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.
For those who have not
seen the movie, there are details in this story that are considered
to be spoilers. Be warned.
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
And to give both the New
Economic Block and Alliance a big kick in the butt for their stupid
war and their betrayals.
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.
digital voice announced: "Prelaunch burn complete. Ninety
seconds to launch."
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
didn't want to... go back with you. I was afraid." Jessica said.
She focused her eyes on Joe.
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."
learned... something else too. I learned to..."
her last artificial breath on Sirrius 6B and lost power.
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.
seconds to launch. Thirty seconds. The digital voice announced.
taking you home." Joe whispered to her.
seconds remaining until launch, he swiftly carried her over to the
EEV and got in.
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.
Commander Joseph Hendrickson aboard EEV designated 'T' for tango
A woman comes
on the radio. "This is Alliance San Francisco. Over."
prelaunch, T-minus thirty seconds, requesting emergency clearance for
thirteen cleared for Earth. Over."
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.
Joseph fell asleep, for the first time in days.
later, the EEV entered Earth's solar system on its final approach.
It was time to
execute his plan.
Tango thirteen, am declaring an emergency. Over."
thirteen, this is Alliance San Francisco, state the nature of your
emergency. Over," said the controller.
navigation computer malfunction, am switching to manual. Will attempt
manual reentry and landing. Over."
malfunction and switch to manual. All traffic is being cleared. You
are clear for manual reentry and landing. Over."
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
continued skimming just above the trees, as far from any towns or
roads as possible.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
him," Jason thought, "I didn't move fast enough. I
should have gone there myself"
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.
exterior lights activated, motion detected, east side
front door unlocked via entry code 89934, level 2
entry, front door, level 2
locked, front door, level 2
movement, living room, level 2
movement, hallway, level 2
entry, work room, level 2
Terminal "Work Station 1" online, diagnostic startup
Terminal "Work Station 1" startup complete, status nominal
(Refer to log files for "Work Station 1" for details on
Halogen oven 1 online...
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.
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.
god!" He said out loud.
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.
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.
the activity logs for the work station and then accessing Jessica's
CPU, Jason let out a low whistle.
god. They evolved that quickly." He said to himself.
through the information as it appeared on the screen.
Mobile Sword Type Four... biological tissue production...
matter/energy conversion... good god" muttering as he examined
the damage report and the current status of her systems Jason winced.
She's going to need some work." he muttered.
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.
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
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
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
knows I'm here. He thought as the adrenaline rose inside
him until a name caught his eye: Osborne, Jason A.
he thought to himself. "I thought he died just after I took
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
Keandon, Chris J.
Osborne, Jason A.
Hello old friend
Wed, 14 Apr 2078 08:42:14 EST
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.
me a call when you've settled in and I'll come over and visit.
I scrambled up your name.
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.
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.
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.
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.
the status of her systems before going into the kitchen to get
something to eat.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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,
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.
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.
you're beautiful. Joe quietly said.
his breakfast he just sat there, watching her sleep and stroking her
Joe was so lost
in his thoughts and on Jessica's hair that he almost jumped out
of his chair when Jason called out.
Anybody home? Jason called out from the front door. Chuckling
to himself Oh I always wanted to say that. he said to
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.
forward and gave Joe a hug.
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.
her status? he asked?
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.
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
portable system has some special software, and I modified some of it
based on the design of her CPU. he said.
cycle completed and displayed that her CPU was intact and fully
functional, just on standby mode.
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.
She's going to need surgery. Joe said.
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.
thoughts exactly. We're going to need to set up a room.
already ahead of you Joe. I made a few stops along the way and got a
few little things. Jason said, grinning.
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.
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
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.
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
ok. Just go over to her and wake her up. Jason said, his face
showing a knowing smile.
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
love. She said. Tears started trickling down her face. She
blinked away some of the tears. Joe wiped the rest away.
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.
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.