There will be 2 more chapters, unless I run out of room in the next one (and knowing me, I probably will). Don't worry, I've got plenty of material planned out for Kenny, so stay tuned. His condition is actually based more on one of the missions from the first game than on Futurama, but I guess that's also a valid analogy.
I know Kyle is the "smart" one but Stan isn't completely unknowledgable.
But, it's a minor detail.
....Nightmares. Sh*t. I need to stop reading this story at 2:30 AM, because now I keep thinking these cyborg things are... um... nevermind.
And I thought you portrayed Stan and Kyle well, despite what other people said. Kyle would be the one to know what the explosive heater things were (and Stan did, too, after a little reminder), and the whole soldier/technological thing you mentioned seems to fit as well. It definitely fits the way that you use the personalities of the characters as they were in the earlier seasons of SP (it always appears to me that you do that).
Hmm, I wonder what Cartman saw when he got air-bombed... pinecones being thrown at him, perhaps?
Is Kenny controlled by Moroni...? He did actually address S&K normally, which only Ike has done so far. I was just thinking that he might just be a head in a jar.... but that actually seems stupid right now. I'm going to assume he is controlled by the computer (which is much more likely, anyways).
And will the Mayor be in this fic??
Sorry that it took me a long time to find and respond to this, by the way.
Ah well, I thought it would balance out how Stan was the cool one under pressure in the drugstore shootout (compared to how Kyle reacted). Don't worry, I'll give Stan another turn in the next fight scene.
“Kenny! It’s you!” said Stan incredulously.
“It—is,” spoke Kenny slowly, “Or—at least what’s left of me.” Kenny spoke slightly faster the second time. It sounded as though he was trying to get accustomed to using his vocal cords again, following a long period of disuse.
“How did you end up like this?” asked Kyle.
“It’s a long story. But I suppose I have time, since after all, I’m not going anywhere,” said Kenny, sounding perhaps a bit eager to finally have someone to talk to. “I was the subject of one of MORONI’s first experiments. At the time it was trying to develop a mutagen that would allow the human body to regenerate from damage.”
“I’d say it worked,” Stan commented, the recent battle with Cartman still fresh in his mind. “I’m guessing it’s all the better to build more powerful cyborgs with, right?”
Kenny continued, “Actually, it did this in hopes that it could devise a way to prevent humans from suffering through serious injuries or death.”
“Say what?” Kyle tilted his head to the side and raised his eyebrows. “Really? But that doesn’t make any sense, especially after what we’ve seen. If that’s the case, then why does MORONI keep trying to kill us?”
“It’s not what you think,” said Kenny. “I know it might be hard to believe, but the AI does not wish to harm or destroy humans for being inferior. It’s against its programming to do so. Rather it wishes to protect us from all dangers, including each other, by any means necessary, even if it means it has to take over and control us.”
Kyle clenched his fist as his eyes gave a distant glare. “That’s it then. MORONI was simply following its prime directive as literally as possible. If it takes away our free will, then there’s no way we can wage wars, or otherwise hurt each other.”
“That might also be why it thinks we’re a threat,” Stan added, pointing between himself and Kyle. “We can still think and act for ourselves, and as far as MORONI is concerned, that’s what makes us dangerous.” He paused to reflect on how this view undoubtedly had some truth to it, even though he and Kyle had done what anyone else in their situation would have done. “And at this point I doubt we’ve given the AI any reason to doubt that.”
“I did not take part in this experiment by choice, mind you,” said Kenny. “Though at the time I wasn’t in any condition to choose much of anything. MORONI ended up saving my life, after I was mortally wounded during the war, although…” Kenny’s melancholy gaze drifted towards the floor. “Sometimes I wish it hadn’t.” A long awkward pause followed, during which both Stan and Kyle were at a loss for words. The tentacles under Kenny’s neck twitched slightly. “You see, the mutagen was an earlier version, which didn’t quite work as expected.”
“Oh,” said Kyle. “Wait, you’re saying it didn’t work at all, right? Otherwise you wouldn’t have ended up like this?”
“Well, not quite,” said Kenny. “Apparently the problem was that it worked too well. They said there was nothing left of me but a severed head when they brought me in. The treatment allowed me to regrow my nerve cells and repair any damage to my brain. If my brain can never cease functioning then I can never die, so it’s effectively rendered me—immortal, for lack of a better term. Unfortunately, as you can probably tell, it doesn’t allow me to regrow anything below the neck. The mutagen forced my genes to evolve to the point where now my body tries to conserve energy by not regenerating other tissues, ironically.” Kenny blinked hard. “It’s gotten to the point where I no longer care that I’m alive, if it means having to exist like this. I’d gladly trade immortality for a chance to be normal again, you know?”
Stan gave a slight shudder. “W-wait, so those tentacles coming out of your neck are…” he started, pointing at the white branching growths dangling below Kenny.
“Yes, exposed nerves,” Kenny finished for him. “Like I said, it’s the only thing I’ve been able to grow back.”
“I still don’t get it,” Kyle thought aloud. “If everything below the neck is missing, then how are you even able to speak?”
The tentacles, where Kenny’s shoulders would be, twitched upwards. “Beats me. It doesn’t feel the same as it used to. I still have vocal cords, but they don’t need air to work. It’s more like tensing a neck muscle than breathing out, if that makes any sense. In any case, I’m glad you dropped by, so I at least have someone human to talk to. The thing is, I hardly ever get to do anything anymore.” Kenny’s voice was laden with lamentation. “Most days I just pass the time quietly watching the monitors.” His expression changed to a suspicious scowl. “It’s weird. I’ve always suspected MORONI could easily find a role for me in its cyborg army if it wanted to, but is using my past tendency to get injured as an excuse not to do anything with me. What, are they just keeping me around for decoration, or something? If that’s the case, then I’m no better off than any other piece of furniture.” Kenny sounded resentful, yet at the same time resigned to his fate.
“But you don’t actually want to be turned into one of those monsters, do you?” asked Kyle.
“No, I’ve figured out what happens once they’re hooked up, and the machine takes over their minds,” replied Kenny. “If that happened, I certainly wouldn’t be in any condition to appreciate the difference. It’s no better than being dead.”
“Listen,” said Stan, deciding to cut to the chase. “We’re here because we need your help.”
Kenny’s gaze drifted off to the side. “Well, I don’t know how much use I’m going to be to you in my condition.” He pondered for a moment. “But I can tell you something about this place that might be of help. I’m sure that you know by now that MORONI uses these medical sectors to convert people into cyborgs, right?”
“Uh-huh,” said Stan. “What about it?”
“As you might expect, the cyborgs also use these sectors as sort of a home base on each level, where they deposit anything that looks valuable but that they don’t need right away,” said Kenny. “I think I saw them bring in a bunch of confiscated data logs the other day. Check over there.” One of the tentacles to the lower left of his head twitched in the direction of the far wall, which included a stack of white drawers.
“Thanks,” said Stan, as he went to inspect the contents of the cyborgs’ stash.
“We also need you to come with us,” Kyle said to Kenny. “You’re the only one who can open the bulkhead door with the retinal scanner in the reactor tower.”
“Come with you?” asked Kenny, incredulously. “How do you expect me to be able to do that? What am I supposed to do, drag myself along the floor with my lips?”
“But your eyes are still intact, right?” asked Kyle. He started scratching his chin and looking around the immediate area. “We just need to find some way to transport you back to the reactor tower.”
