By Joe Weinberg

This shouldn't have happened. Things were not supposed to be this way. He didn't sign up for this.

When the recruiter had come and told him of this job, he had spoken of excitement and adventure. Being pinned down under heavy fire, with a prototype weapon he didn't even know would work, had never even been eluded to.

It hadn't been eluded to, but it was happening. Scorching plasma balls flew over his head occasionally, while neutron bolts slammed repeatedly into the tritanium barrier, the only thing protecting him from certain death.

Slowly, cautiously, he peeked over the edge of the barrier. He could see a few other barriers, some melted, some intact, but most glowing from the continued bursts of energy.

He gripped the gun tightly, and tested the systems. Everything seemed ready, and as far as he knew, it would probably work.

He stood full upright, so as to have a full range shot, and pulled the trigger.

The sonic waves screamed and amplified, to the point where the waves could actually be seen. The gunshots from behind the barriers were drowned out by screams of complete agony, but he didn't hear a thing.

It had worked! The sonic gun had melted the eardrums and brains of the enemy, and he was safe.

Then, as he turned around, something bizarre happened. He felt pain. Sudden, extreme pain. He looked down at the hole in his chest, seeing the landscape behind him through it, and then realized what had happened. He had died. The world then went dark....

A noise was heard. It became clearer. It was a conversation.

He opened his eyes. Bright lights greeted them. He grimaced at the brightness, and then suddenly, the lights dimmed. Where was he? What had happened? He couldn't remember anything, not even who he was.

"It's awake!" A voice said. He tried to move his head, but could not, so he was contented to just listen.

"Did it work? Can we progress? Run the tests."

He felt his arm move. He strained for a moment, and it then moved again as he willed it. He put it near his eyes, and looked at it.

In front of his face was not a human hand, but a metallic skeleton hand. The pistons at the joints allowed him to bend his shining finger as if they were normal. It looked almost human. The wires lacing around it like so many nerves and muscles. In the dark, it might have looked human. But he knew it was not.

He stared at the scientists standing in the adjacent room, and said to the speaker above them.

"What..." It was a strain to speak. He could barely feel his jaw. But still he tried. "What is wr-wrong with me? What am I?"

"You, my dear fellow," came the first voice from the speaker, "are in stage one of the techno-organic reconstruction. The begginings of the T.O.W. I'm going to turn you off until we finish the final stage. Hold on." The world went dark again, and not for the last time.

The world lighted again, and this time he could see the world all around him. His head moved, as did his arms and legs. They moved not as machine parts, but as normal limbs. He peered at himself, almost afraid of what he would see. He saw a human body. A sigh of relief escaped his lips, and he began to worry about other things.

He began to worry about things like who he was, and whether that monstrosity he had seen for an arm was just a dream. A horrible nightmare. He prayed it was so, but something within him told him it was not.

As hard as he tried, he could not remember a thing about himself. Then, words appeared in front of him, as if printed on a computer screen. 'Greetings.' the words read. 'do not be alarmed, I am merely your internal computer. Soon we will be one, but first, I must explain to you what happened. You were Corin Madrac, special agent. Deceased October twenty third, twenty one seventeen.' Deceased? He thought, He was dead? It hadn't been a dream. It was REAL! Where was he? Was this hell? He began to panic, but the computer assured him he was alright. He wasn't sure, but he gave the computer the benefit of the doubt.

The computer soon continued. 'You are now a T.O.W., or Techno-Organic Warrior. You are the first to be fully cybernetic, while still retaining your human personality. You were made this way to be able to convincingly act human, and therefore be passed off as normal.'

'Emotions are still yours, though a few, such as fear, will probably disappear in time. Also, you will never feel pain again. You will only have the knowledge of a damaged system. Some small bugs still remain, but you are the best modern technology has to offer. You are equipped with two learning computers: your own human brain, and me. We together can improve each other, and hence your operating proficiency.'

'Also, you have repair systems, a ninety gigabyte internal information holder, and a number of other minor systems.'

