Welcome To Your Old Life – Short Story – “Welcome” Series Part 2

Welcome To Your Old Life

Prev: Welcome To Your New Life – Ravi has been Re-Animated, brought back to life by the government, but nobody will tell him why… well, not until he meets an odd pair of renegades calling themselves “The Resistance”

“May I aid you?” The voice was monotonous, slightly mechanic, and attached to what appeared to be a 3rd Generation Service Bot. Petite took a long moment to analyse the appearance of the Cyborg in question. It was a lot less blue than Petite would expect of an average service bot, especially if it was the generation she thought.

The man the cyb’ was talking to asked a basic geography question which the cyb’ answered with a tiny undercurrent of irritation. Petite pulled out her port-screen, pretending to click through some things. She watched the cyb’ as the human man walked away. The cyb’ glanced around, decided it was alone enough and everything changed. The rigid posture disappeared and, with movement more fluid than a Gen-3’s circuitry should allow, it dashed off. Shoving the port-screen in her pocket, Petite followed the cyb’ down an alley. It hopped on a bin, over a wall, and was out of reach of Petite’s very human limbs in mere seconds.

Petite steered the ‘ship into the Resistance Base. Ravi probably could have done it but he was being given a quick ‘welcome to having mechanical limbs’ intro by Blue and the Resistance wouldn’t generally allow a stranger to land anyway.

Blue was going to have a lot of explaining to do when they introduced Ravi to the rest of the Base. Then again, Blue had a habit of picking up strays and had been with the Resistance almost since it’s inception.

A quick meal while the Resistance uploaded the records they had stolen when they had picked Ravi up from the Re-Animiation Centre, and Petite was pulled into meetings. She tried to argue. Blue had expended a lot of charge keeping Ravi’s circuitry going so he didn’t go into cardiac arrest. Petite wasn’t sure if Ravi was the kind of Re-An that needed solar recharging, mainframe recharging, or whether his circuitry was built around a functioning heart. It was something she needed to investigate. She typed it into her port-screen note of Things To Do, an ever expanding list.

“Petite!” Toria snapped

Petite looked up sharply

“Are you even paying attention?”

“Lot on my mind” Petite offered. She could easily have told Toria how she also needed sleep, a good shower, and a break, but Petite knew Toria better than to expect her to let Petite take the time if it wasn’t pre-designated. Toria loved schedules, gave her a sense of control that wasn’t necessarily real.

“Like what?” Toria demanded

Petite frowned, she knew Toria would have some kind of ulterior motive in asking but her tired brain couldn’t fathom what that motive might be and so found herself picking the most concerning thing that kept repeating itself in her brain. “Blue expended a lot of energy, more than they could afford, keeping Ravi alive. I haven’t managed to make a charger for them yet and I’m worried for their health”

“Blue is a cyborg” Toria’s tone was full of condescension, as if Petite didn’t know enough about how cyborgs worked. “They will recharge even if they power down for a little while”

Petite wanted to argue, wanted to tell Toria that letting Blue power down was one of the things the Resistance should be fighting against. How would Toria like it if her prosthetics had to be powered down for lack of chargers because the person who could have made the charger was called into other tasks.

“We need you Petite” Toria continued

Petite sighed, “so we need to infiltrate the H for H camp, right?”

Petite had always been needed. She was a star in her engineering class; thinking outside the box, in different ways, and working hard to make her vision a reality. She’d worked on repairs, in innovation, and had eventually been head-hunted for a special new project being run by a professor she really admired.

He had, for years, been trying to marry human form with cybernetic enhancements. He’s started out with improving prosthetics before moving on to the project that Petite had been invited on to. She had signed the Non-Disclosure Agreement readily and began working with “Call me Nikolai” on the top secret government project.

It had taken two years before Petite noticed the horrors of the project. She had been so caught up in the glory of working with Nikolai, and of being at the forefront of innovation that, had she not stumbled upon the “Do Not Re-An” paperwork for her current subject she might never have seen the problem at all.

“You’re late” Blue scolded with a smile that belied their tone

“Am I ever not?” Petite smiled back. “How are you?”

“I’m okay. I know they need you”

“But your power cells”

“Are just fine. Ravi suggested using that broken ‘ship, the one that can’t radio”

“The parts-mobile?”

“Yeah, not safe to fly because it won’t connect to the mainframe anymore, but that’s perfect for me isn’t it”

“For now” Petite couldn’t help the edge in her voice

“Until you build me my port-charger” Blue sighed, leaning their head on Petite’s shoulder.

“I will build it for you” Petite promised

“I know you will, you’re busy, I understand”

“I don’t want to be too busy for you”

“It’s fine Petite”

Petite was beginning to get the impression that Ravi’s feelings about becoming a Resistance Pilot weren’t as binary as Toria would want them to be. She guessed it would be difficult for him to balance it against his newly unlocked memories of working for the H for H units.

A few short conversations as he flipped the ‘ship to auto-pilot told Petite that Ravi’s memories hadn’t come back in the same way an average human accessed them but more like when he had PTSD flashbacks, only less distorted and confusing. Petite hadn’t been sure how to respond to the admission and had offered an excuse to go and check on Blue.

“It isn’t a big deal” Ravi called after her “I’ve been a soldier a long time, I don’t mind answering questions if you have them”

“I swear to antikythera, Petite, if you ask me how charged I am I’m going to get pissy with you” Blue greeted without looking up from the map on the table

“How are the plans coming?” Petite asked instead

“Looks like our best option is sending in a human. The info is in the public library, so easy access for a human. If I get made for a cyb’ it’s not going to go down well. People don’t trust us anymore.”

