Author : Helstrom

The sense that something was missing had been nagging me ever since I came out of the previous surgery. I always seemed to want to take bigger steps, or see out the sides of my head, or move limbs that weren’t there. I felt small and clumsy and soft. The docs had warned me about this feeling but even so it was disorienting.

Now I was staring up at the array of lamps that shone bright as a cluster of suns. The procedure had been going on for thirty-four minutes, Joan told me from somewhere outside my field of vision. Any moment now.

Doc Walen’s face blotted out the suns, looking serious: “We’re going to cut you off now, Derek. You’ve trained for this. See you on the other side.”

Everything went blank – sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, all gone. I was confined to my mind. After-sensations assaulted me in an overwhelming cacophony. Terrified, I tried to scream but I had no voice. I tried to thrash but I had no arms or legs. I tried to cry but I had no eyes to squeeze tears from. I had no lungs to draw breath and no heart to pump blood but somehow, grotesquely, I was alive. I tried to grasp at the intellectual knowledge I had of the procedure, to recall the months of training I had gone through to prepare for it, but the fear smothered everything.

Then the light went back on, and I roared.

I could feel my body again and flung it side to side against whatever was restraining me. My vision returned, blurred, in colors and depths I had never seen before, giving me a seven-hundred-and-twenty degree view of the small pen I was kept in. The roar of my voice and the thunder of my struggle filled my hearing.

“Derek!” The voice rang clear as a bell, inside my mind somehow: “Derek! Pull it together!”

I didn’t want to listen. I wanted to break free and run in the great, bounding steps that I knew I was capable of, just run, until my legs gave out. And I wanted to kill something. Anything.

“Focus on my voice, Derek. Focus!”

“Who…” I replied from my mind – strange “Who are you?”

“It’s Joan. Focus on my voice. I’m with you. Pull it together, marine.”

Joan. The familiarity sank in, and the rage subsided. Marine. The training came back, and I stopped fighting. I relaxed. It had worked.

“How do you feel, Derek?”

It took me a few moments to realize how I felt. The missing parts were gone. My legs were the size they should be, easily capable of propelling the massive bulk of my superstructure. I could see all the way around myself, and even inside at the machinery. I had four arms, all bristling with weapons.

The interface lobe was working, I thought. It had been grown out of my own cells over six months ago, teased into raw neural goo, and hooked up to the walker’s electrodes. It had been left there to learn to control the massive machine’s motor functions and grow familiar with the input from its sensors. Then it had been removed, and grafted onto my own brain so it could mesh with my neural structure. And now the procedure was complete – my brain was inside this metal behemoth, controlling it as if it were my own body.

“I feel huge.”

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