7. Safeguard, Chromedome, and Convobat
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Numa wasn't sure how the pod was going to wake him up but having the neck brace vibrated was not what he was expecting. Basically, being choked awake, Numa's bolted awake. Soon, the brace stopped vibrating. Rubbing his neck, Numa's face remained as blank as ever, a grimace never even making its way to his face, Numa simply reached above, retrieving his armor pack. The armor pack was an octangular plate, about four or five inches thick and it was heavier than it appeared. Placing the armor pack onto his chest, the plate expanded, thinning down as it covered more and more of his body. Soon his vision was blacked out, covered by his armor. Soon his vision flickered back on his HUD booted up. Checking the time, it was about 09:00 solar standard hours, and Numa was due for his appointment in about twenty minutes.

Not having anything to do other than this, Numa pushed open the door to the pod, and stood up. Rotating his arms and legs, Numa stretched before activating the guiding system on his HUD. Soon a black line was directing him to the surgical med bay. Checking the distance, Numa saw that it was about 10 klicks away from him. Stepping out of his room, into the common area, and then out the door. Numa was now outside, the building he would call home for the next year and a half looming behind him.

Standing just outside of the building, down by the sidewalk numerous people were walking about rushing about their day. With a planet wide organization, there was work always to be done. There were many cadets milling about, exploring before the start of their classes. There were also the security forces of Martius, marching about with their rifles slung around their backs. There were even some vindicator suits marching about, the strangest thing of it all was with all these people milling about in their blue and black gear, there wasn't almost no noise. There was the sound of the suits marching, the sound of the people walking, other mechanical sounds coming from who knows where.

But there was still this eerie lack of something, at first Numa couldn't pinpoint it, but then it became balefully apparent—Numa couldn't hear anyone talking. There was no sound of conversation even though there were hundreds of people in Numa's sight right now.

This made sense the more Numa thought about it, their armor was airtight, practically soundproof. Communication between co-workers, between friends would be done through internal communications channels. For someone new to the military this was a novel, almost scary lack of sound. A culture shock to be sure, but for Numa it was something easily overcome. Moving down to the sidewalk, Numa weaved his way through the crowds, heading towards the transportation platform in the distance. Numa was currently near the equator of Martius, and the surgery med wing was located towards the northern poles. These facilities were designated augmented only, and a portion of them were used solely for the creation of new augmented.

Numa having made his way through the crowd, approached the main public transportation method on Martius, large pods. Simply put, people would enter the pods, input their station of choice, the pods would then automatically rise and attach to great tracks in the sky, the pods would then slide across these, accelerating until they reached their destination, at which point the pods would descend and the occupants could debark.

Numa made his way into the pod, chose the station designated "Augmented Medbay" and sat back to enjoy the ride. Rising above the clouds was cool, but it showed just how congested the skies truly were. Countless crafts whizzed around Numa, moving at insane speeds, some stayed within the atmosphere while others made their way out into orbit, heading to larger vessels in orbit.

Soon, Numa felt himself begin to descend. Numa was quite literally possibly marching to his death, yet none of that showed on his face or his mind. No fear was present with any of his looks, there was just a blank look.

Exiting the pod, the designation was a lot more deserted than what Numa expected. There were people of course, yet it was nowhere as bustling as where he had come from. In fact, there were no "buildings" around, instead there were just entrances to what looked like bunkers.

Relying on his HUD, Numa made his way to one of these hovels, a rounded building that was short. On each side there was a stationed guard, clad in the classic blue and black marine armor. One of them was armed with a pike and the other with a stun gun.

As Numa began to approach the door, the guard with the pike blocked his path with a hand. Numa stopped, and soon Numa got a notification that the guard was scanning his biosignature. Apparently confirming that Numa had a legitimate reason to be there, the guard let Numa pass. The other guard even opened the door for him, nodding his head as thanks, Numa passed by them.

Stepping through the doorway, Numa received a message from one of the guards, it simply read "good luck". Numa read it, and simply turned around and gave a simple thumbs up to them. The guards remained motionless, apparently not noticing nor not caring to respond.

Instead of feeling jilted, Numa simply continued onwards through the facility. Opposed to the clinical white that Numa had begun to associate with the underground structures that he had explored before, the underground area was a dark grey, with lights that seemed to flicker.

Some areas looked dirty, as if they had begun to fall into disrepair. Turning the corner, Numa almost stepped onto something scuttling on the ground. At first Numa thought it was some form of roach, but upon closer inspection Numa realized that it was a drone.

