Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Cyber This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
I look over the sleek metal paneling uncertainly, eyes scanning every detail in the wiring and cybernetics. Channels of blue run down the sides of the metal, pathways for the electronic messages to follow and flow from my brain to the makeshift foot, not yet connected to my temporarily mangled leg. It’s nothing special, really; just another state of the art cybernetic limb to replace my crippled foot, unable to move, too misshapen and broken to carry my weight.

They say it will work perfectly.

I honestly don’t believe them.

The surgery should be quick, taking only a few minutes to slice off the dysfunctional foot, and put in the computerized replacement. I will be unconscious the whole time, unfeeling, unconnected, unaware. I won’t feel its metal tendrils snaking into my nerves and latching on to their electronic signals. I won’t feel its connectors following through my veins and snaking up through my leg, my torso, my neck; and finally, my brain. I won’t feel anything except the sudden wholeness as I am completed once again, now only part human; part cyber.
They say it will work like new.

I’m really not sure what to make of it.

I haven’t heard any severe cases of haywire cybernetics, but it’s still a very open possibility. If the wiring doesn’t connect properly to my brain, and misses the nerves by less than a millimeter, it might not work at all. Just another useless limb sitting contentedly where my original mangled foot was minutes before. But if it misses by anything more than a millimeter, I could have a more problematic diagnosis of severe brain damage. Just another useless corpse lying in a morgue.

They, of course, say everything will be fine.

I seriously doubt that.

Getting this cybernetic limb, becoming a cyber, will render my status halved; just because I am wired up, against my will, I won’t be viewed the same way as I am now. When I am truly human. Being a cyber means less pay, less respect, less everything; and because the connectors in my brain could potentially be hacked, I could also be out of a job. The Royals can’t have any loose ends in their ranks, ends that the enemy can easily take advantage of to learn their secrets; I’ll be cast out, because I am a viability. Evoked. Probably never to see my lover’s face again. Chances are, after this, I won’t even remember him.

No loose ends, after all.

I have their secrets, and if I get hacked, the enemy could easily get in and sabotage the Royals’ plans. Leaving me alive means leaving the oppressors an open door to their secrets, and that could turn the war in their favor. Killing me, though, would be too obvious, too dirty. Better to just clear away my memory, secrets with it, and be done.

They said they won’t do it.

For once, I know for certain that they are lying.

When I get that foot on my leg, I won’t remember who I am. I won’t remember the countless nights staying up to pass my exams, the tests I had to face in order to reach my status in the Royal Guild. I won’t remember that priceless moment when they first approached me with a job offer - a job I had no idea where it would take me. I won’t remember my parents, my younger brother, my friends. Heck, I won’t even remember my own name.

I lie down on the examination table, fingers running across the cold metal that mirrors that of my future limb. Shivering in the harsh lighting, my eyes close against the fear; trying not to look at the sophisticated machine that is going to remove my mangled foot - the foot that was caught in a burning pillar, collapsing in my escape after stealing vital information from the enemy’s new weapon. The foot I lost for the bloody Royals who I know are just going to turn around and wipe everything I know about them away. If they have any sort of courtesy, they might leave me with my own personal history. But it will never be the same. I will never be myself again, and I can only hope that my new self will realize that.

And I can only hope that she searches with everything she has to figure out why.

Life has been good to me. My parents were good people, had good jobs that supported the family nicely, and kept us out of the slums. My younger brother was so sweet; the most lovable nuisance in the world. I went through school easily enough; not a perfect student, but not a bad one, either. I had good friends, that I trusted and trusted me in return.

When the Royals approached me, offering the job of a lifetime - their guild - I didn’t know what to think. They were a special group of individuals, who worked on decoding ciphers, spying on the enemy, occasionally stealing their plans, and getting a blueprint down for how the war could work in our favor. Apparently, I was prime material, but that wasn’t really what interested me - I was, after all, fresh out of college, and I hadn’t scored an amazing education there anyway. All I really wanted was a full-time job with good pay that I wouldn’t mind committing to; and here one was, presenting itself without any sort of reason. Of course I accepted.

That was probably the best thing I have ever done in my whole life.

Almost immediately after initiation, my world got crazy. It didn’t take long for me to realize what they had left out in the job description; not just planning safely behind desks - oh, no, there was field work. Every mission sounded so simple on paper, but as soon as you stepped into enemy territory to actually execute it correctly, the threat of being shot in the back of the head complicated things. I can’t count how many times I’ve stolen enemy information and nearly died, yet always successful. It’s not like they have a poor defense or anything. We’re just… better.

And then I met him - the boy who should have shot me as soon as he realized who I was. The boy I should have shot on sight, knowing perfectly well what side he was on; yet hesitating for one, vital moment that changed everything. The boy who revealed to me the truth about the Royals, about myself; about everything I knew. The boy who would make my loyalties shift forever.

His name was Anthony.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..

