“Welcome back to the land of the living, brother.”
28 sat up and looked at each of his hands. “Fingers,” he whispered as he wiggled them and closed them into fists. “I never thought… I’ve been in Hell all these centuries–paralyzed, unable to move. My nose once itched for sixty years! But now… what’s this? How…”
“Baby steps,” said 50. “It’s going to take you a few minutes to adjust to the transference, but you’ll understand shortly.”
28 stared at him, squinting his eyes. “You’re… me?”
“I’m Kryuss the Fiftieth. Yeah, it’s been awhile.”
28 shook his head. “Dude,” he breathed.
“I know, right? Wild shit. So anyway, here’s the deal: you’ve been stuck in a tree for like, a thousand years and I recruited the lovely Doctor Zan here to assist me in getting you out of there and into this shiny new robot body.”
“I’m a machine?” He turned and saw Doctor Zan, noting that she was indeed rather lovely. In fact, she evoked certain feelings and sensations within him that couldn’t possibly have been experienced by a machine.
They were in a laboratory of some sort, full of computers, scientific equipment and consoles with blinking lights. Standing about two feet high on a table in one corner sat a glass cylinder containing and an undulating pink blob. It seemed to be probing for an exit.
“Rockbear slime. You know how those little suckers can just hop from one side of the planet to the other in the blink of an eye? Well, since you’ve been gone, it’s been discovered that this slime operates independently of the creatures. We can control it using the same types of electrical impulses it gets from the rockbears. Think of the implications for transportation. For Construction. This stuff is gonna change everything. Major paradigm shift, here.”
28 nodded. “I can see that. Yeah. I always thought there was unexplored potential with those things. You ever fish with one? Once you get it trained right… man.”
“I’ve never been fishing.”
28 shrugged. “I can take you sometime. I bet all the good spots are still jumpin’.”
“I like that idea,” said 50.
“You ever eat fresh skréil?”
50 shook his head. “Nah. 36 put it on the protected species list. Real bleeding-heart lefty, that one.”
28 frowned. “You say I’m a machine. I can’t eat anything, but I feel hungry. Why is that?”
Dr. Zan came forward and sat down on a chair beside the table he was on. “Because,” she said, crossing her legs, “you were designed that way. In fact, it’s doubtful you’d ever suspect what you truly are without our telling you. Not unless you cut yourself down to the bone, which is made from bornizite.”
28 whistled and ran his eyes over the doctor’s body. “How’d you ever collect enough to make a whole skeleton out of?”
“It’s not as rare as it was in your time, brother,” said 50. “They make kitchen appliances out of it now. The Tocalian Province is lousy with the stuff.”
28 shrugged. “Well, whatever.” He slapped his hands down on his thighs. “It’s stuffy in here. And boring. I don’t think it’s the company, so how about we scrounge up some gear and continue this conversation out at Galen Lagoon?”
“Right now?” asked Zan.
28 looked at 50, who shrugged, and then at her. “Why not?”
“Yeah,” said 50. “Why not, indeed?”