“I think this might make it till the week-end.”
“What’s in this box?” asked Toby, from across the room. “What’s Project RG-7, and why is it top secret?”
“I was going to show you guys next week,” said Astrid, leading the others to where Toby was standing beside the crate. “I guess you can go ahead and take a look now.”
Reaching up, she flipped open a latch and opened the side of the crate. Inside, packed with straw, was a metallic girl. She had bright silver skin, but was otherwise quite human looking. Her hair was the same metallic material as the rest of her, a solid hair-shaped mass rather than individual fibers, but she was wearing regular clothing. She had on a pink jacket over a blue t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers.
“Oh my gosh!” squealed Valerie. “She looks like me!”
“Yes, she does,” agreed Denise.
“That’s because I patterned her after you,” said Astrid. “She’s a Robot Girl 7.”
“What’s she… I mean it, for?” asked Austin.
“Well, who wouldn’t want a robot?” wondered Astrid. “She could be anything: friend, babysitter, maid.”
“Why did you make her look like me?” asked Valerie.
“She’s just a prototype. I thought you would be a good model for her.” Astrid stepped over to a table and pulled back a sheet. “What we’re going to do is hook you up to her and we’ll copy all the information from your brain into the robot. It will be much faster than trying to program it with a computer.”
“I don’t know…” Valerie took a step back.
“It’s perfectly safe,” Astrid assured her.
“What if it sends my brain into her body? What if I wake up and you’ve turned me into a robot?”
“That can’t happen,” said Astrid.
“That would be way cool!” exclaimed Austin. “Make a boy robot and copy my brain!”
The rest of the week went by quickly. Astrid spent most of her time after school polishing up the two papers that were due that Friday: one on The Count of Monte Cristo for her Independent Study class, and one on fungus for Biology. She did have one opportunity for fun with her friends in the evening. On Wednesday night her father had a barbecue and invited the Bundersmiths, the Browns, The Diaz’s, and the Harris’s, and two other families. Everyone ate heaps of ribs, chicken, and brisket and the kids spent hours in the pool.
Saturday morning, Astrid was back in her lab looking over the results of her battery experiment. It had gone far better than expected. She gave a quick call to Mr. Brown, Denise’s father, who was in charge of model-making at Maxxim Industries, and asked him to create a line of mock-up batteries in all the popular sizes for her presentation the next week. No sooner had she hung up the phone than Denise walked in the door, followed by Valerie.
Toby and Christopher weren’t with them, but Astrid knew right where they were. They were two of only a four freshmen at school who had their pilot’s licenses, so they spent every other Saturday at the Maxxim Industries airfield, trying to get enough hours to qualify on the newest aircraft models.
“Hey Guys,” said Astrid. “Right on time.”
“I’m still not sure about this,” said Valerie.
“Don’t worry. We’re just programming the robot to be able to follow some basic input. We want to be able to tell it to go here, or pick that up, or bring me that test tube. Programming it by hand would take weeks. This way, we can map out the entire command structure by copying the way your brain works. I thought you would enjoy this, being a part of history.”
“I guess it’s alright,” said Valerie. “You’re not going to fry my brain or anything?”
“Of course not.”
“Don’t worry,” said Denise. “I won’t let her do any mad science stuff to you.”
“What do I have to do?”
“Just sit down here on the table by Robot Girl 7,” Astrid instructed. “I’ll just put these sensors on your temples.”
She stuck a white circular sticky pad with a wire extending from it onto each side of Valerie’s head.
“Now I just throw the switch.” She flipped a switch on a nearby panel. “Feel anything?”
“No,” answered Valerie, a little shakily.