OPERATION STONE PRIEST
The Skyranger touched down hard, and Hellbilly’s injured leg collapsed under him. Medusa reached an arm out, catching him before he fell to the deck. The Skyranger’s ramp started to descend, revealing the XCOM hangar, and the squad moved down the ramp. Hellbilly and Benjamin Hudson had both been wounded badly and were moving slowly, and as they progressed down Medusa saw Dr Chen approach the craft.
“Gentlemen! Another successful…” he started, his eyes falling on the wounded soldiers. “Oh.”
The squad reached the floor of the hangar, and Dr Chen said, “Medusa, Achus, is there any chance I could speak with you?”
“I’ve gotta take these 2 cripples down to the infirmary, but you can talk to Medusa and he’ll brief me later,” said Achus, and Dr Chen nodded.
“Awesome. Let’s go guys, I’ll get you taken care of,” he said as he led the two wounded soldiers towards the stairwell. Medusa watched them limp away, and then Dr Chen said, “Would you mind following me, Corporal? The new cybernetics lab is ready.”
Dr Chen started towards the hangar exit and Mister Medusa fell in behind him as he started to talk excitedly about the new lab. “We’ve managed to find a way to incorporate biological specimens with mechanical augmentations utilizing the Meld. It’s quite remarkable, really, fusing man and machine. It’s not the most ideal of situations, but it will give us a definite leg up over the aliens.”
Dr Chen led the way down a stairwell, and through a couple of doorways, before finally emerging into the new facility.
“This is the cybernetics lab,” said Dr Chen with a grand flourish. Medusa looked around, taking in the sights, and said, “I’m not going to lie, Doc, this is pretty plain looking.”
A look of annoyance crossed Dr Chen’s face, who said, “Understandable, Corporal. There’s a lot of technical stuff here, but that over there is the exoskeleton garage, allowing us to build, maintain, and repair exoskeleton suits, and that over there is the surgical suite, where-“
“Wait, Doc. Wait wait wait. Surgical suite? For surgery?” asked Medusa.
“Well, yes, of course. How else did you think we would implant the cybernetic enhancements?” asked Dr Chen. Medusa opened his mouth to give an answer, but closed it when he realized he didn’t have one.
“I just…. I guess I thought it’d be, you know. Something simpler,” he offered.
“Well, it’s not. A soldier will have to go through rather intensive surgery to receive the prosthetics necessary to interface with the exoskeletons so they can be fully utilized. The plan is to-“
Medusa held up a hand to interrupt Dr Chen. “Wait, Doc, I’m sorry. Prosthetics? Like, prosthetic limbs?”
Another look of annoyance crossed his face, and Dr Chen said, “Yes, Corporal. Prosthetic limbs. Biological components won’t be able to interface with cybersuit, making the cybersuits useless. The volunteer will need prosthetic limbs to properly interface with cybersuit.”
Medusa nodded, and said, “And how will the, uh, volunteer get these prosthetic limbs?”
“They’ll receive them in the surgical suite,” replied Dr Chen.
“With the surgery. The surgery that chops off people’s limbs.”
“Please, Corporal, we amputate the unnecessary limbs. This may be a barbaric process, but we are not barbarians,” said Dr Chen.
“Right, right,” muttered Medusa, staring at the surgical suite. He tried to imagine losing all four of his extremities, and shuddered at the thought. “Alright, Doc. Let’s say someone volunteers. What happens after that?”
“We start work on the cybersuit. It will be a force multiplier for the squad, bringing heavy ordnance to the field that can’t be carried by an infantry squad- flamethrowers, mortars, miniguns. It will enhance the squad’s options for fighting against the invasion.”
Medusa sighed, and said, “Sounds like it might become a useful thing to have around.”
“It will be, Corporal.”
Medusa gave another sigh, looking around the lab. It sounded appealing, being able to bring that sort of ordnance to the field, but he couldn’t imagine convincing someone to volunteer for the operation.
“It’s all very convincing, Dr Chen, but how do we suggest we convince someone to step into the, ah, surgical suite?”
Dr Chen shrugged and said, “A lot of men have been going into the infirmary…”
Medusa shook his head. “No no no. It’s a hospital bed, not a butcher shop. Look, Doc, don’t get any crazy ideas. I’ll talk to some of the soldiers, see what they say.”
Dr Chen nodded. “Sounds fair, Corporal. Let me know when you have one so we can start the augmentation process as soon as possible.”