Chapter 3: The Promise Kept


As we started working on wedding arrangements things started getting crazy. Between work and the wedding, there was always something that needed our attention. We were sitting one night watching an old movie and Selah informed me that she had decided we were getting married months before I even asked her. She had even informed her father of this. I guess that explains the grin on his face. You know the grin you get when you’re watching someone walk right into something and they don’t realize it. Yeap, that grin.  But it didn’t bother me, I had decided I wanted to marry this woman the first time she spilled coffee on me. I’m a big stubborn country boy. I’m good with my hands and smart but I’m not what you would call traditionally handsome by far. I’m rather large and wide. Dark hair and green eyes and enough body hair that Selah calls me her Gorilla.  She is 5ft nothing red hair down to her knees, blue eyes, freckles, dimples,  the biggest smile you have ever seen.  In other words, way out of my league. 

As we sat there talking we decided we wanted to move to my great grandpa’s old farm. My dad was caretaking it but it had been closed up and no one really went there anymore. The animals had all been sold off and it was just an empty lot of land with a house, some barns,  and a lot of fencing. So I contacted my dad and he was more than happy to get it off his hands. He signed it over to me and in our spare time Selah and I started working on repairs and renovations. It was a simple house in a complicated time. It was just what we needed.  

Dr. James found out about the farm and had an idea. The farm had several barns on the property one of which was rather large and hidden away on the back of the land. He asked if he could renovate it and turn it into a lab so he could move his special projects lab there. With both of us working on that project it would be perfect. So we agreed and before we knew it an unassuming barn turned into an advanced cybernetics lab. You would never know from the outside He installed security systems and even sentry turrets with knockout darts. Dr. James did not take security lightly.

We had been working on the farm for weeks, between that and the lab, things were insanely busy. We almost never got downtime. Dr. James insisted I started calling him Dad. One does not simply call their hero, Dad. But, He wouldn’t take no as an answer, eventually, I caved and just got used to the notion of it. Still feels odd thinking back on it. I had grown up in awe of this man and his accomplishments and now I had to call him Dad. It was the strangest thing in the world to me. 

As the wedding drew near we noticed Dr. James started spending more time in the barn lab. Eventually, closed the other lab and moved it to the farm as well. Said he felt safer there away from prying eyes.  He tightened security and his entire staff moved there.  It worked out great he was able to grow the organic materials and fibers he used in his cybernetics on the farm so It completely cut out the third party contracts he had to keep up for it. Dr. James had an assistant Dr. Steven Lots, He had been with him for a long time, he watched Selah grow up and was there when her mother passed. He was an uncle to Selah and part of the family. He was a bit odd and hated the title “Doctor”. He preferred being called Steven. He was a software engineer and developed programming to operate all the hardware created in the labs. He even developed the AI that controlled the Core and helped to save the planet. There was no one alive who could do what this man could with programming. He was a rather tall slender man with an oddly large nose and long arms and legs. He always came to work in sweatpants, a hoodie, and bear claw slippers. He always complained the lab was too cold. He was the happiest one when the lab moved to the farm. He would take his tablet out to the crop field and sit in a wooden chair in the sun and work on code out there. Dr. James hated it, and said it was a security risk. But Steven would just tell him to kiss his butt and do it anyway. Those two fought like brothers.  

Steven took his work very seriously. He believed that for a prosthetic to feel natural he had to breathe a sort of life into the AI of the device. So the prosthetics didn’t just respond to direct commands they learned. Using a series of sensors and bioelectric input from the owner the prosthetics would learn and eventually function as a normal limb. A sort of muscle memory. It made our prosthetics the best in the world. If you reached for a cup the hand would automatically and smoothly grab the cup or the handle just as a normal arm would. A leg would work and run like a real leg allowing for a more normal way of life. With the synthetic skin grown to match the tone of the owner’s skin it looked like it was a real body part. We were even able to incorporate touch and temperature sensors into the prosthetics to allow people to have a tactile experience. This was all thanks to his programming. Dr. James never had a lack of praise for Steven. But Steven would never hear it. He just sat there all day, dreaming and coding. Like an artist painting, he could always find solutions and new ways to improve things. He had a single mind of wanting to help people. He knew his art was saving lives, and that was all he cared about. 

