As I now know the emergency cryostasis the military gave the standard AMS is nothing like movies or other entertainment platforms. It's not a one moment you are awake then the next you are at your destination a few decades later. Maybe the Solar Empire or the Extra-Solar league have better alternatives but this is what I can best describe as hell. This cryostasis only exists for emergency usage such as the pilot is gravely injured and so they ice themselves to stop bleeding until they are taken to proper medical facilities, or for the theoretical usage of AMS in space where the pilot is stranded and life-support is beginning to fail and they ice themselves to reduce strain on the system.
What cryostasis is, isn't a sleep like the movies try and tell you. What happens to us pilots is first the AMS, still connected to our nervous system and brain slowly offloads all our memories and thoughts to specialized storage banks right behind our heads. Apparently, these storage banks are nearly identical to human neurons but made in a lab. The system stores basically our non-metaphysical soul. All our memories, thoughts, and personality. Then from there, our bodies are injected with what is basically non-poisonous antifreeze through the massive spines inside our backs that keep our cells from being completely destroyed by the freezing process. This chemical, I don't know its full abilities but is shuts off cellular respiration in most of our cells too. All but the brain. Normally this would result in necrosis and death very quickly, but while our cells go into "shutdown mode" the AMS fills the pilot chamber with the fluid seen in sensory deprivation chambers. Then a bag made of unknown space-age material is formed over the pilot.
This bag is then filled with what is assumed to be liquid nitrogen or something similar that nearly instantly freezes flesh. The bag is then sealed snuggly over the pilot to create a vacuum seal to keep us nice and fresh. As we freeze the parts of our brains that cause heartbeats, breathing, and any other automatic systems of our body is shut down and uploaded to the storage banks. The brain is alive and unfrozen but there isn't anything inside anymore. Since the body isn't using oxygen or performing any form of energy consumption the required calories to keep the empty, unthinking sack of fat that we call our brains alive is very very low. From what I have heard at this point our body requires less than ten Kilocalories per day to survive. On the oxygen front again an extreme minimum is required. With what the emergency cryostasis system has stored for emergencies apparently, a pilot can survive in these conditions for over three decades. By survive I mean just that. The longer one is in this state the more complications arise.
I don't know all the details but usually, the human psyche begins to break and do bad things in this sensory deprived state. Luckily I haven't lost my mind despite being in pure nothingness except for some reason the constant smell of cheesy potatoes. I don't know why but that's the constant smell that fills my mind in this state. While my mind didn't break it did splinter a little. Apparently, due to the way the AMS works connected to our nervous system, we become the computer that controls the entire shell. There isn't a helper AI or anything. This is why not everyone could become a pilot, not everyone's brains can handle all this information and will either become braindead or absolutely lose their minds. Even with compatible pilots, a secondary personality is a common thing created.
This is due to the emergency backup storage sometimes gains random bits and pieces of the pilot over time. This personality doesn't manifest outside of the AMS but it manifests as an AI or the personality of the AMS being piloted. This as it turns out isn't harmful or helpful necessarily. It's weird of course but for some, it helps them separate the workload of the piloting duties, or in other cases just gives them someone to talk to when they are alone. In my case, I never developed one despite spending the most time inside my AMS compared to other pilots. Yet now, alone in this sensory deprived state I seem to be developing one. I guess I just need someone to talk to after all...
I don't know how long I was in this state but, suddenly I am thrust into consciousness again. Across my vision, multiple warning and emergency alerts pop up. All of them stating the failure of many different systems. One of which is the revival process. As I come to I feel cold gripping my entire body. and I also notice I feel starving and very thirsty. Through the nervous system of my AMS, I feel heavy pressure all over my body. Then I feel vibrations and whatever surrounds me is slowly being moved and pulled away. I feel the pressure slowly begin to alleviate off of me and I think I can push through to the surface of whatever is above me. I attempt to but then the warning saying,
"Power systems critical, usage of movement, combat, or any non-essential systems will result in complete life support failure."
