In order to get mechanical limbs, soldiers stage gristly accidents. Eventually the government catches on and denies them, but Russia offers advanced limbs with a little bonus…

It’s called the Marrow Mark. It’s a percentage, 86.4%. Every man and woman joining up knows it. Just like every man and women knows their own current percentage.

When you’re born, it’s 0%. Every organ and limb in your body is made of flesh and bone. Weak. Pitiful. If you’re rich, you can swap it out, like changing the batteries in your car. How about a new set of rainbow irises? Or get that tennis elbow up to mach 2.

But most people aren’t rich and so that leaves the Corps. US, Fountainhead, Talis. Doesn’t matter. You find a PMC that’ll pay the bills and you sign up. You’ve got to do at least basic and one tour, otherwise you’re not worth the maintenance bill. And once you’re worthy of the outlay, you “make a mistake”.

Top three slip-ups I’ve seen this year? Number three was a jarhead rented out to a clan in Rio. He tied a tourniquet around his bicep and went to sleep. A week later he could punch through a brick wall but lost his ability to pass the time.

Two was a flyboy. They’re all a bit crazy, but this guy took it to the limit. He was out flying, blade suit giving him the aerodynamics of a two hundred kilo falcon, and decided to act like cheese on a cheese grater. Arms and legs splayed, he threaded the needle and got a whole new assemblage.

But first place went to Tony A. Humvee vs man. Humvee won. Not very exciting, especially compared to bird man, until you consider he took it to the Marrow Mark. 86.4%.

Because that’s the limit. That’s how much flesh you’re allowed to lose, before you lose your humanity. And not some silly pseudo-philosophical bullshit. Your legal rights. And when Tony A crushed his body, leaving just his head and enough of an arm to reach 13.6%, he became legend.

All of this just goes to show the problem the US and it’s corporations faced. You have men who can leap tall buildings while the rest are running into the burning rubble. And when they started cutting back on the spending, and the few who thought they’d chance it started waking up on ventilators, the new superpowers took advantage.

India, Russia and Korea (“reunified” as only a warring state can be) opened their arms. Free mechs for all. And get a new pair of eyes while you’re at it.

It was the eyes that were the clincher. It was masterful. Twenty senses and yet we still trust our eyes over anything else. So when these new imports were sent to the battlefield, and they encountered a uniform they once recognised, the eyes lied to them.

Imagine that. You’re staring down the barrel of your rifle, ready to put some low-life greaser out of his misery, and all this time you’re back home, killing mom and pop.

Marrow Mark. 86.4%, but they didn’t say which bits you couldn’t cut.

Prompt originally posted by Portalboat on reddit and received 6 upvotes.

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