Title: Jessica (part 1 of ?)

Author: Clu Osborne

Date: September 26, 2000


This story is a work of fiction of my own writing. Some of the descriptions and dialogue are not mine, especially early on in the story. They are from the movie "Screamers." It is the property of the companies, the cast, and crew who made this movie.


After Jessica "dies" Joe makes a decision, risking his life. What happens next is different from how it originally ended in the movie. This story leads Commander Joseph Hendrickson and Jessica Hansen on a journey of love, hope, fear, justice, and peace.

Spoiler Warning:

For those who have not seen the movie, there are details in this story that are considered to be spoilers. Be warned.

Author's Notes:

I enjoy science fiction, both on paper and on the screen, both small and large. I enjoyed "Screamers" but the ending didn't sit well with me. Joe had lost so much, and had a chance to get some measure of happiness back, only to have it taken away from him at the end. In response to this, I wrote this story, as a sequel, to give Joe his happiness, and to allow all the people who died on Sirius 6B to be finally laid to rest.

And to give both the New Economic Block and Alliance a big kick in the butt for their stupid war and their betrayals.


Part One

Joe held onto the side of the EEV after the prelaunch burn completed. He groaned, holding his ear after a Screamer almost blewhis eardrums. He let go and jumped down to the ground. He went over to Jessica, who was laying on the ground, motionless.

A female's digital voice announced: "Prelaunch burn complete. Ninety seconds to launch."

Joe slowly approached Jessica. From the hole in her chest, he knew that she was badly damaged, and that her power source was probably destroyed, if not badly damaged as well. He crouched next to her and stroked her hair.

Suddenly, she spoke.

"I... didn't want to... go back with you. I was afraid." Jessica said. She focused her eyes on Joe.

"I know. You were afraid of what you would do. I know." Joe says. He sighed. "Well, you're coming up in the world: You've learned how to kill each other now."

Jessica smiled slightly.

"I learned... something else too. I learned to..."

Jessica gasped her last artificial breath on Sirrius 6B and lost power.

"Love." Joe finished.

Joseph leaned down and kissed her on the lips. He stood up, tears in his eyes. He hesitated, then crouched back down to pick Jessica up. He carried her to the EEV.

Thirty seconds to launch. Thirty seconds. The digital voice announced.

"I'm taking you home." Joe whispered to her.

With thirty seconds remaining until launch, he swiftly carried her over to the EEV and got in.

After settling in the pilot's seat, Joseph activated the on board systems and programed the EEV for its destination: Earth. He shared the seat, holding Jessica to his side, almost on his lap.

"This is Commander Joseph Hendrickson aboard EEV designated 'T' for tango thirteen. Over."

A woman comes on the radio. "This is Alliance San Francisco. Over."

"On a prelaunch, T-minus thirty seconds, requesting emergency clearance for Earth. Over."

"Tango thirteen cleared for Earth. Over."

The EEV's thrusters powered up and the vehicle began to ascend. It slowed down and hovered for a few seconds waiting for the main hatch to open. After it opened, the vehicle continued its ascent through the hatch and fired its main engines, sending it up and out of Sirius 6B's atmosphere and into space.

Joe saw the transition into space and gave a sigh of relief. The horror had come to an end for him on Sirius. He held on to Jessica's body, deciding to leave his tab on just in case. Seeing that she was secure he began a dangerous plan, one which he had only one chance to make it succeed. He plotted a course for what was the Midwest, United States, before NEB and Alliance divided it down the Mississippi river: North Eastern Michigan, 200 miles north of Detroit.

That done, Joseph fell asleep, for the first time in days.

Final Destination

Several hours later, the EEV entered Earth's solar system on its final approach.

It was time to execute his plan.

"This is Tango thirteen, am declaring an emergency. Over."

"Tango thirteen, this is Alliance San Francisco, state the nature of your emergency. Over," said the controller.

"EEV navigation computer malfunction, am switching to manual. Will attempt manual reentry and landing. Over."

"Copy your malfunction and switch to manual. All traffic is being cleared. You are clear for manual reentry and landing. Over."

"Coming in. Over."

"Acknowledged Tango thirteen. Over."

