Authors note: This is an original story. All characters are property of me.
The hospital was a gloomy, depressing place. As brightly lit as they could make it, but still very depressing. The lighting somehow made it worse, like it was a spotlight on a stage, and the star was death. It was like a bad mockery of Heaven, the doctors, and nurses were the angels, tending to people who never got better. They just got sicker. So maybe it wasn't Heaven after all. Maybe it was Hell.
"What's wrong with my mother?" Alexandria Mycroft (Alexia to her mother) demanded, her small arms crossed over her chest. She wanted to cry very badly, but she refused to. Instead she locked the fear and the sadness away in her chest. It hurt to hold it in, but she wouldn't cry. Crying was something babies did. And she was seven now, practically an adult. She was dressed in her regular monochromatic fashion, a black dress that hung past her knees, a fraying gray belt, and scuffed buckle shoes that made her feet hurt. She worn them because it was the type of shoes a grownup would wear. The only splash of color in her ensemble was the large red bow that held her hair behind her head, in a loose ponytail. She also wore a small machine key around her neck. It had been a birth celebration gift from her mother last year. It was the first birth celebration gift she had got in some time, and she adored it. And only removed it to bath herself. Her blue eyes were pale and accusing, damning the doctor for all the things he couldn't do for her mother.
Eden Mycroft had worked long hard hours at the foundry. Double shifts more often then not. So even when she was at home, she was too exhausted to do more then slump in her broken chair, and sip bootleg rum. So Alexandria had learned to cook meals for herself and her mother. And to mend her own clothing, and do other grownup things. In fact, she barely had time for her hobby. She made little robots out of spare components she found at the dumping grounds, where she went on her mothers single shift days. It was really amazing the things people threw away. But, in her experience, people (especially adults) often did very stupid things.
She wasn't supposed to go into the dumping grounds. All the large, colorful warning signs clearly said so. But the fence had been torn for over a year now, and no adult ever tried to stop her when she went in, even though she had been seen more then once coming and going through the fence. So either it was okay to go into the dumping grounds, or else grown ups simply didn't care. And if they didn't care, why should she?
But even she knew better then to be out after dark. That's when the butchers came out. Individuals who were more animal then human, the roved the streets with knives and stolen meat hooks. Some were said to have iron blades embedded in their fingers. There were also stories of what they did to girls they caught on the street. She had heard adults on the tram speak of them, and while she didn't understand all the words, she got the gist of it, and made sure to always be home well before sundown.
But then her mother had became ill. She didn't understand all the details, but knew it had something to do with the foundry.
"We' now sweetie, yer mums very sick. Her ticker is a tick'n down." He tapped his own chest for effect. Alexandria just stared at him, holding back emotions that she couldn't name, let alone express. If looks could kill, the doctor would have been in heaven tipping drinks with St Pete already.
"Fix her." Alexandria ordered. It was not a suggestion, nor a plea. It was undeniably an order. "Make her better."
"Na see luv, eh'sometimes people get sick..." 'An don't have money for treatment' He silently added. "An there's not can be do fer it. She's in need of ah new heart dea'h, an those cost a lott'a money. Did yer mum ever tell you bout heaven?"
Alexandria nodded slowly.
"We' now sh'll get to live forever. Won't that be nice? No mor' suffer'n fer her."
"She...has to die, to live forever?" She asked, confused, and a little angry. The doctor nodded. It struck her as unfair. Why did anyone have to die? What was the point? What sort of broken universe demanded a life to end, just to continue again? This was yet another stupid thing, in a long line of stupid things she had heard in her young life. "I'll fix her, if you won't." She said angrily, and that's when the tears came. Big, hot, angry tears. She turned then and ran from the hospital. Ran though the cobbled streets of an indifferent city. Ran past people who barely noticed her, too wrapped up in worlds of their own making. Ran all the way to the cramped, hot apartment she shared with her mother. All she wanted was to fall on the shared bed, and clutch her one eyed rag doll to her stomach, and hope things got right again on their own. Suddenly she did not feel very grown up....
"Here." She thrust a brass object into the doctors hand the next day. "A new heart. A good heart. Fix her now." The light weight object was the right size, and tubes in the right places, more or less.
