I had been at the company for about a year, and I'll admit, it was great place to work. The company I worked for was called "Cybernals". We made robots, but specialised in animatronics, mainly for the movie industry. I worked under Henry in the experimental division. We produced the mechanic parts and then sent them to wardrobe who covered the form with a latex skin, added fur and did all the usual finishing touches. When it happened we were about to begin working on a mechanical dolphin for some children's movie. We were trying to get the actions of the dolphin less mechanical and more life-like. Then, to complicate things even further the big boss came in, stole Henry (my boss), and gave me instruction to make the dolphin completely self sufficient. Not only that, he wanted to begin shooting ASAP. That was not what I wanted to hear. We had only made one other self-sufficient robot and that was suppose to look like a robot, but a dolphin? That was going to be hard. For those who came in late, I'll do a bit of explaining. In our line of work, a self sufficient robot is one with no wires, leads, plugs or antenna coming out of it. Making self contained robots is relatively common place these days, but a completely self contained animatronic robot is virtually unheard of. Usually, there are wires, cables and ropes strung about all over the place, these are then either not included in the shot or removed during editing. Each robot is usually controlled by at least four people, that is one for the face and head, one on the arms, one on the legs and the last person covering the remainder of the body. Sometimes there are a heap of people involved. The robotic lion from Jamaji, for example had about six people operating in - including one inside. That lion actually gave me a brain-wave. It hit me like a pan- galactic gargle blaster (slice of lemon wrapped 'round a large gold brick). Why don't I design the dolphin with someone inside. I did some rough calculations and some one could fit inside, but it would be a bit of a squeeze. I started that afternoon. It took me most of the week, but eventually I think I had most of the bugs ironed out. I would lie inside the dolphin, it would be dry, but I needed a small scuba cylinder to breath. The stale air could be expelled via the dolphins blow hole (I was quite proud of that idea). Each eye would be equipped with a small CCD video camera, which would feed back to a VR style headset I would be wearing. The angle of the cameras would take a little getting use to, but it wouldn't be as bad as some of the other things we've done. A small echo sounder would be mounded inside the melon and this should interface to the microcomputer and feed back to me as a head-up display on the headset. Movement took a bit of thinking. Eventually I remembered something we had used a few month back. It was funny stuff, sort of like a rubber, but it contracted when an electrical current was passed through it. I remembered how, at the time, we had said it might come in handy in the future. This also eliminated the problem of a skeletal system. Usually we build a skeleton, and work from the inside out, but with this stuff we could use a light, flexible carbon fibre frame and put the rubber on the outside. It there were two main strips, one above the tail and one below, by switching between the two, the tail could be made to go up and down. Hence movement could be produced. This also gave me some room in which to lie. There were some other things which had to be taken into consideration like the power supply (gel batteries in-between the skin and watertight membrane, also gave the dolphin the look of blubber) and fin movement (more contracting rubber and servos) but eventually the mechanical aspects were taken care of. After about a month the wardrobe team added their contribution. They had made an external skin like you wouldn't believe. It was made from the latest space age stuff we could get out hand on, and was exactly like a normal dolphin's skin - it felt like a wet inner tube and even absorbed some water like a proper dolphin. It could also stretch, which was lucky because I had to climb into the frame, then the skin was stretched over the tail and the watertight seal held it in position. Once that hole was sealed I was trapped until someone let me out. The model shop spent a few days putting on the finishing touches and then it was ready for some sea tests. The first few test were pretty apprehensive. I had 80minutes of air with 15 minutes in a "spare air" tank and that was all. It took two people to get me into the dolphin, three to move me to and from the water, then two to get me out. That usually took about 30 minutes, which wasn't feasible so I added an air refill valve in the dolphin's blowhole so I could be "refilled" without having to 'dry dock'. I'll admit the suit was a great success. We often had people abusing us and yelling at us for doing such cruel things to a dolphin - like leaving it on the pier during meal breaks (I never knew people were so gullible or stupid). From my point of view, the dolphin was incredible. After a while I could perform some tricks which would be impossible for a normal human. I also improved the system a lot - mainly to give me better feedback and make me feel good. I added a tactile feedback to most of the outside world, so if something brushed against me I would feel it, and not slice the suit to pieces on the barnacles like I almost did one day. A couple of sensors were added so that when I moved my arms or legs my fins and tail responded and I added a direct movement detector to the mouth, so when I open my mouth, the dolphin's mouth opened as well. Eventually, after three weeks of testing and improving the robot was announced ready. I had spend over 50 hours in the suit (as we now called it) I had got quite proficient in it. To demonstrate this to the boss, I had managed a tail walk and double backflip when he came to check on my progress. After seeing the results, he decided to begin shooting on Monday. I was looking forward to having a run in the open sea and could hardly sleep over the weekend. I was at the set by 7:30am Monday morning, ready and rearing to go. The guys loaded everything into the boat and we headed out to sea. On the way out, I gave the dolphin a final check and was sealed inside. We quickly arrived and I was lowered over the side. A slight kick of my flukes and I powered away. There was something about being on the open water. It was exhilarating. The feel of the waves, the sights, the sounds. I found myself being washed away in the sensations. I'm not sure when it happened, my conscious seemed to fade out, then fade back in and somehow I felt different. I was still swimming around in the ocean, but somehow it seemed more real. It wasn't until I broke the surface for air I realised something was wrong. I stopped on the surface in surprise. I was wet. With a shock, I tried to stand up and tread water. My head pointed skyward and my legs moved as one. I didn't have any arms and I could feel a lump on back. It suddenly hit me and I squealed in surprise. I was a dolphin. I quickly regained my sensors and began checking out as much of me as I could. As far as I could tell, I definitely wasn't wearing the suit any more. Instead I was a healthy, fully grown, male Bottlenose dolphin. Somehow I took the news rather well. I performed a perfect triple front flip. I was vaguely interested in a boatload of people nearby who were frantically looking for something. They were using all sorts of fancy equipment, there were various boats skimming over the surface and lots of humans with bulky gear in the water. I tried to get them play, but they ignored me. I heard a pod of my dolphin comrades in the distance and plotted an intercept course. Occasionally my human side surfaces and I wonder how things would have turned out and exactly what did their frenzied search find. Then I think back to my new life and somehow it doesn't matter.