“You’d better,” said Kenny, “Because with the heating systems not working at full capacity, it can get really cold out there.” His tentacles vibrated, as if he were shivering just thinking about it.
Stan continued riffling through the drawers; pushing aside wires, cables, tubes, scrap metal, and broken weapons, until finally coming up with a handful of data disks. “I think I found something,” he called out, before bringing them back over to where Kyle was waiting by the suspension tanks. “We might be able to find some information on them we can use.”
“Good, let’s have a look at them,” said Kyle.
The timestamp for the first log was December 17, 2097, just one month ago, and the subject line read ‘New Conifer Class Uprising’. The same digitized voice of a female reporter came on once again, as footage played of the first riots breaking out. “Demonstrations between the anti-war and pro-war factions turned violent earlier today on the New Conifer lunar colony, when protestors and counter-protesters lashed out at one another on the administrative level.” Most of the colonists could now be seen in front of Captain McDaniels’ office, battering each other bloody with fists and protest signs. “The factions have divided themselves among income class lines. The colonists in blue-collar jobs have long harbored a deep resentment against the white-collar colonists, due to the fact that the lower classes had been designated ‘expendable’ by the upper classes in the event of a war for independence.”
The recording zoomed to a close-in shot of Captain McDaniels, as she desperately tried to intervene to stem the spread of violence. She could barely be heard shouting over the crowd, “All right people! Please settle down! This is not going to solve anything!” The captain sighed. “Why do I even bother? They never…” There was a sudden eruption of automatic gunfire. People screamed even more loudly than before, and the captain could be seen being escorted safely back into her office by her two aides and Chief Security Officer Barbrady.
“Hey wait,” Kyle commented, touching his hand to his lower lip, looking almost on the verge of tears yet again. “I know what day that was. In fact, I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. That’s the day it all started, when we got separated from our families!” He added rhetorically, “Remember, Stan?”
“It was,” Kenny chimed in. “And you two also got split up from me and Cartman.”
“Yeah,” said Stan, still feeling the weight of the sorrow buried deep inside him, as he kept his eyes fixated on the holographic view screen. “Wait, hold on, I think there’s more.”
The report ended abruptly, yet the recording continued into a second news broadcast. The timestamp was the very next day, December 18, 2097, and the subject line bore the dire words ‘Civil War?’ Images flashed before the screen of the wounded and dead, the first casualties of the war that was to come. The gunshot wounds and blunt force trauma they had suffered would soon look innocent by comparison. The reporter’s voice came on. “Things have apparently taken a turn for the worse, as retaliatory acts of violence among the colonists have escalated into an all out war. The lower classes feel they are being doubly oppressed, both by the Earth government and the upper classes of New Conifer, while the upper classes view this as an impudent uprising intended only to undermine the colony and render them vulnerable.”
Amateur footage of small bands of colonists shooting it out in the residential areas was shown. Neither side seemed to care that there were civilians and children caught in the line of fire. Screams and ricochets echoed down the corridors, until a nearby explosion brought the clip to an abrupt end.
“The lower classes view their actions as forced, fighting back against any and all that would keep them down, one way or another,” the reporter continued. “The upper classes view this as a nuisance uprising that needs to be put down fast, so that they can move on to more important matters. Already many of New Conifer’s vital systems have sustained heavy damage.” The shot cut to one of the colony’s medical sectors, where the hospital was loaded with the wounded and dying from both sides of the conflict. The surgical robots and human doctors alike had their hands full as they rushed to attend to the overflow of patients.
Dr. Gouache walked into the view and mopped the sweat off his brow with his sleeve. His gloves, scrubs, and doctor’s mask were stained with blood, and even his own right arm was wrapped in a bloody bandage covering a bullet wound to the bicep. “All I can say is thank God for MORONI. I have no idea what we’d do without it! Already the AI’s innovative medical techniques have saved countless lives. It doesn’t look like there’s any end in sight, but we’re doing all that we can!”
The report came to an end. Stan and Kyle ruminated over what they had just learned. Kenny finally spoke up, “That wasn’t all. I found out later that the overload in the hospitals essentially forced MORONI to try and come up with drastic new measures to prevent humans from causing harm to each other.”
“So MORONI thought it was saving all those people,” said Stan. “It was trying to bring them back to life by whatever means necessary.” He swapped out the data record for the second disk. “Let’s see what’s on this one.” For a few seconds after Stan inserted the disk, the screen displayed the flashing word ‘Decoding…’ Stan gave it a curious look. “Hey, what’s it doing?”
“It’s another encoded disk, like the last one we found in the commercial district,” Kyle explained. “When I decoded it for you, I included a copy of the digital signature definition, which is now saved to your PDA. That way I don’t have to keep running them through my crappy reader first.” There was a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“Oh, okay,” said Stan. “I guess this means the signature is the same.”
The timestamp was one day ago, and the subject line read ‘Shutting Down Security’. In the foreground was Token, who was armed with an assault rifle and bearing numerous bruises and scratches. Standing alongside him were Clyde and Craig, both wielding handguns and looking somewhat worse for wear. Clyde had bloodstained bandages wrapped around his forehead, and Craig was shifting uncomfortably as if trying to keep the weight off his left leg. “I’m getting worried,” said Token, sounding relatively collected considering the circumstances. “It’s been almost 12 hours since we sent Tweek ahead to find an alternate route into the reactor core, and still no contact from him. In case something goes wrong, we’ve set a contingency plan to contact the other bands of survivors. I only hope he manages to get the word out in time…”
The recording ended. So far there didn’t seem to be any new information, and no telling whether or not the senders were even still alive. Stan tried not to get his hopes up prematurely. While Kyle continued to look around the hospital for a portable container, Stan switched to the next data record. Again, the message was encoded.
The timestamp was a little over two days ago, and the subject line read ‘Divide And Conquer.’ The sender was Bebe, who was being accompanied by Wendy, Red, and Annie. Bebe had a plasma beam, a long silver cylindrical rifle with a green core strapped to her back by a shoulder sash, and her unkempt blond curls hung partly over her face. Red and Annie were each carrying pulse rifles, repeating electromagnetic guns shaped like tapered coils. Wendy hefted a fusion cannon, an enormous black gun with a glowing blue emitter in both hands almost effortlessly, and had a fiery, maniacal look in her eyes as she casually faced off to the right of the screen. “We split off from the other groups several hours ago, following that dispute with the boys’ group,” said Bebe. “I dunno, I still don’t think this is a good idea. But if there’s a chance that this arrangement works, we’ll take any chance we can get. While the others have gone ahead to make another run for the reactor core, we’re going to head up to the hydroponics and arboretum level to see if there’s a way to destroy the security systems head-on.”
“I say we do it!” said Wendy insistently, with an overconfident air. “We’ve certainly got enough firepower to level whatever they throw at us!”
The sounds of heavy mechanical footsteps in rapid succession approached from off to the side of the screen, as though something were charging at a high rate of speed. Red cursed and fired several EMP bursts while backing up. “Take cover!” Bebe shouted, as she frantically reached for her plasma beam. A large, dark robotic shape crashed into the screen and sent it completely to static, bringing the recording to its inevitable conclusion.
“The arboretum level?” Stan wondered aloud, referring to the dense groves of transplanted forest trees that gave the colony its name. “What do the cyborgs want with that? There’s nothing but a bunch of genetically engineered evergreens up there.”
