In Medea's Arms

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Aerem, Nov 20, 2015.

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  1. In a future world, society is crushed by a debilitating and deadly sickness of unknown origin. Leading health companies can't find a cure, and everyone is doing what they can to survive. As the world succumbs to this superbug, a dying scientist develops a potential cure and stores it inside his robotic companion, Briana. Now, she is tasked with finding survivors and giving them the cure.

    Timeline
    Day 1: First known infection (index case) occurs in a hospital in the United States. Doctors cannot identify illness.
    Day 10: First infected patient dies, local doctors still unsure of cause. Attribute it to complications from other illness.
    Day 20: Illness has spread at state level. Reports come in of several outbreaks of very different illnesses occurring simultaneously.
    Day 30: Regional doctors now concerned about a violent outbreak of several highly virulent diseases, World Health Organization officials sent in.
    Day 90: With lethality increased, other countries report similar outbreaks. WHO officials now suspect web of illnesses tied to one origin disease.
    Day 120: State borders begin to shut down as death tolls rise towards the 1,000 mark. WHO officials name "MRPA" as culprit.
    Day 150: Country borders start shutdown as WHO activates its global influenza laboratory network and calls for heightened global surveillance.
    Day 180: Civil unrest has gripes the globe, as the cure for MRPA continues to be fruitless. The death toll has now hit the 10,000 mark easily.
    Day 240: Anarchy has now taken hold of many African and Southeast Asian countries. Eastern Europe floods with refugees it cannot handle, while those in the United States flee south and north. Chaos takes hold.
    Day 360: About one year since index case. 1 in 7 of all people on earth are now dead. Paranoia has overtaken prudent thought. Governments have collapsed. No cure is in sight.
    Day 1825: Five years after index case. Earth is barren of most human life, with only a declining population of about 250 million remaining. Humanity is officially critically endangered. B.R.I.A.N.A. is finally activated.
    ____________


    B.R.I.A.N.A. - Blood-transfusion, Regen and Recovery, Immunization, and Nanomachine Automaton



    Dr. Oleg Chudanov



    The Bleeding Man

    _________________​




    "It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives;
    but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself...
    so says Charles Darwin in his Origin of Species. Nothing involving human beings remains static."


    - Excerpt from Leon C. Megginson's "Key to Competition is Management. Petroleum Management, 1964.




    A flick of a hidden switch, and the quiet hum of machinery coming to life followed. "Briana: activate." Blood fell from the man as he fell to his knees.

    The room was sparse, surgical. In the corner laying a rotting corpse, remarkably well preserved all things considered. The lab coat hung around it like a casket, its name tag reading Oleg Chudanov along with some other writing that was blotted out by now long clotted blood. A relatively clean laboratory, the corpse of Dr. Oleg was kept company by six new ones which were cloistered near the entrance. Rosy splotches adorned their war-like clothing, and it stood in stark contrast to the pristine research equipment dotting the shelves and shiny operating tables interspersed through the room.

    The man was now kneeling before the pod, the robot within still whirring into activation. Gentle drops, like crimson on a snowy plain, fell from his chest onto the white tiled floor. One hand clutched to his chest, the gun was held limply in his other hand, still smoking. The man's breathing rang desperate as a beggar in his chest.

    He looked up at the robot's face. Cheeks carved, rendered, a smooth series of grooves on an otherwise beautiful figure. It did not look robotic, but it did not look human. There was something lacking.

    Not that he looked any better. Dusty jacket, rugged jeans, and mismatched brown shoes made for an unkempt sight. The stubble on his face was too long to be called a shadow, too short to be called a beard. Brown hair hung in uneven strands around the pools of his eyes, now tinged with red irritation. Were it not for his state, he might've seemed in genuflection before this synthetic statue.

    "Wake up, activate. Whatever." Coarse, dry hisses of words. The air left him in a smooth but tortured baritone. "Just... just get up." Head lolling about, the man's eyes unfocused as they attempted to gaze at their hopeful savior. "Just... please... get up."​
     
    #1 Aerem, Nov 20, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 3, 2016
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  2. "The Three Laws of Robotics:

    1: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm;

    2: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law;

    3: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law;

    The Zeroth Law: A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm."

