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Lanan Rough Draft

a guest Jan 13th, 2018 58 Never
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  1. I
  2.  
  3. Good morning, I thought to myself.
  4.  
  5. Another early day.
  6.  
  7. 4:30 AM and here I am laying in bed again.
  8.  
  9. My body... is cold. I don’t feel cold, but I just am cold. Winter sucks. No longer do I get to feel the wind chill my bones, and enjoy the crisp cold after a snowfall. No longer do I enjoy the warmth of the hearth or the cold rain soaking my body.
  10.  
  11. I look at myself in the mirror. I appear as I always have. I look exactly the same. But I am not. I do not feel. Nor do I feel like myself.
  12.  
  13. I’m an outsider in my own body. I feel nothing except my mind. There is no sensation in my fingers or cold in my body. There is no warmth from my blankets or tiredness or hunger in my body. I am empty, devoid of feeling.
  14.  
  15. I remember... an accident. Screaming, and worrying. Anxious calling of my name. Only weak rasping of my voice. I remember pain, and then cold. I remember not feeling. I remember emptiness. Not feeling empty, but merely being empty.
  16.  
  17. I remember waking up. Seeing myself in the hospital mirror, but being unable to feel myself. I remember wanting to weep, but being unable to. Each day is a stark, long realization that this body is not mine. Each day gets harder as I can tell and am told the others around me wish for how I was before the accident. Happy. Bubbly. Carefree.
  18.  
  19. Can I even be that way anymore? I don’t know. Every day my malaise is greater. Every day, I feel less like my body is my own. Every day, I wish for a death that never comes.
  20.  
  21. I walk out the door, observing the snow covering the ground and the wind pushing the trees in its wake.
  22.  
  23. I observe the car waiting to bring me to my classes, which I cannot pay attention to due to feelings of self-alienation. My world is different. My earth is different. I am slipping away into a deep dark place... Am I ok with that? Do I even care?
  24.  
  25. I may never know.
  26.  
  27. Weeks? Months? Years? Time passes. Some days are easier than others. I manage to pass my courses; barely. I have no interest, no life. I am devoid of passion as I am devoid of a body.
  28.  
  29. I seek escape. The virtual world draws me in, simulated pain giving me satisfaction I cannot feel in the real world. I spend untold hours writing stories that will be forgotten to time and memory. But, there I would forge a life-changing connection.
  30.  
  31. It would cause me to join a police force, doing mundane paperwork in between peaceful sessions helping others with small problems. I am grateful to be distracted from my body. It warms the cold that I am a small amount.
  32.  
  33. One day, I am asked if I want a promotion. It would come with a new body, they say. The work would be dangerous, they tell me.
  34.  
  35. I do not care about the danger.
  36.  
  37. I do not care about a new body.
  38.  
  39. However, they insist on seating me in front of a designer. They spends hours (Days?) forcing me to open up. The designer is as much a therapist. Causing me to open up about my old self, about what I want to look like. The possibilities, they say, are endless.
  40.  
  41. So I choose. A bright, shining sun for a head, with a beautiful face, exactly like the one I used to have, and sunbeams springing from around my head.
  42.  
  43. My body was more industrial. A dark blue-gray, with industrial edges and clearly defined movement mechanisms. Limber and lithe, but jagged and rough.
  44.  
  45. Eventually, I look in the mirror. I still feel like a stranger in my body, but now I know I own it. I will never be the same again.
  46.  
  47. But each day will be slightly easier.
  48.  
  49. II
  50.  
  51. “Lanan! You sunshine always penetrates a gloomy day!”
  52.  
  53. “Good morning, Chief,” I respond. Alyx is the only one here who I could say shines brighter than any star in the galaxy. When not being discrete, she is decorated in her many accolades and badges denoting her rank and years of service. She is covered head to toe, day in and day out in resplendent body armor. She is truly a sight to behold. More machine than woman, her tirelessness and stoic demeanor form a rocksteady foundation for her unit.
  54.  
  55. “Are you ready,” she began, dryly, “for more paperwork?”
  56.  
  57. “I was born ready!” I half-joked. Chief doesn’t joke often, but when she does, you can rest assured the day will be easy. I cherish the easy days. They help me remain cheerful.
  58.  
