I need a partner to do this story. I had originally started collaborating with Joel. The core idea of the space scientist making a Faster than Light Drive belongs to him. We have diverged in our different opinions on the nature of the rp and it is now open. The music fueling this is an album by ELO called Time.
Text of the story beginning:
Elizabeth French dusted off the old microscope as she sat down in her now almost deserted lab. Her body was deteriorating rapidly. She had managed to isolate the virus that had started the decline. The debilitating work of the virus was not reversible. It was a silent destructive thing, with the brain being virtually untouched, thanks to a fast acting isotope that corralled the virus before it reached that far. Her liver was destroyed, her spleen, and reproductive organs were almost non existent.
She looked around at the lab where she had spent countless hours in research. It was here she had met Louis, so many years ago. Another bright student destined for things far beyond her interests. He had been eager to court her, just another nerd seeking out an intelligent mind to mesh with his. They had been so happy in those early years.
Her pager went off and she looked at the time. He would be coming home soon. And she would have to see the half hearted look in his eyes. The empty words of greeting, the silent meal shared between two people who had once foregone eating for carnal pleasures.
He was so preoccupied with his latest project he hardly had time to even come to bed, and if she tried to tell him of her research he only seemed to half listen. He was at the head of his field, one of the best. Honors and accolades heaped upon him with all respect. She was proud of him, he deserved every bit of it.
The birthday present she had prepared for him was waiting in the cyberchamber. All it waited for was a brain. The surgery was scheduled for tonight. It was one of his designs, an AI who had been functioning with every intent to serve him in his spaceship. He had built it with long space travel in mind. A machine to do his bidding, work with him and for him when he was out on his research of the Faster Than Light Drive. He claimed to outrun time with it. If successful, he would be able to travel in time. She smirked as she remembered all the old jokes about time travel.
She peered at the slide she had prepared and whistled softly. The virus was gone, totally destroyed. She had been successful, but at what cost? Her body was not going to last long without extreme support. Soon she would be nothing more than a brain resting in a non moving vegetative body. To her it was a fate worse than death. She did not want to live like that. Worse, she did not want Louis to be saddled with that responsibility.
Unknown to him, he had provided her a means to escape her body intact. Or so she hoped. It was one of those risky things that bordered on impossible. The shell of the machine he had built had been in her lab for the last year now. She had managed to replace the skin, and grow the hair on the head, and the rest of the body was silicone and steel. She had made sure to give it the right amount of skin and edifices for him to enjoy the AI as a fully functioning female. The digestive system was geared very small. It only needed to provide the brain with energy and oxygen, the skin was able to repair itself as any normal person. The brain would be able to do all of this with very little food and hydration. To all intents and purposes it was a fully functioning human female. As soon as the brain was hooked up to the nerve endings and the rest of the system, she would have a new body.
She wandered into the cyberlab. The tech looked up from his work and looked at her questioningly. She looked at him with sadness. “It is almost time. Dr. Andrews is scheduling the surgery for tonight at eight. I trust everything is in order?”
Jason nodded. “It is, Dr. French. Are you sure there is no alternative? I mean, the medical tech has come a long ways…”
She looked at him with a smile. “I know, Jason. I am one of them. Remember? This is it. The only way I can see it ever working. You and Dr. Andrews are the only ones who know of this. She has a nurse who will be assisting. An actual AI who will not reveal the truth. I am giving you all the credit, as I won’t be around to collect any rewards or advantages. That is my price for your silence. You agreed to it. The details will be obscured, all the tech work is anonymous. No one will tie it to me at all. You are young and will benefit greatly from it.”
Jason looked uncomfortable. “Dr Andrews and I are engaged. She will benefit as well. We won’t give your secret away. But do you have to do things this way to Louis? I mean he has a right to know the truth, doesn’t he?”
Liz looked away. “I know it seems harsh, Jason. But even I know there is no guarantee this will work. He will grieve for me and then go on with his life. He may never figure it out. But I will know...if it works. If not...well he will have to forget me anyway. I have left instructions for my body to be preserved in case you need more skin cells for repair. Or anything else you may need. Though most of my body is useless.”
She looked down at the face and figure of her new body. It looked like she did at age twenty one. Young and vital. The skin was still a little pale. “Make sure you get some pigmentation for the skin before tonight. This is a little bit too pale for my taste.”
“It’s the light, Dr. French. It makes all skin look pale. Here let me adjust the light spectrum.” He fiddled with some dials and the skin took on a more natural tone.