Continuing with his journey, Numa ran into many more drones but not many people, augmented or not. Soon, Numa reached his destination, a lab designated "room 212". Upon reaching the door, it automatically opened. What was revealed was a darkened room an operating table at the center of the room. Right after entering the room, Numa received an update to his orders that simply read, "Get on the table".

Not thinking about it much, Numa simply went and sat on the metal operating table, not yet laying down. Numa only had to wait for about two or three minutes before someone in a lab coat entered. They weren't armored, so it was very apparent that they were augmented. The left half of their face was completely covered in metal, with a scope instead of an eye. The most shocking of these augments was the fourth and fifth arm attached on the doctors back. Reaching over the shoulders they almost reminded Numa of a spider's arm.

The doctor skidded into the room; their legs obscured by the robe they were wearing. Without saying anything, the doctor began poking and prodding with their arms taking measurements. Poking and measuring Numa like he was some prized hen getting inspected at a carnival. Numa didn't seem bothered by this, instead simply sitting there, and let himself be inspected with no complaint or sign of resistance.

Soon, a second doctor entered the room, with the first doctor turning to nod at them. Seeming to have been given permission, the second doctor began to speak to Numa. Speaking with seemingly no evident emotion,

"Are you ready?"

To which Numa replied with, "Yes"

"Ok, remove your armor pack, I'm going to sedate you"

Numa did just that, pressing the release, and handing the armor pack to the first doctor who took it and placed it on one of the many counters that bordered the room.

Numa laid himself down on the table, and as he did clamps were placed around his neck, feet, and both wrists. After being firmly attached to the table, one of the mechanical arms from the spider doctor found its way into Numa's neck, injecting him with some fluid.

Numa could feel the void trying to take him, but he fought it for a second, barely croaking out for the doctors to not "hold back".

While the transformation to an augmented was a painful process, and for many augmented it was a lifesaving operation, Numa wasn't becoming a standard augmented. Instead, Numa was undergoing the procedure for becoming a gestalt augmented, a top secret augmented project that many didn't know about. Numa was about to become the first of his "kind" or he would die, just like the hundred or so others before him.

So, when the doctors heard to not "hold back" they paused, seemingly digested this information. They seemed to find it funny, but then seemed excited. Gestalt technology was in its infancy, it combined the relatively old function of drones, where an augmented's consciousness might be split into their body and that of a drone, effectively creating two from one, with that of nanotechnology. In other words, instead of splitting Numa's consciousness into two, they were essentially fragmenting it into ninety trillion different bodies, each nanobot holding a little bit of Numa's consciousness, effectively created a hive mind.

It was a complicated, bloody process. For Numa's original body, there would be a couple of augments added, but most of the changes would occur in the mind. These two doctors in charge of research had refined their "craft" to the point of nine in ten surviving the operation, but everyone who survived the operation were functionally driven insane and had to be put down.

This kind of failure didn't phase the doctors, who felt that they were getting closer and closer to success. Soon, having confirmed Numa had fall into unconsciousness they began their work. With an almost gleeful expression, both doctors began their work, hacking and cutting into Numa, digging into him like a famished family of rats.

Numa didn't dream, in fact there was no passage of time for Numa, in fact he barely remembered closing his eyes, and in the next moment he was opening them up. Unlike sleeping, where Numa felt the time passing, it was completely different from now. It was super disorienting, even more so when he opened his eyes. He was still shackled around the ankles, but the rest of his body was fine. Sitting up, Numa attempted to open his eyes.

Finally ripping the gauze over his eyes, he was immediately disoriented. Numa could see what felt like everything in the room, turning his head changed parts of his vision, but didn't change all of it. Instead, it was like looking through a kaleidoscope, but where each different "panel" changing didn't affect how the others changed.

His mind felt… large, in the same way you might feel your arm even though you aren't moving it, it felt like there were other…limbs that he wasn't moving. Soon, Numa was able to manipulate his vision. With a little more effort, Numa was able to organize his nanobots into forming a swarm. Ninety million nanobots wasn't a small number, and soon a swarm large enough for the visible eye was formed in front of him.

Numa laid back down, closing his eyes. Closing his eyes was an interesting experience, as it was like turning off a single monitor out of hundreds. Maneuvering the nanobots around the room revealed that he was alone in this room, but there was a camera watching him from the corner of the room.

