Tales of the Ethics Committee: 5 Reasons The Foundation Wants A Robot Army
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Wednesday afternoon was best; it was the only day that week that one could reserve the Cordelia Royale Hotel’s conference room, another could fly into and out of the country without missing work, and another didn’t have cheer practice.

The afternoon was crisp and the clouds were peeled off the blue sky. The hotel's design was a rigid performance of professional colors and sharp geometry. Violet Mesmur stood in the executive conference room. Grey crept up the roots of her hair and age was beginning to crack through the layers of makeup. Dark brown eyes looked down to where a car pulled in. The agents beat the valets to the door and let two people out. A voice in her earpiece said: "Michaels and Young have arrived."

They were in the conference room soon. The wiry Young walked in first. Blonde hair was suffocated into a bun, and nature accomplished the job of makeup. Sleepless nights provided the eyeshadow, and exhaustion was already at work sculpting the face. She took her seat. Michaels followed, the soldier with a buzz-cut. He wore a jacket in Spring, and he folded his aviators up, slipping them into his pocket, as he took his seat besides Young. Another voice in the earpiece: "Lee is here. Kim is a no-show."

Soo-Yun Lee appeared to be already occupied with another meeting — as she entered, she came with a phone to her ear, arguing vehemently with someone in Korean. She was short, long-haired, bespectacled and growing more upset by the second as the argument continued. Another voice over the radio, more uncertain: "Greene has arrived."

The girl who stood at the conference room's open door wore a pleated skirt, jacket and tie colored to match the colors of Dawes Prepratory School. She had red hair tied into a ponytail and glistening green eyes. She flashed a white smile to every uneasy gaze as she walked in, carrying with her a wispy, noxious look. Greene, although the name-tag read Cassandra, and Mesmur's file had no less than 5 other names, took their seat and slid her backpack under the table. She set a water bottle and two pink tablets on the tabletop before sitting back and looking at the others, grinning.

Lee’s phone call ended, security locked the doors and took their positions, and Mesmur took her seat at the head of the table. The recording device sat before her. She reached over and pressed 'record.'

Ethics Committee Negotiations with Groups of Interest on ΩK Scenario Solutions

<Begin Log>

Dr. Violet Mesmur clears her throat and speaks.

Mesmur: I appreciate you all coming to this meeting. You especially, Dr. Young, as you've apparently been taking on a fair few projects involving ΩK.

Young: Many thanks, Dr. Mesmur.

Michaels: Happy to be invited.

Dr. Mesmur adjusts herself in her seat and brings out a briefcase. As she opens it, she continues to speak.

Mesmur: For those of you who are unfamiliar with everyone at the table, my name is Dr. Violet Mesmur, and I am a member of the Ethics Committee.

Dr. Mesmur gestures to Dr. Emily Young.

Mesmur: This is Dr. Emily Young, a prominent doctor in the ΩK scenario with which I'm sure we're all intimately familiar.

Young: Thank you. I've worked extensively with ΩK, including researching under the title SCP-3984, and want nothing more than to contribute to a long-lasting solution.

Dr. Mesmur nods. She removes a few pieces of paper from the briefcase and continues to speak.

Mesmur: Right, yes. The man on the end with the cybernetic enhancements is Captain Eric Michaels, a decorated war veteran and one of the first to… experience ΩK's effects, at least by our records.

Michaels: I'm not all that important. Just here for securi—

Greene: —I like greek letters as much as anyone but could you please familiarize us outsiders with that fancy term you've been throwing at us?

Dr. Mesmur sighs to herself as she continues to remove the final few papers from the briefcase. She turns to Greene.

Mesmur: Well, as you should have remembered from the Societal Census Program surveys you got, ΩK is what we call the scenario that we're all forced to live with. The immortality one? I'm sure you know what I mean.

Dr. Mesmur turns to everyone else.

Mesmur: The person who just interrupted everything is Gregory Greene, though I'm sure they go by a different name now. They are the spokesperson for Full Body Transplants from Prometheus Labs.

Greene: I haven't heard 'Greene' in years. Cassie's fine; new nickname I'm trying to break in.

Greene smiles and waits for a response. No one replies.

Greene: Anyways, many of you are already on our customer lists, so I'm sure you're all familiar with the service I oversee.

Young: Yes, I've… undergone the procedure.

Dr. Mesmur doesn't let Greene continue their comments as she continues her introductions.

Mesmur: And finally, we have a representative from Marshall, Carter and Dark, Ms. Soo-Yun Lee. Though we were expecting Mr. Ji-Su Kim to arrive.