  59. As I make my way through the mountain of paperwork, my mind wanders to the first time I had met Chief. It was a long time ago, when I had just begun working here. Or had it been almost a year? I can’t remember. Before I had been given my body, everything was merely a blur.
  60.  
  61. It was, much as it is now, a slow day. Back then, I hated slow days. Too much space to let my mind wander. Now, the space to think is meditative.
  62.  
  63. We both arrived at the same time that day. I slumped out of my car and went to the front door, preparing to knock on it when I heard someone say, “Let me get that for you.” I turned to respond in thanks and was shocked. Chief seemed so *huge* at the time. I was small, and in her gaze I felt even smaller. She towered over me in height and in attitude. She exuded confidence and power. I was speechless.
  64.  
  65. “I don’t believe we’ve met. I’m Alyx Biothed; I run the place.”
  66.  
  67. In response, my mouth hung open, words somehow failing to escape my awe. A brief moment passed, and I bowed. “I’m Lanan.” I said hastily. I distinctly remember wondering why I bowed.
  68.  
  69. Chief let out a soft chuckle. “There’s no need to bow for me. You must be new here, I assume?”
  70.  
  71. “Yes ma’am!” I spouted, springing out of my bow. “Not too long ago!” Now that I think about it, it was probably not even a week after I had started.
  72.  
  73. “Well, Lanan,” she paused, unlocking the door. “Do you have a last name?” she added.
  74.  
  75. “W-well... Lanan is my last name. My first name is Chassie, but, I-I prefer to go by Lanan.”
  76.  
  77. “Well, Lanan, are you ready to get started?”
  78.  
  79. I stood there in awe for a few moments. If I had a heart, it would be racing. If I had hands, they would be clammy. If I had a stomach, it would be twisted into a fluttering knot.
  80.  
  81. “Well?” she said, breaking the silence.
  82.  
  83. “O-oh! Yes ma’am! Of course, ma’am!” Without missing  a beat, her reply was a wry smile as she pushed open the door.
  84.  
  85. As we entered the building, I knew from that moment on that this was a woman I would follow to the ends of the universe.
  86.  
  87. III
  88.  
  89. “Lanan!” a voice behind me whispered, “ye kno if ye furrah ya brow like ‘at too much it stays that way, aye?”
  90.  
  91. “Alanson,” I joked, “if that were true, your face would be stuck in a smile larger than the galaxy.”
  92.  
  93. “Aye, girl. I’ll give ye that. Almost done with that paperwork there, I see?”
  94.  
  95. “That I am. Does Chief want to see me?”
  96.  
  97. “Aye,” he replied, “that she does. Says it’s fer a special mission.”
  98.  
  99. “A special mission?” I asked, intrigued.
  100.  
  101. “Aye.” He said, disappearing down the hall before I could find out exactly what he meant by that.
  102.  
  103. Making my way to Chief’s office, my mind wandered again to earlier days before I had been given my body. I thought back to the day I had met Sol Alanson.
  104.  
  105. Back then, I was obsessed with distracting myself from my body. The alienation from my own body was crippling, and the virtual world was where I felt real again.
  106.  
  107. I mostly spent my time in fantasy worlds. They were a contrast to the nearly endless cityscape I lived in. Lush, green, and full of wonders only closely matched by the outside world.
  108.  
  109. Alanson had joined me one day, long ago, when my party made a call asking for new adventurers to join us. In game he played a lightning thrower, a Mage subclass whose primary role was high damage output to enemies, but the drawback of the class was that it was highly aim intensive at longer ranges, and it was hard to gear up properly for close-range fights since all the Mage gear was specced for far away combat and high mana.
  110.  
  111. He balanced this, a small amount, by playing a Dwarf. A short, stocky race whose primary benefit was higher health and greater health gains at higher levels. It was a novel concept and actually served him quite well. He became a mainstay in the party and eventually one of my closest friends.
  112.  
  113. Eventually, as it does, the topic came up of meeting in real life. I protested, but he was insistent. He had known me for years now, he reminded me, so I begrudgingly accepted.
  114.  
  115. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.
  116.  
  117. Normally, when one plays VR games, especially open world fantasy games, they do not play themselves. When I met Alanson for the first time outside of the game, I was surprised to meet an actual dwarf.
  118.  
