Reborn

This post is in participation to Myth of the Mirror’s May Speculative Fiction. I hope you like this.


 

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The last thing I remember was bright lights rushing toward me.

Then everything went blank.

There was no pain, no suffering. It must have been instantaneous. I did not even knew what hit me.

I was declared dead three hours after I was rushed to the hospital. They say I was a mess. I seemed more ground meat than human.

What saved me was a decision I made on a whim years ago. It was an act I barely put any thought into. I saw the choice, thought it was cool, and simply ticked the box with a check mark. I donated my body to science.

As soon as I was declared clinically dead, I was rushed to a laboratory who has been in the field of medical research connected with advanced prosthetics and robotics.

There, they did their work – replacing human flesh with artificial parts. I would love to say that they turned flesh to steel – but from what I can recall regarding the parts they placed, those were not really steel, but more of some kind of alloy.

In life, I was an ordinary college student in the field of engineering. Though I did not take my studies that seriously and was part party guy, and part student. When my consciousness was re-awoken… I did not know what I was anymore.

Everything was still black, but I could hear murmurs… voices…

“Connect that to the…” a man’s voice seemed to be instructing someone. A soft whirring sound started and a strong surge of electric current started buzzing.

“Normal on this side….” someone else said.

“Initiate the optic module.” I heard someone said.

The black was replaced by a blinding white light. I could not see that well, but I could see figures moving about around me.

Beep… Beep… beep… beeeeeep!

“Doctor, something’s wrong!” Someone yelled.

“Pull the plug, hurry!”

They told me that my brain almost fried that day. Fortunate for me, the fail-safe worked.

***

The creature I saw in the mirror when I opened my eyes was clearly not human, however it retained my facial structure.

“We tried our best to reconstruct your face…” The man in the white medical robes said.  “We do want you to live as human as possible.”

“Human, huh?”

I looked at my reflection. My eyes glowed red, my arms had tubes, wires, steel plates, nuts and bolts… clearly, this was no human.

It looked like me, but it was not me.

It was scary to think that the hands I saw in front of my face was not the same hands I was used to seeing for the twenty or so years that I can recall. It felt strange to have so many eyes look at me with wonder, amazement, and even fear.

“Can everyone please stop staring at me like I’m naked.”

“Actually, you are. Please put these on.” The doctor handed me a pair of shorts.

I looked down at my legs, and felt a bit embarrassed.

“So these are not metal shorts I’m wearing?” I said as I tried to smile. My body seemed to be capable of that, at the very least.

The doctor shook his head.

“Well that was embarrassing…” I guess cyborgs still need clothing.

“Welcome to your new life, Mr. John. You’re our property now. I hope we get along well.”

The doctor and his colleagues left me alone in the room, as they congratulated themselves.

I was left in the room staring at the mirror as I contemplated on the new life that I was given.

***

Three days have passed since I was reborn as a cyborg. My ability to tell the time has been more accurate than before, so I was certain that it indeed has been three days since my boot-up. One of the scientists working on me came in my room. He was bringing something large and heavy with him. I could see the strain on his face, though he did try his best to conceal it.

“What is this, Doctor Spark?” I asked him as he placed the equipment on my desk. It was large, black and sleek, with various vents, wires, tubes and cylinders.

“A new upgrade for you, my boy.” He beamed. Despite being one of the younger scientists in the Cybernetics project, he treated my like a young child. Perhaps in their eyes, I am their little baby. I shuddered mentally at the thought.

He attached the new equipment on my right arm. My internal systems recognized the equipment.

“Ion Canon Detected. Configuring…” my new mental voice, which sounded nothing like my own spoke. It was like an auto-tuned man’s voice.

“A canon? You built a canon for my arm?” I spoke in shock as I realized what the thing on my arm was.

” Yes, indeed. This new prototype would be able to demolish an entire block to cinders in an instant. Please be careful you don’t accidentally activate it.”

“Activate it?”

“Ion canon activating…” The mental voice said. The arm canon extended its barrels. A loud whirring sound could be heard as its mechanism began charging energy. Orbs within the canon, and my arm started to glow bright. Energy began gathering in my right arm.

“Whoa, whoa.. stop… stop…” I panicked.

“Deactivate it, John!” Doctor Sparks yelled amidst the loud noise and flashing lights.

“Deactivate, how??”

“Ion canon deactivating…” the mental voice in my head said as the arm canon’s mechanisms started to die down.

Doctor Sparks started laughing aloud saying how that was a close call. “Voice activation can be tricky,” he said wiping the sweat off his brow.

“What are you guys working on?” I asked.

