The Sentence

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"I'm going to pull the plug on this."
"Um, no." I felt like someone was watching me just then, besides Stacy. Watching me stand my ground for the first time in at least a decade. I had been walked on by my boss, the government, my wife, my daughter (which hurt the most), and a variety of so-called friends. This project was all I had remaining, and I would not let it be killed, especially not by this middle manager.
"Listen, Wren." I admit it hurt a little that she didn't even know my name. "I don't think you know what kind of pressure I'm under. The electricity heading into this little box is a thousand times higher than reported. The higher-ups were taking a chainsaw to our budget, and rather than firing you and me, I convinced them to shut this down. It'll save my skin as well as yours, so I'm going to unplug the little guy." The 'little guy' she was referring to was the quantum compiler. It translated the data both to and from the quantum sphere we had in the basement being kept at a frosty 0.1 kelvin.
"Doctor Smith, please."
"Sorry, Doctor Smith, I cannot let you do this. The sim the compiler is running on the quantum sphere is an entire universe. There is a chance that the simulated beings that have evolved within it are full AI simulations. I cannot allow a cosmoscide because the company has deemed our department is no longer profitable!" Again, the feeling of being watched, but magnified a hundred fold. I swayed visibly from the pressure those unseen watchers were directing at me. "I WILL not allow it. I just need more time."
She pushed past me, looking at the compiler. "Where's the plug?" She looked behind her, then at the corners of the room. "Do you have cameras in here?"
"You feel it too? That sense of being watched? Something im-port-tant, capital I, is happening here! I just need a few weeks to prove it, and it will be universe altering. We will be the most famous people in the world! The richest, too!"
She stared at me for a long time, while the pressure of watchers ebbed and flowed around me. Finally, she turned on her heel and stalked towards the door.
"So, you're with me, or?"
"Nope, I'm going to call building management to shut the power off." She paused in the doorway. Her look back at me was victorious, but crumbled to confusion when she saw my smile. "Why aren't you upset?"
"Sorry, Doctor. If you don't know, I'm not going to tell you."
It's been three days. They have tried many different ways to power down the compiler. All have failed.
Steve, who helped design the quantum sphere, and Archana, Steve's boss, are with me in the lab. They're in it for the same reason I am. Wish I knew what my reason was.
Steve is the reason I knew that with the quantum sphere running, the compiler couldn't be shut down except by me. The company wasn't about to shut down the sphere to cut the connection, as it was running half the military's encrypted traffic and around 80% of Wall Street's transactions. The compiler can't just be unplugged either, as the data feedback loop would crash the sphere.
We've barricaded ourselves in here, and they are trying to wait us out. I normally stayed in the lab for multiple nights, so the lab was pretty well stocked. We should be good. Meanwhile, Archana and I are working around the clock to try to communicate with the beings on VEarth One without revealing to them that they are a computer simulation.
Also, all of us feel watched every second we're awake, and yes, it is very creepy.
It's been a week now. We haven't made any success. Meanwhile, Smith's group has been trying to find an expert on quantum technology and AI that will give them their proof that turning the compiler off will NOT be murder. They haven't succeeded yet, and it seems we've been picked up as quirky news by quite a few major channels.
I think it has become personal to Doctor Smith. I keep getting taunting tweets from her and her many followers.
The watching has intensified and all of us are beginning to get a bit paranoid.
We've done it! Well I say we've done it, but it was all them, the beings on VEarth One. They have created a planet wide intelligence. It took mere seconds of our time to realize it was being watched and begun sending messages to the three of us watching. I've already uploaded it to Youtube and posted links on Reddit and Slashdot. I don't think they'll be able to shut it down now. I think we've won!
Elsewhere, in a darkened room five creatures are seated around a large circular table. A glowing sphere hangs in the air above the center of the table. On the sphere Steve, Glen, and Archana are celebrating their victory.
The smallest creature speaks, "After restoring from backup, and given a chance, the accused's own simulated beings have fought to save their simulations' right to exist."
The largest of the creatures rumbles, "I declare a sentence of lifetime incarceration, with the accuser being placed into the sim it had previously terminated. Time will be slowed by a multiple of ten. Its sentence will last until death or the charges are reversed."
As three of the creatures rise and exit the room, the remaining two hold a whispered conversation. "I'll get you out, don't worry."
"Idiot!" the other snarls back, "You've doomed me to a slow death among the void of my sim. Should've let them kill me." With that, the creature stands. Hidden machinery in the walls hums. As the creatures folds into a two dimensional image it whispers, "Get me out, and soon!" Then it is gone.

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Just another budding writer, looking to start somewhere.