Who is Aidan Webley? Is he human? Is he a special operative of the Confederation? Is he a psychic of rare ability? One thing he knows for sure is he's loyal to his government. He'll be anything his government needs him to be. Or maybe there is no Aidan, and only a lifeform designed and programmed. Maybe the question should be what instead of who.
Am I thought? How long to think a thought? How many thoughts have I thought? One? Two? A billion? Infinite? Unnumbered thoughts stretched from one end of existence to nowhere. How can I measure the length of a thought with only a thought to compare it too?
A thought, a feeling, a sense of things came unbidden to me. My body map was back. Two arms, two legs, a head, and everything in between.
More feelings, a clash of squeaks, the roar of indecipherable murmuring. The movement of the world against a sense of balance, the smell of disinfectant and antiseptic, something moist in my mouth, my tongue, hard, flexible, rough, loud, my senses are being hammered by reality.
Curiosity, fear, panic, cautiousness, anger, sadness, apathy, all rolled over my thoughts. My dispassion had fled, or was it just not turned on, or had it never been there. I didn’t know.
Am I dead, or am I alive? I cry. Tears come forth racing down my face. I’m alive.
No bio-suite functions showed up in my vision or other senses. I used the standard queries against them. Only silence.
Excitement and fear reign as queen and king over the kingdom that is I.
My eyes. I have eyes to use, Open.
Let there be light the religionists would say.
There was light, but no bio-suite hud overlay.
“Nurse, she has awakened,” a gruff voice spoke in Confed basic. Sounded like a menvorak.
Two faces appeared. A human, and a menvorak. The menvorak was an older male, grey-blond hair on both head and face, styled typical of the upper middle class. I could see the tiny sparks of light in his eyes indicating he had a bio-suite that had an optical hud overlay. He was on my left leaning over me. The human, a woman with dark brown hair, kept back in a ponytail. She looked young in her twenties and she was on my right. Both had a psi-dampener on their forehead.
“I am Doctor Cardolla, and this is Nurse Marreshka. Tell me, my child, how do you feel?”
“I am alive.” Am I? Am I thinking this? My voice is off, higher pitched. I couldn’t move my body below my neck, but I could feel.
“Hah, yes, you are indeed alive.” Cardolla was happy, almost excited. “I am your attending physician. I’m technically more than that, but I’m going to be the one taking care of you as we get you back on your feet. Nurse Marreshka here is my assistant. She and I will do whatever can to make sure you’re in tip-top shape. Do you understand?”
“I understand.” Not really.
I’m going to ask a few questions to test your mental faculties. They should be easy to answer, but please let us know if you have any problems. It’s crucial that we make sure you’re in good health both mentally as well as physically.”
“I’ll do that doc.”
“Do you remember who you are?”
“Yes. My name is Aidan. Aidan Webley.” Not my real name. I’d never met Cardolla before and this could be a trap, but I should be dead and now I was alive. Better stick to my last cover. Better to be safe than sorry.
“Date of birth?”
“Confed Calendar 2882-8-5”
“Last occupation and for how long and where?”
“Sales and product representative for Hestia Materials Corporation. Four years and three months. Then I moved to Noctae IV.”
“We both know that was only your cover, but you remember what it was and that is good. What happened on the night of 2908-3-18. Do you remember what happened to you? A yes or no will suffice. I am not interested in the details. I just want to know if you remember.”
I ran through the events in my head. I’d arrived in system two months before that. I’d moved into an apartment. Nothing too fancy, nor run-down. Nondescript. Started applying for work to make it look like I was an immigrant seeking to stay. Word came down from command to assemble for the op I was there for. The laboratory used by Garamond Mishkos and his forces had been found. The team I was assigned to met up. We made our move. Broke into the facility. There were extra security systems in place. A lab tech was there. Wasn’t supposed to be there. Boon for us as he’d know the door code. The door code. The door code,
“9H2PQO3NIFAOI7VHPO4AIFD,” I didn’t realize I’d mumbled it.
“What was that?” Cardolla asked
I pulled the door code, I took it from him, and he died. The lab tech died.
“Doctor, her heart rate, and blood pressure are elevated,” Nurse Marreshka stated.
Died. Death. Deceased. Passed on. I scrunched my eyes. “No, no, no, no.” I opened the door to my fate. Fire, flame, all-consuming destruction.
“She’s having a panic attack. Hey, Look at me. Look at me.” A set of hands held my face.
The destruction I’d experienced hit me like a meteorite. I should be dead like the lab tech. The door was opened, fire, fire everywhere, oh god. I should be dead.