However, Doctor Sparks did not answer me. He quietly removed the canon from my arm as he gleefully declared the test as a success.

***

At first, I saw myself as a miracle. While I may have left my humanity behind, my mind was still definitely human.

However, I felt that I was being turned more and more into a machine. I felt like a tool. With my recent encounter to my new upgrades, I felt that I was becoming a destructive tool. A weapon for mass destruction.

In my previous life, I was generally a peaceful, fun-loving person. I liked adventure, and hanging out with my friends. Taking another person’s life has been far from my lists of things to do. While I do have experience in video games — those were fantasy, a world of make-believe. I felt a strange constricting feeling in my chest area, where my heart should have been.

I figured that my developers would not want to have a weapon with a conscience, so I kept most of my thoughts to myself.

 

***

The lead scientist in charge of me entered my room one day.

“Hello John.” He said with a soft voice.

“Hello Doctor Kusanagi.” The lead scientist was old, and wrinkled, yet his face calm and serene. He reminded me of a lake in a summer’s day. He was old, yet stood straight and proud. His stride seemed to hold some strength in them despite his age.

“What do you think of knives?”

Confused and taken by surprise by the question, I was not able to answer.

“What do you mean, doctor?”

“Knives. What do you think of them as?”

“It depends on the knife, I guess. There are knives that can be used to fight, and then there are the knives we use in the kitchen…”

“Indeed!” He exclaimed as he brandished a knife that he was holding with his right hand.

“This knife, can be as destructive to humans, as it can be as useful. Use it against another human, and it is a weapon. Use it for a different purpose, such as for cutting ingredients, then we have a useful tool.”

He handed me the knife.

“I have never seen you as a weapon, my boy… Be at ease.” With a smile, he left.

 

-End –

I was not able to participate in a few writing prompts, and I am happy that I immediately got an idea as soon as I saw the image. I also saw that there was no April prompt, so I guess I was not that far behind! Hahaha….

I haven’t read any of the other submitted works, and I will probably start reading them after I submit this one.

Science fiction has been one of my favorite genre of fiction, yet I don’t really write sci-fi that much.

I haven’t written anything in the past few months. This writing exercise has been very helpful, and hopefully would get the momentum going for me to get back into writing more fiction (whatever the story may be).

I hope that the story was interesting, and that you liked it.

Once again, thank you for reading, and have a nice day.

 

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The Sacrifice

 

This prompt is in participation of Myths of the Mirror’s writing prompt.


 

Cold Journey

There used to be more of us… The frigid temperature of the North was unforgiving. More than half of our party succumbed to the cold. They fell asleep and never woke up.

There was only nineteen of us now.

We were on a quest to appease the god of the northern hemisphere, Boreas. A heartless god of ice and snow.

His temple could be found at the peak of Mount Frost – a long dead volcano that is frozen all year round.

The priests say that the task was simple enough – take the chest of offerings up into the temple, read the words, offer prayers… that’s it.

The pay was good, so a lot of us adventurers took on the quest.

We have not thought about why so many of us were needed. We have not realize it until it was too late to head back.

When the first deaths happened, we all shrugged it off as the aftermath of a weak constitution.

“Those fools were too weak!” Laughed Olaf, a large, muscled barbarian who clothed himself with the fur of wild beasts he hunted.

The rest of the group laughed along as we all huddled around a fire.

The wind blew and I felt a chill. The journey to the peak did not seem that far at the time.

The next night, six people crossed the great beyond. It was twice the amount of the previous night’s toll.

No one spoke a word, for among those who perished were men of iron strength. It was just too cold.

The winds seemed harsher, and the freezing temperatures cut deep into the bone.

We thought it was only a two-day’s journey. However, we camped for another night, and it was even colder than the last.

We built a large fire to keep us warm.  We used whatever we had on hand to use as fuel. We huddled close, and tried to rest. Some were afraid to sleep as they fear that they may never wake again.

Most of us thought that our foes would be great beasts of the north – bears, direwolves, some even feared the frozen corpse of the waking undead… We never thought that our foe would be an unseen force that would pick at us one at a time… The cold. For this, we were terribly unprepared.

The mountain seemed more cruel than the previous nights of our journey. Twelve of our companions slept their last.

We were on the last leg of our journey – we could see the temple. It was in the shape of a large, bearded man who seemed to be holding down the head of a large beast. The beast’s mouth was the temple’s entrance, so it seems.

We went in and warmth was a welcomed surprise.

Inside, we saw a large intricate altar which looked like it has been frozen and covered with sharp icicles. There was no fire, but the rays of the sun served as illumination.

