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Jerrica Plus 2.0

Jerrica Plus 2.0
by Joshua Falken

Thanks to Matrix Refugee for beta-read this fic :-D

Part One - The Accident

Through the silent night in the Rocky Mountains, a solitary car
skimmed along the main highway, after leaving the Ski-Heaven Inn. Theimpression of safety that the regularity the car traveled with alongthe highway was not shared by its two occupants, occupied with their own thoughts. They didn't hear the news that Lenore Link, the virtual newscaster of KJEM, announced:

"... In China, anti-mecha protests were forcibly repressed by the
local government, causing the death of two Luddite demonstrators...
Meanwhile, Cybertronics Corporation of New Jersey released today the long-awaited and surprising David and Darlene, the models DV and DLN of Mecha-child that..."

With a hand movement, the brown-haired, green-eyed man leaned back
in the driver's seat turned off the TV and crossed his arms, looking discreetly at the woman at his side. The last thing that she needed now was to hear about the new Mecha-children! Meanwhile, the steering wheel moved by itself, accompanying the corrections that its automatic driving system indicated in agreement with GPS and the signals transmitted by the sensors along the highway.

The woman continued gazing outside, immobile, with her hands
resting in her lap. She wore the same black skiwear clothes that she had worn all that day: she hadn't even cared to change clothes for the return trip. Even so, he saw on the window of the automatic car the reflection of her beautiful blue eyes, the captivating shine that was usually in them had been substituted by a mist of sadness... the same mist of sadness that consumed her slowly since she had received the answer from the Population Control... It had been because of that he had insisted on that ski trip -- the skiing that she so much liked -- to try erasing that depression... But everything indicated that had been a total failure...

The car reached a part of the road where the night traffic began
to intensify. Several other cars and trucks sped along at their side.

The man breathed deeply before speaking:

"Jerrica..." he began.
 
"What, Robert?" she asked in a murmur, without turning.

"Well, it's just that..." while he still imagined what to say, the
car's A.I., Sally, announced:

"There is a great increase in the level of traffic on the highway
ten minutes ahead. Do you prefer to take an alternative route?"

"What are the options?"

Sally informed them of two other routes: a longer route, that
passed beside a beautiful lake and another faster route, that went by a secondary highway without the Turing-Tucker-Stapp System --
therefore they would need to switch to manual control...

"Which do you prefer, Jerrica?"

"I don't know... I think that it's better if we continue on this
highway."

After some minutes of silence, Robert caught his wife's gloved
hand and kindly he turned her face in his direction.

"Jerrica... Jery..." He began, mentioning her secret nickname.
"This is not the end of the world... we can adopt."

She sighed.

"Robert, I know what you are trying to do and I'm grateful, but
please: don't underestimate me. You know as well as I that once the
Population Control refused our request to have a son because of my
genes, any request of adoption that we make will be denied because of that."

She turned her face again to the window and he reclined in the
seat of the car, defeated. "Damned Population Control! Who were they to destroy the dreams of the people like that!?", he thought. Yes, Jerrica was carrier of Duchenne muscular dystrophy and there was a 50% chance for her to transmit the disease if they had a boy... But, damn it, didn't the techniques of assisted reproduction exist exactly for cases like of them?? But no... using in vitro fertilization forces the creation of several embryos for the several necessary attempts and one cannot take the risk of discarding embryos... Adoption should be the first option. Robert even agreed that today the people should think of the children's adoption as first alternative -- even to remove those children born without official permission from the hands of Population Control... Only then when you tried to adopt, the same Population Control said you were inadequate to adopt a child, since your request for a pregnancy was refused. "That is absurd!" Robert thought, while he looked at the highway to be traveled by the car.

 

In a car behind them, the driver pressed a button on a remote
control.

"Bon voyage, Dr. Phillips-Benton." the driver murmured, smiling.
 

The noise of the engine increased almost imperceptibilly, but
enough so that Jerrica noticed. She turned to her husband.

"Robert, are you accelerating?"

"No, I don't even touched Sally's configurations." He answered,
confused. The measure of the speedometer increased. "Sally, inform the situation."

The only answer Sally gave was static. The speedometer marked 120
km/h.

"Sally!" Jerrica exclaimed.

The car accelerated, passing the other vehicles on the road.

"Jerrica, put your seat belt!"

Immediately, the two fastened their belts. "Sally, decelerate!"

No answer.

"Sally, decelerate!"

The speed increased. 165 km/h.

"Sally, pass to manual control!" Jerrica ordered.

The A.I. in the car tried to answer, but the speakers only emitted
more static.

"Something is interfering with Sally's systems!" she exclaimed,
horrified.

Robert tried to pass to manual control, without success. The other
cars were just blurs in the windows. 190 km/h.

Jerrica was held fast in the seat, while Robert fought with the
steering wheel and the brakes, uselessly. The car accelerated even
more, beginning to skid in the curves of the highway.