Joe took a deep breath and released it as he began reentry.

Joe was intent on finding help, but not at San Francisco. He knew that he'd be either dead or imprisoned within an hour of landing there. He had no one there who would help him. His only ally, Secretary Green, was dead; eliminated by Alliance Command just after he took command on Sirius 6B. They'd kill him, or at the very least order him not to talk about what happened on Sirius 6B. He wasn't going to do that. His men and their families deserved more than that.

This war had truly turned into a "fucking galactic gold rush" as his friend Chuck had said. Everyone under his command, even that kid Jefferson, was now dead. If he landed in San Francisco, he might as well be the first Alliance Commander to drop the first wave of nukes on Triton Four

No. He wouldn't let their deaths be for nothing. Not like this. Not today.

He decided that he was going to tell the truth about what happened on Sirius. The war, the NEB messenger who died delivering the message of peace, the task force bound for Triton Four, the Screamers evolution, the end result of their killing at the NEB command bunker, and Jefferson's death at the hands of one of those monsters--good god, he was only a kid! He'd tell the people, on both sides, everything. And he wouldn't be alone.

Just before leaving, Joe realized that Jessica could be saved. He had examined the remains of several Type 1s that were turned into junk over the years, and he found that they had a battery backup system. It was similar to the old coin-type lithium batteries that retained the BIOS settings on old IBM PC clones. Designed to protect their on-board memory so that when they were retrieved by the production facility, it would learn from its mistakes and improve on them. As advanced and intelligent as the Soldier and David were, as well as the Reptile, they all had the same characteristics in common; they were all killing machines and they were all made by the same production facility. Logically, they all had the same basic features that protected their memory as the original Screamer did.

There was a risk, however. Her memory may be intact, but no one had ever tried to rebuild and reactivate a Screamer after disabling it. It was simply never done before. There were two possibilities: one, Jessica would power back up and her CPU would resume from its last moment on Sirius 6B, or two, the CPU would come back on its original start-up mode and kill the first human it saw. But, after Joe's encounter with another Screamer, Becker, who he blew in half and later attacked him wearing Chuck's face, it seemed that the first possibility was more likely than the second. On the other hand, her memory may have been damaged or lost when the damage occurred. Either way, it was going to be dangerous, and there would be no easy ending to this story, no matter how happy it might be.

As the EEV entered Earth's atmosphere, Joe's adrenalin increased. He had to time this perfectly to make it look like he couldn't handle the craft and crashed. Not having flown for several years didn't help matters. But the EEV's computer would do most of the work. He just had to push the right buttons to make it happen.

There were other problems as well, though not as immediate. Jessica's "skin" was real skin, and she actually had real blood, maintained by a circulation system that provided oxygen and other elements needed to grow new skin. But with it offline, the skin was dying and the smell was starting to become unbearable. A sample would probably have to be taken and new skin be grown. Getting new skin wouldn't be a problem since growing skin was quite commonplace since its beginnings over eighty years ago. Then there was her spinal cord, which like a human's provided information and control over movement. When the other Screamer punched a hole through her body, it severed the spinal cord, just below her shoulders, effectively disabling her. He would have to build a replacement section somehow.

Indeed, if there was a chance of saving her, there was going to be a lot of work ahead of him. The biggest problem was that he didn't have the knowledge or the skills necessary to do all the work. He was going to need to enlist some major help.

Fortunately, he had a head start, and it was waiting for him in Michigan. Years ago, before he left for Sirius 6B to mine Berynium, he had an old Aunt that owned a house near Lake Huron in northeastern Michigan. She died just as the cold war on Earth renewed itself, but her friends held onto the property with the hope that Joe would return from the war. As far as Joe knew, the house was still there, well maintained, and had its own power plant and water supply. It was also fully furnished, along with some of the most advanced (for its time) computer and diagnostic equipment. That was more than enough to start with, and it was all there, waiting for him to arrive.

