Hard Copy 05: 8174 / 6446

Products of a secret government collaboration with the mysterious S.E.E.R. organisation, the Echoni E-4 are a series of sentient bio-weapons built to do one thing; Use military force and exotic new technologies to wipe out a species of alien aggressors infesting the human colony of Planet Hawking.
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uso
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Hard Copy 05: 8174 / 6446

Post by uso » Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:01 pm

Concourse Alpha, Low Intensity Containment Section #F

Rows upon rows of small cargo containers. Metal, reinforced, about five feet square and six foot tall. Stacked two high with a simple raised gantry to access them, protruding from a simple concrete floor with the label ‘LOW INTENSITY’ painted on the floor down each isle.

Doris Muller shrugged as they opened the heavy mechanical outer doors, finding this section a depressing far-cry from SEER’s high security sanctums. It was clearly a re-purposed storage unit.

The subtle, echoing dirge of murmuring around her made it pretty clear what was in those containers, however…Walking over to an idle forklift and plugging Dr.Caxia’s ID card into it, they then rechecked their digital/mental map, and looked for the unit allotted for ‘Number #008174’.

Electric whirring. They parked it under the relevant container, and again used the key card to crack open the padded interior…

Lighting. Padded. An entertainment screen. But it was pretty damn small inside.

“Hello darling! Are you awake, my sweet little thing?”

“Hello. Am I awake?” Came the response, the creature had just been sitting in the padded interior, lights off, just kinda slumped in the corner without having thought to turn on her display screen. The Echoni had on the typical SEER armored suit that hugged her body quite tightly, but aside from the rather fit torso and toned legs, it was quite clear that the rest of her body came from some tests backfiring quite spectacularly. Her arms were severed just below the shoulder quite cleanly, an injury matching someone caught right on the edge of one of those ‘death spheres’ some of the Echoni could toss about. Similarly her face seemed scarred from burns, and it was unlikely that this Echoni could see…. ‘Am I Awake?’ seemed like quite the valid question for her to ask as she tried to stand up, pushing her back against the wall as she kicked off with her feet.

Doris gulped deeply, made deeply uncomfortable by the unit’s distressing condition. The report mentioned the accident, but not the actual injuries. Tapping their datapad to life, they corrected this inconsistency, at the same time as making sure the creature’s exophage suppression collar was operating correctly… The curious scientific side of her wanted to know if the injuries were the result of their own powers, or inflicted by another unit… Yet both options felt excessively morbid.

“Yes, my sweet girl. This is real life. You are awake.” The blonde scientist did their best to sound upbeat regardless, motivating themselves by the virtue of the fact they could fix this. “I’m just going to ask you a few questions… You are unit Eight One Seven Four, correct? That is your name, isn’t it?...”

“It is my name if you say it is. I was darling a few moments ago. I am also awake, but that is not my name.” She stated, now standing just in the corner of her box, slowly turning left until she was fairly certain that she was facing towards the scientist that was speaking to her. “I was told to stay here. But I sat down. I am standing now though. Is this acceptable?”

From the readout, it looked like her collar was functioning just as intended, and was showing no attempts at exophage use in the past few days. It appeared as if she had just been sitting around, dormant.

Doris placed the pad against their chest and stifled a sigh, feeling a little ashamed of the human emotion that gripped them, pitying the poor thing. 8174 was unaware. 8174 had no shame. 8174 was ultimately humble.

Truely, the Echoni were superior to humans. Just another small demonstration of that.

“It is acceptable. Unit 8174… We will travel to the physiological testing center today.” A gloved hand moved closer, but stopped short, fearful of frightening the frail thing. “This will determine if you are suitable for cybernetic enhancement… Do you feel well? Do you remember the last time you ate anything?”

“Is this well?” She asked, not a hint of sarcasm in her voice as she just stood there. She was unblinking… mostly because she couldn’t blink, her eyes closed, no longer suitable for seeing where Doris was. It was only Doris’ speech that clued her in on where to turn her head. The echoni doing her best to remain facing towards this newcomer. “And I do remember the last time I ate.”

“I’m going to move you now.” Doris didn’t press the questions any further, choosing to scoop the creature up and place it onto the raised prongs of the forklift instead, so that they could remain sitting upright. A apple-flavoured juice box was then taken from their satchel, penetrated with a straw, and then placed upon the Echoni’s lips. “Take your time. Drink this.”

*SUUUUUUUUuucccccccc…….*

Some physical examinations were done with the cyborg’s free hand whilst she held it up to them, taking notes about the condition of their ears, their neck, the small globe-shaped exophage organ that protruded from the solar plexus, and the feet. They didn’t want to drag the Echoni around, if it was clear that they would not admit to being in pain… They also had to be physically ready for the next step in this process, too.

It appeared that aside from the damage to the face and arms, the Echoni was intact. Their ears worked fine, the areas of their body that had been covered by the SEER armor had not taken damage. Their lungs and stomach seemed just fine too as they were able to quickly drain the juice box of its sweet… sweet… juice. Upon completion, the Echoni just held the straw in its mouth, not knowing if it drank the juice too quickly or not. After a few moments it just started sucking on the straw again

Belatedly noticing this, Doris removed it, then petted them on the hair affectionately.

“Good girl. Very good girl.”

There were still a few questions, but the general condition seemed optimal.

From the echoni’s perspective, the scientist simply went silent for a moment, though there was a feeling of movement. The whirr of something electronic, that rumbled on the hard floor below them.

Soon enough, slightly cooler air. Blowing on them like a fan and pushing their hair around, except it was all around them. Distantly, faintly, weird little random tweeting noises. And other rumble-things way off in the distance, too.

A clunk-thud noise. More movement, for quite a bit longer. And then a doppleganger of that same heavy sound. Warm again. A bit noisy. Electric buzzing, and other people talking. The scientists’ heavy boots, and all of the jangling equipment inside of their coat.

