Inspired in particular by this WIP of her Winter Cyborg AU which really stuck with me. And then this happened.
You made me write in binary, raeve, I hope you're proud of yourself ; )
characters: Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, Arnim Zola
warnings: body horror, mentions of injury, amputation, nightmares, non-standard format
It's cold. Temperature: -12°
The heavy snow makes it hard to see. Infra-red vision engaged.
Someone's moving down in the valley. Target acquired. Aim. Lock. Fire. Got him.
Target returning fire. Evasive maneuvers.
Damage sustained. Upper leg. Returning fire.
Damage sustained. Shoulder. Chest. Assistance required. All units, respond.
Damage sustained. Arm. Malfunction. Help.
Repeat: assistance required. Damage sustained. Weapons offline. Help. Automatic shutdown in five. Retrieval requested.
"Confirmed. Standby, WS02. Retrieval imminent. System shutdown."
System:~ Hydra_215 /WS-server/start.command ; exit;
[18:08:34] [System H_215/Info]:Starting diagnostic
[18:08:34] [System H_215]:Extensive physical damage sustained. No efficient repairs possible.
[18:08:34] [System H_215]:Default procedure: Amputation of damaged limbs.
[18:08:35] [System H_215/Query]: Request authorization.
[18:08:35] [Zola_001]: Authorization granted.
[18:08:36] [System H_215]: Generating artificial limbs, WS class, rev. 8
[18:08:36] [System H_215/Query]: Damage sustained to cranium, extensive damage to torso. Default procedure: Extract brain, use standardized body template.
[18:08:37] [Zola_001]: Negative.Maintain head, preserve vocal chords, preserve heart, replace rest of body as needed.
[18:08:37] [System H_215/Query]:This will delay repairs by .5 hours. Reason for inefficiency?
[18:08:37] [Zola_001]: Facial and auditory recognition are crucial for WS01 synchronization protocol.
[18:08:38] [System H_215/Info]: All prior synchronization attempts with WS01 have failed.
[18:08:38] [Zola_001]: This one will not, if the identifying features of subject are left intact. Continue limb replacement, save vocal chords and everything you can of the head. Begin brain mapping.
[18:08:39] [System H_215]:Acknowledge. Increasing sedation for limb replacement. Inducing REM cycle.
[18:08:40][System H_215]:Initiate mapping of temporal lobe.
[18:08:38] [WS02_Server Shutdown Thread/INFO]: Sleep
His eyes burn when he forces them open. It takes him a while to see anything beyond the glare of the gleaming silver room and he thinks he hasn't seen light in a long time.
It was dark, before. Red lights and a constant hum and needles in his skin. For as long as he can remember.
But there was something else before that. Or at least he thinks there was.
Not silver. Cold and white. Snow and wind, the rush of it pelting against him as he fell, as he tried to hold onto...
The absolute light of the room flickers into a photonegative and he sees the familiar darkness again. Red dots in a sea of black blink on and off. He thinks of boats at sea, thinks of warships, and wonders how he knows what those are, because he can't remember ever seeing them.
The room is empty and silver, save for a row of blinking blue lights on the opposite wall.
He's filled with an immediate, urgent need to walk there, so he wills himself to move.
His limbs are a dead weight. He can't feel them, can't feel much of anything below his neck, which strains forward, all his effort somehow concentrated there and no further.
Take a step, take a step, move dammit.
And then finally he does. A heavy thump and then another resonates against the metal floor and walls as he staggers forward.
The blue lights are steady, spaced evenly apart in pairs. Two by two by two by two.
He gets closer, step by step until he can reach out and touch them. He stands directly across from the one pair that shines brighter than the others and reaches out his hand.
[19:01:12] [System H_215/Info]: Results of mapping: Maintain quadrants G80-G92: critical data related to military strategies. Delete all other quadrants. Non-critical data. Minor loss of combat skills learned during subject's 24th through 26th year expected. Links to subject WS1 located in areas marked for deletion.
[19:01:13] [System H_215]: Initiate reformatting
[19:01:14] [Zola_001]: Negative.Override alpha alpha four. Reformat only quadrants B5-B88 and E42-F14. All others will be maintained.
[19:01:14] [System H_215]: Override confirmed.
[19:01:15] [System H_215/Info]: Algorithm designates this action high risk.
