"Hey, would you watch it with that crate?!" the foreman yelled at the less-than-competent crane operator. "The prof wants it dentless!"
The workers were struggling to get a crate through the door of the Science Museum of Minnesota in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Professor Ross Smith, a 35 year-old natural genius, was expecting the package. At first he had been watching the workers from the main window and thinking about what was inside the crate. After thirty minutes of watching the workers bumble, however, he decided to go out into the snow and hurry things along.
"Gee, sir," answered the foreman when Smith asked what was up. "We can't get the crate in through the door."
"Perhaps you should take it off the crane," Smith said with a shake of his head.
"Uh... I suppose that would work," the foreman said as he scratched his chin embarassedly.
Smith sighed as he mounted the crate on a dolly and rolled it down to his lab himself. He knocked on the door, and his two partners Professors Charles Olson and Wallace Krein helped him get the crate through. They dropped it on the floor and Smith went to the closet to get a crowbar.
"Whoo! What a big crate," Krein said as he looked at the massive wooden container.
"I wonder what wonders await within?" said Olson. "You've been keeping us the the dark about this, Ross. What is it? A newly-discovered mummy? A Faberge Egg? Another ice man?"
"No...." Smith said, prying open the crate. "Something even better."
Krein and Olson looked into the crate and exchanged surprised glances. Pieces of an old robot were sandwiched into the layers of straw and packing peanuts. A beautiful, girl-faced head was engulfed in dark, brown hair, and a red beret hung loosely upon it. Her torso was suited with a rubber dress of blues, reds and yellows. The arms and legs couldn't be seen; they were probably beneath the other stuff.
Krein let out a low, long whistle. "Definitely worth the shipping fee," he said.
The scientists unpacked the robot and lay the pieces on their desks. "I don't know about this, Ross," Olson said as he lifted one of the arms dusted it off. "What are you planning to do with her?"
"What else does a robotologist do?" asked Smith. "I'm going to study her."
"But Ross," said Krein, "you're not planning on reactivating her, are you? History clearly states that this reploid, among others, was a Maverick, or at least didn't fancy to humans."
"I'm confident in my skills," Smith replied. "I've studied every aspect of robotology, and I've made a diagnostic program that will stop her from attacking us. Did we not learn to do such things?"
"Yeah," Olson muttered. "Several years too late... No one thought that the reploids that old botanist built would go nuts. Oh, sure, there were some people who were terrified of it, but they were the same people who had been worried about Y2K..."
"But Ross," Krein pressed. "DNA Resurrection is against the law! You could lose your position at the museum, and maybe something even worse, for doing this."
"I know," Smith agreed. "But I'm not reviving her through her DNA... I'm simply rebuilding her."
"Well, I suppose you know what you're doing," Krein said with a frown. "Just don't expect us to be alibis in court."
The three scientists studied how the reploid went together, then started welding the parts into place.
The scientists spent hours in the lab assembling the mysterious reploid. They reattached some parts, removed others and replaced missing or bad pieces with new material.
"There," Smith said proudly as the scientists attached the final piece and stepped back to get a good look at the reploid. This particular reploid was the one who had taken a desperate gamble... The one that had a tragic love story that softened cold hearts... The one called Iris Thorne.
"She's just as beautiful as the history books said," Krein said.
"A true treasure," Olson agreed.
"All right, now," Smith said as he took a small visor/speaker set with a keyboard attached out of a drawer and plugged its wire into the back of the Iris's head. "I have to go into the reploid's DNA Soul and trigger her installation algorithms so I can integrate the fail-safe chip."
"What's the visor for?" Krein asked.
"The DNA Soul is an extremely complex series of nodes and programs," Smith explained. "This visor lets me navigate through them visually until I reach my destination. That's when I have to negotiate with the main CPU and get access."
"Ah," Krein replied. "Well, good luck, then..."
"Have a good time," Olson said. "We're going on lunch break."
"All right. See you later," Smith said as he strapped on the visor, adjusted the microphone accordingly and started hitting keys at a rapid speed. Within moments, he was virtually soaring through miles and miles of computer data. "Now, then..." he said as he sailed. "Where could that DNA Soul be?..."
Smith flew through terraquad after terraquad of data on senses, thought and intellect. "Boy, they sure know how to squirrel the important stuff away," Smith grumbled as he looked around. "Where the heck is it?"
After a few more minutes of searching around, Smith looked up and saw his goal; a large, glowing, purple sphere of energy hovered before him. "Ah, there it is!" he said as he floated up to it. "Now, I have to smooth-talk my way in..."
