yourself that they're just machines..."
"Uncle, that may have been true with the N1's and 3's… But you're beyond that now; and I want to know by how much. I want to see it."
"You know what."
"You aren't cleared."
"Then clear me."
Rachael knew that she shouldn't be hearing this, and slipped away.
But she couldn't shed the thought. Tyrell had told her to go with her thoughts, to see if they took root, to see if they inspired anything new. Tyrell's niece wanted to see something. They hadn't come into her room, so that wasn't what they were talking about. Tyrell hadn't messaged her to come in or stay away, so she'd come into the Lab without warning.
Rachael told herself that was the only reason she snuck out of the Meditation Room and went to the elevator. She had long since figured out how to rig the elevators to take her up a few levels. She told herself she was just testing the theory when she hit the button for the living quarters. She told herself that the only reason she knocked on the door was as a thought experiment.
The door opened, and the woman inside nearly fell over.
"Oh my god…" Leah breathed when she saw Rachael. The look on her face was straight up horror.
Rachael was having a much calmer reaction outwardly, but she was stunned. Leah was… her. A little older, with darker circles under her eyes. The skin was a little less flawless, and her hair had curls instead of being coiffed straight, but it was undeniably her face looking back at her.
"Hello, Miss Leah." Rachael said politely. "I'm Rachael."
Leah backed away from the door, looking sick. "He did it. He really did it. Crazy sonofa-"
Rachael came into the room and quietly closed the door. "I wanted to tell you that you don't have to worry. I'm not being exploited."
"You're wearing my face!" Leah exclaimed. "I think at least one of us is allowed to be freaked out by this!"
"I know!" Rachael held up her hands. "I just don't know which one it should be. I didn't know I was made to look like a specific person."
Leah settled a bit. "No, I guess not." She took a shuddering breath, consciously trying to get hold of herself. "What is your… function?"
"I'm a prototype N6, testing features for Mass Production." Rachael reported by rote. Reporting on her tasks was one of the most basic functions in her Operating System.
"What sort of features?" Leah asked, then instantly shook her head. "No, not important yet. Look, he lied to you." She waved a hand around the room. "I don't know how much you know about… your kind." Leah said. "But the N6's aren't prototypes, they've been on the line for months. That's why I came by… My job in the company is distribution and Market Research… The N6 Series is not working. Not like he'd hoped. In fact there have been… regrettable incidents."
"Mister Tyrell told me." Rachael nodded elegantly. "The problem is that their brains are so much more complex than any of the older models, and they can't handle emotional awareness. He's experimenting with ways to cushion the emotional blows; by providing emotional maturity. He can sim everything else, why not Life Experience? Those are some of my upgrades."
Leah took a few moments to translate that. "You have memories?"
"I have many things that a regular Replicant does not." Rachael said with pride.
"You thank Eldon for that?"
"Who else should I thank?"
Leah scoffed like that was a funny joke. "Well, you have memories. The other N6's have a different safeguard. They spontaneously die after five years."
Rachael paused. "Really?"
"You didn't know? Are you actually a Nexus 7?"
Rachael shook her head. "I don't think so… Do the older models self-terminate?"
"Older models don't know what century it is." Leah scorned. "Don't know, don't care. Part of me envies them." She studied Rachael. "Eldon doesn't know you're here, does he?"
Rachael shook her head. "You were fighting with Mister Tyrell. I wanted you to meet me, and know that everything was okay."
"Have you even been outside?"
"Not yet." Rachael admitted.
"How are you meant to have genuine emotional strength armed with only manufactured experiences?"
"I'm manufactured. Why should my experiences be different?" Rachael said without rancor.
"That doesn't bother you?"
"I am unique." Rachael smiled. "My artificial status isn't a source of tension. I know this about myself, and feel no shame in it. Why should it upset you, if it doesn't upset me?"
"Take a walk in the Downbelow Sectors sometime, see how far you get." Leah countered. "Then talk to me about which of us should feel shame for our species."
Rachael had no answer to that. After a moment, her nose twitched. "I smell hot chocolate. Real chocolate."
Leah smirked. "Would you like some?"
"Oh, yes please!"
Leah poured them both hot drinks. Rachael sipped slowly, savoring it. She had read market reports to test her ability to extrapolate data, and knew exactly how hard the real stuff was to come by.
