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The Resurrectionists

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Spencer West slowly filed the fingertips of the arm resting on his workbench. He knew it would work, it always did even if nobody ever understood why. Blowing on the tips and splattering them with water to remove the metal filings he brought the metal coupling over to the centre of the bench. It wasn’t every day he was given leave from the hospital, and he was using it very cautiously. Every wire and connection fed into a disk about the size of Spencer’s hand as the tweezers bonded the connections together. Soon the arm was completely linked up, and Spencer willed the device closed. Instantly, the arm retracted and folded inwards, before the disk sealed itself again and the surface was left metal and smooth. Spencer smiled as he raised his creation. It wasn’t as grandeoise as Jude’s project, nor was it as impressive as some of his past ones, like Asher, but it’s utility was undeniable. 

Unfortunately, now the device needed implanting. Spencer grimaced as he tapped the disk, revealing the arm once again.

On the other side of the workshop, Asher sat on the floor, stock still. Their only movements were to flick the Clippo lighter in their hand on. It had been a gift from their father, even if Spencer had disapproved. Giving a Pyrokinetic a lighter, in Spencer’s opinion, was not the smartest plan Jude ever concocted. But they had been transfixed, and he had relented.

Spencer softly put down the gadget he had so lovingly dubbed ‘the Hekatonkheires’ and turned down the soft music playing over his phone speaker. He looked over his shoulder to the boy, “Asher, my boy,” he quickly added, “could you come here a tick and tell me what you see?”

They stood up, the lighter still in their hand, and walked over to see what it was Spencer wanted. As they approached, they tilted their head to the side for a moment as if they were trying to figure out the right words, "An... Arm. Metal."

"well... yes i suppose,” Spencer chewed the inside of his lip, “but in other terms, it's a fully functional arm, lightweight, fully opposable and-," he picked it up and showed off the claw-like mechanism on the back of the disc, "should attach to the spinal column, allowing it to be controlled as a regular arm would,"

Spencer had been told he talked like an old man, and was thoroughly insulted. It didn’t help that when he moonlighted he went by Victor, a name nobody had been called in decades, according to Jude. Still, he was approaching his thirties and would remain indignant about this assessment of his speech patterns likely until long after they became actually appropriate.

"... Interesting." It should be pointed out, at this point, that Asher had kept a completely blank face the entire time -- Though, to be fair knowing how to properly display emotions wasn't top priority when they were first made. They really were interested in Spencer’s creation, but they had no idea how to act like they are.

Spencer sighed, “this is the last piece in the mechanism Asher,” he said, as if he’s supposed to know what that meant when Spencer hadn’t explained what he was building, instead preferring to whistle along to ‘My Name Is No-one’ while soldering wires together.

"Then it's almost done?", Asher stuffed the lighter into his pocket again.

“Why yes, now it requires but minor adjustments before implantation can begin!” he beamed, proud and eyes screwed closed by his smile, missing Asher’s own grimace, only noticing when a non committal ‘mhm’ came from their throat.

Walking along the room to the metal table in the center, and fiddling with the wires, making last minute adjustments he looked up to them, knitting his eyebrows in concern, “What is it my boy?”.

"Who will you... ah... Implant it to?"

“Oh,” 

he had to think for a second. Jude wouldn’t protest, the man was as avid as himself to improve humanity. Spencer wouldn’t mind giving the man’s ‘project’ another set of arms either, though jude would swiftly veto it. But Jude had more pressing matters and was oddly concerned with preserving his biology (to his detriment, Spencer would say).

Asher would be his next prime subject, as he knew he would agree if asked and would be happy to document it’s errors and successes. But he hesitated. The boy was 90% necrotic tissue, and the ‘Hekatonkheires’ was experimental as is. Combining it with his anomalous biology was ill advised at best.

Grant… was never a good option. The man’s near ephemeral nature made implantation of any kind ill advised. Similarly his simplicity was appreciated but ill suited to an object that could be so readily damaged.