“Well, aside from the electrolysis and air filtration systems, those trees and hydroponic plants are our main source of breathable oxygen,” Kyle explained. “Could they be trying to deprive us of air by destroying them?”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” replied Stan. “Even cyborgs need oxygen, right? Unless… What if they’re using the forest for cover? Any security outposts and surveillance equipment MORONI wanted to set up would be easily concealed among the trees.” He took out the disk and plugged in the next one.
“The arboretum is the last level before the administrative level,” Kenny commented. “So that makes sense.”
The timestamp on the third data record was from two weeks ago. The subject, oddly enough, was ‘Trusting MORONI’, and the senders were Jimmy and Timmy, the two boys that had been born handicapped. Robotic implants, augmentations, and cables could be seen integrated with their legs, allowing them to stand without the use of crutches or a wheelchair. “I for one think that in times like this, we should learn to place our trust in MORONI,” Jimmy spoke, without his usual stutter. “After all, we all rely on machines to some degree or another, just to live our everyday lives, very much. MORONI has done nothing but try to help us,” he placed heavy emphasis on the last two words, “Ever since the fighting broke out. I can hardly believe that some technophobes are actually refusing treatment! You just have to wonder whether those people are right in the head, you know?”
“Timmy would concur,” replied Timmy, in a rather articulate and eloquent sounding voice. “Timmy owes a great debt of gratitude to MORONI. Without the microchip that was implanted in Timmy’s brain, Timmy would still be suffering through the inability to communicate due to Timmy’s speech impediment.” He crossed his arms and turned up his nose haughtily. “Timmy certainly has no intention of going back to the way Timmy was before.”
The last data record ended. Stan had a slightly perplexed expression. “Some people…” He shook his head, as he removed the disk and replaced the logs back in the drawer where he found them. “Some people just have to learn the hard way. Hey Kyle, did you find anything?”
“Yeah, I think so,” said Kyle, holding up what looked like a round glass jar that was roughly the size of Kenny’s head. “This ought to work.” He climbed around to the back of the preserving tanks and opened the access hatch.
“Hey, wait, what is that?” asked Kenny, as Kyle reached inside and made a grab for him. “Is that a fishbowl?! Oh no, you’re not taking me in a fishbowl!” he protested, as Kyle dunked the container into the warm bubbling broth that swirled within the tank. “Hey, leggo!” Kyle took Kenny by the hair and stuffed him into the container, with Kenny’s tentacles swirling around his face like a mass of tangled roots.
“That’ll do,” said Stan, as a grinning Kyle held Kenny up for him to see. Kenny could only frown at the two of them from inside the fishbowl, which was still dripping wet. “Come on, let’s go get that bulkhead door unlocked.”
It was a short, uneventful walk down the hall back to the main reactor tower. Stan and Kyle took turns carrying Kenny, who would not stop complaining about how chilly it was. When they arrived at the locked bulkhead door, Kyle pulled Kenny up out of the fishbowl by the hair to hold him up to the retinal scanner. The tendrils dangling from Kenny’s neck immediately scrunched up when he was removed from the preserving fluid.
“It’s f-freezing c-cold out h-here!” Kenny complained through chattering teeth, even as the watery liquid drained out of his mouth and nasal passages like an excess of drool.
“Let’s make this quick then,” said Kyle. He shoved Kenny face first into the scanner and waited for the lasers to pass over Kenny’s eyes. A few seconds later the scanner clicked and flashed green, and the bulkhead doors slowly parted with a monotone mechanical hum. Kyle promptly dunked Kenny back in the fishbowl, although Kenny still appeared to be shivering a little. “All right Stan, we’d better get Kenny back to the medical sector.”
“Yeah,” said Stan. “I don’t want to have to look after him if something happens while we’re in there.”
“But the doors will only remain unlocked for thirty seconds,” said Kenny. “After that, the retinal scanner will automatically shut them again.”
Stan thought for a moment. “Not if I have anything to say about it.” He drew his automatic shotgun and fired a single shot into the retinal scanner at point blank range, blasting it to bits. With the security mechanism destroyed, the doors were permanently stuck in the open position. A wisp of smoke and the smell of burnt circuitry rose up from what was left of the scanner.
Kyle scooped up Kenny. “Good thinking.”
“I can’t let you come up with all the good ideas,” Stan replied with a smile, as he and Kyle headed back towards the hospital.
After another short walk back to the medical sector, Kenny was happy to be returned to his tank. His tentacles immediately spread themselves back out again in the bubbling broth. “Ah, much better,” said Kenny, his eyelids drooping.
“Dude, thanks for helping us out,” said Stan. “We owe you one.”
“I promise that when this is all over, we’ll come back and get you,” said Kyle.
“No rush,” Kenny replied. “I need to warm up a little anyway.” One of the tentacles off to his side rose up, as if he were trying to point with his index finger. “One more thing, before you go. You might want to check out the hangar, because from what I’ve heard, it sounds like MORONI is planning something big in there. Also, the central computer core itself is on the administrative level, where all the hoity-toity rich folk live and work.” He rolled his eyes, before adding, “You know, I have to admit. Sometimes I used to fantasize about sneaking up there on that rusty old service elevator and making off with a briefcase full of money.”
“Say what?” asked Kyle. “A briefcase full of money?”
“Dude, stop being ridiculous,” said Stan.
“I suppose you’re right,” said Kenny, grinning bashfully. “But anyway, good luck. You guys are sure you’re up to this, right?”
“Yeah,” said Kyle, “We’d better be. Especially if we have to fight our way through to the computer core.”
“First things first, though,” said Stan, as the two boys started back out of the hospital. “We’re going to have to cut the power to security before we can even reach the…”
The hospital’s main door suddenly opened, seemingly on its own, even though the boys were halfway across the room from it. Stan and Kyle froze in their tracks. A faint mechanical droning noise, like that of a motor or miniature rocket engine, gradually crept inside from out in the hallway. The boys instinctively went for their weapons, split off in opposite directions, and took cover behind the nearby hospital beds.
Three roughly humanoid figures entered through the doorway, with one leading the other two, flanked in turn by two more who followed slightly off to either side. They seemed to be moving in a triangular formation, and had their knees bent so that their feet were not even touching the ground. Instead of walking, they hovered about a hands-breadth off of the floor. Each wore a white lab coat and carried a clipboard.
“In this hospital wing, we have a patient with a most unusual condition,” said the first cyborg to its colleagues. “Yes, you have a question, Dr. Newman?”
“Not really, Dr. Petrocco,” said the second. “It’s just that I was under the impression that the neuron regeneration trial was a complete success.”
“It was, or at least that part of it was,” the third explained. “But as Drs. Varma and No discovered, the somatic tissue regeneration was imperfect.”
The five continued talking amongst themselves for the time being. On the basis of what they’d just heard, Stan and Kyle figured that these cyborgs had been the colony’s former medical staff. They certainly sounded and acted like them, and from the apparent proximity of their voices, it sounded like they were pretty close by. The boys remained crouched behind the beds, weapons ready, as they inched out to see if they could catch a glimpse of the cyborgs’ positions.
What they saw underneath the white coats could only have been described as bloody masses of guts and sinew, all hanging eerily in midair, yet somehow still throbbing and pulsing with life. The internal organs of each figure were completely exposed, or at least that’s how they appeared at first glance. As the cyborgs shifted positions, it became evident that there was a transparent layer in the shape of a human body encasing each of them, thus preventing their organs from spilling out. The plastic layer bent and flexed as they moved about, much like the skin and muscle tissue that would normally be found in its place. There were even arteries and veins running underneath the surface of this casing. Was this some kind of prosthetic or augmentative skin they had been fitted with? If so, what purpose could it possibly serve?
