One particular recent theory had caught your attention. Some unknown researchers from Crucimons suggested that the ancients used all four, or even all five fingers on each hand to type. Intriguing hypothesis, certainly, but anyone who really understands the antique alphanumeric console can tell you that it cannot possibly be designed for multi-digit operation. Nevertheless, you can't help but find the Crucimonters' wild imagination [[rather endearing]].\n\nBut there's a better time to entertain these thoughts. You try to focus on the [[mission at hand|words and sentences form up]].
You could hardly believe it when, just last week, when commander Gauss-Yip spilled the beans -- it was Dr. Dakty's personal recommendation that promoted you into the TWINE mission.\n\nAh, the TWINE mission... You're still in the middle of the mission! You try to shake off the wandering thoughts and focus on the [[task at hand|words and sentences form up]].
"Your story will display this passage first."\n\nAs the discoloured screen flickers into focus, you see this familiar line.\n\n"Edit it by [[double clicking]] it."\n\nYou've seen this thousands of times in the simulator. The low hum of the antique machine, the warm touch of the manual input board, down to the faint scent of the pre-reindustrial plastic -- everything is exactly as how you've practiced everyday for the [[past 2 years]].\n\nNo, there is something different. There is something new this time that you've never experienced before. There is the absolute certainty that this... this is the [[real deal]].
**\nthis is a viceral feeling, more than cerebral...
Archeological records have mentioned speed well above 100 words per minute. This, of course, would hardly seem plausible. And to this day, theorists are still locked in heated debate to explain [[these claims]].\n\nBut there's a better time to entertain these thoughts. You try to focus on the [[mission at hand|words and sentences form up]].
**\ngood old typing demonstration videos!
Your fingers dance across the console. The keys make a light clicking sound with every tap. You know it does, even though you can't hear it through your protective audioband. But you've heard the sound in the video archives. You've [[watched these videos]] so obsessively that you can recall exactly how the clicks sound like -- it sounds just like how it should, matching perfectly the sensation you feel through your [[gloved hands|without the hazmat skin]].\n\nLeft, right, left, right.\n\nAlternating between your left and right index finger, you watch the [[words and sentences form up]] on-screen. This sequence of movement has been drilled so deeply into your muscle memory that you could probably do it perfectly without even trying. But as mechanistic as it seems, you never ceased to feel a sense of poetry about it. Of course [[you've never mentioned this]] to anyone, and kept it for your own savouring.
**\nstick to the mission: type type type!
At 37 words per minute, you're far from the fastest fingers in the Academy. Still, you are certainly a highly trained typist and qualified for the [[mission at hand|words and sentences form up]].\n\n[[Dr. Ena Dakty]], the progenitor of modern typecraft, was able to reach [[52 words per minute]], and she only had one finger to work with.
Where you called her a senile bitch, not knowing she was right [[behind you|remembered that incident]]!
**\nthe first time you retold the story...
You push away the distracting urges and focus on the [[task at hand|type]].
**\noh those funny Crusimonters!
**\nthe first time you heard it...
You know that the environment is, in fact, rather hospitable. The terminal room was already sterilised and isolated to begin with, so the risk of contamination is next to none in either direction.\n\nStill, you are required to activate the hazmat skin at all times, for no reason other than that simply what the Academy trains you to do. To you, this "rule" has always straddled the vague boundary between sound, [[cautious policy|stop]] and supersticious tradition.\n\nBut now you have the real thing in front of you. A piece of history -- and once you complete the mission, it will also become the instrument that determine the course of history for the [[ages to come]].
Your training kicks in.\n\nInstinctively, your fingers find the F and J keys on the console.\n\nAs you prepare to [[type away]], you hesitate for a split second. You are suddenly distinctly aware of the little bumps on the keys, digging into your fingertip through the hazmat skin.\n\nThe bumps are exactly 2.2mm by 0.15mm, and it protrudes out 0.08mm, with slightly worn out corners. You know this by heart. You know every part of this terminal by heart. But it's struck you that you have never really felt it; never touched it -- not [[without the hazmat skin]].
"Your story..."\n\nYou [[type]].\n\nThis is not your first time recreating this story. In fact, you cannot think of anything more familiar. You've grown up with it. You've heard it told thousands of times. Of course, everyone tells it [[slightly differently]]. In turn, you began to tell the story in your own way, incorporating more and more of [[your own experiences]] and understanding as you grow older.
**\n2 years ago, you'd never have dreamed that you'd be selected for the TWINE mission.\n\nIn fact, you were already surprised that you qualified for the IntFic Academy at all...\n\n[[watched these videos]]
It is so bright, blindingly bright. You wince and cover your eyes.\n\n"You've gotta be joking."\n\nA gravelly voice bellows from a speaker above, mixed with some laughter in the background.\n\n"What, did you want to make love to the terminal?"\n\nThe laughter grow hysterical.\n\nSlowly, you begin to make out the outlines of the terminal, of the blank holoscreens, of the officers in the control room.\n\nYou're in the simulator. It was just a simulation. Just a goddamn simulation. And you've failed it so majestically that you will forever be known by it.\n\nThe voice shouted something else, but you're not listening anymore. Ah, what's the point. You life here is over.\n\nTHE END
Suddeny, you find yourself in awe of the historical significance of this moment -- of your mission, of your terminal, and of yourself. You can see that your fate, as well as the fate of the world, of all the people you love, and of all the people who don't even know you exist, are all linked together through this machine, through this mission.\n\nYou feel an ineffable closeness to this machine, and with that, an un[[stop]]pable desire to be even closer to it.\n\nWithout a conscious thought, you deactivate the hazmat skin. Ever so subtly, you feel the still, cool air around your fingers.\n\nStill in a trance, you feel as if your consciousness now resides at the tip of your index finger. You can see the key approaching, approaching.\n\nCloser,\n\nCloser...\n\n[[Touch]]
Dr. Ena Dakty had already retired from active duty by the time you entered the Academy. But retired or not, her influence could still be felt.\n\nYou only had one brief [[direct encounter]] with Dr. Dakty, and you secretly hoped that she never [[remembered that incident]].