My first conscious thought is: smells like nodegel. My next few thoughts go something like this: Where am I? What's up with my body? Is this the resleeving center? Oh God, it is! I died!
With a significant effort I get my new eyes open. A Cybonobo uplift stares back at me from the ceiling. It takes it blinking a few times before I realize I'm looking at my own reflection in a full length mirror. Why the hell am I a monkey!?
I try with some difficulty to sit up and manage it on the third attempt. I'm in a generic looking resleeving clinic with a standard E2D2 courtesy bot next to my bed, padded table, whatever.
"Welcome back Dustyblue," it says in its comforting, androgynous voice.
"Thanks. When is it?" I asks in a hollow attempt to distract myself from the body dysphoria that is threatening to turn into a panic attack.
"1:49 PM, Saturday ,June twenty-third."
"What year is it?" I ask. My simian stomach feels like it's full of ice water.
"Fourteen years after the Borging."
I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. I've only been dead a month. I haven't lost another decade as a soul in storage only to wake up in a world that left me behind.
"Good. Now, why am I a monkey?"
"You are sleeved into a six year old female cyber bonobo form previously owned by the ██████ corporation."
It's never a good sign when the previous owners want to remain anonymous. Also did it just say female. I check. Yep. It's not the first time I've been in a female body but it's definitely the most uncomfortable.
"You appear to be experiencing high levels of stress. Would you like antidepressants/anti-psychotics/sedatives/euthanasia?" asks the bot with just the right mix of concern and sympathy.
"No, no. I'm fine. This is hardly the worst body I've ever been in. And, hell, the seventy three percent of people who end up transpecies against their wills get used to it before completely losing their minds."
E2D2 seems to miss the sarcasm in those statements because it immediately starts instructing me on and running me through exercise meant to help me adapt to my new body. I decide to abuse the bot's infinite patience and split my attention between the instructions and texting my superiors. I let my eyes glaze over and try to access my implants. After an intolerably long time my entopic displays come up. Several pieces of software that I never installed offer me free trial versions of apps that I already have the freeware clones of. Away foul adware. After many mutter curses I get to my IM app running.
Dustyblue calling godsgroup.
Tem42 is responding. Open channel? [Y or N?]
<Tem42> Hi dusty. I hear you're a monkey.
<Dustyblue> Yes, why am I in a CYBONOBO! If this is somebody's idea of a joke I will hunt them down.
<Tem42> No joke. Three weeks ago the five biggest body bank's discovered that nearly their entire stock had a some sort of retrovirus that caused them to lose brain function. Supposed to resemble Alzheimer's but really fast and sudden. Most people affected were fine but some suffered permanent brain damage. A few are going to need extensive therapy. Obviously your clones were part of the infected batch.
<Dustyblue> Has anyone claimed responsibility?
<Tem42>As if we could ever be that lucky.
I thought about it. Who could stand to gain from ruining half of the back-up bodies on the moon? Wrong question. Lots of people were probably making a killing off this, including whoever put my current body up for sale. No the real question is who would be crazy enough to concoct and execute a plan this insane. Surely they know that every person who has ever worked in any of the facilities is going to have their entire digital history examined, spend hours answering questions while their brain activity is examined, and spend the rest of their lives on all kinds of watch lists. In short, who ever did this is either crazy, doesn't care if they get caught, or they actually expect to get away with it because they're clever to a degree that I can't even begin to imagine. I can't imagine any of the hyper-corps taking that kind of risk. No special interest groups have the resources and the motivation. Losing that many back-ups is bad for just about everyone. The ones who lost theirs will be suspicious of those who didn't. Could it have been orchestrated translunar? It just doesn't make sense.
<Dustyblue> How many people do we have working on this?
<Tem42> I can't give you an exact number. I can tell you that Team Jet-Poop left its base.
<Dustyblue> But they only mobilize when something is deemed an immediate threat to humanity-plus.
<Dustyblue> This isn't an E3/EDB thing? The Death Borg is still on Earth, right?
<Tem42> We have no plausible suspects at this time. If you want to know more I would suggest reading the thirty thousand news articles about it.
<Dustyblue> Right, sorry.
Tem42 has closed the line.
With nothing better to do I begin the body integration exercises. I'm going to have to do these same exercises again when I get a human body but no point in putting my life on hold until then.
This story was inspired by the short story Lack which can be found in the front of the Eclipse Phase core rule book and all the write ups from the early 2000s that treated E2 as though it was it's own self contained world.
RUST IS FOR THE WEAK