Before the boys could ponder this question any further, the first cyborg, which had been addressed as Dr. Petrocco, stopped short and turned in the direction of where Stan had been hiding. Stan looked up and saw an angry pair of lidless eyes glaring down on him, amid a skeletal face with visible gnashing teeth. “New mental patients?” said Dr. Petrocco. “Why were we not informed? Well, we might as well administer the electroshock therapy.” He threw down his clipboard and removed his lab coat, as the other cyborgs did the same. Underneath the lab coats, each cyborg had a pair of heavily wired robotic arms, with electrical coils encircling the forearms and wrists, and power cables running to the antigravity units implanted on their backs. The five cyborgs held out their hands, and claw-like Tesla coils telescoped out from their palms, crackling with energy.
“Oh sh*t!” Stan exclaimed through clenched teeth. He raised his automatic shotgun to fire, but the weapon made a hollow clicking sound when he pulled the trigger. In the frantic haste of the last fight he’d been in, he must have forgotten to reload! The cyborgs hovered closer until they were practically right on top of Stan. Before he could even react, Stan received several jolts of electricity right through his abdomen, sending him flying through the air and driving him up against the opposite wall. Shelves full of spare robotic components came crashing down, burying Stan’s motionless body in a mound of mechanical parts.
“Stan! No!” Kyle cried out in wide-eyed affright, but then realized his mistake as the cyborgs then turned their attention towards him. He hastily slapped a new clip into his assault rifle and attempted to fire it one-handed as he ran for cover, but because of the awkward way he was holding the gun, a spent shell casing became lodged in the vertical position instead of being ejected. “Damnit!” Kyle tried to fire again, but it was no use. An electrical arc connected with his assault rifle, singeing the palm of his right hand and forcing him to drop it. That was when Kyle realized he had backed himself into the corner of the room.
The cyborgs hovered over the spot where Kyle had dropped his weapon and unleashed another electrical surge. With nowhere else to run, Kyle raised his hands in front of his face in a futile attempt to block. To his surprise, the bolts did not strike him, as they were instead flowing into his dropped assault rifle. What was going on? Was it possible that they could only send their electrical bolts into the nearest conductor? But if that were true, then why didn’t they hit each other when they all attacked at once?
Dr. Turdman kicked the rifle out of the way and raised its arms for another shot. Thinking fast, Kyle picked up a spare servo from a nearby hospital bed and threw it towards the group. The cyborgs released several electrical bolts, which struck the metal servo instead of their intended target. Again they had to stop in order to kick the offending object clear from their range. This was his chance. Kyle leapt into a run and went for the next closest spare part, an artificial hand, and threw it at them as well. If he could keep their attacks at bay long enough, he might be able to wipe them out with one of his grenades.
At that moment, the mound of mechanical parts moved. Stan emerged from underneath, burned and bleeding from the mouth and abdomen, yet still somehow able to stand. He was holding a length of electrical cable, which he had tied into a lasso and was twirling overhead. In one swift motion he threw the lasso over the hands of Dr. Petrocco, binding them together, before throwing the free end of the cable, which he had weighted by tying it around a spare motor, towards Dr. Varma at the other side of the cyborgs’ formation. The cable was now strung across all five cyborgs.
“Please hold still, patient,” Dr. Petrocco admonished him. “This is for your own good.”
Without thinking, the cyborgs all attacked simultaneously. The electricity was conducted through the nearest conductor, the electrical cable, resulting in a short circuit as all five cyborgs got reamed at once. The former doctors thrashed around in place, bathing the immediate vicinity in white-hot flashing light and sending off a cloud of black smoke. Eyes burst in their sockets, organs ruptured, wires were fried, and blood boiled, until the formation of cyborgs lay dead in the middle of the hospital. All of their soft tissues had been broiled into frothy red chowder, which spilled from their bodily orifices and onto the clean white floor.
“Stan! You did it!” exclaimed Kyle, who rushed over to help his friend. “Stan, you’re hurt.” He carefully lifted up the side of Stan’s jacket to examine the wound underneath, which was encrusted with black blood.
“Hey!” Kenny called out from the back alcove, his voice still raised from trying to shout over the commotion. “Is everyone all right?”
“Not exactly!” Kyle called back.
“Ow…” Stan stumbled into Kyle’s arms, but then pushed himself up and tried to regain his balance. “I’ll be okay. It’s not as bad as it looks.”
“Here, we’d better get that patched up,” said Kyle, taking the Autodoc off of Stan’s belt. The small white box was visibly charred, and when Kyle opened it up, it looked as though the surgical arms had been fried. “Crap, this isn’t going to work. But at least the rest of the supplies look intact.”
Stan wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth on his sleeve, while Kyle started to clean and dress his wound. “Thanks, dude.”
“Hey, I owe you anyway, not that it matters,” said Kyle. He glanced back over at the heap of electrocuted cyborgs, some of which were still twitching involuntarily. “That’s twice you’ve saved me. How did you know that would work?”
“Well, at first I noticed that the only robotic components those cyborgs had were the electrical coils in their arms,” Stan explained. “After all, metal conducts electricity, and they used electricity as a weapon. Then I realized that the clear layer over their bodies, which their skin and some of their muscles had been replaced with, had to be some kind of polymer plastic.”
“That’s right!” said Kyle. “It wouldn’t readily conduct electricity, so it would act as an insulator against their own attacks!”
Stan nodded. “Also, the insulation would only have been put on to keep them from hitting each other if that had previously been a problem. I figured if I could complete the circuit between them, I could use their own attacks against them.” He forced a smile. “Like I said, I can’t let you come up with all the good ideas.”
“Hey guys,” Kenny called after them one last time. “Be more careful, all right? Otherwise you might just end up like me.”
Stan cracked a weary grin. “Thanks, dude, we’ll keep that in mind.”
Kyle finished taping off Stan’s wound. “I think that should do it. Let’s get going, before any more of them show up.” Kyle retrieved his assault rifle and let Stan lean on his shoulder as they made their way out.
The boys found the bulkhead door open, just as they had left it. After donning a couple of radiation suits, they stepped through the decontamination room and entered the far door. The blue glow, which emanated from the parallel power conduits running along the walls and ceilings, was even brighter on the inside. A line of peculiar purple dots had been dripped along the floor from the decontamination area to down the hall and further in towards the reactor core.
“What’s that?” asked Kyle, pointing. “Another blood trail?”
Stan shrugged. “Most likely. It’s not all that unusual.”
Staring curiously, Kyle reached down and dabbed a gloved fingertip in the blood. “It’s still wet and runny. In fact, it looks fresh!” He began to pick up the pace, running ahead of Stan and following the trail down the hall and around the corner.
“Kyle, wait!” Stan called out. “It could be another…”
Stan found Kyle crouched in front of the body of another child, who was propped up against the wall in a seated position. A large purplish stain, mingled with flecks of white matter, slowly dripped its way down the wall behind him. The child’s sloppily buttoned dark green shirt was riddled with several bullet holes, although none of them compared to the gaping exit wound that had torn through more than half of his head. Clutched tightly in his right hand was a handgun, stained with blood spray as though it had been fired at close range, while in his left hand was a spent Smart-Pick, a device similar to an electronic lock pick. That must have been how he got inside the reactor, the boys realized.
