Full Cycle

By Kauko

Art by Tanraak

Kauko took painful, staggered steps up to where her ship was hidden, forcing her way through the brush before slumping up against the outside of the airlock. Her breathing was ragged, one arm wrapped around her torso as the other tried to operate the door's interface. Whatever those weapons were, they stung - and they were causing her repair systems to fail. When the door gave a hiss and slid open, the wolf rolled her weight across the hull before tumbling inside, to the floor. She forced herself back up, gripping a handle on the wall as she the door shut behind her, and she scraped her way down the central hallway towards her ship's spare room.

The white wolf brought herself forward, each breath sending spikes of pain through her body, especially over the cuts still bleeding from where the weapon hit. Her vision started to blur, her mind raced. On the outside they only looked like glancing cuts, but the pain and corruption in her biosynthetic body ached deeper than that. She laid her eyes upon the recovery pod, specially designed for her kind to repair their artificially organic bodies. Normally, this amount of damage would be gone in a couple hours, but she was worried this time would take longer. And she was right.

She pulled herself up and over the edge of the retangular box, low on the floor, before falling into it. The artificial gravity caught and centered her. The wolf's entire body felt like it was on fire, as her paw scrabbled the side wall, for the controls for the pod. If she let herself shift to recovery now, they'd find her ship. And her. She couldn't let them have what she'd found. Keying in a command to the control pad, she started a remote control session of her full-synthetic body.

On the other side of the room, a pair of orange, dimly glowing eyes opened. They opened to the sight of a recovery pod with a hurt, bloody wolf in pain as the door above the pod closed. The pain was a dull ache now, but even as she stood, her mechanical king cheetah form buckled as a wave of dizziness came over her. Her body wasn't going to make it much longer, she had to move out of it before it went down for a cycle. She'd lose a whole day, and that couldn't happen. Another step, then another, she forced herself to move across the room as she could feel her real body starting to go numb. The remote control wouldn't hold if she couldn't stay awake.

She made it to the pod and slumped over top of it, finding it difficult to think hard enough to even make it move. Her arm reached over towards the panel at the back of the box, grasping at the connection cabling, and drew it to the back of her head. She was thankful the connectors were magnetic, snapping into place as they met the ports on the back of her neck, and she felt a buzz as the connection switched over to direct control. She ordered the system to immediately sort and transfer her to the synth - the last thing she could think to do before unconciousness took her.

Kauko woke a few minutes later with a start, sitting herself upright. She thought for a moment that she'd had dozed off, before she focused her eyes to a FAILURE: CYCLING notice projected on the wall in front of her. She looked down. The wolf, still injured, was secured in her pod. And her, inhabiting the synth body, now fully transfered. The pain and haziness gone. She stood up, making sure the transfer had completed successfully before pulling the cables from her neck. It was time to get very far away from this place, while her organic body had time to recover.