Beeping. Plastic scratching together. Yet another thud-sliding sound. The Echoni’s elf-like ears twitching around as this all happened, attempting to locate each source one after another as the sound reached her.

Scooped up again, softly, cradling their head. Placed into a seat that was very soft, but didn’t do much to support the neck. It felt high up.

This room was quiet, but… Some sort of raspy metallic breathing was in here, too?...

“Okay. We are at the physical testing area, unit 8174.” The doctor spoke again. They could almost immediately feel something warm in the vicinity of their eyes, and a set of fingers delicately examining them for any functionality at all. “Please don’t move too much. This shouldn’t hurt…”

The Echoni would start to nod, tilting her head only slightly before freezing in place as she realized she shouldn’t be moving. She could move her eyes, the spheres instinctively trying to look away from the source of pressure against them even though the damage had already been done. There wasn’t anything to save any longer.

“Oh, my name is Doctor Doris Muller, by the way. I’ve been sent to help you out a little, my sweet thing... We might have a job for you!”

“I am ready for the job.” She stated, not having a whole lot of color in her voice until she asked her first real question to Dorris, just a bit of tremble creeping into her words, “Am I my sweet thing?” She asked, unsure of which name was hers.

“It’s just a phrase. It’s what you say to someone who is nice, and makes you feel happy.” Doris answered patiently, trying to think of them more like an under-developed AI than their humanoid appearance would suggest. “Stuff that you want to happen more often is good. Stuff that you don’t want to happen is bad.”

“Understood.” She stated, her words almost soldier-like but lacking that certain loud conviction that one might have when responding to an officer.

Another pause. Doris walked away, and then back again. Something very cold and cylindrical was pressed up against the echoni’s knees, brushing them very lightly and examining their expression for signs of recoil. They wanted to know if 8174 actually had skin sensitivity at all, or if they were for some reason mentally suppressing the symptoms.

“If you feel something, you can move away.”

“OK.” She said, standing in place as the metal cylinder pressed up against her. “... Do you want me to move away if I feel something? I am feeling something against my knees. I can move away if you want me to move away.”

“What does it feel like? Can you describe it?”

“It feels cold. Hard. There is pressure...”

“Okay. Very good. We are ready to proceed to the next phase, now…” Doris noted cherishingly, once again stroking their hair. There was an odd noise, a squeaking of metal, and then a very faint spraying sort of sound. “This will feel very weird. But don’t panic. You’re just going back to sleep for a little bit… When you wake up again, there will be a whole lot more we can do! It will be very good and fun, I promise!”

The noise got closer, and something plastic was pressed over and around their mouth. It had a really strong, caustic smell that hurt their lungs to breath. Made it super hard to think, and made their body feel a hundred times heavier. Everything was rapidly becoming quiet, until it was total and complete silence…

-----

New breath. The fresh air had returned. But their surroundings felt much different.

Pressure over their non-functional eyes. Something else was digging into the center of their chest, a weight that wasn’t there before.

No pain at all, but still feeling very weak all over. That rotten, cold feeling that accompanied broken bones. Everything felt just that bit off, slick and wet without any confirmation of something actually wrong.

They were on their back, pressed into a different surface.

The air wasn’t just caressing their hair, but their entire body. Something… Small pads clung to their chest, sticky, wires…

Something else… Protruding… sickness…

Yes, moving their head revealed a devastating feeling of disorientation, nudging at something cold and metal rubbing against the back of their skull… In their skull?...

Fingers probed and examined the area, apparently free of the hair that once graced that location. The rest of it was still fine on top, though, shown by Doris’ now-signature gentle cooing…

“Can you hear me, sweet thing?... It’s wake-up time, my darling... How do you feel?...”

“I feel pressure. It is inside of me. Inside of my head.” She raised her stump of an arm for just a moment, before realizing she couldn’t point at anything even if she wanted. Instead she would return the stump back to her side. “I feel like. Am I asleep again? Things do not feel like how they feel when I am awake.”

“That’s because I’ve been changing exactly how it is you feel, darling.” Doris made a small laugh. Affectionate, but perhaps a little too pleased with themselves. “Things will be different from now on. I’m going to make you all better!”

A metal clinking sound. A cold cloth cleaned the sweat from their brow, before something was slowly inserted into the back of their head. It felt distinctly like an object being placed much too far up the nose or inside the ear, yet it clicked in place, making a small vibration quite unlike any other human sensation.

Blue. Yellow. Rippling lines. Extreme shadows.

A vision of sorts, feeling forced into their left eye. They could not blink. It was next to impossible to make anything out.

The weight on their chest felt like it was vibrating a little now, too.
“What’s in your head now? Any colours?” Doris remarked. The shadow seemed to move as the scientist’s voice did. But the depth and location was really weird and wrong.

“It tickles.” She stated, a bit of discomfort in her voice as she tried not to move or laugh. “I think I am asleep. I see things now. It is like when I am asleep. There is shape. There is color. But there is no form. There is pressure in my head. It feels like pain. Like it should not be there.” The echoni was using all of her words as best she could to describe things, occasionally pausing and searching for more words to use in her attempt to describe these new sensations. “What do you want me to feel? Should I be feeling other things?”

“You’re not asleep. You remember seeing things, right? I’m making it so you can see things again. Whilst you are awake.” Doris answered patiently, close enough that 8174 could feel their breath. “You don’t have to feel anything. I’m here to fix what you simply cannot feel…”

Brushed with something, like a pair of metal prongs against the surface of their hair, moving inward until they were touching the Echoni’s skull. Doris used their free hand to softly grasp her chin this time.

“This will hurt. I’m sorry honey. But do not move.”

Pain. Intense pain. It felt like a needle, but too fast, too energized… coiling around, like it was rubbing against the very surface of their mind.

But the image did get clearer. The shadow had a human shape now, apparently crouched over another one, that was on a large reclining chair of sorts. Colour was still disarranged, with some kind of squirming dot pattern over the top.


“This does hurt.” She stated, her stubs pressing tightly against her sides as she did her best not to move.