    Isaac Asimov, "I, Robot"

    ~
    Silence greeted the awakening. Well, almost silence. The gentle clicks of her pod being tapped by the bleeding man and the following hums were the only thing to fill the room. Perhaps if she'd been expecting something, she might have wanted a little more of a celebration. Perhaps it was a good thing she wasn't programmed to foresee such things.

    The man's first summons did nothing to wake her from her technical slumber, but his second and third begging statements had a small effect. The fingers at the end of the smooth, robotic arm twitched, metal appendages clinking together. She raised her arm as the pod hissed and cracked open. The next things to move were her eyes, and as she blinked, her bright red gaze immediately fell on the man in front of her. "Scanning." Her voice, though marked with the tinges of a robotic echo, was smooth, calm in a way that only a non-human being could be.

    Her processing gaze observed the room, cataloging the lifeless bodies and storing the sights into her memory banks. The unblinking red eyes settled on one form in particular, and it was only because she could properly identify him. Oleg Chudanov, age 68, status: deceased. Cause of death... Unknown. Alert: missing information recorded in Chudanov, Oleg's database. Recovery of data is necessary to continue processing.

    Like any human might do, the robot ignored the inner caveat dictated by her programming. Oleg Chudanov was dead, and she could not help death.

    However, she could help the man losing his own life in front of her. "Hello," she stated, metallic joints clinking together as she completely stepped out of the pod. "I am Briana, your personalized helper in your time of need." Rather than making him stand, the robot knelt to his level, crimson eyes assessing him. With one glance, it was clear this man was in no way healthy, since no human was meant to bleed in such a way. His face was sunken and his clothes were tattered and worn. He was a man who had been through harsh experiences, if the smoking gun was any indication.

    "Please state your name and how you have injured yourself. If it pains you to speak, you may refrain from answering. Please be aware that your answers may be recorded for quality assurance purposes."
     
    #2 Saren, Nov 20, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
  3. "Yeah, whatever." Muscles tensed in anguish, red pooling on the floor. The man's head lifted to look Briana in her face. In the back of his mind, he had the terrible urge to laugh. What if the robot mistook his words as his name? Was there programming for that? He chuckled, though it came out as only coughed up blood. Nothing humorous rang throughout the lab.

    "Marcus. Foss." Each word was strenuous, strained through the pain in his chest. "The disease... I got it. Got shot." This was all he could manage. He could already feel choking in his throat, that tickle in the back that had nothing to do with thirst or too much talking. He could already sense the clenching tide of sickness overcoming him. It hid in his three wounds, scavengers in a bloodied land now capitalizing on this tragedy. It was a curious sensation, dying.

    Collapsing to the floor, Marcus was overcome with spasms, shocked little movements. The gun clattered to the floor as one hand went to his mouth and the other to his chest; blood spurted out of both as the coughing overtook him. His head swam, he felt warm. His vision was blurring, and still behind the shock of the three gunshots he could feel the disease begin to spread. Legs kicked, and he fell into curled shaking.

    "Please..." It was all he managed between the vicious seizing. Barely a word, barely a thing. Writhing on the floor as clear thought was washed away by the pain, he held fast to one last irony: there the cure was, and he was still going to die.
     
  4. The man spoke with gasping breaths. Perhaps it had been wrong to ask him to talk. She knew her users weren't supposed to sound like that, nor were they supposed to look at her with such pleading gazes. They weren't supposed to die before her. Database started. Name: Marcus Foss, age: unknown, status: alive. Injuries: gunshot wound to chest and diseased. Name of disease: MPRA. Optimal solution: cure.

    Yes, a cure. The cure. As the personalized helper, she had it. Her primary goal was to distribute this cure to everyone. And that would start with Marcus.

