AS-9 stirred from sleep mode as someone tripped the sensor leading into the lobby of the health clinic. AS-9 the secretary/security automaton, or Asinine as he was occasionally called by the human staff, readied himself to aid the approaching customer. Even before the person entered the view of his optical devices, the building’s sensors began sending him information so as to speed up any necessary aid and responses. However, there must have been something wrong, for the readouts he was receiving caused his logic circuits to begin humming as they repeatedly reran the data thousands of times a second. The approaching human was female, approximately 25 standard-earth years old, 5 foot 9 inches, and weighed almost 250 pounds, though the figure that was just now entering visual range did not fit the profile of a human weighing that amount. Her heartbeat was steady, almost impossibly so, as was her breathing. But confounding his program was the utter lack of other data that should have informed him of digestive, heart, blood, or even sexual conditions. AS-9 could now see that the female had a synthetic left eye and auditory device, the latter barely visible under her wild black hair. His facial recognition software did not bring up any results listing her as a previous customer, and told him she was in a foul mood. She was wearing a large, brown cloak that was at odds with the temperature outside; 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 90 percent humidity should have been uncomfortable for most humans.
“Greeting, human, and welcome to Quick-Fix! I am AS-9, how may I be-“ He cut himself off as the woman produced a large brown bottle and took a swig of it; olfactory receptors reported that the liquid contained was an extremely potent alcoholic beverage. Despite all the recorded negative effects of alcohol consumption, (he had over 135,000,000 articles and medical papers on record describing the myriad pros, cons, and side effects), why would this human be consuming such a thing? His healthcare programing kicked in, overriding his secretary protocol. “Ma’am, I request to inform you that the beverage you are drinking has an alcohol rating of 100 proof, and has many documented negative effects on your health. I strongly recommend you cease consumption. I can schedule you for a cleansing session and a cessation program if you desire.”
“Shut it, Tin Can.” The woman growled. “I don’t drink this crap for fun, and I don’t need advice from a bipedal computer.” She took one last swig from the bottle before capping it and placing it in one of the large pockets of her cloak.
“Very well.” AS-9 replied. He began a secondary scan of the woman, attempting to find a reason for her unpleasant demeanor and lack of vital signs, when the woman suddenly lashed out with a fist, rocking his head as if it had been hit with a sledgehammer, even denting the metal casing of the side of silver skull. He immediately scanned her and found no broken bones from the blow, despite the impact force easily surpassing the strength of bone. In fact, his scanner was having a hard time finding ANY bones. His scan was interrupted by yet another blow, this one dislodging one of his optical sensor.
“Hey, Shiny Boy, if I want you to scan me, I’ll ask for it, okay?” The woman shouted, grabbing his shoulders and shaking him.
“You knew?...My apologies, ma’am.” AS-9 said softly, trying to sooth the violent human before him. If his masters hadn’t disabled his security programing, he would be calling the authorities and restraining this individual with lightning speed and precision. As it was, he was forced to concede to her demands, shutting down his scanning programs. “As you wish. Now, what may I do to help you?”
“Is Dr. Matthews in? I need to see him.” The mysterious woman said, releasing him and brushing off her sleeves with gloved hands. “And no, I don’t have an appointment. Its…urgent.” She adds, cutting off that exact question from AS-9’s vocalizer.
“Yes he is. One moment, ma’am.” He answered, opening up a comms channel to the Doctor’s office.
“Hello, AS-9. What can I do for you?” Came the doctor’s calm and even toned voice.
“There is a woman here asking to see you. She is very violent.” AS-9 reported, glancing in her direction with his remaining optical device.
“I heard that.” The woman grumbled, once again stunning him. How can she hear the secured conversation channel?
“Oh good lord. Very well, send her to my office. Don’t worry, I know her.” Dr. Mathews answered before hanging up. AS-9 turned to relay this to the woman, but she was already heading down the hallway.
“What an unpleasant character.” He mused before returning to low power mode.
Dr. Andre Mathews quickly cleared the piles of paperwork from his observation table, making space for the thundercloud heading his way. Of all his patients, this particular one was the most trouble, and in all honesty he would rather not have to deal with her. But he was obligated to by contract, and he was really the only one qualified to work with her. The door to his combined examination room and office slid open with a hiss of hydraulics, allowing the cloaked female to enter before closing behind her.
“Hello, Amelia. How have you been?” He asked her, trying to be amicable. He knew of her well-deserved reputation all too well, and knew that it wasn’t entirely her fault.
“Not much better than normal.” Amelia replied gravely. “But that is hardly a surprise anymore.” She walked over to the examination bench, peeling off her weather-worn cloak and letting the garment drop to the floor. Normally, this would have been an uncomfortable situation, a woman just walking into his office and stripping. But Amelia was anything but ordinary; from the bottom of her ribs down was a skeletal cybernetic body, resembling humanity only in function rather than form. Her arms were also both cybernetic from the shoulders on, and she gazed at him expectantly with her one good eye and one mechanical one. The only actual clothing she wore was a metal bikini top-type garment. What remained of her original body was heavily scarred, and those scars extended to her mental state. Being literally blown to pieces in the line of duty, pieced back together, then basically discarded tends to do that.