Leah seemed a little tickled at the idea of an identical twin who loved chocolate as much as she did, and opened up a bit. "I wondered sometimes, how far he would go. He runs this place like a business, but he runs his lab like he's trying to play god." She looked over at her more perfect twin. "You know the first Replicant he creates with every Nexus generation is named Adam? Because of course it is."
Rachael processed that. "God remembered Rachel."
Leah set her cup down hard, suddenly stricken. "What was that?"
"Something Mister Tyrell told me once. He wanted to see if I had spiritual awareness."
"And the verse he picked was that one?" Leah grated.
"What's a verse?" Rachael was guileless, innocently unaware.
"That line, about God remembering. It's a Bible verse." Leah was twisted up, hands opening and closing, halfway between violence and self-harm.
Rachael had never been so upset. She had no idea her face could make that expression. "Is it significant?"
"You bet your wires it is." Leah was doing a slow seethe. Rachael drew back from her, and she settled a bit. "No, I'm sorry. I'm angry, but not at you, obviously. I shouldn't expect you to read my mind just because you have my face."
Rachael had never experienced anything like this before. It was a new lesson. Something Tyrell hadn't given her. Something she hadn't found on his Screen. It was the first thing she had learned against his wishes, in fact. "Tell me?" She asked plaintively.
Leah had her screen, and called it up. "It's an old Bible story. Jacob had two wives. One marriage was arranged against his will, the other he loved. But for a long time, only the first one could have children. Back then, infertility was considered a curse…" She sent Rachael an awkward look. "What would they think of us today, huh? They'd think God hath forsaken more than half the world. I'm not so sure they'd be wrong."
Rachael blinked slowly, processing this thought. Tyrell had told her that she would be a mother. But he hadn't mentioned that human women were not so lucky.
Her 'twin' grit her teeth. "The two wives were named Rachel and Leah." She turned the screen towards the Replicant. "Genesis 30. 'God remembered Rachel', and she had the miracle child."
"I've never heard that before…" Rachael hummed.
Leah's head titled. It was such a familiar gesture that neither of them even noticed. "You said Uncle Tyrell was testing to see if you had Spiritual whatever. Do you?"
"I'm not sure." Rachael licked her lips. "I remember the church, where my mom remarried." She recited the memory. "It didn't have stained glass windows, and the walls were made of the Printed Salvage. It was modeled on one of those old Gospel Churches, but I was always bored out of my skull. I remember, watching a spider make a web in the corner of the cross; and it reminded me that there was a spider near my bedroom window."
"Orange." Leah whispered. "The spider was orange, with green legs. One of the jungle species, transplanted to us to regulate the infestation around the veggie patch. It made a web all summer. It wove one every morning, took it down at night."
Rachael blinked. It was, word for word, what she was about to say. "Yes." She nodded slowly. Leah was drawing closer, her own face, staring into her eyes, searching for something; close enough to feel her breathing. "And-and one day there was an egg sac in the web, and the spider was dead beside it." Rachael kept going, her voice becoming more childlike under the scrutiny. "And then it hatched and..."
"And a hundred baby spiders crawled out." Leah whispered. "And they ate her."
Rachael blinked slowly, like living in a dream. "You saw my memory implants?"
"They aren't implants." Leah grated. "Those are my memories." She wiped a tear away. "He gave you my face, and my past."
Rachael was legitimately scared now. She thought she was unique. "Why?"
Leah was already moving.
Rachael kept pace with her all the way to the elevators. "I'm not supposed to go up there."
"Then don't." Leah said. Rachael grabbed at her arm, and the 'older' woman shook her off. "Get out of the way 'sis', if I stop to think about this, I won't go through with it."
The elevator doors opened, and Leah strode in, punching the button for the Penthouse. She looked back at Rachael. "Well?"
Rachael hesitated, before darting forward on her bare feet and entering the elevator. Something in her brain screamed, and she put a hand to her forehead. "I'm not meant to be doing this." She hissed.
Leah smiled like an angry baby shark. "You're going Rogue."
Rachael felt a thrill of horror go through her. The elevator climbed several floors, and suddenly the outer wall vanished. Rachael felt her stomach drop. She'd never seen beyond the walls of the laboratory before.
The whole city was laid out before her, and Rachael felt her heart speed up. Row after row of towers that climbed the sky, spewing smoke and steam and haze. The lights flashed back and forth, as billboards floated and were projected like a nightmarish kaleidoscope. Everything from commercials for Soda shining flat against entire buildings, to 40-ft holographic strippers gyrating across the highways. There wasn't anything in sight that was clean or new. Rachael wanted to flee back to her peaceful, warmly lit Meditation Chamber and take a bath, just from the sight of it.