Using a couple nanobots, Numa had them enter the camera, and located the wiring in the back of the camera. Numa considered cutting the wires, but then decided to follow the wires back to the source. Not realizing just how fast these nanobots were, Numa traced the wires back to their source in seemingly record pace. Entering the room, Numa saw the two doctors again watching him lay down on the monitor. They were whispering to each other, writing down notes. A sense of foreboding seemed to flash over Numa—calling in more of his nanobots into the room there was now a sizeable swarm.

Deciding it was time to test out his new abilities—Numa decided it was time to test out the limits to his nanobots. There seemed to have been instructions encoded on the nanobots, as there was a lot of new information seemingly drilled into Numa's brain, but he didn't seem to notice, instead processing and using this new information at the same time he was just newly learning about it.

Almost with a practiced efficiency, Numa had the nanobots enter both doctors' electronics, as soon as the command was given, the nanobots seemed to gain a life of their own, tearing into the sensitive circuitry like it was the finest of meals.

At first the doctors didn't seem to notice as non-vital systems were affected but soon, one seemed to notice something was wrong as they abruptly straightened their back. But it was too late as Numa's precious bots soon drilled their way to his brain, oil, and blood oozing out of his eyes as they rolled to the back of their head. With their hands clawing at their face, almost pulling it apart, the spider like doctor fell to the ground twitching, most definitely dead.

His partner, the second doctor, was desperately twisting and turning desperately trying to free himself from these invaders, but it was already too late—my swarm of nanobots were already inside and there was no stopping them once they were inside. Tearing away at the doctor, he too succumbed to the fear and frenzy, tearing away at his face before collapsing to the floor.

Directing my nanobots, I steered them away from the now dead doctors, and back towards their computers. This was a top secret augmented affair, not top secret as a military secret, but top secret augmented marine secret, in other words their research might be vaguely known by the upper echelons of the kingdom, it was very doubtful that other copies of their research was found anywhere else. Augmented-noble relations were very strained right now, the creation of such a powerful new kind of augmented was probably a deeply held secret.

Either way, the Guiding Hand having already infiltrated the marines was a good thing, as it meant that if anyone trying to investigate this incident would most likely be distracted by the activities of the Guiding hand and wouldn't even bother trying to look any deeper than that.

Numa only had two other loose ends, the instructor who got him into the program, and the commadore. One had taken care of the other by now, meaning either the instructor had killed the commadore or the commadore had killed the instructor, Numa would just need to figure out which one had survived.

Destroying the computers with the nanobots, Numa had them do a once over of the scientists one more time, making sure to destroy the databanks on anything on them or in them. Satisfied that all the evidence of the gestalt program had been destroyed, Numa had the nanobots return to him. This mission had been carried out by about a million nanobots—they made fine assassins for the unwary. Nanobot technology wasn't an invention, so most combatants had defenses against this, such as an electric field generator, not strong enough for most large electronics but extremely deadly to the tiny electronics of the nanobots.

Numa also noticed the number of his nanobots had increased, he had sent over about half a million nanobots, but by the end of it he could sense about a million of them. It seemed that these nanobots given enough resources had the ability to self-replicate, a useful function for the fragile nanobots.

Numa at this point couldn't hide the fact that he was an augmented, he had already been given the designation. But, on the other hand the type of augmented he had didn't need to be recorded, and as such wasn't. Simply put, Numa just needed to pretend to have different augmentations then he really had. To this end, Numa decided to go with the "tamer" augmentation. This type of augmentor was one who controlled a variety of drones. The number of drones able to be operated at once depended on the skill of the augmented.

Reunited with all his nanobots, Numa began to sculp and form them in his mind. In the same way he could make the nanobots swarm, Numa had them combine creating the illusion they were in fact three different distinct drones only. One was that of a simple bipedal robot, dubbed "Chromedome" another was a bat, dubbed "Convobat" and the final was a condor, dubbed "Safeguard".

Putting his armor pack back on, Numa felt covered once more. With a snap of his fingers, both birds landed on either of his shoulders, with the bipedal robot simply walking next to him. Both birds were about the same size, but Buzzsaw had a much wider wingspan. The bipedal robot was much smaller then Numa, only reaching up to his bellybutton. A simple thought was all that was needed to change their pigment to match that of the marines, blue and black. A striking difference was all their eyes were a glowing, intimidating red.

At this point, Numa almost felt giddy as his personal power seemingly shot through the roof, but just as quickly as the feeling sprouted it quickly vanished, devoured by the abyss in Numa's mind. Making his way back outside…

Surprise bonus chapter! Thank you all for the support recently!

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