I cuss to myself and wait as the pressure slowly decreases. Suddenly, even though my vision is through advanced cameras I am blinded by the introduction of light. I wish to shield myself from the blinding light but cannot move. My vision adjusts quickly and what I see above me I see heavy excavation equipment and a few worker AMS systems which models I do not recognize. They seem far too sleek to be an earth model but they have the correct colors and a few other clunky features that identify them as such. I realize by looking to the edge of my vision I am buried completely. Dirt still covers the corners of my vision. My vision seems to have been damaged slightly, probably due to being buried, so I cannot make out too many details of anything but I see people moving above me, climbing from machines of various nature and duty.
I can see them standing just above the exposed part of my face looking down at me. At least five people surround me. They seem to be construction workers as I can see high visibility vests and hard hats on them. Just as I begin to start getting a good look I begin slipping back into stasis. My vision goes dark as I see the massive arm of a large machine slowly being lower towards me.
When I awake again I am definitely in the sky. I feel massive straps tied to me as some sort of flying vehicle carries me. I cannot move my head to look up to see what it is. I can sort of see where I'm going though. Ahead I see a massive military facility. I do not recognize it though. its shape is strange and the material it is made of is foreign to me. I am flown above a hangar building that slowly opens its roof which is really a giant door. I am lowered into the building and I feel my dangling feet hit the concrete floor and two massive metal clamps grab onto me. from behind. I feel workers climb onto me from behind and undo the transporting straps. The flying vehicle goes away once I am free and the roof closes lowering the light level greatly. After a few moments of hearing metallic sounds and industrial machinery turning on I slip back into the stasis as the last bits of power leave my shell resulting in a complete shutdown of everything but basic life support.
When I awake again I feel much better. Still cold and the alert that the revival systems are still not completely working. I still feel very cold, and the smell of cheesy potatoes is still incredibly strong. My vision is clearly broken as the quality is no better than it was before. I pull of diagnostics and see that power has been fully restored. I'm probably plugged in somewhere rather than the power systems being actually fixed. All my limbs are either completely damaged to a state of uselessness or are currently detached and deactivated. I am pretty much just a head and torso. I try and check the date and time to see how long I was out but that system seems to have been broken to uselessness as well. Then before me, I see someone standing on a catwalk at my eye level. I can't make out much detail but they are in a lab coat, probably a scientist or doctor or something. They try talking to me as I can hear it but I cannot make out any words. Then I feel a searing pain in my chest. I cannot look down but I get the warning a powerful cutting tool is being used on me.
the pain is unbearable until the person in front of me messes with a console in front of them and the artificial nerves of my shell are shutoff. The pain instantly disappears. I get the warning my chest has been completely cut open exposing my body. I get the warning the pilot detachment procedure has been activated. I feel as each individual spike is pulled from my back and skull and as they do a different portion of my body explodes with pain. The best description of what is currently happening to me is my nervous system is being forcibly ripped from my body.
The last spike is removed and I am detached from the shell. My vision is foggy and I feel so cold and hungry. I try to stand up and when I do my legs give away and I feel burning cold all over myself. I pass out due to how unfathomably tired I feel for some reason.
I wake up an unknown time later with tubes hooked up to my arms, monitors attached to me for various readings, and in a pristine white bed and room surrounding me. I let out a long breath and take a look around the room. It seems to be a standard hospital room with all the normal things, but something is off that I can't understand. The machines seem odd and I don't completely recognize them. They just seem so, high tech and shiny.
That's when I notice another person in the room with me. I look them up and down. In a chair next to me is a woman who looks to be in her late thirties to mid-forties with dark black or possibly really dark brown hair and thick coke can glasses. She looks as if she has aged with grace maturing like a fine wine rather than spoiling like milk. Not the worst thing a guy to wake up to.
She is awake and reading something on an electronic tablet with a content look on her face. She must be a hard worker, with raccoon eyes showing lack of sleep and creases on the edge of her eyes letting her age show through despite the good looks. She is wearing a white labcoat and I wonder if this is the same person who tried to talk to me earlier.
I try and get her attention by telling her I'm awake but instead a long pitiful ghasp escapes my mouth as my vocal cords scream out in pain as air passes over them. This results in a coughing fit which gets her attention. She smiles at me and sets down her tablet. When her eyes lock with mine, my brian begins spinning cogs thinking trying to remember. Her eyes are a standard darkish blue color but are intense and seem almost predatory. While her face smiles her eyes are mean and almost wicked. I remember someone like that but, who exactly? I don't know any middle-aged women like that.
