Assessing Survival (Mechanical Advantage Book 1)
Author: Viola Grace
Length: 31,800 words
A woman under repair with a skill for assessing survival meets a previous acquaintance who is now more than a match for her.
In the year 2280, Earth has been at war for a decade. The Splice take the humans they capture and use them for parts. Sending bots in place of humans didn’t work, but taking the wounded and turning them into cyborgs has enabled Earth to push the Splice away from Earth. The combination of metal and man is turning the tide in a war that no one could have imagined.
Adaptation Base is where the wounded are recycled into enhanced warriors, and when a terrorist action takes out the administration, the newest cyborgs will have to take things into their own hands. When Stitch comes to, her position as an assessment officer is still valid, but her new location on the front lines means a lot of adjustment. The men she had designed from the wounds out are now her team, and finding the one who had flirted his way into her heart—after all this time—leaves her vulnerable to his mechanical advantage.
“Assessment Officer Carter, please move your toes.” Stitch didn’t recognize the voice, but it didn’t matter. She twitched her toes for him.
“Excellent. Well, you came through the adaptation just fine. You went into shipping shock. Glad to see you are with us.”
She opened her eyes and looked around. It took her a few tries to speak. “Not the station.”
The doctor working on her paused. “You are awake.”
“You told me to move. Did you think I was sleeping?”
“No, I was counting on the processors to make your body move. I was using the master frequency.”
He made eye contact with her, and she blinked as the features registered. “I know you. Captain Blue.”
His dark-brown eyes warmed with pleased surprise. “Yes.”
“Lung damage and a wounded leg. They replaced the leg, throat, vocal system and, of course, the lungs.”
He was wearing black military garb and had a series of scanners at his disposal. The med scanners were battlefield issue, and Stitch had a very good idea of where she was.
He chuckled. “I am surprised. So many folks go through that station.”
“I am at Alpha Base.” She looked around and saw rows of beds, half filled.
“You are still excellent at assessment, I see. As the order forces all cyborgs to be on the front lines, you and the other survivors were shipped out to the stations and holding order outposts. It took some doing. Custom adaptations had to be created for each of you.”
“A sizing problem, right?”
The captain pushed a button to raise her up into a sitting position.
Stitch lifted her hands to check her hair, and one of those hands was silver. “Well, that is different.”
“They had to keep you in hibernation with your jacks in place while they waited for your adaptations to be assembled. You are wearing the most modern implants available.”
“Kidneys, spleen, and any other organs?”
He nodded. “Your intestines managed to recover during your surgeries.”
“Can I see my file?”
He nodded. “As you are taking over our triage assessment team as soon as you are up and running, yes.”
He handed her the flat screen, and she extended it out of the two cylinders. Her stats were displayed, and her new silver hand moved as easily as her flesh one while flicking through the information.
She had died twice, her system had gone septic and additional nanites had been injected to give her enough to be compatible with the adaptations, as well as bolster her immune system. Her broken spine had been fixed and the impulses from her body rerouted around the damage.
Major organs had been replaced with the newest and most organic implants available.
She had been held in hibernation while they had built the parts. She had been out of commission for two years.
“What happened to the others?” She looked up at the captain.
“They are scattered across the front. You ladies have skills, and we need more fighters, as well as admin specialists.”
“Did they find out who planted the bomb?”
“They did. It was the War Opposition Front—those idiots who wanted to hand over Earth and beg for mercy from the Splice. They didn’t know that mercy would never be coming from that front.”
“What has happened?”
“We sealed the Earth. A defense net of weaponized satellites was launched three months ago. It has repelled one Splice attack, but now, they are gathering in numbers. It won’t be long before they crack through.” He grimaced.
“What is being done about it?”
Captain Blue shrugged. “Whatever we can do. We are trying to cut them off.”
Stitch nodded. “Great. When can I get out of bed?”
“As soon as you are ready. Sit with your legs over the side and slowly get up. If you feel weak, fall back. The bed is designed to hold fully tricked-out cyborgs. You won’t even make it tremble.”
He stayed near her while she moved her heavy legs to hang over the edge. It was difficult, but once her body knew what she wanted, it cooperated. She waited until she could swing her legs to her heartbeat, and when she was ready, she stood.
Her balance was off. They hadn’t installed a counterweight along her left arm. Stitch twisted and slowly bent. When she straightened, she looked at Captain Blue. “Okay, where can I get some clothes?”
He stopped staring at her naked body and blinked. “Uh, in your quarters? We don’t have a lot of call for clothing in your size.”
“Find me a t-shirt, perv. I am not here to entertain you.”
Author Bio:Viola Grace (aka Zenina Masters) is a Canadian sci-fi/paranormal romance writer with ambitions to keep writing for the rest of her life. She specializes in short stories because the thrill of discovery, of all those firsts, is what keeps her writing.
A writer who crafts a story that catches you up, whirls you around and sets you down with a smile on your face is all she endeavours to be. She prefers to leave the drama to those who are better suited to it, she always goes for the cheap laugh.
Listening to readers has gotten her this far, and with her 300th short story behind her she will continue to listen in the future.