Individuality
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You want to know where it all went wrong? The reason the Foundation is in this state? I can tell you. I'm probably the last person who can tell. They got all the others… either dead, hidden, or changed. I think six was the lucky one. They killed him early on. Threw him into the pit and watched him fall. Probably still falling.

It was our fault. We were in deep, and it was the easy way out. When the Insurgency split, they took most of our top brass. Men who had experience in the field. We weren't as big then, which meant replacing them wouldn't be an option. Nobody wanted to work for us. In the end, we ended up with about a dozen guys left from a group of hundreds. We needed effective administrators more than ever. We didn't have any choice, we can't be blamed for that.

I think it was Four who suggested it, or maybe Two. We'd recently recovered an object from some Turks down in the Caucasus, a machine that could make men. It was dangerous, and it cost us too much to take it, so we'd locked it up. He declared we would use it. Make any amount of men we needed. Some of us objected, but we were overruled. These were desperate times. We were losing so many people, and we couldn't see more friends leave. So we took a risk. A bad risk as it turns out, but thats the way these things are.

Anyways, the project got underway shortly after that decree. We had the last of our best working on it. It was a round the clock ordeal, waiting for the updates. Maybe we were a little haphazard. Some corners were cut here, ingredients were skimped there. Whatever the case was, our first batch was a disaster. They weren't human, they weren't even beasts. Just empty shells. We scrapped them and moved on. Time was short, and it seemed like we lost more people every day.

The second batch was better. They didn't really interact very well, but they could walk and talk like a human could. They didn't really have spirit. You know? The light was on, but there wasn't anybody home. The guys who were in charge of this whole thing declared him a success, and they put him into full scale deployment. We protested again, but we didn't amount to much.

The next batches all came out better than the one before. We thought we were learning how to control it, and the things it produced. We got some interesting ones by messing with the settings, and using the different components we had at our disposal. They really thought that was brilliant, being able to store and transfer people like that. I thought it was spectacular, but then again we all knew how he really turned out.

They deployed them all across the field, at every site and field office. It looked like we'd found a godsend, and it made some of them think we had some kind of mandate from the almighty. They wouldn't just say it aloud like that, but you could still tell when they spoke. Referencing our "divine purpose" to "protect humanity". They just didn't want to think about how easily we could've failed. It gave them faith though, that we would make it back from the brink.

This is about the time we started getting the complaints. Didn't seem like a big deal at first. So some scientists think the cold guy acts like a robot. We know he acts like a robot. Some agents think the MTF captains are too rough. Boo-hoo. But when the question of credentials came up, we were kinda thrown off-guard. We tried throwing out some biographies, trying to keep them placated, and we tried to come up with something.

I'm the one who came up with it. I said that if we couldn't make them plausible as down to earth administrators, we'd have to make them larger than life. Figures that would tower over the rest of the Foundation, and have legends build around them. There were problems. They were harder to conceal, since they were now recognizable. Some of us thought the stories were absurd, and unbelievable. We managed to sell the story enough that a majority of them bought into it, and we moved forward with the plan.

The first changes were mostly minor, giving details to the backstories. The major one was the immortal guy. We gave some jewelry that was supposed to house their soul. Then we started making some of the major alterations. We gave them the family, the items, the whole nine yards. We enhanced a few sites to serve as incident points. We even had a few of the guys who we'd found, like burglars and cultists who we recruited. We did foolish things too, like decommissioning a few of the less important objects. There was a lot of controversy about that, but it was silenced when morale leaped up in the aftermath. We stopped losing people and started gaining them. It had worked. It wasn't a healthy culture, and it might be one of the main reasons things went wrong the way they did. But they were gonna go wrong anyways, it was only a matter of time.

The first sign of trouble came when we started to get the administrators acting out on their own. At first it was minor stuff, like comments on memos or acting out against researchers. We thought it was just a result of their minds adjusting to their identities, but as it went on the acting out started to get out of hand. It stopped being a game of who can keep them the silliest and started being a struggle to keep them reigned in. We got most back under our thumb, but the few we missed were massively destructive, and should've made us reconsider the whole program.

Site-19 was one of our primary sites, and its loss was highly unfortunate. It should've shown us that we had created a monster. Instead we thought it was an isolated incident. The instance that had caused it was disassembled, and we stopped creating new production runs of it. People didn't really ask about what had happened to him. We spread the word that he'd been taken to some top secret facility for new work. You bet your ass the administrators asked about him. They constantly badgered us with information about him, and we just kept our lips sealed. I think that if we had taken the incident more seriously, we would've avoided what happened, but we were riding too high to notice what was happening below.

We started talking about a new generation of administrators, improved with all our newfound wealth and power. The thought was that if we had been so successful with a dozen men and no money at all, we would be able to create unbelievable things with the power we had now. So we made another decree. We assembled what was left of the old team and brought in our new best and brightest. We dusted off the old man maker and we started from a fresh slate.

The results don't really matter. All you need to know is that they didn't last in the field. We lost at least half of them in the first month alone. There were many causes of death-poison, fire, breach, the works-but the main thing was that none of them were natural deaths. They were killed. We tried to figure out what was going on. Was the machine affecting probability? Did we make a mistake while we had been creating them? And on top of all this, the immortal guy disappeared. And then the guy who messed up photos disappeared too. We were scrambling. We'd been leaning on these guys for years, and they weren't anywhere. We probably didn't need them as much as we thought, but it was still the crutch the Foundation had been leaning on for years suddenly being yanked from underneath us.

As we're trying to deal with this and the deaths, we start losing contact with sites. It felt like a disaster had been suddenly shoved in our faces. We tried to tread water, but every time we did another ocean of problems washed over us. We recalled the MTF-O5 to Command and waited for the worst.

He showed up on the monitor, telling us he was in control. We had a short talk, most of it inane now, but he'd already won by that point. He had all of our administration staff against us. All we had was a couple MTF's and some access codes. We hollered and screeched and raised holy hell, but it didn't matter. He has us in his pocket.

They run the council now, the men we made. They just keep a few of us around to write the memos. I wish I could say we're working against them, or that you should, but it's over. They've changed too much. It's not the same place it was before. It lost that mutual respect that we had for each other, and made it into this big, amorphous octopus, with arms reaching in every nation. Wrong as it may be, thats the way it is. Maybe someday we can rise against it, bring it down and make things like they were before.

We can always hope.

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