The awkward silence of me mouthing words and nothing coming out is broken by her saying to me,
"Welcome back to the land of the living mr.TV dinner, I am happy to see you are alive and well. so...lets get you talking."
She walks over to me and touching cable attached to the nape of my neck, I hadn't felt earlier, I feel a sharp pain any suddenly my throat relaxes and the pain goes away. I slowly begin making sound as my voice slowly returns saying,
" e--eer gsus der fu....erery gud boi disserves fuge....every good boy deserves fudge"
I say this until my voice sounds right. I clear my throat and then ask innocently,
"You act like you know me ma'am but I really for the life of me cant figure out who you are."
She looks shocked, lets out a long sigh and grabbing the tablet says to me,
"I was hoping the long sleep hadn't screwed with your head to much but I guess I have to go through the questions I am forced to ask you."
I nod at her and she asks,
"Tell me your full name, rank, unit name, and place of birth"
I nod replying,
"Mike Steven Richardson. First Luietenant of the eighth armored infantry division. Born and raised in Hartsburg Missouri. That's all."
She nods smiling typing something on the tablet probably along the lines of "brain isn't completely lost" She finishes typing and then says and asks,
"Alright, that's really all the required questions but I do have to ask. Do you know what year is is and are you sure you don't know who I am?"
I think for a moment and really can't think of who she is and I have no indication of year time or really anything. I could've gone back in time for all I know. I shake my head giving a defeated expression showing her that I really don't know the answer to either of her questions.
She sighs and replies,
"You have been asleep for nineteen years, that means you have been in cryostasis the same time you've been alive. I don't know why you forgot me, especially because I haven't aged that badly... kinda offended by that... but I am Doctor Kassandra Hussain... does that ring a bell shit for brains?"
After a couple of seconds, my brain clicks and it comes back to me just who this woman is in front of me. It's the young Dr.Hussain, daughter of Dr.Hussain senior, the designer of Earth's AMS's. The lady whom found quite a bit of pleasure in watching me squirm in pain during the tests to check my compatibility with the AMS program. The genius who made me feel inferior because despite our two or three year age difference blew me away in terms of intelligence.
Thinking now if I remember correctly although our relationship was purely one of, she's the mad scientist who dug around in my spine and brain with metal rods, and I am the poor innocent lab rat who had no say in the issue as the planet was being invaded by space people. Later on we kind of became work buddies as the AMS programs head engineer, while her father got screwed over by the government who wasn't grateful for his contribution, and I being a pilot in a war that was being won very pyrrhic manner. Later one towards the end I guess we become friends to an extent, but that's all. Still, though, I am overjoyed to have someone I know and can get along with still alive. One of the few folks I can say were "friends" who survived the war until I was turned into a popsicle.
I shake myself from my daze and smile lightly saying,
"Yeah, I remember you now. You're the bitch who put holes in me and laughs when my nervous system is pretty much ripped out of my body."
She laughs and replies,
"Yeah I found all of your suffering quite funny, but don't worry it wasn't personal, all you pilots were fun to watch squirm."
I nod with a small exhale and ask her confused,
"I had a lot of trouble remembering you and really anything much about my past. Why is that? My head feels foggy and shit."
She shakes her head and replies,
"You know how the cryostasis works where your mind is uploaded to a storage bank? Well as it turns out past three years it kinda corrupts and leads to acute memory loss and other negative neural effects. And all this was theorized and well you kinda have proven all my theories on how cryostasis affects the human brain."
I nod kinda understanding and ask,
"Will it ever be fixed?"
She shakes her head and says,
"Who knows, maybe if you stay connected to your suit for long enough it will come back slowly but more or less you got brain damage."
I nod solemnly not sure how to fully react to this information. Then I notice my legs feel weird. I pull off the sheet covering my lower half to see the lower section of my legs is gone. Then looking at my hands which also feel odd I notice my left ring finger is also gone with large patches of indented flesh on my forearms and upper legs. Trying to conceal my freakout I ask Kassandra,
"Umm, I seem to be less of a man than what I was before... why is that?"
