Wow, this was great- and an interesting take on a topic that's been at least mulled around here. I like the way you handled it.
He didn’t understand these people at all—and now the thought of understanding them frightened him.
I think it's okay to feel that way, and I empathize with him.
And if his standards didn't allow him to do that- that's fine, I'm glad he didn't compromise.
At best, that'd be at least a level up from playing with mannequins... I'm sure people do it... but it's weird... IMO. I mean, yes, it's a hologram... but we know they're supposed to be pretty realistic.
Great work NG!