"So what you're saying, if I understand it correctly," Lieutenant Jonathan Hollister summarized, "is that by using your system, we can take virtually any DNA we find at a crime scene and use it to reconstruct an image of that person?"
"I personally prefer the term 'recreation,' as in 'creating another,'" Ms. Jones replied somewhat smugly, "but in essence, yes. Just think of how much easier this could make the investigation process.
"Here's an example from a case on Jupiter Station III from just last month," she continued. "A housekeeper at one of the station's low-budget hotels discovered a beautiful young woman sprawled dead upon the floor with no apparent signs of struggle, and no injuries visible. A quick scan by the responding emergency personnel revealed no internal injuries, either. The video surveillance system at this hotel was notorious amongst the locals for its sporadic operation, so there is no footage of whoever may have entered the young woman's room. She had come alone, and was only ever seen alone by the hotel staff, including the staff in the small shoddy gift shop and restaurant off the lobby and in the nearby establishments as well. There were a few strands of hair located in various parts of the room – a DNA analysis matched two strands to the dead woman, yet the others have still not been matched to anyone anywhere.
"One of my colleagues is currently speaking with the police forces at Jupiter Station III about this very same system I have been detailing to you," Ms. Jones continued. "But think about this: If they had had this system in place at the time the crime was discovered and reported, they could have had, within the space of an hour, a DNA-derived image of the person who had shed each of those other hairs. Now, because this is a hotel, those hairs could very well be from previous guests who had been in that hotel room; a quick check of the hotel records for the previous, say, six months would confirm that. Any matching person who had not been a registered guest, however, would be a likely suspect, and that person's image could then be run through various databases to find a match, and that would give the police ample information to locate this person to at least initiate a dialogue, if not actually arrest him or her based upon what the more 'traditional' investigation had revealed in the interim."
"And in this scenario," Lieutenant Hollister queried, "how long from the time the strand of hair is initially analyzed to the time the person's information is retrieved from the various databases?"
"In the case of Jupiter Station III, since they have some fairly extensive databases due to the immense size and popularity of the station, I would say... hours."
"Hours! Not even a full day?"
"Hours, Lieutenant. Of course, if it becomes necessary to contact other jurisdictions and expand the search to other databases, that slows things down due to bureaucratic red tape. Jupiter Station III is also a good example because the police and customs both work very closely together on investigations of all types; it's no secret that they share information like longtime lovers share body fluids. But still, just look at the time savings..."
"I believe that I would like to test this," Lieutenant Hollister stated firmly.
Ms. Jones smiled warmly. "That can certainly be arranged, Lieutenant."
Two days later, Lieutenant Hollister and three of his closest colleagues stood in a small room on the sixth floor of the DNA Forward Corporation headquarters building on Luna II. The equipment itself seemed rather innocent and mundane, leading the Lieutenant to wonder if he was being somehow duped.
"As I mentioned earlier," Ms. Jones said, "the board yesterday officially gave this system the name Recreation. I personally believe it is the best possible name for the system, given what it does. And now, to personally test this, may I have a volunteer, please?"
Lieutenant Keen stepped forward. "What would you like for me to do, Ms. Jones?" she asked, her voice flowing as softly as a bubbling brook in the Old Earth sims.
"Just stand still for a moment, please." Ms. Jones reached up to Lieutenant Keen's ebony hair, selected a strand at random, and gave it a few tugs before finally freeing it from the officer's scalp. "I hope that didn't hurt much," Ms. Jones offered with a slight smile before returning to the table of equipment.
Opening a drawer, Ms. Jones produced a pair of scissors. "For this to truly be successful, the Recreation certainly needs a lot of DNA. The more DNA, the better. While it is possible to locate evidence which is just barely discernable to the naked eye, the Recreation could have a difficult time truly creating an image of the person in question from such a tiny amount of DNA – 'tiny' being a relative term, of course. What I would like to propose, then, is to use just a small piece of Lieutenant Keen's hair initially, and then use the rest of it for comparison purposes."
After cutting off about three centimeters of the split end of the strand, Ms. Jones put the scissors away and closed the drawer. "We can now place the small strand upon the analysis tray" (she did) "and activate the Recreation." Seconds later, a soft blue light descended from the top of the analysis area then narrowed visibly until the only light was focused directly upon the immediate area surrounding the three-centimeter strand.
"How long will it take to complete the analysis of something this size?" Lieutenant Hollister asked, definitely interested.
"Approximately five minutes. Then we can exchange this one for the longer strand, and while the analysis is taking place on the longer strand, the Recreation will already be fully at work processing the image it will create based upon the first sample."
"Interesting, but what if you already have files on each of us?" Lieutenant Keen challenged. "I think it would be worth our while to go to some random location, collect some DNA 'evidence,' and bring it back here."
"And I know just the place for it," Lieutenant Hollister offered with a smile.
"Jonathan! How are you? What a surprise!"
Lieutenant Hollister strolled into the bar, his uniform clearly causing waves amongst the few patrons drinking at this early-afternoon hour.
"I'd offer you a drink, but since you're clearly on duty..."
"No need to apologize, Sherri," the officer replied with a smile. "I just need one small thing from you."
Finally reaching the bar itself, Lieutenant Hollister leaned upon the counter. "I'd like some of your hair, please."
The easygoing bartender was at a loss for words, her mouth agape in surprise.
Lieutenant Hollister laughed aloud at her reaction. "This is really an innocent request. There's a company which claims that it can reconstruct an image of a person based upon DNA, something which would obviously be of great assistance to us in investigating a crime. I would not be surprised if the company has somehow procured records on me and my colleagues doing the evaluation of their technology, so I want to test it with the DNA of someone I know and trust, someone who they most likely will not have a file on."
Sherri's eyes glossed over for a moment as she considered the request. Finally, she leaned forward to whisper, "Take whatever you need from upstairs. Of course, you know the way." She added a wink and a smile.
"Thank you, sweetheart."
"Damn," Lieutenant Hollister said to himself. "The image is uncanny."
The image upon his screen was of a naked Sherri Fountain, reconstructed by Recreation. The image in his mind was of a naked Sherri Fountain, as he had seen her about a week beforehand: naked, bound to the shackles attached to the wall. There were only two differences between the two images: in Lieutenant Hollister's mind, Sherri also bore a holographic tattoo of a butterfly between her ample breasts, and her body was crisscrossed with the myriad markings of the bullwhip she loved to hate.
He sat at his desk for several long minutes, comparing the image on the screen with the image in his mind, his erection unmistakable and fortunately hidden from the view of anyone who might have entered his office at that time.
At last, he leaned forward and pressed the intercom button to signal his secretary. "Nana, would you please contact the Chief's office and schedule thirty minutes with him at his earliest convenience? He needs to be made aware of some groundbreaking technology which will greatly assist our investigatory capabilities."
If his secretary replied verbally, Lieutenant Hollister did not hear it. Instead, he was already thinking about how he could make use of such technology to help him possibly locate other young women with similar interests to his.