“Aidan. Aidan. Open your eyes and look at me. Look at me. Focus on me.” Nurse Marreshka said.
“No, I should be dead. I died.” I kept my eyes closed
“Listen to me, Aidan. Listen to my voice. You’re right here. You’re not dead. I need you to focus. Aidan, I need you to compose your mind. Imagine you’re in a dark and shadowy forest.”
“Yes Aidan, Imagine the forest. Each tree is a worry, a fear, a distraction, that towers above you. They surround you. But it’s not hopeless. You can see the forest’s edge. There is a meadow there full of light. It’s safe there. Peaceful. Count to three and walk to the forest’s edge and into the light.
“This isn’t real. I’ve died and this isn’t real.”
“Count to three Aidan and walk to the forest edge into the meadow.”
“Stop it. Stop this.” I cried out.
“Aidan, count to three.” Marreshka commanded, “One.”
“Good. Breathe a deep breath because you’re alive. Now two.”
I took a breath. If I’m dead how can I breathe. “Two.”
“Good Aidan. Three.”
I didn’t speak the number out loud. I bolted out of the forest into the meadow.
“Relax yourself, Aidan. The forest is there. It will always be there. Your worries and fears are there. But they’re in the forest, and not with you. You can return to the forest when you want but right now, you’re in the meadow, in the light. You can rest easy. Your mind is at peace.”
I opened my eyes. Nurse Marreshka held my head in her hands, her face inches from mine. She was obviously a psychic like me or at least had training about what to do. She’d just walked me through the standard mental exercise used by Confed agents like me to focus one's mind. Ugh, I can’t believe my mental discipline is so lax. What is wrong with me?
Marreshka released her hold on me and stood up straighter. “You’re going to be okay Aidan. What happened happened. It’s done and over with. It’s okay to remember.”
I’d have nodded in agreement. “Yes, It’s okay to remember. Sorry about that. I don’t know what came over me.” Had my supposed death broke me? I was trained to not do this.
Cardolla apologized, “I’m sorry, I did not think that you would react in such a way even though I knew it was possible. We’ll move on and come to that later if you want. I have no doubt it was a traumatic event and I can arrange for a more focused mental health specialist to help you if you want. But rest assured, that Nurse Marreshka and I are here for you.”
“There was fire.” I know I would have shuddered at the thought if I could. The doctors were right to have me restrained so I didn’t act out. “I remember. I remember it all.”
“Just so you know, your skull was reinforced and your brain was preserved. You were recovered and placed on life support until we could engineer you a new body. You are very much alive.”
“A new body?” That explains why my voice is different.
“Yes, vastly improved over your old.”
“How long was I out of it?” Let’s ask rational questions. I’m not broke enough to stop that. I’m of sound mind. At least I hope I am.
“Six Terran years, four months, and eight days. There were complications but you’re okay now.”
“That long, wow. I guess it would take that long to regrow a body.” This tech wasn’t new, but I’d never studied in it. Just hold it together. You can cry later if you want. It’s only six years of history. Six years of innovation. How much has society changed? “Why can’t I move?”
“You have a nerve block in place. We’re going to unlock you piece by piece so you’re not overwhelmed. There’s also a psi-dampener in place on your head so there’s no unintentionally use of your powers. They might have changed,” Cardolla explained.
That would be interesting. My usefulness could change, better or worse. “Why can’t I access my bio-suite?”
“We had to remove what was left of it. It was too damaged, and the process used to regrow your body made it where we had to replace it completely. Right now you have a one that has no operating system and is turned off. You’ll be able to have it active soon enough. If everything goes well today, we can take care of it in two days.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, was my mission a success?” I had to know. Had we done our job? Had we won? At least I could take some consolation in that.
The doctor frowned. “I don’t know. I don’t know the exact details of the mission were on and if it was viewed as a success or failure. All I know is that you were brought you here. Your past actions are classified. I’m sorry but I can’t help you there.”
I’d have shrugged if I could. “It’s okay doc. I just want to make sure my team is okay.” I really hoped they survived. Karis should have survived.
“That’s admirable. Once you’re cleared here as a success, I have no doubt you’ll be returned to duty.”
“I can find out then I hope.”
“Yes,” Cardolla agreed with me. “Right now we need to make sure you are healthy, so let’s focus on that. Now that you’re awake, I’m going to work with you to remove the nerve block section by section. You will remain physically restrained during this to prevent any mishaps.
“How is this going to work?”
“First we deal with what’s not blocked. Your eyes, mouth, and nose. Your eyes first. Just stare at the light and follow it around.”
A spark of hard light formed above me and moved across my field of vision.”
“Good, vision tracking seems normal. You were crying earlier before you awoke so we know your tear ducts work.”
