Wednesday, February 27, 2019

CS-0001

While I slumbered, the world went to shit. At the height of civilization, whole nations devoured each other and themselves. Greed and avarice bred war and plague. Entire populations suffered the ravages of man’s atrocities. Caught up near the onset of the madness, an IUD blew my team to hell. I clawed my way back to consciousness and found myself bleeding out on a battlefield. My legs were gone. My right arm laid in shreds while burns covered what was left of my other arm and most of my head and torso. From out of the smoky gloom, figures emerged, mumbling amongst themselves.

“There’s a pulse!”

“How is that even possible?”

“The burns must have cauterized the worst of his wounds.”

“What’s his name and rank?”

“His tags are slagged, but his insignia shows he’s a Staff Sergeant.”

I tried to respond, “Will…Anderson…”

“Hush now, son. We’ve got you. You’ll be right as rain in no time. Gather him up then. He may make a suitable candidate.’

Amidst the fog of pain and battlefield smoke, I slipped into dreamless darkness. How long I was out, I can’t say. Whirring and buzzing, occasionally interrupted by muffled human voices, stirred my consciousness. Bright lights beat against my face until at length, convinced the torturous glow would not abate, I pried open my eyelids to seek out its source.

A compass of crosshairs spun in my right eye, adjusting focus on the various objects around the room as a “heads-up” display scrolled data across my left eye. Code, numbers and statistics flashed by, giving detail on every object my focus landed on. A plain, pony-tailed woman with a clip-pad and stylus took down readings from the equipment and instruments plugged into my body. She clicked a button on the clip-pad and spoke aloud, “Doctor, he’s awake.”

 After a moment, the doctor breezed into the room. The doors swished shut behind him. A tall, slender, dark-skinned man, he strode up to the lab technician and took the clip-pad she offered. He scanned the device for a moment and handed it back to her.

“How are we feeling, Sergeant?”

I struggled to answer against a sand-paper throat, “Where… Who…”

The barely-audible hum of servos signaled the raising of my arm. I looked in horror at the grotesque, metallic appendage. “What have you done to me?!”

“You were nearly dead when we found you. You would have died had we not intervened.”

“Instead, you made me into a monster?”

“Not a monster. A man, with a new lease on life.”

Servos whined as I flexed the metal digits of my hand opening them out and back again to form an iron fist. Looking at my legs, I found more machinery than man below the waist. My torso and left arm were completely covered in bandages.

“Never-mind the hardware, son. It’s only temporary. Something for you to use until your new prostheses are complete. We used the remnants of your legs and your left arm to model them. When installed, no one will ever be able to tell they aren’t your natural limbs.”

With the assistant’s help, he began to untether me from the monitors. “With the world in chaos, it wasn’t difficult to get the funding and backing for our program. You are the first successful prototype cybernetic soldier.”

My guts threatened to explode as the full weight of his words struck home. Cybernetic Soldier. A cyborg. That’s what they had made me into. A human robot. Why didn’t they just let me die? “How could you do this to me without my consent?”

“Son, when you signed on, you became the property of the Army and it became your proxy with full power to authorize any medical treatment or procedures on your behalf.” He had completed unplugging me from the equipment. “Now, let’s see if you can stand.”

The bed I was on tilted up until I was fully erect. With reluctance, I took a tentative step and then another. To my amazement, the hardware responded to my intentions as easily and intuitively as my former legs. I proceeded to walk around the room, testing out my prosthetic hand and legs on various articles I came across. Everything worked as naturally as if I had been born with it.

Just as I was beginning to come to terms with my new situation, alarms klaxoned throughout the building. The doctor glanced at the lab technician who was furiously consulting her clip-pad. “Doctor, the lab’s been breached!” she shook visibly as she relayed the news.

He turned to me. “Son, we have to get you out of here. We can’t allow to come to further harm. And we certainly can’t allow this technology to fall into enemy hands.”

“What are you saying? You developed the technology for this purpose, didn’t you?”

“Yes but…”

“Then let’s put it to the test. Let’s see what it can really do. Or, more precisely,  what I can do with it.”

Without waiting for a reply, I tore out the door and down the hall toward the first commotion I could find. Enemy combatants were swarming like vermin against the handful of friendlies desperately trying to hold back the onslaught. Lab technicians who remained were hurrying to escape. Those who had gotten caught lay dead or dying on the floor. Some of the enemy were rifling through papers, computers and supplies.

Something clicked in my head and within nanoseconds, I had identified the friendlies from the rest. My optics appeared to slow time as the battle raged before me. Bullets fired my way. Instinctively, I raised my metal arm and a shield expanded automatically, easily deflecting the rounds. Before I had a chance to think, I was in the melee, rending flesh and breaking bone. Some of the enemy fire had pierced my defenses, but nothing vital was hit. In moments, forty-one soldiers laid dead at my feet. The remaining friendlies gathered up the lab techs and hustled them off to a safer location.

I continued on down one corridor after another, routing out invaders, mowing through the enemy like chaff to the wind. Before long, I found myself outside breathing in the sweet air of gun smoke and oil and the onion tang of drying blood on rotting flesh. I was bleeding pretty bad by this point but I didn’t worry over it. I knew something none of the enemy I had faced ever would. If I fell on the field, the doc would just make me over anew. The crackle of a near by radio drew my attention.

“…is Flat Rock Command. Report!”

I surveyed my surroundings and realized none of the enemy combatants remained alive. Blood and gore covered my body, only a fraction of which was my own. My onboard computer played back a stream of data across my left eye of the previous hours’ events, as well as my own health statistics. I knew from the reports, I’d survive. Satisfied that all dangerous elements were nullified, I pressed the call button and cleared my throat, “All clear here at the Lab, Flat Rock.”

“Who is this? What is your designation, soldier?”

“Sergeant Will Anderson, sir. Designation CS-0001.”

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