Nuke was unhappy, noting how distinctly uncomfortable gravel roads are on the knees. His legs and shoulders were already aching from the several mile course he had set for himself in the city, and the monitorhead provided little by way of comfort when one has to hold perfectly still at gunpoint.
The rebellion had set up check-points, in order to search coming and going vehicles and pedestrians for supplies or troops. As a paramilitary group, it wasn't a terrible plan. As a group which sought to end tyranny and dictatorship, it reeked of irony. Nuke didn't bother voicing any of his complaints, though. There were better things to be done. Except for being held prone, of course. That tended to put a damper on his daily progress.
The voice directly above him held the command of both authority and routine, as if its owner had done this - or something similar - a hundred times, and was prepared to do it a hundred more. "So, mister... Ah... Lassic. Tell me how you came to be a cyborg again?"
"Technology's a funny thing," Nuke muttered, "how it's sometimes used to enslave the city, and other times used by medical doctors to conduct life saving surgeries."
He frowned down at Nuke, cleanly pressed gray uniform hanging comfortably from his shoulders. "But to replace your head?"
"Sure, if your epidermal layer is infected from a car accident. Normally they just lop off the offending body part, but you can't really do that to the spine without side effects."
"Don't be a smartass," he said to Nuke, and put his weapon down. "Just doing my job. You can get up, but that doesn't mean I'm happy with you."
"After having me searched, stripped, and questioned at gunpoint, I'd've figured we were about to move onto the dinner-and-movie portion of our evening. Trust me, I'm not feeling nearly as endeared as you suspect of me."
The man scowled. "I'm still holding a gun, don't push it."
Nuke shrugged, the gesture settling the weight of his suit comfortably around his shoulders. "Yes sir. Where do we go from here?"
"I don't trust you. Cyborgs seem like trouble to me, and you don't even bother hiding your synthetic parts."
Nuke would have scowled back had he had the face to do so, instead he said, "What with my head being housed in a CRT monitor, I'd think synthetic, realistic flesh masks would be out of my price range."
The man didn't even bother with a response. "Alright, you're going to walk ahead of me, I'll follow at gunpoint, and you'll go where I tell you until we reach headquarters."
Nuke didn't let his slump show, and instead answered, "You've got it, boss."
After a long and winding series of corridors, Nuke was paraded into a small office. The electricity in this building was actually working, which was unusual for most of the city. More unusual, still, for the rebellion. Most places are generator-powered where possible, as getting electricity would normally mean going through "official channels," which usually meant reliance on RAK Enterprises. Granted, having worked with RAK for many years, Nuke knew this pretty first-hand. It did leave him with a few questions as to how the resistance would manage to siphon power without being logged to RAK Enterprises.
The office itself looked pretty remarkable in how unremarkable it would've been two years prior. The carpeting was cheap, clean, and well maintained. The desk was also cheap, one of the plastic panel and steel legs types. There was a Rolodex on the top, a few papers and pens stacked neatly in the corner, next to an In-Out Box that was half filled with reports. The woman on the opposite end looked about as professional as one would expect of a business woman. Young certainly, but professional.
She quirked a smile at Nuke, and stood up. Nuke started cataloging various features immediately. The suit was of a good cut, though not perfect, so not quite tailored. Maybe it was a half-size too small. It looked to be a good material in either case, and she wore it comfortably. It hugged closely at the hips and shoulders, displaying more curve than was strictly professional. Overall, incredibly pretty and decidedly professional. She looked better than the last time he had seen her, too. Although it had been a fair few years since he'd seen her, she had aged very well.
However, like many of his older friendships, they were products of both different ages, but also different worlds. It had been at least a decade since Nuke had seen Tess last, and she was as stunning as he remembered. Sadly, he was missing an untoward amount of head, having had his surgically replaced with a monitor. If Nuke could've frowned, he would have. Despite the lack of head, the brain was sending signals to do so. She glanced up at the newcomer in the suit, then at her soldier. "Ross, what is this cyborg doing here?"
Ross, the man in black that had 'arrested' Nuke at the checkpoint, cleared his throat. "Um, apologies ma'am. He insists he isn't a cyborg."
"Oh? One would think the monitor for a head would have been a dead giveaway." She rested her palms on the desk as she stood, carefully to brush something behind the desk as she did so. "Tell me, cyborg, what makes you think we'd believe a lie that obvious?"
The monitor let out little flashes of blue as he spoke. "Because you knew me a few years ago, Tess, and I'd like to think you can trust me enough to let me pass through."
She had a half-second of pause, and frowned at him. "I knew you? I don't remember anyone who had cybernetic implants pre-war."
"Before that," Nuke said, "at least several years ago. Although I'm willing to blame the hair for making me unrecognizable."
"I... Oh. Nuke?"
"Yeah," Nuke said, scratching the back of his neck in an entirely reflexive gesture. "That's me."
"My God, what happened?"
"Car wreck. It was actually the only viable prosthetic on-hand."
Her frown deepened. "You sound different."
"Synthetic voice box, plus some emulation software for the missing tongue and mouth. You'd be surprised how many sounds you make with those two things."
"Among the other things they're good for."
Ross hid a blush, but Nuke didn't have to. "Silver still wrecks as bad as the rest of my face did. I'm pretty lucky to be alive."
Tess shifted her weight to the opposite hip, and rested her hands comfortably on the curves. "Still, I can't quite trust that you're Nuke, or at least, the same Nuke I knew. We can't really check dental records or trust any ID picture, what with your head missing."
"I figured as much. Alright, something specific you want to ask to be sure?"
"I suppose that's for the best, but even that seems sketchy. You could easily be hooked up to wireless database tech, and that would make researching viable answers as quick as it would be easy."
"Joyous of joys," Nuke said bitterly, "fair enough, something that would be off the record, then?"
"Oh jeez. Um..." Nuke floundered. "Well, crap."
She smiled wickedly, which made Nuke flounder more. After a moment of pregnant thought, Nuke grabbed a sheet of paper, scribbled a hasty but long note, and handed it to Tess.
Her brow furrowed as she read it, and her expression changed too many times for Nuke to have a clear idea on where it was deciding to settle. After about a minute of the unstable expression, she unlocked a desk drawer and put the letter away. For good measure, she locked the desk drawer, and hid the key somewhere in the interior of her jacket. Nuke nodded, monitor letting off a light blue haze into the otherwise pastel yellow room. "Convincing enough?"
"For now..." Tess said, frown barely making it past the expression mask, and disappearing as quickly as it came. "I'm not sure I can believe you still, but the time for indecision is long past. How are you with the robots?"
"Ugh, they're nasty tech. I'd've preferred something a little more squishy, but I can take out bots fast enough to get away, I guess."
"In a flat fight?"
"I'd put us at short odds. I'm decent with a sidearm. My rifle accuracy is decent, but may as well take years for how fast some of them can close on me."
"I can gut myself now and spare us all some time and ammo."
"Joy," Tess said honestly. "Well, we've got a hit squad forming for this evening. If you would be so kind as to accompany Ross, then I might be inclined to let you go."
"And if not?"
She smiled, "Even if the real Nuke could ever tell me 'no,' then he'd also know I would shoot him."
"Well enough," Nuke said, voice appropriately sullen. "How could I say no?"