Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 68

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Susan was finding her first full year of school different than expected. That said, she had very low expectations, so she found it overall better. She wouldn’t consider herself a pessimist, but the environment she had grown up with hadn’t given her much reason to have high expectations. Though her life growing up in a lab could have been worse, even at the time when it was the only life she knew, she realized it wasn’t good.

It was clear to Susan that she was different from the scientists who ran the cloning lab, though she hadn’t known what the facility actually was at the time. She didn’t remember anything from when she was truly a baby, but as soon as she could walk and talk she was subjected to all kinds of tests. There were no other children, which was the first sign that she was different. However, there were signs that there were, or could have been other children at some point. There were rooms like hers, but they were empty.

When Susan wasn’t undergoing tests, she was made to prepare for them. In the case of intellectual tests, there were materials for her to study. Sometimes she was taught by one of the scientists, but sometimes she had to read the material on her own. She was taught to read, but after she had been rescued she learned that normally there were books for children. She had only been provided books that were somewhat simpler, and very plain. In fact, most of them weren’t published books at all, but materials prepared by those in the lab. That was because they tightly controlled what she could learn. When she didn’t do well on the tests, she was punished, usually through a slap or an electrical shock, or being yelled at. Though she tried to succeed to avoid punishment, the exact nature of the tests wasn’t always clear. When she was very young, the thing that most drove her to try to succeed was the disappointed voices as the scientists whispered to each other. She wanted to make these people happy… at least until she grew wiser and realized they didn’t care about her at all. As she grew older she began to understand what they wanted from the tests, and tried to pass with the bare minimum.

Susan was also made to undergo physical tests. Thus, she had a harsh exercise regime. She was punished when she failed to keep up with it, which was often. Looking back, Susan was thankful she didn’t seem to have gotten any permanent damage from overstraining herself. They obviously expected higher performance from her, but she found that she didn’t care… even eventually going to the point of intentionally failing. She found that resulted in harsher punishments, so she learned to look like she was trying and failing anyway. At some point, she discovered that there was an absolute limit to how much she would be physically punished, and she realized she had some value. As for any berating or words, once she no longer valued her captors as important people, their words had little impact.

Though being tested on what she learned was unpleasant, Susan actually enjoyed learning. The biggest problem she had was the limited the information she was given. It wasn’t really enough. The scientists clearly had access to more knowledge, but they wouldn’t share it. If she asked too many questions, she was scolded. When she asked how they expected her to be smart when they were trying to keep her stupid, she was yelled at and punished… but that just confirmed that what she said was true. They wouldn’t give her the knowledge she wanted, so she would have to take it.

That said, it wasn’t easy to do anything they didn’t want her to do. Whenever she did something wrong they always found out, even when they weren’t watching. It took time- years even- but Susan eventually figured out about cameras… and where all of them were. They were hidden, but they couldn’t see her if there was no possibility for her to see them. She figured out where they all were, but didn’t act. If she was wrong, it would be harder to accomplish what she wanted in the future. In addition to keeping an eye out for more cameras or other security devices, she watched the scientist’s habits. They obviously had knowledge on their big screens, but she couldn’t get close to those. However, they also carried around smaller tidbits of information, and sometimes those would be left places. The biggest difficulty came when she had to take the pieces of information. That had to occur in a place where no cameras would notice, and also read in such a place. However, though they left their information around, they were never far away. Then Susan discovered a weakness. Though cameras might always be watching… it didn’t seem that the information always got to the scientists. This was even more true in areas where they were ostensibly watching her in person.

The first handheld computer she took wanted a password, and she didn’t know it. Thus, she put it back approximately where it had been as soon as she got a chance. She learned how passwords worked, but never got an opportunity to see one. She did, however, manage to get one after the password had been put in, and then it was forgotten as the scientist moved onto something else. Unfortunately, she only managed to read a little bit before he noticed it missing, and she only barely managed to get it back to a probable location in time, after which it was pointed out to him. She occasionally managed to get such small snippets of information, but unfortunately there were usually words she didn’t understand, because she hadn’t been taught them. Still, she got better and better at stealing bits of information, though it all became unimportant when a woman who looked like her showed up… and gave her a chance she never thought she would have.

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One Reply to “Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 68”

  1. Thanks for the chapter!

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