Killing Time OST – 15a – iPlay Brain Surgeon

<< 14c – Sickness

I never thought one could order so many specific surgical tools under the radar in such a short amount of time. Sure, Lorelei already had a few things left over from her surgeries to extract tech from my head – a good amount of anesthetics, among other things – but the speed at which she got everything on my list showed her desperation.
Though she would never allow that word to describe her state of mind.
I thought I had plenty of time to program a lure for the nanobots but I ended up racing to get it done before she started yelling her impatience. At least while she was angry at me, she wasn’t sick. When she thought of getting the tech out of her head, she retched, shook and looked a whole lot like me when got off the nanoroids. I wanted to hug and comfort her but the first time I stopped programming to offer support she kicked me in the shin.
“I need your cure not your pity,” she had yelled. Which effectively switched her anger off what made her sick.
Still, not a pleasant experience.
Now here she was, drugged out of consciousness and strapped to the table so she wouldn’t jerk in her sleep while I operated.
My hands couldn’t stop shaking.
Seven months, four days and ten hours since I last performed a surgery. It had just been a bicep implant, nothing like ‘lasering’ a hole in the head of the assassin who saved my life. What if my lure didn’t work? The tech anchored in her brain wasn’t normal, inoffensive and encoded with the standard program to slip out of its host provided one called on the right frequency. And even a successful operation was but the beginning of a long road out of hell.
I should kiss her and see if she’d wake up, all cured and happy.
But she was no princess. Not by a long shot.
After about ten minutes of watching her sleep and wondering how the hell I let her convince me to do this, I managed to pull myself together. My hand grabbed the scalpel with what I could pretend to be assurance but the blade hovered hesitantly near the small patch I shaved at the nape of Lorelei’s neck before I put her under.
God, I wished I could start with another body part.
A few nanobots controlled the adrenal glands. It would have been a good place to test my lure. Provided it failed, the nanobots would turn on the closest organ – the kidneys – to get the extraction to stop. Kidney failure was a lot less threatening than cerebral malfunction.
On the other hand, the lure might be enough to neutralize them but perhaps not before they sent out an alarm to the brain, triggering a deadly retaliation that I would have no way to stop. In that situation, taking the brain ones out first reduced the damage.
I sighed.
Either way, Lorelei made it clear that she wasn’t waking up with nanobots in her head.
After a deep breath, I made an incision and exposed a half an inch square of bone.
The mechanical assistant moved in to dab the blood with a cotton pad then took up the task of holding the flap of skin out of the way. One day, we’d probably have mechanical surgeons too but the AI was tricky to get right.
The bone cutting laser replaced the scalpel in my hand. I carefully adjusted the strength of the laser beam, checking it twice to make sure I wouldn’t boil Lorelei’s brain. I slowly emptied my lungs and closed my eyes to find my inner peace. Calm spread its tendrils through my system. I locked air within my chest and opened my eyes. With a series of quick and precise motions, I aimed, turned on the laser for three seconds while I held completely still, and then shut it off.
The assistant cleaned the newly created pin-sized hole.
I exhaled loudly. “Now onto the hard part.”
I pushed the lure in until it touched Lorelei’s brain and positioned a microscope over it. Nanobots were tiny enough to pass through blood vessels and flesh without creating any damage or pain. They couldn’t go through bone – unless specifically designed for it, as some nanobombs showed in the Middle East. I could have gone through the nose to extract the tech but I wanted as direct an access as possible to better monitor the process.
I punched commands on my control hologram. The lure hummed to life. I looked into the microscope for a moment but no nanobots showed. I switched the broadcasting frequency and observed again. Good thing Lorelei was steadily supplied with anesthetics because the trial and error process could take a while.
I knew I found the sweet spot when she grunted. The restraints kept her immobile but a glance at her face told me she felt ill. The lure’s container welcomed its first nanobots a second later. I crossed my fingers as I could only watch as the tech slipped out of Lorelei’s brain and into the clear tube stuck through her skull. The lure worked and it soothed me.
The blood analysis machine cranked up my anxiety when it bellowed. Lorelei’s stress hormones were dropping alarmingly fast. Again.
“Fuck!”
Stress hormones, in controlled doses, helped a patient get through surgery. The sudden nose dive wouldn’t only shut down Lorelei’s body like last time, it threatened her remission. And I couldn’t shoot her with adrenaline as it conflicted with the anesthetics. My heart beat in my ear. My breath sped and I fumbled for my syringes.
“Vexx,” Lorelei’s voice growled, “you knew this would happen. Relax and concentrate.”
Though I had programmed the ploy myself, hearing the calm and confident voice shocked me back to efficiency.
As I knew it would when I created it to replace the alarm on my heart monitoring temporary chip.
“You can do this,” she said.
I looked at the set of syringes and vials lined up on my counter; I had enough of each manufactured neurochemical available on the market to last a lifetime. The blood analyzer indicated the exact percentage of all the components in her system.
Read the imbalance. Do the math. Shoot a sufficient amount of the appropriate substance. Beat the boss. Save the princess.
It was just an AI after all.
The whole internal pep talk took all but five seconds and then I finally reached the focused twilight zone where I did my best work.
I couldn’t lose her.
One by one, I supplied her with the neurochemicals her body denied her, shooting them in her IV as fast as I could. The last hormone rectified itself on its own.
Lorelei stopped moaning.
Her body was taking over.
No more nanoroids slipped in the lure’s tube. I pulled it out and anxiously performed a brain scan. No white dots. I smiled at her cleaned head.
I had done it.
Now onto the cleaning of the rest.

15b – iPlay Brain Surgeon >>

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

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