This left a single option for Spencer. 

“Well I was intending myself, though I suppose you’d also make a suitable candidate, AJ, but then I’d have to proof it for temperature changes, and I may be able to establish one in Jude, though they’ve been awfully stubborn in self-modification before,”

Asher’s almost palpable relief reassured Spencer. The boy would do anything he was asked, but that wasn’t what he wanted. In his youth, a time that seemed to be ever increasingly distant, he had read Frankenstin: The Modern Prometheus, and had a single take-away from the book. Had Victor been a better father, the entire conflict might have been averted. When Asher was ‘born’ he hadn’t the luxury of beauty other than the eyes. Asher had been dead and it showed every day. Milky white eyes stared from pallid skin and eternally clumped and grease-ridden hair. Spencer had named himself Victor to his contemporaries as a result, but had remembered his childhood and tried to do his best for the boy. He was learning, slowly, and Spencer felt fatherly pride very time there was a step forward, so to speak.

He was pulled back to reality by Asher, "I would not be a good choice. How my body burns through itself... and it's attempts at restoration would interfere with it most likely." Ah yes, another reason not to insert experimental technology into his son.

He nodded sagely, “Mhm, I thought similarly, though I will have to perform surgical manoeuvres on myself,”, while speaking, he began to bring out tools, surgical appliances and a single brass, jewel-encrusted scalpel, meticulously washed.

“Sounds Challenging,”


He lent back with his hands on his hips and cracked his spine “It does doesn’t it, though I was thinking of solutions while working, and I believe I have figured some stauntenian formulas that could assist, it would take roughly an hour and a half for a complete success though,” he sent a small smirk to Asher, “But, ah, forgive me if I would like to be thorough with my own surgery,”

"It is understandable. This does not seem like something one should be careless with."

He snapped his fingers, “Exactly, I would very much like to hear some feedback on the method of my,” he taps the disk, “wonder, May An old man explain himself?”

Asher blinked, Spencer was in his 20s, then again, Asher wasn’t even a year old, so he may have been speaking solely by comparison. "You may. Though I am not sure how useful my feedback might be."

“Alright, so,” he readied his hands and mentally apologised to Asher for treating him like a glorified rubber duck. “the nature of material reality is that a larger item cannot fit into a smaller place, this was the first hurdle, but easily overcome by a DIS matrix of my own design in order to keep the appendages inside a sort of neutral zone as bade molecules before reconstruction outside.”

Spencer was insane, but the fun kind of insane to Asher. He knew what he was talking about, but unfortunately, he was the only one. “Of course, I had to build a template for its allowance, and figure out how the positronic relay wouldn’t annihilate half of Edinburgh, but after that it was clean sailing to insert the nuclear power core and aetheric hybridiser into the relay similarly. The spinal addition was a whim but one I’m proud of as it should implant all the knowledge necessary for usage in but a few seconds of attachment as well,” 

he took a breath, “Did you catch all that?”

“Yes,” They did not. Their expression is completely blank as per usual so it can be taken either way.

Spencer furrowed his eyebrows and stroked his chin, “Actually I could probably perform the surgery in under an hour if I was lucky but alas, my own regard for myself,”

"... Perhaps you should talk to Jude?"

Spencer nodded uncertainty, “As much as he’s my friend, and I value him dearly, he’s also never gotten a medical license,”

They shrugged, "I don't know what to tell you then."

“Alright then, shall we perhaps try this bugger then?” he hopped onto the table,“Would you do me the favour of being my assistant for a bit?”

Asher nodded, "Yes. That is what I was created for, is it not? To assist you."

“I didn’t create you for anything, and the idea that you’re just an Igor to yell ‘IT LIVES’ is reductive, now help me cut myself up. If you would like to gather Jude for an extra pair of hands please do,”

Asher only blinked "... I'll go find Jude."

