Blood, so much blood. The stench in his nostrils burnt flesh and roasted sinew. Open wounds before him. He held a scalpel. The girl’s breathing was slow and seemed tortured.
He blinked and looked up. The nurse was looking at him with concern. A dark-eyed veteran of dozens of engagements. Her practiced hands suctioned blood away from the wounds to be recycled.
“Cooper? AI interface completed. You should have access now.”
He blinked, Cooper? Yes, that was his name. He was a doctor. Memories flooded into him. Not a doctor, a surgeon. He looked down at his patient. She was bleeding from, literally, dozens of wounds.
An attack. The Tsi Hu had come flooding into the compound just as his patient had arrived. They had delayed the surgery several hours while they carried out a counterattack. They were now in a lull, a lull that hopefully would allow them enough time to complete project Armature.
Frost began to spiderweb over his eyes, briefly obscuring his vision. Each of the cracks expanded and darkened and numbers exploded from outward from them. More memories. This was the surgical AI. It was melding into his cortex and overlaying his sight with raw data.
A torturous thirty seconds later and his vision returned to normal, albeit with data streaming around the edges. The AI fed data through the fabric directly into his HUD. Entrance angles, vital signs, wound monitoring, blood pressure. He could call all of it at a thought.
“Yes Hattie, I’m back. AI confirmed operational.” He rasped, “The fabric always locks my brain. Patient is stable… mostly”
He looked down at his patient. She looked like ground meat. But she was the last living volunteer. The augmentation surgery was hard enough on a healthy patient, on one so badly maimed it was essentially impossible.
But it was all they had.
He bent to his work. The scalpel came alive in his hands. The nameless volunteer’s flesh was flayed away, muscle removed, tendons strengthened. Nanite aero-gel and bone, over time, would join to dramatically increase her physical prowess.
The hours ticked by in near silence. The surgery was too complex to be automated. It required a human touch. It was like a dance. Cooper expertly sliced, cut, augmented and strengthened the girl’s body. This was the most important surgery of his life. Over one-hundred volunteers had signed up for full body replacement.
So far, none had survived.
For a moment, about halfway through the surgery, it looked like this one wouldn’t either. Abruptly, she had flat-lined on the table. But after a few tense moments, and some frantic chest compressions, the patient had a steady heartbeat again.
Finally, after a dozen hours of the most challenging surgery of his life, it was done. The brain of a dying woman had been given a new lease on life. A fully synthetic body with a human brain for the first time in history.
Cooper set his scalpel down on the tray that held the rest of his tools. Spots of dried blood stained it copper. He stretched his arms above his head, working the kinks out of his neck and shoulders. On the table in front of him, the girl slept.
A fully synthetic body was a misnomer. They hadn’t transplanted her brain into a new body made of plastics and metal. Rather, they’d taken out most of her central nervous system, muscle and bones, enhanced them with synthetics, and then put them back. Full body augmentation was the more accurate term. The patient was still mostly human.
Cooper shivered despite himself. The body of Theseus.
Before the surgery, the girl had been beautiful. Close cut bobbed black hair had framed a young and fresh face. Her body, lithe and thin like a dancer, was now hard and razor sharp. A weapon. Hard, sleek and deadly
Now that he thought of it, Cooper knew essentially nothing about her. He had the file accessible through the fabric interface. But her identity and history, outside of medically relevant information, meant nothing to him pre-op. Or maybe in the back of his head he thought he’d fail. He moved away from the table and sat down on the floor. The entire room was sterile, no reason to be squeamish, and god he was so tired.
He pulled up her vitals. Everything looked good. A slightly elevated heart rate, but that was to be expected. Cooper thought an elevated heart rate was just about the least of her problems. Satisfied that his patient was not in immediate danger, he changed screens over to the patient’s history.
Her name was Marigold. Marigold Greymantle. She was twenty years old, and had been a support technician for MEK-A’s before volunteering to undergo the surgery. Her parents had been in one of the first encounters with the Tsi Hu, and she was an only child. There was a small footnote at the bottom of her file that indicated she showed extreme aggression toward the Tsi Hu. Cooper wasn’t all that surprised by that.