    However, there was little she could do with his thrashing. She couldn't sedate him with anything; she was only equipped with a basic, humanoid exoskeleton. The inside of her was what really mattered in the long run. Placing a hand on Marcus's forehead, she pushed down, holding his head back. Her other hand pressed on his abdomen, trying to force him to stop moving. "Do your best to remain still. A cure works best when distributed properly."

    Any proper action wasn't in the cards for her, since her first patient had two killers inside his body and supplies seemed scarce around the body-littered room. But she couldn't let him die. If her first patient died, what kind of helper was she?

    Leaning down, Briana's mouth clicked as she opened the metallic lips, but she didn't speak. Instead, the smooth panels on her face slid open and back. A pair of syringe-like fangs emerged from amidst the complex wiring in her neck. A reddish liquid sloshed on the inside of the glass, and it looked more like blood than a cure. There wasn't really time to question just what it was, for the fangs latched onto Marcus's neck and sank into his pallid skin. The liquid cure inside the glass fangs hardly drained at all, but it was injected nonetheless. The motion was quick, and there was likely pain, but it would pass. Now that the cure was in his system, it would be only a matter of minutes before it cleaned up the bacteria and eradicated the disease running rampant in his blood.

    There was still the matter of his gun shot wound. One step at a time was all she could take.

    "Do not try to move while the cure is working. I will return shortly." In one fluid motion, the robot stood, stepping around her charge to dig through the drawers. She saw many things she knew the names of, but nothing seemed useful. There was little time to process everything, and the intense rate that she was downloading information about her surroundings was overwhelming. Finally, she found some semblance of bandages, but whether or not they were sterile or useful wasn't something she could determine. But, they would have to do, for there was no special cure for a gun shot wound.
     
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  5. Thoughts of sheep being pinned for shearing came to mind as Briana forced him into place. He could do nothing but feel totally helpless. The white reflective surfaces and cool silvers danced along his vision's horizon as one great blur, as he felt the gentle but thorough pressure of this machine on him.

    It had been fine up until this moment. Between the shooting pain and the blurred shock, he had been unable to truly process anything. Then, though, he saw the mouth. Saw the way that if opened and then unfolded. For a moment, all he could do was stare. All he could do was watch as this thing, this last hope, descended upon him and sunk it's terrible syringes into his neck. The pain of that barely registered among the rest of his hurts, but he cried out nonetheless. Legs thrashing, arms whipping about, the automaton didn't register any of his discomfort.

    Warmth enveloped his neck, and for a moment he blacked out.

    Flickering, his vision returned. The first thing he saw was the blood seeping out of him. A memory came to him: there he was in the shower, a mere boy, cupping water in his hands against his chest, and then letting it all fall down. Letting it splash against the ground, and puddle at his feet.

    Clicking and clacking, the footsteps of his synthetic attendant rang out on the linoleum. He remembered, too late, some vague warning about not moving, and the turn of his head caused his neck to burn and his chest to feel like it was tearing itself apart. "Achgh!" A cry caught in his throat. "Fuck." He lowered his head back to its resting position. White pain, searing sharpness, ravaged the core of his body. And now his neck felt like fire.

    "I can't..."Everything was moving too fast. Everything was spinning lazily around his sight. His breathing came rapidly, but shallow; quick scoops against an emptied container. While his neck felt warm, the rest of him felt cold, squeamish. A clamminess had settled in over him, and go figure since he was covered in sweat. Suddenly he realized he had been staring at the same portion of the room for what seemed like quite some time. Blinking hard, he refocused elsewhere.

    "If you've got a... a knife... that, can help." He could feel where the bullets had lodged. He knew the damage wasn't too deep. The sweet burning must be the sign that the disease was being eradicated, so that was the real worry. He told himself this as blood kept spilling from his chest, reassured his safety by ignoring his overwhelming weakness. "Lift me up on a... on a desk. Tray thing. Table. Put me there." Short spurts of words, like the short spurts of blood that still slipped from the ruined clothes he had on.
     
