Chapter 1: Payphone
“This is Jeremy Jenkins.”
“Pops. It’s Geronimo.”
“You better be waking up from a long-ass coma, boy. Where in the hell you been?!”
“It’s gonna take to long to explain, pops. Just wanted to let ya’ll know I’m fine.”
“Ain’t no ‘just’ here, Junior!! You can’t disappear for 5 goddamned years and then gimme nothin’! I have been on the sheriff’s ass trying to get him and the others to look for ya, but you know how they
are!! ‘Oh, but them natives go missin’ all the time’!”
“Pops. I swear I’m fine. It’s… it’s kinda complicated.”
“It had better fucking be!”
“Where in heck are YOU anyways?”
“You’re gonna give me an ulcer, boy. Probably already have.”
“All I can tell you is that I met some people, and then we ran into some shady people, and we’re trying to lay low.”
“If you’re gonna tell me you’ve broken the law or somethin’…”
“I ain’t. I promise, pops. But they have. An’ we gotta fix it.”
“Today’s briefing in the UN came to a screeching halt as the nine Cyborgs seeking funds to maintain the Gilmore foundation were not only denied their request, but also informed there is a desire for all them to disband and return to each their country of origin.”
Professor Hiroto Kozumi shook his head sadly. He hadn’t expected them to get what they wanted, but this was dire news. He had to call Isaac as soon as possible.
“Sources inform us that the Cyborgs upon hearing this produced a boombox seemingly out of nowhere and proceeded to perform a lengthy song and dance number which ended with all of them making obscene gestures at the assembled representatives while one of them reportedly shot confetti out of his knee.”
Hiro nearly spit out his tea and just gaped at the tv,
“While being escorted out of the building, one of the American cyborgs reportedly grabbed a complimentary gift basket and told the others to ‘run like hell’.”
The name Hiroto was thought up by magicgenetek.
Chapter 3: Favors
“This is Doctor Kozumi.”
His ear was greeted by nervous breathing,
“Hiroto... It’s Isaac.”
“Isaac?! Where the hell have you been?”
“It’s a long story, Hiro, and I don’t have time. I need your help.”
Hiroto held back some venom. It had been hard on him, losing contact with Isaac. He hadn’t answered his last letters, which had been sent 2 years ago, and whenever he called the number he had been given, some squeaky-voiced lab-assistant ‘regretted to inform him that Dr. Gilmore was VERY busy’.
“I have been foolish, and I have...the things I have done…”
Hiro hushed him. He always got so worked up. He wondered how his heart was handling that these days. He was far from the energetic 20-year old who would have temper tantrums that resulted in mistreated doors and a severely abused pillow.
“Hiroto, do you remember telling me about your parents’ summer home?”
“I need refuge for myself and some guests.”
“Refuge? Isaac, what on earth is going on?”
“The line won’t be secure for much longer. Just please tell me I can intrude on your hospitality. I will pay for everything.”
“You’re really pushing it. You’re lucky I’ve missed you.”
“So you’ll allow it?”
“Of course. How many people?”
“Ten with myself.”
“HIRO, PLEASE! CAN YOU HELP ME?”
“I will. But I demand an explanation.”
“I love you. Thank you.”
He hung up, and Hiroto rested his head against his hands.
He had better get to the old house and get a fire going.
Chapter 4: Linked
I kind of abandoned this idea.
I wondered what would have happened if they had actually gotten onboard with the UNG, and if the Blessed would try to take them down by learning how they function.
Gilmore had nearly forgotten himself and snapped at the guard who was separating him from the group. But he had Ivan in his arms, and Francoise sent him an assuring message and a small smile.
He had made a nest for Ivan in the badly cushioned sofa in the room he was sitting in, and was helping himself to a particularly terrible cup of coffee when Igarashi entered with a guard by his side.
“Professor Gilmore, it’s urgent.”
“We hooked the cyborgs up to a device we were given by headquarters, and they’re… they’re not reacting well to it.”
He noted the panic in his eyes. The guard behind him was trembling.