Another jolt, and more intense pain. The dots got closer together, combining colours until they were white. Every colour of the spectrum was now reflected in a perfect, crystal clear image of a dimly lit grey room.

Lots of cabinets everywhere. Silver tools. Black-glass floors and ceiling.

Doris stood back now… or sounded like they stood back, even though the image was getting closer?

The image swung around wildly, giving them a glimpse of some dire female thing with no upper limbs. Naked on the chair. Odd blue-metal depressions where the eyes should have been.

Sequence of uncomfortable skull-sensations repeated.

The eye.... The vision… It lined up with the sounds around them now?...

“It’s over. No more pain. You can move now.” Doris was a very pale woman in a long white shirt. They had yellow hair, sharp eyes and black-metal antlers. “This should be working, yes? You can see in one of your eyes?”

“Yes, it is working.” She stated, confirming what Doris told her to confirm. She was simply responding off what she thought Doris wanted to hear, rather than actually confirming if she could see… though she would clarify that in a moment. “There are things in my eye now. I see more shapes and colors. It hurts less now. I feel sick. I do not know where I currently am.”

“You aren’t very far from your pod... The place where you were asleep, before. This place is called a bio-mechan-ee-cal op-er-a-tions room.” Doris spelled it out for them very carefully. “Your body parts were broken, so this is where you go to have new ones put on.”

Pulling the plug from the back of their head, 8174 found that they could blink now, though the visual tunnel was definitely still locked to the orientation of their face. Doris tested if they could actually track anything by raising a finger up, and watching if the echoni attempted to follow it.

The echoni just looked right through to Doris, ignoring her finger as it was waved around infront of them. “Bio. Mech-ann…. Room.” She stated, skipping past most of it. She would bling with one eye. Then the other. Then with both at the same time, her stub moving once again instinctively only to go back to rest at her side. “... I am ready for more parts. If you want to put them on now.”

Doris shrugged at the lack of a visual reading, but decided not to push it. The poor thing probably didn’t even know what it was looking at yet.

“Okay. We can try an arm… Though, I did want to feed you, too, hurm…”

Hand on chin, they tried to think of a way to get more accurate readings out of the echoni. Asking them things didn’t seem to do much good… Standing up, they left the room for several paces. There was a sharp metallic sound, and then a low, distinct humming.

8174 had time to consider their surroundings a little more, sitting in place as she waited for more instructions. Their skin felt a bit cold and exposed, leaving the Echoni to focus on not shivering as she lay there in the cold. The weight on their chest was actually a small metal disk, which seemed to somehow encapsulate or replace the small red globe that was in the divet of their ribcage, and was apparently riveted directly to it. She wouldn’t do anything as she waited, she wouldn’t move her arms or legs, she even just looked straight forward for a while, focusing on the wall as the seconds stretched into minutes. The Echoni looking slightly to the right, then left, when she started to wonder where Doris was.

Though their arms still ended in stumps, there were large, weird, screw-like protrusions sticking out of them, along with some small little extra sockets. Knocking them against anything vibrated right down to the bone, which felt really, really uncomfortable… causing a soft “Mggg….” to escape from the Echoni’s lips as they refocused on not moving, her entire body trembling slightly as she did her best to remain still like a statue.

When Doris returned, it was not with a new limb, but rather a bowl of something that was hot and steaming. They placed it on the counter for a moment to cool, and then set about unwrapping a turquoise medical gown. It was wrapped around the echoni’s form in no time, and tied at the back so that it at least warmed up their torso a little.

Next, they took the bowl, spooned something yellow and orange out of it, and inserted it into their own mouth; Demonstrating that it was edible, though by this point the Echoni had snapped their eyes forward to stare back at the place she was looking at before. Only out of the sides of her vision did she see the spoon.

The spoon after that was for 8174. It tasted warm, a bit salty, an earthy sort of full flavour.

“Eat this…”

*GOMP* The echoni would quickly take a bite and swallow the whole spoonful in one motion.

Back onto the counter?...

Doris fished out something completely different this time. A crude silver oblong in the shape of a forearm, complete with hand. It was pressed up against the echoni’s right empty socket, before an external button caused it to rapidly screw itself into place. When it butted up against their raw flesh, there was another distinct click, and they released a new sensation; The fingertips… they felt like hers now?... It was rubbery and cold, indistinct, but… hers?... It could move when they told it to?...

“Move. Eat, if you want it.” Doris smilled, now just holding the bowl within easy reach, silver spoon pointing towards the echoni. “You’re feeling hungry, aren’t you?”

The Echoni sat up. Then looked at the bowl… “I can feel hungry if you want me to feel hungry.” She said, before reaching for the bowl and accidentally knocking it to the floor, her fingers closing around it just a moment to late, her arm stopping just after it should have. “I… “ she looked flustered, “I will eat it.”

“It’s… It’s okay…” Doris looked a little sad, but accepted that they still needed work. “Stay there for a little bit… I’ll feed you instead…”

---

Night. Darkness. After another day or two of minor additional alterations, 8174 was now in some rather different lodgings. There were specialist rooms in the biomedical center, with restraint beds to monitor the patients overnight. On top of their cyborg mounts being detached and deactivated, there was also mechanical arms attached to the walls and pinned them in place around the neck, waist and legs… Though at least the interiors were cushioned with a black rubbery material, not at all like the uncomfortable orange plastic collar they once wore.

Still, this night was odd. It was dark, but the echoni could suddenly see, and, well, didn’t that mean their cyborg implants were active?...

There was a clanking noise… And, suddenly, the weight of the restraints was gone too…

Their arms and eyes were attached again?... What was going on?...

In the corner of the room, next to a control panel, a robotic arm with a little red camera on it… It was mounted on a trolley, and there was a cable running off the back, and out of the room…

Was… was it looking at them? Somehow?...

