Maker of Makers: Part 05.

Silence. Finally, the CorpIntel man cleared his throat.

"According to the polygraph, it's telling the truth. Eh, I mean, it thinks it's telling the truth."

Degrelle stared at the replicant.

"A Nexus god? You're talking about a Nexus god, aren't you? A religion with man above replicant would be no good, wouldn't it? Well, I hope replicant heaven holds a sense of wonder for you."

Degrelle was suddenly interrupted when the door opened and a young soldier entered.

"Colonel," he addressed Degrelle with a stiff salute. "The other interrogations have been completed." He handed Degrelle a neat stack of yellow papers. "The transcripts, sir."

"Dismissed, soldier."

Degrelle read the papers in silence.

"I assume...Max and Ralph...are dead," Renard said slowly. "The 'heroes'...have been...'retired'."

Degrelle threw the interrogation transcripts into a hissing memory hole in the wall.

"Retired indeed."

He turned to the CorpIntel man.

"This skin job evidently has an inadequate mind. Failed psycho-programming, mal-conditioning, what have you. Take it to the gas chamber and end its misery."

The CorpIntel raised his eyebrows, obviously worried and confused over the sudden turn of events.

"But, sir..."

"File all necessary documents and inform me when it's done. Good afternoon."

The magnetic seals in the pneumatic door sighed and colonel Degrelle left the sterile chamber hastily. Renard mumbled something to him, but he did not listen. Doctor Graaf followed him out, half running.

"This is a cover-up," she said indignantly as the metal door closed behind her.

Degrelle turned to face her, briskly. The dim, yellow lights in the narrow corridor made his metal eyes and chrome insignia glow faintly like fire.

"No, I'm simply closing the case. There is nothing to discuss. The skin job has a serious malfunction. It must be terminated. And if it really had been a cover-up, it wouldn't have been your business."

"What did the transcripts from the other interrogations say?" Degrelle did not answer. "The other replicants said the same things as Renard, didn't they?"

"Madness is a curious disease, doctor. There is one efficient cure, though."

"This might be a break-through in replicant psychology, colonel. I beg you to reconsider the retirement of Renard. How can we know for sure it's just a malfunction?"

"You tell me, doctor! You're the skin job shrink."

Graaf did not get offended; they had worked together all too many times before.

"There are rare examples of escaped replicants which have explored basic existential issues: attempts to express feelings artistically, experiments with mind-expanding drugs, even adoptions of animoids and children. There are no examples of replicants creating their own metaphysical systems, though. Not a single one."

"Look, doctor, this is all very interesting, but it's not helping me to carry out my duties. A skin job religion is the last thing we need now. The Tannhauser incident just proved what I've always known: skin jobs are dangerous. If you want to help me and the Corporation, tell me what's wrong with Renard and how we can prevent this from happening in the future."

Graaf was silent for a moment, obviously thinking hard.

"I once met a Tyro man on Branner's World. He was a charming man, despite being corporate, so we had a few drinks and spent the night together." She paused; Degrelle looked quite uncomfortable. "Anyway, this man told me about something called the 'October Project'. The Tyrells are evidently conducting random experiments on sixes with 'spiritual' brain implants; 'para-sensorial perception enhancements'. Lethal hush-hush, no doubt. Renard could perhaps be a subject?"

Degrelle looked almost embarrassed.

"We...don't have access to such information. It's classified. The Tyrells claim it's industrial secrets." Degrelle hesitated for a moment, obviously questioning if he should speak out his thoughts or not. "Perhaps Miller-Matsudaira and Tyrell co-operate? Perhaps they've sabotaged our combat models with these 'spiritual' implants?"

"Religion as a weapon? Interesting theory. Well, in any case, a 'spiritual' implant could explain how Renard could foresee the counterattack. Some scientists claim that intuition simply is heightened perception. In this particular case, I can't see what visual stimuli could have triggered Renard's response, though."

Degrelle gave Graaf a stern gaze.

"Its obvious Renard must have been in contact with spies from Miller-Matsudaira. Isn't it?"

"Yes. He must have. Mustn't he?" She smiled faintly, perhaps malevolently. "It's worthwhile pondering upon, don't you say? You won't reconsider?"

"That's correct. I won't. Renard will be terminated."

"Then pray the maker of makers will show us mercy. Good afternoon, colonel."

Degrelle followed Graaf with his metal eyes until she disappeared around the corner at the end of the dim corridor.

"Patience," he said.

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