And ‘hooked them up’?
“Wait, you did what?”
The room was ripe when he entered. The stench of burnt circuits and bodily fluids almost knocked him off his feet.
It wasn’t nearly as bad as the noises, or the faces of the cyborgs, however. Pyunma, Geronimo and Jet were the closest to the door, expressions ranging from pleasure-filled to horrified within seconds of each other in a seemingly endless loop. A string of drool went from the corner of Jet’s mouth to his shoulder. Geronimo had crushed the armrests on his chair, but had been unable to get out of the bonds covering his wrists. Pyunma was spasming.
They were sitting in a circle with their backs to one another, each placed in a chair that had a cable inserted into the ports at the base of their skulls. But the cables reaching from each of them connected into a single one and went into a sphere above them.
Gilmore rushed over to the control-panel, doing his best to ignore the helpless groans behind him. He pressed in the codes until 8 clicks were heard, and they all fell forward in a unified groan. He pulled a switch and their bonds were disengaged, leaving some of them to fall to the floor.
Igarashi entered the room, covering his nose.
“What the hell…”
Catalina appeared behind him, eyes wide.
Gilmore glared their way, pointing his cane at them, “What happened is you connected them all to the same main-frame!! They’ve been ravishing each other’s minds for heaven only knows how long! This kind of stimulus wasn’t meant for anyone!!”
Turning back to them, he had no idea who to go to first. The sensory problems would be one thing. He was starting to fear they could have brain damage. Albert stirred, and he went over to him.
“Albert? Albert, can you hear me?”
His eyes were slipping, but he nodded,
“Do you know where you are?”
“Sure felt like it.”
“Are your systems still operational?”
“Yes. I… yes. I’m exerted, but I’m fine.”
“Sit back, son. I’ll fix this, I promise.”
He resisted the old urge to pat him on the shoulder and gave him an encouraging smile that he didn’t return. Francoise was flushed and panting when he got to her.
She yelped and pulled her legs up into the seat with her, looking around as if she was waiting to be attacked.
“Yes, my dear, I’m here, I…”
He didn’t get to continue before she had thrown her arms around him.
“Oh, thank you!! Thank you so much!”
He had to grab her when her knees buckled underneath her.
“I told them not to do it!”
She started sobbing as he helped her sit,
“I told them, I said …I said it would hurt us, but they forced us and they-they…!!”
“I know, my dear. Please, breathe properly. We’re going to sort this out.”
She sighed and leaned back into the chair, still beet red.
“D-diagnostics search complete. We’re fine.”
He didn’t quite believe her.
Joe was looking completely dazed.
“I was everyone… and everyone was me…”
His head rolled to the side, and he was out like a light. Gilmore made the check quick and moved on. If anyone was going to fine, it was him.
GB was standing on all four and changing between the forms of his teammates. He turned into Fran who turned into Pyunma who turned into Chang who turned into Geronimo who turned into Joe and then back to Chang again.
Throughout, he was making a pained noise, and Gilmore found himself backing away. He knew that sound all too well. When they first had changed him, he had been unstable and had spent several nights in a beaker. Chang’s face seemed to melt before it found its shape again. The real Chang was lying underneath him, staring blindly up and whispering ‘stop’. When he changed into Albert, Chang appeared to snap out of it.
“STOP THAT!” he yelled, clasping GB’s face in his hands, “You’re GB! GB!! Stop this nonsense!”
The face found its shape, GB’s large, wet eyes staring dead ahead as he kept reminding him who he was. Gilmore decided to leave them to it.
Pyunma was drying away tears when Gilmore got to him.
“Please get us out of here.”
Was all he said. Jet didn’t fare much better, flinching away once Gilmore got close, and running his hands over his arms and face, trying to hold back sobs.
Geronimo planted his foot in his chair, crushing it. He marched towards Igarashi and shoved a large finger into his chest,
“You better pray you and your damn guardians have good lawyers! We came with you willingly, and you torture us?!”
