Two sides of the same coin

This story is a crossover between Blackjack and AstroBoy. The characters in both of these Anime/Mangas are the creation of Osmau Tezuka and are owned by Tezuka Productions. This story was created with the greatest respect in mind for the original author.

This story was originally the last chapter of my "Prequel" story for Astro Boy. It has been expanded an modified to stand alone as a Blackjack x Astro cross over.

Blackjack was cleaning up the O.R. in his clinic after having just discharged a patient. Pinoko walked into the room carrying a newspaper.
"Stupid robots!" she shouted.

"What's the problem now?" Blackjack asked her.

Pinoko held up the paper and pointed to the headline of a story. "Atlas and Atom fight damages Tokugawa Tower in Downtown Metro City".

"If Atom were smart he'd destroy that stupid Atlas once and for all! Each time they fight something else gets damaged, and then both of them get repaired to fight again. Atlas is always the one instigating the trouble." Pinoko said, analyzing the situation.

"Atom can't destroy Atlas any more than Atlas would be able to destroy Atom. No matter how angry either of them gets toward the other, at the final moment they will back off. It's buried deep in their AI." Blackjack explained.

"How would you know that?" Pinoko asked. "You're not an expert in robot AI."

"Ah! But I do know where their AI came from." the doctor replied. "In a way, I'm responsible for the current situation!"

Blackjack opened the refrigerated storage locker where he kept some of his drugs to replace a vial of antibiotics that he had just administered to the patient that had left a few minutes ago. He then removed another jar from the cabinet and held it up for Pinoko to see. He turned it around in his hands to show her its contents before putting it back into the refrigerated storage locker.

"You see this?" He asked.

"What's that?" Pinoko asked.

"That is a very powerful herbal drug." Blackjack answered. "I had experimented with it at one time, but it proved too dangerous to use. A shame since it seemed to have some very strong potential. I still keep the original sample of the plant form in this preservative as a reminder to me never to take anything at face value."

"So do you want to tell me the story?" Pinoko begged.

"Sure, why not?" Blackjack shrugged his shoulders.

"This happened years ago, before you were born. I was still working at Metro City General Hospital with Dr. Tezuka, though I had already started thinking about starting my own clinic. I was working out of a different house in the outskirts of the city, but I hadn't yet left the hospital."

"You mean you hadn't yet been kicked out of the hospital." Pinoko laughed.

"Yes that's true!" Blackjack confessed. "I still had my medical license back then."

"I often went out with the EMT's on ambulance calls, sometimes a very badly injured person with the means to pay for top notch care would be brought in. I made a few patient contacts that way, it helped start my career.

One day I was in the ambulance when a young boy about 9 or 10 years old had been in a bad accident on his hover scooter. I could see that he had sustained very bad injuries to his head and torso, it looked like he would need major surgery to survive, and very likely had enough brain damage that he might not recover anyway. If he did survive, he would also require reconstructive surgery on his face which was badly cut up. The regular emergency doctors did a good job at stabilizing him, they had to open his skull to relieve the the pressure from a brain bleed, as well as repair similar injuries to his spleen and liver. He remained in critical condition in the ICU while they waited for him to recover enough to survive additional surgeries. I found an ID on him in the form of an insurance policy made out to him as the recipient."

"No wonder you took his case. You wanted the insurance money." Pinoko said.

"The thought had crossed my mind." Blackjack answered. "The boy's father was a Dr. Tenma, a very famous scientist and engineer. That also made him worthy of my attention. However, it didn't take me very long to see that his symptoms indicated damage to his brain stem. He already had trouble breathing and they had put him on a respirator. I predicted that his heart would fail within hours as his body's internal pacemaker shutdown due to the damaged brain stem. In short, he was a goner. He was doomed to die a brain death that surgery could not repair."

"Is that where that herbal drug comes in?"

"Very astute Pinoko! You are correct. This drug was given to me by a colleague who had connections with the supplier from deep in the Amazon jungle. This is the root of a tree that only grows deep in that tropical rain forest. It is supposed to be able to promote regrowth of nerve cells, to actually be able to reverse many forms of brain damage, even when the organ has been deprived of oxygen for too long. Naturally, I was skeptical about this. I experimented on mice, rats, dogs and cats. It all cases the drug would bring dead nerve tissue back to life. I finally tried the drug on monkeys, and chimpanzees, animals most like humans. The results were quite encouraging. This boy was the first patient that I came across that could prove that the drug might work on humans. I couldn't get permission to try it, I had to wait until he had been declared legally brain dead before attempting to bring him back from beyond. If that worked, well think of the lives that could be saved!"

