Friday, February 11, 2011

I’ve been ready since your last visit, and you know it. My recent work has mostly been involved in fine-tuning things, making sure the transference is truly perfect. The body, as you know has been perfect for some time, and now the mind will be also.”

You know the Stanford team has produced a Machiavelli already. State department’s been crawling all over it, feeding it the facts of every global situation, trying to glean some new insight.”

A thirty per cent transference is not by any means a success. The poor thing must be half mad.”

It is true that it tends to speak in... riddles.”

Nonsense, more like. Most of what your people are getting out of it is an infallible oracle which they may then interpret as they will. Useful, still, I’ve no doubt your lower-ranking analysts are using the unfortunate soul as a megaphone for their own views.”

Probably. My employers expect something more... complete.”

I can get you an absolute transfer with very little difficulty. It’s become almost routine. However, I should like to make the first complete human test with someone harmless.”

How do you mean?”

I mean someone with no particular desire or capacity to cause any great trouble on the world stage. It is always possible that the strain might be too great, and what would we do if an insane Napoleon or Alexander were, through some oversight of ours, allowed to run free on the world stage?”

I presume this test case of yours will be watched?”

I have some young men who I can trust, who will be honoured to be able to help in such an endeavour, and who will be here in any case for their first year of university; they can watch and guide him.”

I think we’ll have someone sent too. Our army, as you probably know, offers an education to its soldiers. I’m sure we can find someone suitably loyal and in the right age bracket. Do you have a candidate in mind for the process?”

The professor – for the owner of the office was indeed a professor – reached out to the shelf which held the books he loved, rather than the books he needed, though the volume he took was both. He gazed at it a moment before he spoke.

It occurs to me that it is not only emperors and generals who can shake the world to its foundations; but in this case, I think, we can rest easy.”

He handed the book to his colleague, who read the long title and the short author’s name, and then handed it back.

Did you choose him for any particular reason?”

Well, you must know that for anyone in my profession he is something of a hero... and I think, of all the people I have read about from history, he is the only one who is both harmless enough to risk bringing back on the first trial, and interesting enough to be worth the effort. So many of our great men and women were stark raving megalomaniacs.”

The visitor considered this, but obviously could find no objection. He gave his assent and made his farewells, walking out through the warren of corridors to a completely unremarkable car parked behind the building.

He left his briefcase behind.

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