The Neural Net
Shego joins Icy and Tecna just as a gurney is wheeled in and Stormy lifted and secured into it. Tecna gives Shego the short version of the incident with Stormy.
“Yes, that’s serious enough to require action no matter how drastic,” is Shego’s opinion.
Tecna relates Shego’s decision to the senior physician in Binar whereupon Shego immediately covers her ears to block out the dreadful screeching and groans.
“Guys,” she asks, wincing, “can you do something about that?”
Tecna does a quick examination of Shego’s ID bracelet.
“This is just a basic unit,” says Tecna displeased. “You’ll need an upgrade with a language translation matrix.”
“No time for that!” interrupts Icy. “Have the good doctor stand still, facing me.”
Tecna has the doctor do as Icy asked, knowing what she’s about to do, but, before she can warn him, Icy cuts loose with an intense flash of light.
“Ouch!” exclaims the senior physician whom Icy decides to call Doctor Tic (let the others come up with their own name). “By the Goddess, that stings!”
“Sorry!” replies Icy, “but that’s a lot better.”
“I can understand you,” says Doctor Tic in fluent Alfean, looking shocked and surprised. “How is that possible?”
“Oh, let’s just say it’s by a little magic,” replies Icy with a sly half-smile.
“The Witches have their talents and we have ours,” summarizes Tecna to Doctor Tic, “but now we’re wasting time.”
“Yes, Highness” says Doctor Tic, “we need to get her,” nodding at Stormy who is now strapped into the gurney, “prepped ASAP. Her sister may come with me into the operating room but the rest of you will have to watch from the observation gallery. Princess Tecna will take you there.”
« Kim, » sends Shego telepathically, « can you hear me? »
« No problem at all, » Shego hears Kim reply.
« Is everyone settled in? » she asks.
« Yes. You, Icy and Stormy will be sharing one room, Ron, Rufus and I one room, Wade and Timmy are using a guest room at Tecna’s, and the remaining Faeries all together in another, » reports Kim.
« Great! » replies Shego.
« Right now, though, Ron is having a sulky fit, » laughs Kim.
« Oh, what’s happened now? » groans Shego.
« He tried to order nachos and cheese from the food automaton but it didn’t understand what he wanted, » begins Kim. « Anyway, he explained that they are “corn chips in a creamy cheese sauce.” The automaton hummed over that then out of the dispenser came a plateful of multi-core processor chips covered in castor oil. »
« No way! » laughs Shego. « Let me guess – they tried to eat them anyway and nearly broke their teeth. I almost, but not quite, feel sorry for them. »
« You got it but anyway, I managed to get the automaton to serve him an Alfean field ration with a protein drink. He’s not liking it but he’s eating it and I got some hoku fusso for Rufus, » concludes Kim.
« If you can get away, » says Shego, « Stormy’s about to have an operation. Tecna’s arranging with someone to take Ron to the hydroponic gardens. That should keep him happy and occupied. But you and Wade might want to see this. »
As soon as Kim and Wade join the group, there is a turbo lift trip down five levels.
“Here’s where Meep, Beep and I leave for the operating room,” explains Doctor Tic, nodding to Icy and Stormy. “Princess Tecna will take you to the observation gallery.”
Icy follows the doctor down a hallway where they are met by a team of other doctors who wheel Stormy into one room while Doctor Tic leads Icy into another.
“Beep will be prepped in one room and we must clean-up and robe-up here,” he tells her, pointing to a bank of sonic showers. “After you are showered, hit the black button on the side and you will be dispensed an operation room robe and mask.”
When she exits, the doctor checks to see that her robe and mask are properly fitted and closed then leads Icy to another door which he opens with his elbow, “This way, Meep,” he tells her.
The two enter the room where Doctor Tic quickly introduces her to the four teams that will be assisting with the operation. Shortly after, Stormy is wheeled in, stripped and washed down.
“We had to dispose of her clothes,” says one of the prep team.
“She’s not going to be happy about that,” replies Icy. “That was her favourite outfit.”
“We scanned them and sent the specifications ahead to clothes replication,” is the answer. “If we say nothing then she shall not know the difference.”
The operation starts with a mask placed over Stormy’s face and in a flash she is frozen solid.
“Cryogenic gas,” explains one of the team.
“Cool,” says Icy.
A device lowers from the ceiling then emits a beam that quickly cleaves Stormy in two from top to bottom. There is an audible gasp and Icy looks up to see Wade, Kim and the Faeries watching from the observation gallery. The device then promptly slices the two sections from head to heel.
“The teams will place a quarter into each of these processing tubes,” explains the doctor as four tubes are moved into place and the teams slide the pieces of Stormy into them.
Icy and the others watch as within each tube spray nozzles appear that coat each part of Stormy with what looks to be lavender body lotion.
“This is a spray that will create Beep’s neural net,” explains Doctor Tic whose description is also being relayed to the observation gallery. “The nanites it contains will bore into her body creating pathways that are only microns in diameter then draw into them the elements from the liquid that will build the neural net. You can watch their progress on the monitors on the wall.”
Everyone watches the monitors as each piece of Stormy begins to change from blue to red. When they are completely red, an indicator also lights up on each monitor.
“You will have to step out of the way now while the teams reassemble her,” says the doctor, taking Icy aside.
The four sections of the “dead” woman are decanted and again placed on the operating table. A light grid shines over her then four devices seem to come from nowhere and attach themselves to each of the four sections. All but one of the monitors switch off. The remaining monitor is now displaying a projection of Stormy in four parts and lines of writing scrolling down one side. Shortly, the monitor beeps the alignment complete, a rod-like device positions itself over Stormy and flashes whereupon Stormy is at once the colour of the living and Icy can see the gentle, rhythmic movement of her chest.
“There’s still another step,” says Doctor Tic, preventing Icy from running to her sister.
Still yet another device hovers above Stormy and directly over a depression just below her collarbone and dead centre between her breasts. A clear crystal is slowly lowered into the depression then there is a suck-click sound as the crystal locks into place.
“That is the accumulator and discharge unit,” explains the doctor. “It will draw off any excess electricity she builds up and discharge it harmlessly as light. And the light can be any colour she wants.”
Both the doctor and Icy come to Stormy’s side. Icy is looking for a seam where Stormy was put back together but can find none. Then something else strikes her.
“I’ve never seen her look so beautiful in my life!” she smiles, now looking into Stormy’s angelic face.
“Yes, the nanites did some organ and skin repairs while threading her neural net,” smiles Doctor Tic.
“Whoa!” exclaims Icy. “Can I get a make-over too?”
“No problem,” is the reply. “Any aesthetician on the planet can do it. Just book with Central for an appointment.”
Soon everyone is in a hospital room – Icy out of the operation room robe and back into her civilian dress – and waiting for Stormy to be wheeled in. Once Stormy has been shifted onto a bed, the doctor gives her a hypo-spray and her eyes open.
“It’s okay, Stormy. Just relax. You’ve undergone an operation,” Icy tells her.
Stormy soon appears over her momentary panic but then turns seven shades of green. Tecna is quick to put a bowl under her chin as she coughs and chokes up gobs of mauve jelly.
“It is just what remains of the nanite spray,” the doctor reassures her, “but you will always have nanites in your body to maintain your new neural net.”
“I have the same,” adds Tecna, “I’ll be training you on how to use it.”
“How are you feeling?” asks Icy after Stormy has drunk a glass of water.
“Great!” is the reply but then she’s shifting her head back and forth and creasing her eyebrows in confusion. “But everything sounds strange. It’s as if all the thunder and lightning has suddenly stopped raging in my head.”