The speedometer marked 235 km/h when something happened to the
wheels on the right side. The car started rotating in the road.
Jerrica and Robert screamed. Jerrica had only a nanoseond of seeing
the side of a truck, before their car collided with it. The only thing that Jerrica remembered before everything turned to darkness was the flames that engulfed her and her husband.

Later, the silence of a bedroom was interrupted by a phone bell. A
sleepy man with brown hair, beginning to go bald, woke up.

"Weaving house. Please leave your message after the signal."

"Emmett??? It's Veronica! Get the phone, man!!"

The man answered the telephone and on its screen appeared the face
of an oriental jet-black-haired woman, completely afflicted.

"Veronica? What is wrong?" Emmett asked, still trying to drive
away the sleep.

"Jerrica suffered an accident!"

"What?!" Emmett Weaving exclaimed, now totally awake.

"Jerrica suffered a car accident! It's on the net at this exact
moment!"

He immediately turned on his terminal beside the bed and selected
the news service. The newscaster narrated while the streaming video
showed the image of somebody being removed of the ironworks of a
destroyed car.

"... emergency teams at this moment have just removed from the
wreckage, Dr. Jerrica Phillips-Benton, a roboticist from the Norbert Wiener Institute of Applied Cybernetics, who helped to develop the automatic driving system now used in our highways. Ironically, sources say that the accident was caused by a flaw in the own system, by the police. The other occupant of the car, Dr. Robert Benton, died instantly in the collision."

"My God..." Emmett murmured. He went back to the telephone, where
Veronica still waited for him. "Veronica, try to find out what
hospital they took Jerrica to. I'll pick you up with an
amphiobiocopter from the Institute and we'll go there immediately!"

The Asian woman agreed and hung up.

He closed his eyes for one moment in a silent prayer and he began
getting ready for the trip.


Five days later, Dr. Emmett Browning Weaving and Dr. Veronica
Mizuno fought to have permission to see their hospitalized friend.

"You have to understand that the state of Dr. Benton is critical!"
the doctor explained once again. "We have to stabilize her condition, but the accident was devastating -- literally. Are you sure that we would not do be better to call the members of the family?"

"She has no family, doctor." Veronica explained. "Her parents
died when she was in the college and she doesn't have any relatives."

The doctor breathed deeply. He didn't have any way out.
"In this case, I should be clear and explain to you her condition:
she lost both legs, an arm and 50% of her mobility in the surviving
arm. She suffered multiple wounds in the internal organs and we had to connect ever machine in the book to her so that she could survive. Her skin was almost totally burned by the fire. Her right ear and eye were destroyed. The surviving eye will probably only have 60% of its capacity. It is practically a miracle that her central nervous system has survived: it was the only part of its body that was not disabled or damaged."

Emmett and Veronica were horrified: they didn't imagine that the
state of Jerrica was so serious... Even so, they insisted on seeing
her. Reluctantly, the doctor allowed just one of them to see her.

"It will be better that you see her, Emmett."

He agreed. He breathed deeply before entering the ICU room. His
heart almost stopped when saw the condition of his friend. She was
completely bound in gauze, without the legs and the right arm,
surrounded by several frightening machines of life support. Her only good eye noticed Emmett: she was perfectly conscious, although she could not speak due to the respirator.

He didn't know what to do... the only thing that got to do was to
hold her only good hand and to dry a solitary tear that ran from
Jerrica's good eye...


The following day, Dr. Emmett Weaving walked through the corridors
of Norbert Wiener Institute of Applied Cybernetics -- the place where he and Veronica worked at the side of Jerrica Phillips-Benton... He remembered them working on the development of the automatic driving system... Jerrica had practically created it by herself: she was... she is, he corrected... one of the best roboticists than he had already seen... She was only behind Allen Hobby, of Cybertronics... and even so, in Emmett's evaluation, the difference among the two was not so much...

He found himself in Jerrica's personal laboratory, where he saw
the picture over her desk. It was a picture that Robert had taken in a Halloween party in the institute three years ago. It showed the three of them, Jerrica, Veronica and himself: Veronica was dressed as Major Motoko Kusanagi, from the classic anime and manga "Ghost in the Shell", he was dressed as Agent Smith from the Matrix movies, and Jerrica was dressed as Miranda Zero, a character from "Global Frequency", a comic book from the beginning of Century XXI. He turned around and noticed the artificial heart over her work table -- it was a model made of special polymer, that imitated the operation of the normal human heart... Jerrica had developed so many prostheses like it in the last five years that Emmett had joked that she could build a bionic man with them...

Emmett stopped in the middle of the laboratory. Wait a minute.
Build a bionic man?

That was impossible... or not?

He flew to Jerrica's terminal and began to verify his hypothesis.
Dr. Emmett Weaving worked the whole night there and his work was
rewarded. Yes, it was possible. Emmett immediately called Veronica.
Dr. Jerrica Phillips-Benton, roboticist... a woman barely alive...
but they could reconstruct her... they created the technology... they could bring her back!

=================

Coming soon - Part Two: Rebirth