Crash and Burn
Captain Mike Harding took a simple job for good pay. A medical research facility on the planet Parabellum had sent a distress signal, and the United Coalition of Planets had put out the call for a free agent to investigate. So Captain Harding had answered the call and now here he was, tumbling towards the ground, his ship disabled after entering a magnetic storm that had surrounded the planet. His scanners had failed to detect anything unusual, and now Mike was contemplating his chances of survival. Dismal was all he could think of.
His small ship slammed into the ground on the port side, crumpling the wing and one of the thrusters was already leaking toxic fuel all over the ground, but Mike had survived. He quickly gathered his wits, slung an emergency supply satchel over his shoulder and stumbled out of the cockpit and fell five feet to the ground. He quickly scrambled away from the ship fearing some sort of imminent explosion.
The explosion never came, but his ship was clearly damaged beyond flight. The facility being only a few clicks away, he caught his breath, calmed his nerves, checked the ammunition on the pistol at his hip and trudged over the hard clay surface of the planet. Two hours pasted before he finally sighted the facility, but by all appearances it looked to be perfectly in tact. External flood lights still illuminated the area, and he could hear the gentle hum of a large current running through the electric fences around the facility.
Inside the facility was just as lively as the outside. Hall lights still on, all doors still working perfectly well, Mike’s hand twitched close to his handgun as an abandoned facility like this is never a good sign. Mike wandered aimlessly around the halls for upwards of 45 minutes before finally stumbling across what appeared to be a cryogenic storage facility.
A large room filled with 8 foot tall cylindrical tanks lined the walls. Each one made of a glass like material and which was frosted over. The room felt cold as ice. Mike put his right wrist to his mouth and tapped a record button.
“I appear to have found some kind of storage facility for human subjects. They all appear to be empty...wait, strike that, there is one tank that is still occupied. Labeled Susan, with a female occupant. She appears to be unharmed, I don’t see any kind of incisions on her body, but I’ll open the tank and take a closer look. Harding out.” He stopped the recording and took a flashlight out of his satchel and shined it into the tube. It didn’t help much, so he began looking for some kind of control interface.
After a brief search he found one on the side of the tank, there were simple controls to it consisting of open and close. Mike idly tapped the ‘open’ button and stepped back to the front of the tank. Nothing happened for several seconds, long enough for him to become impatient and take a single step towards the control panel when there was a sudden rush of air. The tank had unsealed itself and the glass quickly slid down into the floor, opening the tube.
Susan, or at least that’s what Mike assumed was her name crumpled out of the tank, Mike only just barely caught her awkwardly and lowered her to the floor. Her eyes fluttered open and looked wearily around the room before gasping and recoiling from Mike.
“Whoa whoa, I’m a friend, I won’t hurt you!” he managed to mumble before the woman’s back hit the tank she had just been inside of. That’s when Mike noticed that she was completely nude. Out of respect for her he averted his eyes and turned his head.
“Who are you!? What’s going on? Where is everyone? Who sent you here?” The woman demanded in rapid succession.
“Calm down, My name is Mike Harding, I crashed here…let me get you something to wear..”
The woman looked down at herself and managed to swing an arm across her chest and clap her legs together and curled up into a tight ball, never taking her eyes off of Mike. Meanwhile Mike was already getting to his feet and looking around the room. At the far end he spotted some lockers. Sure enough they all held a white and blue jumpsuit, one size fits most. The suits were both sleeveless and the bottoms only covered down to what Mike would estimate to be the upper thigh on the woman. It wouldn’t be warm, but it would do.
Mike turned back and, eyes still averted, tossed the suite close to where the woman had been, then turned his back. Soon enough he heard the rustling of cloth and a more calm voice said “Ok, you can turn around now.”
Mike did so and found that the woman was lovely in a girl next door kind of way. Her face was round and sweet looking, framed nicely buy black hair, long in the front and gradually growing shorter as it reached the back of her head. A cut, as Mike recalled from his ex-wife’s many appointments to a hair stylist. Mike only briefly noted that she had rather shapely hips and a lovely chest.
Mike held out his hand for her “Mike Harding, freelance investigations and acquisitions”
The woman looked at the hand and then up at Mike and reluctantly took the hand and shook it. “Susan…uh...I’m…I don’t actually know.”
“That’s ok, it looks like you were in cryogenic storage, thawing out can do weird things to a person’s brain. I’m sure as you thaw out some more that it’ll come to you.” He sighed, “for now though, I’ve crash landed here and we should probably look for some supplies if we want to survive until my SOS reaches someone.”
Susan nodded once and the two finished checking all the cryo tubes in the bay, all of them were empty.
Mike tried to make idle chat, filled with easy questions. He had heard that people who come out of long term cryo sleep sometimes need simple questions to start to job their mind back to life.
“So were you a doctor here, or a nurse?” he pondered as they wandered the halls. Mike was hoping they would stumble across the mess hall, a long walk and a crash landing had made him feel hungry.
“I think I might have been a nurse, but I don’t know, nothing is coming to me.” Susan replied as they walked along the hall, reading the various signs. Mike started to take notice of a trend in the signage. There were an abnormally large amount of rooms labeled as “Storage” but very little else. There were examination rooms, intake desks, and all kinds of equipment bays, but far too many storage rooms.
“What kind of medical facility was this anyway?” Mike said, trying to divine the information without outright asking.
