Chapter 6 PED Temp Fix
"Damn! I shouldn't have touched that!" Dustin held his head in his hands. His PED was having trouble fixing the damage from the shock, and he had a raging headache.
"Maybe eating something will help?" offered Olivia, putting a plate of cooked fish in front of him.
As the smell drifted up to him, he found himself on his knees throwing up everywhere.
"Just evolve already and that should fix it!" cried Olivia, moving towards the window in disgust.
"What's the matter?" asked Jake, looking back and forth between them. "You don't have a sickness in you, do you?"
"No, the shock messed me up. Alright," he said, climbing to his feet, shaky and queasy.
'PED, initiate an evolution to fix whatever's wrong with me."
(NO DAMAGE IS REGISTERING AFTER SCANNING YOU, WHAT DAMAGE DO YOU PERCIEVE?)
'I have a nasty headache and am getting sick like I have a concussion or something.'
(INITIATING EVOLUTION. DESPITE LACK OF EVIDENCE, PERHAPS THIS WILL FIX THE ISSUES.)
Dustin immediately felt relief, but as he turned to look at the others, they had such odd expressions on their faces, that he looked down at himself to see what was wrong. Ridged scales covered his body, and he looked more like a miniature velociraptor, than a man.
'PED? What Happened?'
(UNKNOWN. EVOLUTION IS SHOWING INCOMPLETE. HAVE YOU FINISHED?)
'How the hell am I supposed to know, and why the hell do you not know?!'
(THERE SEEMS TO BE SOME KIND OF INTERFERENCE IN MY OPERATION. I AM SORRY.)
"Dustin? My PED is giving me some god-awful readings. It keeps wanting to know if I want to initiate a change!"
"There seems to be something going on with them," he gurgled.
She stared at him for a moment, and he wondered if she had understood him. He was just about to open his mouth, to say it again, when she shook her head.
"There is no way in hell I am going to let that happen. You either disable this thing or fix it, before I rip my arm off!"
He wondered what it had said, but decided not to ask. Waving her over, he flipped the top open with his tiny inefficient hands.
'PED is there any way you could give me real hands? I need to see if I can tweak things a bit?'
He gritted his teeth. His hands grew and became more alien, with long claws, but at least he could manipulate things easier. Flipping a few things around, he quickly realized the solar event was affecting them way more than he had thought possible. Was that why there weren't any tech things here? Maybe this sun threw a lot of solar storms around.
"There, that should keep it from trying to initiate anything," he managed to enunciate, and she nodded, flipping it shut herself.
"I'm going to go feed Slurpy," Jake said, sliding out of his chair and grabbing the pan of fish scraps.
Dustin eyed them, feeling very hungry all of a sudden. Turning to his plate of cooked fish, he opted to eat it instead.
"I'll go with him, just try not to kill yourself again," said Olivia, popping the last of her fish in her mouth, and stepping around the pile of vomit. It was starting to stink, and Dustin figured he probably should clean that up.
They had only been gone a few minutes, and he had just finished cleaning up the mess. The nanobots were fascinating, taking almost all of his attention. A nagging feeling was bothering him. The last time he had lost sight of Olivia, she had been kidnapped and killed. He knew the Josagn weren't on this planet, but he still wanted to check on them and make sure they were okay. What if those robots had returned?
He managed to get everything packed up, and had just struggled to get the door open, when they returned, looking excited about their trip. He was furious.
'PED, I have got to have a better body than this!'
He grew in height, but his arms and legs returned to something resembling more human. His skin was blue, but he could live with that. The look on Olivia's face made him think he would need to change it, though. Glancing in a broken mirror, he immediately saw why. He had no mouth, and his nose had been reduced to two small slits. His eyes had turned pure black, and his pupils filled his eyes.
'PED,' he thought.
As he watched, he shrunk and his facial features almost went back to normal human. He could have almost passed for his old self. His hair was back to brown, as were his eyes. His hands were normal and everything seemed to be alright. His clothes were torn to shreds though. And as he tried to tie his pants around himself, he realized what was missing.
The resulting evolution had him growing a box-shaped face, with huge mandibles sprouting from either cheek. His twig and berries were back though. He would live with the bug face and just avoid mirrors.
This was beyond ridiculous. He went to the table and dumped his bag out. He wasn't getting up until he had figured out how these damn nanobots worked and got the PED's fixed. Even when he found his knees bent the wrong way, he didn't stop.
Jake couldn't help but stare, and Olivia moved to a window to watch it rain.
Several hours later, he had it figured out. The rain had stopped, and insects were singing in the dark. He had moved next to the wood stove to use the light from the fire to keep working, but he was sure he had it. Now it was time to incorporate the things into the PED and get it fixed.
Dawn was breaking, his back was killing him, and his eyes were red-rimmed and drooped from exhaustion, but he was sure he had it fixed.
'PED, initiate evolution into lizard under human form.'
He watched with relief as his knees and other oddities disappeared. The scales returned briefly, to be covered by skin once again.
He looked in the mirror and saw his old face. It had lines from stress, but he recognized it as his. He needed a shower and a nap.
"What did you have to do to get it to finally work?" asked Olivia, stretching from her spot on the floor where she had finally fallen asleep.
"The electromagnetic interference from the solar storm, was messing with it, so I had the nanobots form a faraday cage around it, before they were fried too."
"Wait, what do you mean they were fried too? Why are the robots not going crazy?"
"They produce a field around themselves that prevents the vast majority of the radiation from affecting them. I wasn't able to reproduce it without incorporating more things in, and I wanted my PED fixed now. This will be a temporary fix until I can finish repairs."
"I'll hold off on getting mine fixed until you can do it all at once."
"You're not worried about needing to evolve?" he asked, surprised.
"I shouldn't need to evolve into anything here. There's not a shit-ton of things trying to kill me. This form should protect me well enough from the robots."
"Fair enough." He kept forgetting that she didn't have a lot of evolutions she had to go through to survive like he had.
"So what else do you plan to do?" she asked, moving to look outside.
"I think I can use the nanobots…" he didn't get to finish as she threw herself away from the window and the sun went out.