[19:01:15] [Zola_001]: Emotional connections between the two subjects can be exploited by a skilled mind.
[19:01:16] [System H_215/Query]: Define exploit.
[19:01:16] [Zola_001]: The subjects work together more efficiently than apart. Their kill rate statistics are 400% higher when joined.
[19:01:16] [System H_215/Query]: Follow neural link protocol rev 29?
[19:01:17] [Zola_001]: Affirmative. Re-initiate REM cycle. Engage link on my signal.
[19:01:17] [WS20_Server Shutdown Thread/INFO]: Sleep
The two blue lights across from him brighten in a flash and then dim again. Recognition makes him reach out for the lights. His fingertips clack against their solidness when he touches them. Confused, he glances at his hand. He's wearing an armored glove of some sort, flexes it curiously, and watches tiny plates of metal shift back and forth as he does. He can hear them hum and whir.
The lights flash and a serial number scrolls across his eyes: WS1-32557038JBB. He hears a voice in his head. "WS01 ready. WS02, acknowledge."
"WS02 ready," he says, because it's the right response.
"Mission parameters?" The blue lights glow again. A soft but poison blue. They used to be a different shade.
And...he recognizes that voice. It tugs at his insides and he clutches at his chest, feeling a tightness there.
His fingers clink and he stares down at himself, finds his whole body encased in the same armor as his hand. His chest, his arms, his legs.
"Mission parameters?" the voice repeats.
He looks up and the lights are the shape of eyes—just as blue and just as bright.
"Parameters unknown," he says. "Standby."
"Acknowledged," says the voice.
He brings his hands up besides the eyes, cups them, trying to remember the missing bits. There's a ghost of a face in his memory, the curve of a mouth and nose. The wall starts to give, dents slightly as he pushes against it, trying to give the memory form, force it into being.
The eyes blink at him, long dark lashes and the rest of the face starts to take shape.
[19:27:03] [System H_215/Info]: Adrenaline response. Blood pressure elevated, heart rate elevated.
[19:27:03] [System H_215/Query]: Enact countermeasures? Sedation recommended.
[19:27:04] [Zola_001]: Negative. Accurate readings can only be taken without chemical modifications. A voluntary sync will be far more effective than an involuntary one. Sedation leads to inaccurate measurements.
[19:27:05] [WS02_Server Shutdown Thread/INFO]: Sleep
He slams his hand forward, and leaves a dent in the wall.
There was a train, and a weapon. The wind was howling.
The blue eyes blink at him. Dark lashes, frosted with snow.
An explosion. A hole in the train. And --
He slams his hand forward again, and the mouth trapped behind the wall opens in a silent scream.
--hanging from a thin rod that can't possibly hold the weight and there's nothing he can do.>
He strikes with his fist once more. The wall shatters like glass, raining down like shards of ice. The room tilts on its axis and he's crouched on the floor, looking down at that face. At his friend.
Bucky who falls down into an endless white and no--
He lunges forward, grabs hold of Bucky's hand, locks his fingers around his wrist
And falls with him.
[19:32:11] [System H_215/Info]: Synchronization complete. Initiate reformatting.
[19:32:11] [System H_215/Query]: Request authorization.
[19:32:12] [Zola_001]: Authorization granted.
[19:32:12] [System H_215/Info]: Reformatting
[19:37:00] [WS01_Server Status Thread/INFO]: 01000010 01110101 01100011 01101011 01111001
[19:37:01] [System H_215]: WS01_Server Override. 01010111 01010011 0 1
[19:37:02] [WS01_Server Status Thread/INFO]: 01010111 01010011 0 1
[19:37:03] [WS02_Server Status Thread/INFO]:01010011 01110100 01100101 01110110 01100101
[19:37:04] [System H_215]: WS02_Server Override. 01010111 01010011 0 10
[19:37:05] [WS02_Server Status Thread/INFO]: 01010111 01010011 0 10
[19:37:07] [WS01_Server]: WS01 online. Mission parameters?
[19:37:07] [WS02_Server]: WS02 online. Mission parameters?
[19:37:07] [System H_215]:Standby.
The room is dark and he can't feel anything past his neck, but there's a pair of blue lights next to him, looking at him.
WS01, ready. WS02, acknowledge.
And he knows he's not alone.