Soo-Yun Lee pulls out a note card and begins to read.

Soo-Yun: Ms. Soo-Yun Lee is unable to make any binding agreements associated with the product Hypnotraline. She is unable to make any statements on Marshall, Carter and Dark's behalf and anything that is spoken by Ms. Soo-Yun Lee is to be considered an opinion.

Soo-Yun puts away the notecard.

Soo-Yun: Mr. Ji-Su will not be coming as he does not speak English.

Michaels: Not surprised they'd send us the diplomatic equivalent of a middle finger. (aside, to Soo-Yun) No offense.

Young: I don't think that's quite appropriate?

Mesmur: No need to be crude, Captain.

Greene: This is actually good. We can tear apart Marshy Carty and Dicky's newest product right here.

Young: Please, I was of the understanding that this was going to be a serious discussion.

Michaels: My bad. Was just hoping we'd actually make something come of this. Not just complain to the underlings.

Michaels is silenced by a glare from Dr. Mesmur.

Michaels: I'll drop it.

Dr. Mesmur straightens the papers in her hand and begins to read the first page.

Mesmur: The meeting here today is to actually address both Prometheus Labs' and Marshall, Carter and Dark's arguably immoral practices regarding their… long term solutions to involuntary immortality.

Mesmur: Dr. Young and Captain Michaels are present to provide alternative solutions from both a professional and a civilian point of view.

Soo-Yun: 'Arguably immoral?' That— that thing is a human trafficker and butcher.

Ms. Soo-Yun points towards Greene.

Greene: Please, apart from Mr. Michaels we're all decent women here.

Michaels: Yes. He's wearing another person. Your people give people inescapable nightmares. We'd like to figure out a way to put an end to both of those things. And since our… usual methods haven't exactly worked, we were hoping to make a deal.

Soo-Yun: And I have to reiterate. I am no longer responsible for, nor capable of, affecting Hypnotraline marketing and distribution.

Young: Then with all due respect, Ms. Soo-Yun, why are you here?

Dr. Mesmur passes along a pair of pages to each of the members present, detailing the potential fallacies in Marshall, Carter and Dark's business plan.

Mesmur: I would like to show everyone some information regarding Hypnotraline and its bootlegged competitors. It's quite obvious that MC&D benefits when their competitors fail, and while that may mean that more people have access to a safe alternative to eternal life and the closest equivalent of death, this does leave millions trapped in their bodies in some form of torture after having been exposed to faulty products. This not only leaves large portions of elderly and unhealthy populations unable to recover in any form, but it also causes them to become a further burden than they were in "life".

Dr. Young briefly reviews the article.

Young: Oh, fuck. I was not aware of this.

Soo-Yun: Well, I am aware of this. I will also state that until Hypnotraline was moved to Mr. Ji-Su Kim's control, there were no manufactured competitors.

Young: What's the prognosis for these people? Do they wake up?

Soo-Yun: I cannot disclose that information.

Mesmur: If you take a look at the files I just handed to each of you, they detail the various ways these competitors torture their customers in the long term. Of course, the most famous defect is permanent sleep apnea; however, other issues include sleepwalking, which as you might guess is far more dangerous when you're unable to awaken from it; and of course, permanent vegetative states rather than comatose ones.

Mesmur: While defects in medicine is something common enough in the pharmaceutical industry, the rate and extent of these defects is detrimental to both people who purchase and use these drugs as well as society as a whole for needing to simply adjust to their new burdens as their family becomes much more difficult to care for.

Young: This… this is awful.

Soo-Yun: It's economics.

Young: Ms. Soo-Yun, you mentioned something about there being no competitors until ownership was transferred? Is that related at all?

Soo-Yun: This is a recorded conversation. I cannot disclose marketing strategies while an active competitor who may have necessitated management changes is sitting at this table.

Young: I think we're a bit beyond that.

Greene: If Pyongyang wants, I can put my fingers in my ears.

Michaels: See? Diplomatic middle finger.

Young: I can't tell which one is the finger.

Soo-Yun: This isn't a sound-byte, or a pre-recorded message. Any actions that affect the marketability of Prometheus Labs' services will affect Hypnotraline's. The product is extremely vulnerable to any and all external changes.

Dr. Mesmur prepares another stapled section of papers to pass out to the people at the table.

Mesmur: Whatever the case may be, Ms. Soo-Yun, your company still arguably has the more moral solution, despite the immoral actions that you may commit in the name of sales.

Dr. Mesmur once again passes out copies of the documents describing the various processes that Prometheus Labs entails regarding Full Body Transplants.

