A silhouette darted through the dark alleyways of City 43. It was a young man of a mere sixteen years, and his skin was slick with sweat and fear. He was on the run, and he knew his heavy breathing did nothing to keep him hidden. He wasn't betting his life on silence, but on speed. They could hear him whatever he did, so he didn't even bother trying to be quiet. He simply ran, because that was all he knew to do. Yet part of him already knew what fate awaited him.
He could hear their heavy footsteps nearing his location. He had to move. He just hoped he could run fast enough. He started down the alley and took a sharp right. He threw down trash cans as he went, hoping to slow them down. He could only hope that it would buy him the time he needed. He hadn't gotten any advice from survivors. No one had. Because no one had ever made it through the night before.
How the hell had he ended up here? Why had he been out so late? It hadn't even been sunset when he started back. There had been plenty of time, he'd thought. Then there'd been an accident and he'd been forced to make a detour. He'd gotten lost, and that had been the end of it. Now here he was, running for his life from the synths.
Another left turn. He didn't really know where he was going; just that if he stopped, he was dead. Or rather, he'd suffer a fate worse than death. A shuffling above him told him that someone was on the roof. Adrenaline coursed through his veins and he sped up. Up the stairs he went, with greater speed than he knew he was capable of. Maybe if he kept up that sort of speed he could make it. Maybe he could live on after all!
And a cold hand gripped his shoulder and threw him to the ground. They'd been waiting for him. A cruel grin greeted him as the synth said, "Well, well, well
what do we have here? Tell me. Are you ready to reach a higher state of living?"
"Of course you are. Let's get started then, shall we?"
"I said no! I don't want it!"
"You won't regret this choice. You'll no longer be an animal! Now relax. This won't hurt a bit."
The boy screamed, "STAY AWAY!"
relax." The synth held a small rotary saw in his metal boned and silicone skinned hands. He revved it menacingly. The boy could have read the miniscule print of his hunter's ID code if he wanted. But all he was concerned about in that moment was the razor sharp blade which was slowly reaching for his head as it spun more than two hundred times per second. He screamed in pain as the unfeeling android cut into his skull. The boy managed to say, "WHY?" Why what? He didn't know any more. He was clinically dead in that instant.
After sixteen years, the boy stopped being human. After integration, he would have had the right to have a name, amongst other freedoms. He would be one of them.
C43-000588A, knew nothing of that as he retrieved a container from his pack: a translucent cylinder which was forty centimeters deep by a diameter of thirty-five centimeters. He carefully retrieved the brain and inserted it into the container for storage. "I have another subject ready for integration."
"Excellent. Bring it to Clinic 903, and they can take care of it from there. Good work, Kore." The android named Kore nodded, although there was no one around to nod to. Odd behavior for himself, he observed before tossing the thought aside and returning to his work.
Why? Why did things end like this? Thought the boy to himself. Or rather, he was a boy no more, now merely a consciousness. The more pressing question was one he did not turn to till moments later, when he realized that he was still alive enough to think, despite having been removed from his own body and blood supply. He didn't even know about the brain's medical need for oxygen, but he knew that something very strange was happening to him.
How am I still alive? He didn't know. He knew the answer to the first question, but he'd forgotten about that one already. He couldn't come up with an answer, no matter how hard he thought about it. Was he integrated yet? No, that wasn't it. Was he perhaps not alive, but dead and gone to beyond? That seemed a lot more plausible, but he ultimately decided against that theory as well. So then what was it?
You are alive, for now. You have much ahead of you. He realized that this voice was not his own, and that worried him. The voice continued. You have the ability to make a better future for those ahead of you, but you will not have any part of it for yourself. Are you prepared for that?
He wasn't sure. But he also knew, somehow, that he didn't have a choice. Do what you will, then.
It is already done.