In the lead up to the release of my New Book, The New Prometheus, I will be releasing "snippets" from it for you to start reading the story, starting with Chapter 1, below.
‘Diagnostics complete doctor, the prosthesis is ready for implant and activation.’
Doctor Xenox furrowed his brow in frustration and sighed. He ran this test every day and every day he got the same answer. His masterpiece, his work of art, hanging there before him was ready, finished, and yet, incomplete.
He’d never had this trouble working at the Corps. There had always been a surplus of brains he could choose from to implant into his creations. Willing or unwilling, it didn’t matter. They all had their memories wiped after the operation and became trusting employees of the Corp.
It had been the one thing that had frustrated him since leaving, and the one thing he had neglected to think about until he’d left. It wouldn’t have changed his decision of course, but he might have found a way to bring a brain with him.
Xenox stood there, much like he did most days between clinics wondering how best to find the right person to be his willing test subject.
He saw several people every day. They came to his clinic with their failing cybernetics and whatever pittance they could afford wanting him to fix their arm or leg. He did it, it helped him fund this project, and each time he had a visitor, he made mental notes about them, saving the data to his neural net for later access, hoping one day to find someone who might be a suitable donor.
Too many of them had a drug addiction or had issues with their Nanobots that made the procedure basically impossible. They wouldn’t survive the operation. Plus, he wasn’t one hundred percent sure that the memory wipe would work. He’d managed to get his hands on a machine that should, in theory, do the job, but who knew. Ideally, he’d like to find someone with what he thought would be the right temperament to begin with and limit the potential issues if the memory wipe failed.
The Cybernetic body hung before him, held in place by straps of flat weave Kevlar webbing and hooked up to the Doctors computer network and support systems by innumerable cables and wires that plugged into the various ports on the body.
He’d made the body female, because why not, and modelled it after that woman that had visited him a few times? She’d make a perfect brain donor, but he felt fairly sure she’d never agree to it. She wasn’t desperate enough and seemed to shun cybernetics in general anyway, despite helping others who had them.
He’d not seen her in a while now anyway, so best to look elsewhere.
He looked up at the lithe, feminine form, admiring its beauty. He’d never gotten to choose what he made while at the Corps, the specs of the bodies were always pre-determined and he had to follow those directions.
But no more. No more creating big ugly cyborgs for Psytech’s military contracts with their built in weapon systems and arms that turned into mini guns and all that stuff that he found brutish and without finesse.
He saw himself as an artist, and this body before him was his Mona Lisa, his masterpiece. She would be beautiful.
But it taunted him, hanging there, immobile, it’s eyes closed, silent and still.
He needed a suitable brain to bring it to life, but where would he get one of those?
A harsh buzzing sound rang throughout his lab, waking him from his reverie.
‘Shit,’ who’s that?’ he muttered to himself and used his Neural Net to log into the security system. In his field of vision, a rectangular video feed from his surveillance camera opened up to show a man stood outside stabbing the buzzer with his finger while his metallic cybernetic arm shook and quivered, glitching like someone with a severe case of Parkinson’s.
Xenox sighed and opened up a link to the intercom, and with a thought, sent a message to the speaker. ‘I’ll be there in a moment,’ sounded his voice in the alleyway outside.
‘Hurry up, this arm’s gonna…’
He closed the connection before the dirty looking man could say anything else.
‘LUCI shut down the prosthesis and lock up the lab behind me,’ he said aloud. He didn’t need too, but he preferred to communicate with his system AI in that way.
‘Of course Doctor,’ said the slightly too perfect voice that emanated from the speakers connected to his mainframe.
Xenox walked from the private lab at the back of this ground floor apartment he had taken as his own and walked into the main living area, a large open plan space with a kitchenette, a few miss-matched chairs and his bed over in the corner.
He sometimes looked at this dishevelled space with its old furniture that he picked up from anywhere and everywhere and lamented at how the mighty had fallen.
It was worlds away from the large, spotless apartment he’d had at Psytech with its clean lines and modern furniture. Even if he went back now, be doubted he’d get that same treatment again. He’d shown himself to be a liability, after all, a recidivist, a rebel who wasn’t to be trusted.
The thick metal door to his private lab slid shut behind him with a satisfying hiss, and the sound of powerful locks slamming home.