Mesmur: I'd like to draw your attention to the kidnapping and preparing of subjects, the disposal of brains, and the distribution of false information to certain customers about the body source. I believe the rest of the document will speak for itself.

Greene: It's not really kidnapping.

A moment of silence passes as those present read.

Michaels: (under his breath) I still can't believe Joyce is ok with this.

Young: With due respect, Captain Michaels, you're the only person at this table who has the… "enhancements" necessary to avoid this stuff. I was born in 1989, and it's, what, 2130? Raise your hand if you've not undergone the surgery?

Only Captain Michaels raises his hand.

Michaels: Not surprised. Still disappointed.

Young: If FBT didn't exist most of us would be dead. Well, not dead, but worse. Asleep, perhaps.

Mesmur: I myself am ashamed of what I've had to do to continue my research, but I'm proud to say I've only had the one transplant.

Greene: Oh what is this? Are we putting the bottled water industry on trial next?

Dr. Mesmur turns to Greene, glaring.

Mesmur: Are you comparing bottled water to human lives?

Greene: No, I'm comparing bottled water to disposable lives. Look, what do you think happens to the people we use for the procedure? The answer is nothing. Thousands of people are snapped up off the planet every month for organ harvesting, slavery and so on. They're screwed from the get-go, and their future is screwed as well. Is it really fair, then, to just let them go to waste when those of us with the will to live get turned into rotting mummies?

Michaels: Sometimes, it's not their choice. I know, hard to imagine when you grew up with a silver spoon in your mouth.

Greene: Look, what's your name, Young is it? Let me pull up your file, I can tell you exactly where your current… outfit came from. Give me a moment.

Young: That's a bit rich coming from a grown man wearing the skin of an 18-year old girl.

Greene: La vida loca.

Young: At least I had a reason to change beyond getting bored of my own genitalia.

Greene: Ah, here it is. Young, you were fetched off the streets of Lithuania. Your body grew up in a theater, and got its showers in bathroom stalls. You clicked your heels and danced for change in a hat and your parents were… oh, what a surprise… gone. Now, that body is doing jolly good work for the illustrious Foundation, is healthy, vigorous and blah, blah, blah. If we hadn't gotten it, it'd just be another maggot hive, sooner or later. Living fertilizer scraped off the street and dumped into the mud. I don't know about you, but I like to view this industry as a recycling one.

Dr. Young audibly gags.

Greene: I've got your other files too, if you're curious.

Mesmur: Please. This is not what we came here to do.

Greene: You're absolutely right, we should do something. And Prometheus Labs would like some money for it.

Soo-Yun: What?

Michaels: Of course you would.

Mesmur: You really don't expect us to hand resources over, do you? Unless you are able to find a way to humanely deal with the problem at large, the Foundation will not contribute to your company.

Dr. Mesmur turns to Ms. Soo-Yun.

Mesmur: Or yours, for that matter. If you'd like to tell your higher-ups that.

Soo-Yun: Fine.

Ms. Soo-Yun takes out her phone and sends a text.

Soo-Yun: I'll tell you if they get back to me.

Greene: I mean, I couldn't help but notice that one of your issues against this service we all use is disposal. Sure, we could say, launch all the spare brains into space. That was on the table during inception, but that's expensive.

Young: And just have living people floating around in space? What's the benefit of that?

Michaels: You realize that's— It's not like the problem is solved because you've hidden it a couple hundred thousand feet above sea level. Same goes for your landfills. They're still there. They're still suffering.

Soo-Yun: Marshall, Carter and Dark is willing to take actions against certain competitors in exchange for a subsidy.

Young: Is that what they've texted you?

Soo-Yun: Yes. I would be less vague otherwise.

Greene: I'll take bullshit for 400, Jim. Come on, the McDonalds people aren't going to dismantle every drug network in the world just because you lined their pockets. And as for the disposal, I didn't say launch the brains into the stratosphere to create a big jelly ring. I meant far. Into the Sun.

Young: The fucking sun? You're seriously proposing throwing people into the sun?

Greene: I mean, Mars is also free real estate if you want to be picky.

Michaels: Did you hear a word I said about them still being alive?

Young: You know, once I got my credentials back I checked on what Dr. Michaels did with 3984 after I… left.

Dr. Mesmur slams a fist on the table, causing her briefcase to clatter closed.

Mesmur: Is everyone here going to continue to argue about ridiculous ideas or will you allow me to present an ACTUAL idea?

Young: Sorry, Dr Mesmur, I just want to drill into Greene how idiotic he… she is.

