Alex Benjamin Sellars, aka Retread
“Yes we have your Honor. We the jury find the defendants, Michael and Julia Sellars, guilty on all counts.”
If Alex could cry he would. Instead he felt his face contort in an effort to contain the tears that simply didn’t exist, his heavy head fell forward into the oversized four fingered paws he now had for hands.
“And the property?” Austen Grimes’ shark like smile showed as much empathy as the creature he resembled. Despite the prosecuting attorney’s obvious lack of compassion and total lust for victory the jurors had no real choice other than find the married scientists guilty. But that was as far as the despicable legal monster’s triumph would progress this day.
“Why would you assume there would be any change on the one ruling in the face of this one, Mr Grimes?” The Judge knew he was supposed to always remain unbiased, but the very sight of Grimes in his courtroom made him want to commit several crimes of his own. The existence of sociopaths like him made the entire legal system seem suspect. “The evidence has proven without a doubt that Alex Sellars’ consciousness is housed within your clients FORMER property and to remove it would be murder. To return the SHEETH to your client, Klein Industries, would be an act of slavery. Without a viable and safe way to sustain Mr Sellar’s consciousness Klein Industries has no legal right to claim ownership of their former property.”
Hiding his eyes in his hands did Alex little good, his vibrational audio receptors still painted a fairly clear picture of the room around him. The virbrations from the uncomfortable shifting about by the onlookers sang through the heavy wooden pews. Mumbling and sighing coming from all around. He knew the jury and the spectators were uncomfortable with the massive figure sitting behind his parents, the ridiculously large trench coat and clothes his parents’ lawyer had made for him couldn’t hide the huge rubber like body under them and he wondered again if he smelled. Sounds and sights the nanite systems that made up his insides had covered. But with no way of interpreting olafactory input he was in a world without scent. He knew his body was nothing more than several hundred pounds of some high tech rubber and never was sure if there was an aroma. Everyone told him no, but considering his situation maybe they were just showing pity.
“Again, if the court would allow my client enough time to explore the options and attempt to replicate the procedure illegally engaged by the Sellarses when they,”
Judge Quinto cut off the arrogant thing speaking in his courtroom,“When they successfully migrated the consciousness of their dieing and paralyzed child into the nueral nanite network that mobilizes the Synthetic Hazardous Enviroment Exoskeleton Teleoperated Humanoid we see sitting with the defendants today. Yes, we have heard this arguement ad nauseum Mr Grimes. And we have found the defendants guilty of grand theft and they will pay for their crime. But this very court and a plethora of specialists from psychologists, nanotechnology experts, brain surgeons and clergy have verified that the mind inside this former property of your employer is that of 21 year old Alex Benjamin Sellars. A young man who’s rare muscular disorder stripped him of the use of his body and presented his inevitable death. Is there anything new you were going to bring forth Mr Grimes?”
“No. No there is not.”
20 minutes later Alex was saying goodbye to his parents. His life had changed so drastically in the past few months. He had accepted his fate, resolved to nothingness in exchange for the unmoving prison his broken body had become. Instead he was reborn. The deep rolling sound that was now Alex Sellars’ voice rumbled out of his large maw, “We can appeal, I’ll talk to the DA and,”
“No, no Allie. When your father and I resigned to this we knew the price. The SHEETH is a one of a kind, Klein was having a difficult enough time replicating the non Newtonian fluids after Pasquell passed away. And the nanites only function properly in his compound. The cost alone of the Infinity Battery,”
“That’s enough Julia. Alex. Son, there was only one way in this universe to keep our child alive and give him a second chance to find happiness. We spent many nights considering the ramifications of our actions and accepted this. It was a perfect storm of coinidences and technological break throughs that allowed us to transfer you into here,” he tapped the powerful and unyielding torso of what was now his child, as high as he could reach with his shackles. “Let us do what we set our minds to, and you find your way. That’s what we did this for, don’t waste it, Alex.”
Alex couldn’t find the words to respond as his parents were lead away. There was no malfunction in his sensory systems but he found himself in a distant tunnel far apart from the world around him. His life was given back to him but now the most valuable and irreplacable aspects of that life were being taken away. And despite his internal struggle not to feel sorry for himself he again began to wonder what his life had to really offer. He was a six and a half foot tall 600 pound vulcanized experiment. With no skeletal system and no actual organs it was a challenge to feel alive. He could walk on the bottom of the ocean, haul two tons of iron ore from miles below the Earth’s crust or trod into the hot core of a nuclear meltdown to help stop the reaction. But at this moment he had no where to go.