After entering Earth's atmosphere, just 150 miles south south west of his final destination, Joe started thinking about his next move. His first priority was securing the house. His next priority was securing Jessica's CPU and memory until he was ready to work. He would then start establishing links to the computer and diagnostic equipment. Once that was done, he would start getting her basic systems online. That last part was going to be tricky because of the autonomous functions. There was no way of knowing if there were any traps or saw blades waiting to strike, but that was a risk that Joe was readily willing to take. That done, he would remove a piece of the spinal cord opposite the damaged area to her shoulders and start building a new section. All this work was going to take much time and fray a lot of nerves. Finally, he will try to "restart" her and, hopefully, Jessica will open her eyes and be alive again.

The EEV descended rapidly. Joe kept an eye on the altimeter and counted in his head. He turned off the radio, disabled the locator beacon, and then had the computer level out--just barely skimming the trees.

The EEV continued skimming just above the trees, as far from any towns or roads as possible.

About forty minutes later, the EEV slowed down. Joe began to search for the house from the air. He found the highway leading to the house and followed it. It was dark outside, about 0300 hrs EST, but Joe knew the roads well, and was able to spot the house fairly quickly. He located a clearing large enough to accommodate the EEV nearby and extended its emergency landing gear. The EEV finally landed in the clearing and the automatic systems powered down.

After the hatch opened, Joe extended the emergency escape ramp and slid down, with Jessica in his arms, to the ground. He picked her up and cautiously approached the house. The external lights went on, upon detecting motion, and Joe found the front door. He placed Jessica on the ground, then went to the keypad next to the door and entered the unlock code for the door and alarm system. The indicator lamp on the status display turned green, and after hearing the sounds of locks being released, he opened the door. After a short check inside, Joe went back to the porch, picked up Jessica, and carried her inside, pulling the door shut behind him.

Home, 0300 HRS

The house was dark, with light only coming from the small green electro-luminescent lights along the floor. Joe avoided turning on any lights to avoid attracting attention and carried Jessica into the workroom. Laying her on the ground again, Joe went to the windows and checked out of the blinds. Satisfied that he wouldn't be immediately interrupted, he went over to a futon in the room and folded it into a bed. He placed Jessica on the bed and then went over to the work desk on the opposite side of the room.

The tables and equipment were covered with clear Mylar sheets. Joe pulled off a sheet, found a desk lamp and turned it on. Looking around the room, Joe found the computer equipment and removed the coverings. Seeing that everything was still plugged in, he booted the computer system. While its diagnostic programs were running, Joe pulled off several other coverings, revealing other computer equipment and the important diagnostic equipment he would need. He found what he was looking for: a universal, variable, sine-wave power supply and some long jumper leads and carried them over to the futon. Plugging the unit in, he turned it on and plugged in the leads.

Joe went to the bathroom and located a medical kit inside a storage cabinet. Returning to Jessica, he undressed her, using a pair of scissors from the kit to cut her clothes from her body.

After finishing, he removed the makeshift bandage that was covering her right hand. Cutting the cloth off, he cleaned the wound, about three inches in length, on her right palm. That done, he grabbed a dermal regenerating spray and sprayed the wound. Within seconds, the gash disappeared as new cells regenerated into place.

Setting the power supply at its lowest setting, he looked around inside the hole that the other Jessica made and located the power connections near her spinal cord and connected them. He switched the output to "on" and stood back. Some small shorts could be heard, but no movement. Joe went over to the computer and checks on its status. Its operating system was loaded and all appeared well. Going back to where he got the power supply, he located an I/O interface and an optical patch cord. He went over to Jessica and started work on the link between her and the computer. That done, Joe executed the computer's "Port Search" program, designed to connect to the I/O interface and attempt a communications link with Jessica's CPU. About half a minute later, which felt like an eternity to Joe, a link was established, and a window popped up on the screen showing the Alliance logo on the top left-hand corner. A three-dimensional diagram of a figure rotated around into full view. Facing forward it morphed into its final appearance: Jessica in an NEB uniform with a backpack and rifle. Unlike the Type 3, David, there were no armaments displayed. Some text appeared on the top right-hand corner of the window:



"So that's what you are." Joe thought to himself. Despite the horror he witnessed, Joe still found it extraordinary that in just five years the Screamers evolved to the point where they could build robots that mimicked human beings. He began to explore the CPU, and then had the workstation run a diagnostic to check the integrity of its files.

