Doc has some theories,
Sonya needs answers, Esther starts drinking
and Marnie discovers new talents!
Last but not least, I'd like to thank my lovely Muse, Dani for everything she is.
you're gonna see some serious shit.’”
Doctor Emmet Brown
Milo Samuels sank deeper into his chair,“This is heavy.”
“Dad, how do you know Marnie?” Sonya gawped, slack jawed, “I just met her today! And why the hell did she call you Doc?”
Marnie sank slowly to the floor and sat wide eyed and ready to bolt, rocking back and forth.
Milo stood, walked over to her and tilted her chin up to look her directly in the eyes. After searching her face for a moment he grunted and nodded.
“Who did this to you Arthur?” he asked the girl gently, “I know you well enough to know you wouldn’t mess with any company materials.”
“I think it was my mom, Doc,” tears started down Marnie’s cheeks, “I woke up this morning like this and mom was all loco…”
“Dad! What is this shit?” Sonya interrupted, “what the fuck are you two talking about and why did you call her Arthur?”
Milo whirled on his daughter,“Sonya please! This young woman seems to be the victim of a biogenic assault,” he chided, “and it appears she is the child of my late partner. I need you to listen, I’m sure some of your questions will be answered, but Marnie, as you call her is our first priority!”
Sonya took a deep breath, centered herself and sat back down in the recliner she had been in.
“How can I help Dad?” she asked quietly.
“Just write down the salient points of what you hear, we can go over them later to see if I missed anything,” he turned back to Marnie, “thank you dear. Now uh, Marnie? Or would you prefer Arthur?”
“Under the circumstances Doc,” Marnie sniffled back her tears and smiled weakly,
“Marnie is a little more appropriate. Uh, where was I?”
“‘Mom was all loco…’” Sonya piped up.
“Oh… thanks…. So um, Mom was acting nuts and going on about me having a second chance or giving me a second chance. I had blazed as soon as I got up so I wouldn’t have to deal with her bullshit,” Marnie paused and blushed, “sorry ‘bout the language.”
Milo looked up from the joint he was rolling and grinned. “Marnie dear, I have heard worse from both of you, so don’t be getting all shy on me now,” he lit the joint and passed it to Sonya, “besides, you should have heard some of the language that your mother and Sonya’s mother have used on me.”
Sonya took a deep haul on the joint and passed it to Marnie. “Trust me,” She croaked out, “he does not exaggerate.”
That earned a small smile from Marnie as she took the joint and inhaled deeply. She felt the harsh edge of her panic subsiding and let out a deep sigh.
“She made sure I took notice of her ‘improvements’, but I didn’t give her the satisfaction of reacting. I then proceeded to make good my escape from the house,” she paused, “considering I was seriously baked, or should have been, I did very well in my planning.” She frowned. Milo nodded his head.
“Cognitive boost,” he murmured, “interesting.”
“Come to think of it, I should have been seriously shitting myself about waking up like this,” Marnie blinked owlishly, “but aside from a couple of minor panic attacks, I’ve just been mostly myself… more emotional though.”
“Interesting,” Milo nodded again, “and how did you deal with these incidents?”
“It’s sorta crazy, but,” Marnie coughed, “I would hear a thought that wasn’t mine, but was?”
“Like a voice?” Milo raised his eyebrows.
“Sorta yes, sometimes?” Marnie struggled to put the concept into words, “I talked with it a couple of times, in my head? And it’s sort of a user’s manual…” she trailed off…
“And what else?” Milo probed gently.
“An autopilot,” she whispered, wide eyed, “there have been… gaps in my…now?”
Milo gathered the shaken girl into a hug. Marnie was trembling as she clung to her oldest friend.
‘My god, what did Esther put into this poor child?’ he thought furiously while stroking the young girls hair. After a while, he felt her trembling start to quiet. “Ok sweetie, its ok, we’ll figure this out…”
Marnie sniffled and pulled away from the Doc’s chest. Blinking back tears, she drew in a shaky breath. “I hope so doc,” she barely whispered. Wiping her eyes with the heels of her hands, she blinked, straightened up and looked him in the eyes, “Where do we start?”
