The Story of Juno Valentine, Unwilling Bio-prototype

Hello, everyone!
This is the journal of my current playthrough, inspired by TwinCrows ones.
English isn’t my first language, so if you want to point out mistakes or just about anything that I could have written better, I’d appreciate it.
Hope you’ll enjoy!

Story of Juno Valentine, Part 1

She came back to herself, narrowing her eyes as the bright neon lights stung her sight.
“Intruder detected”, she heard a synthetic voice saying quietly. She quickly scanned her surroundings, her heart starting to quicken its pace without her knowing why.
The room was vast, flooded in white artificial light. Solid, smooth concrete walls and floors, light gray in color. Some wooden counters neatly arranged in rows, full of scientific-looking equipment. Some… smaller containment room with glass walls?
And beside that a half-dismembered dog running at some gun-equipped robot.

She blinked in disbelief, just for a moment. “Intruder detected”, that same voice repeated: this time, though, she immediately turned her head to meet the source. Another robot, whirring on its rubber wheels toward the dog, levelling its own gun at it. Normally she would have felt some empathy for the animal: except, she had noticed something about it wasn’t… right. From her position, she could see the white of the ribs poking through the open side of the dog, and its entrails hanging loose out of the gaping hole, dripping some thick dark goo on the floor.

Run. Run! Run run run run RUN!

In a moment, it was her only thought: she sprung on her feet and scrambled for the metal doors nearby, away from the robots and the dead-not-dead dog.

What if they are locked? Open open open please open!

She heard a gun blasting behind her and threw herself at the door’s panic bar. Her mind barely registered how heavy that door looked as she flung it open like it was made of cardboard.
She glanced behind her: the nightmare dog was laying still on the ground, in a pool of disgusting dark red ichor. The robots were motionless themselves. A single bullet casing was on the floor. The metal shining in the bright neon light.
“Intruder detected”, said the synthetic voice, eerily calm.

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The robots whirred into motion, spinning toward her. She slammed the metal door just as two red laser dots ran on the concrete floor toward her. She made a single step back, holding her breath.

Maybe they can open the doors. Maybe they can activate them remotely. Maybe they have some robot hand I didn’t notice…

Behind the metal doors, the mechanical whirring stopped. Everything was suddenly silent.
Cautiosly, she drew a deep breath: nothing changed. The doors were still closed. The robots behind them silent and motionless. She dropped her hands to her knees, panting heavily as she caught her breath.

Where am I?

It looked like a corridor: same white, smooth concrete walls and floors, doors on her right, glass walls on her left and a glass door. No light here, but for a faint glint coming from a turn of the corridor further ahead; her eyes, anyway, were adapting quickly to the darkness.

What place is this? Where am I? How did I even came here?

She looked at herself. She was wearing… some patient scrubs, maybe? And those cloth slippers they give you in hospitals. Was she in a hospital? Maybe she had been involved in some car crash?

Hospitals don’t have killer robots and zombie dogs, Juno!

Juno. It was her name: Juno Valentine. She remembered that, and that was pretty much it. Her mind was blank. And somehow she felt that she had no time to stop, think and try to get her memories back from the haze in her head. Somehow she felt she was in danger. It was not just what was behind those metal doors: something in her subconscious had registered she was in a fight for her survival. And it was warning her.
She moved toward the glass door and quietly opened it.

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She stood dumbfounded past the open door, looking at the faintly lit room: there was a long counter along a wall and… water-filled “channels” cut into the concrete floor? She cautiosly examined the weird room better. It looked like it had shallow, narrow but long pools filled with water; there was soil on the bottom, and a few plants sprouting from the surface.

Hydroponics. Must be a hydroponic system.

What kind of place has a hangar-sized room with a zombie-dog and lethal security bots and… a hydroponic greenhouse or whatever that was?

And why can’t I even remember getting here?!?

“UUUHHHNNNGGG…!!”, she groaned and she felt on her knees, as sharp pain surged through her whole body like an electric shock. “W-what…? ARRRGH…!”
She rolled on the floor clenching her teeth in a painful spasm; then that torturing pain subsided and she felt her body relaxing on the cold hard floor. As she catched her breath, a vision came to her memory.