The Echoni would briefly glance over at the eye-thing, then snap back to looking at the thing she had been looking at before. She chose to just stay where she was, laying in the bed, looking forward and waiting for Doris to tell her what to do… but that voice didn’t come and it was getting harder to ignore that little red camera.

“A… Am I supposed to get up? Am I supposed to be awake now?” She asked, nervousness not being the only thing creeping into her voice. It was dark here, dark like the box from before, different but not different enough.

The metal pincer didn’t seem to know how to react either, just sort of freezing up for a moment.

Eventually, it pushed off of the wall so that it rolled towards the bed, and then began silently tugging on the echoni’s sleeve, urging them to get up.

The Echoni tried not to look at the arm as it tugged on her gown… slowly turning her head instead so she could look at the door, then back at the ceiling… Doris wasn’t around as far as she could tell. “She said to stay here.” She stated, “... I am supposed to stay here.”

It didn’t stop tugging. The machine was super insistent that they moved, eventually changing tactics so that it was carefully grasping their feet and putting them directly onto the floor. Sometimes it made wide swooping motions, as if pointing towards the direction that the cable was coming from.

The Echoni started looking around, she didn’t see Doris! She didn’t see anyone… it was just this arm, tugging on her, slowly pulling her forward off the bed until…

*FOOMP*

She ended up with her butt on the floor, having been pulled off the bed entirely and now being dragged towards the cable. “I… She said stay here. I have to stay here.” She tried remaining seated on the floor, but even so the arm was able to slowly move her towards its goal. “... What am I supposed to do?”

It took a long time for the arm to actually get anywhere. The trolley it was mounted on was literally just a metal wheelie table, which meant the pincer had to alternate between pulling the echoni, and pulling itself along by grasping at a wall.

Once 8174 was in range of the main corridor, however, they could see a span of several rooms. The one that the cable led into was the only one with a light on inside. Distantly, they could hear a mechanical sort of wheezing… Kind of familiar? Hadn’t they heard that the first day that they had been worked on here?...

“I should stay here. She said stay here.” She repeated, looking at her own bed, then looking over at the room, then at the arm. The Echoni looking like she was about to pout with how she let out one quiet whimper. “Ok… to there, then I come back and stay here? Ok?” She would move herself so that she was standing behind the cart, then just walk forward, pushing the cart down the hallway with her body while leaving her stumps hanging by her side.

Another pair of eyes met them from within the room, wide and blue. The creature was pale skinned with a short bob of black hair, and long, blue-metal ears sticking up from the top of it’s head. This person was restrained by a pair of arms around the neck and waist, but the rest of the form was a mess of white padding and random cables. The weezing was coming from behind them, a large machine-bellows apparatus that was tubed directly into the side of their chest… Seemed like the arms were more there to support them rather than contain them, really, as they entirely lacked arms and legs.

“...YOU… DOING… WHAT… SAYS?...” An electronic voice croaked. It came from the machine behind them, though their organic mouth went through great effort to make it do this. The arm on the table, upon closer inspection, was wired directly up to the back of this small bundle’s skull. “...DORIS...SAY...YOU...DO… TH-... TH-....TH-...INGS?...”

The Echoni nodded, “Doris.” That was the one right? The one that had got her out of the box? That told her what to feel and do? “I do what she says. She said to stay in the bed. I should go back to the bed now… and stay there. This isn’t where she said to be.”

“...I… I… D-...DORIS… NOW….” It smiled triumphantly, despite all the struggling. “YOU…. KI….KI…. FOOD…. PLACE… TOP-P…. SHELVFF….”

A tired wave overcame it suddenly, eyes becoming heavy. It was smiling at the same time though, subtly, and closed its eyes entirely in order to focus and continue.

“...BEING… GOOD… GIRL… IS… NICE… TO… I…” The machine lurched. The girl was sweating, gritting their teeth. “TOP-P…. SHEL-VFFFF… RED… BOTTLE…”

Unconscious?... They stopped moving…

Well, the arm on the table was twitching now and then.

“Red… Bottle?” The Echoni asked, looking around. “You want me to get the red bottle?” She just stood there, waiting for a response only not to receive one. The Echoni briefly looking up for that bottle… then looking at the door… then looking into the hallway. “Someone will tell me what to do… “





“... Red bottle….” She finally repeated, there wasn’t even a red bottle here… certainly not ontop of any of the shelves. This one wouldn’t even speak to her… without another word she would return to her room, flopping onto the bed and then rolling around until she was back in the position she was before.

Then she saw it.

The red bottle on the shelf was in HER room.



“Doris. I see the bottle.” She stated.

It took a while to get any response, but the arm on the table eventually caught back up with them. It angled upwards at the bottle… Well, keg? Container?... The object was about head-sized, plastic, and it wasn’t like either of them knew the correct word for it.

The Echoni waited for a moment, watching as the arm tried to reach for the object… then finally getting back out of the bed. She couldn’t quite grab the object either, lacking arms… and the arm lacked a body to reach the object… but the arm was on a cart. “Should I lift you?” She asked, waiting for the arm to speak to her… then going to the hallway to look around.

Doris wasn’t here.

No one was telling her what to do!

“I’ll lift you ok?” The echoni would position herself beside the cart, and reach forward with her arm-stumps, getting them right under the cart and lifting so that she could raise the whole thing up enough to reach the bottle…

Slowly, precariously, the arm reached upwards at full length, painfully close…

Grasping at air, nudging it slowly…

Until-!...

The arm fell off the cart completely, clattering to the floor.

....But so did the red jug! Bouncing a rolling away!

The collision was enough to bust the lid right off, sending small yellow, red and blue jelly beans flying everywhere.

“!” The Echoni didn’t even know how to respond, suddenly just dropping the arm-cart back onto the floor. “Uh…. UH…. the colors are on the floor now. First Doris will know I left the bed!” She looked at the arm, “Pick them up?”

