The Dream Twister - September 2003
The Orborg Treatment - Matt Kaplan
Fifty Five Words, Four Letters - Anon.
(page 7/14)


The Orborg Treatment

Matt Kaplan

Dr. Frank D. Richards dropped the cigar from his lips and turned to face Laertes Remington, "You can't be serious. Lay John off? But he's one of the best that we've got and his work is critical!"

Remington fixed him with a stare from his metallic eye, "What are you talking about. He's working on a rubbish neurolax drug for brain surgery; I hardly call that critical! And Frank, the fact is, as an oborg he can't be upgraded, he is thus fallible, and a liability to our company."

Richards dropped his eyes from the cold metal of his corporate partner and started up the statistics database plugged into his cerebral cortex. He gingerly tapped the wires running out the back of his skull, he hated the oppression he saw developing against those few who couldn't use cyber equipment. But if he did fire John, could that possibly increase his chances of successfully completing the project? He didn't think his partner knew what John was really up to and it that was certainly the way things needed to stay, but was firing him the best way to protect the project? It certainly was a gamble, but if there was anyone who could pull this off it was John Kelsey.

"You know what needs to be done doctor, I'll be in my office while you think it over." Remington turned towards the door.

The numbers flashed through Richards' infiltrated synapses, "Ok, do it."

Remington turned and his lips registered a faint smile.

"Deal with it for me though," Frank blurted in, "I want to keep my hands clean of this."


The heavy yellow release notice dropped out of his pigeonhole like a bolt from the heavens, but Dr. John Kelsey couldn't be bothered with it at the moment, his mind was elsewhere. As he made his way back to the lab he paid no attention to the looks his unimproved body drew from his enhanced colleagues, he was too busy considering a possible new method of attacking his problem. It had now been fourteen years since the start of the cybernetic revolution, and John was one of the unfortunate few who was termed an oborg, an obligate organic, an individual whose body rejected even the most bio friendly implants. He and his kind were meeting with ever increasing disdain and prejudice as they were deemed less useful, less capable, less evolved. But that would change if his new theory proved correct.

Dr. Kelsey slipped the door to his lab open and got to work on the new neurolax drug equation he had been considering all morning. Hours passed and the work was going splendidly. He was all but ready to run the serum through the chemo-analysis computers downstairs when the door shot open. Remington's cyber eye scanned the room, "Dr. Kelsey."

Barely acknowledging the disruption and continuing his work, John spoke out "Laertes, I know."

Remington's organic eye squinted in irritation. "You have been relieved of duty doctor," he stated mechanically.

Ignoring Remington, Kelsey poured the remaining ounces of the serum into a flask and sealed the top. Sensing the defiance in the air, Remington scanned through the security menus in his implanted communications computer, "Very well doctor, we will have it your way."

The graphic of the government security seal gleamed brightly in his wired eye just before the image of Alfred Helix flickered on.

"Ah, Laertes dear boy, good news from my end. We got the last votes just this morning." "That is good news, who caved?"

Helix glanced about, "I'm encrypting the names and transmitting them directly."

"Encryption Sir?" Remington's cyber eye fired up static.

"Oh stop the fussing" Helix said, "you might say that some of our supporters are not particularly interested in drawing attention to themselves, that's all."

Remington grinned coolly. "I suppose a vote's a vote eh. We now have even more reason to celebrate tomorrow evening."

"Indeed we do." Helix smiled back, "Until then."