Milo smiled; there was the tenacity he knew Artie had, even with the emotional shocks she had experienced today.
“We start with you telling me everything you remember happening and feeling today,” he directed her, “Every detail! Then we can concentrate on the physical aspects.”
“You can see the physical aspects Doc,” Marnie giggled, “I know what you mean though. Everything has been, for the lack of a better word, Weird.” She paused to consider how to explain, “I woke up in an alien body that felt completely normal,” she frowned, “it didn’t feel off balance or awkward at all. Honestly, I didn’t notice till my attention was drawn to it by my… by Esther.”
Sonya listened, wide eyed. If her father hadn’t confirmed the fact, she would never have believed Marnie had been anything but female, she was just so… natural.
“The next thing I knew,” Marnie continued, “my head was clearing, which was odd, considering the strain I had smoked earlier,” she looked at Milo with a crooked smile, “it was your ‘White Widow’, anyway, I cobbled together a decent enough disguise, grabbed some cash, an old board and made good my escape…” she cleared her throat.
Sonya tossed a bottle of water her way, which Marnie caught without even looking. Sonya’s jaw dropped and Milo’s brows rose to his hairline.
“That,” said Marnie, “is only a small example of what I’ve been able to do today. My balance seems hypercharged, I was boarding like it was completely automatic and like I said, I was completely at ease with Sonya and her friends when I should have been a gibbering wreck.”
“You mentioned voices?” Milo prodded as he opened his water, “or thoughts not your own?”
“On a couple of occasions today, like an inner voice.” Marnie nodded, “it gives advice on how to deal with difficult situations, and we sorta talked while I was at the salon. It’s… her voice is different from my inner voice… but the autopilot thing scares me Doc… I don’t want to lose me.” She was on the verge again.
~breathe dear, deep breaths, center yourself~
Marnie immediately felt calmer and stopped trembling. “That was her,” she looked at them, “she helped me fight off a panic attack.”
“It was strange to see Marnie,” Sonya spoke up quietly, “you were starting to shake and get pale, then your eyes sorta glazed over and you settled right down.”
Marnie cleared her throat. “Her voice was just there in my mind and helped me find my center,” she whispered, “Doc, you gotta help me.”
“I will do everything humanly possible… Marnie,” he replied and she could see the fire in his eyes, “in return I ask for only one thing, your complete trust, no matter how scary or embarrassing these tests may seem.”
Marnie nodded, wide eyed as Milo helped her to her feet. He rubbed his hands together in a motion Marnie had seen before when he was putting his entire mind to a task. “Now, Sonya will get to work on two things,” he pointed to the computer setup through the doorway, “first, transcribing the last half hour of conversation into file notes and two, getting started on the ID package you requested in your initial email Marnie.”
“But… she… how?” Marnie stammered, “I didn’t see her take any notes?”
“Dear, my daughter, aside from being a genius with computers and mathematics,” Milo smiled proudly, “has an eidetic memory. She remembers all that she sees and hears until she chooses to forget.”
Sonya grinned and blushed pink. “Get away with your silver tongue,” she stuck hers out at her father, “More than just a pretty face, eh Marnie? Sorta like you.” She gathered Marnie into a hug, “now the two of you scoot, I have work to do.”
Doctor Emmet Brown
Milo led Marnie back upstairs towards his workspace. She had never seen this part of his house before, having preferred to relax in the basement with her friend. This area was off the hook with so much high tech equipment that she couldn’t begin to identify half of it, and she had seen the labs at NeilTech. It actually looked like a scene out of a science fiction movie. Milo saw her trying to look at everything at once and snickered.
“What? You thought I retired from my field after your… Esther fired me?” he smiled, “I suppose I could have, I was very rich. No, I continued the work that David and I started and now, even NeilTech calls me to consult. Poetic Justice I suppose.”