And there were the nightmares. The nueral relays that fired between the array of nanobots emulated his old biological brain to a fault. Despite his body no longer needing rest his new brain still did. And when sleep overcame him it was almost always the same dream. As the light was leaving him in that Klein laboratory and his parents toiled feverishly over their transference program he experienced what everyone is destined to. He died. But first he began to sense his new body. For a few minutes he was trapped both in his failing organic form and in his new nigh invulnerable manufactured one.
From his old body there was nothing. Death was death. No light. No reunion with his old dog Maggie whom he always thought would be patiently waiting for him in the afterlife. Maybe some rise to that place but for him there was nothing. He had vowed to himself to live the best life he could and to help anyone he could to follow the same pursuit. It was inspirational at the time but only terrifying when he relived it in his sleep.
With the giant hands he now had his old medical dreams and 2 years of med school were dashed. In the beginning he felt indebted to Karl Klein and his company whom his parents had mislead and used to save him, but he soon learned his Mother and Father were stealing the golden fiddle from the Devil. Although designated as a tool for being teleoperated in hazardous enviromental conditions it became apparent that Klein was developing the robot as a military weapon. Against his parents’ wishes Alex had reached out to Klein and in less than a week the true nature of the company and the man became obvious. Given the opportunity they would gladly exorcise Alex from the SHEETH and bastardize the genius programming his parents created with compassion to produce weapons of mass destruction.
“What am I going to do?”
Alex was saved from death when his parents successfully transfered his organic consciousness into Klein (pronounced ‘clean’) Industries prototype SHEETH. Synthetic Hazardous Enviroment Exoskeleton Teleoperated Humanoid. The robot stands six and a half feet tall and weighs just over 600 pounds. The exoskeleton is a thermodynamic ballistics resistant polymer over 2 inches thick and resembles vulcanized rubber. The exoskeleton, combined with the properties of the inner core, can resist the highest of impacts as well as tremendous pressures, vacuums and extreme temperatures.
The inside of the husk is filled with a non newtonian electrostatically activated fluid. Floating within the fluid are millions of nanobots which work synchroniously to emit minor charges which in turn manipulate the density of the fluid and create movement. Non newtonian fluids have unique properties and can behave as both a liquid and a solid. If the system is overburdened or senses it will suffer severe unrecoverable damage due to extreme stress or the nanobots will shut down the system.
The Sellarses took advantage of the similarities between the nanobot system and the human brain’s electrically charged network and transferred Alex’s brain patterns into the SHEETH. The unique method appears to have actually migrated the young man’s actual mind, some say his soul, rather than merely cloning it.
The two weakest points in Alex’s new body are his eyes and to a lesser extent his mouth. The original design for the SHEETH lacked any head at all and video receptors were mounted in the torso. Focus groups decided the form required a head to be more marketable and then they eyes were incorporated. Made of high strength titanium they relay light input to the floating nanoarrays within the core. Unlike the inner core the eye units are not self repairing and can be overloaded with input causing system problems.
Although Alex doesn’t breath, there is a limited gas exchange requirement for both the nanites and the Infinity Battery which powers the system. It was also decided that it was more energy efficient to incorporate a traditional ‘air over vocal cords’ sound making system than having nanites manipulate sound. To solve both issues a mouth was incorporated into the head also. Although it only opens several inches into the exoskeleton and is self sealing it could be exploited.
Despite the complexities of Alex’s body it is quite mobile, approximately as fast and nimble as he was originally before being struck down by disease. Although he is afforded higher than human strength his true asset is size and damage resistance. He can support up to two tons of weight. Attempting to exceed that limit can cause a protective shut down of the system which literally leaves him in a state similar to his former human condition. Fortunately as Retread he can recover. His body is incredibly resistant to damage and impacts. The SHEETH was originally referred to as ‘Stretch Armstrong’ on steroids. Although the dermal layer will not stretch like the popular toy it does bend. With no actual skeletal structure and a malleable exoskeleton all of his limbs are basically double jointed although its difficult to adjust to for Alex.
For a little while Alex had been a super hero in Science City called Retread, but the life was not very fulfilling. He decided to turn his attention towards space and accepted a job at Awesome Industries. He is now a trained astronaut and has experience in a variety of mechanical fields, employing a special set of waldos that grant him fine manipulation. Unfortunately the waldos and goggles are too delicate to wear all the time.