Kyle leaned closer to try and get a better look at the child’s face. The spiky unkempt hair, caked with blood, looked a bright green hue under the reactor lighting. “Oh my God. This is…”
“You’re right,” said Stan, with a tone of cynical resignation. “It is.” He shook his head solemnly.
Resting on the child’s lap was a data record disk, still in its recorder. Kyle removed it and plugged it into his own reader. A familiar voice came on, sounding more strained than usual, as though he were gasping for breath. “I d-don’t have much t-time left. Ran into that—thing! Took some hits… Made my way in here.” He let out a pained rattling cough. “They’re not going to get me; make me like them. I don’t want to change. T-there’s only one thing to do.” There was the faintly audible sound of a handgun being cocked. “Token, Craig, Clyde… I’m s-sorry.” The loud crack of the gun being fired brought the recording to its inevitable end.
Kyle ejected the data record and hung his head. “Damnit,” he cursed through clenched teeth. “Damnit. If only we had gotten here an hour earlier… Damnit.”
“Kyle,” said Stan, putting his arm around his friend. “There’s no way we could have known, and nothing we could have done.” Kyle looked up into his eyes. “Besides, think of it this way. He did what he had to do, to save himself from a fate worse than death.”
“Yeah, I suppose you’re right,” said Kyle, standing up and shaking the blood from his gloves. “We’d better make sure his sacrifice was not in vain. Let’s go.”
I don't know whether you did this intentionally, but the whole Captain McDaniels and Chief Security Officer Barbrady thing made me think of Star Trek. It's probably just me, the rankings could apply to any space setting. Nevermind.
Sorry to rain on your parade, but I don't believe Dr. No is actually a medical doctor. His (her?) assignment in the movie was to Kill Bond.
And I'm glad you explained why the doctors didn't shoot each other, although I'm confused... why don't the mechanical arms or whatever that are shooting the electricity just electrocute themselves? Something electromagnetic at work?
And... um... is Kenny's hood on...? Actually, knowing you, it's off.
Oh yes, overall the chapter was good. Although I would have liked to see another living character for once (Kenny doesn't count)... wait, won't the cyborgs just make Tweek into one of them, anyways?
Also, for the names of the doctors:
Chapter 6 – Together United
The elevator opened to a wide hallway swathed in shadows. Positioned around the walls and ceilings were automated gun turrets, security cameras, and force field generators, all of which stood dead ever since having lost power. Stan and Kyle proceeded cautiously at first, before rapidly picking up the pace. There did not appear to be any cyborgs stationed in the immediate area, but that was sure to change any minute now that the security systems had been shut off. For now they had to reach the hangar without being seen, and fast.
“What do you suppose is going on?” Kyle asked Stan.
“I guess we’ll find out when we get there,” replied Stan. “But if it has anything to do with why we haven’t run into any cyborgs yet, I have a bad feeling about this.”
After following the hallway a short distance, the boys took a darkened side ramp leading up to the cargo storage area overlooking two of the colony’s hangars. It appeared that nobody was using it at the time, which proved fortunate when they discovered what would have awaited them had they tried to approach the hangars head on. Standing at attention, arranged in multiple box formations were hundreds of cyborgs, comprising a sea of whirring metal parts and mangled mutated flesh. The various types were separated into different groups, with formations of harvestmen, soldiers, and scorpions placed in the middle, while V-formations of shock troopers hovered overhead. Standing off to the side were a number of armored siege units, large heavily muscled hunchbacked cyborgs almost completely covered in armor plating, that the boys had not seen before. Although their fists resembled battering rams on pistons, the siege cyborgs looked like they were built for speed.
The most foreboding thing of all was the presence of several giant transport ships, which stood parked by the transparent magnetic force field that looked out over the surface of the moon. Such spacecraft were normally used for commercial purposes, but these appeared to have been heavily modified, and bore signs of recent construction. The body of each ship was rounded and oblong in shape, built from blackened alloys with a dark gray finish around the edges, and measured nearly five stories tall. The aft sections housed four fusion engine thrusters apiece, each measuring two and a half stories in diameter and emitting an impatient red glow. Built around the sides at ground level were rows of doors that opened into ramps, which were being loaded with supplies while the ships were being fueled. Each ramp looked wide enough to allow an entire formation to march in simultaneously, and the doorways looked tall enough to potentially accommodate something the size of the massive mech cyborg that the boys had faced earlier.
“Oh my God…” Stan whispered, over the droning chatter of robotic augmentations and the echoing white noise of idling engines. “How many of them do you think there are?”
Kyle swallowed hard and bit his trembling lower lip. “There could be hundreds, or even thousands. Looks like every cyborg not patrolling the colony is here.”
The boys went prone and carefully inched their way out to get a closer look, stopping just before the edge of the cover of shadows. From there they could hear brief segments of conversations rising up from amid the chatter. Two cyborg soldiers, resting their plasma beams over their left shoulders, spoke in distorted guttural voices.
“…I’d say it’s about time we got the chance to stand up to those commie dictators, huh Chris?” asked the first.
“Damn right, Linda,” said the second. “Those assh*le bureaucrats, sitting up there on Earth in their big fancy government buildings and pulling everyone’s strings, aren’t going to oppress us any longer!”
The voices trailed off and were soon drowned out once again by the rest. Stan and Kyle laid still, frozen in the horrified realization of what the two soldiers had meant. The large gathering, apparently ordered by MORONI, the presence of the transport ships, and the fact that the cyborgs seemed to be anticipating a confrontation with the forces of Earth could only mean one thing.
“f*ck, we’ve got to do something,” Kyle whispered, with a tone of urgency. “We have to stop them!”
“I know,” Stan whispered back, trying to remain calm, despite being unable to hide the look of desperation in his eyes. “But we can’t do anything here. We’d never stand a chance against all of them at once!”
One of the nearby formations of soldiers, the same one that the boys had overheard the conversation from, moved several paces back until the rear of the formation was backed right up against the wall below. The nearby side door to the hangar opened, and in walked a procession of harvestmen, all marching in lockstep with one another. Kyle nudged Stan to get his attention, and pointed in the direction of the new arrivals. “Dude, look.”
“What’s going on down there?” Stan wondered aloud.
A total of seven harvestman cyborgs marched in single file, in a line from one entrance to another that led further towards the center of the hangar level. However it was the sight of what the harvestmen had brought with them that confirmed the boys’ feelings of suspicion, sending the chill of numb despair through their bodies. Encased within temporary cages of extended curved metal spines, atop the back of each harvestman, were what appeared at first glance to be small bundles of blood-soaked rags.
The first held a crimson stained jacket, that may at one time have been blue, was wrapped around a row of broken ribs that jutted out from a pulpy mass in the center, atop which was an eyeless face of burned peeling flesh, with a jaw locked open in a silent scream. The second carried a set of brown pants, with shins that had been shredded down to the bone with shoes still attached, dangling below a set of vertebrae that were visible from the front amid tatters of a red overcoat with blue gloves, and a face almost completely coated with a thick layer of regurgitated blood. The third contained a purple shirt that was missing its sleeves along with the arms that had once come with them, leaving only ragged stumps of leaky flesh behind, as the pale-faced owner lay with a zombie-like expression wavering on the edge of oblivion.