It was a lovely summer’s afternoon, Selah and I were sitting on the front porch and trying to relax. We got a call from Steven saying Dr. James wanted everyone in the lab now. Dr. James never did all calls. So we quickly jumped in our truck and drove back to the barn. When we got there Steven was waiting in the prosthetics lab and informed us we were waiting for everyone to arrive. It didn’t take long, everyone was in a panic to get there. Once everyone had arrived Steven went in to inform him. The Doctor came out and called us all around. He started off with “I know you are all aware that this lab has been working on a special project for some time. We have kept the project broken up and compartmentalized. Only Steven and I knew what we were working on. I wanted you all to know that your hard work has paid off. The Special Project is complete.’’ He then had us follow him to a room in the back that had been locked down since the lab was moved. It was all very dramatic and you could see the joy in his eyes. Selah was concerned because she could tell he was holding back tears. He pulled Selah and I to the front and he and Steven pulled the curtain aside.

There on the table was a life-like biomechanical body. It looked real, more real than anything we had ever seen in the labs. It was the most amazing thing we had ever seen. You could hear the other scientist gasping and making sounds of aww behind us. No one could believe their eyes. He invited us to come and take a closer look so Selah walked over and touched it. It felt real, she said, you could even see it breathing and it had a pulse. The skin would even change color slightly when you pressed on it. It went on for an hour like a party of sorts. Everyone wanted to see it and examine it. He made sure to show us every aspect of it. Access ports that were hidden. How easy it was to repair and that it was even modular. It was the most detailed thing he had ever made. If you cut the skin it would bleed. It used a circulatory system to move nanites around like blood to every part of the body. The nanite fluid would repair minor damages and prevent further damage if something major happened so you could get it repaired. 

One of the employees asked a question that we all had on our minds. It looked like an artificial life form. Or Android. But there was no sign of an autonomous operations system. That is when Dr. James explained why we had worked so hard to develop it. He was fulfilling the promise to his wife. It was a full-body replacement for those who were without hope. It was a way to make sure no child would ever have to live through what Selah did and grow up without their mommy or daddy. He went over to Selah after that and said he was sorry. Both of them in tears he said he wished he could have done this to save her mother. They hugged for a minute and Selah had to leave the room to calm down. You see the body laying on the table was modeled after her late mother. He wanted to build it as small as possible, so It would allow him to scale it up for men or taller women, as scaling down would be a lot harder. Once the reveal was over Dr. James came and found Selah and I. He explained why he used her mother’s body as a template. She wasn’t upset at all. It was just a shock. I had initially thought he used Selah; she looked just like her mother at her age. He gave Selah a kiss on the forehead and sent us home. He had to return to the lab and secure the project for the night. We didn’t get a wink of sleep all night. After all who could sleep after a reveal like that.   

The following morning, we went to the lab to work. Selah was in a daze and we were working on some pediatric prosthetics. A little girl had lost her lower legs due to a car accident, so we were building her a custom set of new legs. The lab was all a chatter as people were talking about the body in the other room. They were wondering when he would go public with it and frustrated because they couldn’t tell their families about it due to the Non-disclosure agreement they signed. It was about 10 am and Dr. James came out of his office with a panicked look on his face. He came over and grabbed me by the arm and said he wanted me by his side for a meeting coming. Of course, I promptly dropped what I was doing and went with him. We got to the front room of the labs just in time. I saw a Transport had landed out front and in walked Jessica Lemoy. Head of Lemoy Industries. The company that nearly destroyed the earth. One of the lab techs worked for her and informed her of Dr. James’ invention. You could feel the air get colder as she entered the room. The woman had a presence about her that made the toughest of men cringe. And by the look on Dr. James’ face, I could see clearly that this was an unexpected meeting. This was not going to be a good day.