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Author Topic: Contrivance  (Read 45 times)

Stutzer

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Contrivance
« on: 17 Dec 2017, 21:14 »

13 July YC119

"...sub-dermal healing is progressing ahead of the timetable. By the look of it, you haven't been skipping your supplements."

"No, ma'am."

The Vherokior woman parsed the dataflow from the medical monitor, eyes wide and intent. Making momentary adjustments to the handheld scanner, she passed it from side to side before the young Nefantar's head. She checked the readout again. Satisfied, she laid the equipment beside them where they sat on the floor. Bathed in sterile light from the nearby moon, called Tholinmeide by the Matari living on the surface of Gelfiven VI, the two faced one another. The Vherokior gently grasped the young woman's head in her fingertips, making slight rotations back and forth while inspecting the chassis positioned within the girl's face. A powdery grey-white protrusion, box-like; situated about the maxilla and zygoma, it covered the ocular orbits completely while folding inward above and around the nasal process. The surface was rough, minutely but unevenly ridged, and while the older woman knew how resilient the material was, she was reluctant to handle it.

"...ma'am?" The young woman stiffened.

"You can relax, Dasheir. It’s important that you breathe naturally. Try to focus on keeping the neck loose but engaged." She dropped her hands into her lap, and observed the handiwork. “We can thank Dr. Otsito for access to the Muttokon staging platform during the crisis, else there’d have been no cause for a research library. We are in her debt for that much, at the very least.”

"Yes, ma'am."

The Vherokior’s head drooped and vented a sigh toward the floor. "Foremothers, it is well beyond time for you to put aside needless formalities, Dasheir.” She drew a long breath and ran her palm along the furs lining the floor, meeting the young Nefantar’s hand with comforting weight. “We, all of us here, journey together. ‘We’ve caught our star and with it we cross the void,’ remember?”

Dasheir merely sputtered, "Of course."

"You’d better." With a smile she watched Dasheir's hands rise and delicately search the surface of her completed prosthesis. Hesitant hands learned the shape of her new face, eyebrows dancing above it. “It’s a clean fusion, just like we’d hoped it would be. The machines we developed generated the lattice, and your bone grew the caisson right upon it. The keratin sheath is coming in nicely. It’s alive, strong, part of your body… and the best part is, the same machines that built it can take it apart in a fraction of the time. Just speak up when you’re ready. It won’t hurt.”

The quiet of the club chamber sank around them for a moment, and both appeared elsewhere in thought.

“Hetu?”

“Yes?”

"The guests... what will they... don't you think they will be frightened of me?"

Bemused, Hetu’s lips curled. “They’re everborn. Most of them. They’ve faced the void with open eyes, in part to possess what you do now. They won’t fear you, or pity you… I believe they’ll respect you.”

Dasheir rested her hands in her lap once again, idly rolling the folds in the white robes between her fingers. She swiveled her head left and right several times, tilted it, stretched her jaw and wrinkled her nose. “It’s not heavy.”

Hetu marked that perhaps this was an attempt as self reassurance in response to anxiety. She had hoped that the early reluctance regarding cybernetics would have been assuaged by now, but perhaps the apprehension was based less on a perceived threat to herself and more how the change in her appearance would affect others’ impression of her. How close this was to her own youth, the threat of unmaking in the medical clone labs. Perhaps their chances would be the same. Perhaps there was a future in this young woman after all.

She flashed a half-smile, partially present while her thoughts returned to the equipment beside them. “We’ll need to have some exploratory observation of the module again, but it will help you in adjusting to the interface. If things feel good… it may open up possibilities for the future.”

Her sight. Dasheir would never get her eyes back, but Hetu had told her that it would not be impossible for her to see again. The scar tissue was old, but with the nanite surgeons and observation from the RUN neurology group, the graft to the optic nerve could be repurposed. The bone was the easy part. There was hope.

“Shall we try the biometrics link again?”

“Mmhmm.” Dasheir chirruped.

As Hetu activated the monitor on the datapad, flicker and glow crowded the young woman’s perception. Dasheir bristled visibly, and Hetu drew a loud and slow breath deliberately to guide her. The Nefantar flexed her attention gingerly, deliberately, inward to the stream of mindlight. Moments passed in murmur as she strained to intuit form from raw impulse. “Your respiration... is normal. Heart rate is forty-eight beats per minute. Blood pressure…  one-hundred-twelve over seventy. Your basal temperature is point-four degrees above average. Lutropin has dropped to near-baseline…”

“Remarkable. You’re becoming a natural at reading the signal. That’s outstanding, Dasheir.”

“Does that mean we’re ready to arrange the meeting?”

Hetu smiled softly, dialing back on the signal to autistic mode. “That’s precisely right. Based on your reading... I’d say we’ll need to schedule within the next three days. I’ll make the approach to our potential partners in the next few hours, push up my sleep cycle, and relade the capsule thereafter.”

“Are we expecting guests?”

“None that I’m aware. The club has fallen quiet since our build schedule’s kept me in Gulfonodi. I’m sorry for that.” Hetu rose and collected the handheld monitors, stepping back onto the heated slate flooring.

“No, ma’am, I didn’t mean-” Dasheir caught herself.

Hetu paused, then strode ahead without her companion. “Don’t fret, dear. Since I’m a bit peckish, and my day suddenly became a lot shorter, why don’t I peek into the kitchen and make some Rydh we can share? It’s quick and you’ll feel full for hours...”
« Last Edit: 17 Dec 2017, 21:24 by Stutzer »
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Stutzer

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Re: Contrivance
« Reply #1 on: 17 Dec 2017, 21:18 »

I spent a lot of the last few months doing 1000-word submissions for a few publishers, partially as an exercise and partially to see if I could do marketable work with other peoples' IP. This was part of that run, and I enjoyed getting into the dynamic between the NPC club staff and my character.

I know the ending is quite weak, partly due to the word limit, and refusal to omit inner monologue that might be ill-advised in a longer work.

I don't plan on building on it, but criticisms are welcome as ever.
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