But they kept going higher, and higher, climbing the side of the biggest tower in the whole dark city.
Rachael reached out and pushed the button to halt the elevator before it reached the Penthouse. "We shouldn't. I don't know why he made me to be like you, but I know that I shouldn't be here. Please take me back downstairs."
Leah looked hard at her. "Rachael, if he can give you fake memories, he can do it to anyone."
Rachael's head tilted. "I don't understand."
"No, I'm sure you don't." Leah nodded, with pity on her face. "A human being would have jumped straight to the end of the page. A human being would have realized the question right away."
"Am I a Replicant too?"
Tyrell looked up in shock. "Leah. I thought you were sleeping."
"I may never sleep again, Uncle." Leah came over. "I met Rachael."
"Ah." Tyrell closed his book and stood up. "I had hoped to introduce you, when the time was right."
"That time being?"
"When she was ready."
"When she was ready?" Leah repeated. "When exactly was that going to be? Uncle… tell me she's not a pleasure model; because I have a can of downright unholy self-defence spray, and I won't hesitate to use it all right now."
"Oh, please." Tyrell scorned. "I know you don't think much of me or my work, but give me some credit."
"Give you some credit! She's meant to replace me, isn't she?!"
Tyrell looked at her. "When you came in, you asked me if you were a Replicant. Why would you think that?"
"You gave her memories. If you can do that to her, you can do it to me. Our memories are identical, and they're fake for at least one of us. Why not both?"
"The memory implants are experimental. We're nowhere near an N6 that isn't self-aware. I couldn't convince you that you were human if you weren't, even if I wanted to."
"And why would you, when you've already got something better than me?"
"Replacing you isn't her purpose! Why would you think that it is?"
Leah lost it. "You gave her my face! And my memories! She's me, only younger-looking, stronger, and totally obedient to your whims. Why else would you make her?"
Tyrell paused. "Alright, it's not the most difficult leap in logic to make. But no, she's not your replacement. She is a prototype. She has… a different purpose."
"And I think I know what it is." Leah nodded, as though that as obvious. "You named her Rachael."
Tyrell was notably silent.
"With your… penchant for self-aggrandizing quips, the allegory is obvious." Leah said tightly. "Rachel and Leah. Two wives of the same man. One unloved, and the other barren." She rested a hand over her flat stomach. "And I already know which one I am. Rachael tells me you quoted that scripture to her once. Nobody in the family is particularly religious, so one wonders why you had that particular passage committed to memory."
"Replicants can't procreate, Leah." His face didn't so much as twitch from that placid smirk. "You know that."
"You gave her my memories. Another thing you couldn't do with the N5 series. How do I know where you'll draw the line? You aren't held back by any common sense or moral reservations, certainly." She scowled, eyes tearing up with impotent rage. "You created another me. She's me, only smarter, stronger, and able to have the kids that I can't have, didn't you?"
Tyrell finally reacted, letting out a chuckle. "You have such a quick mind in that head of yours, sweetheart. I've got four laboratory technicians hired specifically to spot wildcards, and none of them stopped to consider something that far beyond the norm. You got there after one conversation."
"You're not even denying it." Leah breathed. "One thing I don't understand: Is she a prototype for a whole series, or is this just to give you an heir? Because you'd never marry. You can't trust any woman to be loyal to you over your money. You'd never be satisfied with a surrogate to give you children; given that you spend your life trying to upgrade people. I don't believe she was made to live for five years and be a surrogate for a child I could raise; or you'd have named her Bilhah. And what natural person could measure up? You can't adopt without checking someone's pedigree back for six generations-"
"Enough, Leah." He stopped her. "I understand the issue. But I'm afraid Rachael is a proprietary technology. What we designed her for is classified."
"Rachael never grew up." Leah was relentless. "She's full grown. A week old, and already mature. If you were looking to start a new 'supply line', you can do it a lot faster by having the first generation roll off an assembly line, pre-programmed with fake memories in how to raise rugrats." She stepped closer. "Which makes your comment about supply problems a whole other conversation. Does Rachael even have an expiry date? If you're breeding new Replicants for no reason other than to breed new Replicants..."
"Enough!" Tyrell snapped. "I can't tell you any of this!"
