Surrender To The Cyborgs(6)

By: Grace Goodwin

After she died, my dad had tried to hang on. He’d made it until I left for college. And then he’d drunk himself to death.

Guilt. What a weak word for the emotions that roared through me when I thought of my father. I never should have left him alone. I knew he still missed her. I knew he fought his own demons. But I’d been eighteen, and eager to go out into the world and start a new life. I’d moved a thousand miles away for college, only returning home a couple times a year. I’d walked away, and he’d faded right under my nose. Big mistake. Huge.

No. I was not walking away from this.

Warden Egara sighed and I did not welcome the disappointment or resignation I saw in her eyes, as if I was making the wrong choice.

“Very well. Please know the match has been made, recorded and filed in your record. If you change your mind, it is your legal right to contact me. Should you choose to become a bride, all charges will be dropped, your record will be cleared and you will be sent to your mates immediately.”

As she spoke, she lifted a strange, hand-held device to the side of my head and I yelped as a sharp, biting pain struck my temple.

“Oww!” I twisted away from her, tugging on the restraints with renewed determination. “What was that?”

“I’m sorry, Rachel, but it was necessary.” She walked away and placed the odd, cylinder-shaped object down on the table before turning back to me with her data pad firmly in hand and a frown on her face. “And I’m sorry for the headache you’ll have for the next few hours. Normally, you would be in transport while your brain adapted to the NPU, but you won’t have that luxury.”

“NPU? What is that?” I wanted to lift my hand to the side of my temple and rub the aching spot there. What the hell had she just done? “What did you do to me?”

The restraints about my wrists came undone with a single swipe of the warden’s finger on her tablet. She lifted her gaze from the tablet to meet mine, and I saw no sympathy there, more like pity. “The NPU is a neural processing unit required for transport off the planet. Its neural technology will merge with your brain’s language centers, allowing you to understand and speak all known languages of the Coalition Fleet. You can’t be processed as a bride without one.”

“I don’t want to be a bride.” As I rose to stand, a guard walked in with the all too familiar shackles, a long chain rattling between the wrist cuffs. I knew where he would take me, back to prison, back to solitary confinement where the guards would treat me like I was invisible, a rat in a cage that needed food and water, and nothing else. Still, that was better than the alternative. I didn’t want to be more to them than another inmate, another mouth to feed. I didn’t want them to notice me.

But I was innocent. Surely my attorney and my friends on the outside would figure out the truth. I had to believe the judge sitting my case would see through the prosecution’s lies.

“If you didn’t want to be a bride, then why did you follow your attorney’s recommendation for processing?” Her question struck a nerve, but I refused to back down. I refused to believe the justice system would fail me so completely.

“Just in case.”

Her nod was quick and precise. “Exactly. And now you have an NPU, just in case.”

She threw my own words back at me, but the underlying tone made it clear she believed I would be back, sooner rather than later. And if the system failed me and I was convicted, maybe I would come back. That dream. My body still ached with lust. I wanted those big hands on my body. I felt like I was a touch starved idiot, but I wouldn’t stop thinking about the way their hands had stroked my skin, their huge cocks had stretched me open. The intense pleasure as I’d ridden them to the strongest orgasm of my pathetic life.

A fake orgasm, from some stupid computerized highjack of my brain. If I understood the process correctly, I’d been living another woman’s actual memories, experiencing what she experienced.

The whole thing freaked me out. And I didn’t want to leave Earth. I wanted my damn life back, and I was going to get it.

I could survive another two months in solitary. I refused to break. But a nagging voice had begun to haunt me in the quiet silence of my existence in the prison. Even if I beat the charges and won my appeal, what would become of me? Even if I were allowed to go home, would I ever be truly free? If the charges were dropped, if my name was cleared, there would always be those who doubted, who would consider me and any data I found to be tainted. No lab would touch me. At least not in the US. I’d have to relocate, start a new life.

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