'You are by far stronger then any man, and have many other advantages as well. Your eyes have built in filters, allowing you to get as much or as little light as you require. And that is not the only optical system you have. You have infa-red, ultra-violet, telescopic, and x-ray. Each of you optical systems is also interfaced with your target system. If you engage it, you will see small squares form around all life forms of dog size or greater. These are your potential targets. You need simply focus on one, and a target will soon lock in place around them. Then, lift your arm and fire. Your arm will fire automatically at the exact target you have chosen. You may even choose multiple targets. This is accurate seventy three point four six five percent of the time.'

'Your hearing is improved over a hundred times to a humans, and it, like your eyes, is also equipped with a filter. Your legs can propel you thirty feet straight up, or keep you at a constant running pace of forty miles per hour, increasing for a short while if necessary.'

'The energy sources are multiple. One is a solar panel, and you are equipped with a solar battery. Another is hydrogen, which a filter extracts from the air around you. Finally, you have a short term storage of neutronium. This is to be used only in emergencies, and will not last long.'

'Now, I believe we are to merge.'

The world went dark again. Soon he saw millions of lines of information each second. Somehow, he understood all he saw. It was a description of how to control each system in his body, and was extremely in depth.

He read over the instructions, and tested each system, getting familiar with them. He tested his most extreme limits of speed and endurance, and was extremely pleased with the results of his testing.

The next day, a man entered the room. This was the first human he had seen since his reconstruction, excluding the doctors who had given him T.O. reconstruction. "Greetings. My name is Julius. Over your comm unit, however, I shall be refereed to only as 'Caesar.' Do you understand? Good. You will be known as Runner. This is just a code name in case the enemy manages to catch on to our current frequency."

"I understand, Caesar," he said automatically.

"Good! Excellent!" the man said excitedly. "Your mission is a simple one, and it is one for which you were designed. You are to enter the UCS, or United Confederation of Stars, and kill the leader, John Savak. You will be armed and equipped as needed. Every piece of equipment or technology at our disposal is now at your disposal."

He entered into the weapon supply room, and was astounded at the sight. Rows and rows of shining metal guns of all types. Plasma launchers, Neutron blasters, Electron bolts, Proton rifles, and many others he could not identify.

Along with the recent weaponry, there was also some weaponry from the recent past. A program came into his head. It told him that a hundred years ago, warfare was much more based on sneak attacks and stealth than on sheer fire power. Back then, the most popular warriors were Snipers and Cyber-assassins, both now virtually extinct. But a few, such as Tek-hunters, are still around today, though they are few.

He looked at the older technology. Ordinary lasers, Cytoplasm disintegrates, Dehydration pistols, and even a few guns using the almost forgotten and unused bullets. Along with these were grappling hooks, Laser blades, and Tek shields.

He pulled up the files on these peices of equipment, not sure what they were.

'Laser: Beam of ultra thin light focused through a ruby. Used for cutting through targets. Powered by neutronium. Used too much power per blast, fell into disuse as an innefective weapon.

'Cytoplasm disitegrators: Used to quikly dispose of bodies. Forces cells to replicate faster than Cytoplasm can be controlled. Body creates great heat and energy, cytoplasm is burned away. Know when one has been used by the caustic burning smell of sulfur left behind by the burning process..

'Dehydration pistols: Focused beam of electrons that breack up covalent bonds between hydrogen and oxygen, separating the two and sending the currents of released energy through victem. Energy kills before lack of moisture.

'Laser blades: Used to sever secutity links, this device puts out a very hot beam of light that severs and reseals both electronic locking devices and security systems. Can only be used once, as they hold little energy.

'Tek sheilds: device, when attached to body, lets of feild of distorted light and sound too high piched for the human ear. This allows any blast to be pushed to the side, allowing the wearer to survive at least one full weapons blast.'

Looking over the files, he ran a probability program for which peices of equipment would benefit him most. He took the Tek shield, the Laser blade, the Cyto-disintegrator, and a few small guns, along with a long-clipped shotgun.

Taking a small belt, he attached the pen-shaped Laser blade and the small, rectangular Tek shield generator. He placed the shotgun on a strap across his back, and hid the guns elsewhere on his person.

Another file was brought up. It was labeled 'Silencer,' and it told how some guns were fitted with small devices that made them virtually soundless. He constructed these and placed them on all the guns they would fit on.

