Yet another chapter in the saga of Book Three of the Dragon Spawn Chronicles! In this second draft of chapter 9, Sensei Jeruko sees the results of the cybernetic implants on his senshi warriors and is horrified. If you haven’t read the first eight chapters, click HERE and scroll down to chapters 1 & 2, 4th rewrite. Let me know what you think. I can’t wait to read your feedback!
A rising sense of horror darkened Jin Jeruko’s vision as he peered through the plasti-glass. The specialized equipment spread throughout the surgically clean room held the same frigid quality as the cyborg medics. At first glance, the room buzzed with disjointed activity. The more he studied it, though, the more the staff seemed to interweave among the robotics with the exactitude of gestalt intelligence.
Five senshi roused from varying stages of their medical alteration procedures. Senshi Yujio smiled as he flexed his new robotic fingers. Tokagei, one of Terk’s personal guards, tested the realistic eye-like membrane that either concealed or revealed his mechanical eye. At the same time, three other senshi sat rigidly motionless as though waiting for something.
Jeruko cringed. Don’t they know they’re losing their humanity?
This was unnatural. It was one thing to use machines to do things, but another entirely to become a machine.
Yujio’s mouth broadened. He noted Jeruko standing there and raised his cybernetic thumb.
Jeruko frowned and shook his head. Fine. If the emperor supported this, he’d go along with it, but he didn’t have to like it.
The angle of Yujio’s head inclined toward his upper arm. The metal contraption corded with hydraulics and steal-encased wires. A bluish light illuminated from within, growing in brightness as though charging up.
Captain Wang’s head jerked. The lid of his true eye fluttered along with the false membrane of his biometric one. His body tweaked oddly, then fell back into convulsions. Robots and cybernetic beings rushed in.
Jeruko left the plasti-glass window and charged into the room. “What’s going on?”
Yujio and Tokagei glanced over with a dispassionate expression, then resumed playing with their new body parts. The cyborgs ignored him utterly as they pushed the spasmic senshi down to the bed. One of the robots pressed a hypospray to the man’s neck, but nothing changed.
Jeruko grabbed the arm of the closest cyborg. “What the hell is happening?”
“Do not interfere,” it replied in a mechanical voice. With a surprisingly swift motion, it twisted its arm, breaking Jeruko’s hold.
As it pivoted with brisk precision, the cyborg named Ambrose approached with a humorless smile. “His body is confused about the new implements. A little calibration will return him to normal.”
Jeruko winced. Whatever normal means.
Wang stilled. Another robot maneuvered its mechanical arm until it was positioned over the man’s false eye. A long needle extended downward and plunged effortlessly into the iris.
Jeruko shivered, and it had nothing to do with the cool temperature of this room.
Ambrose put his hand on Jeruko’s chest. “He will be alright, I assure you. Please step outside.”
As Jeruko backed out, the other two senshi seemed to wake. They turned to him with a deadpan expression that matched the lifelessness of their eyes.
Terkeshi stepped beside him.
Jeruko shook away his unease. “My prince. What do you think of this?”
“It doesn’t matter what I think. It’s done.”
“It does matter,” Jeruko replied, trying not to sound defensive. “If you openly support this, more men will want enhancements.”
Terkeshi’s jaw twitched. “I don’t think you have to worry. This is just a onetime thing. Father doesn’t want to be indebted to these people.”
“I hope you’re right. I wouldn’t want to fight alongside these machines.”
“They’re still men,” Terkeshi replied.
Jeruko shook his head. Was the boy in a contrary mood or was he truly not bothered by this? “Maybe for now. I still don’t get why the cyborgs are doing this, though. And for free no less. There must be more to it.”
“I will keep an eye on them,” Terkeshi replied.
“It would make me feel better if you did, my Lord.”
Jeruko gave the young man an appreciative look and slowly breathed out. Maybe Terkeshi wouldn’t follow in his father’s footsteps after all.
The more he thought about it, though, the more he worried.
He considered the similarity of their situations. When he’d first met the emperor at the academy, he’d been enamored. Prince Kenji Mizuki had behaved decently toward just about everyone. He provided encouragement to those in the academy who’d had a tougher time keeping up with the strenuous curriculum. He never ridiculed or abused anyone. And he exhibited a sense of self-control.
Jeruko had been so proud the day the Mizukian Prince had asked him to serve as his personal guard. However, the job proved more taxing that he’d expected. It wasn’t that Kenji Mizuki demanded too much. It was because of his drunkard father. That man brought out the darkest of Kenji’s traits.
Prince Kenji Mizuki soon fostered the same mood-shifting temperament as Terkeshi held now. One moment he’d express compassion and consideration, and the next he’d lose his temper and rant and rave over some perceived slight.
The more Kenji’s drunkard father harangued and abused him, the blacker he became. The cycle repeated itself as Terkeshi suffered the same torment. Jeruko prayed he wouldn’t go down the same boorish and maddening path.
Terkeshi turned to Jeruko and frowned. “What? Why are you looking at me like that?”
Jeruko sighed. “I’m just worried about the future.”
Terkeshi harumphed. “If the past is any indication, we’re fucked.”
The young man’s words pierced Jeruko’s chest. He faced him with a softened expression. “Don’t let your father change you.”
“He won’t turn me into one of those things.”
That wasn’t what Jeruko had meant, but the prince turned on his heal and left. Jeruko’s heart went with him.