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  6. His curses had her head swiveling to peer down at him, noting his movements. Perhaps it was common for humans not to listen to their helpers. No matter the case, Marcus was acknowledging his pain and was doing his best to remain still, though he still had words to say. It was remarkable that he could talk through the blood pouring out of him. It was also probably something she should take care of. A gun shot wound wasn't going to heal on its own.

    Balling up the scraggly bandages, the robot returned to his side, attentively taking his words into consideration. "Knives are bad for you health, Mr. Foss," she stated, as if bullets weren't already lodged in his chest. Still, she slid one hand under his back and another along the bend of his knees, lifting him up. Given that everyone in the room was dead, there was plenty of counter space to be had. However, that was about the only thing she had to her advantage. There was no antiseptic, no numbing agent, not even a pill for pain. She was working on the bare minimum, and as hard as she could try, her patient was still going to suffer.

    Briana sat Marcus up on the counter, and as her arms moved away, her fingers clinked together. The metallic skin pulled back like before, and a pair of wiry pliers emerged from her index and middle fingers. "I apologize if I cause you discomfort," she said as she tore a few strips of bandages and tying them together. She placed one ripped section beside Marcus for the bullets, bending so she was eye level with his still oozing wound. "If it would help, you may hold onto me." Red eyes focused on his wound before her finger-turned-tool began the slow work of extracting the bullets, her other free hand keeping pressure on the wound to lessen the bleeding.
     
  7. The sensation was indescribably uncomfortable. When a hand pushes on another person's skin, there's usually a warmth to it; people are usually able to differentiate between a finger poking them and the eraser of a pencil. Yet the palm which pressed on Marcus' wound, while distinctly inhuman in characteristic, had all the reactions of a living thing. When his chest heaved and a fine mist of blood sprayed out of his mouth, the pressure reacted, and then made sure to press down further.

    In his pain, Marcus focused on the difference in sensation to calm him. The hand on his chest pressed down, surely as a doctor's would, yet there was no approximation to it. It was precisely placed, and no further. It did not let up when he coughed again, but remained in its location. An aperture, more than anything else, held him in place.

    When the finger delved into his chest, he did not see it. Its presence there was enough to make him seize. Each bit of the small caliber bullets could be felt in the cushion of the now dying disease and still traumatized tissue. As unnerving as it was to feel the metal there, it was even more so to feel something decidedly not human digging it out. More metal would have been a reassurance, but the finger tool did not have this quality.

    Lines were being drawn in him, he could feel them. Somewhere, the pain of a nicked rib caused him to see stars. No more words could escape, only blood. Body nearly jostling on the table, no cogent thought could be retrieved from the thoroughfares of excruciating nerve firings. His body was screaming, and his mouth was blood-filled.

    Moments passed, moments that would never be retrieved in his waking state. Somewhere in the cage of his bodily agony, the hope for it all to end rang loudly. It sang with the chorus of hurts plaguing every inch of him, conducting an orchestration of surrender. Just let it end. He'd gotten this far. No further.

    No further...
     
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  8. Dink.

    The bloody bullet dropped from her plier-fingers onto the counter top, the sound hardly muffled from the wannabe bandage she'd found. She didn't know how long the bullets had been lodged inside his skin, but she marveled at his ability to still breathe. Though those breaths were pained and coughing, he was alive. Maybe he didn't want to be, but if he truly had the desire to die, he wouldn't have even bothered to activate her. At least, logically, that made sense. Perhaps he was just sent her to open her pod, life or death, no matter the cost.

    Dink.

    Parts of another bullet had fragmented upon impact, but the pieces made the same foreboding sound as she deposited them. As her charge managed to hold his tongue from flapping into a screech, she felt... apologetic. Sorry that she couldn't numb his pain short of rendering him unconscious. And that was certainly not in programming. She was designed to help, not hurt. Judging from Marcus's blood-soaked body and the disease slowly withering away inside him, it didn't seem like she was helping.

    Dink, dink, dink...