The diagnostics ran for several minutes, but in the end, it revealed that file integrity was 100%. Jessica was still in there, intact. Joe located what appeared to be its schematics, downloaded them to the computer, and examined them. He also located what appeared to be a diagnostic program in the CPU and ran it. It revealed that there was damage to the spinal cord, main air/energy inlet, and main power cell. The rest of her systems were still intact but they were off-line. That included her main CPU, which was operating on a low power mode, the human equivalent to a coma.

That done, he began patching the area where the other Type Four punched through, careful not to disturb the power and communications links. After sufficiently patching the hole in her chest and back, he went to the workstation and sent a command to restart her circulation and biological production systems. The command was sent successfully and blood started pumping through her body again; he'd repair the rest of her systems later. Checking that the patch was holding, Joe went and covered her up to her shoulders with a blanket from one end of the futon.

Checking the status of the systems on his screen, it reported that it will be five hours until skin health is back to at least 50% and another ten until 95%, save for the large hole. Her skin was barely alive but it was not dead.

Joe finally calmed down again, and breathed another sigh of relief. She was going to make it after all, and it was going more smoothly than it had any right to.

Satisfied that Jessica was out of danger and the critical repairs were completed, Joe wandered into the kitchen to find some food and water. Joe went over to the sink and turned on the faucet. Cold, clean water flowed from the faucet and Joe drank directly from it. After several long gulps, he turned the faucet off and started checking the cabinets for food. He didn't bother checking the refrigerator; it was off-line and empty. Joe found some canned foods and searched the drawers for a can opener.

He went over to the counter and opened a can containing tortellini with meat sauce. Finding a plate in one of the cabinets, he went over to the halogen oven and heated the food up. The whole process took just seconds to complete. After removing the food from the oven, Joe grabbed a fork from a drawer and some napkins and went back to the work room. After checking on her condition, he ate. The pasta with meat sauce was like heaven after years of eating synthetics on Sirius. After finishing and depositing the dishes in the sink, he realized that he needed to take a shower. He checked on Jessica again before going to the bathroom, finding some towels, a change of clothes in another cabinet, and got the shower running.

The shower had an electronic control unit that maintained the desired water temperature; just push one button and the water would start running. Checking that the water was just warm enough, Joe stripped and got in.

There were shampoo and soap dispensers integrated into one wall of the shower stall. Joe dispensed some shampoo and started washing his hair. He paused for a moment to feel the clean water rush over his face. It felt like such a long time when he last showered; even though it was only a few days when he left the bunker to go negotiate peace. "Peace," he thought to himself, "that soldier was willing to get himself ripped to shreds to deliver that fateful message. No doubt about it, he was a brave man. Braver than anyone I had ever known." Sadly, he never knew his name, and there was no way to identify him since the Screamers took his remains underground.

He finished washing his hair and dispensed some soap and washed the rest of his body. He ached all over; days of walking, lack of sleep, and being thrown around, literally, by self-evolving robots intent on killing him, had taken their toll on the man. He already started to feel tired and turned off the water after finishing. He put on a pair of sweat pants, a t-shirt, sweatshirt, and socks. He put his clothes into a hamper in the bathroom--he'd wash them later--and went back into the work room.

Looking at her face, Joe noticed that she was already starting to look better. Her skin had a rosy color to it again, a far cry from the deathly pale when she "died" on Sirius. There was a rise and fall coming from her chest, probably an air-cooling system that kept her internal systems cooled down and provided oxygen to her skin. He gently stroked her cheek with his fingers. The smell was fading, but there was no question: she needed a bath. "Later," he thought to himself, "after I get some rest." He went over to the work station and set a program to wake him up if there was any change on Jessica's status and an alarm for 1000 hours this morning. He got an extra blanket and some pillows from one end of the futon and laid down on the floor. After settling into a comfortable resting position on the floor, he drifted off to sleep exhausted.

0800 Hours EST

In northern Wisconsin, at a house just a fifteen minute drive from River Falls, an old hand-made teak wood and grey leather encased radio turned itself on. Classical music lulled its owner from his slumber. An old man, in his late nineties, turning one-hundred next year, opened his eyes and yawned. He got out of bed and stretched; wearing an old t-shirt and pajama bottoms, he was surprisingly limber and healthy for man his age. He turned off the radio, a Roberts R737, which he bought from Harrods in London almost eighty years ago. Since the switch over to digital satellite broadcasts, the analogue stations were phased out. He used a vintage FM stereo transmitter hooked up to his computer so that he could still enjoy his radio collection.

