3. Engineering a Body – The Skeleton (Part 1)
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Flora smirked at her avatar. She looked at a woman with pale, papery skin, short white hair, and green eyes. In her youth she reached 1,70m, but gravity compressed her to 1,64m and left her with a slight hump. The avatar smirked back at her.

"Let's begin with the skeleton. Show only the bones of the avatar!"

Nothing happened.

'That would have been too easy. But it was worth a try.'

With practiced motions, she peeled back skin, flesh, and muscles of the avatars forearm and marked the bone. Then she selected all other objects of the project which had the same material. (1)1The same material as the bone within a tolerance, of course. Please note, that all similar commands are made concerning tolerances. I didn't write it, because this chapter is technical enough. Please comment if you like the level of detail on the technical stuff or if you like more of it. If you want less of it, stop reading this story. It's about an engineer, it will get technical a lot, d'oh. 

Then she inverted the selection to everything else but the bones and vanished it from view. Now only the skeleton of her avatar remained.

At first sight, Flora identified bent bones and uneven surfaces. But she realized that she had no clue how to fix this because she had nearly no medical knowledge. 'Fixing a project without a blueprint and expertise on the parts is a bit difficult ... luckily the internet exists.'

She opened a web browser and read the Wikipedia article about bones and a bit about age-related issues with bones. There she stumbled upon the topic of cartilage. 'Cartilage buffers the friction between the moving parts and that's where most of the wear and tear happens. I must show my cartilage some love.'

Flora augmented the model with cartilage. Her cartilage looked as worn as she suspected. 'Let's improve my skeleton.'

"System, what kind of materials can I use? Do you have titanium?"

"Access to material selection denied. Titanium is part of the material selection."

'There goes my cyborg plan ...' Flora shrugged.

She arranged pictures of skeletons from the internet around the work area and started to straighten out her bones. Her eyes darted between the websites and her avatar while she carefully formed the bones. She didn't use her hands, just her will. Using her mind, she pressed against the material. It's a trick she picked up while using the CAD Software. She had noticed that her body, minus her hands, was immobile while wearing the helmet and deduced, that the software read her thoughts. It translated her notions into the movement of her avatar into actions of the virtual reality. Why not skip the middle part and go directly from thinking to influencing the world? She had jokingly called it magic in the past. It was the part she liked the most about the CAD System.

'The pictures are crap. The painted pictures are too idealized, and I don't know if the skeletons in the photographs are prime material. Let's try the System again.'

"System, please show me the best human skeleton!" Flora asked on a whim.

"Access to statistical data is granted, but because of privacy concerns, all data shown must incorporate at least 1000 individuals."

Flora didn't know what that exactly meant but was willing to try again.

"System, please aggregate the 1000 best human skeletons of your database into one skeleton."

She waited. 'Oh right, you have to be literal with AIs and System is no Ferrari.'

"And show it to me."

When the model appeared, Flora grinned and cleared her workspace of the websites.

She compared the model with her avatar and noticed that the bones were more delicate than the ones of the model and height shorter.

"System, please aggregate the 1000 best female skeletons and show it to me."

This model came closer to the build of her avatar. Satisfied she continued to reshape bones. She paid extra attention to the area where multi bones interfaced like the joints. This was the area where the most attrition of machinery took place. Because of her joint pains, she was pretty sure that it was the same for the human body.

After finishing the work, she took a step back and smiled. "What do you think? Pretty good, right?"

"C" System said.

"See what?"

"The skeleton is rated C. It was rated E before your changes."

Floras snorted. "What is the rating of the model?"


"S is quite far away from C in the alphabet ..." Flora was not pleased. "Explain the rating system, please."

"Rating F means the subject cannot be assessed.

Rating E means the subject is in the bottom 20 percent.

Rating D means the subject has been rated at 20 to 40 percent.

Rating C means the subject has been rated at 40 to 60 percent.

Rating B means the subject has been rated at 60 to 80 percent.

Rating A means the subject has been rated at 80 to 99 percent.

Rating S means the subject has been rated at 99 to 100 percent.

Rating SS means the subject is in the top 1000.

Rating SSS is only awarded to outliers. These are the top scorers, maximum 10, in any subject if they are significantly better than the other top scorers in the same field."

"So how many skeletons are in your database, that this model is only S ranked?"

"259212345 skeletons are in my database. The rank is explained by your selection."

"That implies that male skeletons are much better than female." Flora chose to test this conclusion. "Please rate the model aggregated from the top 1000 skeletons and the top 1000 male skeletons."

"SS and SS."

Flora had one issue to solve and one dilemma to decide.

The issue was why her skeleton was merely rated C. It looked similar to the S ranked model. She had a few hypotheses. It could be that the material of her bones was inferior. This was supported by the websites about age-related issues she read. Other possibilities were that she overlooked problems because of her lack of medical knowledge and that the configuration of her bones was inherently inferior. She assessed the first hypotheses the most likely and solvable with more detail work on the bones. Though the time needed for it was a concern. Maybe she could copy the material of the model? That would reduce the time expended radically. 'Counts changing the material as a transplant? I know that transplants can be rejected by the host body. Oh, this is too complicated for poor me! I just do what engineers are always doing: carry on until it explodes!'

Though Flora threw a self-pity party, she enjoyed herself immensely. The more senior one gets in their field of expertise, the less new problems they encounter. She loved flowing smoothly through work and solving known issues in the most elegant manner. But currently, she lacked challenges in her life - If you didn't count climbing stairs and watching a comedy special without pissing herself.

She had to admit, she had been bored in her retirement.

Now she had more new exciting problems to solve than she expected. In addition to the question of the poor assessment of her skeleton, the dilemma occurred that male skeletons were far superior to female ones.

Should she incorporate male characteristics in her skeleton? 'You shouldn't change your car type when above 70 years, let alone body types. I don't think I can get used to a radically different body with larger bones and longer arms and legs. But I guess, I could cope with just changing the material of the bones to the superior male bones.'

She developed a preliminary plan:

1. Test current avatar.

2. Figure out material enhancement.

3. Carry out the improvement of head, torso, and limbs.

4. Test the avatar after the modification of each region.

5. Create a toaster out of bones

'Okay, maybe I skip the last one.'

The sound of a ringing phone disturbed her planing.

"Evai, accept phone call."

'Oh no, I confused Evai and System again. I definitely won't get male bones if I can't even get used to a change of AIs!'

"Ma? Can you hear me? Are you still in character creation?" Robby said anxiously.

"Yes, darling, and I need a good amount of time modifying my avatar."

"Great, take your time! The traffic is jammed, it will take a while to reach home." Robby was relieved that his mother didn't run unsupervised amok in the Metaworld. But then he questioned why she needed that long in character creation. "Don't change too much, it affects the synchronization between you and the virtual world."

"Yeah, thought so. Don't you worry, treasure, I'm careful. Okay, maybe 'careful' is too exaggerated. Let's say I try to asses the risks carefully." She added mentally: "And then I mostly ignore them."

"Ma! Shit! Whatever! I call again! Love you!" He hung up.

'Alright, let's test my first modifications!'

 (1) The same material as the bone within a tolerance, of course. Please note, that all similar commands are made concerning tolerances. I didn't write it, because this chapter is technical enough. Please comment if you like the level of detail on the technical stuff or if you like more of it. If you want less of it, stop reading this story. It's about an engineer, it will get technical a lot, d'oh.


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Companion Video: Mini-Arc 1 Character Creation: https://youtu.be/hvXY96-6YeA