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Exile in Syberia
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Unit Log, VeeMech TDR-1-74-0107C-J
Date <Error – Check CMOS>, Log Entry 1

I woke up with the distinct sensation my body was all wrong.

I don’t mean in the sense of “my leg feels funny”, or “this stabbing chest pain is all I can think about”, or even “I’m trapped in a body of the wrong gender”. All of those would be within the range of normal human experience. This. This was something different.

For starters, I couldn’t turn my neck. For that matter, I didn’t have a neck. Also, my head, or what passed for it, was now embedded in the right side of my chest. You don’t give your typical human bilateral symmetry with sensory organs and seat of consciousness mounted atop your body in a rotational assembly much thought. I certainly hadn’t either, before it was gone.

Speaking of legs, those didn’t feel right, either. Neither did my arms. The legs felt a bit shorter than they should be, while my arms almost felt gorilla-like in their length. I’d always been very much on the tall side, but that was in no small part due to the length of my legs. While I still feel broad-shouldered, if anything, my arms and legs felt close to the same length, which just wasn’t right. My limbs themselves weren’t numb, exactly, but responded stiffly and felt like they were wrapped up heavily, like wearing a parka and snow pants with heavy boots.

I tried looking down at myself and found that, while I didn’t have a neck, I could still change my field of vision and look around a little bit. My vision was still fuzzy, but clearing up slowly. Two things immediately stood out: I appeared to have a heads-up display, like I was wearing augmented reality goggles, which made no sense as I owned neither Google’s nor Microsoft’s overpriced experiments. Oh yeah, and I was made of metal.

“What the hell is going on here?!” So, I could speak out loud. That’s a good thing, I guess.

“Welcome back, Groundwave,” said a familiar-sounding voice. “Your systems have been offline for a long time.” The silhouette of a larger, blocky humanoid appeared at the edge of my vision, as I tried to focus on it. “My name is Primus Optimal, and I am the leader of the Autonomous Barony of Primus.”

Oh. Oh hell no. “You’re who, now? Wait, I’m who, now?” I looked up and around, and, sure enough, in his red and blue glory, there he was. “Oh, this is bad. This is very, very bad.”

I stumbled to my feet, and found myself standing about chest-height to Optimus…er, Primus Optimal, or whatever the hell he wanted to call himself. The room we stood in was covered in dust and dirt and, in one half of the room, looked partially buried. To the left of Primus stood a blue and white striped robot that looked like it was made, in part, from a sports car, something like a bastardized Porsche 911 meets 928 meets Panamara. To his right, meanwhile, was a squat-looking, long-armed ‘bot painted red and white, with what looked like a lift hoist slung over its shoulder, and with wheels and tires like you’d see on a large military truck mounted on its forearms and lower legs. Its right arm also mounted some sort of large gun or cannon, and the bunker-style lookout that passed for its head and, presumably, eyes, was embedded in the side of its torso. Ever played the game Battletech, or MechWarrior? Think Thunderbolt, or Thor/Summoner, or…oh ******.

I carefully turned my right arm, to better extend it into my now limited field of view. Giant-ass tire: check. Some sort of gun: check. My weird HUD helpfully explained that it was an 8 cm standard laser, tied into some indecipherable brand and model number communications system. Using my left hand ever-so-carefully, I felt along my right side, around where I felt my face to be. It wasn’t the exact same as my mystery bot (‘Mech?), but it was damned similar.

I was on the verge of panic. Intellectually, I know I should ne feeling that cold shot of adrenalin accompanying the sheer terror of realizing not only what I’d become, but where I was. This wasn’t Cybertron, and that wasn’t Optimus Prime. He was a parody written for a joke supplement for my favorite “Game of Armored Combat”, which meant I was now, too, assuming this wasn’t a bad dream, or other bizarre product of my imagination. For all I knew, I’d had a stroke or something, and this was all the product of a damaged brain. That seemed a hell of a lot more likely than somehow having my consciousness stuffed into some robotic BattleMech parody of a Transformer in another universe, one I clearly recognized s fictional. ”This isn’t real,”, I thought to myself. ”You need to wake up, find your wife, find out whether you’re OK, or of something’s gone horribly wrong with your brain.”

If you’re a human being, and you’ve somehow stumbled upon this journal, you may be asking yourself why I immediately went to “dying of a stroke”, rather than “weird dream”. It’s because dreams, at least when you’re in them, seemed to me to always be internally consistent. Your body always feels like your body, and feels like everything is in the right place. For me, at least, when I was dreaming, I still felt like myself. Right then, when I woke up from whatever had happened, “myself” was the last thing I felt like. The sensations were so out of sorts, I couldn’t imagine them coming from a brain and nervous system that were working right.

“Ok, I’m operating off the assumption that something is horribly wrong with me,” I stated out loud. “Has anyone called my wife, and is she here?”

The three bots looked at one another. They may not have had much in the way of facial expressions that they were capable of, but their body language certainly seemed to convey confusion. Finally, Optimal Primus turned back to me, “I do not understand. A wife is a reference to the human custom of marriage, correct?”

“Um, yeah, it is.” I’d have nodded if I could.

“But, you are not human, Groundwave. How could you therefore be married?”

I sat back down on the ground. This wasn’t going well. “I remember being human, Primus Optimal, and being married, and having a son. What I don’t remember is being, well, this,” I replied, gesturing to myself with my left arm (no sense in waving a giant gun around, right?), “or being ‘Groundwave’. I’m guessing that’s my name, or designation, or something?”

“That’s correct. You are a Groundwave-Type Variant Wheeled VeeMech, a model of AutoMech that specializes in short-and-long-range communications. You are not human.”

"Thank you, Captain Obvious.” If I hadn’t been afraid of denting the visor that passed for my eyes, I’d have facepalmed at that. "Obviously I don't appear to be human. I'm saying I remember being human, and you're not helping me with thinking this isn't a stroke-induced delusion. OK, do you have any records of an AutoMech possessing the uploaded consciousness of a human?"

Primus Optimal shook his head. "In the centuries since humans last walked among us, there have been no records of that ever occurring. It is more likely that you are a malfunctioning AutoMech. Would you submit to examination by VeeMech Spanner?" he asked, gesturing to the squat AutoMech with the lift hoist.

I looked at the three of them again. "Do I have a choice?"

Primus Optimal, I suspect, was trying to make this easy on me. He crouched down next to me, moving surprisingly gracefully for what must have been a big-ass AI-driven BattleMech. "If you are malfunctioning," he spoke evenly, "would it not be better to know, and resolve the issue, rather than potentially pose a risk to those around you?"

Dammit. He made a good point: of this was all the result of a damaged brain translating real life into something bizarre as a result, this could be someone trying to render medical aid. And, whether I was a human dreaming he was a BattleMech, or a BattleMech dreaming he was human, he made a good point: I wasn't interested in posing a danger to myself or anyone else. "Fine," I said finally, "let's get on with it."

Unit Log, VeeMech TDR-1-74-0107C-J
Date <Error – Check CMOS>, Log Entry 1 End of File


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