They had me do a test for color blindness. I found I could see slightly into the ultraviolet range as well but not by much. There was also a smell & taste test. I passed all of them.
“Now we’re going to do pressure and prick tests of your skin on your head. We’ll also be testing your sense of temperature. Expect more of the same as we work through your body. Nurse Marreshka will be doing most of the test while I take notes.”
Nurse Marketh moved to stand above my head. “Let me know if you can feel the pressure of my touch.”
Her hands worked over my head.
“I don’t have any hair and there are ridges on my head.” Her touch had made me aware of it.
“Your hair hasn’t had time to grow. The ridges are part of your new body. I’ll explain later once we get through this.” Cardolla said. “But it seems your sense of touch there is good. I ask that you hold your questions till the end. I’m sure you want to be up and about.”
No doubt about that. “Yes, doc.” We continued on. Section by section of my body was unlocked from the nerve block. Things were off. I had breasts. I’d never had breasts before. Yet I knew without a doubt I had them as Marreshka poked and prodded them. There was also nothing between my legs. Was I female? I think Marreshka used she to refer to me. My body shape was different. It felt normal. It felt right. But it was different.
I passed this test as well.
“Now, we’re going to unstrap you. Wait till we’ve got you fully released, and then sit up.” Cardolla and Marreshka removed all the straps. I sat up with ease, turned and let my legs hang off the side of the bed. I wasn’t stiff or sore from being in one position too long which was kind of weird because we’d been going at this for a few hours.
I looked down. With a better vantage point, I could verify my body was way off from what it was before. Way off. The most obvious change was my skin was now a mottled light teal color. There was no distinctive pattern to the discoloration. It looked like the typical skin pattern of a gehuran only a differing color. I was smaller. This had to be a standard sized medical station. It seemed bigger. My legs and arms were slim, two small breasts protruded from my chest. I didn’t do anything so crass as grope myself. That could wait till later. Checking between my legs I found nothing other than what looked to be a vagina. I mean, coloring aside, it was shaped like any other vagina I’d ever seen before. This was weird. I looked up to find Cardolla and Marreshka waiting for me.
“So doc, am I female, and even a human?” I am definitely not what I was before.
Cardolla was quick to answer, “Yes and no.”
“Is it possible you could explain why? I may not understand it but give it a try.”
“I’ll do my best. Like I said. There were complications. When you were recovered, there wasn’t much left of you. Your body was destroyed. All that was left was your brain in your reinforced skull with minor life support in place that wouldn’t have lasted the week. It was decided that since you are a psychic with danger-sense, and heavy cybernetic augmentation disrupts mental powers, you would have a cloned body grown and your brain transplanted into it.”
I would expect no less from my government. I was a rare resource being a psychic with a pre-cognitive ability. I knew that cloning a person with powers did not pass on those powers. The same went for inheritance. They’d harvested several sperm samples from me to try. Powers were unique to a small few living people. Command almost didn’t let me have my skull reinforced fearing it would reduce or eliminate my ability. They had my brain. It makes sense they’d expend money and resources to keep me viable.
“Nothing like this has ever been done like this before in the entire history of any of the races. So far, science has only regrown whole limbs and organs for same gene replacement. Science can edit your genetics and remake you. It can even clone you. What it had never done was transplant a brain with powers into a new body. You’re the first.”
“You mentioned complications. Is that why I’m a girl?”
“Yes. At first, you were rushed and hooked up to life support to see if you were viable. Your brain and mind somehow pulled through.A brain in your situation has never lasted on life support for more than nine standard months. The bare minimum of organs and tissue needed for life support were grown. It’s here we discovered the complication. I take it you’ve never had to have an organ or major tissue replacement have you?”
“No. The only things I’ve had replaced were blood and spinal fluid, and one time after being irradiated, my intestinal flora and a marrow transplant from my reserves.”
“We discovered you had a flaw in four of your chromosomes that prevented any clone tissue from being viable. Your chromosomes were damaged enough to prevent the cloning from working.”
“How could these flaws have gone undetected. I was in accordance with the protocols outlined by Confed law for the gene pool standards.” I knew that if I wasn’t I’d have been removed from service even with my precognitive ability and put other uses.
“You were above baseline for living, but not for breeding. You would have been checked if you applied to breed. They would have caught this and you’d have been denied. I checked to make sure. You weren’t born with a corrupt set of genetics. It was just bad luck when it came to the natural wear and tear. It’s something all of us experience. The random toxin, a single cosmic ray that breaks a DNA strand. In your case, it all added up and here you are. Given the extent of chromosomal damage and what happened to you, the time it’d take to fix your genetics with genegineering would have taken too long. It was found it would be much easier to turn you into a gehuran-Human hybrid.”
