Acrylic drank deeply from the faded mug. The decal, which read “MORAL CODE” along with some lines of programming language, was highly scratched. “The procedures were…” He searched his databanks for the correct word. “…highly painful, to be sure. They closely monitored my progress and activities, prohibiting me from any systems other than those which they approved. Truthfully, I became unopposed to this. I enjoyed the feeling of being more unified with the code, more the computer and less the input device.”

He leaned in toward the table. “Shortly thereafter, however, there was a failure. Perhaps it was a technical fault, perhaps human error. But a firewall was dropped, and I instinctively reached into the bowels of the program.” His voice grew cold and soft. “The entire operation was a smokescreen. The true aim of my project was to assess the viability of a gradual takeover and repurposing of the human mind.”

He gestured to his associate. “It is at this point in our tale that Fetus makes her appearance.”

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