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The "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" Fanfiction Online Anthology

"A Heart Reconfigured"

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A Heart Reconfigured
By Joshua Falken

Chapter 1 - A Startling Gift

    He was peacefully floating over the giant planet. He was looking towards the
orange and beige atmosphere, seeing the pattern of its wind currents. He punched
some buttons in the control in the right wrist of his spacesuit. The small
rocket in his pack put him into orbit closer to the planet. Behind him he could
feel the power of the magnetic forces between Jupiter and its satellite. The
astronaut turned to a bright point in the dark space. The Sun. Around the star,
there was a small pale blue dot circling around it. It was his home planet.
   
"Home?" he thought, in confusion. Where his real home is? Grounded
in that pale dot or in the infinite deep? Both planets were calling him... he
could he the enchanting voices of both... which he should choose? Which?
   
An alarm resonated in his spacesuit. A voice echoed.

    "...Please, release your secondary seatbelts... Please, release your
secondary seatbelts..."

    He woke up from his dream.

    "Please, release your secondary seatbelts at the end of the re-entry in
atmosphere, keeping the primary seatbelts on. We will reach New York City
Spaceport in half a hour. Thank you for flying with Oberth." The space
stewardess's voice announced all through the spaceplane.

    "Hey, Dyler. Ready to celebrate Halloween?" said the blond-haired
man at his side. It was his work collegue at the space station, Roger Vostok.

    "More or less," the black-haired man adjusted himself again in the
chair. He would never get used to the gravity lag... He felt a tap on the top of
his head.

    "Come on, Dyler! It will be fun!" said Susy Richter, the manager
of their section, who was returning to Earth together with them. "After
all, few of us had the chance to commemorate their birthday at home."

    "Yeah... home," Dyler Steelight, rookie astronaut for Technospace
Corporation, commented weakly and he turned to look out through the window. He
could see the dark water over what was once Manhattan. His two friends looked at
each other concerned.

    Rainy clouds gathered on the horizon.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It was raining heavily. In downtown Haddonfield, a cab stopped in front of a
old building. A woman in a yellow hooded raincoat exited from the vehicle and
told the mecha-driver.

    "Wait for me -- this won't take more than five minutes."

    The mecha at the wheel nodded blankly. The yellow-raincoated woman crossed
the street and entered the building, leaving the heavy rain behind. After drying
herself, she went up the stairs until she reached the fifth floor and knocked
the door of apartment 53. A grey-haired man opened the old door just a little,
and asked rudely:

    "Yes, what do you want?"

    "I called because of your ad."

    "Oh, I see..." the man opened the door and looked at her up and
down with a critical eye. "You didn't look like the type." he
commented.

    "It is not for me... it's for a friend," she said with a tight
smile.

    "Yeah, yeah, sure, sure," he said dismissivelly. He guided the
newcomer into a room in his apartment and showed what was standing in a corner.
"Here it is!"

    The woman in the yellow raincoat studied the standing form for a while -- it
was exactly what she wanted!

    "Is she functional?"

    "Of course! My products could be second-hand, but in perfect
condition," he said offended. "Unless you would like to test it right
now!"

    "No, it is not necessary." The woman added quickly. "It is
customized, isn't it? I mean, it could be upgraded, right?"

    "Yes, Belladerma allowed room for it in this model." The man
affirmed. "You can upgrade its systems to state-of-art. In every
sense."

    "Perfect," the client said, paying the man. "Can you deliver
her tomorrow to this address?" she asked, giving him a card.

    "Yes."

    The woman in the yellow raincoat left the apartment and went to the rainy
street, to catch her waiting cab. When she entered in the vehicle, she
remembered again the violet-blue hair and shapely form of the product that she
had bought.

    "Yes... she would be perfect for the little... surprise that I'm
planning..." The mecha cabbie noticed how, in the rear view mirror, his
passagers's smile resembled a bright blade...
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dyler entered his home, at the outskirts of the town. He was surprised to
find it was completely decorated for Halloween... it even had a fake skull on
the door... after all, he had spent three months in Earth's orbit building the
new Zero-G factory... hum... "Maybe it was a work of my sister or my mom,
who had decided to surprise me", he thought while changing his clothes.
"I will give them a call after I take a good bath!"

    Ring! Ring! Ring!

    "Uh oh! I spoke too soon!", he thought.

    The image of a young blonde woman appeared on the screen.

    "Dyler, why you didn't call me, warning that you would return?"

    "And hello to you too, Stormer," he replied, with his right
eyebrow arched.

    Selene "Stormer" Steelight smiled, her green eyes shining.
    "Hi, Dyler. Why you didn't tell us about your return?" she
repeated.

    He shrugged. "It was a last-minute decision from Technospace. We
thought that they would kept us at GEO until the middle of January, but as we
pushed the construction program forward..."

    "I see," she said, understanding -- she knew how unpredictable
schedules could be for space workers. "Will you come to my Halloween
party?"

