â€œPainful as in physical? Or painful as in emotional?â€ Marsh asked.
â€œBoth. It concerns my death and what came after.â€ Drick studied his reaction to that.
â€œOkay, thatâ€™s not usually how people phrase things. I guess you died and they resuscitated you or used a clone or something?â€
â€œI died before clones were stable enough to be widely used for implanting a whole consciousness. I also died before the technology existed to record whole brain impressions from a living subject. Well, before it was widely available and tested on humans. I was one of the very first for the process.â€
â€œYou were experimented on?â€
â€œYou could put it like that.â€ Drick paused and looked down at their hands. Imagining the past, so long ago. â€œIâ€™m not the original Drick.â€ they said.
â€œOh crap. I thought the clones you had created were short lived because they were fast tanked? Are you another clone? How many of you did Drick have made? How long will you last? They had a maximum of a few years before cellular decay.â€ Marsh sighed.
â€œThanks. So you canâ€™t tell an original from a copy.â€
â€œNo, I thought that was the point of them? Also youâ€™re the one who said you werenâ€™t original.â€
â€œThey were fast tanked and only had a minimal imprint of me. More like my old self from my long combat days. They were short lived but that would still give them a couple of decades. But I am not one of those. I wasnâ€™t fast-tanked.â€
â€œOh, right.â€ Marsh was quiet. â€œYouâ€™re not making that much sense.â€
â€œLook. I died. In a very horrible fashion. There was a lot of brain damage, and a heck of a lot more body damage. So they gave me a new body. But they didnâ€™t grow just an ordinary body. They took their time and created a highly specialised combat orientated body. They created an enhanced organic, able to survive in very rigorous situations. I have a fast metabolism for recovery, redundant organs, enhanced reflexes and a whole host of other special quirks. I pretty much canâ€™t be poisoned or gassed and can survive in unbelievable toxic conditions, including zero pressure.â€
â€œCould they not do something about your sense of humour why they were at it?â€ Marsh grinned a cold smile.
â€œThanks. They did. They reconstructed me. All of me. They enhanced me. I donâ€™t have all the memories of the time before my death. Even fewer now as it has been so long. I was a different person, I guess. I was still as mean and pissed at the universe.â€ Drick smiled back.
â€œWhy did they save you?â€ asked Marsh. â€œSounds like an expensive procedure. Why not just build a fresh person and programme them?â€
â€œMostly because of how immoral, and illegal, that was and is. â€œ said Drick. â€œDonâ€™t laugh. The organisation who did this donâ€™t always play by the rules. In fact they bend them into knots most of the time. But they do believe in the spirit of the law. They would consider it obscene to grow a lifeform to act as their enforcer. To mould an intellect into being a weapon. But they donâ€™t mind taking someone who is already pretty much trained and giving them a choice.â€
â€œSo they made you choose life or death?â€ asked Marsh.
â€œNo. They reconstructed me. They could have placed me in a normal organic shell. That was an option. They would have repaired what they could of my memories and I would have had a half century or more of existence. It is unlikely that I would have earned enough to pay for a new body at the end of that time.â€
â€œWhy only a half century?â€ Marsh looked puzzled. â€œI thought that lifespans were over two hundred years now?â€
â€œThey are, now. The early days of tanking were not as good. The degeneration from genetic disorders meant that most cloned life had between fifty and a hundred Terran years. Same as a fast tan today. And if you wanted to transfer your intellect then not all of you made the transfer. You lost some. It was incomplete. I came from a time not much past your own. They had the same limitations on transfer of whole intellect as your people did. The original Marsh of course.â€
â€œSo you chose super-soldier then?â€ Marsh laughed. â€œDid they give you a superhero name?â€
â€œNo.â€ Drick glared at Marsh. â€œEnhanced, not super. I have limitations, lots of them.â€
â€œI would have never had mentioned that, had you not said anything.,â€ said Marsh.
â€œYouâ€™re a real bundle of joy today,â€ Drick quipped. â€œI have the name, Drick. It wasnâ€™t my name before.â€
â€œAre you going to tell me what your name was before?â€ Marsh asked,
Drick stared at him for a long moment. â€œKendrick.â€ They said finally. â€œAlison Kendrick.â€