After showering and shaving, he went into the kitchen and made himself breakfast. He had eggs, bacon, white toast, orange juice and tea--a typical English breakfast. He discovered it after he went on a trip to Europe when he was in his twenties, which included a tour of southern England.

After washing the dishes and brushing his teeth, he went and checked his e-mail. The usual advertisements and NEB propaganda were promptly trashed. He moved on to his personal correspondence: nothing special, just the usual messages from his friends giving him their condolences on the lost of his godson, Joseph Hendrickson. He was there when he was born, saw him grow up, and taught him computers.

"I failed him," Jason thought, "I didn't move fast enough. I should have gone there myself"

Sighing he composed a few Thank Yous and sent them. Just as he was going to tend to the garden a flashing icon on his desktop caught his eye. Accessing it, he realized that it was an alert: someone was in the house he was caring for back in Michigan. Sighing, and thinking out loud, "good morning my butt," he launched a program that connected him to the other house's computer network, and accessed the log files.

0313, exterior lights activated, motion detected, east side

0314, front door unlocked via entry code 89934, level 2

0315, entry, front door, level 2

0315, locked, front door, level 2

0315, movement, living room, level 2

0315, movement, hallway, level 2

0316, entry, work room, level 2

0317, Terminal "Work Station 1" online, diagnostic startup

0318, Terminal "Work Station 1" startup complete, status nominal (Refer to log files for "Work Station 1" for details on system activity)

0323, Halogen oven 1 online...

Jason finished reading the log and sighed. "Another squatter I guess." he muttered to himself. The house had cameras in every room except for the bedrooms, bathrooms, and closets. He accessed the camera for the work room and a window popped up.

"What?" he said realizing that there were two people inside, not one. One of them was resting on the futon, a woman covered with a blanket, with cables snaking out from under the blanket that appeared to be connected to the work station and a power supply. The other was resting on the floor, asleep. He zoomed the camera in on his face. The face had a nasty bruise near the right eye, and apparently hadn't shaven in days, but he was easily recognized.

"Oh my god!" He said out loud.

"But how..." he said. "The east side of the house" he muttered and then switched to the external cameras on the east side of the house. Switching to infrared mode, he found the EEV on the field nearby, its engines still cooling down.

After deciding that it was probably best that he call him after he woke up, Jason composed a quick e-mail message for Joe, timed to alert him when he woke up and accessed the work station via remote.

After viewing the activity logs for the work station and then accessing Jessica's CPU, Jason let out a low whistle.

"Oh my god. They evolved that quickly." He said to himself.

Jason skimmed through the information as it appeared on the screen.

"Autonomous Mobile Sword Type Four... biological tissue production... matter/energy conversion... good god" muttering as he examined the specifications.

After viewing the damage report and the current status of her systems Jason winced.

"Ouch. She's going to need some work." he muttered.

He disconnected from the work station and set his terminal to page him on his wrist watch when Joe called him. He glanced at the chronometer on the desktop and then his watch: 0843 EST. He set an alarm on his watch to go off at 1000 EST out of habit.

As excited and relieved as he was, Jason was a very calm and patient man. He learned a long time ago that rushing into a situation was very bad form--very bad form indeed. Also, the fact that Joe came here rather than to San Francisco meant that he was probably on the run; just as well. After Secretary Greene was executed for treason, he felt he had to step up his efforts to contact him. "No, better not make any assumptions until you have more facts. Don't assume anything." He thought to himself remembering his old college professor's teachings. Besides, when Joe gets that message he's going to get quite a shock; he obviously didn't expect anyone knew he was there.

He chucked to himself. "He should know better than to drop in like that." He joked to himself. He didn't mind it at all, especially under the circumstances. He loved Joe as if he were his own son, and Jason was a very understanding man. Besides, when Jason got angry he tended to act like a stand-up comic; complete with smoke and fire shooting out of his ears.

