Several twist, turns and changes of level away from the AI lab, the simulation control team monitored their adaptive switching intelligence program. They and it were responsible for James’ current circumstances. The software seemed to breathe, uncurling its play like malevolent mist; forming shapes, strategies and counter-strategies. The team, headed by Julie Smidder, were highly intelligent, serious people, intensely proud of the ‘Star Trek’ like, holodeck creation.

“Gibbons” Said Julie, “I’m not liking the subjects responses on this, what do you think?” 

Gibbons, short, surly and slightly obese, grunted, licked his lips and moved around to look at Julie over his glasses. “What? You say this every time a new bod steps into the lab – let it roll Julie, the program will handle it” 

“It’s not the program, I’m talking about – Look at James’ data” 

Shifting slightly to look at the James’ subject data, Gibbons grunted again. “He’s got low response, I’ll give you that. I’ll up the sensitivity on the bio-gains and feed the program a little more” 

The adaptive switching intelligence program, ASIP for short, needed subject response data to adapt and switch its play. This in turn was fed to it via multiple sensors located in the actual lab. Acutely sensitive, the sensors measured and read a range of biometric data from the lab’s occupants. ASIP then ‘modelled’ the data and subject movement to predict possible thinking responses. Its remit was not only to set the environment and generate the game-play scenario as believably as possible but, and key to its power, to predict a subjects’ thought processes before they’d even done so themselves.


AI Culloch, syringe now tucked literally up his sleeve, turned and moved towards James. 

James was thinking. His ability to restructure his own molecular being had provided him with advantages over his peers and colleagues alike. It was akin to being made out of a smart memory material; these materials can be ‘programmed’ to hold a shape. An electric current or heat passed across them causes change, becoming highly flexible or in turn absolutely rigid. Over time, James had learnt to both control his skin’s form in a similar fashion. Threatened by possible puncture, be it a knife blade, or even a bullet his skin formed an appropriately hard resistance. He could control this at will, in preparation for a threat he was aware of or by reaction. By reaction was a harder response to trust but he knew by now he could trust his body to ‘do its thing’. In effect he was a walking bullet-proof vest of hardness equal to the object attempting to penetrate it. 

An additional and useful side-effect of this was James’ ability to read physical body language. Intimately familiar with his own internal self, he could look at others and know what looked ‘right’ and what looked ‘wrong’. AI Culloch looked ‘wrong’. His wrist was overly tense, making his arm slightly off from a normal arm – like looking at a picture hanging on a wall – you just knew it was off. 

Unknown to James however there was an unwelcome side-effect of this skin control; lack of data. Having never tried to measure his own biometrics he simply wasn’t aware of his body’s lack of cooperation with the AI labs sensors. 

“Excuse me” AI Culloch began, “I believe we’ve met before – I’m Adrian Moffat”. AI Culloch extended his hand to shake James’. 

James stood up, apparently about to extend his own hand in return greeting. When almost up he feigned to catch his leg on his chair, groped forward and caught AI Culloch’s syringe-ready wrist to regain his balance. Quick, imperceptible pressure cause the syringe’s liquid to pump into AI Culloch’s lower arm. Now upright, James looked into AI Culloch’s eyes, nothing and then suprise as he fell straight backwards, hitting the library floor with a heavy thump.

James moved quickly out of the area where AI Culloch had been standing a moment ago and headed for the information desk.

The End

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