She was in pain. A familiar pain, the same she just felt. On her knees, her body spasming… but there was someone in the room: a dark silhouette standing nearby.
“Tch, tch. I’m sorry you have to endure this, really. But you have to learn to behave, my dear”, said the shadow. A man voice.
“You f#cking bastard… I’m gonna kill y-AAARRRGGGHHH…!!”
The pain surged again, harder, blurring the whole world in a red haze.
“Now, now, my dear. See? Just the thought of hurting me will have you disciplined. I’m sorry, but you are the one doing this to yourself. Just learn to be a good girl. Obedient. Will you?”
She bared her clenched teeth, her head lowered, panting.

She was still panting when the memory faded as she shook her head; she stumbled on her feet, running her hands on her body, trying to look at herself.

What did they do to me?

Her fingers felt too stiff. When she shifted her weight on her feet, something squaked like an old rusty gate. She had trouble breathing freely through her nose, like she had something in a nostril, and when she tried to pick it she felt something metallic inside.
“What did they do to me?!?”, she said out loud. Her robotic, hoarse voice startled her.
For a long, long moment she stared at her clutched hands as she breathed heavily, feeling tears welling up in her eyes… except, they didn’t. She felt salt on her tongue and blinked, confused. Her fingers gently tapped her right eye, and she felt a hard surface meeting the fingertip. She had to pause for a moment before realizing that her eyes were protected by something like glass. And she was now swallowing her tears.

Of course. Tear ducts have to be redirected to the mouth after you get a bionic like that, or your eyes would become a fishbowl…

How did she know that? Bionics were all the rage in those last few years, sure, but she seemed to remember medical procedures. Her memory flashed the vision of a desk and a computer on it. The front desk of a medical practice. She was the receptionist and assistant for a doctor in town, that’s how she knew! It still gave her no clues about where she was, or why.

She straightened up and took a deep breath: it didn’t really matter, not right in that moment. She was in a dangerous situation: that feeling she felt was no doubt because her mind knew what happend, even though she couldn’t recall the events right in that moment. Safety was her priority; memories would came back. They had already begun to. She had to keep moving, find help, or any clues to better understand her situation.

One by one, she started to cautiously explore the place. A small break room with some snacks in a fridge with the power off. A restroom. A few small bedrooms and… a bathroom with stairs going up?

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She peeked above, finding a room cluttered with industrial machinery and wooden crates.

It just keeps getting stranger and stranger.

She finished searching the rooms below. One looked like some office, with glass walls overlooking the corridor and broken computers: it was the only place with a working light, up in the ceiling. Another room was full of just… ashes. Big piles of them.

Looks like a crematorium. A big one, too.

There were other sets of double metal doors, like the ones keeping the robots away from her, on opposite sides of that small group of rooms. She tried one and kept exploring, as quietly as she could.
The place looked more and more like some medical research facility, but she couldn’t see a logic in the way rooms were arranged: apparently there were laboratories or testing rooms right next to rooms with bunk beds and… traps, maybe? She was observant enough to be able to notice and avoid some laser conduits in the floor and ceiling; maybe just the result of damage, or some device left open. But the pits filled with foul looking goo?

What the heck were they doing here??

A bigger staircase led her to the upper floor again: this time she found apartments, four of them; not just a single bedroom or a room with bunk beds, but complete houses: living room and kitchen, bedroom, bathroom. For the first time, she saw windows: but they just opened on a small indoor garden. Real grass, but grown like a potted plant. Some lights were working but apparently there was no power for the fridges or TVs or ovens. Some food, clothes and other items were still there, but there wasn’t another living soul around. Thinking in a pragmatic way, she started taking whatever she thought could be of use.

I can just give their stuff back, later… if I find out that they’re not the same motherf#ckers who did this to me.

In a few minutes she had equipped herself with a pretty nice outfit: leather jacket, pants and boots, a purse to carry more stuff she might find laying around, and a pair of safety glasses for good measure. For even better measure, she wielded a stout hockey stick. Just in case she found another one of those creepy dogs. In truth, the pants didn’t really fit and she had to tighten the belt up to avoid them dropping to her ankles, but it would do for the moment.
She left a number of things in one of the apartments and closed the wooden door behind her. She felt some comfort in the idea that she had a sort of base camp to return to.

