Marigold's Story - "Armature'" by Dev Writer, Nethril


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Ember Dev
Jul 25, 2016
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.

“I am ready to fight.”
Apr 23, 2017
Just look up, can't miss him
Great story. Allow me to be the first to kick off the EM8ER version of Halo's great "does it count as a cyborg" debate.

Just kidding.

The most interesting part of it for me was the AI having a much more dramatic influence over the human than I was expecting. I am going to have to incorporate the AI directly into my RP character now for sure.
Likes: Pandagnome


Kaiju Slayer
Ark Liege
Fart Siege
Welcome Wagon
Happy Kaiju
Jul 27, 2016
Island of Tofu
Will she have shates?

Is there a male version?

Also i think an Em8er Manga would be great to compliment the short stories and the novel with individual accounts from the eyes of those not pilots and their A.I's etc.
Likes: Gigabear
This definitely opens up more possibilities of what the Gatestriders are capable of in terms of engineering and medical science. The question is though, who can volunteer for a procedure like this and why? Live-saving surgery? Or simply a desire to turn their own bodies into weapons to fight the enemy more effectively? And how much resources, what kind, will such a conversion cost in-game?

Also, in my own fanon, now fives stories in, going off from what was written in the novel, I still avoid naming the aliens "Tsi-Hu", as they wouldn't be known as such, yet. But, perhaps...soon. At least, I thought of a neat way to explain how that discovery could come about.