Ethan Verone sat behind his desk, his long legs kicked up on the corner of the glass surface as he watched the holo-display in front of himself. He smiled at the images displayed and tilted his head as the door opened.
Miko Hareka led Shalee inside.
Verone gestured to the seats opposite himself, his voice, quiet and deep, his huge frame just a silouhette against the backdrop of the rattlesnakes in the dark office. "Have a seat."
Shalee slid into the offered seat and crossed one tanned leg over the other. She folded her arms across her chest, her blue gaze locked on the pirate. "Thank you."
"How've you been?" Verone asked her as Miko sealed the door behind him and leaned against it.
Her brow quirked. "Since we've last spoke? Fine, I guess." She hesitated for a second then asked, "And yourself?"
"I'm always well, life is just like that for me."
"How's your memory coming along?"
"I've had a recent memory."
"I think perhaps because I clone jumped, I'm not sure. Just a small memory, about Raphael Saint."
"Well, this is good news. I understand if it's something you can't share."
"It's nothing major really, I remembered that I started eating meat because he introduced me to it," she said.
"That's a good thing." He smiled. "I have an idea."
She relaxed as he smiled. "Hmm?"
"I've talked it over with the best cloning physician I know, my own personal medical consultant."
He rested his feet down and leaned forward from out of the shadow, the light from the holo projector bathing his tanned face as piercing blue eyes looked across the desk to her. "He can fix you, if you want him to."
"Fix me how precisely?"
"Well, it's possible to give you your memory back," Verone said. "The specifics are beyond my simple, meatheaded brain. Would you like to talk to the doc?"
She hesitated, "But to gain it I would lose my new life, correct?"
Verone shook his head, smiling. "No, you could retain what you've learned since. Its' actually beneficial for me if you do retain what you've learned since, actually. So, it helps us both."
"It'd give me peace of mind."
"Knowing that I helped you, and knowing you know, that I helped you."
"You said I wouldn't like what I found out," Shalee said.
"You wouldn't now. But, with restoration, you'd deal with it, and still have he knowlege that you have now. What you've learned since the accident. Maybe the doctor can explain it better?" He glanced down to her and smiled, noting the tanned thighs. "Your dress sense has changed, I approve, and it looks like you're getting a lot of sun. That'll be on the terrace?"
"I'm just not sure why I should trust you," she admitted, then glanced down at her bare legs, "Well it's not cold there. No snow to dress for."
Verone smiled warmly, "You trusted me with your life, before. And I trusted you with mine. You trusted me with your reputation too, and I did the same." He nodded over to Miko, "Miko, be a darling and call Toma for me?"
Miko Hareka laughed slightly and nodded, before heading out, "Sure thing, Eth."
Miko sealed the door behind himself as he left.
"Yeah, my Doctor," Verone said. "He was the one who treated you here, when you had your accident. He took the scans, and the gentic backup."
Shalee glanced over her shoulder as Miko left, frowning as the door closed. She returned her gaze to Verone, "I don't understand why I was here."
"You don't have to be scared of being alone with me. If I wanted to hurt you, I'd have had ample opportunity to do it before now. I don't want to hurt you Shalee."
"I'm not afraid."
"As for your question, You were here because we were... good friends, before your accident. Although we'd become a bit estranged. The friendship became very rocky. Something I regret every day."
"You haven't even tried to be friends with me that I can remember," she said.
"I alienated you for your own protection. I didn't want a fresh mind to have my influence."
"Then how are you protecting me now, by offering a chance to remember?"
"Because you're not a fresh mind any more. You have experience, you've taken a perspective on the world, and you have the knowledge to choose."
"How do you mean? Because I remembered one thing? About Raphael?"
"As a blank canvas, so to speak, you didn't have that."
"You understand now?"
"Experience as a capsuleer, sure." she said.
"That accounts for a lot."
"Good, then you've learned well."
A few minutes passed by in silence. "I'm thinking."
"About what?" he asked.
"About what to do."
Dr Einmoch tapped on the door before heading inside. He made his way over to Ethan, nodding.
Verone smiled at Toma, before looking to Shalee, "This is Toma Einmoch. The man I trust with my life every second, of every day."
She glanced up to the doctor, "Hello."
Einmoch offered a perfectly manicured hand to her, smiling, "We've met many times before, however, you won't remember. It's a pleasure to see you again, Shalee."