Smith put his hands on the sphere and looked inside; a nude young girl with flowing, dark hair sat in the middle of the object with her legs pulled up and her arms wrapped around them. Her eyes looked downcast and sad.
"That must be the heart of the DNA Soul," Smith said. "That part always takes on the reploid's physical appearance... Now..."
Smith pressed hard on the sphere. "Iris Thorne!" he shouted. "My name is Professor Ross Smith!"
The girl in the sphere didn't even glance at Ross. She just stared straight ahead with the same pitiful expression.
"I need you to let me in!" Smith called. "I have a new program to install into your systems! Please, I need your access codes!"
The girl didn't move.
"Iris, please!" Smith pleaded. "This program will help you! All your Maverick tendencies will disappear!"
Still no response came from the girl.
"If you let me install the program, all your misdirected anger and hatred will go away," Smith tried to explain. "You won't be a Maverick anymore!"
The girl remained stationary.
"I know you can hear me! Why don't you answer me?..." Smith asked. Just then, he frowned and looked away. "Are really so miserable?..." he sighed. "Have you fallen so low that you don't care about yourself anymore? I know your story, Iris; during the Repliforce war, you tried to stop your brother and the Maverick Hunter Zero from fighting... When Zero defeated Colonel, you felt so much anger that you had to kill Zero... but he killed you first, even though he loved you deeply... But after all that, you don't think that you deserve a second chance?..."
The girl's eyes shifted towards Smith.
"...Dammit, Iris!" Smith huffed. "I know we've only just met... but please, trust me!"
The girl lifted her head up until Smith and she were making eye contact, as if she were about to speak. Suddenly, her eyes widened in alarm.
"Huh?" Smith asked as he saw the girl's expression change. "What is it?"
An icy hand grabbed Smith's shoulder, whirled him around and pinned him to the sphere. Smith was face to face with a homicidal-looking, evil-eyed duplicate of the girl inside the sphere. "GET AWAY FROM HER!!!" the creature shrieked in a loud and violent voice as she drew her clawlike hand back to strike.
"Agh!" Smith yelled as he wrenched himself free of the monster's grasp and flew a distance away. The creature was faster, though; it lunged at Smith and knocked him back towards the sphere.
"YOU WILL NOT DO AWAY WITH ME!!!" the being snarled. "I'LL KILL YOU!!!"
The monster caught Smith in a choke and squeezed hard. Smith gagged and struggled, but the demon's grip held fast. Smith's struggles grew weaker and weaker.
The girl inside the sphere had been watching the whole fight with the same sad look that she had always had. Seeing this man, who was trying so hard to help her, being choked to death by the creature whom she herself despised was too much. Slowly, she got to her feet.
"NOW... YOU'LL DIE, JUST LIKE ALL THE OTHERS!!!..." the creature shrieked as it tightened its grip again. Smith was turning purple himself from oxygen loss.
Suddenly, everything began to shine. The creature looked up and screamed horribly. Smith managed to turn around enough to see the girl inside the sphere; she was standing erect, with her hair flowing out behind her. Her eyes were now filled with determination and courage. They suddenly flashed bright violet, and the sphere blew out like a super-powerful tidal wave. The horrible monster gave one last scream and melted away. Smith covered his eyes from the blast, and when all was silent again, took his hand away.
The girl was standing a bit below him and looking up at him with a thoughtful expression. "Professor Ross Smith..." she said in a soft, gentle voice.
"Iris..." Smith said.
Iris gave Smith a quiet smile and extended her hand. "...I will trust you," she concluded.
Smith blinked in surprise a few times, then grinned and took Iris's hand. Almost instantly he had the access codes. He quickly took off the visor, walked to Iris's front, removed her chest armor and peeled back the thin sub-armor beneath. Trying very hard to ignore the fleshy masses before him, Smith took a small scalpel and made a few quick incisions into the Reploid skin. he gently pulled it apart to reveal a small control panel. Quickly, Smith entered the access codes and a tiny CD slot slid out.
"Thanks, Iris," Smith said as he took the tiny CD that held his program and pushed it into the slot. The slot drew back into the control panel, and there were whirs and clicks. After about thirty seconds, Smith removed the CD, closed up the wound and replaced the armor. "That ought to do it," he grumbled.
"Ah, Smith, you're back," Olson said as Krein and he came back into the lab. "We brought you some root beer; that's your favorite, right?"
"Shh!" Ross shushed them. "Something is about to happen..."
The body on the table let out a soft moan. Everyone stepped back and held their breath as Iris slowly, ever so slowly, opened her eyes.