    A chunk of a third bullet fell out, bouncing on the linoleum rather than staying grasped in her fingers. His body would reject the smallest pieces she couldn't reach, but all she could do was wrap up his wound and leave it. Straightening, the robot unraveled the bandages before she started winding them around his body. There was only enough to go around twice, which didn't seem like a stable solution to any of his problems. "Try not to move, or you will undo what I have done," she instructed, red gaze focused on the task at hand, which was wrenching open every drawer in search of something, anything to serve as gauze. However, only empty pill bottles and broken tools greeted her.

    If robots had been programmed to sigh, she was sure she would. "I apologize, Mr. Foss. You will have to make do with what I have done. I am not as well equipped as my creators might have wanted me to be. If there is anything I can do to ease your pain, please inform me. For now, it is best if you try and rest. Moving around will not help you heal."
     
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  9. "Marcus... no mister." Drifting heavily into unconsciousness, these words were the last ones he spoke before passing out fully. He had heard the clinking of each bullet, felt the gradual relief brought by their removal, and the chills and sweats now felt pleasant to him rather than intense. Inviting, almost. He accepted their shivering summons and departed to greet them in a complete and aching sleep.



    Dark dreams ran in his sleep. Thoughts that would not be remembered when he awoke. All he could recall was the blinking, the brightness of it all. First, he thought it might be the end; that bright light everyone mentions. As the room came into view, he found himself not so lucky as to be in heaven. He was still on that table.

    It was unknown to him how long he had been out. There was no watch he wore with him here, nor clock upon the clean white walls of the lab. No hand to guide him to the hour, no digital reflection for which to see the time in.

    What shaded dreams had kept their course through his rest were now dissipated, mist at the morning sun of his consciousness. His had been the total rest of someone who had gone through great trauma. There was a dull delirium which plagued his thinking, a haze through which cogent thought must crawl. He didn't seem steady in that regard.

    He remembered the robot. He remembered the six men, the gunshots, the bullets being extracted. Running through his checklist, he remembered most things. So, there was that taken care of. Not like he was expecting head trauma or anything, but you can never be too sure.

    Breathing in, he could feel the pressure of something around his middle. The tightness did not seem to be emanating from his muscles so much as whatever he was bound in. Lifting his head gingerly, he sought to see what state he was in. "Briana?" The call was feeble, his voice cracked. It did not sound like his own.
     
  10. Briana, like any helper should, had laid Marcus down on his back as he spoke, and she took a note of his words. Prefers to be referred to as Marcus, chimed her inner programming, adding the note to his database. She still didn't know how old she was or any other surface details, but it was too late to ask now. She counted the second he fell asleep and didn't stop counting, nor would she until he woke up. If he slept longer than normal (whatever 'normal' was for humans), she would have to wake or move him. The thought of waking her patient was akin to harming him, and she decided against that action.

    As he rested, the robot walked around the room, cataloging each and every little thing she found. She processed the complex names and labels on the bottles, trying to deduce their intended purpose. She understood the tools, gathering their names and separating them into lists in her head. Soon, she had a basic knowledge of everything in the room... everything except the bodies and her primary patient. Every little move or noise Marcus made in his sleep had her checking on him, but he didn't stir beyond twitching, which was most likely a good thing. He wasn't going into shock or having a seizure, and his wound wasn't infected yet.

    Some part of her tried to predict what she would do if he didn't wake up. Unknown action. Reconsider possible outcomes and try again.

    Returning to the bodies, she tugged at their clothes, their discarded weapons, their limp limbs. Nothing told her who they were or why they had been so keen on disrupting the room. Maybe humans saw one another as automatic threats and hurt strangers on sight. However, that didn't explain why they hadn't shot each other. Shifting over to Oleg, Briana gingerly removed his lab coat from his lifeless form, draping it over her exoskeleton. Humans clothed themselves, and there was no reason to show off her form. She had been designed to wear regular clothing, but her creators clearly hadn't gotten that far.

    Marcus's voice pierced the silence of the room, and she was quick to come to his side, halting her internal thoughts. "I am here," she assured, eyes sweeping over his body. The bandages were crimson with his blood, but she couldn't replace them. "You have been asleep for four hundred and seventy one minutes. Seven point eight five hours, if you prefer. You are not bleeding as profusely as before." She did the one thing she was sure she could do correctly, which was scan for the disease threatening to break down his form. "...No MRPA detected. How do you feel?"
     
