Cyborg: Redux – Excerpt

"You said I was the only one. I'm not like that anyway. I'm ready to go home." Fury grew, and he fisted his hands.

"No, Michael." Sara's voice firmed. "They didn't know about others until a report was made to the authorities a few weeks ago, but it was kept under wraps given your personal circumstances. I didn't know anything about it until last night when this was presented to me as the only resort. And yes, I agree, you exhibit no negative tendencies, but the authorities need to be sure of the safety and security of the populace."

She advanced, brushing off the concerns of the guards.

"But your current anger won't help, so sit down and listen." She reached for him, even as the two guards thrust their hands to their belts.

He stalked to the bed and dropped down. It dipped and creaked beneath him. His hiss of anger was long, loud, and she winced at his obvious frustration. "Right. I'm listening."

"Good. You're to be released to a halfway facility. Your parents and siblings can visit as often as they like. The added benefit is no one will be mauling you while your body is healing, which, I have to be honest, concerned me."

Michael had to work hard to contain his snarl.

"Your transplants are new, and I don't want you to be physically manhandled and run the risk of infection," she continued. "It's a win—the only one you're going to get. Otherwise, you'll have to stay here until they determine you are emotionally stable enough. You must recognize it's harder here, because the conditions are manufactured. It would take longer to achieve the outcome necessary, and I'm not sure that would be untainted. This way, you'll have freedom to come and go to some degree. Please, understand, I've fought hard for this. For you."

He snorted. "What's the alternative? If I choose to leave and not enter the halfway house or remain here?"

She shuddered and looked away.

Michael frowned. "Sara?"

"You'd be disengaged. That's the only other alternative." Her words were muffled, movements edgy as if she fought some great emotional turmoil.

It took a moment for the words to refine in his mind.

Disengage. Disengage his bio-tronic life support battery? "Sara?" Oxygen clogged in his throat, almost choking the life from him. "They'd do what?"

She reached out, placing her hand over his. "I'm sorry, Michael. You need to understand. I didn't choose any of this. I know you're exactly as you were mentally, but the psychologists don't. You have to prove to them that you're still human and the Michael we all knew before your accident."

Heavy and dark emotion, the kind he was unused to, coursed within his body. It wasn't anger. Nor was it frustration. Instead, it was some powerful mix—potent and scouring. Fury took the leading edge. He clenched his fists, hiding them behind his back so the guards wouldn't see.

A small monitor, yet another implantation created to assist him in monitoring his emotions and physical status, slid over his vision and showed him the level of distress radiating from him. It not only captured the levels of his breathing, but also that of Sara's increased respiration and perspiration. It reminded him, forcibly, of what he wasn't any longer and the humanity he'd lost.

It took seconds—five point three to be exact—for him to control himself, release the pressure in his hands, and his endorphin levels to begin decreasing. "Then I'll go, Sara. I'm sorry." He spoke clearly, his eyes on the guards, who nodded and stepped back. When he looked at her again, she'd dabbed away the tears that had wavered on her lashes.

This is the last time we'll meet like this, he promised himself. Not even really friends, but never more. He and Sara could never be anything more than doctor and patient, and for him that was more than enough.

If I had known what lay ahead, I don't think I would have wanted them to save me.

He rose and stepped away.

"Michael?"

He stilled, his gaze settled on Sara. "Yes?"

"I'm…" She hiccuped. "I'm sorry." There was a tremble in her voice, but he refused to let it affect him.

"So am I, Sara." Then he turned slowly on his heel and dismissed her.