We placed the chest on the altar, opened it and found it was empty, but for the piece of scroll that contained the prayer we need to recite.

“What trickery is this??” Olaf shouted. He lost three fingers to the cold.

I read the scroll.

“O lord of hail and ice and snow, take the souls of these brave men who have entered your holy realm…” I read words written on the scroll… it was short, but it conveyed the message clearly… We were not transporting a sacrifice to the god… We were the sacrifice!

The altar lowered, most likely due to the weight of the chest. I heard a loud click. The room rumbled, and the door to the entrance was sealed shut by a large stone tablet. From the ceiling, ice spears fell, killing five of our companions who were unlucky enough to be on the receiving end.

We heard more rumblings – the sound of a mechanism in the temple’s walls moving. It was an intricate trap, and we sprung it.  The temperature quickly dropped and we felt the icy chill.

We were trapped!

“Those damn priests tricked us!” Olaf yelled as he bashed at the door with his one good fist.

“They didn’t lie to us,” I said recalling the instructions to take the chest and sacrifice up the mountain temple.  “But they did trick us.”

“I am not dying in this damned place!” Olaf took out his axe which he hid underneath his furs and started attacking the stone door.

He barely did any significant damage.

A group of seven people volunteered to explore the temple with the hopes of finding a way to either disable the trap, or perhaps find another way out.

We never saw them again. We assumed they either fell victim to some trap, or died some other gruesome way.

There were only seven of us left in the main temple – Olaf, the barbarian, three spear men hailing from the nearby settlement of Friis. Hardy men who were no stranger to the harsh, cold wilderness. One bowman from the south who was chattering his teeth the entire journey. He was severely under-dressed for the journey, but survived by taking the clothes of the dead. Last of our companions was a silent, hooded man. he barely spoke. Olaf said he seemed like a spell-caster, for he saw trinkets under the man’s cloak, as well as markings on his arms.

I looked up and saw the light and how there seemed to be a wind that was blowing all the cold inside. How the entire temple changed to freezing cold from warm and toasty was a mystery to me. However, there might be a way if we investigate the source of the cold air.

I took our climbing rope and gave it to the archer.

The ceiling was high, almost three persons high. A fall from that height may be fatal. The bowman shot an arrow with the rope attached. It struck the temple’s ice-covered ceiling. It seemed to be sturdy enough.

I climbed the rope, with the hope of finding an escape.

“Where is this light coming from?” I thought to myself as I ascended.

My heart sank when I reached the top. The air was flowing in from thin gaps between the ceiling. Light is coming in from it, as well, and was being reflected at the mirror-like surface of the temple’s high ceiling. I reached out, and felt the cold breeze flowing in.

I took out my knife and attempted to make the hole larger.

I only ended up with a broken knife.

“No use…” I grumbled in frustration as I began my descent.

“What now?” Olaf asked. “Anyone got any bright ideas?”

I looked around and noticed our spell-caster companion had vanished!

“Where did Hood-man go?” I asked.

The archer crouched down to the floor and examined the floor.

“He went this way.” He pointed to a corner of the room with a dead end.

“Strange. His track disappeared from this corner… could it be?” He inspected around the area. He found a loose ice stalagmite, an ice formation that  rose from the floor. We heard a feint click, barely audible, and a hidden wall door panel appeared.

“That bastard!” Olaf screamed in outrage.

The cloaked mage was most likely with the priests of the god of ice.

We followed the path out – a long and winding stair case that seemed to crawl underneath the mountain. We found ourselves midway down the mountain’s slope, our spell-caster friend nowhere in sight.

“He seemed to have went that way.” The archer pointed to the east. “He’s probably heading back to the village priests.”

“What do we do now?” I asked the remainder of our group.

Olaf smiled a rather sinister smile, while his one good hand gripped the handle of his large axe.

 

{To Be Continued}

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Thank you for reading. I hope you liked it.

This prompt has helped me not only as an exercise in writing, but also in building on what could be a potential series of stories. If I could turn it to a novel of sorts, I’d be really happy…

For now, rest assured that I will be continuing on this story real soon. So please subscribe to be updated and notified once it does.

Have a nice day!

10 Ways to Slay A Dragon

I decided to write a little short story about dragon slaying.  It’s not much, more of an exercise, really.  However, I have reached a bit of a problem… How does one kill a dragon?

The most recent I have seen which involves dragon slaying is somewhere in the season finale of Game of Thrones. I’m trying my best to be vague here for I might be skirting around spoiler territory.