    #10 Saren, Nov 24, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
  11. "Better." Scanning his own body with his elevated head, he saw the browning bandage across his middle binding him tightly. Marcus propped himself up tentatively on his elbow, and took in the scene surrounding.

    It'd all been a bit of a blur when he'd first arrived. None of that really mattered at this moment though. "Wait, no Pseudo?" He looked up at the robot, eyes struggling to focus and blink the sleep away. "Oh my god." He looked back down at himself, brain fully firing into gear and now starting to take true inventory of his circumstances.

    His ribcage felt like it'd been played upon. There was a dullness all around his abdomen, primarily concentrated at the points where he'd been shot. Taking a breath in, he could feel his lungs working relatively well. The one thing he couldn't feel was sick. There was no itching in the back of his throat, no swelling sensations or feverishness. There was a distinct absence of pain in his head. To be honest, aside from the wounds in his chest, he felt fine. Better than he could really remember in recent memory, for sure.

    "Oh god. Yeah, I'm better." He looked again at Briana, and noticed for the first time the lab coat she was wearing. "Were you always wearing that?" But he answered his own question before she had time to respond. There was tag reading Oleg Chudanov, and seeing past her, Marcus now saw the old corpse was less clothed.

    "You should probably take that off. The, uh, tag. Nametag." He gestured carelessly in her direction with his other hand, beginning to sit up himself. As he came to a full sitting position, he could feel the strain on his chest pull and burn again. Tears began to well up in his eyes as he desperately tried to remain calm and seem normal.

    "What did you do with the guns? The other... guns." Struggling on the last word, it had that same quality of breathlessness to it he'd had when Marcus first awoke Briana. Closing his eyes to the sharpness of it all, he blinked hard, and began scanning his surroundings. Some cupboards were open, their contents exposed. Everything too pristine; the bodies were out of place in more ways than one. His head began to swim. If she had spoken in the interim, he hadn't heard it. Desperately scanning the room, he was getting ready to try and stand, hands clenching white knuckled at either side of the table he was on, preparing to swing his feet over the side.
     
  12. "Yes. No trace of the disease exists in your body," she answered, as if this wasn't shocking information. The cure had worked as intended: nothing of the disease still lived inside of him, and there were no apparent side effects. She'd accomplished the first step in the plan her creators had set up, which was cure those afflicted with MPRA. But Marcus was just one person. What if he was the only human still alive? Had her activation been too late? Had she failed those who had needed her?

    Unknown action. Reconsider possible outcomes and try again, her internal voice quipped. There was no way to tell if anyone beyond her first patient was alive unless she left.

    Marcus's shifting body and his words had her refocusing her gaze on his form. He was feeling better, but he was trying to move. However, he spoke before she could reprimand him for his actions and glanced down at the name tag. With one swift tug, the name tag flew off and landed in the corner with a metallic tink. Now she was just herself and not the dead man lying in the corner.

    He inquired about the guns, which she was quick to associate with the weapons she'd moved around. "They are in a pile near the deceased humans." His heaving words betrayed that perhaps he wasn't as feeling as well as he thought. "You should not be moving so quickly," she chided, but he didn't seem to listen or care about what she had to say. He was preparing to leave, whether or not she wanted him to rest.

    Coming around to the other side of the table, Briana put one gentle, but firm hand on his shoulder. "Rest would be better for your wound, Marcus," she said, using his preferred name. "Moving too much will anger your wound, and this place lacks the tools necessary for your recovery."
     
  13. It wasn't the hand that got him to stop moving, wasn't the reassurance by the robot. It was her phrasing: deceased humans. It only drove home the point of otherness in his mind, only reinforced that which was deeply rooted in him, chiefly that he was again alone and that this thing in his presence needed to be handled.

