Behavior Analysis: 88%
You’re stunned. What you see doesn’t make any sense.
The organizing principle of the Sphere is optimal Good. The Pinnacle, as the name states, is the epitome of that Good. As such, every level, every office, every desk, every chair, even photo frames were placed in the optimized position. Essentially, the only thing that differed from one level to the next within the Pinnacle was the people.
The most Good spatial arrangement had been optimized decades ago. Questions of basic needs and beauty were the easiest to answer and refine immediately after the Prime Definition of Good was released. To determine what was beautiful, the quanputers only had to analyze members’ immediate reactions to their surroundings. To decide, say, what behaviors led to a successful life, the quanputers had to monitor lives for decades – under hundreds of working definitions of “success.” The Prime Definition was admittedly incomplete at the start, but one of the fundamental tenets of the Good from the Prime Definition was continual refinement: True Goodness was to be sought but probably never achieved. Ultimately, the founders had tasked the Sphere and the quanputers with the crowning query: What is the most good for the Good? The Definition had been continuously refined since Foundation, as our answer to that question grew more and more complete.
The office is definitely not Good. What you see can only be described as a chaotic assault on your senses. The walls, floor, and ceiling are covered with hundreds of photographs – actual, physical, printed photographs. Not just photo frames that your implants automatically fill whenever you walk by like in other offices. The desk – if it can be called that – has been flipped onto its short side and pushed against the back wall to completely cover the window.
The sight of such a scene triggers an autonomous gag reflex, and you almost throw up. How could anyone put up with such revolting surroundings? Call must have no respect for the Good. No wonder his arbitration file called for extermination.
Behavior Analysis: 87%
Too long surveying the room. Time to get to work.
You take a deep breath and enter. You scan the room, focusing on each photograph for a moment so that your implant can store them and cross-reference them against Call’s files. While the quanputers perform calculations and “think” rapidly using algorithms you don’t pretend to understand, they have notably slow memory. The archives use a completely different memory storage format which is much more stable long term, but much slower short term. And generally, the older the file or the wider the search, the slower it will proceed.
At first your mind tries to guard itself against the lack of Goodness, but after a minute of intentional observation a pattern forces itself to the surface. A large picture (28 cm x 27.666 cm according to your implants) of a person or a family is always at the center, surrounded by a sea of smaller photos. The sea contains everything from cars to children to houses to pets.
You pause. That cat looks familiar.
You pull the cross-reference. Nothing in Call’s file matches the image, but it still looks familiar. What was this photo doing in Call’s office if it had nothing to do with him?
Come to think of it, the associated large photo of a man wearing a cowboy hat looks familiar as well. You check it against the arbitration archives.
And your heart skips a beat.
This is Buttermilk. The cat that Mr. Nimitz fell in love with.
The case you were assigned on this level of the Pin approximately one year ago, on which you’d been reminiscing not 3 minutes earlier.
The Good would call for a logical, deductive explanation. Call must have been working on this floor when you were here, but you had only worked on this level for a week before your wife told you she had conceived an illegal child and you terminated her membership with the Good and you began climbing the ladder to your current position and
Behavior Analysis: 86%
You shake it off and continue scanning the room.
The cross-references start pouring in. No connections to Call yet. But after you’ve expanded your search, every one of the photographs on the wall corresponds to a case that you have arbitrated in the past year.
Everything you’ve discovered since your hunt began only leads to more unanswerable questions. How would Call have access to any of this data? No one working on Pinnacle level 16 should have access to any information from your level, higher up. The only possible logical conclusion you can come up with is that Call has some sort of exceptional quanputing skills. You’d heard of arbitrations involving people infiltrating file systems they should not have had access to. Referencing these cases shows that they all have one thing in common. In each case, the member that was investigated was an agent of the Rest.
The Definition of Good for your new type requires thorough investigation, and there’s still one place left to scan. You groan under your breath.
The desk has been painted into a ghastly swirl of color. It pains your psyche to touch it, but you tilt it backward toward you on its bottom legs and slide it to the left. You turn back to the window and your mouth drops open.
There, staring you in the face, is, well … you. A precise, life-size facsimile of you. A photo that had to have been taken not three days earlier, when the Definition of Good had been updated to dictate that clean-shaven faces were superior to bearded faces at your level of the Pin. Once again, no cross-references. But this had progressed from peculiar to disturbing.
Unlike the other photographs which are surrounded by equally-sized small photographs, below your picture is a single photo, half the size of yours.
It is a picture of your ex-wife.
Unlike the other photographs which are full color and printed on glossy paper, this photograph is black and white and printed on thin, flimsy paper. A quick composition analysis reveals that this media type was referred to as newspaper years ago, before the precursor to the Global Good called the “internet” had rendered the medium obsolete. Ironic that you access this information on the Global itself. You read:
The newspaper was the primary method for communicating current events in the century preceding the Foundation and the Prime Definition of the Good.
Current events. Again, unlike other photographs which are attached to the walls with tiny pieces of metal, this one is attached by a single strip of adhesive polymer. You pull the newspaper photo off the wall. You flip it over and scan it into your image bank.
From peculiar, to disturbing, to infuriating. You hadn’t thought about your ex-wife or what became of her in years, yet here it was, taped to the wall, on display in a stranger’s office. Not just a stranger. Call is certainly an enemy of the Good. On the back, you read:
Murdered: February 30th, 89 A.G.
Police are looking for suspects in the brutal murder of Ferryn. The victim was discovered lying in the middle of 3rd Avenue in an apparent hate crime. The extremist group WICK is expected of the crime due to the public location of the body and nature of attack. Ferryn is survived by one daughter, Hope. We must remember that although Ferryn was an outcast of the Good, her daughter is one of our own. She is part of The Rest. Care may be sent to 2728 4th St.
Murdered. Brutally. As a result of your actions. Twelve months to the day after you terminated her membership to the Good in 88 A.G.
You can’t control the tears that fall.
Behavior Analysis: 84% – Correction: 83% – Correction: 82%
The deviation alarm blares in your ear. You try to drive down the overwhelming emotion, unsuccessfully.
If you can’t drive it down, you can replace it. That will be Good enough for now.
You concentrate on the name of the group – the WICKS. You concentrate on the small inset picture of what remained of your wife.
The rage consumes you.
You turn around 180 degrees and are ready to sprint from the room when you see one final image taped to the desk.
It’s Anton Smith. You first assignment from earlier today.
You terminated him not quite nine hours earlier.
New anger doubles on the old. Who is this Call? His last update was 2 months ago and he hadn’t been admitted into the Sphere since then. How could he even have posted this image? How could he have posted any of these images?
You storm out of the office toward the lift, with your only intention being to clear your head.
Behavior Analysis: 84%
Your wife. Your arbitration assignments. The timing of it all.
As you reach the lift, your next destination is made clear.
Anton’s name has signaled three cross-references. One from your assignment this morning. A previous re-assignment from Call, 5 years ago.
And one connection to the WICKS, whoever they may be.
It’s time to leave the Sphere and leave the Good for a moment.
You’re headed into the Rest.