Author : Samuel Stapleton

Synthetic: a substance made by chemical processes, especially to imitate a natural product.

The data analysis was grim. Predicted system stability – 62%.

My small gathering of journey members stood off to one side. Tori spoke quietly.
“What’s the consensus?” She asked. I took a breath and looked up from the floor.
“Further analysis showed it’s only scored a stability rating of 62% for the next 2,500 years. It’s not good enough.”
A frustrated sigh emanated from the group of young professionals.
“We scrap this round of synthetic bodies, reupload to digital, and we should make the next system in just under 160 years. It’ll feel like a quick nap.”
They took it well, but disappointment lingered throughout the ship.

Tori came to see me in my quarters before we reuploaded.
“How is everyone scoring mentally with the news?” I asked.
“All well within norms. I actually came to see you because I need to report something.”
“I’ve been speaking with one of the younger members, Scott Yearsley. I’m afraid he’s broken more than a few protocols plus numerous ethical standards as well…”
“Give me the short version.”
“He brought an illegal upload. He’s one of our programmers. I don’t know how he did it but I know he’s not lying.”
I sat. Stunned.
“We have a stowaway?”
Tori nodded as my head began swimming with the implications.

“Scott. I have to level with you. Tori reported to me like she had to. It’s her job. This will go easier if you just explain what’s going on.”
He looked at me the way a cat might look at a beetle it is considering swatting down from the air.
“It wasn’t hard. I uploaded my girlfriend onto a separate network. Reprogrammed my allotted space to make it look like she was personal data files – mostly video – and then reuploaded her to the ship from a port before we left.”
I shook my head in disbelief.
“Scott we have no idea what kind of mental state she might be in from being stored. Humans go mad without proper monitoring and subconscious waking.”
“I’m not an idiot captain. I know I’m only 14 but I’m fluent in 22 coding languages and I almost earned my medical degree before we left. It took me like, 19 hours or so to build a self-housed mental watchdog for her. Like I said. She’s as safe as you or I when we’re in storage.”
“Well you’ve broken about 17 military laws and even more civil ones.”
He was silent.
“Yeah but you’re not going to delete another human being as per stowaway regulations. Those were meant to apply to physical stowaways. And I’m the best programmer aboard, it’s not even a close competition.”
He rested for a moment before carrying on.
“I mean I hate to make it seem like I’ve won but once we left Earth both she and I were free and clear. You’re better off doing nothing. It’s why I told Tori. My girlfriend isn’t hurting anyone and we can download her once we’re all settled and the mission has been a success. Or we’ll fail to find a stable system and she’ll vanish into eternity with us.”
I sighed. And wished I could have a stiff drink.
“Well. What’s her name? Tell me it’s not Juliet…” I said out of sarcastic spite.
I caught the flash from his perfectly white teeth as he smiled and spat out that single syllable.
“Her name is Eve.”