The arm responded by immediately making a small pile of the beans, looking up at their no-armed companion every once and awhile. It put as many as possible onto the lower level of the cart, but then seemed to confuse itself, looking over to the bottle again instead…

After way too much effort from the primitive appliance, it just ignored a bunch and put the half-full bottle on the cart instead, then started rolling that back towards the singular lit room. The red eye still seemed to wait patiently for the other echoni to follow them again, even so.

“Should we be doing this?” The echoni asked, slowly following the arm-robot, it didn’t even occur to her that she could help out by pushing, instead letting it take its time as it moved down the hallway on its own.

Clearly the arm figured that this candy rebellion had already gone too far, and ignored the question. When it got back to the room, though… It couldn’t reach the girl in the bundle, being stuck on the lower level. So near and yet so far.

“...UN...SCREW… ARM….”

“PUSH BUTTON…. YOUR… ARM… NOW….”

The machine voice spoke with effort. The girl was still smiling, having opened their eyes and recovered a little now.

“USE ARM…. FEED SELF… GIVE… I… BEANS… EAT… ALSO…”

She nodded, following the instructions as given, first unscrewing the arm from the bench… then starting to press every button she could find, switching the lights on in the room… adjusting the position of the ‘arm bed’ the creature was using, even turning on a view screen to what appeared to be local news…

This had some rather intense ramifications, considering how filled with vital equipment the small room was. First the robotic arms surged appart, causing the small figure to gasp with a very loud pained squeak, before dropping to the floor moments later, when the arms were accidently ordered to turn off and release completely.

Padded as they were, they survived the fall, but still rolled out of control, much like the liberated jar of jelly beans.

Their mouth moved, but sounds didn’t come out; Both cables into the back of their neck had been yanked out, also leaving the stump of the mechanical arm completely dormant. The tubes of the machine-bellows managed to stay connected, but the girl had still changed their expression to one of distinct fear; Now massively regretting the clumsy and possibly malicious creature they had led into their lair.

The other Echoni seemed just as startled by the sudden drop in the other creature. Some warnings were going off… and the arm was still on the floor. However it seemed that was enough buttons to press? Her stumps now directed to another purpose, trying to pick up the dropped arm… though otherwise completely unable to do anything with it other than scoot it around on the floor… using it to gather up the jelly-beans into a pile.

That was surely what she was told to do right?

Then it was time to feed… she would pick up one of the jellybeans in her mouth and swallow it whole. Eating. Just like she had done with the spoon, and with the pills. They tasted really sweet for the brief moment before they went down.

Then there was the other echoni on the floor with her… she’d pick up some more beans in her lips and sorta… worm her way over to that echoni, dropping the beans into its mouth one at a time.

It didn’t really work that well. The rabbit-eared pillbug couldn’t move away fast enough, but still refused to face in the same direction as the echoni, now fearing for their lives. Even if they could move quickly, it was rather hampered by a massive and heavy machine running pressurized tubes directly into their chest.

Somewhere along the way, this set off an alarm. Not a scary and life threatening one, but… Something? It took over the newscaster screen, warning of something that neither echoni could read.

“You eat?” The Echoni asked, dropping her mouth full of jellybeans onto the floor. There were sounds, loud sounds. She was familiar with those sounds, they happened shortly after she lost her eyes and arms the first time. “Or… Did I do wrong? This is bad. I am bad.” She said, backing away from everything and curling up in the corner as best she could without arms to really ‘curl’ with.

Of course, the other one couldn’t move much either thanks to the tubes… both were stuck in place until the distinctive sound of the rubberized metal feet slapping up against the tile floor could be heard. A series of glowing red eyes approaching the pair of them as a rather harsh, masculine, voice was used. “THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. RETURN TO YOUR ROOM.”

Caxia was not happy. The cyborg raising itself up so that it nearly touched the ceiling, giving itself the most imposing look it possibly could, and letting the first echoni scurry out of the room in fear.

“WHY DO YOU INSIST ON HURTING YOURSELF. THERE WILL BE NO MORE TREATS FOR YOU.” Caxia then said sternly, looking down upon the Echoni that was flopping on the floor.

Clearly, there wasn’t exactly much the limbless bundle could do. This wasn’t the first offence by far, but normally it had been Doris who was around to tell them off. So faced with an even larger mechanical monster, the only option was to close their eyes and lower their ears, automatic breathing machine becoming more and more erratic as the fearful pressure in the half-cyborgized lump silently panicked themselves into a total mess.

Last time they had seen Caxia like this, it was with actual powers to abuse. Other echoni feared them. But now they couldn’t even call Doris for help.

“YOU WILL DESTROY YOURSELF LIKE THIS.” Caxia stated quite firmly, their multitude of limbs now reaching down to hoist up the damaged Echoni, holding them in about the same position they were before, wirelessly syncing with the other arms to restore their proper positions. “DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AGAIN.”

The cyborg was already thinking of ways to further control this one… though they were reseated in the apparatus that held them, they were not given back their arms… or really anything that they could use to manipulate other objects. Caxia also was certain to disable the wireless connectivity in the room, making sure nothing could reach the young Echoni.

Squeaking loudly as they were once more locked back into their rigid containment position, there wasn’t really much of anything the echoni could do, except overt their eyes, at this point.

“DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” Caxia asked, their robotic head moving a bit closer, looking at the restrained Echoni eye to cybernetic sensor that approximate an eye.

There was a really gross smell, and a certain dampness building up on the underside of the half-machine lump...

“...Their vocalisation machine is disconnected, Dr.Caxia.” Another, more tired voice spoke from behind them. Dr.Muller was roughly dressed and holding a cup of coffee, though it was unclear if they just woke up, or had not yet been to sleep. "Please have a little heart. Or a mechanical approximation of one. Their memories are skewed by exophage contamination, and may not be their own..."

There was only a slight clicking form Caxia as they shifted about, it was about the only thing their cyborg body did as a nervous tick when they were shown to have forgotten something important like 6446 not being able to speak at all.