"But there was a catch, right?" Pinoko guessed.

"Unfortunately, yes. A big one." Blackjack took a deep breath and sighed.
"Eventually, the boy's heart did stop beating and the doctors could not get it restarted with the defibrillator or with adrenalin. As soon as Dr. Tezuka had signed his chart with the time of death and the boy was left alone in the ICU, I entered with my equipment. The first thing I did was to restart the respirator. I then make an incision in his chest to allow me to push a probe into his heart to attach wires for a pace maker. Using a small external pacemaker, I restarted his heart."

"Why didn't Dr. Tezuka do that?" Pinoko asked.

"The procedure I used to insert a pacemaker this way is a bit unorthodox, but not unknown. I'm sure that Dr. Tezuka would have tried this next if the boys EEG readings weren't already flat lined. They believed him to be brain dead, so they didn't bother working further on his heart.

I then observed that the color was returning to his skin. His body was still alive, but his brain was dying or dead. I now piggy backed a bag of my experimental drug onto his IV. I had to move him from the ICU, I didn't want to risk being discovered. I managed to sneak him into an ambulance and transport the boy to my private clinic a few miles from the hospital. The hospital thought the boy was moved to the morgue."

"Very sneaky" Pinoko said.

"The boy lay in a coma like state for a few days. Finally, his brain function began to return, the drug was working, just as it had in all of my animal trials. It wasn't until later that I learned just what this drug actually does. It stimulates the reproduction of new neuron cells. These newly born nerve cells are like stem cells in a way, they can assume whatever function is required of them. If they are reproduced in the spinal cord, they replace damaged nerve cells there. If they are created in the brain stem they will assume that function. However, they do not repair existing synaptic connections. All existing memories are lost. The brain becomes whole again, and functions, but it is now a Tableau Noir, a blank slate. The person that once was, is gone. I hadn't saved the boy, I'd sealed his death. His body was alive, and his brain could be re-trained. He would have to start his life all over again, and form new memories, loves, friends, and so on. This was worse than amnesia, it was a total erasure of his mind."

"Acchonburike!" Pinoko yelled out, pressing her hands against her cheeks.

"I knew that Dr. Tenma, the boy's father would never accept him back the way he was. It was better for everyone to just assume that he had really died in the ICU, because in fact, he had. His identity was gone, that insurance policy was worthless. I didn't know what I was going to do for him. And then I got another patient."


"The industrialist businessman, and billionaire Daiki Tokugawa. He and his wife had tried to have children for many years and he asked me to test him and his wife to see what their problem was. I found nothing wrong with him, but I discovered that his wife had terminal cancer. In fact, she died within a month of my first seeing her. Tokugawa was desperate to have an heir to his fortune, someone to assume control of his company after he was gone. I suggested he adopt a son, and I mentioned that I had a patient that needed a good home. It was the perfect answer to my problem, and Tokugawa seemed like a good person."

"That scumbag?" Pinoko cried. "You're a dumb ass!"

"At the time, he gave me no reason to doubt his sincerity as a father. I introduced him to the boy, whom he later named Daichi. I performed plastic surgery on the boy's face to repair the damage from the accident, and to make him resemble his adopted father somewhat. Daiki Tokugawa had the patience required to re-educate him and the boy soon felt at home with Tokugawa. It seemed like a good fit."

"Then what?" Pinoko asked.

"Well, as you probably already know, Tokugawa's business grew and required more and more of his time. He failed to supervise his son, and the boy fell in with some gangs. Daichi grew to hate his stepfather, and one day he and his gang tried to hijack the moon shuttle operated by Tokugawa industries. There was an accident and Daichi, along with a few gang members were killed. I felt responsible for the whole thing. That poor boy actually died twice. And now for the final postscript to this story," Blackjack said walking out of the O.R. and toward their living quarters in the house.

"What's that?" Pinoko said following the doctor into the kitchen.

"After Tobio Tenma died, Dr. Tenma created a robot replacement for him. Later on, Tokugawa paid Dr. Tenma to create a robot to replace his adopted son. In both cases, Dr. Tenma extracted brain patterns from the dying boy to form the basis of the robot's AI. It's strange. The newspapers sometimes compare Atom and Atlas, they sometimes say the two are brothers. They are more than brothers. They are the SAME person, just different sides of the same coin. That's why Atom will never destroy Atlas, or the other way around. Deep inside they know they would be destroying part of themselves."

"Acchonburike!" Pinoko yelled again.

"I'll second that!" Blackjack said, as he poured himself a tall glass of sake.