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Thread: Bodies in the Machine.

  1. #1

    Bodies in the Machine.

    I heard the recorder snap to life as the shrink hit the power button on her datapad. My newest doctor, Janine Hammond, was a theorist in the field of psychology and metapsychology. She specifically requested me, due to some of the trouble I had stirring up in J.A.M.E. Not but a year previous, I had a close encounter with the strange and unusual. The room I was in was small, but comfortable. The whir of the office fan blew between the doctor and myself, disturbing the dull silence with a mechanical hum of blades turning the air. My head rested back on my neck, and I shifted in my chair.

    My wife and I decided it was for the best. Not many suffer PTSD, and can deal with the normal facets of life on a casual basis, without some sort of help. I am not a huge fan of pills or medical treatment that involes needles or electric shocks. It's almost as hokey as voodoo used to be in the past. So called "Modern Science" to me was nothing more than the treatment of problems, so long as you return to the doctor in question. There is no such thing as a cure for anything anymore. I don't 'spect this would be much different. But, my wife recommended it, and I was ready to do it for her more than myself.

    "So tell me Mr. Crush," She began, as she shifted in her seat, chewing on her stylus. She didn't sound arrogant or overconfidant, like some doctors do. "Can you begin with what happened on the morning of November 17th, this last year?"

    It sounded clinical, and I hated clinical. However, it was for the greater good. I complied without negativity. "Yes Ma'am," I sighed. "Lessee here, I woke up a bit more earlier than usual. My wife and unborn son had nearly stolen all the bedclothes, and I was on the edge, waking up to the morning chill. I didn't wanna disturb no one, so I got ready for work and left a message for the woman, along with information of where and when I planned on being for the next 12 hour shift." I stretched my arms out, and leaned further back into the seat that clearly was meant for an Atrox of my size and build. It amazed me to some small degree that I didn't break it right as I sat down in it. "And then what?" Dr. Hammond replied, as if waiting for instructions. "Did your shift go as planned?"

    "I got cleaned up, dressed up, and ate breakfast and had my usual morning pint of coffee. But just before I actually arrived at the office, that I had gotten a wave from one of my sargeants, who had told me that one of the boys had not called in during his graveyard shift. New guy, went by the name of 'Denton'. He had been on location for nearly two weeks. Just outta the recruiters, and moved up quickly. He had been on payroll for about six months before he bid for this contract on a patrol route for one of our contractors. His job was to make sure that the route was clear, return to location, and then safeguard the supply train coming out of Hope, to an underground base near a crater in Mort, not but two dozen clicks to the northwest. The route was easily almost an hour's transit, as the chirop flies."

    "What happened to Denton?" Dr. Hammond scribed my details into her datapad, with a sort of nerdy journalist type of look to her. Dressed in her office whites, and her dark rimmed glasses, she probably would have been much more attractive if she let her hair down out of the bun that was wound behind her head. A single stick was hanging out of it, in I guess what passes for asian style. I looked at her a moment, attempting to size up her curiosity, debating on just how much I could go into detail and it not shock her.

    "He failed to call in, after the third check point. It placed him on the way back, about 10 minutes from the destination. A scout was dispatched, but they found no trace of Denton himself. We found what looked like tracks and near as I can tell, signs of a tussle. But, no blood. No wreckage." I took a deep breath. It has always bothered me to loose people in the field. It happens sometimes, fights break out here and there. But never, unless under an extreme set of circumstances, do we ever outright 'loose' anyone in the field.

    I checked the clock on the wall of the office, the one set smartly just above the hutch of her desk. She noticed.

    "How did you react to this?" She asked, locking gazes with me for a moment. She had a certain level of intensity to her, in that time. Her grey eyes were professional, if not piercing in an unsettling way.

    "I immediately set to policy. I spoke to his partner, and then the two scouts that dispatch sent out. They had nothing other then the details I just gave you. It seemed that Denton just vanished, someone must have airlifted anything that was left behind, because there was nothing that would be classified as containable evidence, other than rocks and sand." I looked up at the white ceiling, and took another deep breath. "Once we all but exausted all normal plausible options, it became a manhunt after that. We took out four fire teams, and scoured the northwest quadrant of Mort for nearly 17 hours. Each team went in all four directions, and were to report anything that seemed con****uous. I lead the team that went south, which was still northeast of the Sentinel base. It was my squad team's rear guard that caught something on the scanner."

    The doctor's curiosity grew, as she bit her lip somewhat. "What did they see?"