She looks up coming out of thought and says in a fake reassuring voice,
"Oh, don't worry, the cryo system kinda broke and those parts of you were so frostbitten that they had to be removed. We are still currently fitting you for lower leg replacements."
Her fake smile clearly trying to hide a little concern and a tad bit of anticipation for a freakout. I take a long breath and reply.
"It's fine I guess. Sucks they're gone but there is nothing I can do about it but scream internally. Just glad I'm alive that's all... anyways what's new I should know?"
Kassandra exhales in relief and she tells me what I missed with my internal screaming doing its best to block out all she says,
"Well after you froze, since the solar emperor was dead the war didn't end outright but the ensuing power vacuum and struggle for power resulted in the deadlock breaking in our favor. We kicked them from earth and they capitulated after a pro-earth faction in their government took power. Apparently, many of the common folk didn't like the way their government was run.
After the coup and surrender, we allowed the Solar Empire to remain but it is a semi-puppet to the 'earth superpower union' which is an unholy alliance between Europe, Russia, and the united states, which all surprisingly at this time have similar governmental ideals. This puppet exists as an independent nation in name but really answers to the United States mostly since we did most of the work to win the war, and the fact the US didn't get turned to rubble like the European Federation and Russia.
As of the moment, we have also reached an agreement with the Extra-Solar league which has joined a new alliance which makes up just the United States and Solar Empire before their joining which is called the 'Human expansion alliance', all I can say is that this alliances main goal is to completely unite humanity under one flag eventually, and from what I can tell it may end up being the stars and stripes. I believe if a unification war broke out right now we would conquer this entire planet in about a week or so.
Aside from that the politics of the world and other worlds have been purely a sharing of technology and rebuilding efforts to mend both physical and non-physical scars of all people involved. I'll say this the technology of the world is beyond anything we could have imagined nearly two decades ago.
Aside from that, personally, nearly everyone you knew is either dead or living a family life elsewhere. I did manage to get a ring on my finger so that's good. My father died two years ago and seemed really desperate to find you for some reason. I don't think ill get that reason any time soon because you probably won't remember and dad never told me.
On a sort of unrelated or even funny note, against my protests the name of AMS systems has been changed universally, they are now referred to as 'Armored mobility suits" still acronym of AMS but most refer to them as suits now. On the other hand what you pilot and your brothers and sisters in arms piloted are referred to as "armored artificial secondary bodies', still though they are lumped together with the standard AMS, plus they are kinda illegal due to their 'inhumane' nature. whatever that means."
She finishes as I nod along interested in what she has to say. I'm happy that the war was won by my side and in all honestly happy that humans are getting along much better now. The name change for AMS is cool and kinda odd, but most of all I'm happy no one else has to suffer through their nervous system being linked with a big metal body and having it ripped out every time they get in or out of it.
I think for a moment and decide to ask Kassandra a question,
"So war is over. Everyone is living in peace. I must ask though. Do I go back into the service? If so, my AMS is illegal so what do I pilot or what do I do? I don't have legs below my knees, so unless those prosthetics are really good I will be kinda a liability for war."
Kassandra shakes her head with a solemn look says to me apologetically,
"Mike... the military doesn't truly exist anymore. Standing armies have been banned in the accords after the war. AMS still exist because they work well in hazardous environments for workers. The only armed ones are either in storage or used in modern extreme sports. On top of all of that, you are dead. We had your funeral therefore you aren't really a person anymore. Upside you'll never owe taxes no matter what. Bad news, me, the Hussain foundation, the company I started for AMS research among other things, we own you. You are what is considered on paper a part of your AMS. Nothing more nothing less. Lucky for you I am much less sadistic than I was but still... you will not live a normal life ever..."
Her intense and cold eyes bore into me as what she said sinks in. I feel my heart sink into my stomach as I realize, I cannot receive any of the fruits of my labor. I won't live normally, cant just fuck off into the woods like I want to, and most of all I have no purpose. I look down for a moment and in a downtrodden voice ask,
" So.... now what? I don't know what to do...what I can do or even if I should keep going? Are you just gonna freeze me and chop me up into little bits to see how I tick? or just take me out back and send me the way of old yeller?"
