Special Team 1 sat back, wordlessly proclaiming their disbelief.
“Yes, I do recall that the Bugs took notice of our presence. Yes, I am aware that another infiltration will be far more difficult. Yes, I do recall that we are only a small team of brothers and not the vanguard of an army. That does not worry me, because I know how to use all of these facts to our advantage.”
Special Team 1 did not seem convinced, let alone impressed.
“We’re going to split up and infiltrate along different vectors, with a rendezvous point set by the first of us to breach the Hive.”
The four of them looked at Nala as if he proclaimed fire to be ice.
“But first, we’re going to sync up and copy our emergency restore files to each others’ systems. Once each of us begins infiltration, we initiate those restores.”
“Wait a moment.” Yellow said, “Is this going where I think it is?”
Nala nodded. “I’ve continued the work I began at the Academy, under the mentorship of the First Founder, and in the Inner City I devised a working protocol that gets around the problems with the restoration protocols.”
“You came up with a hack?” Yellow asked.
“Better.” Nala answered, “I upgraded it.”
Blue, again faster than the rest, got to the point. “Yet we don’t have it, and we’re amongst the first to receive the new stuff. Therefore I conclude that your upgrade hasn’t yet received final approval from the Masters, and it hasn’t gotten that approval because there aren’t any records of a successful field test.”
“I dislike being deployed as a test dummy. That’s what test programs are for.” Green said, dismayed.
Now Red tapped his head, remembering something. “I remember your thesis!” he said, “Yours was the first thesis not to be freely disseminated by the Academy after its acceptance and defense in a generation.”
“Three, actually.” Nala smiled. “It’s a distinction truly earned.”
“It got flagged for review by Internal Affairs under the Eden Clause.” Red continued, “I sat on the review committee at the time, so that’s why and how I got a copy.”
Blue’s eyes now perked up, his curiosity aroused. “Oh, really?”
“Nala here submitted a lengthy thesis, under the sponsorship of the First Founder, laying out the case that there was no difference between a sufficiently-complex program and we human beings- and, as such, we could easily use this fact to advance ourselves far beyond the limitations of Mankind. By the same token, we could no longer afford to regard our most sophisticated constructs as mere automatons but instead as fellows like us- or even as us entirely, as wholly-created humans. The key element to his argument, backed up with experimental data as well as building upon past generations’ work on similar queries, rested upon the very process that occurs when we cross to or from the Inner City.”
The other three members of Special Team 1 looked aghast at Nala, and he just smiled at them.
“What was the committee’s decision?” Yellow asked of Red.
“After one session, where we interviewed the First Founder about it, we concluded without dissent that—though disturbing and radical—Nala had not violated the Eden Clause and would not be sanctioned in any way. However, his thesis would remain locked away under the Masters’ Seal.”
Before Green or Yellow could follow up, Blue again got to the point.
“Nala figured out how to get around the Fork Fracture problem.” Blue exclaimed, his voice trembling slightly as he fixed his eyes upon the man, “The implications of this breakthrough are-“
“-revolutionary. Yes, I know. The First Founder took me on as a student for a reason.” Nala proclaimed, “The Masters have reservations. They want proof that it will work as intended before formal recognition, and subsequent publication to the fellowship.”
Nala paused, letting the fullness of this information steep in their minds.
“If we succeed, this means that the war will be won within the year.”
“And failure?” Red inquired.
“If what Nala intends works, failure is impossible.” Blue answered.