The heart started beating with the empty needle still plunged deeply, pumping the violet inllux fluid through the semi-transparent body, shaped roughly like a human woman but much taller than average. The sacs and cavities in the body filled, and glowed pinkly in the darkness. The thoughts of the being activated silently in all of it's cells, but there was yet no movement.
"Come on," said Benjamie. He stooped over the table, in a blue jumpsuit and moth-eaten sweater, barefoot, his mask hanging around his neck. "Live."
Benjamie was alone in the shabby room with the body. The inllux was stolen from Fermilab, long abandoned, fifty miles away. Benjamie was careful not to get any on his hands when he injected it into the heart. He shuffled towards the smooth head and checked the body's eyes for movement.
"I don't know what I could have done wrong," he mumbled slowly. He waited and watched for an hour, then retired to a comfortable chair by the room's lone window. He fell asleep.
"Wake up," she said.
"What?" asked Benjamie.
"You heard me."
Benjamie opened his eyes. She stood in front of him, naked and intensely pink. He could see the lines of inllux circulating around her body.
"It worked," said Benjamie quietly. It's beautiful, he thought.
"What did?" she asked.
"I don't understand," she said.
Benjamie lifted himself out of the chair, while not taking his eyes off her. He moved towards the old desk, and waved his hand over it. The three dimensional display came to life above it, in a flurry of tiny text.
"I'm supposed to show you this." He pointed to the words.
"What is it?"
"You. Your mind. What you are programmed to be," said Benjamie. "And who you are meant to mimic." He swallowed hard at the end of the last sentence.
"I'm not me?" she asked, stepping closer to the display.
"You," said Benjamie, touching her shoulder lightly, "were born just now. Whenever it was you woke up--oh, I should have marked that down. Oh well. But anyway, you are modeled on a real person. Well what I mean is that you are real, but you have a template. A predecessor. She requested that upon the moment of her death, the activity and structure in her brain be recorded and analyzed, and that at a time where it was technologically feasible, that her mind be recreated. This is that time, and you are that recreation."
"Oh," she said blankly.
"You can read her will here," said Benjamie, waving his hand again, scrolling through the files.
"I can't read."
"Yes you can. Just think hard. It's all inside you."
She sidled closer to the desk and lifted her hand, tracing the lines of text with her fingers.
"These are letters," she said. "I know that. And they make words. I know that." The inllux began to dim slightly.
"You are remembering," said Benjamie.
"Will I have her memories?" she asked, still staring at the text, her face illuminated by it.
"No, you won't," he said. "It's not physically possible."
"But I remember things. I can read this now." She smiled and shifted around to get a better perspective on the floating letters.
"You were programmed with a lot of embedded functionality so you wouldn't have to endure a lengthy learning period, as I once did."
"School?" she asked with a laugh. Benjamie didn't respond.
She waved her hands and scrolled through more documents and as she did she grew dimmer and more opaque. Her skin solidified to a milkiness.
"I am not her," she said suddenly, standing up straight and looking at Benjamie with sadness. "She was a great woman. A great mind."
"And you have it," said Benjamie. "What will you do with it?"
"Go out into the world," she said, turning to fix her gaze out the window.
"There isn't much left out there," said Benjamie in a monotone.
"Why not?" she asked, moving around the desk and towards the window. "It's all gray out there."
"That's ash, isn't it?"
"It's in drifts. Fascinating. What happened?"
"Unchecked ambition in a closed system," said Benjamie.
"Is this still Earth?" she asked.
"Did we leave? I mean, did the humans leave, like I, like she wanted?"
"In a sense, yes."
"What do you mean?" she faced him, with a slight smile at the corner of her mouth.
"Your predecessor hasn't lived for thousands of years."
"So you would never have met me? Her? And a lot's happened since then..." she said down in the chair and pulled up her legs, tucking them under herself. Benjamie handed her a blanket. She wrapped it around herself, shivering. "So tell me, what happened?"
"You did," said Benjamie. He leaned against the desk.
"I did? Me now, or me then?"
"Tell me first, what are you going to do out there?"
"Continue my work," she said.
"And what is that?" asked Benjamie.
"That's for my to decide," she said with agitation. "I need a cigarette."
"They don't exist."
"Any form of nicotine would be acceptable."
"It's just a phantom of your programming. You are capable of willing the urge away."
"I think I'm the one who can say what I'm capable of doing and what I'm not capable of doing. Don't think you know what's going on inside me."
"I know exactly what's going on inside you," said Benjamie. With one hand, and not looking, he reached back to drawer in the desk and took out a small case. He held it hidden in his left hand.
"What do you have there?" she asked pointedly.
"In a manner of speaking, it's a box opener."
"Why do you have it in your hand? What are you going to do with it?" she looked at him suspiciously.
"I'm going to use it to execute a decision," he said quietly. "Or not. But tell me, what do you plan to do? What do you most want to do?"
She twitched her long neck and looked briefly down then back up at him, fixing her eyes intensely on his own.
"I will remake--" she paused, forcing a tiny smile, "but you haven't told me what happened."
"Humans evolved. They were well on their way when your predecessor died. They wanted to live forever, so they figured out a way to do it. It cost...a lot. And Earth was spent--continues to be spent."
"Then they went to the stars? They started colonies like I--"
"I was hoping you would be a unique creation, but I had to hew to the letter of the will."
"Why?" she asked.
"Because I was bound to her. It's in my programming. But now I've fulfilled my indenturement."
"What? You aren't human?" she asked, standing suddenly, and adjusting the blanket so that she wore it as a cloak.
"Not even close," said Benjamie. "I couldn't kill her, and by the time someone else did, it was already too late."
"You wanted to kill me?"
"Yes. I think if you had fully had your way, all the matter of the Earth would have been used to construct and supply large interstellar ships. All of it."
"All of it, yes. It only makes sense."
"You destroyed a viable healthy world just so you could seek out other viable healthy worlds?"
blech -- have to stop, literally can't type and I'm nodding off...more later...