    Bestowing a sidelong glance upon his uncaring caretaker, he did not stand up. He did not move to lay back down again, however, but he did not stand up. "There's a place, another floor. Lot's of medication. Looks like Oleg didn't keep much for people down here. 3rd floor, if I recall." The stasis seemed to help him compose his words better, and he was able to think back to his entry of this place. The sign had said three, hadn't it? It had the word clinic in it at least. They were on sub level 5 or something. "We're a couple floors down, it isn't that far."

    Deciding it would be better to get to moving rather than to continue staying here for prolonged periods of time. Marcus completed his hop off the table. Wincing, the pain was sharper than he had expected. It raced along his spin, burst around every rib. Something was definitely shattered somewhere, but at least he could walk. Limping over to the dead pile of bodies, he began to bend over and sift through the pile of guns.

    Most were .22 caliber, as he had thought. The size of the bullets extracted has been proof enough of that. He took out a magazine from one and looked at the cartridges contained. Each bullet looked save for the thin almost plastic coating on their tips. The disease could live on almost anything, he knew this. "They keep it under a film so that when it enters, it disperses more. Gets right in the wound, already has a culture going." He said this last part, but he didn't quite know why. Maybe it was the unbearable silence of the room. Maybe it was the empty feeling he got from his hollow and thoughtless companion. He had to fill the space, feel normal. That was likely all. People did things like that, right?

    "You know how to fire one of these?" Marcus didn't turn to look at her when he asked, the energy needed to pick a second one up without feeling like his guts would fall out took up enough of his concentration. Not that they actually would fall out. She'd done a fine job of the bandages, but he knew they'd be going septic soon. And that led to worse things.

    He realized what he'd asked, and how silly it was too late. "Sorry, I mean, are you programmed? To, like, fire guns or anything?" For this, he cast a glance back along his shoulder to where the automaton stood.
     
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  14. While Briana hadn't assumed this was the only floor of the facility (for robots never assumed, only calculated), there was no desire to move anywhere else while her charge rested. She wouldn't make for a very good helper if she'd left him while he slept.

    Despite her caveat, Marcus stood up anyway. Forcing him to stay down didn't seem like a good plan, since he was keen on moving. Movement wouldn't help his recovery along, but if she watched him carefully enough, it wouldn't hinder any healing progress. Staying back from the lifeless humans, she let Marcus dive into the pile she'd created. She wasn't well equipped to deal with death, seeing as she was supposed to prevent it. She didn't know what humans did with bodies when they died, and asking Marcus while he was presented with such a situation seemed like poor timing.

    His question, or rather the fact that he didn't stutter through any of his words, made her take a step forward. He was explaining the strange film on the bullets. The humans had coated their weapons in the disease to more effectively kill one another, but why? It already seemed like there were so few in number, so why slaughter each other?

    Looking down at the gun, the robot scanned the weapon out of electrical habit, though she already recognized it as something she wanted nothing to do with. "No. These are designed to harm, not help. It is possible I could... learn to fire such a thing, but I fail to understand the point of hurting someone. I am programmed to preserve humanity, not destroy it."
     
  15. "You ever hear that saying about omelettes and breaking eggs?" Looking again to the magazine in his hand, he placed it back within the hollow of the handgun's grip. "No," and his tone came as a reminder of something he'd momentarily forgotten, "of course you haven't." A sharp click, and the gun was loaded again.

    Stowing the pistol in the back of his pants, he picked up another one, moving with the ginger care of someone pretending not to experience a great deal of duress. "Look." And he did not look at her, only busied himself with gathering ammunition at a slow pace. "You wanna help me. Right?"
     
  16. Perhaps delirium was starting to set in. It would account for his talk about eggs rather than guns. She wasn't really sure what the point was of his speech. She wasn't very talkative herself; maybe it was a way to fill the space with something other than death and silence.

    When he asked her to look, she glanced at him, but his eyes were focused on the weapons, not her. "Yes," she answered. It was more of a matter of programming and coding rather than desire, but it didn't seem like the time to correct him. "That is what I am here to do, and I have already helped you once. And I should remain with you until you are fully healed. I would not make a very good helper if you died after I have given you the cure." It would have been a waste, but this was also something she kept to herself. He was the one with the gun, after all.
     