“Ah that is better. I will be going now. And Jason. Thanks for everything. You have done a remarkable job and I owe all of this to you and Dr. Andrews. I will see you around 7:30?” she waited for him to nod as he blushed.
“I will be here to insure things go as you planned. Good luck, Dr French.” he mumbled, though he had to remember to smile, his heart was not in it.
Liz walked out the door to her car. Louis would be almost home by now and she had precious little time left. Her car was unlocked and purring but the time she reached it. Home was only a short five minute drive.
Getting out of the car she went to the house. As much money as both of them made, the house was modest. Every conceivable convenience was employed. From security to lights. She never had to lift a finger to turn anything on or off. It was all automatic. The dinner was already to be served as soon as Louis came home.
Liz went into the bedroom and changed from lab coat and slacks to a simple blue dress. Louis had always liked the color blue. She put on a fresh coat of lipstick and a spritz of cologne. She walked into the living room just as he came into the front door. “Good evening, my darling. How was your day?’
He looked tired, a long day had nearly taken everything out of him. “I am home in one piece, I guess that is good. How are you? I trust things are going well for you?” He gave her a cold peck on the cheek and went in to the dining room. Not even bothering to notice her perfume or the blue dress. His questions were trite and unfeeling. He really did not have any interest in her work. He had diverged from the biological part and gone strictly to the mechanical.
He sat at the table and dished up the salad and began eating while she followed him in and sat down. His eyes looked distant.
“Are you going to be gone for your birthday again? I hear your work is going into testing stages?” She sat down and began eating her salad. Though she only took a few sips of water and one bite of a bit of dressing coated lettuce.
He nodded and shrugged. “It’s just another day. My work is far more important than a birthday. I gave up celebrating them years ago. Don’t do anything special for me, all right? I just want to relax and get some rest tonight. I was up at five this morning. I will be gone all day tomorrow and if things work the way I am hoping, I will be in space by this time tomorrow. Testing the FTLD. I am sure it won’t take more than a week of testing.”
Liz nodded and sat back, her appetite gone. Like every night for the last two years. He was all caught up in his work. She was sure it was not because he did not love her. He just did not think of it. Like a well worn shoe or sweater, he wore it without thinking of it. A marriage was just a convenience to him. He expected it to be there and did not give a thought as to why or how to nurture it.
“I have some work to do in the lab tonight. I will see you in the morning, unless you leave before I get up.” Liz informed him. He simply nodded and went on eating.
He finished his steak and potato without any further conversation. He did not even pay attention to the news broadcast of the current political situation and the loss of funding of many of the important projects he was so keen on. His mind was too fixed on what his work entailed. “Nice dinner, I am going to take a shower and turn in. Good night my dear.” He got up from the table and gave her a pat on the shoulder as he passed her on his way to the bedroom. Not even a kiss to end her night. He was gone before he saw the silent tear roll down her cheek.
She got up and went to the bedroom. She could hear him in the shower. Efficient and fast, she knew he would not be there long. She dressed in her slacks and a simple blouse. Leaving the house with her heeled boots making a staccato sound as she went to the car. Brushing the tears away angrily she gave the car instructions to go to the lab.
Five minutes later she walked in the door to see Dr. Andrews talking to Jason. “Well, let’s get this done. I am sure we won’t know if we are successful until afterwards. I am ready.” she smiled and kept going into the surgery room.
Dr.Ruth Andrews was a petite blonde woman who was the top of her field. The Android assisting her was of her own creation. She claimed it was her own sister in the new body. And it passed every test for being sentient. Jason was still hesitant, but Ruth knew her business. Liz had every confidence in the surgery and she knew her body would not last another week. Already there were signs of jaundice.
Several hours later, in the house where Louis slept peacefully unaware, the phone took a message. He had set it to automatically answer and take messages so it would not disturb his peaceful sleep.
At five in the morning his alarm went off and he slowly got up. Rubbing his eyes as he took stock of the room. Liz was not in the bed next to him. Odd...I wonder where she is?
He did not get alarmed until he went into the bathroom and there was no sign of her there either. He frowned as he went through the house like a little boy lost. “Liz? Where are you?”
She was not in the house anywhere and when he looked out the window, her car was also gone. He was numb with shock, had she left him? The lab! Maybe she was still there. He went to the phone. The flashing lights indicated a message. His heart lurched, he punched the replay button.