Mesmur sighs, and motions for Young to continue.

Young: Dr. Michaels tried to incinerate the brain to see what would happen — nothing. The brain breaks up. Except all the cells are still alive and we had no way of knowing if those animals were still conscious or not. The sun won't fix anything.

Dr. Mesmur glares at everyone. She pinches the bridge of her nose.

Mesmur: Christ almighty, you're all hundreds of years old and you still act like children…

Dr. Mesmur places her hand back down.

Young: Apologies.

Greene: Well, technically—

Michaels: No one cares Greene. You're not a kid.

Mesmur: Dr. Young, I personally am aware of your findings in regards to incineration of the brain. In fact, a secondary reason that I have brought Captain Michaels along to this meeting is because he is the solution we are looking for.

Dr. Mesmur gestures towards Eric Michaels.

Michaels: I actually have to show them, don't I?

Dr. Mesmur nods.

Eric takes off his shirt to reveal his cybernetic replacements.

Mesmur: Captain Michaels' cybernetic implants have been able to not only keep him healthy, but keep him healthy by pre-ΩK standards for the last century. With proper funding and research aid from both Prometheus Labs and Marshall, Carter and Dark, this could be expanded to more complex organs or body parts, or even to android carapaces that can be used to house brains and can be shut off at will. A combination of both of your products, if you will.

Soo-Yun gets up and makes a phone call in the corner of the room.

Young: Captain Michaels, what's, the uh, long-term outlook for your condition?

Young: And by long-term I do mean long-term.

Michaels: I mean, parts degrade, but they can be replaced. Any more than that, I don't know. I just do what the docs tell me.

Greene: What sorts of androids are we talking about? The sort that are just robots that think good or the fleshy ones indistinguishable from normal humans?

Mesmur: Entirely depends on the funding. Ideally, the bare minimum is a carapace that does not require oxygen to operate. This would also greatly help the over-population process, as that would mean that humans could live in areas that were not previously habitable, such as the ocean.

Young: Do we even have enough metal in the planet to do that for everyone? We don't have enough food or water as it is.

Soo-Yun Lee returns to the table, and places her phone face-up upon it.

Soo-Yun: Mr. Ji-Su is listening in. Please continue.

Michaels: Oh. I see we're finally worth your time.

Mesmur: (in broken Korean) Pleasure, Mr. Ji-Su. Glad you could join us.

Ji-Su: (in English) Continue with the speech, Foundation.

Mesmur: I was told there was a language barrier that prevented you from arriving.

Dr. Mesmur looks at Ms. Soo-Yun disdainfully.

Mesmur: In any case, the proposition was simply combining the aspects of both Prometheus Labs' and your own. Creating androids capable of housing brains for the human population. The market isn't necessarily about the product, but about the upgrades and replacements that would need to be made as it decays. Much like a phone, actually. I know you are very focused on market, and I figure this would be a good mid-point for both of our needs. And to address your concern, Dr. Young…

Dr. Mesmur takes out her phone and begins tapping.

Mesmur: I'm sending you an e-mail regarding potential resource usage should this plan go through. This is currently for Foundation eyes only until we receive further funding from other sources.

Young: Understood.

Greene: I can't speak for our friends in Korea, but I can tell you that I am, honestly, not focused on the market. I'm focused on quality of experience. If you can assure me full customization and accuracy with your little android project then I'll pitch it. But that's all.

Young: "Accuracy" being the key word, right, Cassie?

Greene: "Customization" is of equal weight.

Michaels: (to Young) I can't believe he's still hung up about being able to fuck a hundred years down the road.

Young: (in response) Simple things for simple minds.

Greene: And I will add that we have far more repeat customers than first-timers, in case anyone thinks I'm an exception rather than the rule.

Mesmur: Customization is currently higher on the projection table. Being able to look human is less important currently than being able to do certain actions, such as walk and eat and such. Most of those actions are unnecessary, obviously, but considering people still like eating despite their tongues rotting away and their stomach exploding, having those as additional features seems appropriate.

Dr. Mesmur pauses, looking at Greene. She sighs before continuing.

Mesmur: However… accuracy may be something we can commit to should we get substantial funding beyond initial projections.

Young: Even I have to admit that we do have to retain some humanity for this to be marketable.

Greene: "Some?" I don’t want to see Terminators bonking — thank you for that mental image, by the way, you weirdos. I’ll pitch this, hell, I’ll even support it, if you agree to put Prometheus Labs in charge of the aesthetic side of this endeavor.

Young: Define "aesthetic side"? What exactly does that entail?

