What I’ve Always Dreamed Of

venus airships

Artist’s concept of a Venus cloud city — a possible future outcome of the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) plan.
Credit: Advanced Concepts Lab at NASA Langley Research Center

“Don’t look for what you don’t want to find…”

“So this is it; this is what I wished for; just isn’t how I envisioned it…”
— Eminem, from “Careful What You Wish For.”

Genaro tried to remember what happened. He’d been sleeping a lot lately but it wasn’t a natural sleep. They were trying to keep him quiet so he wouldn’t be a bother. Why couldn’t he see? Why were his arms and legs so heavy?

He tried to stand but although he could find the floor, he couldn’t find his feet. Something at the end of his leg was touching something below and to the side of him, but it wasn’t a foot. It was…was… What was it? What had happened? He realized now he couldn’t move his fingers. What was at the end of his arms? Why was it so hard to breathe?

He opened his mouth but couldn’t scream. He felt like he was suffocating. His head, yes he still had a head, was aching. The pain spiked and then there was nothingness.

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The Mantis Project

 

mantis

Photo of a mantis

Miles turned his head in a 270 degree arc. His vision was so much more acute than it had been, especially in the very center. It was thrilling, astounding. Then he looked at his hands.

They weren’t hands anymore, although they had adaptations that would let him hold objects. New muscles on his back twitched and he felt the wings. He couldn’t achieve sustained flight, but using powerful hind limbs, he could soar almost a kilometer before landing.

“The simulation’s ending, Miles. Relax. It’ll be over in a few seconds.”

Miles Hawkins took a deep breath with his own lungs again. Brilliant scientist Daniel Hunt bent down in front of Miles’s chair. Technicians removed the sensory leads.

“That’s what your life would be like after the adaptation.”

“So, I’d be able to survive on Hansen’s World, explore with other adaptations.”

“We use the word ‘syntheorg,’ and yes, you’d be a new generation of interplanetary colonists, perfectly adapted to the existing environment. One caveat. This is a one-way process. You’ll never be able to come back to Earth again; never be…human.”

“My life ended when my car burned during the riot and I was mutilated. The Mantis project is nothing but freedom.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction – 19 November 2017. The idea is to use the photo above as a prompt to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

Again, I’m leveraging the technology in the world of Mikiko Jahn, a young technician who was horribly injured in a nuclear power plant disaster and then over a period of years, rebuilt literally from scratch using revolutionary materials and processes invented by brilliant scientist Daniel Hunt. The reconstruction made Mikiko more than human but in some ways, also less.

For this story, I extended the technology and intent and here you see that Dr. Hunt is using the synthecon process to radically adapt human beings to be able to survive on planets outside our solar system, to become the very first interstellar explorers.

I remember in the 1960s and 70s reading about the concept of using cyborgs or cybernetic organisms, machine adapted humans, to do something similar. However, instead of using mechanical and electronic parts, I’m suggesting a complete fusion between the organic and the biosynthetic.

I know this doesn’t seem like it has anything to do with the prompt, but when I saw the photo and was struggling to find a hook for a story, I remembered a 1994 television series called M.A.N.T.I.S. In the series, African-American scientist Miles Hawkins is paralyzed from the waist down by a police officer’s bullet fired during a riot. The officer was never convicted of a crime and Hawkins lost his lawsuit against him.

In an effort to walk again and to perform true deeds of justice, Hawkins invented the M.A.N.T.I.S. exoskeleton, which effectively gave him superpowers.

The television show ended after one season, but it was a brilliant concept. I used the name “Miles Hawkins” for my protagonist as an homage to the series.

In addition to the links I’ve already posted, I also visited the M.A.N.T.I.S. Wikipedia page as well as the page on the actual Mantis. I also had the 1976 Frederik Pohl science fiction novel Man Plus in mind.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to Inlinkz.com.

Hellspite

scarecrow

Scarecrow of Romney Marsh – from the Official Disney Fan page

“Why the bloody hell wasn’t I notified earlier? Never mind that. I want every available agent to comb Orly. Thomas might still be in the airport. And get people on her daughter’s disappearance. I don’t mean the local police, I mean our people. Tell them they don’t need warrants, they just need to produce results.”

