I was...quite pretty, and no that isn’t ego give me a break!
In all the confusion and the technology and the shock, I really hadn’t gotten a chance to examine myself. I wasn’t a tall guy in reality and I looked much taller, or I would be if I had legs below the knees. “I don’t have any legs?”
“For a better interface with your machine we had to...relieve you of part of your traditional set of limbs. That reminds me that I have to go fetch a set of prosthetics for you after the ceremony. There was no time to do so before you were completed”
“Interface with my machine?” I knew this was a racing game but they’ve literally cut off my legs below the knee. How on earth am I supposed to operate a car without feet? The dress felt really short to me, but any dress felt weird. There was a strange part of me that didn’t seem to mind though, I’m still not sure what that meant. I don’t know what the game or these people have done to me.
My mind was running in all sorts of different places but I remained calm and stoic, focused intently on the reflection in front of me. Not only did I look taller than before, and not only was I missing part of my limbs, but I had these...cold...piercing eyes that seemed to glow blue. I leaned closer to get a better look at myself. I was definitely pretty in a cold sort of way, the rest of my body was suitably different with reasonable curves and shapes that I’d never seen in a mirror before. My breasts seemed huge up close but in reality only looked to be fairly average. Which was fine, perfectly fine.
I couldn’t help but irk the fact that my body seemed so perfect. And I have an inkling that I was purposefully designed to be that way. This bothered me, I don’t know whether it was surgery or eugenics, or whether I was even truly human at all anymore.
My eyes, of all my new features I couldn’t help but keep returning to my eyes, and up close I could tell why. My pupils weren’t normal either, they had a target shape to them, like you’d see down a laser sight on a gun. This was super freaky to me.
“We really must be getting going-” the Assistant coughs in the middle of his sentence, which was certainly a human trait, maybe this place does have a naturally borne population after all. “His Lordship is awaiting you, his finest creation” I shudder.
“Am I still human?” I ask him as he leads me out of the room. He chuckles.
“We separated from the savages a long time ago. You are a Zeraphim. How did you even know about humans anyway? I guess we might have implemented some knowledge into your design maybe. Come on!” I fall silent, not wanting to raise any further suspicion that I’m more than what was probably intended. If they found out and dissected me, what's to say that wasn’t me actually dead? Lost in the code of the game...if it was even that anymore. I take a deep breath. Now was a dangerous time to have an existential crisis.
After what seemed like forever, again. We stopped in front of a huge arched door which had the eponymous pulsing blue surrounding it. The Assistant knocks on the door and an arm appears from a hidden compartment at the side of the door, on the end of which seats an orb of some kind that feels like it is staring at you, despite not having any indicated direction.
"COME IN 4L1C3"
That was me, it didn’t ask for the Assistant. Was I going in there alone? The doors slide open and the Assistant gestures for me to enter. I slowly ease the wheelchair forwards, towards whoever this Lordship was. As I suspected the doors closed behind me without the Assistant to show me forwards.
The room was as huge and grand as you could expect from someone that was referred to as Lord and his Lordship. The entire high arched ceiling pulsed the same blue as the rest of the building, but at such a bright intensity. Ahead of me there was a metal throne with a shining figure sitting on it. I crept forwards towards them along the path in the centre of the room, either side of the path was a very shallow flowing pool of liquid I couldn’t tell if it was water but it seemed to give off a similar sort of light to the energy that pooled around the place.
“4L1CE. WELCOME!” The figure on the throne booms as I near it. “I am 4L3-X5-D3R, or Alexander to you, my latest and best creation. I am pleased that you are conscious and functioning. You’re the first of my new line of participants in the games. You should be proud”
Alexander was, to put it bluntly, incredibly extravagant. For one he was huge, and he was the most cybernetically enhanced of anything or anyone I’d seen so far, the only parts of him which remained recognisably organic was his bare torso, and one half of his face. He did not move his mouth when he spoke either. His voice seemed to emanate from somewhere on his body.
His cybernetic parts were also very unique, unlike me or the assistant or even the scientist, they seemed to be painted, and had unique wiring poking out underneath the plating. He had beautifully crafted white plating on his arms with the occasional bit of gold that poked out underneath and accented the white.
“It is almost time to report to the opening ceremony of the games. Let me show you your machine” He taps away at something on his arm and the liquid that flowed around me suddenly ceased and the floor it took up opened up on both sides. A slow whirr filled the room as two platforms rose from underneath the floor, slowly revealing a pair of distinctly wedge shaped silhouettes.