Jason went on and resumed his morning routine. It would be a another hour until Joe would wake up, unless the woman's status changed--which didn't seem likely. At least his daily routine would give him something to do to kill time until 1000 hours rolled around. After tending the garden, he'd go for a short run.

1000 Hours

A 1000 hours EST, the work station speakers began producing a beeping sound, which steadily increased in volume or until someone went over and turned it off.

Joe awoke with a groan. His body still ached; sleeping on the floor didn't help his back. After standing up and stretching, he felt better. Despite the short rest period, Joe felt more refreshed and relaxed than he had in days.

After turning off the alarm, Joe went over to where Jessica was and stroked her check again. Then he went back to the work station. Everything seemed ok and then another window popped up with what appeared to be a message.

"Someone knows I'm here. He thought as the adrenaline rose inside him until a name caught his eye: Osborne, Jason A.

"Jason?" he thought to himself. "I thought he died just after I took command."

Then he noticed that the name of the recipient was his last name, its letters switched around to spell a different name with the middle initial, J, obviously referring to his first name. Joe grinned, "Clever."

He reread the message:

To: Keandon, Chris J.

From: Osborne, Jason A.

Subject: Hello old friend

Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2078 08:42:14 EST

Mime-Version: 12.1.2

Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed

X-UIDL: bccec99c97fc9d891f0776492bdcd368

Status: U


I heard that you were in the neighborhood. The news came as quite a pleasant surprise to me. I would have called you sooner, but I decided that you needed to get some rest first. Your journey must have been a long and exhausting one. I checked on the Misses, definitely your "type" btw, and she seems to be doing fine.

Give me a call when you've settled in and I'll come over and visit.


P.S. I scrambled up your name.

"How did he know..." he said and stopped mid sentence when he realized that the house was wired with a very advanced and complex computer network. His entry must have alerted Jason to their presence here. Accessing the work station from a remote computer would be no problem for Jason since he was the man who designed and installed the network in the house.

Joe composed a short reply telling him that he got the message and that he was welcome to come by as soon as he could. After sending it, using the alias that he created for him, Joe went into the kitchen and got two large metal pots and a ladle. Going back to the bathroom, he filled the pot with some hot water from the shower and grabbed a bar of soap from the cabinet, along with some washcloths and extra towels. Joe went back into the work room and set the pots down on the floor next to the futon. Joe went over to the work station and rechecked Jessica's status; unchanged from last night, good.

He went back over to the futon and removed the blanket that was covering her. Remaining careful around the power and communication links, Joe began washing off the dirt and grime that had accumulated over the past few days.

Positioning the empty pot under her head, he began to wash her hair. He took the ladle, dunked it into the pot and poured it over her hair. Taking some shampoo, he worked up a lather. Her hair felt soft and silky to the touch. He continued to revel in the feel of her hair for just a few more seconds before rinsing her hair. After a few more rinses, her hair was clean and only the smell of the shampoo remained.

Placing the ladle into the pot, he got a washcloth and dipped it into the pot. After rubbing some soap onto the cloth he wiped her face and neck. He began at her forehead and worked down, to her cheeks, her mouth, her ears, and finally her neck, ending at the collarbone before dipping the cloth into the pot again.

He washed each arm and shoulder clean, then continued down along her body, washing her chest, once again being careful around the bandage and cables, then washing her legs and her feet.

Carefully turning her over, he washed her back and backside before drying her. Placing her on her back again, he covered her with a clean blanket.

He had noticed the bruises and laser burns on her arms and legs from her fight with the other Type Four. She had fought for him. For me, Joe thought. He gazed over her body, as he washed her, with love and compassion in his eyes. His eyes spoke volumes but the gist of it was he loved and cared for her deeply. He bent down and kissed her forehead. Tears formed in his eyes as he straightened up and went over to the work station.

He rechecked the status of her systems before going into the kitchen to get something to eat.

1117 Hours EST

Jason finished packing some clothes, and an old black backpack containing a portable workstation, which was loaded with custom software that was far more advanced than what the work station had. He received Joe's e-mail fifteen minutes after 1000 hours EST, wanting him over there ASAP. He sent a reply telling him he was on his way.