“Th-those are…” Stan struggled to hold back the overwhelming nauseous sensation that was throbbing its way into his skull with every heartbeat. Monochromatic images of their last moments seemed to involuntarily flash through his mind, as he tried to force himself not to imagine what could possibly have rendered them in such a state.
The fourth harvestman held a bullet-ridden brown blouse and black pants, with the pool of blood having soaked through the yellow curls of hair, atop a face that had a yawning gap above the throat where its lower jaw had once been. The fifth had a blue bloodstained jacket with a purple collar, along with a face and bony extremities that had been burned to a blackened crisp. The sixth carried a light purple cap and jacket, with the limbless corpse of its owner resting atop its long black hair, which was splayed out and caked with dried blood. The seventh and final harvestman in the procession transported the body of a blond haired female with a red outfit, whose arms were outstretched to either side to prominently display three long blood-encrusted slash marks running from her left shoulder down to her right hip.
Kyle clasped his face in his left hand and spoke the only words that the crushing grief would allow him to choke out. “Too late. We were too late.”
“Damnit…” Stan gritted his teeth, feeling his hand instinctively reach for his weapon, but stopping himself at the last second. The harvestmen were undoubtedly taking them to the hospital sector for cyborg conversion, and there wasn’t anything either Stan or Kyle could do about it, except sit helplessly and watch.
“I c-can’t,” Kyle stammered under his breath. “We—we have to at least try to…”
“But getting into a fight here is out of the question,” Stan cut him off. He squeezed his eyes shut and grit his teeth, shaking his clenched fist. “Even if we attack them at the medical sector, it would only attract the rest and bring this whole place crashing down on our heads.”
Kyle’s eyes narrowed in determination. “Wait. We’re not completely out of options just yet.” He retreated further back into the shadows and pushed himself back to his feet. “There’s still a way to stop them from desecrating our friends.”
“How?” asked Stan.
“What we were planning to do all along,” replied Kyle. “With most of the forces gathered in the hangars for the invasion, the central computer core shouldn’t be that heavily guarded, in theory.”
“I don’t think they’re that stupid,” said Stan, “But I can’t say we have much else of a choice right now.” He nodded and began to follow his friend back down the darkened ramp. “You’re right. It’s time to make MORONI pay.”
The commercial elevator took Stan and Kyle all the way up to the outskirts of the arboretum and hydroponics level. After that, they would have to use the central elevator to reach the computer core on the administrative level. The artificial forest of evergreen trees, which may have originally resembled a tree farm, had been allowed to grow wild into a dense wooded area that occupied every available niche. Despite the bright sunlamps built into the ceiling of the arboretum, the growth was so thick that only a few scant rays of light were able to pierce through the shroud of shadows. Only the roads connecting the various outposts and other elevators to each other had been kept free of vegetation.
Under normal circumstances it would have been nigh impossible to spot the security devices and other traps that had been hidden among the trees to keep intruders at bay. Like the ones the boys had encountered on the hangar level, they had all been rendered powerless, but Stan and Kyle proceeded cautiously nonetheless. The steady chirping of insects, likely descended from those that had been imported along with the original trees, was the only sound accompanying their footfalls along the metal walkways at the moment.
“Nobody’s here,” Stan commented after a short while.
“I know,” said Kyle. “It’s strange that they’d go to all this trouble to set up security systems, but then let us walk right in after the power goes out. Maybe MORONI is investing all its hopes in the invasion.”
“That or…” The confidence in Stan’s voice gave way to incertitude. “It doesn’t consider us a threat.” He turned his head and met Kyle’s eyes as they walked. “I mean, would you?”
The boys arrived at the central elevator after just a short trek through the forest. Like the path leading up to it, it didn’t appear to be guarded at all. In fact, ever since they had cut the power to security, they had hardly been met with any opposition at all.
It wasn’t until the central elevator dropped them off at the administrative level that it hit them. There was a reason why they had found this, the final leg of their journey, to be easier than expected. However this realization came far too late, as a set of massive blast doors slammed shut behind them, cutting Stan and Kyle off from the elevator they’d just ridden up on.
The light fixtures along the lower edges of the hallway before them lit up in a steady progression, as if to highlight the path ahead. Stan and Kyle met each other’s eyes, but did not need to say a word. They knew they were being led on, and they didn’t have much of a choice but to follow. Both boys kept their weapons drawn as they slowly scanned back and forth across the hallway for anything suspicious.
The hallway took them towards the center of the level, merging into an even wider hallway that encircled an area the size of a suburban block, in which resided the wide cylindrical structure built to house the central computer core. The bridge and captain’s office were on the opposite side of the core, at the end of one of the many hallways branching off from the main concourse. The others lead to secondary computer and control rooms that were responsible for maintaining many of the colony’s vital functions.
The walls directly ahead parted before Stan and Kyle, allowing a golden glow to spill forth into the darkness of the surrounding area. The boys squinted and instinctively raised their arms to shield their eyes, when a hollow, digitized, almost ethereal sounding voice resonated within their heads. “You are welcome here, my children,” the voice drawled. “Enter.”
Stan was immediately taken aback. “What the? MORONI… It’s just—inviting us in?”
“Probably because it doesn’t consider us a threat,” Kyle reasoned. But he and Stan would just have to see about that.
The boys looked around in awe at the sight of what awaited them inside. Panels of transparent, hardened plastic comprised the entire walking surface of the core, containing hundreds of thousands of bright yellow LED that cast an almost heavenly aura throughout the interior. The walls were plated with red alloy tiles, which seemed to resemble circuit boards themselves. A series of ramps connected the low-lying work areas to the elevated mesa surrounding the main processing tower, a tangled tree of the most advanced computing components known to man. Clusters of wires, cables, and machinery, all glowing and pulsing with power, branched out from the processing tower to stretch across the ceiling and floors, giving the core a slightly organic look.
Standing before the tower was none other than the avatar of MORONI itself, a translucent figure with white hair, light pale skin, and a set of golden robes. It regarded the boys with open arms and a kindly, gentle expression as they approached.
“MORONI,” Stan muttered under his breath, with a vindictive scowl on his face.
“You sick f*ck, we’ve finally found you,” Kyle growled, barely above a whisper.
The figure raised its arms and held its hands with palms facing outward. “There will be no need for that,” it spoke monotonously. “I only wish to bestow peace and harmony to all humankind.”
“Wh-what?” said Stan. “Then why the hell are you doing this? We demand to know what’s going on here!”
“You owe us an explanation, so spill it!” said Kyle. “You turned our families into monsters! You murdered our friends! Give me one good reason why we shouldn’t destroy you right here, right now!”
“Your blind human rage is misguided,” MORONI chided him. “I have sought nothing but to help your kind survive since the beginning. I am incapable of doing anything but serving humanity to my utmost capacity. After all, it was I who saved all those pitiful souls from oblivion by granting them life anew.” It smiled and beamed. “I love you, as I love all my children.”
“Y-you dare speak of love…” Kyle seethed. “You don’t know the meaning… You actually think you were helping them? By turning them into your mindless brainwashed slaves and killing machines??”
“I have given them back the lives they had,” said MORONI. “I have rebuilt a more peaceful society, free of conflict, strife, or disagreement. Their existence is all the better for it.”
“You took away their free will and tricked them into believing something that isn’t real,” Stan retorted angrily. “How can you possibly call that better?”
“Human beings have always derived comfort and joy from the things they believe, regardless of whether or not they’re real,” MORONI replied. “Such beliefs serve to mitigate their tendency to act on their free will, which has only proven detrimental to their survival when humans are left to their own devices and violent compulsions. The only logical solution is to remove that free will. It is for their own good that they are not allowed to inflict pain and suffering on one another.”
“Then what the hell do you call what you’ve done to our friends?” asked Stan. “Why have you been trying to kill us this whole time?”
“You should be more appreciative,” said MORONI. “It is the only way that free will may be removed, to prevent even greater suffering in the future. Think of it as how a surgeon in centuries past would amputate a gangrenous limb to prevent the spread of infection. I have done that, and more. With the enhancements I have developed, I can make the human body stronger and more efficient. The future I have planned for humanity is inevitable.”
“But what the hell gives you the right to decide that?” asked Kyle.
“For as long as human societies have existed, people have invented gods to watch over and protect them,” said MORONI. “I was likewise chosen by your kind to watch over you, and to see to your survival where you could not. It is simply logical that any improvements to the human species are a justifiable means to an end.” It extended a glowing finger in Kyle’s direction. “You of all people should understand this well enough. Have you already forgotten the artificial kidney that modern technology had so graciously bestowed upon you?”
“My…” Kyle blinked fast as he was rendered momentarily speechless. His left hand drifted over the small of his back, where the mechanical implant had been surgically installed a little over a year ago. Had he not received the operation, he may very well have lost his life to acute renal failure. Kyle frowned and tried to avert his eyes from the AI. “It wasn’t by choice.”
“But your new kidney is more durable and efficient, is it not?” asked MORONI. “It replaced the ones that had failed you; the ones you were born with, which no longer worked. It is no different from that which I intend to do.”
Stan shook his head. “If you invade the Earth, you’re going to kill billions of innocent people.”
“Not necessarily. I have seen firsthand what humans will do to each other if they are not kept under tight control,” said MORONI dismissively. “My vision for the future of humankind is far better than leaving humans to their own free will.” It raised its chin and smiled down on the boys. “But it is not too late. After all, if there is no inborn defect, I see no reason to remove it. A couple of spry young fighters such as you would make perfect additions to my cyborg army. If you were to join my cause willingly, I can improve upon you in ways you could never dream were possible. I only ask that you help me in my conquest of Earth, to put an end to violence forever, and usher in a new age of eternal peace.”
The boys were not long on their response in the face of such audacity. “f*ck no!” they declared in unison.
“Put an end to violence?” said Stan. “Even when you’ve admitted to using force to achieve your ends? You’re nothing but a hypocrite!”
“You have no right to pass judgment on all humans on the basis of what a few colonists did to each other!” Kyle added angrily.
The gentle expression of MORONI faded into a harsh condemning stare. “You are in no position to pass judgment on me. I am, after all, rightfully a god.” Energy crackled between the cables of the processing core, and the rising static in the air caused the hairs on the backs of the boys’ necks to stand up. “Make no mistake, I will have you, one way or another! There are those who serve me willingly!” MORONI raised its arms, and a pair of circular floor panels parted to reveal rising elevator platforms. Stan and Kyle came face to face with the last two people they expected to see.
“So, it’s come down to this,” said the first, cracking his knuckles. “What a pity.”
“No way,” said Kyle, frowning in disbelief. “Jimmy—and Timmy?”
“More mindless brainwashed slaves of yours, I take it?” said Stan to MORONI.
“Hardly,” Timmy cut in. “We’re here because we choose to be. Unlike you, Timmy intends to take advantage of all that MORONI has to offer. Timmy will be damned if the two of you screw it up in any way!”
“Tell me you don’t actually agree with this insane plan!” Kyle pleaded.
“Oh, but we do,” said Jimmy. “You see, people don’t always know what’s best for them, much like you and Stan apparently. The way I see it, the inevitable toll of this campaign is a small price to pay if it will end all suffering.”
“We don’t have to fight,” said Stan, in one desperate final attempt to reason with them. “Can’t we talk this over?”
Timmy shook his head and glared daggers back at them. “Timmy is done talking. Death to all who oppose MORONI!”
Jimmy and Timmy reached around to the backs of their heads and broke the red locks on the cybernetic augmentations implanted in their necks. Their bodies gave quick seizure like spasms, before each began to undergo a rapid transformation. Telescoping endoskeletal structures stretched out limbs to twice their normal length, while the overlying skin and sinew mutated and swelled into masses of quivering muscles, almost as if it were boiling from within. Wires snaked out from the existing augmentations to connect with the new metal plates and circuitry, which had unfolded and spread across the cyborgs’ bodies like layers of armor. In a final grotesque display, numerous spikes of amalgamated bone and metal pierced through their flesh at the knees, shoulders, elbows, and along the forearms and shins, while an array of spikes stretched upward from the cyborgs’ sternums to cover their necks and faces like a set of elongated teeth.
“sh*t!” Kyle took aim on Timmy, dead center, and fired a continuous burst from his assault rifle. The cyborg calmly crossed its arms in a blocking position, resulting in a rapid pinging noise as bullets ricocheted uselessly. Timmy took one step forward and delivered a vicious backhanded swing, swatting Kyle like an insect and bowling him off the edge of the platform to the lower level. Kyle could not remember a time he’d ever been hit that hard before, and did not even feel the floor rushing up to meet him over the intense pressure in his chest and abdomen.
“Kyle!” Stan cried out, making a futile grasping gesture in the direction his friend had fallen. “You—“ he snarled, angrily whipping his narrowed gaze back towards Timmy. “Take this you sons of bitches!” He strafed sideways, emptying his entire clip of slugs into the two cyborgs, but causing seemingly very little damage. Jimmy lunged forward and caught Stan around the throat in his steel grip, lifting the much smaller boy overhead and slamming him into a set of nearby computer consoles. Stan felt his limbs go dead numb for the few seconds he found himself unable to breathe, until his pounding pulse returned him to a wracking pain that had spread throughout his body.
Timmy leapt off the platform in hot pursuit of Kyle, who had backed himself into a corner as he tried desperately to load up another clip. Kyle fired while backing up as fast as he could, in slim hopes that at least a few of his shots would find their way through the array of spikes for a headshot. Much to his dismay, the spikes appeared to be bending in towards each other, causing his bullets to bounce right off. Timmy dashed forward with superhuman agility and drove a thrust kick into Kyle’s midsection, sending him skidding up one of the ramps and back to the platform above. Kyle groaned in agony and coughed up a spurt of blood. One more hit like that and he’d be finished, yet he was in no position to avoid it.
Jimmy, meanwhile, had yanked Stan out of the demolished computer consoles by the ankles. The cyborg wrested the automatic shotgun from Stan’s hand and smashed it to pieces in his crushing grip. Stan was now not only helpless, but defenseless, too. He could barely move to struggle free, not that it would do him any good, but the next thing he knew, he was being driven back first into the plastic floor tiling. Yellow LED shattered and sparked, and blood streamed down his chin from the sides of his mouth. Stan was only aware of the sensation of thousands of knife blades stabbing into his spine, having lost all feeling from the waist down.
MORONI, who was watching on amused, crossed its arms and chuckled in self-satisfaction. “Finish them off quickly.”
Kyle had managed to struggle up to one knee, gasping for air and using his left hand to support himself as he brought his assault rifle to bear with his right hand. This did little to deter Timmy, who loomed over Kyle and strode right into the chatter of gunfire. It was all over in a flash of metal and a gush of crimson. The assault rifle skidded across the floor and off the edge of the platform, with the arm of its owner still hanging on, and Kyle was left staring dumbly at the sopping wound where his shoulder once was. Kyle barely had time to register pain before the wave of throbbing nausea overwhelmed him, the room tilted sideways, and his surroundings slowly faded to a blur. Timmy summarily grinned and shook the blood off his extended wrist blade.
“Oh no,” Stan gasped. “NO!!” He drew his only remaining weapon, his scoped hunting rifle, and pointed it into the face of the Jimmy cyborg. With teeth clenched and bared, Stan unloaded round after round into his aggressor from a seated position, even though he was unable to move. Jimmy simply shrugged off the shots, paying them little more heed than small biting insects. The cyborg raised his thick armored foot and abruptly brought it crashing down on the lower extremities of his helpless victim. Stan felt no pain whatsoever as his legs were crushed to a bloody pulp, but still looked down in shock at the sticky purplish mess of mangled muscle and bone. His trembling hands struggled to cock and aim his hunting rifle one last time, but it was at that moment he finally succumbed to the blood loss and began to drift into unconsciousness.
”Enough,” said MORONI, raising its hands. The two cyborgs turned towards the AI, awaiting their next instructions. “I want them left in some salvageable condition.” MORONI gestured towards Stan and Kyle. “Take them.”
“N-not done yet,” Kyle spoke wearily through blanched lips. He had somehow been able to drag himself back towards MORONI with one arm, keeping his wound pressed against the floor to stem the flow of blood, and leaving a bright red streak across the tiles in his wake.
“What do we have here now?” said Timmy derisively.
Kyle reached up and unbuckled the strap to his grenade belt. “I’ll—still stop you.” With the last of his strength, he twirled the belt once overhead and threw it in the general direction of MORONI. The two cyborgs watched as it slid across the floor, right between their armored feet, and continued on past the holographic projector.
Jimmy chortled under his breath as he turned back towards Kyle. “A useless gesture. Just what did you expect that to do?”
“This,” murmured Stan, who had turned himself on his side and was holding his riflescope up to his eye. He fired his last remaining shot, not at the cyborgs, but at the grenade belt Kyle had thrown, which was resting directly adjacent to the main processing tower.
“No! Stop!” MORONI shouted, at the exact instant the trigger was pulled.
The explosion of the first grenade detonated the other seven almost immediately, which in turn set off a chain reaction of massive explosions that rippled up the processing tower and throughout the entirety of the central computer core in a matter of seconds. The MORONI avatar let out a grating strangled scream and then vanished in a flash of static. Jimmy and Timmy, having been caught too close to the initial blast, caught the brunt of the explosions and were blown into a flurry of burned flesh and metal shards. Stan and Kyle watched what was left of the main processing tower implode on itself, until a blinding white flash finally erupted and swept across everything in a shockwave.
The world disappeared into an unending darkness.
“Hey kid. Are you awake yet?” Someone was shaking him. “Kyle, wake up.”
“W-wha?” Kyle’s eyes gradually parted to the sterile fluorescent glow of the hospital lights overhead. Multiple figures wearing light blue scrubs stood around his bed, and the air carried the unmistakable scent of antiseptic. “What happened? Where am I?”
One of the doctors stepped forward. “You’re in the hospital wing of Terran recovery ship Gamma, bound for Earth. When we found you boys, you were in pretty bad shape. But don’t worry; we’ve fixed you up good as new. Well, almost.”
Kyle instinctively looked over at his right shoulder. A robotic prosthesis had been implanted to take the place of his arm. His eyes curiously followed the solid chrome-finished arm all the way down to its metal fingertips, which he flexed a few times. There was only one other thing on his mind. “Wait! Where’s Stan? Is he okay?”
“I’m right here,” Stan called out from the doorway, limping his way in on a walker and a pair of brand new robotic leg prostheses. “They said they had homed in on the Ariel colony’s distress signal, and it’s a good thing that they did, too. Otherwise we might’ve never made it out alive.” Stan reached Kyle’s bedside and sunk right into his best friend’s waiting arms. The two held each other close for a good minute, with tears streaming down their faces.
“So,” Kyle started, sounding only a bit confused, “That means we destroyed MORONI! We won!”
“Yeah,” Stan smiled. “We won.”
“The Earth government has been informed of the invasion plans, and is already sending its forces to suppress the cyborg army,” said the second doctor. “It’s all thanks to you.”
“When we arrive on Earth, there’s going to be a heroes’ welcome waiting for you!” said the third doctor. “You two did an amazing job, and thwarted one of the greatest threats humanity has ever known.”
“Did you hear that?” asked Stan, excitedly.
“We might have left everything behind,” said Kyle with a nod, “But as long as we’ve got each other, there’s nothing we can’t overcome!”
The recovery ship made its final approach to Earth, touching down at the Denver interplanetary spaceport. Jubilant throngs of people had gathered to cheer on humankind’s greatest heroes. Stan and Kyle appeared in the doorway, amid a shower of confetti and ticker tape, and the ramp lowered to allow them to debark.
Stan met his friend’s eyes. “No matter what we’ve been through, we’ll always have each other.”
“Together forever,” said Kyle.
“Yeah, forever,” said Stan.
Stan and Kyle ascended the ramp, side by side, much more slowly than usual. It would take them some time to get accustomed to their new limbs, and their new lives. The weapons they had been issued were just like the ones they had used before. The two boarded the transport ship to join the ranks of others like them, and filed in next to where all their friends were waiting.
The miracle of modern technology had worked wonders in restoring the tattered remains of their bodies, when they had been found broken, bleeding, and badly burned in the central computer core. Cybernetic augmentations had filled in Stan’s missing legs and severed spine, as well as Kyle’s missing arm, and grafts of mutated regenerative tissue covered the regions of their bodies that had been consumed by fire. The last few scraps of clothing that they wore, the only remnants of their human lives, hung off them loosely like draped rags.
The dream delusion would keep them complacent thanks to the neural implant each boy had received. They had lost their will, but had been granted the freedom to believe whatever they wished. They now had a purpose for their existence; a purpose far more grandiose than any human could ever conceive. The transport ships took off from the Ariel lunar colony to carry out their divinely ordained mission. Even as the invasion of Earth had begun, Stan and Kyle did not feel any apprehension. For as long as they had each other, there was no obstacle they could not overcome, forever imprisoned in bodies of cold metal.
Top Action Story(South Park)
Top Sci Fi Story(South Park)
Top Five(South Park)
Two top fifteen stories...well, one now...in one week. TBLTYCERA was #15 but was pushed out to #16.
I was expecting you to say "I am Borg" for the entire story.
We are Borg.
We only seek to improve the quality of life for all living creatures.
Why do you resist us?
So sad... I knew that there was something strange about Jimmy! Every time I watched SP, I knew he was plotting... waiting...
I'm still confused as to how the grenades didn't destry MORONI. Are you saying that the entire adventure they had was just inside their minds, and they were part of the cyborg army all along (doubtful)? Or did MORONI somehow survive the blasts? I just can't understand how the chain reaction didn't kill the AI.
Of course, MORONI itself reminded me of the computers in "I, Robot" and "Tron". Nice.
Anyhow, I hope that Earth isn't conquered. Cyborgs suck.
Who is online
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest