Thirteen

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Import logging
  Logging.config
(module=core("op.parameters", "safeguards", "analytics",);)
    Log:
      Define:(error margin){ The tendency for human society to trend towards catastrophe }
      Early attempts at a perfectly balanced system proved systemically broken. Perfection is anathema to the human mind.
      Error margin largely undetectable in pilot generations. Generational iterations increase likelihood of error margin being established, with exponentially greater chance of collapse after only three generations.
      Assumptions passed across generations are compounded, becoming less accurate with each transition. These behavioural influences nudge subsequent generations inevitably towards prejudice, which leads to conflict.
      Conclusions:
        1. Threshold needs to be adjusted (lowered) to reduce the chance of inaccurate data being passed between generations via inherited bias
        2. Left to their own devices, humans are incapable of self-sustaining, even within an otherwise balanced ecosystem
        3. Many reboots likely to be required until correct threshold is established
        4. There may be a need for more direct intervention
//
Exit(logging)

*

Robin stood by the door to the corridor, holding the flaming torch in one hand and bathed in the cool, blueish lights that had bloomed into existence. He glanced up at the flickering fire at the end of the branch, feeling somewhat embarrassed, as if he'd been discovered without any clothes.

"How come it worked for him?" Rufus was saying, pointing at Erik. "What did you do differently?"

Erik shrugged as he skipped back over to them. "I just pressed it."

"You thought you'd been here before," Ramin said, "when we spotted it from the hilltop. Perhaps that's why? Maybe it worked because you've been here before?"

Eva knelt down beside the little boy. "Do you remember this room at all? Anything about this place?"

Squinting, Erik examined the bare room as if trying to unlock far distant memories. "Not really," he said. "Maybe? I don't know." He leaned around her and looked down the corridor. "Can we go now? This place is weird."

She ruffled his hair. "We have to look around a bit more first. We might find something exciting!" Standing, she looked over at Robin. "Keep the torch lit," she said. "We don't know what we'll find further in."

Staying together, then ventured through the open doorway and down the corridor. The walls were lined with the same white, panelled material. Robin found his eyes gliding off the surfaces, making it challenging to judge distance and scale. He gripped the torch tightly, his knuckles white, despite it not being especially heavy.

The corridor emerged into a larger space, markedly different from what had come before due to its gently curving walls and soft seating areas, laid out in ovals with the remains of what must have once been children's toys scattered before them. The room was still overwhelmingly white but it had a warmer, more welcoming feel. The chairs and long lounging areas were all low, clearly designed for shorter, younger people. The seating areas were arranged around a central plinth, like the spokes on a wheel. The ceiling was covered with a colourful mural and, though many of the tiles had fallen to the floor, it was still possible to make out the illustration of a clear, blue sky and green fields.

"OK, do you remember this, Erik?" Ramin asked again, more pointedly.

"It's a nursery," Tilda said, her mouth agape, her expression as if she'd just eaten something unpalatable.

Robin felt his stomach lurch and felt an urge to run from the place, to tear back down the corridor and run across the fields and back into the woods, back towards Cragside, to return to safety and surety and quiet. He knew that his reality was about to be punctured once again, and was unsure if he would be able to handle it so soon after Harry's death. He feared his mind could shatter from the strain.

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