13 Days Ago
‘Stef. Shhh.’
‘But Jonesy-’
‘No, you can’t play with the lazer, Stef.’

The beam of blue light hit the neat line drawn across her wrist, and very easily sliced through the flesh.
‘I love,’ she said as she watched the fingers of her now-unattached hand twitch, ‘that you know my question is “can I has lazer” not “why do you keep cutting my hand off?”’
‘No can has lazer,’ he said again, lifted the removed hand, tossed it over his shoulder into the bin with the other three hands that had been removed. Images of her hands crawling up and out of the bin, propelling themselves across the floor like spiders flooded her mind, breaking out of the lab and desperately seeking revenge towards-
‘Much better,’ he said as he played with her newly-grown hand, making sure that all of the joints flexed in the correct direction, and were covered with the correct amount of flesh.
‘So, what next?’
He sat, laid the stopwatch down next to his keyboard and sipped his coffee. ‘Hands are a big thing. They’re crazily complicated for what they are, but at least there doesn’t seem to be any issues with regrowth. One round of taking off the digits individually, just to take sure they come back right side up in case you, I don’t know, cut one off while making a sandwich.’
‘…did you just tell me to get back in the kitchen?’
He gave her a perfectly innocent smile. ‘Of course not.’
The lazer heated up again, and neatly sliced off her thumb. ‘This is really, really disconcerting you know.’
‘At least you stopped screaming.’
‘It’s a lazer. It should hurt.’
Her thumb reappeared with no issue.
‘The Flamidimiser isn’t exactly a destruct-o-beam,’ he said, removing the superfluous thumb and tossing it into the bin. ‘It’s a medical instrument.’
She stared at him. ‘You made up that word.’
‘I did not.’
‘It’s seriously called-’
‘A Flamidimiser. Yes.’
Her index finger was chopped off, and she watched the detached digit with detached amazement. ‘This is all way too weird.’
‘Oh, we haven’t even started with the weird stuff.’
The image of singing groupies came to the forefront of her mind. ‘Um, what kind of “weird stuff”?’
‘Well, I’ve got to use this on your head at some point.’
[O_O] she sent to him.
He shrugged.
[D:] ‘You are not using that on my head.’
‘I have to.’
‘I like my head,’ she stressed as her middle finger was removed. ‘I like it right where it is.’
He turned back to his computer. ‘This is the easiest way to get this done. We have to see what happens to you under certain conditions, because…well, your heart complicates things. If, for example, your arm was removed, but your hand started to regrow before the rest of your arm, that could cause problems. And these settings aren’t only for single-regrowth occurrences, it’s also for full regenerations.’
‘Full what now?’
He stood, grabbed the lazer, adjusted a few of the settings and aimed it at her. A wide blue beam caught her in the chest and-
Stop it.
Ok, well, if you’re here-
Everything was black for a moment, then she found herself floating. She looked around, but there was nothing to see but a faint blue fog. Her body ripped itself apart, but there was no sensation, just sections flowing away as if they were nothing more than wispy pieces of cloud themselves themselves. Everything spun, and her body slowly reformed, sans the lazer burn.
A loud bell tolled, the sound resonating in her mind, and she fell from the hazy place.
And then, as if nothing had happened, she was standing in Jones’ lab again.
‘Dude. You just killed me. With a lazer.’ A grin split her face. ‘That was…’
‘Epic win?’
‘Yes! Except for the killing me part!’
He indicated to the chair, she sat, and he readjusted the lazer back down to the finger-cutting-off settings. ‘That’s a full regeneration, it’ll be as common to you as any individual regrowth.’
‘…and why couldn’t I just sit there and fix the lazer burn? It’s not like I actually need my lungs, right? But don’t say that cause then I’ll start manually breathing and that gets weird.’
‘Whenever you get enough of a system shock, it’s easier to…respawn you. It’s a more thorough check, just in case something went wrong, it’s also a safety issue. Let me put it this way, you’re fighting…the Hulk. Now, let’s say he pulls up a street lamp and hits you over the head with it. Now, technically, you could lie there, putting your cracked skull back together, but that gives him a chance to pick you up and do more Hulk Smash with your tiny little hacker body. However, pop out for a respawn, your brain’s gonna be in one piece and you’ll be tiptop shape to fight him again. Or as tiptop as I made you.’
She looked down at herself. ‘Did you give me waif-fu?’
‘You’ll find out.’
She curled her hands into fists, wondering who would win if she got into a fight with a brick wall. ‘Who would win, me or River?’
Jones looked at her, an unfamiliarly serious expression on his face. ‘No-one beats River Tam.’
‘Safety wise, respawning also gives you a second or two to gather your thoughts, an advantage whoever you’re fighting doesn’t have.’
‘I’ll need a lot of advantage.’
He shrugged. ‘It’s ok, you fail out there, you come here. It’s part of the plan. I wanted a bit of a backup so you didn’t get recycled or stuck in the basement. You know, like Bart’s evil twin.’ [:P]
‘Can I take a break when you’re done chopping off my fingers?’
He shook his head. ‘No, sorry, after we’re done with this round, we actually have to see if you can still use your hands. They’re going to get a rather vigorous workout.’
‘Doing what exactly?’
Her pinky was sliced off, and it rolled over before coming to a stop.
Jones smiled. ‘I took the liberty of reactivating your WoW account. Figured we could five-man Kara with a couple of my kids.’
‘…now when you say “your kids”,’ she began.
‘I mean my recruits,’ he clarified. ‘I only mean something more literal by it when I speak of Merlin. He needs me as a mother and I’m more than happy to care for him in that capacity. I’d imagine that you know what that’s like, you do know how Ryan feels about you, right?’
‘Yeah, I, do. I, um, I think I have a dad now. Still trying to process it.’
‘He said something, good. He has developed this terrible habit of keeping his emotions to himself, keeping everything to himself, and keep himself apart from everyone and everything.’ He drank more of his coffee. ‘He had reason to withdraw, of course, but he never came back out of his shell. It’s why his recruits, by and large, have the opinions that they do, all they ever know is the aloof persona that he projects.’
‘By the way you reacted to me calling me my recruits my kids, I presume…’
‘He told me about his son, yeah.’
‘Alexander, yes. When Ryan married the boy’s mother, Eilise, I was there, I was one of his best men. Things went from that to…him not being able to ask for my help when he had some dirty little hacker corpse hidden away.’ He gave her a small smile. ‘You are doing him good, Stef. Just…try to hold onto that later when we’re decapitating you.’