“I had no idea it would do that!”
“YOU SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO US! I SUGGESTED WE BE PLACED IN HOLDING, BUT YOU THREATENED US! YOU SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT DOCTOR GILMORE LIKE WE TOLD YOU! HOW DARE YOU?! YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO DO ANYTHING BEFORE WE HAVE APPEARED BEFORE A COURT OF LAW!”
Catalina was quite speechless before Geronimo. He tore the cable out from the ceiling and glared at them as the lights started flickering.
“Give us quarters at once.”
“Why did you do this to me?”
Gilmore is speechless as she tries to stagger to her feet. There’s blood coming in small streams from the place where the metal meets flesh. They had hoped to make use of her flexibility. She was a ballerina, after all. Instead, they had severely damaged her. Clumsy metal limbs had replaced completely healthy ones that perhaps either were at, or would soon reach, their peak.
She screams in pain when she finally straightens her back and the metal plate on the left leg digs in. Gilmore grabs her just in time and helps her sit back down on the bed.
She screams, hitting his chest with what used to be soft, pretty hands. She keeps forgetting, and he doubles over in pain as she starts sobbing again.
He tries not to pay any mind to how she’s hobbling next to him. Learning to walk again was taxing on her and the others, but at least she had been cooperative. He turns the light on in the studio, revealing the mirrors, the bars and the little corner with a gramophone.
003 stares, then hacks out a laugh,
“Are you mocking me?”
“On the contrary, my dear. This little place is yours. We need your skills.”
She lifts the left hand, unsheathing the blue knife there,
“I thought these were my skills now?”
He doesn’t take the bait, only walks further into the studio, takes a disc out of its sleeve and puts it on. Her body stands to attention, and she can’t hide the joy on her face.
“As I said, it’s yours. I’ll come back in two hours.”
As he leaves, he can see her grabbing a hold of a bar and stare into the mirror
Albert is already sitting by the coffee table when she steps out around 3. He’s groggy and would probably have red eyes if the scientists hadn’t tampered so much with them.
She mutters, taking the cup that’s already standing by her seat. It’s always the same. She’s on stage. She’s in the middle of the most beautiful part of Giselle, and her legs and arms click and fall off, leaving the rest of her on the floor as the audience and her fellow performers scream or laugh or point. He points to his ears and to the eyes that shine like silver in the dark.
“Sorry. But it makes it easier.”
She has heightened hearing and sight too, but nothing compared to Albert. She hates fighting. She abhors violence. She wonders if she thought this at the universe one time too many, and it answered by turning her into a walking arsenal. Some of the scientists had raved about what a good idea it had been. Such a pretty girl! Who would ever think to assume!!
She’s not surprised Joe charms the first cute girl that crosses their path. Or the next one. Or the next one. She’s just baffled that he keeps coming back with a smile on his face. And that while he’s gone, she falls apart if Jet or Albert touches that one spot on her arm that’s still organic to comfort her.
“I’m not wearing this.”
“But it’s the uniform for all my waitresses...”
Chang says meekly, already knowing what a bad idea this is.
“Do all your waitresses have bodies made of 70% cybernetic parts?”
She sticks out her leg, and then her arm, letting GB and Chang get a good look at what the scientists did to her.They both look ashamed, and a part of her feels good about it. Maybe they thought she’d feel better out of the baggy pants and long-sleeved turtlenecks she keeps wearing.
“Hey, I’m back!”
Joe suddenly appears, and looks right at her.
She might as well have been naked. Wouldn’t that be something. Let Joe see that the bastards gave her at least the illusion of breasts, but not much more. That under all the heavy materials she’s grey and cold and shiny. 003 is tattooed in black on her back, along with a bar code they used to order more parts.
“That looks really good on you, Francoise.”
Joe smiles and puts down the groceries, and her heart leaps as if it were organic.
I guess I just wanted to be mean. I had this idea of Fran's nightmare, chewed on it for a while and thought to myself that it would be awful for her to wind up with Albert's enhancements. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go for a swap with all of the cyborgs, however, so here it is.