Geoffrey Colins had been in bed fifteen minutes when the cell on his night stand rang. Amanda Thomas had abruptly left London by air over five hours ago, no explanation and certainly not on her schedule. Ever since Mikiko Jahn had discovered her identity and that she was tied to the Shadow Man, now revealed to be high-priced attorney Richard Singleton, his agency had been routinely monitoring her digital communications, but for some reason there was a foul up and the recording of her conversation with her daughter Sienna’s apparent kidnappers hadn’t been reviewed until less than an hour ago. By that time, Amanda’s flight had already touched down at Orly International Airport just outside of Paris. Agency staff reviewed Paris police computer records and discovered that her nineteen-year-old daughter hadn’t attended classes all day long. Presumably, she had been taken very early this morning by parties unknown.

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The Man in the Dark

shadow man

Black soul – Foto Giovanni Dall’Orto – Wikimedia Commons

Autumn 2017 – London

“Here’s what we’ve got from your video and description of the suspect. Amanda Thomas, 48 years old, born Zuhal Amanda Clarke, Father George Sanford Clarke, British, a nationally syndicated columnist and novelist, Mother Aliya Fowler, moderately successful painter of mixed English-Arab descent.”

Mikiko expected to be debriefed or briefed or whatever in some official government office, like the British Secret Intelligence Service building where MI6 was headquartered, but she found herself sitting in an uncomfortable wooden chair with several other people, none of whom she knew, listening to Geoffrey Colins speaking to them in a darkened room in what seemed to be an out-of-business clothing boutique, or rather the break room of said-business. A small, portable projector was throwing images on the blank wall behind him, showing a loop of the video she’d taken last night of the woman now called Amanda Thomas.

She didn’t get back to her hotel room at the Premier Inn Heathrow until after midnight this morning. She’d walked back to the nearest bus stop from the house she’d been watching and then, in her normal identity, got on board a bus traveling in the general direction she had come from. She’d received a text from Colins as to which stop she’d exit the vehicle. Once on the street and with the bus out of sight, she heard a car engine starting two blocks away and then drive toward her. At the same time she got a text from Colins stating “Get in the back.”

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The Swimmer

woman-underwater

From the story “Swimming naked in Snowdonia?” – Found at walesonline.co.uk

The Present – The Sea of Japan off the Coast of North Korea

Without actually taking on the characteristics of a sea mammal, Mikiko’s body had adapted to become the most efficient human swimming machine possible. The British Naval Submarine Wilson could only travel undetected to within eight kilometers of North Korea’s eastern coast. It was too risky to launch the agent in a raft, so she’d have to swim that distance underwater carrying all of her equipment.

Through the small port in the airlock door, she could see the boat’s Captain Wallace Davies as he gave her a “thumbs up.” As the small chamber filled with seawater, she reciprocated, though for a moment, she irrationally wanted to bow.

She was dressed in a standard civilian wetsuit (no Naval, military, or government markings of any kind) but in addition to the pack she was wearing, she was outfitted with a new carbon fiber fin made in America called the Lunocent. Wearing this device, even an unenhanced human could swim nearly 13 kilometers per hour, twice as fast as Olympic Gold Metal winner Michael Phelps.

Then as the water reached her face, like a sea-lion, Mikiko exhaled and moments later, when the chamber was completely filled, she rotated the upper hatch wheel handle and pushed. She launched herself out of the submarine and quickly put on the Lunocent fin. Mikiko figured she probably had eight to ten minutes before she had to surface for air and she wanted to put as much distance between her and the Wilson as possible before she did.

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Woman in the Shadows

shadow woman

From an HD mobile wallpaper – Shadow Woman

“So, just exactly what are her capabilities, Professor? The information will be necessary for my report.”

Hiro Takeshi was the special liaison between the Project and the Prime Ministers of both Japan and the United Kingdom. He had already received periodic updates as to Mikiko Jahn’s progress for the past three years, but the world’s only synthetic woman was due to go operational within a week and Takeshi was nervous. He wanted everything to go well with the Project and the woman.

Even he didn’t know what the two governments would ask of Mikiko, but he was responsible for making sure she delivered, even though he had no control over anything except the purse strings.

“Well, she’s not a goddamned superhero if that’s what you’re thinking, Mr. Takeshi.”

Takeshi was bilingual and bicultural, but he’d been born and raised in the Kensington district of London and so was a citizen of the Crown. However, the British PM Theresa May had made it abundantly clear that both she and her Japanese counterpart Shinzō Abe had damn well better be pleased with their exceptionally large investment in this young woman and the Project that had produced her, and Takeshi knew his professional neck was in a noose.

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