System Shock 2: James Watts - By: Tristan Palmgren
July, 2114 64 trillion miles away from Earth UNN Von Braun Deck 2: Research Sector
"The time is 1630. Autopsy subject: A. Watson," Dr. Watts drummed his fingers on the surgical table while he recorded the data. Regulation required him to make further entries regarding time of death, cause, etc., but Watts finally decided he couldn't wait any longer to begin work.
This man, this Lazarus, was a miracle to modern medical science. Dammit, this is a whole new kind of science, period. Watts hesitated to call it voodoo science.
"Now we'll make the first incision in…" Watts stopped as his patient suddenly stirred. "Nurse, hold him down," he ordered.
Without warning, Watson (or what remained of Watson) snapped his arm upwards, and held Nurse Jordan in a death-grip by the neck. "Nurse!" Watts snapped, alarmed.
Jordan wrestled with the hands of the creature futilely. "I'm trying!" he gasped through a constricting airway. Watts backed away from the table the creature was still lying on. "Nurse!" he shouted again.
The parasite that stretched from the subject's chest to his forehead began pulsating with a violent energy. Immediately, Watts reached for the activation key that would trigger a security alert. If Bronson got here soon enough…
He was stopped by a horrific pain in his arm. Watson had grabbed it suddenly, and was tightening his fingers around Watt's forearm bone with surprising force. Watts looked at it in helpless, surprised terror.
Nurse Jordan screamed as Watson, still lying on the autopsy table, threw him bodily across the room. Jordan's flight was stopped prematurely by the solid metal not five meters away. Watts did not need to use his medical training to tell that Jordan had snapped his neck instantly on impact.
The monster tightened his grip on Watt's arm, and terror invaded Watt's thoughts as he felt the thing's fingers digging into his flesh. Watts screamed, unable to act. The hybrid responded in kind, and bellowed a vibrating roar that left Watt's eardrums tingling.
In an unbearable flash of pain, Watts felt his bone snap.
The hybrid then allowed Watts to withdraw, and it stood up fully. For a long moment, the hybrid stared with dead, yellow eyes as Watts nursed his arm.
Then, with another intense roar, the hybrid's arm swung up and destroyed the voice recorder, then advanced on Watts.
With the cool, scientific half of Watt's brain screaming instructions, Watts rushed towards the life that would get him up and out of the surgical ward. But the hybrid was too fast for Watts. With a lead pipe it seemingly pulled from thin air, it landed a hard blow on Watt's right shoulder. He fell down, and landed painfully on his broken and swollen arm.
While Watts squirmed in pain, the hybrid stood over him, again just watching with expressionless yellow eyes. This is all my fault, Watts concluded, grimacing, I shouldn't have been so damn eager.
Watson, the hybrid, bent over Watt's crippled form, looking up and down his body. Then, with horribly stained and cracked lips, and missing teeth, it smiled. "Your song will soon be ours."
With the sudden disgust at the hybrid's words, Watts screamed at last roar of defiance. The hybrid did not react, until Watts reached out with his good arm, and ripped the pulsating worm parasite from the forehead of the beast.
The hybrid didn't scream, didn't make a sound. It just dripped cold blood from it's new wound, and collapsed on top of Watts. He shoved the cold corpse off of him with a burst of relief.
After the usual stages of self-pity and extreme depression, Watts stumbled over to the nearest auto-surgical table, and hit the button that would call security. "Bronson," Watts transmitted, "I think you'll want to get down here. I… I was attacked. Jordan's dead. Please hurry."
There was no immediate answer. "Bronson? Anybody present in security?" he tried again. Silence rewarded him.
Shit. That wasn't right. Either the comm system was out, or… Watts tried not to think about it, but failed. When he thought about it, Watts supposed it wasn't so surprising. Grassi hadn't shown for duty today. Nurses Bloome and Loesser were also missing. Curtiz had said he hadn't been able to contact anybody on the Engineering deck.
The surgical table. Watts laid down slowly on top of it, and reached for the activation key. The table could almost immediately patch his wounds.
"Please insert 5 nanites for restoration," the speaker unit buzzed. Watts dug through his pockets. Damn, no nanites.