“Unit 6446... I trusted you with that arm so you could get a drink in the middle of the night. I’m disappointed in you.” A change in tone, making an effort to calm down the restrained unit a little. A look off to the side later, one of the trinket-esk doll faced service droids was wheeled in, and began to clean up the fearful and embarrassed unit with upmost care and dedication. “The restraints are to make sure the new plates in your spine heal right. Please be patient. We can’t give you a new body, if what you have can’t carry the limbs… Now be quiet and sleep tight. We’ll talk more tomorrow.”

Wrapped up again but still looking vulnerable and ashamed, the rabbit-eared one just avoided eye contact and instead looked at the service droid, who was now cleaning up the rest of the discarded jelly beans from the floor.

“Did you get unit 8174 as well, Doctor Caxia? I saw them walking around on the security feed too...”

“Review the logs, 8174 was not the primary instigator and shows ample promise as a highly controllable test subject.” Caxia’s body would move back into the hallway, closing the door as soon as Dorris followed her out. Their movements were just a tick faster than normal, an uncharacteristic show of excitement from the cyborg. “I think that my previous approaches to control of the Echoni units may have been incomplete. I have been focusing on memory transfer, but the holy grail of full transference is still quite far away. 8174 appears to be quite susceptible to suggestion, and I think an augmented reality overlay would allow the level of control required. Observe my creation.”

Despite her monotone voice, Caxia was quite eager to show the schematics of the new device, going as far as to offer a download of the CAD file wirelessly and displaying a projection of the device in mid-air using the projectors on their body. It was a simple modification to the existing Echoni armor helmet, including an augmented reality overlay over the eyes and ears. A beefier processing system attached to the rear of the helmet would allow them to control and adjust what the Echoni hear and see in real time.

Doris Muller examined the system in detail before responding, hoping that Caxia’s want for an accurate response would take president over their regular impatience. Never mind the moral implications of all this.

“It’s certainly a less heavy-handed way of dealing with this, manipulating the sensory input rather than actual thought patterns.” They fixed their glasses and moved their head around, getting a look at the inner surface of the holographic object. “My only concern is that the Echoni would be able to remove it… Is that why you picked unit 8174? Because their eyes are already augmented?”

“8174’s interactions with 6446 inspired the idea. Certainly being able to control the hardware used to see is also a plus, as is her malleability. I do not think she would remove the device unless instructed to do so, and cultivating more Echoni like herself would be beneficial to the project long term.” As Caxia spoke, changes were made to the image being displayed as they tested out some new additions to the schematic including straps, locks, and other devices to attach the helmet to the users. Caxia even going as far as to consider screwing it into the subject’s skull. “... that is to say, I am very interested in your work with 8174. I wonder if it was your interactions with her that triggered this behavior pattern, or if this arose as the result of her injuries. It is unfortunate the sample-size is so small in this regard.”

Doris found herself pausing once more, and chose her words carefully. They weren’t really surprised by the cyborg’s brutalist methods, and didn’t want to give them any ideas that would lead to some truly horrifying situations… But on the other hand, Doris considered her mission here to be that of elevating the Echoni as new forms of life, and giving them a natural ecosystem and built-in roles in order to flourish. Cyborgisations were always a stop-gap to achieving something greater, until as much of the suffering human component could be removed as possible. She wanted their creations to be happy, but in a world where you could just push a button and trigger a happy synapse, what would that actually mean?...

“Her suggestive mental state might not always been a benefit, however, Doctor Caxia.” A shrug. “What if it had been a real enemy that had told her to commit such acts?... Poor teamwork seems to be the primary flaw of the E-4 Echoni system, and I’m not sure how sensory filtering could be used to resolve that… If we wanted simple drones that were not capable of thinking on their feet at all, the E-2 biomechanoids would have been just fine.”

“We filter audio!” Caxia responded, sounding downright proud of themselves for figuring it out, “This would ensure that she only sees and hears what we want her to see and hear. We could also apply an overlay to disguise casualties as training targets to reduce the incidence of PTSD so that we can operate the Echoni for longer periods. 6446 and 515 have already shown the feasibility of Echoni controlling other Echoni, and if we could figure out how to replicate 444’s ability to have the Echoni latch on to her we would have all of our control issues resolved. Such things could even be applied to the human population. It would be a widely deployable solution to augment the human failings with technology.”

Doris pouted and put a glove to the side of their face, taking a more detailed look at Caxia’s otherworldly chassis. To augmentent human’s many failings with the grace of unrestrained technology was indeed the lofty goal that they both strived for. Was she being too prudish and fearful of the concept of giving up her own freedoms, to realise that such brutality might be the only way forward? “...I guess this is basically what human governments do to their populations anyway, only for people like that, it’s in the name of money and power…”

“I won’t lie, Doctor Caxia, I’m frightened by your focus on military organisation.” They crossed their arms behind their back, expression cold and logical. This was the Doris Muller that came out when serious, life-changing decisions needed to be made. “But the implementation method is intriguing. There is also no point in fretting about the middle-management aspects, until we have tested for certain how Echoni operate under these conditions. It produces the desired results, or we will receive corrective feedback. That is the essence of science.”

“Shall I fish some of my prototype augmentations out of storage, and book a staging area for later in the week?”

"The Humans are shortsighted, murderous, and frail. They do not understand the work we do here, nor do they care to. They cling to old poisons ideas that they would force upon us. They have killed out kind for thousands of years for the bodies we choose while their bodies wither, they will pass away in a puddle of their own excretions and will drag us into nothingness if given the opportunity. Organization keeps us safe, MILITARY organization even more so. Military forces have been at the forefront of mind-control research since the 1940s, conditioning, framing, and information management is a natural fit for our needs. It will give us the tools we need for our work." Caxia justified, “Book the staging area and provide them with a sufficient set of augmentations. We can test their willingness to do activities they would otherwise avoid.”
uso
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Re: Hard Copy 05: 8174 / 6446

Post by uso » Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:54 pm

Concourse Alpha, Special Cyborgization Long-Stay Care Unit

It had been a long week. Doris spent every day with unit 8174, teaching them to use a primitive set of cyborg arm attachments that were rather like vice-grips. They were almost never restrained anymore, sleeping in a room with a large pink bed and a thick duvet. The floor had soft synthetic grass, and the walls were projected onto with a gently flowing, calm blue skyline.