He guided her through to a small examination room just off the main lab. He sighed, “I miss your father too, child. We were so close to the cure for him. I wish Esther could have come to grips, I had hoped she had, but this… Misuse of the technology, on you, on anyone…” his eyes flashed angrily, “we’ll deal with her later. Come in and undress, put on the gown and I’ll be in shortly.”
He closed the door between them and went to his desk. Milo picked up the phone and quickly dialled a number from memory.
“NeilTech R&D, Ken Takahashi,” greeted the voice on the other end, “how can I help you?”
“Hey Ken, Milo. I need you to do something for me on the QT,” he replied, “I need you to physically check the special projects locker and tell me if there’s anything missing.”
“Do you have reason to believe that anything might be gone Milo?” Ken’s voice took on a serious edge.
“I do Ken and if I’m right I’ll need you to send me all the notes and specs on it,” he said flatly, “there could be a possible misapplication protocol. I’ll hold”
“Shit! Ok, hold on,” Ken spat as the line went silent.
Milo busied himself by writing out a preliminary file entry for Marnie. Name, alias, birth date, calendar age, approximate biological age and relevant background information for the patient. This one had to be by the books, not a t uncrossed nor an i undotted.
Ken came back on the line as he was finishing his notes.“We have a problem old friend,” Ken sounded frightened, “Government and MOD crashing down on our balls with both feet kind of problem!”
“That’s what I was afraid of Ken,” he ran his hand over his eyes, “ok don’t raise any alarms just yet. What’s missing and how much?”
“Project foxtrot echo mike echo 213 delta,” Ken replied shakily, “one full dose unit.”
“OK, here’s what we need to do Ken, and don’t argue security with me, you know I have higher clearance then you do,” Milo quickly made a list in his mind, “first, go to the bioreactor and program it for a replacement dose for inventory, second send me the files and specs on the project, all of them, through our secure channel and third keep this quiet for at least 48 hours while I track down the probable suspect… this is huge Ken and could seriously damage NeilTech.”
“But… I, OK Milo, I trust you to know what you’re doing,” Ken sighed, “But to be clear here, 48 hours and then I have to get internal security involved.”
“I understand Ken,” Milo responded, “and thanks. I’ll keep you posted.” He hung up the receiver and walked back to the exam room.
Knocking gently, he opened the door to find Marnie sitting nervously on the table. Milo smiled to relax her.
“Hey Kiddo, made a little progress on the stuff your mom used,” he noticed Marnie flinch, “sorry, Esther used. Now we need some vitals and some blood samples, so BP, heart rate and general checkup first, then a few not so pleasant tests and we’ll do some mad science, ok?” Marnie bit her lip and nodded as Milo closed the door.
Esther was starting to seriously freak out by this time. She couldn’t call the police and she didn’t have any idea of what Artie would do with his free time outside the house so there was no way that she could go out searching in the car.
“I honestly don’t know my own son!” she thought bitterly, “I had no idea that he was as smart as he is. Valedictorian! What else didn’t I notice?” she went to the living room, poured her fifth glass of scotch and downed it in one gulp. Esther caught sight of herself in the mirror and hurled her empty tumbler at the reflection, shattering both mirror and glass, “SHIT SHIT SHIT! YOU MONSTER!” she threw herself onto the sofa and screamed herself into an uneasy sleep.
Sonya set to her tasks with all diligence, but her mind was whirling like a dervish. Even with the advancements in bioengineering that her father and others like him had achieved, this shouldn’t be possible! To be able to completely remake a human being to spec was just… scary. She looked up photos of Artie Neil on the internet and what she saw looked nothing like Marnie at all, and though Artie had been ok looking in a gangly, boarder sort of way, Marnie was totally sexy and cute. Artie was also about 3 inches taller than Marnie and about 40 pounds heavier. She shook her head to try to get her thoughts flowing straight.
She opened up her templates and started creating an entirely new person from thin air. Once upon a time, changing identities had been as easy as going to a cemetery, finding someone who had been born around the same time as you, and mail a request for a birth certificate. Once you had that, getting bank accounts, drivers’ licenses and the like was easy.