In any case, impalement with a large arrow/projectile (from a ballista, or a scorpion) seems to be the best bet any would be dragon slayer could make.

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However, in other literary sources, it would seem that there are other weapons that has been used to slay dragons – even sheep bombs.

1. A spear to the Eye or a Giant Arrow. Well, true, a dragon’s eyes are not armored, therefore hitting it in the eye would seem like a good choice. However, it would mean that the slayer has got to be a very good aim. In a heated battle, a dragon would probably not be sitting in one spot, so hitting that tiny target would be difficult. In Greek mythology, Apollo killed the giant serpent Python with his arrows.

2. Turning to Stone. In Greek mythology, Perseus managed to kill the giant sea serpent Cetus by using Medusa’s recently cut off head to turn it to stone. The sea serpent then sunk to the bottom of the ocean.

3. A sword stab. Beuwulf managed to kill a black dragon with his sword, but he unfortunately was also wounded in the process, and died.

4. Alcohol. In Japanese mythology, Susanoo managed to kill the eight-headed Orochi by first making Orochi’s many heads drink liquor, and when the dragon got drunk, Susanoo then cuts the serpent, killing it.

5. Sea Foam. This has got to be one of the strangest weapon used to kill a dragon I have seen so far. In Ancient Indian Vedic Religious lore, a gigantic demon dragon Vritra was slain by Indra with the use of a Sea Foam. Why? Well, when they first fought, it ended in a draw, and an agreement was made that Indra will not attack the dragon during the day or night, and will not use a weapon made of metal, wood or stone, or anything dry or wet. Indra, however, found a loophole. He attacked at twilight (between day and night) and used a sea foam (neither wet nor dry, but both). The sea foam is further imbued with godly powers by the god Vishnu.

6. Explosive Sheep. A Polish myth tells a tale of a man named Krakus who killed a green dragon by smearing a sheep with sulfur, and then fed it to the dragon. The dragon in his attempt to quench the thirst the sheep caused, made him drink and drink the river water until he exploded.

7. Magic Girdle. Saint George managed to make a dragon docile by strapping a girdle around it. I am frankly not familiar with this method, though I am familiar with Saint George’s legend of killing a dragon.  After making the citizens of the Libyan City of Silene convert to Christianity, Saint George then slew the dragon.

8. Shiny Object. In British folk-lore, Gerolde managed to kill a dragon by temporarily blinding it with his shiny suit of armor. His dragon-slaying days, however, was cut short, when he faced a second dragon while wearing a coat made of fabrics and garlands which he received as tokens for slaying the first dragon. The coat covered his shiny armor, and so was burnt to a crisp by the next dragon he faced.

9. Poisonous Deserts. Daniel managed to kill a dragon by serving it barley cakes made of pitch, fat and hair. The dragon eats the cakes, and its stomach bursts, killing it.

10. A Bull for Bait. In Austria, a lindwurm (serpentine dragon) was killed by a band of knights who set up a trap by using a bull. They wrapped barbed wire around the bull, sent it into the lindwurm’s lair, and once it ate the bull, the wurm was caught like fish on a line. They then dragged the creature out and slew it.

Well, that turned out to be an interesting research, and I somehow have a better idea on how to make my main character go about his dragon-slaying task… Maybe. It just goes to show that slaying dragons does not always have to involve going all out and facing it toe-to-toe. There are other creative means.

In conclusion, how should one go about killing a giant dragon? Well, not by directly stabbing it, that’s for sure. Beowulf’s death is a good enough example on how not to go about killing a dragon that way. However, trapping, poisoning, or maybe using some kind of bait would be a more realistic approach, specially if we have no access to supernatural or magical abilities, such as a magical girdle or a gorgon’s head.If you got the skill or weapon, then firing at the dragon’s weakpoint (eye, or a loose scale perhaps), may also work, specially if the bolt or arrow can be fired with a tremendous strength.

 

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Where to start in Writing Fantasy?

I am trying to write a better fantasy story. I have written some in the past – though I don’t think they are that good…

Anyway, I am trying to figure out where must I begin? In the characters? Should I try fleshing my main characters first? Should I give them traits, skills, and weaknesses? Perhaps a goal?

Or should I try with world building first? What is the setting of the story? What fantasy elements should I use, and how do I use them? Should I just go with the generic fantasy elements to make the world easier to build? Do I need to make a map? Tolkien made maps… perhaps I should try, too…

Or should I figure out a magic system first? Should I go with a hard system, or a soft system? Should there be strict or less strict rules to how magic works?

I am still in the process of figuring things out, and frankly, this post is just me thinking aloud.

Hope you have a nice day.