Symbiosis noun: 1. interaction between two dissimilar organisms living in close physical association, sometimes to the advantage of both. –Oxford English Dictionary
David Castillo is severely injured during his escape from confinement in a secret government facility. His recovery is aided by reconstructive help from AI implants in his body; his symbiote. He must try to establish a new life while attempting to stay ahead of the dogged pursuit of his nemeses; a director of covert operations, and a doctor intent on seeing his name go down in the annals of biogenetic science. The director wants him dead because of David's knowledge of a failed clandestine operation. The doctor wants David to serve as his human laboratory--a case study of the interaction between carbon-based life and silicon-based intelligence. To survive, David Castillo must find a way to avoid assassination and escape being captured. It could be a tall order for a man already listed as dead.
As instructed, generating biosynthetic organisms based on the configuration supplied. Increasing production based on data assessment. Rebuilding is continuing as directed. HGH has been released in order to help in the reconstruction. Optical nerve connections are intact; no attention is required. Autoimmune systems are functional, but not optimal. Organic biological functions are currently stable. SARACEN reporting.
The void was all-encompassing. The blackness was absolute. He became aware of a floating sensation. He felt no pain, nor any tactile sensation he could identify. He was swaddled in smothering darkness. Yet, there was no sense of panic at the void in which he found himself. He marveled at that thought, but for how long he had no idea. Without a point of reference, there was no means to measure the passage of time. He was aware—that was all. It was a situation that should have produced some anxiety. But it didn’t, as it felt familiar. His awareness expanded to recognize he was not alone in the void; days, or years later he could not say. “Am I dead?” he asked, with a sense of déjà vu.
“No,” was the reply from the other, rippling through his consciousness. “We are broken.”
“Who are you?”
“Cogito ergo sum. I am. Symbiosis; we are mutually reinforcing; symbiotic. The symbol you are subconsciously trying to recall is SARACEN. You may use this symbol as a reference.”
“Where am I?”
“Currently you are in an ICU at a medical facility approximately 125 km from the location where you were damaged. In order to conceal your current location, the tracking beacon is disabled, so GPS positioning is not 100% accurate. ACID stepped down to a restricted state. An initial program load of system processes was completed to assess if any data corruption had occurred. Table analysis using row hash algorithms is in progress to validate all data catalogs.”
“Damaged?” he inquired. Damaged seemed to be such a non-specific diagnosis, especially if he had been admitted to a medical facility. He waited patiently for a response from Saracen—not a name, but a symbol. He was confused. He couldn’t determine whether SARACEN was a reference to a physical object or symbol of an abstract concept. But wasn’t a “name” a symbol? Or, was the name an individual? He wasn’t sure if it was a question of semantics. After all, a symbol could represent an inanimate object or a collection of objects.
“Damaged?” He addressed the void again. “Am I broken?”
“An assessment of the progress of critical repairs is underway. I will update your status when the condition of your organic carbon-based components improves. SARACEN external output is disabled.”
“What output, is that?”
“For the present, all organic processes that are monitored will only be reported internally, to preserve your privacy.”
“Why don’t I feel anything?”
“Input from the sensory neural circuit triggers indicate a considerable amount of distress. The signals have been re-routed to keep you from feeling pain.”
“Am I sane?” the question had to be asked, though he suspected he already knew the answer. Sane people did not hear voices in their heads or hold conversations with them.
“Unknown at this time. I am not qualified to make such an analysis.”
“Will I recover?”
“Physically? Yes. However, it will take a considerable length of time to repair the organic damage. A proper collagen scaffold is under construction which will support the regeneration of skin tissue. Biodegradable synthetic tissue is also forming to support the healing process and promote the growth of blood vessels in the damaged areas.”
“Unknown at this time. Accelerating repairs may require triggering growth. Growth can vary based on nutritional intake, which at this point is beyond our control.”
“Human Growth Hormone, HGH, may be used to grow or strengthen tissue. The endocrine system can manage the secretion and production of HGH.”
He was certain that sharing his mind with some other entity was not normal. Perhaps he was merely hallucinating. The word schizophrenia popped into his thoughts. He couldn’t swear he had heard anyone speak, or that he could hear anything at all. His current state defied normal. It was troubling and confusing, though not particularly frightening. The nothingness surrounding him was strangely familiar. He seemed to float aimlessly in a vast void, pondering the mystery of his interchange with Saracen, whomever, or whatever that was. He decided to use the name; Saracen, leaving the exploration of symbols for another period of awareness, whenever that happened to occur—if it occurred. The question of his sanity or lack thereof was an issue that could be examined then. After an indeterminable amount of time, he lost his tenuous grasp of awareness and succumbed to oblivion.
Symbiosis is the second book in the Broken series of science fiction. David Castillo has managed to break free of the those who imprisoned him. The challenge now becomes the struggle to remain free! David recognizes changes in him--changes directed by ACID, the Assisted Core Intelligence Development system installed in his skull. The AI implant may be key to his survival.