‘Not so much these days,’ she thought with a wry smile, ‘once the various levels of government started to network their computers, a death record would flash up with the request for a birth certificate immediately. No, now you had to be able to hack the records and in a best case scenario, create physical ID to go with it.’
This was a best case scenario.
She got to start from scratch, building a completely new persona from a literal tabula rasa. She put her ear buds in, cranked up the tunes and cracked her way into the Office of the Registrar General for British Columbia. Opening a new file was easy enough; the tricky part was finding the number range that was issued for the series from Marnie’s new birth date. Speaking of which… she linked to her father’s computer to see what age he had assigned to Marnie… 19… cool. Same age as before, so she could assign the same date of birth and Marnie wouldn’t get into trouble by forgetting her own birthday. She did a scan of registrations for that period and found a blank file, perfect; she slotted a very sincere fake registration into place and pulled open another window.
This was her template for the actual certificates, long and short form. Rummaging through a box of very official looking government forms; she selected the first two and loaded them into a printer never intended for public usage. In less than ten minutes, Marnie had her certificates and Sonya settled in to work on drivers’ license and health insurance cards.
Marnie started to get dressed sullenly as soon as Milo had left the exam room with his samples and notes. She had just experienced the most uncomfortable medical exam of her life and the sooner she was out of that room, the better. Once she was fully clothed again, she let out a huge sigh and lowered herself to the floor, assuming the lotus seat that she had learned in her martial arts classes.
‘This certainly is a lot easier to do now though’ she thought wryly to herself.
Closing her eyes, she began her low breathing pranayama to get herself into a state of mind where she could actually be of some assistance to her friend, and now Doctor, it seemed.
She was conscious of herself for a good five minutes before the self went away and she entered a state of mindfulness.
She brought herself back twenty minutes later and rolled to her feet without even thinking about it. Opening the door, she heard the muted whir of precision equipment and the low muttering of Milo coming from behind a very large computer monitor.
“God damn it, of all the things for that senseless woman to pick, it had to be this one…” he cursed under his breath.
“What one Doc?” she inquired as she approached his workstation, “what shit did Esther pump into me?”
“A very dangerous, untested product being developed for the Ministry of Defence,” he slumped back into his chair, “with the ungainly nomenclature FEME213D.”
“In English this time please Doc,” she glanced at the monitor and froze for a moment, “Whoa, Trippy… Field Enhancement, Military Experiment 213 Defence. Damnit! What the Frack was that?!”
Let’s see, you absorbed and compiled all the data on the monitor,” he pursed his lips and blew out air, “so I would say that’s part of the enhancement.”
Marnie reached for the nearest chair and plonked herself into it. “So, some dumbass brass hat at the MOD saw the Captain America movie and decided they wanted a super-soldier?” she spat angrily, all of her previous calm vanishing, “and Esther jumped at the chance for a government contract no matter how ethically questionable. Then sticks me full of who knows what? Is that it?”
“Well, considering this stuff was only in the tissue culture testing stage, we should look at the positive of the situation,” Milo said with a sad smile, “It should have killed you. Dissolved, I would think…”
Marnie blinked, her anger rapidly evaporating.
“Well, when you put it that way…” she grinned, “so what was this stuff designed to do; I didn’t see a specs list on your screen?”
“Short version?” he replied, “enhance the physical to peak fitness, improved stamina, modified immune system, balance, hearing, vision with some add ons, neural enhancement, active nanotech, pain resistance and some other esoterica that just means you are, well, somewhat more than human.” He took off his glasses and polished them with his lab coat.
“We are the Borg…” she quipped, “hang on… ‘Neural Enhancement, Active Nanotech’? How ‘active’ are we talking here?”
“That, is an excellent question,” Milo sat up, “Take the bandage off your arm where I drew blood, would you?”
Marnie peeled off the band aid and cotton ball and saw… nothing. No sign whatsoever that she had been pierced by a needle at all.