He pulled himself to his feet and looked down at the unconscious girl.
Stitches, cuts, and gauze were stuffed and sewn over almost every inch of her. Only her face was left mostly untouched. There were too many nerves in the head and face, they simply didn’t have the endurance to transplant it all.
They’d maintained her rough body type as well. She was still small and lithe. But she had significantly more muscle than before, or at least the synthetic equivalent. Besides strengthening her remaining muscle, the artificial tendons, muscle and joints, would increase her strength and speed tenfold. The nanites had done their work well. It would go on for some time yet, recovery would be a slow process.
If she recovered. That was the question now. Would she wake up? The amount of trauma she’d endured should have killed her on the table. She should have been dead before coming through the door.
“Tough girl.” Cooper said under his breath.
One of her eyes flickered open.
Cooper was so surprised he let out a yell and stumbled backwards, his fatigued body couldn’t keep him upright and he collapsed onto his ass.
The girl sat up on the table. Her head slowly turned to face Cooper. Her other eye opened and then both eyes blinked once.
“Are — are you okay?” Cooper asked.
She didn’t answer. She turned away from him and lifted her hands and flexed the fingers on both. Cooper could see the microfibers tensing and relaxing.
After twelve hours of surgery, to see his patient sitting up and at least somewhat ambulatory in so short a time. It defied all of his wildest hopes.
“Marigold? Can you hear me?” He asked, his scientific mind reasserting itself, “Can you respond?”
The girl looked up from her hands and turned back to face him, “I can hear you.” Her voice was strangely flat.
“Good, that’s good. Do you remember anything?”
“I remember everything.”
“Okay. Can you wiggle your toes for me?”
A slow, mirthless smile spread across her face. She swung her legs to the side and hopped off the bed.
Cooper’s jaw dropped. This… this shouldn’t be possible. It was expected that the patient wouldn’t be ambulatory for weeks post-op.
She took a step toward him. Cooper stared up at her in shock. But in the back of his mind, a large part of him was triumphant. They had done it!
Another step. She was right on top of him now. Cooper strained his neck to look up at her. She gazed down at him, expressionless. Despite her assurance that she heard and remembered everything, Cooper had to wonder if her brain chemistry had been altered in the procedure.
The patient tilted her head to the side and knelt down in front of him. Her eyes, once bright amber and now metallic silver, seemed to bore into him. She reached out and took Cooper’s hand. A slow smile spread across her face.
We have been testing the new technologies available in Unreal Engine 5. This latest build has some new nanite meshes to examine how they work in the world, and how they affect the communities ability to run the build on their home PC's.
So please, after checking out the build sound off down below and tell us your experience.
Today we unleash the latest gameplay demo, running in unreal engine 5!
Download the latest demo if you're eligible, and tell us how it runs for you down below!
Here is the info from the Email. "For the past several weeks, the team has been testing and evaluating Unreal Engine 5, the powerful new game engine which we feel is a true leap forward for gaming and game development. Unreal 5 offers, under the right conditions, unlimited detail with great performance, optional unprecedented lighting quality, and a vast array of tools that make game development faster and easier than ever before.
We are proud to announce that Em-8ER has been fully ported to Unreal Engine 5 and that you will get a chance to help us test it tomorrow! We believe this is the first time a Unreal Engine 5 indie game demo has ever been made available to the general public. All eligible backers can join us in downloading the Unreal 5 version of Em-8ER and joining us live on Twitch at 11am PDT to help take this exciting new technology for a spin. Not yet a backer? Be sure to check out our Newcomer Packs and join us for tomorrow's stream! We will also be hosting our regular Chief Chat at the same time on our Discord Server, where you can join in for a chance to win skins and other goodies.
This first test is a direct port of our last Unreal 4 demo. While we won't be showing the graphics capabilities of Unreal 5 just yet, this is an important step to verify the game works on everybody's system and that there are a minimum of complications moving to the new engine. You can expect us to push more Unreal 5 features in future builds. But there is more..."
There you have it!|
Em-8er is truly on the cutting edge. So look sharp reapers, it's time to play.