Chapter 6: On the Move
He had somehow kept calm even when the American representative had shoved his finger into his chest and declared him a threat and a traitor.
Now, far away from the conference and in a corridor where various tapestries and paintings and furniture muffled the sound, Jet slammed his fists against the wall, making dents in the stone.
“FUCK ALL OF THEM!!! UNGRATEFUL BASTARDS!! THEY’D BE DEAD FOUR TIMES OVER HADN’T IT BEEN FOR US!!”
He pulled away when Fran touched his back,
“WHY DON’T THEY GET THAT??! WE’RE THE BEST CHANCE THEY HAVE AT STAYING ALIVE AND THEY JUST DROP US LIKE HOT GARBAGE!! THEY CAN’T DO THIS TO US!! NOT AGAIN!!”
Fran took his arms, and this time he let her, even turning to her,
“LOOK AT MY FUCKING FACE, FRAN!!”
“LOOK AT IT!!! I DON’T EVEN LOOK LIKE ME ANYMORE! I GAVE UP EVERYTHING JUST TO HELP MY COUNTRY!”
She put his hands on his cheeks,
“I’m sorry. I really am.”
She eased him into a hug and ran her fingers through the hair on the back of his head. He seemed to go boneless against her at that, and didn’t even react when Albert snickered at the sight.
If only they knew what happened when one really tugged at it.
GB had arm around Chang’s shoulders, and he, in turn, was holding onto GB’s hand. Both of them were uncharacteristically quiet.
“I agree with Jet.”
They all turned to Geronimo. He was in a dark brown suit with a matching cowboy hat. Ivan was on his arm and dressed in a powder blue snuggie, making them look even more adorably mismatched than they usually were.
“Over and over again, we have proved that we are willing to sacrifice ourselves for the good of humanity. Some of us went further than others,” he looked to Joe and Jet, “They have evidence of this, and yet they act as if we have asked for parades and eternal gratitude when all we have done is offer a helping hand. This new world order seems more content arguing with one another rather than come to any clear-cut solutions. We will find no one here who is strong enough or even willing to argue our cause.”
It was rare he spoke this much, and the others hung onto his every word.
He finished with a shrug.
Chapter 7: Out of mind, out of sight
Jet leapt out of the sofa, finally showing some interest in the discussion as to where they were going to re-locate this time.
He spat again,
“We’re gonna need barbed wire!”
“What?! We’re a goddamn Benneton Commercial! What are we gonna say that we are anyways? Gilmore’s school for misfit cyborgs? I don’t think ‘interracial foster-family with 8 men, one unmarried chick and an unexplained baby that don’t look like any of us’ is gonna cut it!”
GB ruffled his hair and contorted his body to continue doing so even as Jet tried to swat at him,
“Calm down. You’re acting as if we’re gonna hang out on the porch waving rainbow flags! And Ivan looks a bit Albert anyways.”
“This place is very remote,” Geronimo continued as if he hadn’t listened to any of them, “We could probably park the Dolphin out front without anyone noticing. Besides, some of the towns around wouldn’t mind a rainbow flag or two.”
Chang looked worried,
“Are you sure that’s wise? The remoteness, I mean? What if we need something? And what if something…” he pursed his lips, “No, perhaps it’s better if something should happen… not too many innocent bystanders…”
“I’ve already checked, and there’s a delivery service. Should we need something else, the drive into town isn’t much longer than the one from our home in Russia. And there are gas stations everywhere.”
“The climate is hotter than we’ve been used to, but it will be good for the professor’s health, and we’ll adapt just fine, as we’ve always done.”
Jet snorted at that, and Geronimo looked at him with tired eyes,
“Look, if I had my way, I’d take you all to Arizona and put you up at the ranch, but that ain’t an option anymore.”
Jet slowly moved away from the wall, put a hand on his arm and peeked at the ad over his shoulder,
“I guess the house looks kinda nice…Wouldn’t hurt to look at it anyway.”