  119. His eyes were a bright blue, almost crackling with lightning, and his large beard dominated his short frame. He wore tech across his arms that crackled and popped with electricity, armored silver gauntlets and pauldrons that drew attention for miles.
  120.  
  121. “You’re a but shorter than I imagined,” was all I could get out when I first saw him.
  122.  
  123. “Aye. ‘N yer a bit moore depressed than I imagined,” he responded, cracking a smile.
  124.  
  125. I chuckled in response. “Ass,” I joked. “It’s good to see you, friend.”
  126.  
  127. “And you, family. I’d like to offer ya a job.”
  128.  
  129. The rest, however, is history. I accepted, after much convincing. Alanson had a way with words. I imagine this was his way of helping me. I certainly appreciate it.
  130.  
  131. IV
  132.  
  133. “Your special mission,” Chief had said, “is to recruit Sheryl Discorsia Disenda. She is known as one of the galaxy’s most powerful psychics, born into a family of them on a planet of them, but with a defect that makes her ‘third eye’ open all the time. She hears voices from many lightyears away, constantly. Your goal is to seek her out, befriend her, and ask her to join our task force. Any questions?”
  134.  
  135. After I had said I didn’t, she handed me a dossier, full of information on this woman. I decided to try and meet her as organically as possible, so I skipped reading most of it, aside from a few key points of information.
  136.  
  137. She was a loner, and stayed in her apartment most of the time. Normally this would be a problem, except it seemed that she would frequently go to a nearby park to walk one a week or so.
  138.  
  139. The plan, then, would be to get her attention at the park. Thankfully, it was hard to miss her with her wiry frame towering above most other people. My only problem was with her tech augments. It appeared as if she was constantly wearing headphones. How would I get her attention, then?
  140.  
  141. I met her on a windy day. The park was relatively empty, and a light frost coated the grass there. I quite liked the park, so I had established a routine there already by walking dogs and idly playing a few sports.
  142.  
  143. She seemed to glide up to me, approaching me instead of me needing to approach her. “I’m curious,” she began, “and pardon me if this is insensitive, but I see you out here all the time, regardless of what the weather is. How do you stand this cold?”
  144.  
  145. “If you must know,” I said, “it’s because I have a fully augmented body. The only part of me that remains human is my mind.” I tapped on my forehead. “What about you? You don’t seem to be fully augmented, so how do you stand the weather?”
  146.  
  147. “Well,” she replied, “I’ve got some augments, but they’re a bit different than what most people have.” She brought her arm up and pulled the sleeve of her hoodie back to reveal jagged, black veins running up her arm. “These augments,” she said, tracing up her arm with her finger, “are designed specifically to dull my senses.” She turned around and showed me the back of her neck, which was completely black, her features given greater definition by the jagged machinery. “They cover my entire body,” she said as she turned back, pointing to the headphones covering her ears. “Everywhere from my head,” she brought her hand down past her torso to point at her legs, “to my feet. I was born unable to control my psychic abilities, and so if I were to lose my augments some way, I would be overwhelmed with others thoughts, sensations, and memories. As I am now, however, my power has been localized down to only being able to speak with others. Effectively, I am deaf and I cannot feel anything in my own body. That is why the cold doesn’t bother me, I simply cannot feel it.”
  148.  
  149. “That’s fascinating,” I said. “What a wonderful story you must have to tell. What’s your name?”
  150.  
  151. “I am Sheryl. And you are?”
  152.  
  153. “Lanan. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Sheryl.”
  154.  
  155. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, also, Lanan.”
  156.  
  157. “Say,” I said, “I’m a bit hungry. Care to join me for lunch?"
  158.  
  159. She stared for a moment, her pale face almost glowing like moonlight despite the sun shining brightly. “I suppose we could chat over lunch. I’m not very hungry though, so I hope you don’t mind if I don’t get anything.”
  160.  
  161. “Fair’s fair. I know a cozy place nearby we can relax at.”
  162.  
  163. So, we talked for a while as I ate, and she merely sipped on some water. We became fast friends, talking much about our lives and our hobbies. Eventually she mentioned that she was looking for something to take her mind off of things, so I told her that my boss was actually searching for new people. Surprisingly, she agreed to meet Chief. Shortly thereafter, we had a new recruit join our team.
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