Watts finally gave up, and surrendered to the exhaustion starting to claim him. He fell asleep then and there.
Watts had no idea how long he was asleep for. It could have been hours, it could have been days. Apparently, no else had even stumbled into the room and found Watts, which would have been a mystery by itself. Of course, if anybody had come in here, they could have mistaken Watts for dead.
But in order for that possibility to be true, death would have been commonplace on the ship.
Immediately when he woke up, Watts knew something was wrong. He could feel something… was inside him. He immediately performed a self-diagnosis, and found a new chest wound that had apparently appeared from nowhere. He looked at the hybrid he had killed.
The parasite that Watts had left half-clinging to its body was missing.
Watts remembered reviewing Watson's logs, and finding entries describing events similar to this. Watts knew he was next, that he was going to end up like Watson. Transformed. Changed. A mutant. A hybrid.
And there was something else down here, in the surgical ward, with him.
There was another hybrid shambling around. It looked at Watts, spotted he was awake, and smiled. It repeated the same sentence the other had said. "Your song will soon be ours."
Then it continued patrolling the ward. Sobbing, Watts once again fell asleep.
He was awakened by a nearby beeping sound. He ignored it for the time being, his concentration was centered on himself.
Something had gone wrong with the parasite's attempted conversion of him. Sharp pain infiltrated his chest cavity, he could feel thoughts that were not his echoing inside his head. They spoke to him.
"Watts… dying. Injuries severe," one said. Another continued the sentence fragment. "Our worm… cannot correct. Trying… failing."
The beeping became incessant. Watts reached out with his functional arm, and hit the activation switch.
"This is Dr. Janice Polito of the Deck 4 staff. Doctor Watts, is that you?" the comm speaker intoned.
"Yes… it is. Polito, thank god you're alive. But please try to speak softer, there's… one of them in here with me."
"What's your condition, Doctor?" Polito asked, now at a whisper.
"Severe. Janice… I'm dying."
"Try to hang on. I need you. There's a UNN operative heading your way, equipped with R-Grade cyber-implants and heavily armed. If you need, he'll give you the nanites you need to activate a surgical unit."
"Tell him not to bother." An idea struck Watts. "Janice, where's the nearest Quantum Bio-Reconstuction machine?"
"In the Science Annex."
"Could you transmit my signature to it, Polito? I can't hang on for much longer."
"That machine has already been activated by the UNN operative, so yes, I can. Sending your signature to it now."
Silence persisted for several minutes. Watts trembled, he wasn't sure if it was the parasite causing it or if he was merely tense. The hybrid shambled into view again.
A bullet pierced the hybrid's skull from above. The UNN operative activated the nearby lift, and came within Watt's view.
His death suddenly imminent, Watts was again wracked by a tremor of muscle spasms. He leaned halfway up, and rasped a message to the operative.
"They want you, you understand, they want you! As a host…" Watts almost collapsed here, but continued. "Get away!"
The Watts form died.
Half-way across the deck, Watt's body reappeared suspended in the air by the QBRM. His joy at being alive again was suddenly tempered by a frightening realization.
The parasite had traveled with him.
Now that Watts's body was fully intact, the parasite leaked thoughts of joy into his mind, and began completing the task of transforming Watts into one of the Many.
Up on Deck 4, SHODAN was once again about to assume the persona of Janice Polito to inform her new avatar of Watt's resurrection, but she stopped when she noticed the parasite had completed the transformation on the other side.
Her avatar now had the code for the Maintenance shaft, so SHODAN decided in the space of a millisecond that she could care less about Watts.
Back on Deck 2, XERXES, now one among the Many, gave Watts the code for the maintenance shaft. He opened it, and looked down at the maintenance droid there. Inside both their minds, the Many whispered.
He is coming soon. You must prepare. Do not allow that… lonely human… access to Engineering Deck.
Watts watched the maintenance droid clamber on to the short lift that led to the corridor. He pressed the button, and the droid came out into the hallway.
He is coming.
Watts/Many smiled. We will stop the individual here. He will not gain access to the Engineering Deck. He will not.
He is here.
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