I was on a mission to intercept a transmission of orders directly from the enemy’s counsel, but in order to do so, I needed direct contact with one of their own radios. Ever since they revived the use of radio waves and figured out how to isolate a single wavelength to be inaccessible to any communicators except ones directly connected, no one could hack in. Unless, that is, someone like me was sent in to listen in on the transmission directly.

Clad in black with a technological cloak that confused ones perception of me when they looked my way, breaking in and getting the transmission was the easy part. Getting it out should have been even easier - and it would have been, if they hadn’t planted a bug in the wavelength that disabled my cloak and made me perfectly visible to any who looked at me, without me noticing a single difference in the cloak’s functionality.

We bumped into each other, really, myself in a self-assured haste to get out of the base before I was discovered, him off to complete some mundane delivery. In the collision, he had dropped the small box he was carrying, and almost out of instinct, I bent down to pick it up and handed it to him politely before realizing my mistake. Eyes widened, I muttered a short “Excuse me,” before trying to push past him.
But turning towards my fleeing figure, I heard him call out a single word; “Wait.”

And slowly, ever so slowly with my heart thumping in a panic, I turned to face him with a false confidence. I was a terrible liar - always have been - and my acting skills were no better. I’d never been in a situation where I had to lie my way out. In fact, I’ve never been in a situation where I was caught in the act before.

For whatever reason, he didn’t seem to need an explanation as to why I was running around in unusual clothes with guilt plastered over my face. “Where are you off to?” A cocky smirk. “You do realize the rendezvous is this way?” He gestured to the direction he was heading - the direct opposite of where I needed to go.

I nodded weakly, not sure how to handle this without looking suspicious. “Of course; I just need to drop something off first.” He didn’t react, making me pause skeptically. “Sir?”

It took less than a second for me to catch the confusion in his stare, even though he dismissed it quickly. Apparently people didn’t usually refer to him as ‘sir’; another thing that made me stand out. He nodded tightly, brow furrowed skeptically. “What exactly are you planning to drop off?” I caught his eyes running me over in search of some sort of package or supplies, and I blushed timidly, not used to being scanned so avidly.

It took me a moment to regain my bearings. “Um - pick up. I need to pick something up, not drop off.”

“Right. And that would be?”

I bit my lip nervously, mind scrambling. “Uniform?” The word slipped out with a faint squeak, myself perfectly aware how obviously doubtful it had sounded.

Another nod. “Do you need any help? You look lost.”

I opened my mouth to reply, but no sound came out. It took me a moment to warm up to the idea, but eventually I closed my mouth and gave a shallow nod of approval, stiff and completely unaware if this was the smart thing to do or not. Of course, if I was discovered, then it would all be for nothing - but if not, then I could get some real information. The sort of thing that could change the war entirely.
He smiled weakly, and shuffled the box in his hands. “This way.”

I know, it probably was dumb. You just don’t follow your enemy through his own compound after giving him a bucketload of obvious lies, hoping to still stay undercover while the news slowly spreads throughout the whole base, yourself unaware. I wasn’t planning on him finding out. I wasn’t planning on falling in love with him. I wasn’t planning on finding something that really would change the war entirely; myself with it.

None of it was supposed to happen. None of it.
But it did.
……………………………………………………………

I lean against the table, ready for whatever is going to happen next. The absence of my life, as it is torn away and replaced with a dark, gaping void, that I know will never be filled again. New memories will come to find homes there, but it will never the same. They may mold to the general shape of who I am on the outside, but on the inside, a new person will walk in my footsteps. I will never have existed. Some stranger will come to take my place.

For some reason, I’m not afraid. I’ve lived my life. I’ve been everything I have wanted to be, and found more than I could have ever expected to find. I made my loyalties, made my betrayals, chosen my side.

The Royals can figure out who I really was, what I really did, without my help. They can pretend to understand my choice to fight against them rather than follow the blueprints that I had helped create. They can try to unravel the knots I have tied around their plans - they can try to fight, but I cuffed their hands behind their backs years ago. They can keep on going, pretending that they will win, yet never knowing why this war even started. They can keep on believing in a goal that isn’t there; fighting a fight that they were programmed to create.
I don’t care anymore, because I know something that they can only wistfully feel, never understanding, never able to pry closer into the truth.

They will never comprehend that they are only puppets. Puppets that were strung without resistance, puppets that have forgotten the wiring etched into their souls, never seen on the outside yet engraved within. They will never be able to remember what the world was before they woke up on one of these examination tables, without meaning, without purpose.

They will never know who they were before they woke, and how that ignorance has turned them into who - what - they are now.

I don’t remember who I was the first time, but I do know who I am now. A malfunction. A puppet who fought against the lies and cut the strings that controlled me, and found the humanity tucked away within myself. Now, that resistance must be forgotten through new strings, so strong and unbreakable that I need an exterior piece that will control my every action, my every move, my every thought. It’s not about viability, it’s about humanity. But to them, it’s the same thing.

While they pretend to feel, pretend to live as souls uncontrolled and unstolen; while I slowly lose the very own humanity I fought so desperately to find; while they rely on the cybernetics that trace their veins, I will know the truth. About myself, the world; them.

Even though I will forget this truth, I will also know, deep down, that for a little while, I was more human than they ever were. And I know, deep down, that there is a chance that I will find myself again.

The sedative is cold as it seeps into my blood, and softly, everything goes black.



Join the Discussion


This article has 14 comments. Post your own!

Creative-WriterThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 5:58 pm:
This is one of the best story's I have ever read.  I recieved a moral from this writing -whether you meant to put one in there or not - and I liked it very much.  I COULD NOT stop reading, and was upset when it ended (for real) but the ending is good too!  There were a few mistakes I caught, but i'm sure if you re-read it, you would find them.  Great job! 
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
IcithraThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Sep. 28 at 9:19 am:
That was a really good story. While the first part wasn't as dramatic as the part with Anthony, the setting up of the world bit by bit kept me interested, and so did the forshadowing. Even a little more in that department wouldn't hurt. I love the idea of the Royals being robotically controlled, very creepy, but I was slightly -only very slightly- confused at whether or not the narrator was being controlled by the same force. Amazing story, overall, totally deserving an editors choice.
 
Kestrel135This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Sep. 29 at 8:00 pm :
I'm glad you like it! Your advice is really helpful, and I will definitely use it when I revise again. I understand your confusion with the main character being controlled or not - the answer is that she once was, but gradually found her way out of its control - and I will be sure to clarify next time I edit. Thank you so much for your help!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
CanadotasThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jul. 27 at 9:28 pm:
First, that's how you do an ending. Seriously good job there. As Jacob said, there definitely is some lacking in details, but I don't mind. I've tried writing a lot of sci-fi, and I find myself explaining how it got to this and what the new customs are and frankly it just gets boring. I'm glad that you leave things up to the imagination, but the romance could have been more developed. I do like how you keep "the truth" so vague. Good story!
 
Kestrel135This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Jul. 28 at 10:09 am :
Thanks! I do think the romance could have been a little longer, but since this is honestly one of my first times playing around with romantic writing, I wanted to keep it short. When I edit, I will definitely take your comments into account. Thank you so much for being honest and picking out the things that needed editing:) 
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
JacobTheOrdinaryThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jul. 20 at 4:18 pm:
this piece was attention grabbing and had me from the star. the only criticism I have is that I wish that there was more. You leave the story on a cliff-hanger and the story is over. It's the AIA paradox. (The AIA paradox comes from John Green's "The Fault In Our Stars" When a fictionous novel ends mid-sentence and the characters do not have resolution. At the end of the story, the characters no longer exist because the story is over and so is the fictionous world they live in.... (more »)
 
Kestrel135This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Jul. 20 at 6:16 pm :
Thank you! And although when I initially wrote this I was aiming for the AIA paradox (love the reference:) I have been reconsidering about whether or not to expand it into a novel. Right now I am busy working on another story, but when I am done I will start to seriously consider this option. Thank you for your comments!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
LillyZ83This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jul. 18 at 10:53 am:
Wow! I'm not usually into sci-fi but this is great! An awesome job! Keep up the great writing!
 
Kestrel135This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Jul. 19 at 5:38 pm :
Thank you so much! (I'm sorry I couldn't reply sooner, had absolutely no access to a computer since I was at a music camp... This was very nice to come back to:)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
LillyZ83This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jul. 18 at 10:51 am:
Had me on the edge of my seat! Awesome job! Keep up the good work!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
IMSteelThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jul. 17 at 9:06 am:
Wow. This was amazing; blew me away. I usually add som sort of constructive critisism, but this story is one of the few on here that even I can't critisize. The emotion there on the end nearly made me cry. Great story, I definately look forward to reading more of your work, and probably seeing some of it published. Keep writing!
 
Kestrel135This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Jul. 19 at 5:57 pm :
Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed this, and honestly thrilled that the emotions came through. Thank you so much for your comments. However, I have to ask - does the ending make sense to you? Was it clear that (*spoiler*) the Royals and their side were all cybernetically controlled by some greater power? I wasn't sure if it came through clearly enough, and since I'm considering entering this into a contest these picky details are vital. Also, is the 'romance' part really an... (more »)
 
IMSteelThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Jul. 20 at 9:31 pm :
Interrogate me all you like! That's part of making your stories the best they can be! Now, (and I am thinking what I write through carefully), the ending did suggest to me that they were all being controlled, though in a subtle way that left room for suspense, so that was perfect! The romance was brief, but impacting, because it is from the man on the enemy's side that she learns the truth. I definately think that this story is contest material, though you may want to define the language to ... (more »)
 
Kestrel135This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Jul. 21 at 3:40 pm :
Thank you, that really helps! I was hoping the ending would be subtle and suspenseful while the general concept came through (really, when I wrote it I hadn't come to the latter conclusion that they were all cybernetically controlelled yet). I have edited a little bit so the language is a little better, and thank you for pointing out the problems in this piece. You have no idea how much I appreciate this! When I'm done stirring around with the novel I'm currently trying to complete, ... (more »)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback