cyborg (noun) – a hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal limitations by mechanical elements built into the body
OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2017
Patterns repeat, this is a fact, perhaps the prime fact within the universe. Twenty-three years ago, Field Marshal Amadeus Prower had been pacing down a hospital corridor. Back then it was at the Central Command Medical Center in Mobotropolis. He remembered the day very well, a cold October that made his face and especially his empty eye socket ache. In contrast here, it was still October but hot for the brief time he moved from his staff car to the reception area of Zenith Defense.
Zenith Defense occupied a former United States biodefense facility in the Nevada desert and ostensibly housed what remained of the 1970s period equipment that was left over when the lab, Wildfire, had shut its doors due to belt tightening and reprioritization in the Reagan years. Its functions had largely been taken over by both the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta but also through several military biodefense organizations, chiefly the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick. Briefly Wildfire was reactivated in the early 2000s after bioterrorism fears stemming from anthrax being sent through the mail but when the crisis passed, the giant that Dr. Jeremy Stone had created was put back to sleep again.
It would be well over eighty years before the facility had gotten a buyer. A Keplerian fox, Dr. Moddex Everest had made the purchase through his corporation. Amadeus had little reason to be suspicious of the other fox, though perhaps if he gave the whole idea more scrutiny, he might have had some small questions to concern himself with. Overseeing the Keplerian Republic’s military since its foundation in 2085 after he personally overthrew King Frederick Acorn, he could have scrutinized a native Keplerian defense contractor popping up out of the woodwork five years later and starting full-scale production a mere two years later. A native Keplerian, a young one who was born likely in the last few decades of King Frederick’s reign having both the acumen and the credentials to amass all of this.
But he didn’t scrutinize Everest, especially now. For here within the medical section, two levels beneath the ground was where their sole patient was resting. Or at least that was what his physician insisted he would be doing. Prower had met her once before, though she was much younger the last time. There was intensity to her glare when he had first made his way onto the floor. At first, Amadeus was confused about the hostility that she had shown. But then he caught a glimpse of the identification badge clipped to her labjacket; Dr. Maria J. Robotnik, M.D. Maria, Gerry Robotnik’s granddaughter.
“I am Field Marshal Amadeus Prower-“ he had started saying. The blonde-haired woman raised her eyes up to meet his and he suddenly felt the October cold and ache from long ago return.
“I know very well who you are, Fältmarskalk,” Robotnik grimaced in her Swede accented English, keeping her eyes dead center on him. She lowered the tablet she was holding down and then slipped it into the left pocket of her coat.
“I’m here to see my son, Doctor.” Prower’s ears rose as he brought the tone of his voice to the matter-of-fact style he reserved for the press.
“Lieutenant Commander Prower is resting,” Robotnik placed her hands on her hips and straightened her back. “He has a very important set of surgeries coming up. The lieutenant has already had a rough night as it was since arriving planetside. I don’t want to tax him any more than what he’s taken already. Fältmarskalk or father be damned, if there is even the latter.”
A low rumbling growl rose from the fox’s throat as he took a step closer. He was tempted to raise his voice if it wasn’t for both Vice Admiral Seetan and Admiral Bolton moving up to each side of him. Seetan, a black furred wolf-like Keplerian regarded her with his heterochromatic red and green eyes.
“Please Maria; I of all people know what Miles has been through up there. But if he is in fact facing more surgery, especially the kind you and Everest described to me earlier, he should see his father.” The wolf explained.
“He can’t even say it without a mouthpiece.” Maria countered.
“Now that’s hardly fair Doctor, you haven’t even given him a moment-“ Bolton, a grey cat-like Keplerian started to protest but Amadeus raised his right hand up and waved it with a soft growl of surrender.
“I can defend my character without assistance, Admiral. Thank you.” Amadeus sighed quietly and lowered his eye to the floor. “I can assure you, Maria. I want to see my son, I need to. Especially in the wake of what has happened now. Dr. Everest said there is about a seventy-plus percent chance of success but I have already lost one half of my family before. I don’t want to risk the other half, especially not without seeing him first.”
The trauma surgeon continued to smolder at him with her gaze but then started to nod. “Fine, but only you and you will take precautions before going into the intensive care bay.”
“That’s fine.” Amadeus raised his head up. “Thank you, Maria.”
Precautions had consisted of washing hands, securing his boots with nonconductive sterile covers, putting on a blue disposable gown, gloves, a face mask and shield. Whether it was all necessary, he wasn’t certain but Maria had only gloved and gowned. She of course had the covers on her shoes already, likely from being the more sterile of the two. The elderly fox made his way along with her through a set of sliding double doors and slowly approached the single bed with a light on overhead.
Several monitor rigs sat on stands all around Miles Prower’s body. Some were standard medical equipment but there was also computer equipment and even a red tool cart one would expect in a machine shop. The gold and white furred fox’s eyes were closed and had protective patches over them. A ribbed plastic tube was down his throat and connected to a ventilator but two things stood out, the fox’s arms were completely robotic and there was a flat trace running on the ECG monitor. Wasn’t that typical for someone clinically dead?
“Why has his heart stopped? When did that happen?” Amadeus asked.
Maria looked up at the monitor and shook her head. “It hasn’t stopped. This is completely normal. His heart is working, or at least the replacement one I installed on the ARK is. A normal heart quivers as it is a muscle whose movements simulate that of a pump. That is what produces the pulse and electrical waveform one typically sees. Now it literally is a pump. He has no pulse now, just a constant cycle.”
“How did this happen?” The fox asked.
“I would expect you to have more answers on what brought about the attack more than I. But as far as Miles’ injuries to put it short, he tried to protect me from one of those robots.” Maria explained.
Amadeus lowered himself onto a nearby stool and sighed quietly. He looked at Miles and then lowered his eyes.
“In a way, this is my fault.” He lamented. “Pressuring him into national service like that. Putting him on this path, into harm’s way to get injured like this. If his mother was still alive, she wouldn’t speak to me, I’m sure.”
“Grandfather had to talk you into letting him stay with us.” Maria said, crossing her arms.
“Actually no, it didn’t take very much for me to agree.” Amadeus countered, looking up at her. “If you would like, I can tell you everything unless that keeps you from doing what’s needed.”
“My place is at his side.” Maria replied, moving around the bed to take another stool, sitting down beside him. “Besides, I’ve had questions for some time.”
“Very well then,” Amadeus looked at the human. “But I will start a few years back, before he was born, so that you get the full story.”