Bach opened his eyes.

He had memories of watching his skin peel back, the Doctor doing something beyond his ability to recognize as pain overwhelmed his senses and he passed out, even with Long Haul keeping him awake. The last memory he had was of a mechanical whistling and a few echoing chuckles. He was lying on the operating table, unrestrained, wearing only a diaper. His body felt like death; the pain was obvious and something he expected, but he did not expect for his skin to feel like it was crawling. He wanted to look down, but he barely had enough strength to move his head, so he just laid their, wondering what all had happened to him.

“Ah, oh excellent, you’re awake. I was truly hoping you might stay asleep for some time, I had some more gifts for you on the way you understand, but now that you’re awake, I suppose you might want to leave. Here, here, here, take a look!” Dr. Kratchen handed Bach a mirror, reflecting Bach’s face at first. Nothing looked abnormal. Bach reached up to grab the mirror and his skin seemed to explode and burn, but nothing changed. It was then that he noticed the strange color and texture of his arm. It looked… woven. Like Kevlar had been sown underneath his epidermis. This gave his arm a darker, unnatural look. There were also long scars going the length of his arm to the back of his wrist. As Bach took the mirror, he moved it down to look at his stomach, wondering if there was now just a gaping hole where his intestine would be.

Bach was surprised to see his stomach. Scar tissue stretched all along his stomach, spider-webbing out from the center of his stomach, his skin stretching to fit the entirety of his body. The woven material was there as well, but no holes were in his stomach that he could see.

“What… what did you do to me?” As Bach spoke, his stomach stretched and ached. Dr. Kratchen smiled. “My dear Mr. Bach, you are now so much stronger! I don’t think you’ll ever be back here to get fixed up from bullet wounds, oh no, most definitely not.”

“My skin! What?” Dr. Kratchen shushed Bach and walked up, stroking his skin with his metallic hands, the feeling sending chills up and down Bach’s spine, which felt strange. “First, you new skin. Perfect. Dermal sheath, a wonderful woven material that will help make you tougher and stop bullets and explosions. And considering your line of work, that might be somewhat helpful.”

The Doctor that turned Bach’s hand and rubbed along his scar tissue, which made him scream in agony. “And this, oh its nice. Ceramic bonelacing. Think of how much you can suffer now that your bones are laced with this hardened material! I’ve been wanting to put bonelacing in for quite some time you understand. Oh, you understand. And here, a gift.” The Doctor gave Bach a small chip, which Bach took mechanically and inserted into a new device in his head. Much as Bach hated the doctor, he couldn’t help but think that perhaps Inquis had not only saved his life today, but saved his life later on. Agony and suffering were an acceptable price to pay for this type of security.

“That chip, my dear Mr. Bach, is for your auto-injector. I don’t think you should be taking any more bullets, but if you do, this little device might help. It has four drugs in it and you have to take them in sequence. A simple stim, useful for all the stress you might be committing on your new, much improved, body. Some Novacoke, which is more a gift from me to you for so wonderfully performing under my scalpel. Then, an injection of Kamikaze, if you feel the need to truly push yourself past the impossible. And finally, if you have no other options, you may use the final injection. Of K-10. Oh yes, it should make you into a ferocious animal, yes yes yes. If you do decide to use that one, please livestream your performance to me. I would so love to see it.”

Bach stood up, his feet killing him. He grabbed his coat and pulled it over his freakish skin, wanting to leave almost as much as he wanted to start downing pain killers. “How much?” Bach asked? Doctor Kratchen leaned in close, his gear-eye-lenses switching rapidly. Bach could hear the whirring of his eyes, the soft hrmp hrmp of the valves in this throat.

“Oh, I believe you’ve already paid quite a bit, don’t you think? How many others would allow me to operate on them like that? Yes, yes, you’ve paid handsomely. You understand.”

Bach turned and left without another word.


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