I had fought in the last war. I the right half of my face, my right arm, and right leg in a massive explosion. But they replaced the missing parts with bionics-or cybernetics, if you will-including a digi-eye, or a digital eye, which was covered by a cyborg eyelid to make me look human. cyborg skin-basically cloned skin, grown specifically from the cells of the wounded and used in most military medical MASH units anymore- was placed over the implanted robotics. Though I would live with a slight limp, the robotics would graft fairly well to my flesh and bone to become a part of me. My limp, though, would make it very hard for me to get around. And it would cause the end of my service.
My ex-wife would later say that I lost my manhood as well. But she had already taken that before the war and had never returned it. I, on the other hand, would rediscover it and return it to its rightful place. In my soul.
But that was a long time ago. And I was able to overcome the damage done to my reputation by her. And her family. All of whom were anti-military. Anti-establishment.
I was not particularly pro-military, but I was doing my civic duty. And I refused to be a ‘corporate’ soldier. I think they used to call them mercenaries, though they weren’t working for corporations at the time. now they do. But I did not, and would not.
In my time of active service, I was sent to one of the worst places. I would learn quickly that even the Government military was expected to fight the wars of the corporations. It may not have been fair, but it was the way things were done.
Ever since the corporations had seized control of the governments of every country, all militaries were expected to fight their battles against those who rebelled. Had we been half as smart as we should have been, we would have joined the rebel forces. After all, they won every skirmish. Hell. They won every battle and even the war.
But, that was all past. At the moment I was currently in, going down the hall for that meeting with the outraged woman and the board. I would have rather been in a war at that point, than going to that meeting. At least in a war, I would know exactly what to do in that respect. But this? I was deficient in the proper personnel skills this type of situation required.
I stopped at the door to the board room and drew myself up to my full 6’4″, taking in a deep breath as well. I arranged my suit coat. Might as well get it over with.
I entered the board room. The woman who had been on the fight just a few moments ago was now sitting on a chair in tears. She looked up as I entered.
I looked at her sadly. “What’s wrong?”
She broke down. “Oh, Mr. Hargis. Please forgive me. I was really mean earlier. I-I don’t know what came over me.”
I knelt. we both heard the click of my right leg locking. I smiled awkwardly. “That is not a good thing. gonna have a problem getting back up.”
She let out a small nervous giggle. “C-can I help you back up?”
I nodded. “But only after we finish here.”
She nodded in agreement. “I understand.”
I looked down. “I am truly sorry if I offended you out there. It was not my intent. I call everyone Hon. Or Honey. It is just my way. After two wars and three marriages, I believe I am entitled to call people nice things.”
She looked into my eyes. Good gracious! Puppy dog eyes. “I understand. I-I didn’t mean to snap at you. I have been having a horrible day. I was mad at my ex. He just…up and left. No reason why. Nothing.”
I smiled reassuringly. “I am sorry to hear that. I really am. sometimes, a man can be less than a man and more of an ass. But you have to remember that not all men are that way.”
“I-I know.” She bowed her head. “I-I want to make it up to you somehow.”
I looked at her, smiling. “Well, help me get up and come to lunch with me. I am simply starving. And forget what I said about turning in your card. Just don’t let your personal things cloud your judgment anymore. you could actually lose friends that way.”
“I-I understand.” She got up and produced her hand. I took it and pulled myself up as best I could. I hit the hidden catch button in my leg and the hinge released so that the leg straightened out.
The foot hit the floor with a clunk. I gave a crooked grin. Even though the leg was mechanical, the cloned flesh had nerves in it to make it as real as possible…and even a slight jar made the whole leg hurt. “Call me Dan.”
She nodded, wiping her tears away. “Alright, Mr.–Dan.” She giggled nervously. “I-I’m sorry.”
I smiled. “For what?”
She looked away, embarrassed. “Oh.”
I looked at her. “May I have the privilege of your name?”
She smiled nervously. “Oh. Uh, Margot. Margot Reese.”
I smiled reassuringly. “Well, Margot. Let’s go and have us some lunch. Shall we?”
She looked at me startled. “Do we have to leave that way?” She pointed toward the door.
I smiled wryly. “Well, yes, but we can turn down the hall and head the opposite direction than to the front. My favorite diner is behind us. It is called The Cornucopia.”
She smiled shakily. “Sounds interesting.”
I smiled. “They really do have excellent food and top notch service.”
She took my arm. “What are we waiting for?”
I led her out of the board room on my arm, turned down the hall toward the back of the library, and headed for the café. I led her to the back entrance and out the door. We made our way to The Cornucopia and sat down in my special booth. It was November the First.