She shook his hand, "Oh. I see."
"Good to see you again, I guess."
The doctor chuckled.
Verone nodded then turned his attention back to her, "You always were a stubborn one, Shalee. You always had that fire about you, some of our talks have been harsh, and for that I'm sorry."
"All of our talks have been harsh except this one," she countered. "So you can see why I'm reluctant to take you at your word?"
"Then, don't take my word. Take Toma's. Unlike me, he's not in the business of taking life, he tries to save and preserve it."
"He works for you."
Verone nodded, "That he does."
"We can help you Shalee, should you allow us," Einmoch said.
"How does it work? How do you combine both sets of memories?"
Dr Einmoch took a seat in the spare beside her, and opened his palm. A soft light expanded from the centre of it, producing a holo that hovered above his smooth hand. He smiled as the image took the form of a human brain, a timeline above it. It then shrank and turned into two brains, one red, one blue. "We currently have two sets of memories, yes? We use red and blue, to denote them. seen here."
She nodded, "Alright."
"Firstly, we take you, in your present form, and run a soft scan, neural backup of you. This will preserve your current memories. From the time you awoken after the accident, until now." The blue holo of the brain turned white with the blue turning into a pulsing waveform above it. "The second set of memories are in storage, that we have."
Einmoch gestured to the flashing red holo, "We will create a clone for you here. Complete with your original memories, okay? As seen here..." A red bar appeared above it, a pulsing waveform that took the form of a timeline, "This you will use as a jumpclone... okay?"
"Your current memories, that you hold in your head right now, when you jump, will be parsed over, through the jumpcloning process, like so." He flicked his index finger, the two holos merged together, the brains overlapped each other, the timelines doing the same.
"You make it sound so simple."
Einmoch nodded as the brain image turned purple with the timelines doing the same, a slight grey gap between the two bands of memories. "What will happen, when we prepare the clone correctly is this. Your original memories will be retained, since there is no data to overwrite them, in long term memory."
"We ensure this by scripting the cloning sequence and the hardware not to overwrite the current state of any active neurons in the entorhinal cortex, and allow only the new data to be processed by the hippocampus. What will happen, is you will awaken with both sets of memories, you will be your old self, but you will have all the knowledge and experience you have absorbed since, even the memory of this conversation, right up until the point you jump clone. There will be a gap, between the neural scan at our facilities, and your cloning accident. That, we have no data for. To you, it will just seem like an area of memory you can't recall. A coma, effectively, like a long sleep."
"How much time is there in between do you think?"
"When was your accident?"
"Months ago. I don't recall the exact day."
"Our scan runs up until June 11th, 113. You'll have every memory up until then, then a gap, and every memory since the accident. You will know who you were, and who you are now."
"So when can we do this? How long will it take? Are there any dangers?"
"It's low risk. We could finalise a clone from a blank within twenty-four hours, then all you would have to do, is jump. I've uh, tested it. On Ethan's request."
"What do you mean by that?"
Verone glanced at the rattlesnakes out through the windows, disconnecting himself from the conversation.
Dr Einmoch said, "We ran trials, to see if the process would work. The first was a failure. We ran a further fifty seven, all were sucessful, after a minor tweak."
Shalee hesitated for a moment, then took a long breath and exhaled before saying, "Very well then. Twenty-four hours it is. Do I have to do anything to prepare?"
Einmoch shook his head, and smiled warmly, "No, just have faith. And if you'd like to see proof of the process, just look at Mr Hareka."
"Mr Hareka has lost his memories at some point too?" she asked.
"No, he volunteered to be mentally split, and re-assembled." The doctor said. "Ethan pays... extremely well."
Shalee relaxed into her chair. "I see." She looked to Ethan as he smiled. "I hope this isn't some sort of trickery but I have little choice but to trust you. I don't have any other options that I would even consider."
"I'll prepare for tomorrow, and leave you to talk." Einmoch stood and flicked his hand a little to make the holo vanish, before heading for the door. "There is one more thing, Shalee."
"Make provisions not to pilot, for twenty-four hours after the clone jump. It's imperative that you stay rested and out of harm's way. Do you understand? In fact, I may insist on you staying with us for twenty-four hours after the transfer, depending on how it goes."
She nodded. "I guess they can spare me for twenty four hours."
"Excellent. Then I will see you tomorrow, when you awaken here." He smiled as he left, closing the door behind himself.