He went to the garage and loaded his vehicle, a CNX 850, a fast and maneuverable hover car that received some inevitable customizing from its owner. That customizing came in the form of engine modifications that increased power and efficiency, a specially-tuned software package that allowed him full control over all vehicle functions and allowed him to operate independently of the NEB Vehicle Traffic Network. With these modifications, he could travel from River Falls, Wisconsin to Alpena, Michigan at supersonic speeds in less than an hour without anyone seeing or hearing him. The styling of the car was reminiscent of an early 1990s Toyota Celica, like what his brother owned before it got wrecked, except it was larger and had four enhanced turbo-fan engines instead of the Celica's front-engine front-wheel drive train. With a special coating that allowed it to change color, it was a flying chameleon.

Inside, the interior was modeled after a sports car, with four form-fitting self-adjusting bucket seats covered in Connolly leather, leather-wrapped controls, and Wilton wool carpeting, all in tan. Burled walnut wooden accents made for a warm and inviting interior. The electronics package had a rear-mounted holographic imaging display, a front-mounted holographic imaging display, a full audio/visual entertainment system, and high-speed computer access to the network.

After securing his luggage in the storage compartments, he got in and powered up the car. The four turbo­fan engines started up with a faint whir, building up to a quiet, yet powerful, whine. After the computer finished its pre-flight diagnostics, he opened the garage door, and the vehicle slowly rolled out.

Making one final check, certain that this trip would be quiet, he strapped himself in securely, took the controls and the vehicle began to ascend vertically into the air. Once clear of the trees, Jason put the vehicle into horizontal flight and the vehicle accelerated forward. While accelerating, Jason took the vehicle into a gentle turn to the right, turning toward the general direction to Michigan and went into supersonic flight mode, full-throttle, pushing Jason back into his seat and accelerating the vehicle up to Mach 1.5. He reveled in the wonderful sensation of speed and g-forces that this car gave him and smiled. It was going to be a good day after all.

But his smile faded when the implications of what happened finally sank into him. He almost lost him, thought he lost him, to this war, because he didn't move fast enough to help anyone. But seeing her, the Type Four, made him realize that there was more going on. He didn't have very much time to study her specifications; he only glanced at them.

She, the Type Four, was created by the production facility and was a weapon according to the specifications: a robot designed to mimic the behavior and appearance of human beings, infiltrate, and eventually kill. Yet she was here, on Earth, and being cared for.

He shook himself out of that train of thought, remembering that he was missing one important element of this situation: the beginning. There would be no easy ending if he didn't know where to begin. As his college professor had quoted from Alice Through the Looking Glass: Start at the beginning, when you reach the end, stop.

He put the vehicle into autopilot, called up the data on the Type Four onto the HUD and reviewed it again. When he arrived, he needed to know everything about her.

Her skin, which was living tissue, was going to require some place sterile. It wouldn't be safe to take her to a hospital, or even a lab: security was tight and they kept highly accurate records of everything from how many tissue regenerators are purchased to how many paperclips are kept in the secretary's desk. Transportation would also be a problem; he didn't have anything set up to carry someone on a stretcher.

They were going to have to clean a room at the house, remove the furniture, and lay plastic sheeting from floor to ceiling. They'd also need medical supplies, instruments and, of course, someone who can handle the sight of blood and do the surgery on her skin. Despite his brother's interest in medical science, Jason could still not get used to the sight of blood. After making a mental list and then writing down on a PDA, he changed his course to a nearby town; he had a few stops to make before he arrived.


Joe settled for some more canned goods, this time some fruit. There was only canned and dry boxed goods in the house; the refrigerator was empty. But there was more than enough food to last him until Jason arrived, and it would be such a relief to see family again.

When Joe told Jessica that he didn't have anybody, he was telling the truth. After he took over command two years ago, he received a report from Secretary Green that his godfather had died of natural causes. When Joe realized that Green was already dead and the messages were faked, the false news was probably meant to give Joe less of an incentive to contact someone else on earth independently of Alliance. He had that privilege, but he had never used it. His men under his command could only send and receive messages through Alliance command and decided that he shouldn't use his power for personal reasons.