John stood at the steps to his home removing posters reading "You know what oborgs are good for? Nothing!" and "No Defective Genes In Our Pool!" He dragged into the house and found the lights out. "Helen?" A small dog ran up to smother his ankle with affection. "Hey Sal" he brushed the pooch off and wandered into the kitchen for a glass of milk and snack, a note stuck to the door of the fridge read: "Mom and Dad decided to drop into town. Since I know how much you LOVE your inlaws I decided to just go and visit with them on my own. There's turkey in the fridge. Kisses, Helen." "Well looks like we are on our own tonight, come on kid, I'm gonna hit the books." Not wanting to waste more time while the equations were all still fresh in his mind, John grabbed his notes and closed himself up in the office with Sal. As he sat down he absentmindedly fiddled with his mangled Rubik's cube. He rotated the various sides and abruptly set the thing down, "Ah, forget it". He looked at the flask and then went paging through the lab data. Was it true? Could this serum do what every oborg had long hoped and provide enhanced neurologic control without having to jam wires and chips into the human skull?

"My God Sal, I think I've done it!" Sal, happily resting on a pillow, was a little less than enthusiastic. "Gosh, I really wish I could scan this." John had the cube in his hands again, the sides rotating like the gears of a machine; it was a swirl of color and a nightmare of complexity. "Unless I had a willing test subject." Sal and John's faces slowly drifted to face one another, suddenly their eyes locked, "I suppose without the lab equipment there's only one willing oborg around to test this stuff on."


The crowd in the auditorium cheered at deafening levels as Alfred Helix was lead onto the stage by several other distinguished looking individuals. Banners reading "Heal us Helix", "Helix for Mayor", and "Helix will Help" are hung all around the room. A very formal looking gentleman from the on stage crowd stepped forward and addresses the crowd using his own implanted volume amplifier, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the honorable Judge Alfred Helix!" The crowd went ballistic as Helix stepped forward, waving with his cybernetically enhanced hand, "My friends, I am honored and humbled to stand here, where so many of our party's nominated candidates have come before me, and so many will follow. Through much of the last decade, our nation's adamant movement toward self improvement through education, understanding, and physical alteration has created a people that can do more than any of our ancestor ever dreamed. Our physical and mental prowess due to technology and study are the sharpest the world has ever known. We are a rock in a raging sea of confusion and the world looks to us for guidance. Our faith in self-improvement is more than the creed of our country, it is the inborn hope of our humanity, an ideal we carry but do not own, a trust we bear, and must pass along. And even after nearly 345 years, we have a long way yet to travel. While advanced as a people, like a vein of gold in a mountain, we are still impure. Not all of us have the physical ability to step forward into the future and so must be carried from the quarry so that the gold can reach its highest value. My friends, the oborgs are a danger to the advancement we seek. It has been shown that their genes when mixed with our own reduce our ability to be physically improved and thus damage our population. We do no justice to ourselves, our children, or our species by allowing them to remain roaming free and spreading their weaker genes. It is for this reason that I, Alfred Helix, will stand as protector of your interests, and defend you from the impurities of our society!" The crowd roared with enthusiasm. "I stand before you as a candidate who will clean up this city and clear the way for our species to evolve to the highest levels, thank you very much, and God Bless!" A standing ovation broke out amidst a roar of approval.


"Frank I'll tell you, it's going to be closer than that! He could potentially beat me." Warren spat out.

Frustrated at his friend's pessimism, Frank Richards exhaled deeply, "Warren, the guy's rating has nowhere to go but up! And besides you are the incumbent, statistics show..."

"Forget the stats" Warren sighed, "he's no longer just pulling the support of racists he's pulling the economically minded into his court! The scales are tipping."

Frank looked at his old friend quizzically, "What's the timetable to the election anyway?" He smiled as Warren cracked his boney knuckles and drew a planner out of his coat pocket. Nearly thirteen years ago, before ever running as a city official, Warren Cheltenham had been tested for cyber acceptance. His body's acceptance rating had gone off the chart, he could have been a walking technical wonder, yet he had opted to remain 100% human. The decision played perfectly into his campaign ten years ago when cybered individuals were few, far between, and feared. Things had changed.

"We don't have much time at all," Warren muttered, "three weeks to turn things around at the maximum. If the whole obsolete oborg argument wasn't running rampant I wouldn't even have to break a sweat over this." Richards hopped out of his chair.

"Where are you going?"

