“Two metal mohawks,"she thought, slowly frowning into the small mirror above her. “They look ridiculous.” Korah Mey and her team were the first to do it: an implanted computer. A feedback loop on top, monitoring the mind’s own constant hallucination of reality-creating consciousness. Out of the mohawks, dotted with square chips, ran black cables which draped over both her shoulders and torso off the bed and across the floor towards a computer tower a few meters away. Mey squinted and blinked, trying to drive out the drowsiness of the anesthesia. Over the shoulder of her colleague, Dr. James Leden, Mey could make out the familiar scrawl of OJAD’s code filling the screen. The computer OJAD, the mohawks, were already running. Mey was surprised, "But why can’t I notice it yet?" “James,” said a voice next to her, “she’s awake.” Leden sprang up, almost stumbling on the cables, and leaned in close to Mey. Dried blood and pink bone highlighted the contrast between the metals and her pale skin making Mey look wounded and sickly. “Korah, OJAD is up and calibrating! Can you— What does it feel like?” blurted out the normally composed Dr. James Leden. Mey heard them, but was fixated on the monitors across the room, squinting to decipher which part of the body OJAD was attempting to calibrate with. She couldn’t feel anything except the hint of a sharp headache hidden behind the dullness of the anesthesia. She looked to Leden and then to Kat, their lab tech. “What’s it… accessing?” Mey stumbled over the words. She tried to speak again, but her head suddenly felt like it was on fire, a searing heat mellowed by the painkillers but accentuated by thousands of stinging pricks like a wave of tingles across her mind. It wasn’t until after she had actually spoken that she realized she had just vocalized, “I can’t feel anything.” OJAD had watched Mey’s brain have that thought, then cut in on the neural pathway and moved her speech organs for her. Only afterwards did it allow Mey’s own mind back in to monitor what her speech organs had just done. Or more accurately, what OJAD had made them do. “OJAD needs more time, Korah,” said James, craning his neck back towards the screens flurried with activity. “Are you in pain?” James turned back to see Korah lean her head back deep into her pillow and her eyes go completely white, rolling back unnaturally. “My god, Kat, put her back under! Something’s not right,” Dr. Leden said, as he jumped over to the monitors. Kat wheeled her chair to the IV bag and fed in a line to put Mey to sleep. It was storming in Mey’s mind, yet she was thinking in slow motion. OJAD was like the clouds of the storm; Mey couldn’t tell where it started or where it stopped. She just had a vague intimation. An intimation that every time her mind worked, OJAD was there first, reading the neurons, knowing the thought, and then either carrying it out for her or letting it through... with its approval. Her ears vibrated in a familiar pattern. That was all that Mey noticed. A moment later OJAD sent electrical signals down the appropriate pathways, and finally Mey decoded what Leden had uttered, “Something’s not right.” “No, nothing is right,” she tried to think. “I need to tell them to stop OJAD. I need to get out.” The sedative crashed on her in waves, her heart pumping her mind into nothingness. But in the void of unconsciousness, where the mind perceives not even the passage of time, stood OJAD. Alone. Mey struggled to speak, to bring her eyes around and look at James or Kat, to stay awake. She fought, briefly, then relaxed into the mattress. It should have been dark. It should have been nothingness. The storm should have been over. But the dark clouds of OJAD would not part. They pressed on everything yet remained so distantly out of reach. Heat flared again followed by innumerous little pricks. “I… shouldn’t notice anything. I should be… asleep,” thought Mey. But OJAD had just woken up. And it wasn’t going back to sleep.
OJAD Awakens is a short story that takes place in the world of Chellok.
Orpia-Mata Jarsing Augmentation Device (OJAD)Location: Orpia Mata Research Facility, Delos Date: 16 D, 57 M, 21 HE
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