5 Friends - A Thesis on Full Body Prosthesis
The four of them set the package on the floor gently, fearful of causing the slightest disturbance to the contents within; those most precious and irreplaceable components of their friend and partner in this project.
They'd all had a very active involvement in this endeavor: design, programming, manufacture crafting custom parts, not to mention (perhaps most importantly) persuading the powers that be that the five of them were, in fact, not mad scientists and were in fact worthy of a grant to fund this scheme. However, genius and ambitious though they may be, no one was going to let a bunch of undergrads perform brain surgery, even if the patient permitted it.
So they outsourced the surgery to a much lauded surgeon who'd shared the crew's curiosity at the feasibility of full body prosthetics and wanted to help them demonstrate it.
“Ok,” Ashley began, a quiver in her voice both from giddy excitement and nervous fear, “let me make sure her body is ready.” She rushed to Jenna's room in the apartment they shared. They'd done most of the work in the lab on campus and moved the completed mechanical body to the apartment figuring it might be best to activate Jenna for the first time in the most comfortable environment possible. Ash had been performing some last minute component checks the night before. There was no real work to be done at that point, but she'd nervously double and triple checked everything she could just to be sure, and because she couldn't wait to have Jenna back. They'd become more than friends over the course of the project and the time she'd spent at the hospital having her brain adapted for her new form; the form the five of them had put so much blood, sweat, and tears into realizing, well, she just missed her. Now all of them were hoping the most radical step of it all hadn't killed her, and Ash was the most terrified of all.
“Let me help you with that, Ash,” Camille followed her. Ash was holding the central unit of the body in a tight embrace. It consisted of the torso, then extending halfway along the neck and upper arms and thighs with connection points for the other main components at the end of each. Jenna was certainly petite and they'd built the new body to be a replica of her original, but the metallic internal structure still gave it some heft. “Someone else come too,” Camille called back, “I don't want to drop anything.”
Camille grabbed both legs, Kara grabbed the arms, and Lyn fetched the head; its face locked in a serene expression awaiting a mind to animate it. They set the parts down by the arm chair where Ash had propped up Jenna's torso. It wasn't exactly a scientific looking setup, but it would keep her safely propped up while they got her up and running. “Here,” Lyn handed Jenna's head. Ash held it tenderly, planted a kiss on the forehead, then attached it to the neck connector with an crisp click. She attached the legs, then the arms next.
And there she was; her new shell anyway. She was completely recognizable as the Jenna they knew, even if she wasn't convincingly human. Ash had sculpted her face and skull in loving detail; the pointed nose, high cheekbones, and narrow chin. Her ears still stuck out in that way she found so endearing, though she'd toned that down a bit just because Jenna was always a little embarrassed by it. She had the same straight bangs to her mousy brown hair. Besides that and her brows and lashes though, there was no hair to be found; just a uniform pigment across smooth, doll-like skin, occasionally punctuated by feint lines where her segments connected and access panels lay. Her lips and nipples were a bit pink, but those details did little to hide her artificiality. Even with a research grant, the five friends had burned a lot of their budget on the neurosurgery that had been used to incorporate part of Jenna's brain into the computer that would drive her new mechanical body. Between that, R&D, and developing a sensory network that would hopefully give her enough sensation to stay sane and happy, aesthetics and some broad mechanical aspects couldn't be totally optimized.
Ash didn't mind, though. To her, she was still beautiful and she was still the girl she'd grown to love, and working to develop this new body and (mostly) new brain of hers together would only bring them closer to each other.
“Well, come on, let's get her plugged in so she can celebrate with us!” Cara exclaimed. Ash was shaking a bit. Camille put a hand on her shoulder. “Look, Ash, I'm worried too. But the sooner we finish this the sooner we know, and you know what? It'll be ok. We all know what we're doing, JEN knew what she was doing, it's gonna work.”
“Nobody's ever done this though, Cam,” Ash choked, “what if we plug that brain in, switch her on and she just sits there? Or what if she just... just... what if she walks and talks but Jen's not really IN there? What if we just KILLED-”
“Jen was SICK and getting sicker, and that's why she volunteered, and she volunteered when the five of us had just barely started planning all of this. She knew there were risks, but she knew she could be dead in a few years, and that's WHY she volunteered. Hell, maybe she's just been putting on a brave face, but Ash, SHE's been more excited than anyone. How many times have you heard her boast about being the first person to become a robot?”
“She's been hyped up for this, Ash, and it's kept her going. She's in there,” Cam pointed to the package they'd just brought in, “that's her gray mater in that box, and the A.I. construct we all developed for her, and we're going to plug that in to that head we built, we're gonna boot her up just like we planned, and she's gonna get a new lease on life, and everyone's gonna think we're goddamn geniuses, and the both of you are gonna be so high on your achievements that you're gonna have the best sex you lovebirds have EVER had.”
Ash put both hands over her face, craned her neck, and let her hands fall to her sides in fists. “Yeah, Cam,” she said, “let's wake her up.”
Ash opened the case they'd brought back from the hospital and held the metallic braincase that had been packed inside. She walked to the chair as Cara disconnected the top section of Jen's skull, neatly breaking right along the hairline. Ash inserted the electronic brain. It locked into place, and the main connector at the rear section connected to the top of the electronic spinal cord they'd built. She reattached the top of the skull, Jen's more than shoulder length hair pinned neatly to it to keep it out of the way.
“Ok,” Ash sighed, reaching for the switch just under the base of Jen's neck, “let's say hello.”