Richards threw on his coat "I just had a thought, I'll be back in a bit."


Sal lifted herself up from the pillow and nudged her master's leg. As he began to stir a syringe dropped down off of his desk. "Hey kid. Gosh, what the... I must have dozed off" his eyes scanned the room and landed on the syringe. "Oh my" he searched through his notes, glanced at his watch, and groaned. "Well, I'm an ideal candidate for the Darwin awards. I'd better go and get this properly tested before I turn green and keel over from whatever side effects this stuff has." He grabbed the flask and left the office, Sal close on his heels. If perhaps just an extra minute had been spent studying his surroundings he might have noticed his Rubik's cube sitting on the back corner of the desk, perfectly solved.


"Sir that was outstanding, Mayor Cheltenham does not stand a chance of making reelection with enthusiasm like that."

Helix's wired hand sat his glass of brandy down on Remington's desk, the office was a bit austere but the security was good and the liquor cabinet excellent, making it an ideal location for their weekly meetings, "Careful Laertes, there are oborg sympathizers and Warren will rally them." Remington's metallic eye regarded him coolly; Helix draped his arm over the larger man's shoulder. "Look dear boy, Warren Cheltenham could indeed be re-elected. All we need to do is show the populace that oborgs are a threat to our community, succeed in that and the power is ours."


The moon was only a Cheshire cat grin, but John could see the details of the security wires on the window alarm perfectly. Clip, clip, snap. Certainly glad he had been able to so easily recall all the electrical engineering he had studied in college he slid the window open and slipped inside. He made sure to place his feet down toe first so as to distribute his weight as silently as possible. He scanned the stygian room and noticed a small infrared detection beam aimed right along the edge of the door. John crept over to the device and within seconds of looking at the wiring had deactivated it.


"You see, it's that simple!" Helix chuckled.

Remington shifted slightly and added "Speaking of which, the last oborg of Neurocrup was released from duty today."

Helix sipped his brandy and sat back, "Oh good, that's one company cleansed, Neurocrup and its great success will stand as an example of what can get done with oborgs gone. So what was the swine's name."

Remington paused for a moment just as the vermilion security light on his eye suddenly flickered on, "Excuse me sir, I will be back in a moment."


The plug connecting Richards to the data deck hummed with activity, he took a moment to glance around the lab "Good god John, this place is a mess, how did you ever get anything done?" Suddenly mesmerized by the data running across his cortex, "Goodness, you were an awfully busy fellow. A small beep emanated from the data deck, "All right, that about does it." He disconnected and made his way to the door.


The safety to the weapon clicked off and the laser target activated. A paperweight sailed through the air and landed perfectly on the back of his head. The gun dropped and the guard immediately fell to the ground with a resounding thud. John stopped and looked at his hands "I was always good at baseball, but this is ridiculous. I have got to check this stuff out. He walked over to the guard and took a pulse, "Sorry Jack, I can't have you telling anyone I'm here." He pulled out his clippers and snipped the wires connected to the guard's external security neckdeck. John approached the computer and slid the flask out of his pocket. He took a drop and stuck it into the analysis chamber, he sighed, "Now the tough part, waiting." His eyes drifted to the gun.


"Good evening sir." The guard stood at attention as Richards passed by.

"Yeah, just working late you know." He had only been analyzing Kelsey's data in his head for a few minutes, but Richards was already aware of the fact that Kelsey was no longer at the fringe of making a tremendous breakthrough, he had done it. He walked into the security office; "I need to speak with Dr. John Kelsey immediately. What address do we have listed for him?" As his eyes passed over the various security camera screens he was taken aback by the police cars pulling up outside of the facility. "Sweet Jesus!"


The computer readout spat out across the screen and John had just set the printer to work when he heard the door behind him creek open. "Step away from the computer Dr. Kelsey, this is private property and you are trespassing."

John slowly turned to face a cyber pistol linked to the chilling eye of Laertes Remington. "Alright, I am unarmed. Don't shoot."