This is the hand I was dealt. I guess I am thankful I am still alive. It’s also a bonus to know I can help my fellow citizens. “I thought gehurans and Humans couldn’t breed. “How is that even possible? I know humans and menvoraks can breed, but a human and gehuran should be impossible.” gehurans were an amphiboid species and nothing like a Human or menvorak.
“It is very much possible. There are two small sects of humans in the Confederation that genegineered themselves to be compatible. The success rate is low but it is possible. One group has had over twelve-thousand successful matings. The other has over six-hundred.”
Interesting. “So I had to be modified this far.”
“We were running out of time. Tailoring nanites and retro-virii to fix damage like you had is harder than you would think. The two hybrid sects already had a working system for genegineering the need changes, changes which lucky for you, they fixed by splicing gehuran DNA over your corruption. Once your DNA was modified, your new organs grew successfully. Your brain lived through the change and you lived longer than the nine months. We were able to start growing you a new body afterward. It’s what took the majority of the six years. The strange thing about the gehuran modification is it plays well and doesn’t require as extensive a compatibility check as a menvorak or Human DNA does. Maybe you’d have survived the time it’d take to do either of those, but it wasn’t a risk we were willing to take.”
“So it was. I’m alive. That is what anyone would ask for and few would get.”
“Yes, you are alive. Back to you asking if you’re female. You do not have two X chromosomes like a normal human female. You do not have two O chromosomes like a gehuran female. You have one of each. Your Y-chromosome was damaged enough it had to be replaced by a gehuran O chromosome. You are female just like all the other successful female half-breeds between gehuran and Human.”
“So I am legal, and not breaking any laws by being alive?” That was one of the darker sides of the Confed. If you fell outside of what was allowed in the Genepool protocols, you didn’t live long as you came under more and more restrictions.
“Yes. We made sure of that. You are effectively a half-breed as if you were born one in one of the two sects.”
“What do I look like?”
Cardolla did something on his datapad. A hard light display appeared showing myself. I reached up to touch my face and the light mirror showed the same. I tried to move my hand up to touch and maybe remove the psi-dampener but I couldn’t, settling for touching my cheek. It was definitely on. Neither Cardolla or Marreshka caught the pause in my self-touch, or maybe they wouldn’t say anything. Psi-dampeners had a feature to stop a person from removing it. I could think about it, but couldn’t do it.
As for how I looked I appeared exotic but shaped for the most part like any other human woman. I hopped down off the table to stand in front of the light mirror. I turned to get a look at what I was. I didn’t have the muscle tone for someone who regularly exercised. I appeared soft. I pressed down on my thighs and butt while clenching the muscles there. My stomach and arms proved the same. I just didn’t have the muscle mass I had before and I felt there was a bit too much fat for my comfort. At least my breasts weren’t that large. They weren't large enough to cup. Could I even pass the Confed military fitness test for a gehuran or Human female?
Everything was shaped as it should be except for the ridges on my head. The ridges were strange. A gift of my new gehuran side. On gehurans they functioned as a cooling mechanism, extending out for more surface area for cooling off. gehuran’s had a natural psychic ability for intra-species communications, and their brains ran hot because of it. I wonder if my power would be stronger, or if I could speak with them as well.
As for looks, without the strange skin color and ridges, I’d say I was a plain-faced woman. With the teal skin color playing with the light and shadows it was hard to say how anyone else would view me. I guessed that one that most wouldn’t find too attractive, but definitely not ugly. I noticed Nurse Marreshka had a few centimeters on me and it wasn’t because she was wearing shoes. “How tall am I?”
“Just over one-hundred-sixty-seven centimeters,” Cardolla answered. “How do you feel?” he asked.
“Well, I’m weird looking, but also pretty in a plain way, but definitely exotic. I’m glad to be alive. I look forward to serving my nation again.”
“Good good,” Cardolla moved to retrieve a package sitting on a shelf against the wall. He came over and handed it to me. I took the package and immediately opened it. “Here’s a skinsuit I want you to wear until we can activate your bio-suite and install the operating system. It’s got a number of sensors which can monitor your vitals. We’re going to be running quite a lot of tests to see how you’ve turned out. We want to make sure that you are a healthy young woman. I’m going to leave you with Nurse Mareshka who will take you to your room once you’re dressed. I look forward to working with you over the next few months.”
“If you need anything, let me or Nurse Marreshka know.” Cardolla held out his hand balled up to bump fists. I did the same and we bumped.
“Thank you, Doc.”