“So, what is the issue now?” Andre asked, looking her body over. As the only doctor with extensive Cybernetic experience on the planet, he was the most qualified to work not only on her organic body but her artificial one as well. Didn’t help that the planetary governor paid him handsomely to be her caretaker. After waiting for Amelia’s nod of approval, he plugged a cable into a slot at the base of her skull and began a diagnostic inspection of her internal systems.
“My left arm keeps shorting out on me. I get shocked every once in a while, and sometime I lose control of it.” She stated, looking at the offending limb with distaste. Andre gently pressed on the release studs and disconnected the arm from its socket, looking inside. He sighed before open up a drawer and pulling out some wipes and water repellent compound.
“How many times do I have to tell you, don’t take showers or baths? You are water resistant, not water proof.” He sighed as he begins cleaning the electrical connections inside her arm socket.
“Excuse me for trying to do one of the few remaining human things I can.” Amelia unhappily grumbles. She pulled out a large brown bottle from her coat pocket and took a large swig. Seeing this, Andre quickly snatched it from her, drawing an indignant “Hey!”
“100 proof? Why do you drink this stuff? You do know that pure alcohol works better for your energy system.” He frowned, reading the label. “And it comes with the added bonus of not making you look like a drunk bum.”
“Maybe I’d rather be a drunken bum than an alcohol powered technological freak? Ever think of that?” Amelia retorted. “Besides, I don’t even have a liver to ruin. I can’t even enjoy getting drunk!”
“I’m no psychologist, but even I can tell you that’s unhealthy thinking.” Andre said, reaching over and pushing the release studs for her remaining arm, causing it to drop limply to the table. Before she can utter a word, he shushed her. “Relax. I’m going to check all your connections for water intrusion.” In reality, he mostly just wanted to stop her from drinking or doing anything else…rash. The cyborg just mumbled a curse and settled down, armless for the moment. Andre set about checking all her various components and systems, from her eye and ears to her limbs and coding. “Well, aside from the water intrusion, everything looks good. I still strongly recommend you stop drinking this hard liquor and switch to pure alcohol. It won’t gum up your system as much.”
“But it has no taste!” Amelia complained, flexing her reattached limbs. “I can’t even eat, so at least give me this.” Andre sighed and rubbed his temple in exasperation. Amelia was by far the most heavily rebuilt person he had ever dealt with, so all this was still a bit of a learning experience for himself as well. He sat down to her and gently placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Look, I know all this is difficult for you. Frankly, I’m surprised you’re not in worse shape. But the path you are on right now, I’ve seen it many time over.” Andre said, trying to sound wise and comforting. “You may have few biological functions left, but you should treasure what you still have, rather than what you lost.”
“Oh sure, I really appreciate the fact that I can’t eat anything, or take a dump, or even have sex!” Amelia muttered, waving a hand in the empty cavity where her organs should have been for emphasis. “The damn Governor couldn’t even be bothered to give me body parts that look slightly human. After I took a bomb for him, the bastard.” The cable still attached to her skull was showing spiking adrenaline levels as she got more heated. “He couldn’t just fix me up and let me retire, or even let me die. No, he had to turn me into a mechanical monstrosity and make me his personal cleaner and blasted trashman!” Her right hand split open and her arm peeled away to reveal a rapidly powering-up plasma caster. Andre quickly tapped a command into his tablet, making the computer system in her brain counteract the emotions welling up inside her, quickly bringing her back down, the plasma caster receding into her arm. “I hate that you can do that to. It’s not fair.” She sighed softly as her emotions were numbed, tears welling up in her remaining eye.
“Hey, it’s okay. You are fine.” Andre said softly, patting her shoulder softly, the metallic ‘clunk’ of the metal punctuating the gesture. “At some point, he will let you go. Your contract will end, and you’ll be off the hook.”
“I-I don’t know.” Amelia sniffled, wiping her tears away. “If working for the Governor has taught me anything, he hates loose ends. I honestly don’t know why I continue. What hope does someone like me have in the world? Cyborgs are already frowned upon, and that’s just people with synthetic hands or eyes and stuff, not like…me…” Andre felt his heartstrings tugging, this unforeseen emotional display catching him off-guard. Amelia had been a stone-faced, serious woman even before the attack, he remembered seeing her standing behind the Governor on Telecasters, grim faced and unmoving. He should have really considered the fact that behind that stoic face was a real human being, but it just hadn’t really registered until now. He started trying to formulate more comforting words when Amelia abruptly stood, unplugged the diagnostic cable and gathered her cloak and bottle of liquor.
“Look, Doc, thanks for the help. I really appreciate it.” Amelia stated tonelessly, the grumpy persona taking over once again. “I gotta go though. The Governor has someone he wants taken care of, if you get my drift.” With one last wave, she stalked out of the room and left the building. Andre watched her leave on the security cameras, before scrubbing all records of her from the system’s memory.
“AS-9?” he called into the comm channel to the front desk.
“How may I be of service, Dr. Mathews?” Came the dutiful reply.
“Delete all records of patient #7639 from your system, override command ‘Juniper Cause’.”
“Of course, Doctor. Command recognized, records deleted.”