Spencer nodded and prepared as he began to leave. The scent of surgical anaesthetic and fresh blood filled the air while the beeping of a heart rate monitor that was not there filled his ears. His back cracked and twisted, bending until it was more that of a servant than a man, until he could twist his body around unnaturally and work on himself as if he was but another slab of meat on his table. He looked less like a man and more as a great serpent twisting and rolling on the table. “Nurse will you begin applying the anaesthetic?” he joked with himself and began casting a second spell, gliding his scalpel across his body to numb himself. His sensations went numb, though only to pain, he’d need the other ones and so he waited, for his nurses would be needed to help with the incisions.

/-/

Jude Spencer was, in a word, enthusiastic. Once he had a project, he was incorrigible. And so he sat, drafting out sketches lovingly rendering the muscles of the human, or nearly human, form. Every connection, every tendon, carefully mapped and considered. His appearance, however, was not nearly as well-tended. He had a tendency to shave his head and wait until it dangled in front of his eyes before shaving it again. The stained Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts did not aid Asher’s sentiment that he ‘looked like a middle-aged dad insisting on building a porch’. His attention completely enslaved by his sketch, Asher’s swift arrival didn’t phase him at all until they coughed from behind him, causing a small jump of shock as they began shuffling the sketch away. 

"Oh, jeez. Ash, hi." He pulled the headphones down, letting a tinny rendition of whatever show tune he had been most recently listening to penetrate the air. "What's up man?".

Asher just shuffled somewhat nervously, "... Spencer needs assistance. He's, ah, attempting surgery. On himself."

“Ah, right, well”, Jude stood up, pushing his back into alignment again and pushing the chair back, “I didn’t drop out of med-school for nothing! Let’s see how he’s doing then,”, and began descending into the lab with a rather perturbed Asher following behind like a marginally more deceased duckling.

Entering the lab, Jude had seen Spencer twist his form too many times to be phased by this change. From behind Spencer, the last of their retinue, Grant, anaesthetized him to the procedure. Watching them enter, and only slightly affected by the gas, Spencer called out, “Hola!”, raising an arm, though his currently near boneless body still lay on the slab.

Jude rolled his eyes and began washing his hands, "Given the clothes I'm in, I think 'Aloha' would make more sense. What are you gonna try this time?"

“Aprons are on the left, We're putting this," he held up the disk between his fingers, "Between my shoulder-blades and connecting it to my spine!". His smile was far too wide not to be affected by either nerves or anaesthetic, and Jude could count on his fingers the times he had seen Spencer act nervous.

Fastening the apron and familiarizing himself with the tools, he merely shrugged, "Alright! Not gonna ask why, but sounds good! What do I need to do?"

"Right, well, Asher will be cutting to my exact specifications while Grant acts as anesthetist and you hold me down and/or pull open my flesh so we can jam that disk under my skin, it should do the rest,". Jude would have been offended he wasn’t trusted to cut if they hadn’t had this conversation before. The conversation usually finished when Jude’s last dog was brought up.

"Done." He put the headphones back on and got to work restraining and preparing to pull.

The surgery went remarkably well. Asher’s hands were steadier than most living surgeons, and Jude, for all his failings, knew the body's construction like no other. In dead silence, the first hour of surgery went by, apart from Spencer’s occasional instructions and the tinny release of ‘Under My Skin’ from Jude’s headphones. Within the first hour they were remarkably far ahead, regarding the surgery, having implanted the disk firmly into Spencer’s spine, now all that mattered was putting it all together and connecting the right nerves to the right spos. It took another 45 minutes to repair Spencer’s body, but a small spot of magic was enough to repair it better than it had been before the surgery. 

Spencer quickly returned his body to it’s usual, more humanoid shape as he hopped off the table, stretching and readjusting to his bone structure as he did so. "Now, one last thing to do lads, Congratulations, everyone!", and thus four robotic limbs popped out of his back centred on the location where the disc was inserted in between his shoulder blades. "Excellent, no?", he made the bottom two flex while the top two impersonated Usain Bolt’s victory pose. "I take commissions!"

