Maya worked hard jobs all her life, and a devastating explosion at sea turned her from a hard worker into a crispy critter. Bedridden and blind, she accepts the order from the Volunteer Project and gets herself reset into a body that can move and skin that isn’t black.
She did not think of anything aside from getting her body back under her control, so when she ends up at her assignment as a guardian communicator and tactician for three worlds, she does the job with good cheer until she got the first day off.
Having locals trying to seduce her was strange, but knowing that she had been reset with the genes to be one of their queens, she just tried to ignore it. An act of kindness puts her in the path of a guardian who coincidentally also has a day off, and her day in the sun warms up considerably from there.
The next day she meets his teammate, and the next teammate the day after that. The new genes come with new morals and less control.
The world was on fire. Maya stayed in the control room and sent directions to the men, who were working blind on firefighting. She shut the pumps down and tried to communicate with the coastal patrols. Ships were on the way for the men who made it into the sea, but for those caught in the initial blast, there was no chance.
The room was roaring and creaking around her. She called to the crewmen to abandon their attempts and head for the deck. She didn’t know how many of them heard her. She turned and ran for the door. Everything around smelled like oil and fire. She touched the door, was burned by the heat, and then another explosion knocked her out as the rig slid into the sea.
She should have retired last week.
“It’s okay, Maya. Keep calm. You are fine. You are in hospital, and you made it out.” Her sister’s voice was calm, but it sounded like she had been crying.
Maya couldn’t talk, so she squeezed her sister’s hand. Barb squeaked in surprise.
“Maya! You are awake! You have a tube to breathe. Don’t worry. I am getting someone.”
Her sister leaned over and hit a buzzer.
Maya would have laughed, but she couldn’t feel her face. She couldn’t see anything either. This wasn’t good.
The extraction of the breathing tube involved a lot of silent cursing and vomiting motions while she couldn’t really move.
When the tube came out, they removed the bit from her mouth, and she suffered again as the feeding tube was checked before being taped to the side.
She tried to talk and was given an ice cube to wet her mouth. Barb was holding her hand.
“So, I am really fucked up, huh?” It took all of her control to speak those words. Her mouth wasn’t working properly.
She heard the brusque foot falls of a doctor, and he came in and gave her a horrific litany of her injuries. She was blind, most of her face was scorched, and parts of her had been crushed before being burned. She was really fucked up.
Maya went through days while she contemplated the future she had while locked in a bed. She wasn’t going to go anywhere on her own. Ever.
Her life became listening to the news and eavesdropping on the nurses and doctors in the corridor. She heard some very interesting shit.
The day that the ward went silent, Maya paid attention. There were very light footfalls headed her way.
The woman came closer. “I am the wife of the Alliance ambassador, and I have a proposal for you. Captain Mathskill, please, guard the door. We do not want to be interrupted.”
Maya wheezed. “We don’t?”
“My name is Minerva; you can call me Minnie.”
“Is that your whole name?”
“No. My whole name is Minerva-Gaia to Imbolt kei Zanican. There is usually a little more in there, but I am simplifying for speed.”
“Minnie, then. What brings you to my domain?”
The woman chuckled a rich and cheerful sound. “I am here to make you an offer.”
“Thirty years ago, you applied to be part of the Volunteer Project. Now, I am here to offer you that position.”
“I don’t think I can fit in the uniform.”
“Funny. You have a job; you just have to want to take it.”
Maya paused and said, “Tell me about what you have in mind. I have nothing else to do.”
Minnie chuckled. “Fair enough. What would you think if I said we can rebuild you from the inside out?”
“Interesting, but what do you want me to do?”
“The Nyal Imperium is in need of a dispatcher. They need someone to monitor the activities and distress calls on three worlds, and you have the mental capacity to monitor multiple events and displays at the same time.”
“No one can see it all at the same time.”
“I can, and you can. It is your talent, and with a slight enhancement, you are going to be able to manage it from anywhere.”
“Ah, we can fix that. We can bind your genes to that of a sturdier species and get your body reset to the best shape your genetics are capable of. You get your body repaired and reset into your twenties or thirties. It depends on when your body clock was set to be at its best, strongest, and smartest.”
Maya clicked, which was as close to a laugh as she could manage. “If it is this easy, why don’t you do it for everybody who is damaged like this?”
“Oh, I never said it was easy. It is hella expensive. The Imperium has stringent guidelines, and you happen to fit their requirements. You are the first human that I have met with a brain that came close to matching mine.” Minnie chuckled. “It is more than rare; it is exceptional. So, when they scanned your brain when you arrived here after the collapse, it was confirmed that you had the structure we are looking for.”
“So, if I didn’t have this rare mental structure?”
“I wouldn’t be here. I am here because you are useful, and you already applied to the Volunteer Project.” The woman was calm and matter of fact. There was no brown-nosing. She was simply making an offer.
Maya knew her options if she stayed as she was. “What do I need to do?”
“I need you to sign the contract with the Nyal Imperium. Would you like me to read it to you?”
Maya lay there as Minerva read the contract. The agreement to work exclusively in the Nyal Imperium. The restriction of her living areas to approved secure facilities. The agreement for implants to enhance her talent and enable relay capabilities.
“Wait. What is a relay?”