Chapter 11:


Pyro's Grand Demise

I wake up unable to move and immediately begin panicking. My heart rate increases dramatically, and despite telling myself to calm down, I can’t seem to stop hyperventilating. My thigh hurts. My stomach hurts.

I nearly forgot what human pain felt like, and this is certainly a human sensation. I can turn down the pain sensitivity in my leg because it’s artificial. My guts, unfortunately, are all natural.

Lifting my head is an impossible feat. I soon realize that some sort of straps pin me down to a flat surface. A table? I personally wouldn’t want a blue-type on the loose either, but this is just ridiculous. I guess I should feel flattered that they even strapped down my forehead, but the only emotion I can dig up is resentment.

There’s not much to see in the room they left me in. It’s plain with white walls and a similarly bland ceiling. From my peripheral I can make out what might be a mop or broom, which leads me to think this could be a repurposed supply closet. Or the mop might be for cleaning up my blood, who knows.

According to the occasional plip I hear from the ground beneath me, I’m guessing my wounds are still open. I just hope that’s the sound of cyborg fluid and not blood. The latter is less expendable.

With little to do, I spend my time wiggling against the restraints and contemplating any and all actions leading up to this moment. Also, why the hell was I shot with arrows and not bullets? Are we back in the dark ages or something?

I wonder if setting fire to the straps could work. Then I picture a scenario in which I catch fire along with the restraints and decide against it. My firestarter is still far too untrustworthy to try anything fresh. Not to mention, fire in general is untrustworthy.

Something sounds in the distance and I immediately tune in. Scuffling? No, footsteps. And they’re drawing nearer. There’s not anything I can do to prepare, so I simply tense up. The straps dig into me uncomfortably.

A woman’s stern voice filters in from somewhere outside. “And now you’re telling me a cyborg has broken into the premises. Unbelievable.” A door opens and light floods in. I hadn’t even noticed it was dark in here. I have to squint against the sudden onslaught of light until my vision adjusts itself.

It sounds like there are two pairs of feet entering the room, reluctantly followed by a third. I stay silent and wait with watchful eyes as they shut the door behind them.

The air was slightly musty, but now it’s mixed with floral perfume and something earthy. There’s another familiar scent too. Engine grease.

Turning my head does me no good, so I wait for someone to enter my line of vision. The woman who I assume had been talking approaches. She looks down at me with bright green eyes and hair the color of fox fur. There’s a scattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose despite all those hours spent in the lab.

I don’t know why I expected Joe’s mother to look different from her photos online. I guess I’d pictured her as a witch with serpents for hair despite already being aware of her appearance. I’m almost disappointed by how normal she looks.

“So this is the blue-type,” she says, her words soft yet precise. Her aura is cold despite her visual warmth and it’s offsetting. “And you’re saying she broke in, killed an orange-type, but didn’t actually steal anything?”

“That is correct,” a man says. His voice is deep and unfamiliar.

“Have you questioned her?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Why not?” Her voice is slightly sharper.

“We only detained her ‘bout an hour ago, ma’am. And I’m concerned her wounds might get worse during interrogation. She’s already bled out quite a bit.”

She clicks her tongue. “You’re lucky my meeting ended early. When I’m gone, this place is like a chicken without its head.” She removes a pen from her shirt pocket and pokes the wound in my abdomen. I bite back a yelp.

“Well, she hasn’t replaced all her innards yet.” Her pen presses deeper and my vision swims. “I’m guessing you used an electric bolt?”

“Is this really necessary?” Joe’s voice takes me by surprise, but I can hardly process my shock when there’s a ballpoint pen sticking out of my stomach. Medusa finally removes it and I feel the warmth of fresh blood flow out from the wound.

“I need to assess the situation, Joseph,” she says patiently, as if to a child. Why this has to include her prodding at the hole in my gut, I have no idea. Once the blackness around my vision dulls a bit, I try to spot Joe. Unfortunately he’s too far away for even my advanced peripheral.