When Doris wasn’t telling them about how great and nice Echoni were, explaining why auntie Caxia had to be a harsh teacher, or performing physical maintenance on them, they were treated to a series of childish programs that explained the basics of the world around them. Were food came from, how to read basic words, count to ten, that kind of thing. Doris seemed to like a perticular show called the hoo-nims, which was about these pink furry fluffballs that didn’t get along. They were always fighting over each another’s toys, but were secretly sad because they couldn’t tell each other they actually wanted to be friends. Sometimes the doctor would even gently sing along with the theme song whilst brushing 8174’s hair.

Other days were a bit more harsh, such as reaction time tests, and physical exercise in order to get the Echoni’s legs into shape. One day Doris kept asking her to try using her Exophage powers, and it was really tiring to even try, but they found out that they just couldn’t anymore. Their doctor seemed pleased for some reason anyway, and from that point on, they didn’t have to wear that uncomfortable orange collar anymore.

The sixth day was a ‘your digestive system works again!’ party for unit 6446, and both units got a triangle of something really delicious. Super sweet white stuff on the outside, bready and soft on the inside. 6446 proved that they were now terrible at using arms actually attached to them, and needed to be spoon-fed still, but looked like they were starting to nervously adjusting to being waited on.

Special Transit/Containment Vehicle #3

On the eighth day, it were given some food that made them really super sleepy quite early on. When they woke up, they were in a room very similar to their own, but thinner and more oblong shaped… Weirdly, there didn’t seem to be any doors, and there was a low, subtle rumbling feeling under the feet…

They had those basic arms and eyes attached, though. There was another bed at the other end, too!

But why were they here?...

The rumbling would come to a slow stop, and then the ‘door’ would appear as Caxia pulled open part of the wall, their arms spreading out to either side to make the cyborg look absolutely massive as they were exposed to a bright light from above.

“You will prepare for an exercise. I will expect you to follow my instructions while you are here. Do the two of you understand?” Caxia asked.

8174 just nodded, even before looking out past Caxia’s body. Even from inside of her room she could see what looked to be an expansive, flat, area with a padded floor. Various walls were spaced out in this area with a catwalk that extended out over the top. The entire place seemed to be like one bit room, a glass dome situated above them and letting in bright light from some other, larger, room that was outside of this one.

The mound in the other bed slowly rolled over, unveiling a pair of metallic grey-blue bunny ears and wide, dark brown eyes. 6446 was looking increasingly worried as of late, but their paranoid gaze was particularly noticeable around Doctor Caxia’s intimidating metal form.

Their pincer-limbs were rather pathetically simplistic, just basic poles with a couple of wire cables. They understandably didn’t move all that well. Kept their distance from 8174, too.

-“I’m here with the stockpile of parts requested, Doctor!”- Doris’ voice sounded over the building’s intercom. It was possible that anti-spying devices stopped them from just messaging Caxia directly. -”There are enough wire-guided limbs, mounted laser rifles, and booster units for both Echoni! Just tell me what you require, and I’ll fit them!”-

“DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” Caxia repeated, just more loudly towards 6446. Caxia took a step back, and raised one arm, pointing it towards Doris so that she would know Caxia is talking to, “Please affix manipulators to them. Arms and basic hands is what they will need for this test. I will affix the AR-Overlay.”

Then it was 8147’s turn.

“You go to Doris now.” Caxia stated, prompting 8147 to stand and walk over to Dorris, wordlessly awaiting her next instruction.

“Please come this way, my sweet hearts.” Doris ushered them to a pair of rolling stretchers. There was a large van of equipment just adjacent, and they could see all sorts of large black plastic suitcases inside, all of them labelled with little but serial numbers.

6446 was having quite a bit of trouble walking anyway, regardless of their sheepish intent, so Doris just ended up walking over to them anyway. There was a loud ‘clink’ sound as a magnetic clamp was attached to their back, allowing the cyborg doctor to carry the smaller balled-up Echoni in a rather undignified manner right towards the table.

“Quickly now 8174, honey! That’s a good girl now.” A good-mannered sideways gesture ensured that the dark purple-haired one was following suit.
The actual limb replacement process was rather fast and simple. Doris used a power screwdriver to detach the load-bearing screws, slid the limbs from the bone-mounted supports, and then slotted on new ones. The new arms were a bit more boxy, heavier in the wrists, and had a lot of exposed cables around the elbows, but also had fully articulated humanoid hands. Once she was finished with 8174 she just gave them an affectionate pat on the head, looked over to Caxia’s whereabouts, and then continued on to 6446.

Whilst the other doctor was occupied with fitting the VR system, Doris used the opportunity to also unscrew the rabbit-eared Echoni’s legs. 6446 held their limbs in a T-pose the entire time, through they visually seemed to have a bit of distaste in the procedure, averting their eyes and grimacing. There was a pair of heavy-duty, bottom-heavy legs already standing next to the bed; Doris simply picked the upper half of the small black-haired thing up, slotted it in, and then compressed the hydraulic support rig around their waist.

With a loud click and a small jolt, 6446 stumbled forward a little, looked at their new hands, and then tried to get a feel for their seriously cumbersome mecha-boots.

“Both units have been fitted as desired, Dr. Caxia. I’ve just sent you a system link, so you can monitor the limb diagnostics in real time.”

Caxia accepted the link, and started streaming that to offsite file storage. The capabilities of the limbs was not her primary concern today. “Please remain still.” Caxia was using the more feminine voice at the moment, moving up behind the Echoni so she could fit the augmented reality devices over their head. With a small click-wooosh… each would find themselves looking at the area around them through an augmented-reality overlay. The bubble-like helmets filtering what they saw and heard… each device was rather cumbersome, adding a noticeable weight to their heads.

