Chapter 20:


Pyro's Grand Demise

My door opens early, about an hour before breakfast. I’ve already been awake for hours at this point, so I immediately leap up from my cot. I couldn’t sleep.

Two security guards wait outside. One of them is a warden if his too-bright green eyes are any indication. I wonder where he came from, or if I’d simply not noticed him before. He could be a new recruit, I guess, but then he’d have to be from a different facility. None of the cy’s here have been promoted since I got here.

Well, none of them except for me. But that’s only if this can be considered a promotion… and if I survive.

My gut churns as I’m led down a series of halls. I haven’t explored the entire facility by any means; most of it is restricted to cy’s, unless they are otherwise approved access. Some of the rooms on this side of the building are for testing, so of course certain cyborgs have access. What the testing behind these closed doors is, well, I have no clue.

My pyrotechnic ability isn’t classified, so somehow word leaked out about my left arm. Zachariah knew about it anyway. It just makes me wonder what is deemed important enough to be classified. What abilities do my fellow cyborgs have, deemed too dangerous to mention?

I’m guessing Project Indigo is one of these cases, but it can only lead me to think of what other secrets this place contains

The door we stop in front of is ordinary, but inside it’s anything but. A perfectly square place with metal walls and a reflective floor. A heart monitor, tray of surgical tools, and other medical supplies dominate the room. A metal table sits in the room’s center.

My throne, I’m guessing. Could have been more sparkly and less metallic.

“Sit here,” the warden says before shutting the door. It locks behind him and I’m abruptly alone in a cold room. I stick my tongue out after him. He could have given me a jacket or something.

I urge my body to heat itself, but remember I have no control over my pyrotechnics. If it wasn’t disabled, I could use it to warm up my body without producing flame. Unfortunately the entire thing is disabled except for during testing.

I gently press my fingers against the chip at the back of my neck. The one thing preventing me from going brain dead. They’d added a component to take control of my pyrotechnics, but I have no idea how to remove it. Joe would know, but I doubt he’ll remove it today.

Whatever they install into my neck will undoubtedly allow them to continue having control over my flames. This string of thought has me thinking. Do I really trust Joe to perform this procedure? The one person who knows how to take away a cyborg’s free will?

He wouldn’t do that, I tell myself. But, if he did, that would be a fate worse than death. My own thoughts have me squirming for an outlet and I ponder whether they really need a heart monitor. It looks like it’d be incredibly satisfying to smash against the reflective flooring.

Until my reflection is broken into shards and the only thing I can make out are two pinpoints of blue.

The door slides open and a familiar face strides through. “Pyro,” Joe says with a smile on his face. “You ready? This procedure will be a snap. I promise.”

He’s wearing a pair of jeans with a sweater beneath his lab coat. If I’m being honest, he nails the mad scientist look. Maybe due to his disheveled hair or the fact that his glasses are crooked. I think back to how messy his workshop was and something resembling nostalgia builds up in me. I squash it.

“You better not be snapping anything,” I respond. “Otherwise I’ll wake up to wring your neck, no matter how deep under you have me.”

His smile falters. “Pyro, this procedure actually requires you to be awake. There are too many risks with putting you under.”

I glare at him. “You’re joking.”

“Not at all. But I promise it will be relatively painless. The trick is to remain calm.”

“Relatively?” I repeat with a frown. “What’s that supposed to mean? And how am I supposed to remain calm, knowing that you could kill me at any instant?”

He cringes. “I’m not going to kill you. But if you’re tense during the procedure, it could cause you to go into shock. So please promise me you’ll relax. The success of this relies on that.”

I grimace. “Can you at least drug me?”

He smirks and shakes his head. “Hop onto the table. I’ll take your blood pressure.”

Too exasperated to complain, I sit on the table and ignore how it makes my ass cold. I hold out my arm and he wraps the band around it. I pretend it doesn’t freak me out as the band slowly squeezes my arm until I can feel my own heartbeat. Gross.

“You have high blood pressure,” he observes while watching the gauge. “Somehow this doesn’t surprise me.”

I roll my eyes. “It’s not like there’s anyone stressful around me either.”

He chuckles. “I’m glad I have that effect on you I guess.”

The door opens and his mother walks in. I can tell by the clack of her heels before I even see her face. Her hair is pulled back so tightly her appearance is ten years younger.

“Are you ready?”

I nod, ignoring the swelling feeling in my stomach. “I’m ready.”

She jerks her head. “I’ll be watching on the other side of that glass.” She gestures to a wall which looks just like all the other walls.

She turns her attention to her son. “So don’t mess up.”

I feel the chill in the air as she leaves. There’s an awkward silence before Joe says, “Well, that makes me feel better.”

He grins, albeit more hesitantly, at me. “Why don’t you lay down on your stomach and we’ll get started?

It’s slightly painful. The process of removing my chip is startling. Joe’s mumbled apology as he sticks tweezers into my neck goes unnoticed. I can hardly concentrate on him when all my focus is going into relaxing. Not that it’s working. I’m as stressed as ever.

The most disturbing part is that I can feel his tools moving around inside me. I want to gag, but I fear the operation going wrong. I don’t want to die.

It’s this thought process which pulls me through the half-hour procedure and into what lies beyond.

Steward McOy
Makinohara sensorika