Looking back at that strange walk back down the corridor to the reclamation room, I now find my inaction difficult to fathom. I was certainly weak, tired, and confused. But that is not why I did not try and fight them as they led me towards an unknown but certain danger. I did not try and fight them because I was, at last, moving again. Something was happening. Does a condemned man without hope find some relief when the guards come and get him and start the slow progression towards the gallows? Or did he learn to live with the uncertainty and build up a false hope that death would never come?
I had only been left in suspense a few minutes, perhaps an hour. But it had been enough in this disorienting realm to put my mind in a frenetic state. The slow walk, supported by Ierod and Check had restored order and acted upon me like an opiate. But that false calm was not to last long. We returned to the morgue and they carefully laid me back upon the gurney. As soon as my back touched the cold metal, an almost animal like desire for self-preeservation returned and I strove to sit up.
"Hold on there fellow. This is nothing!" Ierod said as he strapped one of my arms down. "All we are going to do is implant a few chips into your brain. That's all."
I cursed and shreiked and managed to rip my arm away from Check. But with Ierod and teh burden of heightened gravity I was fairly easily subdued. Pamille injected me with what I imagine was a sedative and in a few moments, the urge to fight left me again. The tinny taste of blood filled my mouth and the back of my head ached.
"You better hold still or you'll have some nasty brusies and the whole thing will take longer for the wires to set up. Believe me, you want the wires as short as possible to help your scores. Anyway, it's not like it hurts much."
"I think," Pamille said, "you call this 'minimally invasive.' Essentially that means we do as little damage as possible." I remember that there were only four fingers on her hands. The skin of her fingertips was soft and warm and her touch gentle as she turned my head so that my right ear was against the table. There was a sharp pain behind my left ear. "That's one." And then another in the soft fleshy part of my neck. "And two. This next one will hurt." She pulled back my eyelid at the corner and I felt something slide behind my eye, an enormous pain caused me to gasp, but it ended so quickly I hardly had time to eact. "And three. Now, four. This one is uncomfortable but not so bad." She inserted something up my right nostril. Again a pain and I began to sneeze uncontrollably. "Almost over." She said as she placed one hand over my head with impressive force and then with the other hand, opened my mouth and inserted one of her fingers. I felt a pain in soft pallete above my tongue. "There, that's five. Give it a few minutes to set up and then we can test it and see how well it does."
I lay there on the table as still as if I were dead like the bodies all around me.
"That wasn't so bad was it?" Ierod stated with a barely credible enthusiasm and only a trace of genuine sympathy. "You'll be better than ever in a few minutes."
"What happened?" I asked.
"Training." Check answered. "Five little chips in your head now. They wire themselves in and start checking things out. You'll get that sensation in a few moments."
And indeed, I suddenly was overwhelmed by a series of flickers and bright lights, sounds, sensations, tastes, and odors. They shot all over my body so that I seemed to feel them all at once and every place. If the conversation was continuing about me I lost track of it. The flooding of my perceptions was not exactly pleasent, in fact in some ways it was excruciatingly painful. But what made matters worse was the maelstrom that followed it as I was treated in rapid successions to a rainbow of emotions from despair to euphoria, wrath to lust, frustration to detachment.
When I came back to myself, I found myself unbound. Check was gone but Pamille and Ierod were nearby conversing...
"97." Ierod said. "I don't care what the other scores say, how can you argue with a 97 reflex. And a 94 retention. Combined that's unprecedented. No one scores that high. This is better than anything you could get with a C1OP."
"Yes, but the covariance is a 58. Passing is 60."
"Oh you can fake that. Who is to know."
"It doesn't matter who is to know. There's a reason why passing is a 60, and ev3n at 60 we would limit his service to only a few months."
"Would you send him to MRA?"
"Of course not. It's way too dangerous for that."
"Then what are you suggesting?"
Ierod turned quickly to look at me. I was completely still though my eyes were staring at him. "How much longer?" He asked anxiously.
"At least ten minutes. It has to regain its balance. It would be completely disoriented."
"It freaks me out." He turned back to Pamille. "But 97, 94, 88, 91 thos scores are too good. He could be in charge of a division in two or three months. We need someone like that."
"Who looks at covariance. Nobody even knows what covariance is except you and the chip designers. He probably scored low there because he scored high. Too much information always leaves a little confusion. If you go slow, it works it's way out on the field."
"Is almost 60. I need someone."
"Even if it did pass those scores are too good for what you want."
"No. It's perfect. I give him his assignment. He has time to adjust. He comes back in three months. You test him again. If he's still 58 then we dump him..."
"... look this is what you were hoping for. Your chips are better than standard issue. And when's the next time you are going to get to try them out? Three months. Check didn't see the scores. Just change them. Take four off the top three. Add 12 to covariance and he's in the black all around. The total is the same."
I heard Check walk in. "So. What's the score?"
"428." Replied Ierod cheerfully.
"Not bad. Not tremendously good, but not bad. What was his high?"
Ierod looked at Pamille. "It scored low in covariance." She said
She paused. "Yes. A 70."
"But a 93 in reflex."
"93? Really? You must have plunked them down with nanometer leads. Well, what the hell is covariance anyway."