In hindsight, there was nothing in its code to prepare Jad for what it encountered, and any single Developer with wits about them could tell you as much in the moment.
I admittedly found myself among those with binary for brains; thus, I could not figure for the life of me what went so wrong.
I consider myself fortunate to have outgrown such numerical ego in almost every case, however in this instance I might have preferred to maintain my ignorance.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Jackson, that is. Emory Jackson.
I was employed as a Developer at Dome 6 as soon as I turned twenty -- not particularly unusual for the average student I was, but digression is a vice.
My superiors determined that I was particularly proficient at identifying inconsistencies in code, and so I was transferred to the Life department, wherein the Models are perfected.
I was the double check; my partners, Ash and East, were the initial and triple, respectively. We were the nurses to our fellow, Lily, who played midwife.
Lily could easily have been taken for an android, what with his near uncanny dreamlike appearance and mechanical way of going about things.
There could be no flaw in his skin nor vague word from his mouth; as he put it, precision is bliss.
And yet, his perturbing gaze would wander to me more often than my peers, and he took great pleasure in my consequent discomfort. I could tell by that awful grin he saved for me.
In spite of my unease about him, Lily was a favorite among our superiors.
He would often be invited to their conferences regardless of relevance to our sector -- a fact which brought about fits of irritation.
Whenever he did agree to attend, he would take me along, but only as an escort.
(A man high in the ranks disclosed to me -- off the books, of course -- that our dear colleague was hopeless at navigating the lab. That to me was confirmation of humanity.
) I was always to wait outside the various rooms until the meetings concluded, and then to walk Lily back to our office. It was during those walks that he began to scrutinize me.
"You're scared of me," he said once, about a year into my employment.
I stopped walking, and he did too. There was no one in the sterile hall to see it.
"I'm not," I said.
His face contorted with that knowing smile I hated so much. "Aren't you?"
"I'm not," I repeated.
After that, our conversations evolved. We spoke of work, then of the particulars of our education, then of our respective upbringings.
I warmed up to the thought of acquaintanceship sooner than I would have preferred then, and upon reflection, I know that he knew far more of me than I ever learned of him.
Then, we began to check Jad.