“Mr. French? I have to inform you of some terrible news. Please call me back. This is Dr. Ruth Andrews. Or better yet, come to the hospital lab. This is better discussed in person.” The annoying click of an ended recording made him yell at the unthinking machine.
“What!? Tell me!! Where is Liz?” he threw the offending phone recording device at the wall. He almost started out the door in his pajama bottoms and bare feet. Cursing up a storm he ran to the bedroom and threw on the closest clothing he saw. Slacks and a pullover shirt hanging on the closet door fresh from the cleaners. Shoving loafers on his feet without socks he ran for his car.
If there had been anyone on the streets at this hour they would have gotten out of his way rather quickly. He careened through the streets like a madman. He ran to the door and pounded futilely on the locked glass, setting off the security alarms. A security officer came running and frowned at him. “The lab is closed!”
“Let me in! My wife is missing! I am sure she is in there. I got a call from Dr. Andrews.” he was ready to break the door down. He even glanced at his car a short distance away, wondering if the automatic anti collision would stop it from smashing through the glass doors.
The security guard saw his panicked look and and paged the local PD. “I have a nut case here, I think he is thinking of smashing the door with his car.”
Sirens wailed as the police car left its normal patrol and pulled up to the building. “Sir? The building is closed. What business do you have here?” he tried to remain calm. It was obvious to the cop that Louis was on the edge of a total breakdown.
Louis took a few calming breaths. “My wife...I got a call to come and talk to Dr. Andrews. My wife is missing. I think something happened to her. Please tell them to let me in.” He was trembling with every effort to remain calm.
The security guard suddenly remembered his instructions from the night before. He still had not opened the door. He paged Dr. Andrews. “He is here. Yes that is right, he just now tried to break down the door. Shall I let him in?”
Ruth Andrews knew this was going to happen. She had prepared a sedative and was certain it would not be easy to talk to Louis without it. “I will be right there. Let him in and if the police are there, don’t let them leave. We may need them.” She hung up the phone and got dressed. She only lived a block away. Crossing the street and seeing the red and blue lights of the police car and the paddy wagon pulling up she ran the rest of the way.
She pushed her way through the tape and showed them her doctors name tag. “I am a doctor, let me through.” They had Louis cuffed and sitting in the lobby. He looked dreadful. This was not the way that Liz had seen him reacting. Ruth had disagreed, but Liz had been insistent. She wanted things to go down this way. “Better he face it suddenly and have no advance warning. He is not to know anything but that I am gone. Tell him I went peacefully. Tell him...at the end...I said.. I love him. That’s all he needs to know.”
Ruth took the syringe, and her wallet ID out of her bag and showed it to the officer. “It’s a sedative. I am a doctor. Here is my license, on the wall, and my ID.”
The officer nodded and she walked to stand next to Louis. He looked so pathetic. Tear streaked eyes. “Dr. Andrews? Where is Liz? Where is my wife?”
She felt her heart lurch in her chest. He really did love her, he is in shock. “Let me give you this, Louis. It will help.” she did not wait for consent but gave him the shot after swabbing his arm with alcohol.
Blissful warmth spread through him as he relaxed. His eyes looked so bleak. His voice failed him. He tried again. “Where is Liz? My wife? Please tell me..” he whispered.
Dr. Andrews sat next to him on the chair in the lobby. Her knees were shaking and she wanted to tell him everything. But she had promised. She looked down at her hands. Skilled surgeon’s hands that had transferred a living human brain into a machine. Well, some of the tissue on the body was Liz...in fact a lot of her form was still Liz. But there was no way to know if the brain had retained the memory of her former existence. Maybe in time.
“She is gone, Louis. Massive brain hemorrhage. I tried to save her. She went fast, too fast for the limited time we had to stop the damage. She had a few words to say, before we tried to go in surgically. She said…”Tell Louis I love him”...that’s all. I am sorry.” she watched his eyes go from shock to utter grief. His hands were still cuffed and he struggled a moment before Ruth looked at the police officer.
They uncuffed him and he nearly collapsed. Putting his head in his hands and sobbing. If it were not for the sedative, Ruth was certain he might have been worse.
The new Android was installed on Louis' ship. Ready for him to leave on his journey testing his latest FTLD. On the cover of the lid encasing the Android is a short letter sealed and addressed to Louis.
“My Darling Louis,
Please accept my birthday present to you. I will never look this good again. Enjoy, and remember me! I love you.
PM if interested in taking the part of the man whose name can be changed if needed.