"Its got red blood." Wojtek stood over the alien on the surgical table. It was motionless, splayed out across the surface. The tubes and wires had all been removed from its body, leaving small bloody puncture holes.
"They usually do." Cutter sat at the desk next to his computer.
"You really made a mess." Wojtek stared at the spatters of blood around the neck and head of the creature. "You sure you didn't kill it?"
"It's fine." Cutter stood up and walked to the side of the table. "I implanted a neuralyzer, so he's not gonna wake up 'til I tell him to."
"Where's Anwar?" Wojtek looked around the room.
"He was getting tired."
"Could've taken a stim'."
"He's a nice kid, but he was mostly just getting in the way. Plus I don't think he could stomach it." Cutter looked down at the bloodied lizard.
"Heh." Wojtek Chuckled. "Maybe better he just gets some rest then."
"Yea, that's what I thought."
"So." Wojtek lifted his chin in the direction of the lizard. "You think it'll be able to talk?"
"We'll see. I had to hack the shit out of him, though."
"You run into any problems?"
"You could say that. I'll give you a break down." Cutter pointed under the creature's chin neck, wherelong incisions ran along its neck to form a flap. "Checked its vocal apparatus. I had some doubts about whether it'd do the trick, so I installed a vocalizer. Had to interface that with its speech center. Put a centipede chip here." Cutter pointed to a spot on the lizard's skull. "A concept library. Another library here. And the Kiloglot speech program here. Four chips total -including the slave chip." He leaned over the body of the alien, his eyes running over its scaled body. "Had some problems with the training program when I found out he's got a weird sensory organ. Some sort of electromagnetic field. Had to re-render the sims to get the proper stimuli data. Anyway -" Cutter stood up and faced Wojtek "- we gotta talk about how much you're gonna pay me for all this."
"How 'bout we see if he talks, first? And if he doesn't, you can always take your hardware back."
"I thought we were gonna do that anyway." Cutter sat down at the computer and entered a command. "Alright. Neuralyzer's offline. He should be waking up now." Cutter swiveled in his chair. "One more thing -don't get too close."
"Found a venom gland when I was installing the vocalizer."
"Thanks. I'll keep that in mind."
Wojtek peered at the alien from the foot of the surgical table. Cutter watched from the adjacent computer with finger hovering over the neuralyzer command; with just a click he could disable the lizard in case of emergency. For now, the creature lay motionless.
"You sure it isn't dead?" Wojtek looked over to Cutter.
"Last time I checked."
The alien blinked and moved its limbs. It sat up slowly, resting weight onto its forearms.
"Morning," Wojtek greeted it.
The creature tilted its head and stared into Wojtek's eyes.
Wojtek swept his hand across the lizard's line of vision. "Hello?"
The alien said nothing. It had a blank stare and blinked intermittently.
Wojtek looked tp Cutter. "Not lookin' good so far."
"He just got four implants." Cutter held up the fingers on his hand. "Give 'em some time."
Wojtek looked back to the lizard. "Hello?"
"Hello," the lizard said, in a human voice overlaid with a soft hiss.
"Hey, you can talk after all." Wojtek looked over at Cutter and smiled. "Good job."
The lizard looked at Cutter, who instinctively leaned back in his chair.
"Back here." Wojtek snapped the fingers on his robotic hand with a loud metallic ping. The lizard turned back to face him. "What's your name?"
"Name?" The lizard blinked.
"Yeah, your name. It's not a trick question."
The lizard tilted its head and remained silent.
"I think you broke it," Wojtek said to Cutter, "thing doesn't even know its name."
"Give him a minute," Cutter said. "That's practically a brand new brain in his head. Could be confusing taking it for its first run."
"You remember your name?" Wojtek stared at the lizard.
The lizard stared back for a moment. "I am Chaicauhtli."
"See?" Cutter said. "He just needs to wake up a bit."
Wojtek leaned onto the foot of the surgical table. "Alright, Chai'. I'm going to make this really simple for you. I'm looking for two people who look like us -" he motioned to Cutter "- two humans. You tell me where they are then you can go."