We both sit in silence for a moment. I have my head down so I can't see Kassandra's face but I can tell she is deep in thought. After a moment she says to me,
"Mike... I won't lie, yes I and this foundation will be using you as an experiment of sorts. That is true, but as I have aged and grown wiser I do not wish to see a friend fade away again. I don't wish to see you sad or chopped up. Yet, circumstance, due to laws and bureaucracy you can't go and live freely as you wish. For many reasons, the main one being, you're a war criminal... especially if you take responsibility for the emperors' death."
I look up and blink for a moment mouth agape and ask cautiously,
"What do you mean? Shouldn't I be like a hero or at least a respected veteran?"
She shakes her head with a solemn expression and explains,
"After the war when all the talks of peace, rebuilding, and reparations came up, in order to have a good peace deal where all sides come out on top responsibility had to be given for many horrible actions. The Solar Empire as a whole except for like ten top officials got away with the targeting of civilians and orbital bombardment of many cities. According to the Empire killing the emperor resulted in the deaths of thousands of citizens through the power struggle after his death, and the earth governments stated that whoever defeated the titan is responsible for the literal sun created upon its reactors or whatever going supercritical. So in other words, you are responsible for the death of thousands of innocents, that you never fired upon, and responsible for the usage of nuclear weapons in war despite having no idea that an explosion would happen, and on top of it all the Solar Empire considered what you did literal decide, and during the talks whoever was responsible for that is to be handed over for execution. Since you were not present for any of this to defend yourself you got all the blame for these things without any defense and if I remember correctly a few more war crimes were given to you and only one of them actually being true, being the one time you killed a surrendering party."
I sit for a moment muttering to myself,
"what the fuck..."
After getting that out of my system I shake my head trying to dismiss the stupidity of it all. While doing so Kassandra's eyes light up deviously and she says,
"I just thought of something... It may be able to give you purpose as well as fulfilling my purpose of research and well gives you something to do at the very least..."
I sigh and ask,
"Alright... I'll bite. what is it you have planned?"
She smiles a very wicked smile and explains,
"Well, there is no official military for any nation or group, not even the alliances have an army under them. Yet armed AMS systems still exist. This is because an extreme sport very similar to gladiatorial combat has arisen during the time of your long sleep. There are full schools and colleges dedicated to training pilots for the sport or for any other profession requiring AMS pilots. In reality, it is so there is a constant supply of well-trained pilots in the event of a war breaking out. A military without being called one I guess. By the way the sport is called something really odd like 'Armored Suit Brawling' despite it having a lot more space guns and sword fights than actually brawling. So what I am offering to you is the opportunity to enroll at one of the colleges, so one you finish your education since you joined the military a little early, and so that you can test all kinds of new technologies my foundation produces as well as giving me a great amount of data on AMS piloting and help me develop pilot assistant AI"
I think for a second on the proposal but hesitate on her last point,
"What do you mean AI development?"
I ask her confused. She responds,
"Well, since your AMS stored your mind and kind of fragmented it, a second personality formed out of you due to your isolation for nearly two decades. While the main version of you mostly came out the second personality stayed in the machine. It cannot control it but your AMS has an AI inside of it, and that AI is you. What I want to research is how it works, and how we can produce beneficial ones so that either we can have fully automated soldiers, or have true assistants for pilots to overall increase their effectiveness. What we found from yours so far is that it is one hundred percent ingrained into the systems of the AMS and understands them fully. What it should do according to our research is it should read out diagnostics, and take a massive load off of your mind when it comes to piloting. So I wish to study this and make either lots of money or very interesting discoveries."
I nod and weigh my options. On one hand, I probably am doing some good for the world. Despite Kassandra's sometimes cruel nature she is truly motivated by her research and does wish to make the world a better place in her own way. Then on the other, can I really go to school? Can I be a glorified gladiator after serving? Can I even assimilate into the modern culture or will I be an outcast not understanding how modern college-age people behave? After some thought, I let out a long breath and say,
"Alright... I'll do it. Just... please don't do anything too weird or painful to me."
Kassandra smiles and I can tell she truly is happy that I agreed to her plan and possibly, happy I decided to do something other than rot away as a forgotten relic of the war.