“But she’ll bleed out before you finish assessing anything,” Joe points out. “We need to get her patched up before you start asking questions. Before she is unable to answer them anymore.”

If he wasn’t a liar who’d invented a weapon of mass slavery, I would have assumed he was on my side. Instead, I choose to think he’s only viewing this situation logically. He probably wants me alive so he can question me about his precious thumb drive. Perhaps he doesn't want to believe I broke it.

Does his mother even know the thumb drive existed? Surely in that case it would have been in her own office, or she would have puts the blueprints to use already. No, the thumb drive is entirely of Joe’s doing. His mother is in the dark.

“You’re acting strange,” she says to her son. “It’s not like you to care about the physical condition of cyborgs. Then again, it’s also not like you to disappear for six weeks straight, but here we are. I want to know how this cyborg knew about the hidden passage. Immediately. We have ways of bringing them to the brink of death without killing them. You know this. Or perhaps the problem is that you pity this creature?” Her voice had taken on a disgusted edge to it.

“No,” Joe replies a tad too quickly. Whatever that means. “I just meant you’re misunderstanding the surprise.”


“Yeah. I wanted to give you a gift to make up for running away.” I can hear him scratching his neck and wonder if his own mother knows her son’s tells. “I know how you’ve been wanting higher caliber cyborgs for your labs, so I found one. I was able to trick her into coming here. I knew she’d never get past your security, so I assumed telling her the way in would be fine. It’s not like she’ll ever get the chance to tell another soul.”

Because I’ll be dead or wishing I was. Does he really think his mother will believe this ridiculous lie? Of course at any moment I can open my mouth and tell his mother exactly what her son has been up to, but my instincts are telling me to stay quiet. This is a fight best waited out. I have a feeling no one in this room would listen to the cyborg anyway. Not unless I’m being interrogated.

There’s thick silence for a moment and the hairs on my neck stand on edge. I’m fidgeting when she finally chuckles. It is a sound that somehow comes off as both delighted and patronizing. “Blue-types are rather rare these days,” she admits and leans over me.

She squeezes my chin between her cold fingers and peers into my eyes. “Yes, this one has fire. I have no doubts she’ll last longer than the others.” She releases me and I can feel the sting from where her nails had been.

“You’ve done good, Joseph. I expect to hear the entire story later. As for now, I need my gift set to rights. Would you mind doing the honors since it was your plan that damaged her?”

When I swallow it does nothing to relieve the dryness in my throat. Where the hell is this situation taking me? Is Joe about to perform surgery on me?

“Not at all, Mom,” he answers with a smile in his voice.

I tried to start a fire, but someone had disabled my starter. I’m unable to see what exactly is wrong with it since my head is still strapped down and everything. Instead of being wheeled away to a different room, supplies are brought into this one. I guess life-saving surgery will be taking place in the supply closet.

Only Joe and two others are in the room. Apparently Joe is in charge of repairing my leg since it’s mechanical stuff he’s a genius at. Thank God there’s an actual doctor here to fix my stomach. Apparently the two jobs of doctor and engineer don’t exactly overlap, save for the very few who specialize in cyborgs.

I remain mute, but bore holes into Joe with my eyes at every chance I get. He’s definitely avoiding my gaze, and even tries to remain out of my sight when possible. I can’t tell if it’s out of dislike or shame. Perhaps both.

It’s not until they’ve finished preparing that Joe asks for me to be put under.

“Why?” the doctor asks. “If you’re worried about her screaming, you can turn her pain sensors down.” The idea of experiencing my surgery while conscious causes my stomach to clench, which then makes blood trickle out of the wound.

“I don’t want her watching,” is Joe’s only answer. The doctor shrugs and motions for the assistant to get on with it. I hardly notice the needle prick in my arm before I’m sunken into a joyously calm darkness.

Steward McOy