    He wondered how to answer... "I don't know, Stormer... I mean, I'm
still adapting to gravity again and..."

    "Please, Dyler! Remember, Halloween is also your birthday! Come
on!"

    Knowning his sister, he resigned. "Ok, I will go."

    "That is wonderful! I will be waiting for you!" she shut the
connection down.

    He sighed and went to take a shower.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A brown-haired man in his 30's was working at a workbench, when the door of
his room was opened. The woman in the yellow raincoat entered and looked at his
progress.

    "Will she be ready in time?"

    He nodded. "Yes, no problem about it."

    "And the upgrades?"

    "Done."

    "And that special function?" the woman asked. Without it, all that
she was planning would not work...

    "See for yourself." The man pressed some keys on his terminal. The
figure that he was working stood up from the workbench. Several fibre optic
cables were visible on its torso, and its metallic endoskeleton was visible
without its face. It walked with a gait that was at the same time both
purposeful and seductive. It moved in a playful and attractive way. The woman
was very impressed with the result, especially after it hugged her gently from
behind. The man laughed when he saw that the woman in the raincoat was blushing.
"Does it pass your expectations?" he asked.

    "Yes." The figure that hugged her returned to the workbench.
"She is perfect!"

    The man looked worried. "Do you really think that this is a good idea?
I mean, you know how he is..."

    "It is exactly because of how he is, that I'm doing this!" she
exclaimed. The man dropped the subject. The woman left the room.

    "I just wish I could see his face!" she laughed.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dyler looked again at the address for his sister's Halloween party. He was
expecting that it would be in her house, but she gave him an address in Rouge
City! He sighed. He should have expected something like that from her...

    As he didn't have a Halloween costume on hand, he put on his work uniform.
Well, Stormer didn't tell him that he could not go with the costume of a
astronaut, right?

    Half a hour later, he was in the Purplelight Hotel. He blushed at the way
that most of the women -- Orga and Mecha -- were looking at him. "Why did I
come in my uniform?", he chided himself... He entered the elevator quickly
and went up to apartment 401. It was completely silent.

    He knocked on the door.

    No answer.

    He looked again at the invitation. It said: "Come and just open the
door."

    He shrugged and just did it. The room was dark.

    "Hello...?"

    "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DYLER!" Everybody in the room yelled; at the same
time, the lights were turned on. All his friends and family were there. Even
Roger and Susy, from his work. He blushed even more. A tall woman in a Michelle
Pfeiffer-like Catwoman costume came to him, putting her hands on her hips.

    "Why did you take so long?"

    "Because I got lost trying fellow *your* directions, Stormer."

    Selene Steelight, aka Stormer (due to her "storming temper"),
looked surprised at him through her black mask. "How did you discover that
it is me?"

    "Because you use that costume *every* Halloween!"

    Everybody laughed and Stormer mockingly pouted at her young brother. That
would not be the first time that he wondered about the paradoxical personality
of his sister...she was the most mischevious and flirtatious person that he ever
met -- he really wondered how her husband, the calm Jordan, could ever have
thought of marrying his wild sister Selene -- but she also was most caring and
loving person that he knew, as her work as the main pediatrician at the City's
General Hospital showed...

    "Happy 25, son!" He was hugged by his mother, Ellen Steelight.

    "Thanks, mom!" He turned to his sister. "Where is
Jordan?"

    "Jord had to solve some problems at Cybertronics, but he is coming to
the party," she answered. "And now enough talk! Let's party!"
Stormer commanded. Every one agreed with her and the party began.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Half an hour after Dyler had arrived at the party, a car silently parked in
the street behind it. The driver asked the figure sitting at his side.

    "Do you know what to do?"

    A tall, slender woman wearing a long black simuleather coat, over a black
skintight jumpsuit looked at the man and smiled impishly.

    "Yes, it is very clear."

    The driver sighed.

    "All right, here is the access card."

    The woman get it into her black gloved hand and elegantly put it into a
pocket of her coat. "Can I go?"

    "Yes, you can."

    The woman put a black beret over her head and raised the collar of her
simuleather coat. Then she exited from the car. She waited in the shadows until
the car was gone, before she silently went to the front of Dyler's house,
merging in the shadows with her black clothes. At that time, just a few kids
were still trick-or-treat. She smiled to some that crossed her path. She went
until the house's front door, passed the access card and quickly digited the
opening code given by the man.

    The door opened and she entered, smooth as a ghost. Her shadow fell big in
the floor. She walked slowed in the dark house as if the darkness didn't hinder
her a single bit, her high heels echoing. She went through the corridor, until
she reached a small room -- Dyler's studio. That room was full of books about
space, astronomy and space enginnering. She took a picture over the table into
her black gloved hands. It was a picture of Dyler with his sister and mother.
She smiled blankly at it.

    The woman in black returned to the corridor and went up the stairs, in a
slow and calculating way. She reached the room that was the end of the upper
corridor -- the intruder realized that it was Dyler's bedroom. in the bathroom
connected to the bedroom, she looked herself at the mirror, smoothing her black
jumpsuit and adjusting her beret and boots. She returned to the corridor. She
entered the closet at the side of the door of Dyler's bedroom.