"Step over to me with your hands up, you are under arrest." As John slowly walked toward Remington he caught sight of the cyber pistol's battery power wiring. He paused. "Come on, no delaying, Dr. Kelsey." John continued forward and focussed every ounce of thought on the wire attachment. "There you are, your cooperation is much..."

Suddenly John flew into a blur of action, the cable cracked loose from the pistol and a swift punch landed on Remington's jaw. As his adversary fell back he turned, grabbed the flask, the printed data sheets, and made a mad break for the door. He was almost in the clear when an electric pulse hit him from behind. The pain flew through his system and he hit the floor hard. He struggled to regain his footing but was met with a kick that knocked the wind out of his chest. "That was very skilled Dr. Kelsey, I am not sure how you managed to so quickly sabotage my weapon, but I promise it won't happen again." Remington slammed his fist into John's chest and used his cyber-enhanced muscles to fling him like a rag doll across the room. Gasping for air Kelsey lifted his head and caught sight of the guard's gun, which he had refused to use earlier. Remington was striding forward, cyber blades extending from his hands; John knew what he had to do.


The little man was moving swiftly down the hall ahead of him. Police and guards were swarming everywhere since the security breach signal had gone out, but this guy didn't appear to be of guard stature, or armed for that matter. All the more reason to follow him. In an instant all the systems in Richards' head went into a temporary static. "What the..." He turned toward the door the pulse had come through and punched in the security access code. He opened the door just in time to see a man on the floor aiming a gun at the imposing figure of Laertes Remington. Richards gasped, "Laertes!" but the words barely left his throat. Remington continued forward as the gun fired. He instantly stopped and hovered for a moment before crumbling to the floor. "Oh my!" was all Richards could say before a heavy weight suddenly hit him in the head.

"You bastard!" hollered a vaguely familiar voice.

Richards fell forward, disoriented as he watched a little man move forward and kneel next to Remington. Blood was flowing into Richards's eyes, he was stunned, "Helix?"

Not skipping a beat, Helix lunged forward and grabbed the gun out of John's hand. There was a faint attempt at resistance, but not much. "You must be that oborg slime that got fired today" Helix cocked the gun with his metallic hand. John could barely move his body, yet his mind was clear. He saw weakness in the little man standing over him, a genuine lack of will. The gun was now aimed at his head. The danger was real. He instinctively streamlined his thoughts and closed his eyes in concentration. Helix snickered, "One less oborg, I am doing the world a..." John's hand launched up and twisted Helix's cyber arm to an inhuman angle. John took a deep breath as he drew upon all he had left and threw his other hand into Helix's forehead. The gun dropped out of Helix's hands as he clutched his skull and lost consciousness.


The champagne glasses clinked with the cheerful chime so often associated with celebration.

Richards smiled, "So how does it feel to be a partner?"

"Good" John paused in thought, "although I don't know how I am going to keep discipline without that metal thing Remington always used."

"Ack, the eye." Richards grimaced, "I hated that from the moment I saw it." He grew silent.

"What's the matter?" John asked.

"Oh I was just thinking about Helix. That genocidal maniac could still make it into office."

John broke out laughing.

"I'm serious, there are a lot of xenophobic people out there thirsty for what that guy stands for!"

"Helix is done." John replied evenly.

Richards looked at him quizzically, "How can you be sure."


Helix sitting alone, miles away at his campaign headquarters paused from his writing for a moment. Almost absent-mindedly he slid the metal glove off of his hand and nursed his very human, very bruised wrist.


John gave Richards a sly glance; "Blackmail is a marvelous thing."



Fifty Five Words, Four Letters

Anon.

Are we falling the level of sand in a glass
Slow fall at first heading to the terminal velocity
The sand speed remains constant true trickling remorselessly
From the sea still vast to river broad
Its tributaries followed backwards to source
The flow in reverse quickening
Marching smoothly evenly always
Ever onwards to
Its conclusion
Fini