Implant

Grace’s heart raced as she looked at the pulse gun. The metarm dove under the skin of her right forearm, presumably anchored to her bones. Another gleaming piece of metal encircled her wrist and provided a pivot for aiming.

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Corey OstmanPort Casper
Repair

Grace floated in darkness. Phantasms of wispy blues and greens moved beyond her reach. If she concentrated hard enough, she saw shapes. She watched a green frog, but it rippled and she realized she was looking at a clam through green water.

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Corey OstmanPort Casper
Highway

Hours later, Grace arrived at the main highway outside Cloister Eleven. She wore a bandage around her head with a widening spot of blood on her left temple. She limped, favoring her knee, lugging her duffel as she crossed to the east side of the road. A sign pointed the way to destinations north.

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Corey OstmanPort Casper
Deploy

Maud walked out onto the ITB sky bridge. It was a cool, calm Wyoming night. She reached into her safecase and activated a loafer. It had no mission, so its navigation and propulsion kept it stationary in mid-air. Maud checked its systems, then downloaded an assignment from her ptenda into the L-4R661. A moment later, the loafer sailed off into the haze of city lights.

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Corey OstmanPort Casper
The Search

Raj stopped in the alley and leaned against a wall. He let out several heavy, wheezing hacks and gulped air into his lungs. The fire in his chest burned and every breath afterwards stung a thousand pinpricks in his throat: a present from the sooty duct they had used to enter the last building. Their mimic clothes had kept them clean. Raj wished he could say the same for his lungs.

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Corey OstmanPort Casper
Spaceport

All too soon, they were at the spaceport entrance. Less than an hour ago, Grace had been waking up, pinching the skin of her arm like her graft had been a dream. Now she was going to Mars. Was she still dreaming?

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Corey OstmanPort Casper
Transport

Grace followed the signs for transports. She knew that somewhere nearby, six-seat autonomous transports arrived, scanned her destination broadcast, and allowed her to board if the route didn’t cause the arrival times of other passengers to deviate too much. A couple of dozen commuters from the Frawley piled out of other lifts and joined her. She wondered if any might work at ITB. She followed the crowd.

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Corey OstmanPort Casper
Bod Town

Bod Town. A roach that attached itself to a shining princess. The mechflesh junkies of Bod Town had a culture of competition. Upgrades were envied, copied, surpassed. Literally empowered by their lust for tech, the junkies worked for whatever contract would give them the means for more modification.

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Corey OstmanPort Casper
The Tunnel

“Not that way, either,” Avonaco huffed. He pressed a hand against the wall next to the medical pod. There was a click followed by a swishing sound as a small door swung outward. Beyond it was a dark tunnel, with hints of metal surfacing.

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Corey OstmanPodPooch
Escape Bod Town

Ahead was the neighborhood behind Raj’s. Unlike the heart of Bod Town with its dream castles, this area had smaller, older shops. Places where she could duck into, elude compstate should the need arise. And Tim was hundreds of times more stealthy than she because his mimic coat could look like anything, including the pile of metarm junk she saw to her left. Vaulting over the scrap pile, she headed down an alley.

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Corey OstmanMechflesh
Exercise

Grace emerged from the Frawley as the sun lit the top of the buildings. She smiled as she faced east, her belly full of nuts and unseasonal fruit. Her old academy clothes, black and lightweight, were still good for exercise if nothing else. Grace started to run.

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Corey OstmanPort Casper
Jaya, Arise

Avonaco held vigil by the medical pod, his cheek resting against its transparent canopy, his gaze locked on the operation inside. Procedure by procedure, the pod dutifully executed his instructions.

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Corey OstmanPodPooch
A Little Monster

Grace, chagrined, took a long sip from her coffee. She considered Avonaco as she did. She hadn’t figured the kid out. He had deftly extracted her from ITB. He’d broken into their security network and somehow—she’d have to ask about this later—managed to evade the array of infrared sensors protecting the cellblock.

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Corey OstmanPodPooch
Blue Gel

Grace felt numb, her thoughts wrenching from one image to the next. There was no logic, no direction. She was a marionette worked by grief. She stared at the frayed edge along the bottom of Kyran’s lab coat. He should repair that. She didn’t understand why he’d wear cheap fabric when mimic would be superior.

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Corey OstmanCeres Rising
Dreams in Ink

Jacob Rander opened his eyes at the sound of water. He felt the cool wall of the canyon on his back where he’d fallen asleep in the shade. He rose, rubble crackling beneath his feet, and hiked down the rocky slope toward a narrow river, flowing fast. More than once his boot slid, a spray of rocks preceding him, so he took a leisurely pace, checking his steps.

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Corey OstmanCeres Rising
Infiltrate

In the brief silence that followed, Grace spied the access port. It was a small silver rectangle at waist level, just within reach of her right hand. She couldn’t quite see all of it, but she could verify it by touch.

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Corey OstmanPort Casper