    "Nothing at first. Someone was playing shadow games with us for about half a click. Whomever it was, had camouflage tech on them. The heat of the scrubby dunes had hidden them from visual. It was not but 30 minutes later that something came up on radar. A small dust cloud was forming at our northern flank, behind us and to our right. Inside the twister was a vehicle that looked like a skiff of some sort. I could not tell who it was by design. It seemed to have been built for something other than aesthetics, because we almost mistook it for nomads."

    "Then what?"

    "It came upon us fast. Whatever it was, was a very mobile hovercraft, complete with troop transport. It swung past us in a skid, stopped for about 5 seconds, and drop shipped two squads of Cyborgs just behind us. They dropped their tetherline, disembarked, and were on us like they had been planning it for weeks. Very efficient. My team was outnumbered 3 to one, and we were not outfitted for an actual skirmish. We were all carrying light rifles and hand to hand gear, lightly armored, in a recon formation. We had only enough time to duck and cover. I sent up the order to draw fire, while the squad scrambled to set up a defensive position behind some rocks on a hill. We had the advantage of high ground, but not much to fire behind. Our cover was small, at best. I suspect if they let us get us further north, we could have had a much more defensible position. It's no wonder why they sped in and grabbed us while we were trying to discern the problem." I grabbed my water glass, which was on the table beside the pleather and wooden monument that was my chair. "One of my squad reclaimed, within the first few seconds of gunfire. The situation looked dire, but I am no easy prey to cyborgs." I took a sip of the cool liquid, and placed the cold glass against my cheek.

    "I had my radio guy wave the entire raid group. I only had a moment to really call in our position, and situation. If I spent longer than 20 seconds doing it, we would have wasted valuable regroup time. So, I made the call, shouted a few orders to the troops, and I fast enabled bioshielding as I charged them, drawing the second volley of fire. I shouted to the cyborgs as their bullets mashed against the protection of nanolayering. Several defensive charges were thrown near me, but the blasts did not throw me off balance like they had hoped. I crossed 30 yards, and was in the middle of their spearhead. Cyborgs are accurate and efficient, and they move as a cohesive unit. However, their tactics are arguably formulaic at best. This is how we manage them. They will almost always deal with the highest threat first. I actived about half a dozen nanoprograms, while the cyborgs tracked right on me. They encircled me, firing volley after volley. They must have been mashing metal into my suit for nearly 45 seconds, while my squad had been sharpshooting the flanks. Their commander stood nearly as tall as I was. A massive onslaught ensued, and he and I were tangoing the two step while out of the corner of my eye, their reinforcements were starting to home in on our postition."

    Dr. Hammond looked on the edge of her seat. "Several members of my team were reclaimed in that second engagement. They altered their tactics and focused on my support, while their commander dealt with me. Like me, their commander had some grasp of nanotechnology designed to mitigate tissue damage as well. He got a few lucky blows in, dizzing me as I took it on the chin. In his left hand, he had what appeared to be a dreadloch enhanced panther. More than likely one he managed to claim as his own from a previous encounter. I fell down into the dirt, as he stood over me. Raising the piston over his head, he was about to drop it on me, when around us, several hunters warped in via the grid. It was our rapid search and rescue team, with one of my best companions, Cascius, at command. Cascius ordered several people to lay down fire while he began to spam his long range healing on what was left of me and my squad. The cyborg commander looked in their direction and I used that distraction to kick him in the junk."

    The doctor blinked. I needed something to break the tension. "Ok, I realize how dumb that sounds. But it was the first thing I could think of." My excited hand motions were also telling my story. Janine mocked a grin for me, and I wasn't sure if she was amused, or just humouring me.

    "I kipped up, swung my leg out, taking the cyborg off balance. He grabbed me by the shoulderpad and we both wheeled into the dust. I had beat on him what seemed like minutes past. The barking sounds of gunfire had dulled into the background. Nothing mattered to me at that point in time. All around me, the drone of bullets, shouts, and people dying just sorta coalesced into nothing behind my head. I rolled and managed to get the mount position on the general. My sword had fumbled away in the brawl. I had nothing left by my bare fists. Somewhere in the middle of the battle, I could have swore I had seen Denton's face. But I was so angry, that I couldn't focus or concentrate on what was going on around me. I only knew that it was me or this guy. And I decided that there were just gunna have to be two dead people here, because there is no way I was gunna die alone."
    Last edited by Bubbacrush; Mar 28th, 2008 at 21:04:35.
    Towerblock, 220/30/70 Engineer
    President of Steadfast

    And way too many alts...

  2. #2
    I had to stop myself at that point. The doctor seemed somewhat horrified that my tone had gotten a lot more gutteral. I didn't notice but till after, that white moons had formed around my knuckles. The glass I had been holding onto felt heavy. The condensation on the outside made my ever tightening grip slip a little, and the glass fell onto the floor. I looked down at the wetness that was growing on the placement carpet under the chair. I felt embarassed a little at the same time.