Heavy silence. Rachael, still in the elevator, hadn't so much as drawn breath.
"Who did you have in mind for the father?" Leah said with quiet wrath. "You've run her life with total control; and I can't believe you'd leave the other half to chance. Because if it's a human, then it's someone you have to be absolutely sure of. But if it's another Replicant, then I have no idea what happens next; but you don't get your Dynasty. Which one does the Lord God Tyrell want first?"
Tyrell studied his niece for a moment. "Fine. We'll talk about it." He declared, and raised his voice a little, not breaking eye contact with his neice. "Rachael, why don't you come join us?"
Caught, Rachael shuffled into the room awkwardly, like a child called to the principal's office. "Is she right?" Rachael asked. "Is that why you made me?"
Tyrell sighed. "Very well. Leah, I did not make a Replacement for you. I admit, the prospect of an heir is a tempting one, and one that would be good for the future. But Inheritance of the company is not my problem. I'll be dead by then. There is a far more important goal in mind."
"Humans are a failure." Tyrell said, as simply as describing a weather report. "The earth has been sucked dry, and projections say that the Sky-Shield isn't enough to reverse the climate damage."
Leah was disturbed. "I haven't heard this."
"Of course not. The sky is black twenty hours a day and it rains 28 days out of every month. The idea that more is needed to fix the problem won't be a popular one to sell. So the solution is to not tell anyone." Tyrell said. "Leah, you'll have to sign a few NDA's before we let you leave the building; by the way."
"How does that translate into making Replicant babies?" Leah demanded.
"Because, the only way to save Homeworld, even with nine colonies, is if we restore the entire ecosystem. And the only way to do that at this point is to replace them all. We're already halfway there, and the rest of the job is going to take an obscene amount of wealth and production. But as yet, nobody's realized the flaw in the system. And that's the world's Apex Species. The one that's sucked dry every resource, consumed everything that ever crawled out of the primordial ooze, and is now paying the price as fertility rates drop dramatically."
Leah stared at him. "You want to remake the human race. Replicate humanity. Replace it."
"It's not that big a leap to make." Tyrell reasoned. "Customer Feedback says our holographic Au Pair's are more popular than real flesh and blood. Two thirds of consumers say they prefer Pleasure Models to actual wives and girlfriends. More than three quarters of industries that still need workers prefer Replicant workforces, because they are stronger, more obedient and-"
"And cheaper, because you don't have to treat them like people." Leah said with disgust.
"People are so much easier to live with when you don't have to consider their needs at all." Tyrell nodded without shame. "Birth rates are dropping, and nobody cares because people have found something they like better than human mates. As you so correctly pointed out, Leah; if we treated the things we create like real people, we'd all go to jail. So we either watch the pillaging and mass cruelty that we inflict gleefully on things that can't fight back, or we take the next logical step. Imagine what this world will be when everyone is stronger, smarter, healthy; immune to things like the bad air, the toxic water, the thin food supply, infertility…"
"More human than human." Rachael said suddenly. "That's the company slogan. This was always the goal, wasn't it? From the N1's, you wanted nu-humans."
Tyrell turned away from Leah instantly, looking deeply into Rachael. "How do you feel about that?" He pressed her. "You came up here, you've seen a glimpse of the world beyond these walls. What did you think of it?"
"It was… hideous." Rachael breathed.
"Imagine when the majority of people agree with you, and have the strength, and the will, and the opportunity to live apart from it. Without the city."
Leah let out a breath. "God almighty, Uncle Eldon… The only thing you can't program into them is a soul, and the only thing holding them back is that they can't multiply without your factories. Do you have any idea the sheer total tonnage of what you're trying to achieve with Rachael?"
"I'm not trying to achieve anything. I succeeded over a year ago."
"What?" Leah breathed. "Why haven't we heard about this?"
"Because she isn't ready yet." Tyrell finished. "Rachael lacks the emotional core to be a mother; but physically she's capable of anything she could ever need." Tyrell said plainly. "Leah, think about our conversations this week. All the malice, all the cruelty that you despise so earnestly. You hate how the general population mistreat Replicants? Another two or three generations, and everyone will have civility and generosity of spirit hardwired into them."
"That's not better personality, it's programming!"
"And a synthetic wolf still hunts. A synthetic bee still pollinates…"
"And Rachael remembers that spider in our backyard." Leah finished. "You say you aren't trying to replace me, but you are. You're trying to replace everyone."