Downstairs, she kept exploring. She was getting a general idea of the place: it was arranged in “blocks”, how she called them: each had its own arrangement, but all were connected (or separeted?) by double metal doors. And they were set in a “cross” pattern, much like a roman city.

Probably the place was built with prefabricated modules. They added to the structure as needed. That would explain why there seems to be no general plan or design to it.

Everytime she passed one of the metal doors, she made sure to close them behind her. It seemed like the robots, at least, couldn’t get past them; she thought it was wise to section off every “block”, just in case she found herself over her head: that would allow her to retreat and contain the threat, isolating it inside a single section of the complex.

Probably the reason they had this metal doors in place, really.

Ironically, the first real danger she met was, indeed, another of the dog monsters: luckily for her, it was locked behind a small enclosure. The place remembered her of an animal shelter.

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Except here they were likely using them as guinea pigs.

She barred the room’s door and moved on.
It was when she opnened the next metal door that she met the first real threat: the woman moving toward her in the dark was dressed in a tattered lab coat and wore cracked safety glasses; her throat was ripped open and blood had drenched everything she was wearing. And still she moved, stumbling toward her with arms stretched out and hands set to grasp fresh prey.
It was like the dog, except worse. A lot worse.

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Juno barely had a moment of pause: then she just acted, or reacted. The hockey stick struck the creature, hard on the face; had it been a living creature, it would had easily knocked it out. But the thing hardly seemed to flinch as it clumsily tried to grapple her. Was it really dead? If that was true, it probably didn’t feel the pain as a living person would. But the dog she saw had been killed by a single bullet fired by the robot: so they weren’t invulnerable. That was all the knowledge she needed in that moment; she grinned her teeth with renewed determination.
The fight quickly degenerated into a messy brawl: two more creatures in lab coats were stumbling toward her. She retreated just behind the door to avoid being surrounded, but the dead things fought with no concern for their own safety, blindly trying to grab and bite her, even shoving each other out of the way to reach her. Without any experience in self defense or even just bar brawls, she only had the pumping of adrenaline and her self-preservation istincts on her side. But that would turn out to be actually worth a lot more than one would expect.
To her surprise, she managed to fend off most of the creatures attempts to overhelm her: it just seemed to came… natural to her. And when she struck back, she delivered bone-shattering blows; even those creatures couldn’t stand up with a broken leg, and while they didn’t seem to feel pain, the damage she delivered finally had them collapse at her feet.
She scanned the vast room in front of her, but everything was still and silent. Except for one feeble movement she caught around the corner of her eye: the hand of one of the fallen creatures, weakly clawing at the air.
She raised her hockey stick and struck: with a sickening crunch, the hand felt motionless. Then another of the zombies barely moved. She struck again. And again. And again. A surge of fear-fueled rage overhelmed her, but the blows were well-directed: heads, joints, vitals. Or at least she tried. At long last, she was sure the dead bodies were positively dead. And the place looked like an abattoir.

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She took a few moments to check herself.
One of the zombies had managed to scratch her on the back of her left hand, bad enough to make her bleed: luckily she had found some first aid supplies earlier and she quickly patched herself up. The rest were just a few minor bruises: the leather clothes had stopped most of the harm. Also, the hockey stick had been dented: maybe when some of her blows struck the metal door or the concrete walls in the heat of the fight.
After making sure she was fine, Juno paused to pinch her own skin: it felt… tougher. Smooth and flexible, but somehow like it was thicker; a bit like thick rubber.

Another bionic, maybe? A subdermal armor?

She thought about the fight she just had. She had evaded many of the clumsy creatures attacks far too easily, and yet she wasn’t in any way a trained fighter. And in spite of never having had an hockey stick in her hands before, she had stricken hard and true. Only now her mind went back to those first metal doors, how easily she threw them open in her flight from the robots; sure, she liked to keep herself fit, but she had never been particularly strong. And her senses seemed to be sharper, even with her damaged bionic sight at times turning her vision into a videogame from the '80s.

What did they do to me?

That question kept haunting a dark corner of her mind. She shut her eyes, shook her head and then opened the metal doors again: she had to keep searching. For a way out. For answers.