“Oookay… Captain America, the Borg and now Wolverine?” she slumped a little in her chair, “what other trademarks am I currently violating? What else did this active nanotech do to me?”
Milo picked up a piece of paper from the printers tray and set it in front of them both. It was a tech drawing of a nanomachine.
“Meet feme213d. From what I could figure out at first glance,” he tapped the drawing with his pencil, “they took the latest HealGen ‘bot and ramped it up at least 100%. This bugger has a gig of active solid state ram and the processing power of a Samsung Galaxy IIIS. It also has a distributed network using a very low 4G signal. You are probably a walking Hotspot.”
“Distributed network, uh huh,” she nodded, “and how many of these wee smartphones are there in me Doc?”
“Probably on the close order of a trillion,” he replied flatly, “which would explain where they got the fuel for your abrupt transformation, the excess mass of your old body. But what worries me more is their programming.”
“That’s your big worry Doc?” she huffed, “My biggest worry is how do I get back to being me!”
“I understand that Arthur,” Milo used her real name to try to convey the gravity of his next words, “but I feel that any attempt to do that without understanding the process would undoubtedly kill you.”
“Kill me?” she said flatly, “so I’m stuck… but why…” she waved her hands towards her body, “why this?”
“Why a girl is what you mean,” Milo shook his head wearily, “there were two nearly identical batches of feme213d. The difference is one was designed for men, the other for women. Your …Esther chose the female one, for whatever passes for reason in her head.” He sighed,” I gather that’s the reason you were out for, what? Three days? The tech had to rewrite your DNA, probably just copy and pasting your existing X chromosome. So until we can crack the process, we can’t just shoot you with the male variant.”
Marnie frowned and then her eyes lit up.
“We have no Y chromosome to take a template from,” she exclaimed, “and we’d have to reprogram the feme213d m variant with a sample of my DNA from home, that is, if there’s any left after Esther’s Extreme Makeover: Bedroom Edition. She had my room completely redone and probably swept clean… except…”
“Except?” Milo sat forward.
“Except for all of my bolt holes I had built in my room and my closet there might be some of me in one of them,” she sighed, “which means I have to go back there. And I will, the rest of my cash and bank cards are there.” She paused in thought for a moment, “you said something about programming…”
“Yes! Programming,” he sat up straight, “the tech wouldn’t need such high levels of computing power or the network if it wasn’t required for high level data processing and retrieval, and I gather this is why you are a page at a glance reader. But more to the point, you mentioned help files and the voice in your head?”
“That’s probably some sort of AI,” Milo smacked his hands together, “under normal circumstances…”
“Like there would be any normal circumstances Doc,” she snorted.
“If this was used under military applications, the AI would probably be a combat computer, with military programming and mission specific applications,” he almost looked excited, “but in this case, there was no real data and the network has been learning by observation!”
“Ok Doc, settle down,” Marnie coaxed, “you’re starting to get creepy. So I have a copy of Cosmopolitan in my head?”
~ Not Cosmo, I prefer Vogue ~ there was the impression of amusement in the voice.
Milo was starting to speak, but Marnie held up her hand to silence him.
~ All right you… you distributed network,~ Marnie thought back savagely, ~no more hiding and popping up whenever you feel like it!~
~ All you had to do was ask, Marnie ~
~ OK, I’m asking, what… who are you? ~
~ Milo had it correct Marnie. We… I was designed to be a combat computer and I have been trying to fulfil my role by helping you to adjust to your present circumstances. I have tried to be as unobtrusive as I can. ~
~ You have been on the verge of freaking me out all day… whoever you are. Do you have a designation? ~
~ Femi will do Marnie. Oh dear, Milo is looking decidedly antsy. Let me try something. ~
Marnie blinked and looked at Milo.
“Sorry Doc, Femi got all chatty all of a sudden,” she tried to explain when her cell rang. She answered it and went white as she activated the speaker.
“Hello Doctor Samuels, I am the AI you postulated,” Said the voice, “you can call me Femi…”
End Part 4
To Be Continued...
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