Joe wasn't surprised when he thought that Jason had died. He was nearly one-hundred years old, and that was pretty old by today's standards. Then again, Jason was very health-conscious, and quite capable of staying out of trouble. He was also quite adept at getting out of trouble.

He went back into the work room and placed his breakfast on an end table, sat down next to Jessica, and ate.

He ate in silence, and just watched her. She seemed so peaceful and at ease.

Good Lord you're beautiful. Joe quietly said.

After finishing his breakfast he just sat there, watching her sleep and stroking her hair.

Joe was so lost in his thoughts and on Jessica's hair that he almost jumped out of his chair when Jason called out.

Yo! Anybody home? Jason called out from the front door. Chuckling to himself Oh I always wanted to say that. he said to himself.

In here. Joe called back, getting out of the chair and going to the door.

Jason came to the door of the work room and paused for a moment.

Jason came forward and gave Joe a hug.

You ok? he asked.

"Yeah. You look pretty good for a dead man. Joe said, a smile spreading across his face.

Jason said and they laughed.

I am so glad you're not dead. Jason said.

So am I. I need your help. Joe said, his tone serious.

I know, I reviewed the specs on the way over here. Jason said, his manner now business like and no-nonsense. He went over to where Jessica was laying on the futon.

What's her status? he asked?

Unchanged. All I've done so far was hook up power and a computer link. I bandaged the wounds on her skin and restarted her circulation system. I haven't tried to wake her up yet. After I got that message, I wanted to wait until you got here. Joe said.

Good. Well, I think it's safe to try to wake her up. I looked at the system software; the base Operating System is similar to Unix. I couldn't read all of it, some of the code is written in forms that I've never seen before. Plus, I didn't want to invade her memories. Jason said as he put his computer bag on the desk and got his portable workstation out. He hooked it up to a free network port on the main workstation and booted up. That done he linked up to Jessica's CPU and ran another round of diagnostics–these more advanced than what was on the main work station.

My portable system has some special software, and I modified some of it based on the design of her CPU. he said.

The diagnostic cycle completed and displayed that her CPU was intact and fully functional, just on standby mode.

If I'm wrong she's not going to be able to move. Her spinal cord is completely severed. She'll be paralyzed from the neck down until it's repaired. he said.

I know. She's going to need surgery. Joe said.

Yes, and it'll have to be done here. It would be too dangerous to move her and, even if we could, it would attract too much attention. Jason said.

My thoughts exactly. We're going to need to set up a room. Joe said.

I'm already ahead of you Joe. I made a few stops along the way and got a few little things. Jason said, grinning.

So. Do you want me to wake her up? he said, sounding uncomfortable. He wasn't a doctor, and though Jessica couldn't move, he still didn't like the idea of her screaming her head off.

Joe didn't say anything for several seconds. He had her here, she was going to live. Was this the right thing to do? He then remembered her last words.

Do it. he said.

Jason said and went to the power supply to increase the output. Then he went to his work station, sending the commands that would bring Jessica out of her coma. The process of bringing her CPU back into normal operation took several minutes. Though the work station signaled that she was running, there was no visual change; she still appeared to be sleeping.

She should have opened her eyes and started talking by now. Jason said, standing up and going over to Jessica. He stopped and realized that something else may be wrong. He went back to his work station and rechecked her status.

He then said

Joe said.

It's ok. Just go over to her and wake her up. Jason said, his face showing a knowing smile.

Joe looked skeptical but went over to Jessica and leaned down.

he said softly. He stroked her cheek.

A moment later, she opened her eyes and looked around the room, her movements were artificial, and she didn't blink. She focused on Joe and froze there, unmoving. Joe was about to back away, thinking that something was wrong.

Then, she spoke:

... love. She said. Tears started trickling down her face. She blinked away some of the tears. Joe wiped the rest away.

I love you Joe. Jessica said. Tears continued to fall down her face.

Joe leaned back down and kissed her, tears were now trickling down his face.

I love you too. He said. He took her into his arms and held her, being mindful of the cables coming out from her chest.

Jason left the room, satisfied that they were ok, and went back to the hover car to unload the supplies they would need for the rest of her repairs.

The next few days were going to be long and hard.

End, Part One.