He made his way to the front of his living space and the security door he had in place there. This one, apart from the electronic lock, wasn’t powered. He sent the pass key to the lock from his Neural Net and watched the small LED light flick from red to green as the lock opened. He walked through the door, closing and locking it behind him and turned on the lamps in the room with a quick nudge from his Neural Net.
A grubby looking gurney sat in the middle of the room with lights, medical equipment and cybernetic instruments arrayed around it. He started to power up the room by issuing commands from his Neural Net while moving to the front door and the security panel beside it.
He reopened the video feed from the cam outside to see the same man stood out there, his arm still glitching about and out of control.
He opened a channel to the security panel again.
‘Are you alone?’ Xenox asked.
‘Yeah man, let me in, this thing’s gonna kill me in a minute,’ he said, an element of panic in his voice.
‘Are you carrying any weapons?’ he asked.
‘Nah man, I’m clean.’
‘Let me see, lift up your shirt and turn around,’ he said, checking the video feed to make sure this man wasn’t armed. He seemed not to be, as much as the crappy video could show him anyway. Feeling about as secure as he ever did with these visits, he unlocked the door and opened it part way, the door swinging inwards towards the Doctor.
The man gave him a nervous smile.
‘It’s going crazy man, I don’t know what’s up with it,’ he said, glancing at his own arm.
The Doctor looked down at it. He had seen a few like this. It often happened when the links between the brain and the prosthetic started to fail so that the signals to it were getting scrambled. He could fix it, but it would cost him.
‘Looks like your connections have been misfiring. I can fix it for you, but it’s not a quick procedure, and it won’t be cheap.’
‘I can pay you, whatever it takes, I just need this thing fixed before it strangles me or something,’ he said. ‘Can I come in?’
Xenox opened the door a little wider and allowed the man to step in, his spasming arm hitting the door frame as he stepped inside.
‘Thanks, Doc, I’d heard you were the one to come and see around here, is that right?’
‘I don’t know, we’ll see won’t we,’ he said and pushed the door closed. Before it clicked home into its frame, something, or someone, hit the other side and knocked Xenox back from the door as it hit him in the head. He stumbled back, his vision flashing and pixelating for a moment from the impact, but he stayed on his feet as another man with a black Mohawk jumped into his lab and pointed a handgun at him.
‘Whoa, gave you a little jolt there hey. Fuck, I bet his visions glitching like a mother fucker,’ Mohawk joked to his friend. They both laughed as Xenox noticed Glitch’s arm suddenly lose its shake and return to normal.
He was a decoy, sent in to get the door open. He cursed under his breath. He’d been careless.
‘Right then gramps, we want some of those sweet prosthetics we’ve heard about. What you got for me?’ Mohawk asked.
Xenox steadied himself and rose back up to his full height, and with a little thought, icons blinked in his field of vision.
Mohawk never saw it coming, so when the figure emerged from the darkness behind the two men, moving quickly and decisively, Xenox couldn’t help but smile slightly.
White limbs moved in a blur, catching Mohawk in a headlock and grabbing his arm. The pale figure yanked the man’s arm up where Mohawk harmlessly discharged a few rounds into the plasterboard ceiling. Glitch yelped in fright and backed off from the shiny android Doll as it twisted the arm further, making Mohawk scream in pain before a sickening crack of bone sounded loud and clear.
The Doctor moved slowly and reached behind his back to the pistol he always kept tucked into his belt and drew it out.
‘Hey… hey man, we’re sorry. It was nothing personal, you know? It’s just business yeah, we can work this out…’
Xenox heard the man, but it was the usual crap he heard from people like this, and he’d grown fed up with it very early on. These days he took no prisoners and never gave anyone a second chance. Why should he? They wouldn’t give him a second chance.
So he levelled the gun at Mohawks head and without preamble, pulled the trigger. The rapport from the gun echoed around the room as the back of Mohawks head exploded over the torso of the Doll.
The Doll was a relatively standard model, an android just like the tens of thousands out there in the city already. They had a humanoid appearance but were obviously synthetic with their shiny skin and the obvious joints and sockets.
At Xenox’s neural command, the Doll dropped the dead body of Mohawk and turned to look at Glitch with its shiny black shark-like eyes. An intimidating sight if ever there was one.
Glitch looked at the Doctor again, fear in his eyes and dropped to his knees.
‘Sir, I’m sorry, we didn’t mean…’ he said, raising his hands in surrender.
Xenox turned to face him and pointed the gun at his head as well.
‘You never do…’ he sighed.