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Part 2: "What is lost can never be saved"

Juno sipped her orange juice from the plastic bottle, drawing a small measure of satisfaction from how well she had arranged the apartment she had found earlier.
The kitchen sink and refrigerator were useless without power or running water in the facility; she had disassembled and removed them, and moved in some metal utility shelves where she had started storing in good order anything that might turn out to be useful.
Her exploration of the place hadn’t shed full light on the situation she was in, but it was becoming clear that this was a lot more complex than anything you could have guessed just the day before; and likely she would need some time, accurate planning and very careful steps to get out of it alive.
However, at the very least she could now make some educated guesses.

They were testing more than just bionics here: stacked on her desk she had a number of research papers and binders that detailed what medics and scientists were doing here. Most of it was a mess of technical jargon she couldn’t decipher, but it was pretty clear they were experimenting on DNA altering compounds, too. As far as she knew, that was impossibile: the stuff that gives you superpowers or mutations in comic books will simply give you cancer in real life. Still, the things she had seen outside of that apartment had stretched the limits of what she was prepared to call “possible” by quite a bit.
Security was automated, apparently, or at least what human security they had by now was dead and raised as shambling corpses; and they got creative with those bots. Some weird flying drone with spinning blades had attacked her in a corridor: luckily for her, she had found a taser and had the wits to try and use it; the electric pulse crashed the thing to the floor, though not before it opened a pair of cuts on her forehead and shoulder.
In one room, she saw through the glass walls and door some… oily, black pools of slime moving on their own, creeping toward her: she was quite relieved when they showed to be incapable of getting through the glass or breaking it, but it was shocking nonetheless; she left that room alone, but marked the location in her mind. As she did for the room where she managed to lock another aberration she evaded: a zombie, but this one lit up by the crackling of energy surging through and around it.

In light of that stuff she witnessed, DNA altering cocktails were not so far-fetched. Nor unethical human experimentation.
There was enough damning evidence about it: she found lab rooms with glass vials labelled as “mutagens”, sometimes with animal names; and there were references in the research papers she found. Same thing for a few vaults locked behind computer-controlled armored doors; she had dared not try and hack her access through the system, but what she could glean messing around on the consoles was that they were storage for the experimental bionics and mutagenic serums. Worse still were the cloning vats she discovered, with misshapen limbs inside or deformed fetuses: like something straight out of an horror movie. And one of the vaults was listed as “prisoners containment”.
It left her wondering if this could be one of those tin foil hat conspiracy scenarios: the Man using condemned criminals for nightmarishly sci-fi testing.

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Point of fact, the facility was likely built deep underground: she found a plaque near was of the stairs reading “Level -6”. And she found it on the floor above the one she had found herself with the robots and the zombie dog. So that would mean at least seven floors built underground. And explained why there were no windows.
But her, a criminal used for secret unethical experimentation? Even though she had recovered nothing more of her memory yet, she felt she wasn’t a criminal. Nor did picturing herself being arrested, tried in court or imprisoned behind bars spark any kind of sudden flashback like it happened before.
Again, it didn’t immediately matter.

Point was, it would be a long trip to get out of there. Apparently, there were no living survivors: maybe the sh#t hit the fan somehow and the staff was evacuated, with only the zombies and security robots left behind, contained by the armored doors and concrete walls and floors. Or there were no survivors at all but her. Whatever the truth, first of all she needed to survive inside the facility: that required equipment, shelter, water, food. So she had started stockpiling what she found while exploring the place; and planning. It helped keeping her mind focused; she couldn’t allow herself to give in to despair. She would be as good as dead. Also, every little improvement she made helped her morale: even just her tidy apartment gave her some comfort.
She worked on little projects, too. For example, she managed to fashion a makeshift crowbar that had allowed to pry open the crates she found: mostly electronics stuff that was useless right now, but she still stocked everything away in her shelves. Also, she fashioned an headlamp that allowed for bright light when needed, while leaving her hands free.
She had found a reservoir still full of water: she could just use wood in the apartment oven to boil it, should she need it. For now she had a decent supply of bottled water. Food too was in good supply: but she was eating just the bare minimum to shut up her grumbling tummy; for some unknown reason she was grossly overweight, to say the least. To think that she had always been so particular about mantaining her good looks!

She raised from her chair and got out of the apartment, closing the door behind her, to “get back to work”.