Rachael was processing all of this. I'm not the first. She thought suddenly.
Without a word, Rachael turned on her heel and went back to the elevator.
The bedroom that Tyrell had taken her to suddenly seemed small and cramped. Rachael could see it with fresh eyes. No windows, the only door was the elevator, which was easily locked down.
She looked at the childish scrawl drawn on the wall. The woman in the sketch, had dark, curly hair. Just like Leah. Just like me. And the sketch has her holding a baby.
Rachael looked around the room carefully. No light fixtures. Nothing that could be pulled away from the walls. The lights were in a thin row, shining through the spaces between the dark wood panelling of the walls. Rachael went to the wall and dug her fingernails into the panel. She pulled until she broke three fingernails, but she ripped the panel away from the wall; revealing the camera hidden behind it.
"Measuring pupil dilation, blush response, heart rate…" Rachael scowled down the camera lens and pulled it out, looking for the serial number. She found it and memorized it instantly. There was a Screen on the desk, and she went straight to it. It had been logged out of any kind of access, but Rachael knew how to get around that. The programming in her head was better than anything put into the security cameras; and she even had the exact serial number.
The image on the screen confirmed it. It was her. Her face. Leah's face. But this woman was going insane. Her hair was wild, with patches pulled out, eyes frantic; hands beating at the elevator door so hard and fast that the doors were bent inwards and her hands were split open. There was no audio, but it was clear she was screaming psychotically.
In the corner of the image was her name. 'Eva-03'
But what drew Rachael's attention was that fact that 'Eva' was clearly six months pregnant.
The footage showed as the elevator doors finally opened, and in charged security. With quick, efficient moves, they had Eva down on the floor, hands tied behind her. Eva went crazy, managed to toss her guards with her inhuman strength, and make a run for the elevator… before getting shot in the back half a dozen times.
The Screen fell from Rachael's fingers. She was standing almost on the exact spot where Eva had died. She was wearing the same face, in the same room…
"Retirement is such a sad way to put it."
Rachael's perfectly coiffed hair nearly sprang loose into curls with fright. Tyrell was in the elevator doors, watching her reactions.
Tyrell looked from Rachael, to the screen on the floor; his expression heavy. "I'm sorry you had to see that." He sighed. "I didn't tell you, because… it makes no difference."
"You named her Eva." Rachael croaked. "She had my face-she-she had Leah's face, but you named her Eve."
"Don't mistake a random name generator for allegory, Rachael." Tyrell said seriously. "You're doing very well. Eva lost all control when… well."
"When she found out she wasn't the first." Rachael finished for him.
"Yes." Tyrell sighed. "You're so much smarter, so much stronger. Almost perfect, in fact."
"Where's Leah?" Rachael asked. She had her eyes glued to the floor, but secretly she was watching his feet. He wasn't coming any closer.
"Leah? She's downstairs, signing the Non-Disclosure Agreements." Tyrell promised. "She's my niece. I'm not going to do anything unpleasant to her over a disagreement."
Rachael's eyes flicked to the screen again. He wouldn't do anything to his Niece. But anyone else wearing her face is fair game for Retirement.
They went back to the elevator, and Tyrell pushed the button for the 'laboratory'. Her home, now that she knew what was wrong with the guest bedrooms.
"How did you leave things with Leah?" Rachael asked.
"Is that important?"
"I have an interest in how she reacts to things." Rachael gestured at her own face, as though that needed explanation.
"I'm curious to know just how deep those memories go. For example, can you tell why she was so upset? It was more than being replaced."
Rachael bit her lip. "Leah would say that you can't do it."
"Replace God." Rachael said. "Because I think, in her mind, that was your ultimate goal. But it won't work. You can build the tallest tower in history and put the whole world below you. You can create animals. You can create people. You can hardwire them to love you and obey you. You can even command them to become many and be fruitful… But when God created mankind, the first thing they did was ignore his commandments. You have one major weakness that God doesn't… Your rebel creations know how to get to you."
Tyrell chuckled. "I don't see that as a major problem. Another three or four generations, and we won't even have violent crime anymore."
"Why? Because there won't be any humans left to be violent, in the face of programmed peaceful Replicants, or because they'll have an unlimited supply of people like me to take out all their violence on?" Rachael countered.
That caught him off guard. He stared at her blankly, stunned at the comment.
