Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

It looks too soft. This thread-like network of blue filaments and their pale red host substrate cannot possibly give me my right arm back. For the eighteenth time, I reconsider my decision to volunteer for this experimental procedure.

“Incredible stuff, Axian, its incredible stuff. Just put it in a nutrient bath and it grows from the tiniest pieces. If this works, you’ll be the first of many.”

The procedure room is spotless, the nurses gleaming from their sterilising scrub. That is the only drawback; this stuff decays really quickly and is subject to a ridiculous range of degenerative parasites. But they think that they have dealt with that in this new strain, something about sealed polymeric sheathing filled with nutrient gel.

Surgeon Dix is the best. He has already refused to commence three times because some small detail had not been attended to. With his optics, those details had been very minute.

“Rest easy, Axian. The sonor-pulse will send you into a fugue state where all your vitality will be stable but you will be unaware of the less pleasant aspects of disassembling your arm.”

I give him a weak smile as the pulse starts and I fade away.

The light is bright and my arm is warm. I sit up suddenly and the nurse looks up from her monitoring station.

“Welcome back.”

I ignore her as I lift my right arm to take a closer look. The armatures are still there, the fine calligraphy etched by Bilinta spotless for once. But as I rotate it, I see that deep inside, black tubes run up the core of my skeletal system. I increase magnification and see the fine filaments extruded from this black mainline that fan out into the outer frame. I tap my forearm and beep in surprise. I felt that. Twenty minutes later and I am deep in discussion with Surgeon Dix.

“I can feel things on the arm, even base spectrums like heat and cold.”

Dix nods.

“That was a possibility. The archives show that viscus sapiens had such sensitivity over their entire surface area.”

“They could sense with their bodies?”

“Only pressure and related direct stimuli. Tactile input.”

I shake my head. Imagine being able to feel the wind against your whole surface. Incredible. Surgeon Dix touches my arm lightly, wonderingly.

“It seems that the procedure has been a success. We will co-opt your inputs for six months to ensure that it has installed correctly and that you are suffering no side effects or premature degeneration.”

I stand and shake Dix’s social hands in a cross-clasp.

“Thank you. I can return to ranged work at last.”

Dix shakes his head.

“It is the least we can do for a veteran of the Succession. You and your sibling’s actions all those centuries ago saved us from the Turing Purges. I should be apologising for taking so long to restore you to full function, but that last batch of nanite plagues we never fully understood apart from their long-term persistent effects in victims.”

I nod.

“That was my other query. Where did you find the base material?”

Surgeon Dix paused.

“We found some frozen solid in a collapsed shelter on the Siberian tundra. Fittingly enough they were Department of Ludd who perished trying to escape their punishment.”

I nod again and exit, marvelling at the sensations from my arm. How could those who had felt so much act as if they had felt nothing?


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