The Harkson Experiment; Prologue. (Britfluff)

After taking the first sip of water in three days, Lana rolled her chair back swiftly and apprehensively stood up. Her back cracked like porcelain as she stretched, rubbing her eyes before promptly flopping back down and chuckling dryly to herself. It’s done. It’s finally done.

Lana Harkson. Thirty one years old. World renouned biologist, computer scientist, engineer, physicist, geologist and sufferer of hyperthymesia. Having viewed life with intense curiosity, it was no wonder that she absolutely adored the sciences, and it especially helped that her dad had the funds to provide. But that’s enough about her, no, this story doesn’t focus on her. No, instead it focuses on her greatest invention, one that’ll let her oversee and record the results of her dream project, the Harkson Experiment; an experiment created to study how subjects will react and adapt to changes in the environment.

It was simple. Build a comedically large dome, split it into five rooms, and dedicate one each to simulating a different environment. At the centre would be a cylinder shaped room, with the four others taking up equal space around it. Fourty years ago, simply proposing even the first step of her plan would have resulted in her ridicule and being laughed out of the conference hall. Thankfully it’s the year of 20XX, and due to John Belfos’ commercial asteroid mining operation they have more than enough resources to accomodate for this project, fueled by the blood, sweat and unpressurized corpses of the poor schmucks desperate enough to take the low-pay, high-risk job floating in space.

But back on topic, the centre would simulate a ruined city, specifically modified after Cleveland in between the Cleansing and the Rebuilding; perfectly habitable but overgrown. One of the corner rooms would be simulating a lush rainforest, hosting both an abundance of plantlife and animal life, especially predators. An additional section would contain a savannah, just hospitible to house the normal creatures from there with enough clean water to provide for them, whilst another would house some grasslands, being quite hilly in nature with some trees dotted around the place, though the temperature being chilly. The last room would be dedicated to a large tundra forest, complete with the normal megafauna and megaflora featured in such an environment.

The Dome took about five years to make thanks to the help of the very army of drones that are also to be in charge of maintenancing and supplying it, with the terraforming being handled by numerous trained professionals. The original experiment was to drop about 600 people into each section, however that was deemed too unethical for the purpose of the experiment. Prisoners were considered, however the problem is that they’d be terrible test subjects. Not only would they likely have existing alliegences through prison gangs, but the aggression caused by the conditioning prison environments create would taint the results.

In the end, fluffies ended up being the prime candidate.

Yes, our own failed attempts at playing god. As much as she hated it, these were the best Lana was going to get in terms of test subjects. Although most dismiss the concept as bullshit, fluffies are sentient, sapient creatures. Not only do they pass the mirror test and comprehend that other fluffies do not share their knowledge, but they can communicate and adapt to different environments in different ways. However, she was willing to compromise using fluffies instead, as despite their flaws they allowed for a quicker experiment due to their quick lifespan. Each fluffy here would need to be unabused and intact, with no signs of smarty syndrome at all, so all 3000 of them were raised in a controlled environment resembling that a fluffy belonging to a comfortably middle-class hugboxer would have.

Now, the fun part - as she’d refer to her investors - is that every year, there would be a disaster of some sort. A mini nuke going off, an earthquake, a volcano, the plague, anything, you name it. As long as it wouldn’t destroy the ecosystem, it would go ahead. And even if the worst was to happen, the habitat would be reconstructed and the experiment would begin anew.

The experiment was created to last as long as it can be supported, with new additions being made regularly in the forms of materials and such, and someone had to oversee it throughout this period. Lana, not realising how this could ruin her at the time, volunteered to not only oversee the test, but to also do so until it ended.

Which brings us to where we are now. Lana, still grimly chuckling to herself like a man shot, had created a device that would perfectly make her into an AI. Or, failing that, copy her in the form of an AI and wipe her current self. Bottom line was there’d be an AI of her, and her body would be empty. This was the point of no going back, and by god Lana was going to see it through. It was too late to back out, anyway. As soon as she was placed into the digital world, a signal would be sent to begin the transportation of the fluffies to the environment. Of course, she could always choose not to, but at this point she had completely nothing left. The sheer amount of work needed made her into a complete, hopeless shut-in. All she could do now was hope.

Standing up, Lana grabbed the headgear connected to the brain-copying program and selected the option to scan, before dropping it onto her head, expecting the worst. Except nothing happened. Her eyes widened as dread began to creep up on her, desperately trying to make sure that it wasn’t just a malfunction. It couldn’t be mafunction. She shot back down into her chair, and immediately began a debugging program before she noticed that the note taking software she made had popped open.

> Testing testing, one two three.
> It appears that the transition was seamless, thank Christ. I don't know what I'd do if it failed. Everything would have been for nothing!

For a solid half an hour, Lana just stares brokenly at the newly made her type chipperly away, filled with nothing but relief, the damned thing. She had half a mind to delete it, cast it away into oblivion, but no. It was too late. She had failed to put herself there. She lost lost her house, estranged her family, cut out her friends and all for what? Some digital copy to parade around doing her dream job, wearing her face?! Grabbing the keyboard, she bitterly typed up a message for herself, her face contorted in utter revile.

> I hope you enjoy stealing my life, whore.

And with that, Lana ended the worst day of her life, having reached for the emergency revolver she kept taped under her desk.

>>Ruins Part 1


I hope you liked this little epilogue! The next stories I make are gonna be either little anthologies or research records, all of them set in the Harkson Dome. If you have any ideas, constructive criticism or recommendations, let me know.

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