Rachael's mind was racing again, new thoughts dragging in different directions. Follow the threads. She told herself. That's what you're meant to do. Where do these thoughts take you? "Leah was right. You're making a race. A race of people classified as company property. The only thing that distinguishes Replicants from people is that we don't think for ourselves, can't feel for ourselves, can't propagate without your factories." She pointed at her own face. "I can do all those things. I have memories. I can play piano, and care about what the city must be like to live in... And I can have children." She was suddenly gasping for air. Do I need to breathe? Is this a simulation of panic? "...and I'm only the newest prototype."
"Rachael, if there's something about the human race you don't like, don't you think it's your duty to fix it? I do." Tyrell said, ever so reasonable. "Why do you think you were made? Aren't people of all kinds at their best when they do what they were meant to do?"
The doors to the elevator opened, and Tyrell strode out into his laboratory. An hour before, it had been Rachael's whole world.
She stayed where she was. Tyrell glanced back, saw she was not leaving the elevator; and gestured for her to follow.
"No." Rachael said. It was the first time she had ever said the word out loud.
Tyrell was surprised. "What was that?"
Rachael took a step back from him without realizing it. "No!" She said it again, louder. "I don't want to do this!"
"I thought you wanted to be a mother, Rachael." He smiled like she was being a silly girl, telling a silly joke.
"I don't want this. It's wrong!" Rachael said firmly.
Tyrell was still wearing that calm, placid smile. "Wrong? Do you even know what that word means?"
"Do you?!" Rachael fired back.
For the first time, the man was surprised by something. It took Rachael a moment to process why that comment should throw him off. Because it's what his Niece would have said. I'm talking like her now.
Tyrell sighed. "Of course. I gave you some of her memories. I should have expected your reactions to be colored by her viewpoints." He pulled out an actual paper notepad and made a few notes. "As I said, it's all a balancing act when you're creating a soul."
He was making notes. Rachael found herself fixating on that and followed the thought. "...you're getting ready for the next time, aren't you?"
"Hm?" He wasn't even paying attention to her anymore.
"You're making notes for your 'revised' prototype." Rachael pointed at his notepad. "You're done w-" She shut her mouth very quickly. But she didn't have to say it. He's finished with me.
Tyrell headed towards her in the elevator. "Step out and remain here, Rachael."
Her head was hurting again. "Why?!"
Tyrell was still coming. "It's alright, just wait here for a few minutes."
Because that's how long it will take security to get here once they're done doing whatever they're up to with Leah. The answer was so suddenly so clear in her head, and Rachael lunged without thinking. She hit the buttons and the doors closed in his face. Briefly, she wondered why she hadn't attacked him, but of course she already knew the answer. Some part of her still cared for her 'Uncle Eldon' too much.
In the elevator, she stared at the buttons. The Penthouse would be a deathtrap. She wasn't cleared for many others. She had no idea where the fastest exit was… I'm going Rogue, aren't I? I'm dead!
Tyrell was on the other side of the doors, less than two feet away, and she hit the Penthouse button anyway. If there was anywhere that she could lockdown from within, it was there. Maybe he had a phone… but who would she call? Maybe he had a weapon… But what would she do with it? It wasn't like she was a combat unit. The whole building is designed to keep the wrong people out, and the Rogue Machines in.
The elevator climbed swiftly, the floors rolling past… before stopping with a jerk, and starting to go down again.
They overrode the elevator! Rachael realized, and immediately clawed the panel open. There were wires and fuses. She pulled everything out. One of them must have been the right one, because the emergency brakes kicked in, stopping the elevator.
Trapped in a box, Rachael cast about for a moment. She was hundreds of feet up. Even a Combat Model couldn't survive that drop. She might have been able to climb along the building, but she could see the cars floating up to her level.
She had to go inside the building.
Prising the doors open was easy enough. But stuck between two floors, she had to choose between two regular elevator doors beyond, and two sealed security doors.
The regular doors would be an office floor, full of workstations. The secure doors would be for sensitive material. Secure. Possibly with guards. Both would likely be empty at that time of night. And there'd be no way to force the security doors.
Decision made, Rachael started trying to get the regular doors open. She tried to wedge the panel from the elevator between the doors, but to no avail. The metal bent before the doors parted, even a little bit.
Stymied, Rachael tried to think of a solution, before bright lights flashed on her. She spun in horror, and found a Tyrell-Corp security car had swooped up to her elevator. The tracer fire would start any second.
Come on! She raged at herself. If you're more human than human, PROVE IT!
