The firs thing I noticed was the faint smell of antiseptics. A buzzing in my ear from machinery came next. Though I listened for it, I didn't hear the telltale beeping which should be telling me I was alive. Still, I had the dead certainty such was the case. Looked like dying was something I was definitely not good at.
I opened my eyes and found a large multi-bulbed lamp glaring down at me. It looked like something more out of a surgery room than a patient's. Was I coming out of anesthesia too early? It would explain the strange floating feeling hanging around the edges of my mind. It would also explain the lack of pain, though I was sure I had a lot of it. Lyra's shot had torn me up pretty bad.
But I was alive, dammit, alive! Did this mean I would get another chance? Could I stay around long enough to take care of things? To fix my mess?
"Ah, I see you're awake."
I felt myself stiffen at the unfamiliar voice.
A woman drifted into my field of vision. She was probably in her mid thirties, short reddish hair, not a bad looker. She wore the hated white lab coat identifying her as some kind of doctor.
"You're likely to be feeling some disorientation right now," she said. "But don't worry about it. It should pass soon."
Surely she realized I'd been through this before.
"We've not met previously, but I've been wanting to meet you for some time now." She gave me a soft smile. Something about it made me nervous. What did she want?
"Nambu and I had hoped to talk to you once your mission was over, to present you with our proposal and see how you felt about it. But circumstances took matters out of our hands."
I felt her touch me on the arm. My eyes glanced down and I saw that most of my body was covered by a sheet. There were restraints strapped over the top of it.
My voice screeched in my ears, almost incoherent. What the hell?
"This will probably all seem a little overwhelming at first, but I think with a little patience and training you'll get used to all of it in no time."
What was she talking about? Get used to what? My eyes roamed out beyond me at the walls. Unadorned metal walls stared back at me, all holding large computer banks and other unidentifiable machinery.
"I'm sure you'll come to see we had no choice," the woman continued. "You were dying, and the decision couldn't wait. We had to act or lose everything. And you were just too important to lose."
My eyes locked back on the woman, a kernel of dread growing inside me. What was she talking about? What was all this?
I tried turning my head, and much to my surprise, succeeded. I found yet another steel wall, with even more machines. These, however, had cables coming from them-cables which snaked around on the floor and disappeared beneath my sheets. "Wha-t?"
"I'm sorry. I guess I am blabbing on a bit. I haven't even introduced myself." She seemed suddenly embarrassed. "My name is Dr. Pandora. I'm a recent addition to the ISO and Nambu's staff. My specialty is cybernetics."
My gaze swung toward her seemingly of its own volition. She was a specialist in cybernetics? As in body part replacements? As in me not being a cripple anymore?
Pandora smiled. "Yes, you've guessed it, Joe. The ISO is giving you a new life--a second chance. For better or worse, you're now a cyborg."
The End (Part 1)