“As you are my new unique champion, and my prized project. I have made sure to have my engineers craft you only the best vehicle we could do, a clone mechanically of my own. But I had to have mine in my colours. It is only right” The cars rose into the light and I could make out the details. It was a purely wedge design, like a seventies supercar. Mine was stainless steel like a DeLorean but with the same blue wheels and tyres that I had seen on the vehicle selection menu. But I couldn’t see any form of weaponry...which worried me.
“Where are its weapons?” I ask him bluntly, which appeared to throw him off his stride a bit.
“You’re an enthusiastic one. Address me as My Lord” His cold eyes shone gold.
“My Lord, where are its weapons? I.. ...was told that I would be participating in combat too” I hesitated with that last part, if the scientist gave me bad vibes. This Lord radiated them brighter than the sun. He seemed to shudder when I called him My Lord.
“I will show you” He waves a hand underneath one of the wing mirrors and the door whooshes open. “Get in your vehicle. I will explain as we drive to the portal”
How on earth was I supposed to do that. I had no legs! I turn away from him and towards my car, gritting my teeth away from his view. I manoeuvre the chair up to the wing mirror and wave my own metal hand underneath it to open the door. It opens upwards in much of the same way his car did. I take a closer look inside the vehicle, still wondering how on earth I was expected to drive the damn thing.
In place of the normal pedals there was a set of what looked like huge pipe-esque wires with sockets on the end that were resting on the seat. I hear an engine fire up behind me and a screen pops out of the centre console of my car, with his ugly mug on it. “You are the first of your kind to use the new VIS technology we have pioneered. That stands for Vehicle Integration System, and it required the removal of your typical transportation appendages”
Alexander really liked the sound of his own voice, even if it grated on my ears. So I was supposed to seat myself in the vehicle and then attach myself to it? That shouldn’t be too difficult? I heave myself off the chair with my arms and bundle myself into the car, using the muscles left over in my waist and shoulders to position myself where I should be. And then I slid my legs into the sockets.
“Ow!” I exclaimed, as they pinched down around the skin above my leg plug things. It was the only way I could think of describing them at that moment. But after then I could feel...something...something beyond my legs. I felt like I could run. This sensation, it was exciting! The screen in the centre console had retracted back to where it was normally situated and was pulsating blue downwards through the interior towards a button below the gear lever. I pressed it and the engine shot into life with a glorious growl.
“Follow me” Lord Alexander’s voice invaded the cabin like a maggot in your ear. I willed the car forwards like I wanted to walk at a leisurely pace and it moved forwards towards an opening on my side of the throne into a tunnel. It’s headlights automatically turned on. The two tunnels merged into one and I followed Alexander’s car through the darkness.
“So, my Lord, these weapons?”
“You control your offensive capabilities with the lever in the middle of the car” Since the car seemed to change gears by itself I assume its the gear-stick looking lever and I quickly grasp hold of it. “Pushing the lever left will put the car in regeneration mode for when it is damaged. It will slowly patch its armour with nanites. Pushing the lever to the right will grant you a blackout mode for stealth purposes. Forwards will engage your main melee weapon, which is a double set of blades that run from the very front over the roof. This will maximise damage dealt when you hit someone with the front of the vehicle”
Right so I have lots of options? Thats good. In the context of a video game that sounds like an ideal all-rounder.
“My Lord? What happens if I pull the lever backwards?”
“Seat Ejection, although I fully expect for you to never have to use it. I will be very disappointed if that ever occurs” He growls, I can hear his engine pick up.
“We’re nearly to the portal now, and your first glimpse of the wonderful dimension I rule over” A dimension!? How big is this place? Surely if you rule a dimension you don’t have to fight in some silly game right? After a few moments more meandering down tunnels illuminated by my blue tinged headlights we emerged into a land of purple skies and silver buildings. Ahead of us a bridge appeared to have been half constructed above a city made entirely of the same shiny material.
“Xerat City is marvellous don’t you think? Just like I envisioned”
“My Lord, I have a question?”
“Go on 4L1C3. I will entertain a question”
“If you, my Lord, rule an entire dimension. Then why must we fight in this game?”
“My inventions have improved the life of everyone in this dimension, but there are plenty of dimensions that are out there. I wish to rule them all, to bring everyone up to my level of advanced society. No more slums, no more dirty dirty natural living. Just clean, pure, Xeraphim people everywhere like me, and you”
This was messed up on so many levels, but before I could even dwell on that I could see sparks through my windscreen, the bridge was lighting up and sparkling with a glow that intensified and moved up its structure before gathering at a circle constructed at the blunt end.
“It is time. 4L1C3. Let us begin our campaign”