Petite didn’t like the act of going in alone but she knew it was the best option they had. Blue was too high risk, and Ravi was too unknown. It was already weird that Toria had permitted him to pilot them at all, then again it had been Blue who had convinced her and Blue had some kind of knack for getting what they wanted out of Toria. At any rate, Ravi was a soldier not a spy. Not that Petite was a spy, even if she had faked herself some records after leaving the Re-An programme. Turned out Nikolai wasn’t very trusting. He liked the fans and the fawning but as soon as he was questioned he became ruthless.

Petite had presumed the DNRA was a mistake. It was the wrong Jane Doe, or the wrong file. She had gone to Nikolai and asked him if he was aware that Patient EL645 was a DNRA. Nikolai had told her not to ask questions and just to do the job. “What do you think the memory-lock chips are for?” he had asked

“You told me they were to prevent reliving death” Petite had replied, sickened at the thought of something she had developed being used in such an inhumane way.

“A simple chip can do so many things”

“I don’t feel comfortable Re-Aning someone who requested to be left dead” Petite had insisted

“If you don’t do this you won’t have a job here”

“If you want me to do this maybe I don’t want a job here”

“You have such a bright future, don’t throw it all away over some misguided compassion for a corpse.”

“I cannot Re-An a DNRA” Petite had insisted.

She got the information as easily as Blue had said she would. Petite was, after all, a registered human within the mainframe. Only an expert would be able to discredit the persona she had input. Not to mention that the neighbourhood was set up exactly the same way Petite’s childhood neighbourhood had been set up, all modern recycled-plastic and solar-powered neighbourhoods where everything seemed to be going smoothly, Petite was on her way back to the ship when someone had bumped into her. “Oh, sorry” she said, not stopping until she heard her old name.

It was only a moment’s hesitation but it was enough.

“It is you!” one of the lab techs from the Re-An project yelled. He pressed something on his suit. Petite heard the alarm blaring. She ran.

The problem with being an engineer above all else, the issue with putting intellect and knowledge above things like physical capabilities was that one couldn’t run for very long. Sure, Petite could build a circuit board in record time, answer any question on cybernetics, and fix almost anything you passed her, but she couldn’t run more than a few blocks before getting winded.

Panting hard, with black spots invading her vision Petite tried to find somewhere to hide. They should have brought another human, one who was athletic, then again they hadn’t been expecting trouble. Boy, were they wrong.

As if out of nowhere, Blue landed in front of Petite, only grimacing a little with the pain of having jumped to the recycled plastic street. They grabbed Petite by the shoulders and looked into her eyes for a long moment. Petite was forever taken by the fact that Blue had deep brown eyes.

“Go down this way, take two right turns, then a left. There is an alley with a broken fence that you can crawl under. It will get you into the shipyard. Go, walk. Don’t draw attention to yourself.”

Petite started to open her mouth, to question the orders

“I am going to draw them off” Blue explained “Nobody wants a cyborg in the ‘last human refuge’ – as if we’re committing genocide or something not just wanting control over our own lives. They especially don’t want a free cyb’ wandering around. Go” They pushed Petite and she yielded.

Following Blue’s instructions was easier than Petite had expected. She kept glancing over her shoulder but nobody followed. Back on the ‘ship Ravi waited at the controls. He was clenching and unclenching his mechanical fist again, it was becoming a nervous habit where it had once been a malfunctioning circuit.

“Where’s Blue?” he asked

“Drawing the soldiers off” Petite said, staring at the door, waiting for Blue to enter

“When they realise you have got away they will ground all ‘ships”

“We’re not leaving Blue!” Petite snapped

“You think I was suggesting that?” Ravi snapped back “I meant can you hack into the soldier radio?”

“Don’t you know the frequency?”

“I don’t remember” Ravi ground out

“Okay, okay” Petite ran hands through her hair, pulling it into a messy bun atop her head “All you have to do is remember what it was like being an H for H pilot”

“I don’t remember. It’s not as simple as that.”

“Okay, okay, so you would go to your station and…”

Ravi huffed out a breath but settled into his chair. “Run a systems check” he said, closing his eyes. Petite watched him pretend to press a button. “Say something derogatory about cyborgs”

“They’re … not human?” Petite offered, confused

“Haven’t you seen the Terminator movies, Simtiv” Ravi snarked in an imitation of someone Petite had never met. “Turn on my radio” Ravi said, back in his normal voice. This time he pressed a real button and messed with a turn dial until static changed to voices. “Await my orders” Ravi finished as a clear voice spoke through their speakers.

Ravi’s shoulders slumped and he rubbed his face, looking tired.

“Apprehended one Gen-3 ‘borg. Repeat apprehended one Gen-3 ‘borg. Fugitive is still on the loose”

“They have Blue” Petite whispered.

*

Part 3 Coming Soon- Welcome To Reset – Blue’s very life is in jeopardy, as some H for H scientists try to crush the individuality from them with repeated resets. Will they escape or will they be reset and labelled a ‘service bot’ once more?

Part 4 Coming Soon – Title TBC

Epilogue Coming Soon – Title TBC

Part 1 – Welcome To Your New Life – Ravi has been Re-Animated, brought back to life by the government, but nobody will tell him why… well, not until he meets an odd pair of renegades calling themselves “The Resistance”

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