He devised a simple, yet daring plan. He would come at night, break in, and get to the leader's office, then wait there until morning, when Savak arrived.

He came to the door, which was locked. Taking the Laser blade out, he inserted the tip into the lock, and turned it on. The three inch laser shot out, instantly severing and resealing the alarm system, and breaking the lock. He walked inside.

A guard paced up and down the hallway. Runner hit the shielding pad, and felt oddly safer as the shield went around his body. He moved out into the guard's line of sight.

A plasma thrower was instantly raised. He realized that even with the shield, he still wouldn't be able to withstand many hits from such a weapon. "Who are you, and how did you get in?" The guard said, warily.

"I am looking for Savak's office," he replied calmly. "If you would be so kind as to point me to it, I will be on my way."

"Are you nuts?" the guard said after a few seconds of shocked silence. "You expect me to just let you go into my leader's office? And what's more, you want me to show you where it is?"

'Runner, this is Caesar. He is becoming a threat.' a voice in his head whispered.

His vision turned red, and a white square surrounded the guard. A cross-hare formed, and began sliding toward the guard's head. "Do not shoot," he said. "I surrender." The cross-hares locked on, and his arm raised. The guard then fell softly to the ground, a bullet sending him on the long trip to oblivion.

He drew his Cyto-disintegrator and moved on.

The next guard did not even question. He simply let off a plasma ball, which slammed into the Tek shield, cutting its power down by half. He fired the disintegrator, and watched as the cytoplasm in the guard became no more, making the poor man nothing but a glob of nuclei. The smell registered in his computer, but he put it aside as unneccesary information.

'So much for stealth.' his computer said. He put away the handgun and drew out the shotgun.

He turned on his x-ray vision, along with the targeting system, and spotted someone waiting around the corner. He aimed, raised the shotgun, and the threat was ended.

He entered the office and waited. He asked his computer if it had any files on his former life. It did, but all were classified. 'Open them,' he told the computer. It would not. It asked him for the password. The password, it told him, was a word with seven letters. He tried runners. Nothing. JCaesar. Nothing. CMadrac, his old name. An acceptance sent his mind through elation. They were opened, and he was shocked at his discovery.

"David Scriin, UCS warrior, deceased September 11, 2117. Name file erased, changed to Corin Madrac. Code: TcNQRT5."

He used the code, and more information came up. It told of the new Sonic blaster weapon, and of his fateful testing of it. It told of the deceit he had been placed under. He had been revived by the enemy, to destroy his own leader!

He searched the base until he found the weaponry section. Inside he discovered similar assortments of weaponry, along with a few explosives. He looked at the explosives, and found the strongest among them, then combined them, giving him an explosion radius of 300 feet, with a two percent chance of survival for everyone caught in the blast. He calculated that if he set it off while wearing a Tek shield, his chances were still under ten percent. But something from his human brain told him his survival at this point didn't matter. After all, he was dead already. Had been for some time.

Shortly after, he headed back to the base he had come from, and headed to Julius's office. Upon entering, he was greeted by the man he knew as Caesar. "Did you succeed? Are we rid of an enemy?"

"No, not yet. But soon, the entire world will be rid of an enemy. I succeeded, all right. I discovered the truth before it was too late. I found the secret files, and I found out about your betrayal. And I found a way to stop you." He held out the bomb, and armed it.

"What are you doing?" Caesar said in a panicked tone. "You don't know what you're doing! We'll all be killed."

"I know precisely what I am doing. What you have done is not right. Humanity was not meant to play god. Not now, not ever. I am stopping you from ever bringing anyone back from the dead, and I am stopping someone who would send an enemy to kill his own friend. I am killing you, and I am putting myself to rest again. And this time, for all time." He set the bomb off, and felt the fire rush in around him. He felt the sweet feeling of pleasure, and the wonderful pain. The world darkened again.

And this time, it was for good.

Copyright 1997 by Joe Weinberg

About the Author: "A short bit about myself... I am a struggling writer, though probably too young for people to consider struggling long. I have been writing for 11 years, but I am even still only 17. I am very interested in science fiction and fantasy. People always say my writing is a bit bizzare... but that's what I, and they, like about it. :)"

You can E-Mail Joe at: WWriter@worldnet.att.net

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