A bit more than an hour later, the print of Mirideth’s nervous system was complete. Myrrhdta brought it into the room. To Mirideth it looked like a barely discernible bundle of teal synthetic fibers all connected to an empty vaguely brain shaped vessel at the top. Myrrhdta pressed a button and a rack of some sort decided from the mess of cables and metal in the ceiling. Myrrhdta extensively connected the synthetic nervous system to it in the shape of a human body. Mirideth’s body.
“Alright. We’re ready, Mirideth. It’s time.” Myrrhdta sounded excited.
Mirideth was less excited. “This is going to hurt isn’t it?”
“Not while it’s happening! But once you wake up, oooooh boy.” She then jabbed a needle into Mirideth’s arm unexpectedly and her world went dark.
Mirideth awoke to pain. Intense, burning pain, as if every single nerve in her body were simultaneously on fire. She would have screamed, but she couldn’t move. She couldn’t see. She was aware of nothing but the most intense pain she had ever felt. Intense light. The brightest light she’d ever seen burned through her visual cortex. It faded, the ceiling of the black market operating room came into view. The burning pain settled into a dull throb in every nerve in her body. She could move, hear, think. The restraints released, and she tested her limbs. They all moved as they should, but most movements hurt. “Ffffuck.” Was the first word that escaped Mirideth’s lips. Even breathing, speaking, hurt. Every movement that could be felt by a human body hurt.
“You’re awake! I know you’re probably in a lot of pain, and I’ll be honest, that isn’t going anywhere for at least a month.”
It was at this point Mirideth realized she had nowhere to stay. She hadn’t thought that far ahead. As if reading her mind, Myrrhdta said “If you need a place to stay and heal up… You can stay with me. If you’d like.”
Mirideth braced herself for the pain, and said in a choked, hoarse voice “I’d like that…”
“-and so we dated for a few centuries, but something happened..." An expression of intense sadness fell briefly over Mirideth's face, but she quickly regained her composure. "At some point after we parted ways, I can only assume Myrrhdta somehow got herself a Nervous system replacement like my own.” Mirideth finished speaking, still leaning against Myrrhdta.
Myrrhdta giggled. “I did indeed, Miri. It isn’t as complete as yours, since I had to program a surgery bot I built to do it for me. But I am as effectively immortal as you, dear.” The group had migrated back out into the entry area and were sitting in the previously vacant waiting area.
Maria just stared. “So you’re telling us. That the person Niarith found to deal with Mirideth, built Mirideth? And fucking dated her?”
The two of them spoke in unison “Yes.”
Lolanene sighed from next to Maria. “You pushed ‘Rith to come here, didn’t ya Robo-bitch?”
Mirideth laughed mirthfully “Of course I did, little stray. Did you really think you were getting rid of me that easily? That I had no control over the situation?”
Lolanene stood up “I suspected ya might try, but this ain’t over yet. We fulfilled our end of the bargain. Doc, you gotta fulfill yours.”
Myrrhdta nodded. “Of course. I’ll see to it that Mirideth is removed from Niarith entirely. But she’ll need a body, and for that, we need a template.”
That last word reverberated within Maria’s mind, she wanted to, needed to, she must volunteer to provide that template. “I volunteer for that!” Maria said as she stood.
Lolanene looked at her as if she’d just grown a second head. “Maria, what the fuck? Why would you volunteer for that?” No one answered, and Maria walked into the workshop without really thinking about it. The door closed behind her. Myrrhdta and Mirideth were already inside. Lolanene was not.
“Very well done, Plaything!” Mirideth spoke as if she were speaking to a dog or a small child. Maria was having trouble discerning if she should care or not. Her thoughts felt all jumbled and fuzzy. She needed to volunteer. That was the only clear thing.
Myrrhdta giggled. “Well, now that we’re all here, without any annoying little girls, we can get to the real work. There will be no template. We’ll just use the body that… Plaything, was it? So kindly offered us. But we simply can’t work with this. Mirideth’s systems will be too damaged by the removal to work in a fully organic body anymore. They’ll need assistance. And I know just how to provide that.”
“Myrrh… I need to be restrained. Now. I’m running out of energy. The host will return.” Mirideth looked unsteady, afraid. Maria wasn’t aware of that. She needed to volunteer.
Myrrhdta moved without a word, clearing junk off of a large metal platform held up by a robotic arm. Mirideth laid Niarith’s body down on it, and the restraints clanked shut. The glow faded from her eyes, and Niarith was back.
“What.. where…” She tested the restraints, and realized she was trapped. “What the fuck?” She looked over at Myrrhdta. “What the fuck did you do to me? Why am I restrained?”