"Where ja'get this Alexia?" The doctor asked, amazed at the little device.
"I made it at home. For mother. So she doesn't have to die." The tears were threatening to fall again. But there was hope shining in them too, and he hated to kill that. Because she was obviously a brilliant child to make the device he held. Possibly a prodigy.
"Na' sweetie, medicine don' work like that. Can't just go a'pluggi'n things inta people." He tried to hand the gadget back to here, but she refused it.
"It will work! It will fix her!"
"Come on honey, don't let your mother see you act this way." A young, female nurse tried to gently lead her away.
"No! It will work!" Alexandria cried as the nurse scooped her up, and carried her out of the room. "I can fix her!! Let me fix her! LET ME FIX HER!!!"
They let her back in later that night. Her mother was going, and everyone knew it. The knowledge weighed down on the room like a storm cloud on a sunny day. Not that there were many sunny days in the city, with all the pollution in the air. "Mama?" She crawled onto the narrow bed next to her mother.
"Alexia." Her mother coughed weakly, "I...know you're scared baby. But...you don't...have to be." She wheezed. "You're so smart, and I am so proud of you." Her mother smiled then, even though the pain was beyond medication now.
"I tried to help you Mama. I made you a new heart." Her voice was muffled against her mothers neck. "You didn't have to die." She wanted to cry, but she was cried out. There were no tears left inside her.
"Everyone d-dies baby."
"I won't Mama." She replied, burying her face against her mother. "I will never die.
Immortality was not an impossibility. It was simply a puzzle to be solved. And Madame Techia was excellent at solving puzzles. She had in fact, proved excellent at anything she put her mind to. She had mentored under, or been apprentice to, dozens of mechanics and barbers, had learned everything they knew about the separating of flesh, and the melding of components. Combining the techniques she had learned in interesting new ways in her mind. Seeing the possibilities no one else saw. The ways flesh and metal could be fused into a new life form. Some of her teachers had been frightened by the questions she asked. Others, a few, had been excited about her questions. Those rare ones saw a keen, exceptional mind. They saw a destiny being formed.
Her inventions were incredible, world shaking, and by the time she was eighteen she had more coin and credit then she needed, even given her lavish lifestyle and apartment. That was all years ago, before she became the authority on robotics, and mechanical augmentation. Hell, she had pioneered the field of mechanical augmentation. Anyone practising mechanical upgrading today (hacking, as it was known) was merely parroting her earlier work. Not that there were many of them around. She hated imitators, and killed everyone she found. These days she had amassed more credit then she could spend in one lifetime, and she intended to live a very long time.
She felt restless today, and fiddled with the key hanging around her neck, something she rarely ever did. She had no time for idle pastimes like fidgeting. She was usually busy with her hands, if not her mind. But today was different, and she knew what was wrong. She was itching for a fix. That was the problem. She craved to have another pound of flesh removed, to replace the imperfect tissue with perfect Mycroft tech. To replace the weak failing flesh.
"Doctor, I want to replace my left eye today after business." She took a long draw on her pipe, another bad habit. But she hadn't claimed to be perfect. Not yet at least.
"Your quarterly physical showed no tissue failures. If anything, I'd be more worried about your lungs, then your eyes." He replied. And immediately regretted having said it, as he heard her step close, her metal boots clanked loudly against the hard floor. Madame Techia didn't believe in sneaking around her empire quietly.
"Mind you tongue in the court of Techia." She said quietly, and leaned uncomfortably close to the doctor. Close enough to kiss him. And blew smoke in his face. "Unless you wish to part with it." She clanked the metal fingers of her mech hand together for effect. "Its been a quite a while since I performed a surgery personally. Not counting on myself that is. Yes, performing an extraction might scratch the itch I'm feeling."
"Now that you mention it, the new model eyes have, ah shown exceptional performances, with a very small rejection ratio--"
"Stop talking. It hurts to try and think at your level. I know the numbers. I invented the hacking numbers. Just have my personal operating room prepared by the end of the day." She dismissed him then. Not verbally. She simply walked past him, her mind already on other things.