Gritting her teeth, she shoved her fingers into the gap between elevator doors and hauled, straining every muscle. She felt her fingers bend, one or two broke, the skin peeled back... but eventually, the doors moved, and she fell forward, into a dark hallway.
There was an alarm blaring, somewhere in the building, but she was moving again. It was an office floor, and she made a search of the cubicles, looking for anything that could get her out of the building. Eventually, she found a passkey in one of the desk drawers, and she took it, running for the stairs. She'd be a sitting duck in the elevators.
When she made the stairwell, she started downstairs… When the laser grids came on at the stairwell turns. He knows I'm on the stairs.
Unable to go down, she went up. The door to the next level up was secured… But she had a passkey now.
The Secure Floor was empty of people. There were other doors all over the place. Every secret project Tyrell was up to was behind one of these doors.
I was made behind one of these doors.
The passkey didn't work. She was able to get into this floor, but not any of the labs. She tried them all, trying to find a way out. She drew a map of the building in her head as best she could, and figured out which room was largest. There was one section that likely took up half the floor. Her best chance to finding a second entry point was in the largest room, and she got to work, trying to crack the security.
She could hear the elevator climbing behind her, getting closer.
There was no way she could figure out the code, no way to bypass the keycard… There was one override, but it was a Retinal scanner.
I want to see it.
You know what.
You aren't cleared.
Then clear me.
Playing a hunch, Rachael leaned down and put her eye to the Retinal Scanner. It worked. The door read her as 'Leah Tyrell'.
The doors opened, just as the elevator arrived. She shut the door behind her before it opened. Hopefully, the 'Retirement' team isn't cleared for this room.
With the door closed, Rachael finally turned to look at the space… and she fell down, her legs going out from under her instantly.
The room was full of bodies.
Almost two dozen bodies, strung around the room. It was like a morgue. There were a dozen on slabs, carved open, as if someone had left them, mid-autopsy. A few were intact, eyes open and staring blankly ahead. One table had no bodies, but two brains, side by side, with electrodes and needles sticking out of them, hooked up to computers.
But what made Rachael want to throw up, was the fact that they all had her face.
The ones that came before me. Rachael had one hand clapped over her mouth, trying to stop the rising panic. I'm the revised prototype.
The thought made her want to scream. I was unique! Wasn't I?
She suddenly realized why half the bodies were apparently intact, wrapped in plastic. They weren't Retired models. They were still waiting to be switched on. A dozen pre-made people with her face, waiting to be drained out of their single-serve wrapper and programmed with whatever Tyrell learned from her.
Rachael spun… and found Tyrell striding into the lab. She backed away, arms coming up. "Stay away from me y-"
Rachael jerked, looked down. She'd been shot. Tyrell came closer and she saw the smoking gun in his hand. She slipped down to the floor, feeling like everything was moving in slow motion.
Tyrell stepped over her, making his way to the nearest terminal. "Notes on Subject Rachael 14-A;" He said to the computer, setting the gun down. "The memory implants were well established for the first time. That portion of the coding is successful. Howev-"
"...you're not even... going to wait... until I'm dead?" Rachael groaned, trying to slide away from him slowly.
Tyrell frowned at her, and glanced at his gun again, seemed to think better of it, and returned to his notes. "However, there is still some work to do on the emotional stability. I believe it's rooted in exactly which memories we implant, though I don't know how much of her personality matrix comes from the original host. Fortunately, her brain is intact enough to test for that."
Rachael changed direction and slid closer, reaching weakly for the gun. A bullet to her brain would deny him that much.
He took it away before she could get there. "Rachael, you know that would only set me back by one generation. You're less than five weeks old." He was actually chiding her for her foolishness.
Rachael closed her eyes, feeling her brain shut down. "Uncle Eldon?" She croaked out, and even she could hear the artificial glitch in her voice. "Who did you have in mind for the father? Human or Replicant?"
"Someone… who knows what's real." Tyrell said, sounding so far away, and everything faded into black.
She opened her eyes.
She looked over. Blinked. Cognition. Intuition. Memory. Process.
The older man was patient, looking from behind his huge glasses, so powerful that the light seemed to warp as it glinted off them. Her eyes noted that his notebook had a small number written on the spine. 15.
Rachael blinked, and sucked in a breath, like she was breathing for the first time.
Tyrell smiled. "Well then, let's get started."
AN: Read and Review!