    "Oh, don't worry about this." She got out of her chair and to the hand sink on the other side of her office. She pulled several towels from a dispenser and wiped at the mess. "I got it."

    I didn't know what else to say. I knew what happened next would probably have sounded pretty badly if I were to speak it, unfiltered. I got up from my chair and aided the doctor at cleaning my mess up. It didn't take long, but it was rather clumsy, considering the five by fifteen crate that was her office. That familiar scent of hospital brought me back to why I was there. I almost didn't know what to say for myself.

    "Continue, please..." She looked at me, getting another glass and filling it from her cooler. She handed it back to me, and I slogged it in one gulp.

    I scratched my beard for a moment, trying to get a good sentence or two formed in my head that wouldn't sound like I needed to stay here longer than I should. I don't like hospitals, and never have. It's very hard for me to trust people in the medical field that aren't battle tested. Any soldier or professional in a potentially violent field of work, will more than likely agree similarly.

    "My pal had to pull me off the guy. I didn't notice, but I had literally been beating the cyborg commander until my gloves had started to fray. I am not sure how long it had been dead, but I had continued to hammer its upper torso and face with blows. He gets me to calm down, and I look around to see my squad in a decent, if but roughed up shape. Those that had reclaimed did so without problems. We had no casualties, unless you count Denton." I sighed.

    "Denton?" She asked quizzicly. "Did you locate him eventually?" She nodded, in what looked like she was hoping for a positive answer. I had none to give.

    I coughed. The grit in the back of my throat came up a little. It irritated and I sounded dry, even after I drank the water.

    "We didn't find him in time." I looked down. "Apparently he had been half converted and was in the patrol that had attacked us. We didn't find out till we policed the bodies. Cyborgs dont reclaim, so you have to clean em up. Most folks dont know that cyborgs are just tech with meat parts, not meat with tech parts. When a cyborg dies, there is a beacon that goes off inside them, and another team shows up to gather whats left, and I spose they just get factoried back up and running. We saw what was left of Denton, when one of the helmets fell off the cyborg troopers. His mouth had been disfigured into an insane clown-like grin. Whatever the cyborgs possess in healing capacity, left scar tissue around the edges of his lips. I couldn't get his face out of my head for the week. We took his body, burned the others, and took their dogtags. We ID'd others too. One of them was a family man of two who went MIA three years previous from Newland Crater. He was a xenobiologist. Another was a woman from just outside Hope. She was a ranchwoman who raised ottoas. Another was a man who hadn't even gotten to his twenty first birthday. His mother collapsed in my arms when I delivered the terrible news. Denton was just the first."

    I nodded, and felt a wave of nausea overcome me. "There is no way to catalogue what's out there now. I've killed so many of those damn things, that any one of them could just as easily been related to you, my wife, or a neighbor. Cyborgs are not a species. They are a disease." I enunciated the word 'disease' with venom. I set the cup back down onto the plastic round on the tablestand beside me.

    "You hate them?" She glowered a bit. Questions, always questions. Headshrinkers always seem to have more and more questions. "How does that make you feel?"

    I shrugged. "I don't know." I said weakly. "I don't have anything positive to say about them. I know I should feel something, if not for the families of the ones that have been taken. But this is a rough world, yanno? People die often. It's nothing new to me. The part that bothers me is that I thought I saw Denton in the fight, but I was lost in my instincts. I didn't have any self control. I thanked Cascius after that. I can always count on a good hunter pal to pull me out of the haze. That's why were more than just a security company or a 'mercenary group' like most people seem to think. It hurts to loose someone that we work with. Every one of us feels it, from the bottom of the rung all the way to top brass."

    "How did everything work out? Did anything continue after that?"

    "We haven't turned down contracts to hunt cyborgs. We added a new routine to it, however. One that we are currently working with the Vanguards with. It has become a volunteer network to investigate missing persons and co-relate them to subjects whom have been considered killed or missing in action. Almost thirty percent of my organization puts in at least 3 hours a week in that position. We certify identities, and then inform next of kin. Sometimes we set hearts at ease, and sometimes we don't. We still have the position to this very day, but its a bit more formalized now." Dr. Hammon refilled my glass, and I thanked her for it. I took a sip almost right away, and shifted my position.

    "I think overall, it's a positive step from a negative drop. It may not be best news to deliver to someone's kids or parents or whomever was interested in knowing, but at least people gain a sense of closure." I sighed, counting how many people in the last month had been tagged in my head. I could recall names that passed inspection that I had observed just in the past week. I decided to skip the details.