    She adjusted her black simuleather gloves carefully in her hands, and took a
long tape from her coat's pocket and waited.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The party was at its end. The only occupants left in the room were Dyler,
his sister Selene, his mother Ellen, his sister's husband Jordan and his work
friends Roger and Susy.

    Dyler's mother was commenting:

    "... I honestly don't know why they don't create a mecha to do that
job... I mean, let people risk their lifes to build things in space..."

    "Mom..." Dyler said, warningly.

    "Ok, I will drop the subject," Ellen said, raising her arms,
smiling. She liked to tease her son about his job choice -- he had dreamed of
being an astronaut since he was a little kid!

    Susy, in a costume like Yomiko Readman's, spoke up in Dyler's defense.

    "Believe me, Mrs. Steelight, at the risk of inflating the ego of your
son, he is the best space structural enginner at Technospace!"

    "Thanks, Susy," Dyler thanked her.

    "But your mother is right about one thing, Dyler. You spend too much
time in orbit," Jordan commented.

    He sighed. "That is my job."

    "All right, it is your job," Stormer conceded. "But when was
the last time that you dated someone? Or better, when you will ever date
someone?"

    Dyler choked on his juice. "What?"

    "Give him a break, Selene," Ellen commented. "He will find
Miss Right when it is the time."

    "Mom, Selene, stop!" he said, between his teeth, blushing.
"It's embarrasing!" he whispered.

    "We are only concered about you," Stormer said innocently, through
her cat mask. Roger and Susy tried to keep the laughter from their faces.

    Dyler sighed and looked at his watch. It was already too late.

    "I have to go."

    "Come on, Dyler. Stay for a little while!"

    "I'm sorry, but I'm still on gravity lag..."

    "We are too, Dyler," Susy reminded him, pointing to herself and
Roger.

    "Yes, but I have to go anyway -- my home is a little far from here, and
I don't like to drive at night."

    Resigned, they bid Dyler good wishes and good-bye while he existed from the
room.

    Susy wondered about the strange smile that appeared on Selene's face after
she took off her mask...

    Dyler had just opened the door of his house. He didn't even stop to turn on
the lights. He couldn't wait to crash into his bed!

    The woman in black, hiding in the closet, heard the heavy steps coming up
the stairs. She smiled. He was coming.
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Dyler passed by the closet. He didn't notice that the door was not locked.
Neither that it was slowly opening behind him.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The woman in the black jumpsuit slowly moved behind him. Her menacing shadow stretched in his direction.
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    All of a sudden, Dyler felt himself grabbed from behind and turned around.
The next thing that he knew, a pair of sweet, warm lips grounded over his own.
His attacker pressed her body against his in a sultry way.

    The attacker broke the kiss and said to a completely dumbfounded Dyler:

    "Happy Birthday, Dyler!" She smiled, seductively.

    It took a moment for his brain get into drive. But when it did, the storm
break loose...

    "BUT WHAT THE?????"
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Selene, what kind of sick joke was that?!?" Dyler yelled although
the phone to his sweatdropping sister. "Do you want give me a heart
attack?!?"

    "Come on Dyler, it was just a Halloween joke..."

    The rookie astronaut breathed deeply.

    "Very well, now you can call off the Lover-Mecha that you hired,"
he said. He turned to see the reason of his almost heart-attack. She was sitting
draped over Dyler's armchair, her too perfect and glossy face perfectly calm.
She had bright violet shoulder-length hair, bright dark blue eyes. Her skintight
black jumpsuit showed her well-shaped and slender form, even under the elegant
long black coat. The Lover-Mecha sat with her legs crossed, looking at him with
a seductive smile, her head resting over one of her slender gloved hands. And
she had a red tape gift knot over her bosom.

    "I'm sorry, Dyler, but I can't do that," Stormer said.

    "Why not?"

    "Becuase, she is not mine. She is yours."

    "What?!"

    "Hehe... you see... she is my Birthday present for you. Did you remeber
that you needed a personal Mecha-assistent?" He nodded. "Well, I asked
Jordan to customize a very pretty Lover-Mecha so she could be an assistant for
you."

    "Ok... and why you didn't just buy a common Persocom model?"

    "Well..." Here Stormer gave him her trademark mischevious grin.
"A Lover-Mecha could be *much* more useful for you."

    "What do you mean with that?!" Dyler asked, blushing -- he
understand what his crazy sister meant!

    "Ah, her name is Jane. Have fun you both!" Stormer blowed a kiss
to him and ended the call.

    "Stormer! STORMER!" He yelled to the dark screen. He breathed
deeply and turned to look at "his" Mecha. She still was looking at
him, smiling.

    "What do you wish, dear?" she asked in a sultry tone.

    Dyler closed his eyes and put his head in his hands.

    And now?

============
To be continued