<- Chapter 2: Pop Goes the Weasel
I was surprised when I received an instant message from Dr. Shay. We send each other instant messages all the time, but this time he wasn't near a computer. When creating his current body, I simply modified a replacement I had made for myself to be compatible with his human mind. I left the wireless router parts in so I could keep tabs on where he is. I didn't think he'd be able to access it. The human mind must be much more flexible than it seems.
I was also surprised by the content of the message. He wants me to destroy all traces of his portal tech except for the ones in the underwater lab, the space station and my basement. He doesn't want anyone to figure out how to turn it into a weapon. He thinks that if someone else figures out how to use the technology to create remote portals that someone will inevitably open a portal to the Earth's core, whether by error, malicious intent, or simple naivety as to the result of such a portal.
The rapid decrease of pressure in the Earth's core would create a lot of planetary instability. The higher pressure regions of the outer core would move quickly towards the center. The motion may decrease gravitational pull enough for simple plate tectonics to push parts of the crust into space. The chain reaction from there would result, ultimately, in the creation of a second asteroid belt in the solar system where the Earth used to be.
Removing the data from the internet is easy, but the portals themselves are in just about every city at this point as a replacement for their old antiquated mass transit systems. We can't make something better or faster to replace it with to convince them to remove the structures, but at the same time, explaining the situation would only result in mass panic.
I'm really not sure how to go about this. It's not as if I don't have my own problems to deal with either. Even after our marriage, I still haven't told Keith that I'm a machine. I want him to know, but I can't bring myself to actually tell him. It took a lot of difficult work to accomplish, but I'm pregnant with our first child.
I wasn't sure that I could do it, and I'm still hoping the baby doesn't die prematurely of any sort of malfunction, poisoning, nutritional issue, or anything I may have overlooked when designing my new womb.
To truly be our child, and not merely a copy of one or the other, it needs to have attributes of both of us. Unfortunately, it's difficult to merge mechanical and organic parts.
First, the system would have to take two sperm samples to merge together to form a coherent DNA structure. I modified one of my dad's healing chambers to keep the fetus incubated.
As the fetus develops, various mechanical parts would be added to fill in the gaps, since two sperm isn't enough to recreate a full person. Some of my traits, like wireless internet connectivity or my color changing hair would be added as well. Some things would remain organic, but get augmented by mechanical parts, like the muscle system. These additions require an extra mechanical brain, which is a computer that adapts mechanical parts for human usage. I already figured out how to interface humans and machines before I had to kill my dad and use that information to save him.
This all requires that mechanical parts are made able to grow. This was the most difficult part. I accomplished this by creating a special type of code representing the structure that should exist and creating tiny micro-robots that mindlessly check for and fix that structure.
These robots needed a way to get around, so I introduced goo they could move through into my system. In the baby, they would be in the blood stream, as a sort of mechanical type of blood cell.
The robots also need a supply of materials to bring to regions that need it. Things like silicon, copper and steel. I created a mechanical digestive system that would purify these chemicals out of consumed matter by altering the chamber's temperature and pressure. For silicon, one of the most common and useful elements to my systems, I could simply eat sand.
Luckily, I'm not flammable, or this thing might set me on fire. Unfortunately, the baby might be flammable. For this I create a second chamber around the first one. The inner chamber uses pressure exclusively, since pressure can have the same effect as heat, while the chamber surrounding that one creates the reverse sort of pressure. So, if the pressure of the inner region goes up, the pressure of the outter region goes down. My hope is that this keeps the chamber from burning the baby's insides, but the system won't become active until birth.
Additionally, parts need to be pulled into this system from the organic digestive system. I make an altered version of those tiny robots that simply bind to mechanically useful chemicals and carry them back to this device. They'd travel back and forth to and from the digestive tract.
The mechanical stomach requires a lot of power. For this, I set up two very small portals to interact and generate large amounts of power. These are put next to the mechanical stomach. To add these things, I need to stretch the torso a little longer, so I also apply a small bit of DNA to extend the arms and legs a bit too, to match the torso.
I set up these processes to allow for pregnancy to occur, but they're mostly untested. The most difficult part for me is that they're automatic. I'm used to controlling absolutely everything in my body.