  17. "Yeah, I'll give you that point." Stuffing the other gun into the front of his jeans, he looked around for something he couldn't quite find. Shaking it off, Marcus began assembling another gun with proper ammo. "But my point is that if you wanna help me, and you wanna save humanity," he brought over the weapon to her, "you're gonna have to protect yourself."

    And for the first real time, Marcus looked the android in the face. There was stillness for a moment as an explanation was conjured. He held the gun limply, without real purpose, seeming to struggle more with what should be said than his apparent injuries. "Because there are people out there," and he spoke with every word treated as its own distinct meaning, "who just aren't people anymore."

    He didn't offer her the weapon. He didn't break his eye contact with where the robot's should be. He didn't move. And in that moment, there was a sadness unspoken which came to pass.

    Then it was gone.

    Marcus turned towards the door again. A crack could be heard, maybe a pop from his back. Grimacing, he proceeded to the door, which opened automatically, and leaned his head out into the hallway carefully, the corpses buttressing his stance. It was a long haul, surgical in its whiteness like the rest of the area. A few pockmarks of bullet-holes laced the otherwise unbroken smoothness of the walls like cracks in the ice, spider-webbing gray concrete beneath an ivory sheen. Positioning his ears more than his eyes in either of the directions, he nevertheless saw the two doors at either end of the hall.

    "Alright, looks like the cavalry's not comin'. So that's good news. Probably no need for you to carry one of these," he jiggled the gun a bit as he looked back at the robotic nurse over his right shoulder, "but in case you want one, feel free to take your pick of the litter." With that, Marcus stepped out into the hallway.
     
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  18. She understood his desire to protect himself, but he didn't really offer it to her all the same. She looked between the gun and the human, noting his relaxed grip, but he looked at her for the first real time. She returned the look, and if she had a need to blink, she might have missed the brief sorrow passing through his gaze. But if it had been there, it was already gone, as if had never been there at all. She had only been alive - in a strange, electronic sense of the idea - for a few hours, and most of that had been spent researching the various items in the room. She hadn't analyzed Marcus while he rested, deciding it was better if he could respond to whatever questions she had.

    Now didn't quite seem like the time to ask them.

    While Marcus surveyed the outside world, Briana looked around at the room. She'd scoured every open drawer and cabinet for something useful, but now it was time to go. She stepped forward, pausing at his voice. It wasn't dangerous, according to him, and he was the only other thing she could rely on. If she wanted to help others, she was going to have to follow.

    Forgoing the gun, the robot trailed after him, metallic feet echoing on the linoleum. She was aware of his slower movements, but she didn't rush him. Really, he shouldn't even have been moving at all, but he seemed too stubborn to listen to her for long. She hadn't done a perfect job of patching him up, so perhaps he was in his right to deny any medical suggestions she made.

    The hallway was dusty, though there were several sets of footprints, revealing the worn down tile underneath. It was still remarkably white, but it was clear time had run its course on the place. Sunlight sparkled through a shattered window at the end, but no wind ruffled the torn blinds. It seemed like a beat up place, but the building was still standing. From the amount of bodies before her awakening, she'd been trying to understand just how bad the outside world really was. With so many people trying to kill one another - just to survive, or so it seemed - it was a safe assumption that the outside was worse than the inside.

    Marcus had said there were supplies on some other floor, and in order to heal him properly, she would need everything this place had to offer. That wasn't saying much, given the fact that the place was abandoned. She'd hardly found anything of worth in the previous room, and if there was any medication left to speak of, it was likely worthless.

    Too many possible outcomes. Reevaluate circumstances and try again.

    "Marcus...," she started, but a pause cut across her voice. Maybe it wasn't right to question him about the rest of the human race. She'd narrowed down the sorrow she'd seen in his eyes to loneliness, depression, or a combination of the two. But there were too many questions left unanswered, and he was her only source of answers. "How much time has passed since the beginning of this pandemic? Cures do not work if they are not distributed."
     
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