Author : Martin Spernau
(originally published November 8th, 2006 on 365tomorrows)
This time it hurt. Which was rather odd.
He could remember losing body parts in battle before, but never had it hurt. He clearly recalled losing most of his right leg to a direct plasma hit on his way into the bunker at 23-0-9. That had only slowed his progress in killing each and every one of the rebels holding the bunker. He finished them all off – 23 in total – before collapsing. The extraction team had pulled him from under a pile of headless bodies and body parts. Just two days later he had been ready to storm the gates to 24-2-16.
He felt real pain where his hand had been.
They had designed this new body of his to be unstoppable. Any damage done to it could be repaired. All he needed to ensure was that it was his side that sent the extraction team. If this body made it out, he couldn’t be killed.
They had also designed it to feel no pain. He had a status display instead, loss of efficiency, mobility, in percent. The loss of his right hand should not have bothered him that much. He lost his sidearm and with it, his long ranged attack advantage, but he was configured to be a deadly machine in close combat. This body packed enough punch to finish this job barehanded if need be. The damage had already been dealt with; there was no blood or anything.
But this time there was pain. The pain was new.
And the pain did not stop. It did not register in his display, but it felt all too real just the same. Disbelieving, he held up the stump where his hand had been just moments before. It was now sprouting a long combat blade to replace his hand and sidearm.
His hand was gone, but it still hurt like mad. This body did not feel pain! It was not designed to.
Confused, he stopped in mid stride, blackness filling his vision. He never noticed the bolt of superheated plasma that took his head off.
There was no pain this time.
“Lucky shot Private Kern! You saved our lives! You are a hero!”
“That was no lucky shot Sarge. It was just standing there looking at its hand”
“Still, your hit enabled us to take the Mech down. It would have had us all! Don’t be so humble!”
“Really Sarge, I don’t think it was my headshot that stopped it. It just stood there and stared at it’s missing hand. As if it was in agony…”
“Oh, come on! These things don’t feel pain.”
“Sarge, I’d like to check the vids of this encounter. I have a suspicion we might have found an O.D. here.”
“You mean the soldier they downloaded into this Mech originally died by losing his hand? Come on!”
“Well, it clearly seemed to be in pain and confusion, and as you said, these things don’t register pain through damage.”
“Hmmm! So you think it was experiencing a memory of its original’s death? Hmmm! Good thinking. Any other characteristics we might use to identify on the field?”
“It seemed to act right-handed although it was configured left handed. I think it was using that sidearm in its right hand with deadly efficiency. Maybe the download was a firearms specialist or sniper or something. All its kills at range were headshots. Oh! And it seemed to take an awful lot of care to make sure opponents were actually dead before moving on. I haven’t heard of many Mechs do that.”
“Figures – a download that makes sure there is nothing left to download when it kills. Ok. This is going into the Identification Database. Let’s see if they downloaded this one into more Mechs. If we can I.D. them in the field, we’ll at least know how to hurt them now!”
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