The other three blinked. Grant merely pinched the bridge of his nose. Asher meanwhile was peering at them, considering poking the arms to see if they responded, “...That went better than expected,”

Jude, for his part, was decidedly less interested in the robotics aspect of the arms, but still did his part to act impressed. Then, upon hearing Asher he immediately swiveled round to being defensively indignant, "Really? When has anything we've done ever gone badly?", then he wavered and semi-corrected himself, "Not like we expected, sometimes sure, but never badly."

“What do you three think though, and I do have a proposition to run by you both,”

They all shared a glance, as Spencer’s past ‘propositions’ always seemed to end somewhat unpredictably. Grant still had some scars from last time, and some of his own burns hadn’t faded from a few before. Asher refused to be the one to break the silence, just giving a pointed nod.

Spencer, for his part, was seemingly unperturbed by this hesitance, "Well, I've been considering contracting my services to some people within Jude and my little community. They’re quite lacking in under-the-table surgeries, and now implantations, after all," when their looks didn’t improve he continued, deciding he hadn’t sold the idea, "It would be a nice source of revenue and favours,". He stopped again, seemingly failing to realise that the look was more of contemplation of what could go on than analysing their future revenue streams. "and repartee, and repute, and make us a pillar of the pentac- you see what I'm getting at, right lads?".

Asher realised they would have to be the one to bite the bullet before Spencer died of asphyxiation, "I see where you are going with this -- Though, you still have not told us what exactly it is we would be doing."

"Well I think this was a wonderful argument for being my nurse, don't you think? A proper surgical team, it may even fund our side projects," The others all glanced at each other as they realised Spencer was on the verge of spiralling into another tangent, ”And I could start selling artefacts to increase my proficiency in them, I have been meaning to create a focus,"

Jude raised his hand, "How much of my time do you think this will take up?".

Spencer stopped, and shrugged, "How long was I on the table, can't be more than that,".

"Yeah, like two hours. How often is this gonna happen?"

Spencer shrugged again.

Grant nodded sagely, "I'm down, Healing is within my limited range of talents", 

Asher nodded more cautiously, "I will assist with this,"

Jude shrugged dramatically, with both his shoulders and arms way too high. "I'm not saying no until we do it."

And with their approval, Spencer punched the air in victory, with all 6 of his arms.

Asher tilted their head, "How would we start with this?"

Spencer shrugged, "Well presumably I would go to the Silver Ladder and begin advertising the service,"

"I see."

"What do we have that those mages can't do for themselves?", Grant snorted.

Jude and Spencer both looked back at the same time, “Moral Integrity?”, “Surgical Skill?”

Grant narrowed his eyes with uncertainty, "Yeah we have integrity, just not in the way most people want. Also, they're the Silver Ladder, you think they care about integrity?"

Spencer crossed his arms, "Objectively, yes, we value it a lot actually,"

"That's... actually surprising,"

“Piss off, Fiann,”
Jude coughed in an attempt to defuse the situation, drawing their attention, "We also have access to a sanitary space designed to do stuff like this, and there's basically no chance of reality calling you a bitch in here."

"Yeah but sometimes you need to get called a bitch by reality to be kept in check" Grant shot Spencer finger guns, "Stay humble folks,".

Asher nodded in agreement, "If reality cannot call them a bitch then most likely one of us will,".

Spencer coughed, "RIght then, since this has become a post-surgery meeting, does anyone have anything they'd like to put on the table? Suggestions, ideas? Painkillers?”

“You OK?”, Said Asher, knowing he hadn’t been okay his entire life.

“I’ll be fine,”

Jude raised his hand again, "Yeah, kinda unrelated but uh, I'm gonna need to go out and get some more materials tonight. Anyone wanna come with?"

Asher and Grant both raised their hands, Spencer scratched his chin, "I need to test the response times of my new babies, so why not!" The four arms spun like small helicopter blades for a few rotations to make a point before retracting, leaving a shirtless Spencer looking too proud of himself. “How does 2 AM sound?”