“Please accommodate the headgear for today. Better devices will be available in the future.” Caxia stated, walking over to a nearby table where two batons were laid out. “For this test, you will need to strike the targets I ask you to strike. In front of you is a RED target, and a GREEN target. Please pick up the baton, and strike the RED target.”

True to their word, there was folding table setup near by with two batons on it. Out beyond that was the padded walls and floor of the test area. Two poles then rose up from the ground, one turning red, and one turning green. Small faces were drawn on each, and it looked like they had been pummeled quite a bit before these two Echoni had arrived.

6446 looked at Caxia, then at unit 8174, gulping deeply, and breathing heavily into their confining oversized helm. Their body language suggested a certain disconnection from reality. Paranoia increased immensely, by the natural underlying feeling of something just being off about what they were being visually and audibly spoon-fed.

Sluggishly lumbering forward at first, but building in momentum. The shorter of the two Echoni mechanically marched forward, and seized the baton from the desk with such clumsy force that it nearly sent both them and the object tumbling forwards.

It took them a great deal of effort to force their legs to move in a twisting motion, turning gradually; But after that, it was zero hesitation. They charged forward and jabbed at the red marker, lunging violently with a certain mechanical aggression...

8174 followed shortly afterward, walking up to the table to pick up the baton… then walking up to the red marker to give it a rather unremarkable hit. If the situation was bothering 8174, she didn’t show it. The Echoni just went through the motions obediently as if they were mimicking one of the security robots.

“That is good! You completed the task so I will give you a juice box.” Caxia used the feminine voice, calming, supportive, and entirely synthetic. The mouth area of each of the Echoni’s headpieces would unlock, allowing enough space for a straw to slide in. Caxia would then reach into a cooler she brought with her, pulling out some cold juice boxes, their arms setting them down on the table while other arms placed straws into the top of the juice boxes. “You can drink it now if you like. When you are ready, I would like you to hit the green target.”

6446 reached forward, with mechanical hand twitching slightly… But then thought better of it, physically backing away from the drink. Their body language suggested they were paranoid even of what 8174 was doing.

8147 would do exactly as instructed, walking to the table, picking up the juice box in one swift motion, draining the box, then marching up to the green-target and swinging at it with her baton.

*ZZZZZZZ*

8147 staggered back for a moment as she was shocked. The Echoni now slightly panicked, looking over at Caxia as she wondered if she did something wrong.

“From now on, you are never to strike a Green Target. If you hit a green target, you will receive an electric shock.” Caxia stated, turning her attention to 6446, her sensors trying to stare at the Echoni, maybe thinking that scanning her hard enough would force her to comply. “8147, 6446, there is an obstacle course in front of you, please navigate it and hit all of the RED targets.”

Caxia then opened up a wireless connection with Dorris, ~6446 is resisting the initial instructions. I did not expect that. I am not certain how I can use the images to control her. Perhaps she is motivated by jelly beans?~

~I’m afraid they may have immediately acted with violence because it’s the baton that they wanted…~ Doris was heard to sigh in real life, holding one hand to an elbow, and the other to her face. She looked concerned. ~Psychologically, it seems that unit 6446 has developed a vulnerability complex… I’m afraid I am not quite sure how to snap them out of it.~

The unit itself was actually still staring at Caxia. The hand weapon wasn’t exactly at the ready, but they looked tense enough to be considering it…

After a few moments, Doris walked up to the table, and drank some of the juice box for themselves. They made sure that the small rabbit eared unit saw that, and then knelt down to offer it up to them personally.

“It’s okay, sweetheart. This isn’t a trick or anything…” The blonde woman cooed, sounding a bit more genuine than Caxia generally managed. “I’m sorry, I know this is hard. The world isn’t designed for you… But the future is going to be bright, okay? We need to work really hard to make this happen. That means you too, 6446… This future is for you!... Do you understand?...”

Slowly, the Echoni edged closer, finally taking a small sip… But then immediately backed away again. They moved to start on the obstacle course, but were moving very slowly, seeming to keep one eye on the doctors the entire way. They were not anywhere near 8174 by the time they reached the first target, and seemed to let the other Echoni make the attack first.

8174 would diligently move forward, striking targets as she came up to them. It would seem that she was striking targets at random, hitting some of the red targets, some of the green targets, ignoring some of the targets altogether as she jumped over obstacles along her path.

Caxia would then share the vision feeds with Dorris.

From 8174’s viewpoint, she was only striking the red targets. The helmet she was wearing was overlaying color data, tricking her into skipping over some targets she should hit, and making her hit targets she shouldn’t. For the moment, the real green targets weren’t shocking her at all.

Reluctantly, 6446 followed behind, and started striking the targets again too. Once more, they were being equally cautious and mechanically violent, bounding in and jabbing, as if that would save them from some variety of trick or counter-attack.

Doris watched both feeds with diligence, still trying to figure out what set them apart. They were secretly a little surprised that Caxia had nothing to do with unit 8174’s submissive mental state. Part of them wanted to reward the creature for being good, and part of them just wondered how exactly they came to be this way… Was it wise to see somebody who was so easily suggestable to be the stronger of the two candidates? Was that going against the vision of an independent, free race?... Or was it selflessness that would set them apart from the short-sighted greed of corruptive fleshy humans?

“This is a very impressive system, Doctor Caxia.” The blond scientist remarked. “Can the targets be identified, and visual data be inputted, in real time?...”

“It is just facial-recognition software and deep-faking. One informs the other and it only takes a moment for the overlay to start working. They don’t even know they are hitting the wrong targets!” Caxia sounded genuinely excited, moving and raising their body up so they could get a better view of the Echoni going about the test. “This is just proof of concept, but we could make anything look like anything else. This will just be a standard way of viewing the world for them at some point, they’d have no need to question what they see.”
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