“Uhh, it was…come on Susan…” Susan began to tap the side of her head in frustration.
“It’s ok, It’ll come to you. I was only curious.” Mike said, trying to calm Susan back down. Just then he spotted a medical supply room, the first he had seen all day.
“C’mon, let’s see if we can scrounge up some medical supplies in here, that should be useful” Mike took Susan’s hand and lead her into the Medical supply room. When they walked in they found more of a work room than supply room. The area was split in two by a low wall with clear glass running the rest of the way to the ceiling. There was a single door separating the two halves. It looked like the far side of the room was used as a quarantine area, but Mike spotted a rolling cabinet on the far side of some kind of examination table. Hovering above the table, attached to the ceiling, was some kind of multi armed apparatus with all manner of attachments on it.
“Hey Susan, why don’t you check the cabinet in here, and I’ll take a look around here.” Mike said, and Susan readily agreed and walked towards the room with the examination table. As soon as she crossed the threshold of the door it quickly whooshed shut behind her. Mike dashed after her and slammed a fist into the door and screamed Susan’s name. He quickly began looking around for some way to open the door. He looked up at Susan through the glass intending to try and calm her but stopped.
Susan was walking smoothly and calmly towards the table, her movements more of a glide than a simple walk. Susan lifted a leg onto the table and slid easily onto the surface and laid down. Mike looked up and saw the multi armed instrument shutter once and begin to descend towards Susan. Mike shouted once more but stopped when he saw one of the arms rest gently on Susan’s neck while another one cradled the back of her head. The arm swiftly swung around the length of Susan’s neck leaving a thin incision behind it. The other arm lifted her head just enough for the other arm to continue cutting around the back of her neck and finally stopping where it started.
Mike quickly knew something was wrong, there was no blood, and he noted that Susan hadn’t moved or even blinked. Next the scoop behind her head split in half and moved around to the sides of her head. Mike now saw that both halves had some kind of needle on the end of it, which was angled inward, at that angle it should have pierced far into Susan’s skull while it was behind her head, now they were lined up perfectly with her ears.
With a sudden movement both halves of the scoop clamped inward, the needles jabbing directly into Susan’s ears. Mike cringed away for a moment, but never took his eyes off of what happened. This would have to be reported. The clamp, and with it Susan's head, moved towards the end of the table then swiveled upward to display Susan's now disembodied head. She wore a serene mask of simple passiveness, like this were just a normal thing that happened.
Another arm swung into Mike's field of vision, this one sported a two pronged fork with two similar thin needle like tips, these ones about five inches long. It plunged into the back of Susan's neck where her hair stopped. With a quick upward motion her hair separated from her skull, bringing with it what appeared to be an oblong device with another module connected to the bottom. By all means it looked like a silver abd gunmetal grey brain.
Mike's jaw dropped at this point, he could only stare in dumb fascination at the robot in front of him. Just then a third arm swung into view and disconnected Susan's hair from her brain-like device. Her brain was then moved to the cabinet Mike had sent her to inspect, which opened to reveal some kind of docking station. Susan's brain was clicked into the station and the arm retracted.
One of the arms from the apparatus swung down with a flesh colored cap with many long thin connection needles protruding from it. The arm capped the top of Susan's neck which then jerked for a moment before becoming still. Susan's now headless body suddenly sat up on the table causing Mike to jump back and yelp. With another smooth motion Susan's hands came up and tugged the zipper down to her waist and shrugged out of it. Her left breast lifted slightly off of her body before sliding sideways to reveal a small faintly glowing disk. Susan reached in with her fingers and pried the disk out and set it calmly next to her. Her body got up and walked around the exam table to the cabinet where another similar disk was located. Susan's body turned around and clicked the disk into the empty slot inside of her torso. Her breast slid back into place as she resumed her spot on the table.
Her body was just lying back down and the cap disconnecting from the top of her neck when the other arm retrieved her brain from it's cradle inside the cabinet. Her brain was then nestled back inside her head which had remained placidly suspended the whole time. Her head swiveled back into place and clicked onto her neck. Susan then stood up and smiled at Mike before retrieving her hair piece from the nearby arm. She turned around and looked upward allowing Mike to now see inside her head, it was ablaze with dozens of rapidly blinking lights. It also meant that Susan was able to minimize the risk of her hair getting caught between her scalp plate and her skull.
Susan spun around and walked towards the door, not bothering to zip her jumpsuit up. Her walk was now more human like than the inhumanly smooth grace she had earlier when she walked into the room. The door whooshed quickly open and Susan stepped out to face Mike.
"Y-you're an android.." was all Mike was able to stutter out.
Susan tilted her head slightly. "Yes." She said matter of factually.
Mike shook his head. "Why are you here?"
"For my monthly data refresh and a charged power cell" she replied
"No, not in this room...on this planet, in cryo storage"
"To keep this facility well stocked." Without warning Susan's fist flew forward and straight into the left side of Mike's chest causing a shower of sparks to spray from his chest. Susan withdrew her hand clutching a disk of similar size and shape as the one inside of her. Mike crumpled to the ground, now devoid of power. Susan set about dragging Mike's body into the work room where she set about disassembling him, cataloging the parts, and putting them into one of the many storage rooms with all the other parts she had collected. afterward she reset the distress signal and returned to the cryo tube she had stolen from the human named Susan and waited.