    The doctor looked at me for a moment as a steady silence ensued. The only background noise was the fan. Janine thumbed as much information as she could, with her stylus on the presspad. After a moment or two, she looked back up at me. I took another drink. "Has this affected your personal life?" she asked.

    "It's hard to tell sometimes. In a big way, it was the turning point for me. One cannot say that it doesn't truly affect them. It's just hard to bare it, if your'e not used to it. I've met people off world, not citizens of Omni-tek, on independant space stations and cargo vessels. Reclaim processing, is one of those things thats taken for granted here. Out in the fringes of space, people fight smarter and harder, because they know it can be their last. When someone dies here, its either foul play or technical issues. Denten we chalked up to more than likely a combination of the two. But who's to say? The cyborgs certainly don't talk about it."

    She pressed the question, "but how does it affect you personally?"

    My brow furrowed.

    "By itself, its only affected me a little. I can deal with a loss. It was merely the turning point for a greater problem for me."

    She mused clinically at me. "Well, that's what this is about, Mr. Crush. We are looking for the root of the problem. We have to get a sense of where the trauma lies, and see if we can't tie up the loose ends, and sort it out to a level. Rationalize it, if you will."

    I snapped at her. "Rationalize what? Let me tell you something, girly. Three days ago, I pummelled a 30 year old man for shooting someone when their back was turned. Is that the 'trauma' that you're talking about? Am I 'damaged' or something? I don't think so at all. I just get tired when people have no damn sense. We are so casual about death and pain and hurt. Does it strike you as odd? How the hell is that supposed to affect my personal life, knowing that there is some idiot clown out there with a clip and a gun, ready to stick me when I walk down the street in someplace like Borealis or 2HO. OF COURSE IT AFFECTS ME!"

    I stood up. I had been played for a sucker. I got the sense when I finally pulled myself back together, that the question had been thrown at me intentionally. The doctor did not flinch. She was smarter than I thought.

    "Oh what, am I now officially a patient? Am I sick or something. I dunno doc, whats your professional opinion of a guy who breaks someone's kneecaps when they gangbang a local trader for protection money. Is that a symptom of mental 'disorder'." There was a moment of venomous silence.

    "Not at all, Bubba. I am not unfeeling. I am not here to question your integrity. I am looking to gain a sense of what it is that is troubling you. You came to me because of the attack in Perpetual Wastelands. The attack has hurt you in a way that causes you times of rage. In those times of rage, you could hurt others without thinking. Your friend pulled you out because he cares about you. Your wife wants you to seek help because she cares about you. Someday, you might act out in front of your son, and you could frighten him. If you don't deal with where this all comes from, the damage that you could cause, could cost you more than you bargained for." She took a breath. "Now, you know as well as I.."

    I took several sharp breaths. I was angry, but she was right. She stopped as I was about to foam at the mouth. I couldn't believe that someone has the righteous finger to dangle my kid in front of me like that, like I was baton twirling at an anger parade. She was right however, and I hated the situation for it. I caught myself and she continued.

    "You know as well as I, that in a time where heads need to be their sharpest, you may suffer when you least expect it. You won't believe your at fault, but faulty judgements are easily made under duress."

    She looked up to me almost like a teacher, to a child. Except the fact that this child was almost seven feet tall and can crush rocks with his bare hands. She was right, I could make mistakes.

    "Take a moment to center yourself. You read the data I sent you about breathing. Remember the exercises we talked about, and bring yourself back to reason. You don't have to reason against popular societal mores, but you should at least be honest with yourself without your anger tainting the results."

    I eyeballed her with my good eye. "How in the HELL do you propose I know the difference, if I could accidently make a mistake without realizing it."

    She raised her eyebrow in response. "That is why you are here," she said.

    The world suddenly felt smaller

    (oh yeah.. just two entries, thats all. =P )
    Last edited by Bubbacrush; Mar 28th, 2008 at 20:56:09.
    Towerblock, 220/30/70 Engineer
    President of Steadfast

    And way too many alts...

  3. #3
    ((...Whoa, that was awesome! Please write more of this! ))
    220 Finalizer (FINALLY, after 3 years without a single ding!) Nulion, Squad Commander (And Council of Truth Clerical Staffer) of Alpha Omega

    Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly...Suddenly I awoke...Now, I do not know whether I was then
    a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am a man. - Chuang Tzu

  4. #4
    ((Nicely done. Been waiting on some forum rp from you.))
    Bastian "Feyde" Wolfgang ((Rimor))
    Roleplaying Profile of Bastian "Feyde" Wolfgang
    The story continues: "Live by the Sword..."

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