Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

The test drill had gone horribly wrong.

The bipedal meat structure wasn’t breathing. Emergency!

There were specific instructions tattooed on the outside of the biological’s skin for repair procedures.

The yellow and black rectangles and hazard symbols on the shaved skull meant that no one except accredited programmed hardcases could operate on him there.

There was no time. The sensors in my fingertips read the sound vibrations coming from the cage of bone where most of his internals were kept warm and functional in their liquid bags.

No sound was coming out. According to manuals I’d read in these flight plan procedures, biologicals had to be brought back online within minutes or the shutdown would be permanent.

There were pictograms of the major organs tattooed on the outside of the body of the bio. Procedures with lightning bolts were stained there with dotted lines pointing to places to apply trodes and places to avoid stressing.

There were a lot of markings all over the body. It was complicated. I could feel my processor heating up.

It was hard to believe that beings so fragile had accomplished so much before the takeover. It was even harder still to think that we still needed their ability to deal with worst-case scenarios and lateral idea production.

I re-routed half of my battery power into the ship and funneled it to my fingertips.

The biological in my grasp danced at the end of my fingertips like a string puppet being shaken by an angry god. I stopped the charge. The meat was smoking a little bit.

Did I use too much energy?

I heard the biological’s main liquid oxygen pump and bellows start up for six beats before settling into arrhythmia again.

I looked at the tattoos. There were no shock hazard warnings around where I had my hands. The outer skin of was still intact. The seconds ticked away. I charged it again.

Again it stiffened and twitched like a kite in a high wind. I dropped the charge to zero and listened. Silence. I listened closer.

I was focused entirely on it when it screamed and drew in breath again. I jumped back from it in alarm, my pads clanking on the metal of the deck.

It quickly rolled over and convulsed. Protein supplements spilled out of its main airway and food passage. Slowly, it got up to a sitting position. Its breathing and pump rate slowed.

It looked down at the sensor-shaped burn marks dotting its main torso and then up into my lenses. I could not read the expression there.

“How long was I out?” it asked me.

“Three minutes seventeen seconds. The insulator was worn through when you grabbed the controls. It shall be repaired. You need to get back to your containment pod and rest.” I replied through my speaker, resonating the air to create disruptions that the biological could pick up with the receivers on either side of its main sensor array.

“Yes.” Said the bio, and went off to bed. He’d be put back in deep sleep and woken up for another emergency or another drill when needed.

I set about re-insulating the control interface for the ship. I felt guilty and embarrassed that my slip up had nearly caused the death of my biological backup.

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