“You’re welcome. I’ll leave you two to it.” Cardolla left the room.
I had the skin suit out. It’s deceiving, when you hold it, looking to be about the size of the clothing a toddler would wear. It would probably stretch to fit someone four to five times my size. A net that’s very revealing. It had holes for my head and hands, and of course going for going to the bathroom. I found the small data port module on the edge of one of the holes identifying which one was for the head.
“You need any help?” Marreshka offered. She was close behind me.
“Let’s see.” I gave it a few stretches before pulling the neck hole open wide. I stepped in and pulled it up. Once I had it up, leaving only my head and genitalia exposed, for a second it felt like bugs crawled over my skin. “Ooh, it self-adjusts. This is nice.” Most skin-suits don’t do that. I could get used to this if this was the level of care.
“Hold still,” Marreshka had moved behind me. She connected her datapad to the data port at the back of my neck. “The diagnostic is reading green. You’re good.”
Looking at myself in the mirror, the skinsuit definitely left nothing to the imagination. Marreshka had not moved from behind me, looking over my shoulder. She caught me staring at her as she stared at me and looked away. I turned around and looked up at her, smiling. “Will I be getting clothes?”
She stepped back, “Not yet. They might interfere with the sensors in the skin-suit. Until we have the bio-suite up and running, it’s just the skin-suit. If you’re hot, your cooling ridges should take care of it. If you’re cold, I’ll adjust the room temperature.”
I stepped forward and grabbed her hand. The medical station blocked her from going further. “You’ll adjust the room temperature. I’d like that.”
Her breathing had quickened and she looked away. “I need to take you to your room.”
“Yes, let’s do that.”
She tried sliding out from between me and the station. “Please Aidan. Don’t.” She pulled her hand back out of mine. “This isn’t.”
“A good idea,” I finished and shrugged. “I know. I was testing an idea and I’m sorry, but if you want to, I’m not opposed to it.”
She composed herself, “I see.”
“If you’re not comfortable, it’s okay. Just lead me to my room.”
“I’m not comfortable, but come on. I can’t leave you here” I was right, but I’d gone too far. She led me on.
We didn’t meet anyone on the way. Nor did we have to go outside to reach our destination. My room was simple. Next to the door were the controls for the lighting and temp. It had a bed for one, already made. The wall opposite the door had a nanite display probably doubling as an artificial window and entertainment unit. Opposite the bed, there was a small food replicator as well as a waste disposal station. Marreshka waited at the door after I entered.
“Is it just us and the Doc here?”
“Yes, except the occasional technician. The food replicator is fully stocked. You should have no problem digesting any human and gehuran dish. I can’t tell you what your tastes will be, so don't be afraid to experiment. Do you have any questions?”
“Yes, but it can all wait. I have six years to catch up on and I’ll start with the display.” I pointed to it. “Thank you for your help,” I smiled at her.
“Just let me know if you need anything. I’ll leave you for the night then.”
“You can stay if you want?”
She’d already left. She is cute.
Food replicator first. I didn’t feel hungry, but I’d rather be full on the off-chance something might happen. I’d learned as an agent to never pass up food so long as it didn’t break mission and wasn’t excessive.
I tried a gehuran dish first. Fermented shellfish in a sauce made of some fungi and seaweed or as close to it as a replicator could make. It’s as gehuran as you can get. It didn’t smell bad and was surprisingly tasty. I tried next a human favorite, grilled cheese. Also good. I ate a variety of samples and didn’t run into anything human, menvorak, or gehuran, I disliked.
In all honesty, visual media wasn’t any more interesting than it was before. I found a few things on history during the time I was being fixed. They weren’t that interesting. Maybe it was I thought something spectacular would have happened while I was out. The universe kept on going without me.
Going to the bathroom was easy. It wasn’t high energy physics. I just had to relax and let it out into the waste disposal station. Thank god my skinsuit had openings for it. I’d used ones that had recycling capabilities and it could get disgusting.
Before I knew it, bedtime rolled around. Now it was time to experiment. Who cares if they were going to have a sensor recording of what I was doing. I’d do it sooner or later.
Marreshka came to mind. I imagined her with me, the two of us doing things, naughty things. Things with me as I am now, not what I was. The skin-suit didn’t make it easy to play with my breasts. Massaging them and rubbing the nipples felt good. Inserting one finger into my vagina and found it already lubricated. I gently probed my new sex and gasped when I found the clitoris. It felt so good. I don’t know how my gehuran side was affecting this, I didn’t care right now. The pleasurable feeling built up and finally crashed down upon me.
I lay there in my orgasmic bliss. It was good to be alive.
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