Myrrhdta simply smiled. “Time for questions is over, lady.” She lifted her visor, revealing solid pink synthetic material, with two lighter pink dots. They pulsed once, and Niarith’s eyes matched it. “Go to sleep.” Niarith’s head simply slumped to the side, and she was out.
Maria was still standing, somewhat unsteadily. She needed to volunteer. Myrrhdta walked over to her, took her hand, and led her up the stairs to the catwalk. She was led into a room full of robotic arms, metallic surgical instruments, power tools, needles, and tanks of green liquid. Myrrhdta ordered her to stand on a small circular panel in the center of it all. Maria did as she was told. A bright green gravitic restraint field suddenly flowed over her. The unfamiliar feeling of pressure against every single part of her body brought her back to her senses.
“Wh… where am I? What’s going on?” she was starting to panic, having essentially woken up in this state.
Myrrhdta was standing behind a control panel, her visor was back on. “You’re becoming a whole new you, Plaything.”
“That’s not my fucking name! My name is Maria. Tell me what the fuck you think you’re doing! Where’s Niarith? Where’s Lolanene?” She struggled in vain against the restraint field. It was like pressing against a concrete wall that was encasing her entire body.
Myrrhdta simply smiled. “Niarith is restrained and asleep downstairs. And I can only assume Lolanene is that little girl you brought with you. She’s… taken care of. No one is coming to help you out of this, Maria. It’s just you and me now. Now, hold still, this will hurt. A lot.” She grinned as she finished the sentence.
One of the mechanical arms began to move as Myrrdta began pressing buttons. It had a needle on the end of it. Before Maria could react at all, it thrust forward and jabbed her in the neck.
“That should dull the pain enough that you won’t pass out. I don’t want you to miss a minute of this, Maria. I’ve never done something this extensive, glad I had the equipment set up. You see Maria, life here sucks. I used to have a clinic. Then a hospital. Then a cybernetics corporation. But some asshole invented the LightDrive. And the fucking FIC rolled right over us. They came in, they took over the Lyrion system.”
Maria felt her body begin to numb. She wouldn’t have been able to stay standing without the gravitic field holding her up. She watched as other arms containing needles, scalpels, saws, and other, equally terrifying implements moved slowly into position.
Myrrhdta continued speaking. “They dislike cybernetics. The Pan-System Alliance tolerated them, within certain restrictions. But one of the first things the FIC did was ban them outright. Including ripping out any existing ones.”
Another needle jabbed her thigh, there was no explanation for what it had injected.
“That meant Mirideth had to go. I couldn’t go with her. I was well known, the FIC might try to follow. But I kept my private life private. No one knew about her. I gave her the best, fastest ship I could afford, and spent most of my remaining money on the Ghostinite to fuel it. I still remember watching her fly away, out of my life. Months later I lost my company. I lost my job. I lost everything.”
Another injection, this one burned through Maria’s veins.
“I ended up as a general care physician on a nowhere fucking planet. Helping children with common illnesses. Giving elderly people life extension drugs. It.” Another injection. “Was.” Another. ”HUMILIATING!” A scalpel sliced down one of Maria’s arms. She screamed.
The pain was intense, yet she didn’t bleed. She wasn’t bleeding. What had this woman injected her with?
“It was degrading. From human enhancement, from the forefront of science, to basic maintenance. I dislike maintaining fleshy human forms.” Myrrhdta was angry, and seemed to be taking it out on Maria. She sliced once more, across Maria’s belly. The pain was less than it had been. More a numb feeling of something sliding, than a knife slicing through her.
“That’s why I’m making you something more. Something better. I’m making you, into perfection.”
Maria could no longer feel any sensation of touch at all. It was a strange feeling, or lack of one. She somehow convinced herself that since she couldn’t feel it, it was okay. Until she realized she was standing on only one leg. And then none. The gravitic field the only thing holding her up now.
“This is going well, Maria. You’re going to be beautiful.” Myrrhdta seemed to have calmed down. She now seemed genuinely happy with her work.
Maria knew she couldn’t stop it. She couldn’t speak now, with her entire body numb.It felt like she wasn’t breathing. She wasn’t sure if she was. The robotic arms injected, removed, replaced. Over and over, everywhere at once. She barely noticed when her jaw was removed. Replaced with some kind of metal mask. The surgery took hours, and again and again Maria drifted into a tranquil state of peaceful nothingness. She was glad to allow the release from the horror of her situation. Eventually, she drifted into a sort of sleep. It was dreamless. Empty. Peaceful. On some level, Maria knew she was hoping she wouldn’t wake from it.