Greene: Skin, hair, eyes, tongues, fingernails, the works.

Young: So long as you don't get those fingernails from eastern Europeans.

Greene: Very funny. Is that the Lithuanian speaking or the humanitarian?

Young: Oh, fuck off—

Greene: —and no, they'd be synthetic but lifelike. Ideally.

Mesmur: How much do you project that to cost? The majority of the funding we need is gathering resources. Testing and construction is minimal in comparison.

Greene: Hang on, hang on. Before we do that, I'd like to hear what the Thing With Two Heads But Doesn't Talk has to say.

Soo-Yun: (in Korean; into the phone) That question's for you, not me.

Ji-Su: (in Korean) Do not want. (hangs up)

Soo-Yun: He says yes.

Mesmur: You do realize that I just spoke some Korean to you, yes? Would that not make you immediately think that I could understand basic Korean phrases like "I don't want this?"

Soo-Yun: Kim is only in charge of Hypnotraline because the product is so easily pushed to the ropes. I'm smarter, more qualified and far more stable than he is. I'll pitch your idea above his pay-grade, just as he did to me. We will get back to you on this.

Michaels: Huh. Never thought I'd see the middle finger turn itself around. You're pointin' right back at your boss.

Mesmur: Well, that's definitely a pleasant surprise. You're sure you have the credentials to do this, Ms. Soo-Yun?

Soo-Yun: I don't like Mr. Ji-Su. I don't like what he's done to approximately 8 million people, if that number is still holding. I'll be happy to make the sales pitch.

Soo-Yun: I don't need credentials. I have a more stable product to offer, with hopefully decreased expenditures, and excellent powerpoint making skills.

Greene slowly claps.

Mesmur: Dr. Young, Captain Michaels, do you two have any opinions on the matter or are you in agreement?

Michaels: I'm willing to let the kid help with the science project, but she'd need some supervision. Our supervision.

Young: It's the only solution proposed so far that isn't completely abhorrent. Are we taking a vote?

Mesmur: Unless anyone else happened to bring a solution they believe would appeal to us as well?

Young: So far as I can tell, it's robots or the Sun.

Greene: I've already stated that I don't much care either way. This life we all have is actually rather fun, so let's stick to ensuring that.

Soo-Yun: It won't be for much longer. I hope no sudden revelations appear if we do this.

Mesmur: If there are no more questions, shall we put it to a vote?

Young: Aye.

Mesmur: I also vote aye. Captain Michaels? Ms. Soo-Yun? Cassie?

Michaels: Aye.

Soo-Yun: I can't act on behalf for Marshall Carter and Dark. I'll send my aye in the mail once I'm back at the wheel.

Greene: It's a school night and I'm beat. Aye. Just remember who you'll be trusting the design choices to once you get our money.

Michaels: It's like you're trying to make me regret this.

Mesmur: Perfect. This meeting ended sooner than expected, which I'm sure is convenient for those of us who had plans for the night. Shall we adjourn or does anyone have any final words?

Young: Greene, you're not… actually going to school, right?

Greene: Hey, la vida loca.

Michaels: Let's just fix la vida for now.

<End Log>

All five exited the conference room in a calm quiet. Lee and Cassie took the first elevator to the lobby, both smiling to themselves. One was much more brazen and smug than the other, but then again teenagers aren’t exactly the subtle types. The other three took a second elevator. Eric and Emily bid Violet farewell in the parking lot as they walked to their car.

"Back to the airport I, suppose?" Eric asked as he slid into the driver’s seat.

"Not yet. We need to head out west a little ways first."

"Really? Why? Our flight back is in a few hours."

"I know. We have plenty of time. I promised I’d show your sister something, thought you’d want to come along. I mean, I might be breaking a few rules doing this, but the place has been abandoned for some time now."

"Wait, Joyce flew out here?"

Young nodded slowly. "It’s important enough for the airfare."

"Well, I guess we do have time."

"Great." Emily started punching in the address. Eric pulled out of the parking lot and made a left onto a one-way street.

"Where are we going anyways?"

"To see your brother."

Eric shot Emily a confused look as he pulled up to a stop light, “You know his grave is like two states over, right?”

"I’m not talking about the grave, Eric. I’m talking about the body."

Eric froze. He let the words sink in for a few moments. Then the questions came flooding in: Why is the body here? What’s there to see? What happened to Tony?

He decided that maybe, he didn't want to know. But Young wasn't giving him a choice.

"You know, the light’s green."

"Oh, right." Eric pressed the pedal to the floor, and the car raced towards Site-2718.

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