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The Cyborg and the Engineer

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Meili ran her hand over the dull metal rectangular plate that protected the mechanics of his left arm, then got to work at carefully taking it off. He had finally stopped swearing at her—first for getting too close, then for touching him, and after that, for not stopping. She knew he hadn't meant it, anyway—it would have been dead easy for him push her away, or hell, just avoid her. The cybernetics did have their uses, not that he seemed to notice or care.

She tracked the wires closely, followed them to his elbow and noted their configuration, jotted down a quick diagram. She closed up his forearm as gently as she could, then opened up his upper arm and did the same. The tangles of wire and solid-state transmitters at his shoulder were difficult to decipher, but she eventually figured out which ones led to the knot she could feel at the base of his skull (which, if she could trust what her hands were telling her, was made of some kind of titanium alloy).

He called himself Jiqi, at least that's what he'd said when she'd asked him his name, and he hadn't said much at all since then. He was full of rage and despair, she knew, as she had felt it as strongly from across the table as she could standing next to his chair. His cybermechanics were about a century old, the bioware only primitively woven in, and made up more of his body than she would have thought possible. She thought—she hoped—she might be able to sync in some biomechanics. Before her father had bid her come here, to this space station at the edge of the colonial frontier, she'd been working on this new technique...

He was looking up at her face. His cybernetic eye tracked over her, as if it were memorizing every detail. His flesh-and-blood eye, a deep brown, stared at her right hand as she slowly, precisely put his arm back together.