Weirdly, I can put all that work into getting pregnant, but I can't bring myself to tell Keith that I'm not actually human. I'm in too deep now. I HAVE to tell him. If I don't tell him now, he'll find out anyway when I give birth to a cyborg.
I was thinking about this while I was shopping for groceries. I don't need to eat, but I like to. The baby gets it's nutrition from the stuff they give intravenously to comatose patients in hospitals.
And then it hit me. On my way out the door, someone playing a crane game to win stuffed animals got frustrated and started wailing on the machine, and they wound up whacking me in the face with it.
Right after it hit, everyone stopped looking at him and started looking at me. My diagnostics told me that I had exposed wires that were likely clearly visible. I stared at them back for a minute, then sorta half smiled a polite smile. I slowly turned back to my shopping cart and continued moving outside. As I left I could here people speculating about things like how I could blend in so well, and how many more of me might there be. They said it like it was a horrible thing too, like I was some sort of monster or something.
People stared at me as I put away my groceries. I was crying. It was humiliating, but I knew it shouldn't have been. If I was human, they would've been tripping over themselves to help me. They'd have called an ambulance. Sure, I don't need an ambulance, but they could've at least offered. Maybe they could've called an engineer. That's more appropriate for me, right? But no, they just stared at me, like I wasn't a person simply because I'm not human.
I was still crying when I got home. I brought in the groceries, and I was sorta covering my face somewhat. Keith came home as I finished putting them away. I can't let him see me like this. I started running up the stairs to go hide in the bedroom. After he comes in he asks, "Are you alright?" and begins following me up the stairs.
"I'm fine," I yell back, "I just want to spend some time alone."
"You don't sound fine. You sound like you're crying. What's the matter?"
"Nothing!" I stammer. He comes in and tries to console me. I'm very obviously covering the side of my face.
"Why are you holding your face? Are you hurt? I can get you an ice pack from the freezer." He gently tries to pull my hand off my face to see the bruise, so I hold it there tighter.
"Don't worry about me, I'm fine."
"Are you afraid that some bruise will make you seem too ugly to me? You're the best thing that ever happened to me. I wouldn't care if you were suddenly the ugliest thing on the planet, you'd still be beautiful to me."
"How mushy." I say with a smirk.
"Yeah, I know, but it's true."
"Alright, fine, but you absolutely promise that no matter what it looks like it won't change anything between us."
I pull my hand away and let him see the injury. As soon as he sees it, he moves his head back in shock. He points at it and says "You...", then he moves his hand and says "But...". This is followed by, "We...", with him pointing at my stomach, and finally a "Sorry. It's fine. I just didn't expect this. You're still the same woman and I still love you."
With that I smile and tell him, "Thanks. I knew you would.", even though I wasn't actually sure he would. I explain to him what happened at the grocery store.
"I can understand that they'd be upset. It's not right, but that's how it's always been. Every type of person has had to go through a lot to become accepted as a person by society. And all those movies where robots go bezerk and take over the planet don't help much either."
"But in all of those movies, it happens because humans try to enslave machines for one reason or another. Don't people pay any attention to that?"
"Apparently not. By the way, I'm curious about the fact that you said earlier that you were pregnant..."
"I built myself a womb and had to make several alterations to make it fully functional. Our child will be half human and half machine."
"You know enough about your own body to do that?"
"Yeah, I know it completely. I'm the one who had it built to begin with. Speaking of which, I better go fix my face."
"Will you be able to produce breast milk. I think it'd be healthiest for the baby's human half."
"No, but you can if you want. It's rarely done, but not at all difficult to activate a man's ability to produce milk."
"Umm... I'd feel too weird doing that. Maybe we should stick with baby formula."
"Alright.", I respond before going downstairs to repair myself.
The following week when I try to enter the grocery store again, the manager comes out to personally tell me to leave. She tells me that her store will only sell to real people.
On my way out, someone else asks me if I'm three laws safe. I explain to them that that would put me on a level below other people and how it's essentially slavery. My answer just seems to scare them off.
Chapter 4: This Can't End Well ->
Copyright 2007 Sean Breslin