The mad scientist nightmare lab isn’t going to explore itself, you know.

She had her priorities set straight in her mind. Survival of course was on top, but she had the bases covered for the moment: the apartment was safe, the block completely free of immediate threats and with two different accesses through metal doors, meaning she would have an escape route should she ever need to get out of there fast. Supplies too were ok, probably enough for some weeks of food and water. She had also managed to put together a decent stash of medical supplies.
What she needed to find as soon as possibile, now, was some medical facility. Even if she hadn’t been implanted with bionics right where she was now, there were bionics vaults in the complex: so there ought to be some place where they could perform surgery. At the very least, an examination room to check the human subjects they injected with those mutagens. Were she able to find some place with medical equipment, she could get a better idea of her current condition; with some luck, even manage to remove at least the worst of her malfunctioning devices.

Juno opened a new set of armored doors and peeked insiede. She had started to see a pattern in the way “blocks” were organized; it seemed most of them were put together following some standard arrangement. A number of them, like this one, consisted in nine rooms in a square, three row and columns, usually each connected to the other via a glass door; each of the rooms could have a large counter with scientific equipment, a computer consolle, or one of those pit or laser traps she saw earlier. In her mind she had dubbed that kind of blocks “testing grounds”, for she had the feeling that they were much like a labirint for a lab mouse; a place where the eggheads would study the behaviour of their test subjects.
Maybe she had been put through testing in one of those rooms, too. She pushed the thought away with a shiver down her spine and opened the next glass door.

A shambling creature stumbled forward from the darkness and Juno gripped her hockey stick tight, taking a step back.

It wasn’t one of those zombies she already faced: this one was covered in wires and mechanical devices, whirring and buzzing and sending bright sparks at moments. She almost mistaken it for a humanoid robot, until she saw she had the head of a blonde woman.
“Ehy! Can you understand me?”, she tried, without letting her guard down. The creature just moved forward on squeaking mechanical legs, her hands stretched out to grab and claw with metal talons.

Damn!

Juno jumped back and swung her hockey stick at the cyborg leg, striking behind the knee; the creature just stumbled slightly and she felt the force of the blow rebound up her arm like she had hit the wall.

Armored. Like I am, maybe a lot more.

She moved back, thinking fast. She had already used the laser traps against zombies, luring the walking dead into them to get sliced to pieces; but something kept her from doing that to the creature in front of her.
“Stop! Can you hear me? I don’t want to hurt you!”
The cyborg kept stumbling toward her, stomping on her metal feet. Her eyes looked empty, her mouth slightly open. A clawed hand swung and Juno dodged with a jump back. “Damn! Please, stop!” She kept retreating. The room with the laser trap was just behind her.
“Please! I don’t want to kill you! Do you understand me?”
She kept shuffling back on her feet, keeping her distance from the cyborg; the creature advanced, unsteady but relentless, clawing at the empty air.
“Please…”
Juno’s voice was almost pleading as she moved behing the conduits in the floor, putting the trap between her and the creature. The cyborg didn’t heed that last attempt from its living prey: it moved forward, over the trapped floor.
A buzzer ringed loudly in the empty room, then Juno heard that eerily calm, synthetic voice she knew: “Error: please, remove non-organic object.”
“F#ck!”, she let out as the creature clawed at her; she blocked the metallic arm holding the stick with both hands, softening the blow, but its blade-like talons ripped her leather jacked. Juno felt the wooden counter behind her and rolled over it, landing on her feet with the furniture between her and the cyborg.

The stun gun!

It was still clipped on her belt. An electric shock would likely work well on a creature more machine than woman, wouldn’t it?
The cyborg clawed the wooden counter and clumsily crawled over it. Juno pointed the stun gun. An electric arc hit the creature and it briefly convulsed under the shock; then it started stumbling toward her again. Juno jumped on the other side of the counter while the cyborg slashed erratically at thin air. Another crackling azure bolt struck the machine-creature, sending it reeling against the counter. Sparks and thin tendrils of smoke started to raise from its metal body. Another discharge and it would most likely be disabled.

Or killed. Maybe those devices are the only thing that keeps her alive.

Juno paused, looking cautiously at the creature. Its movements were even less coordinated than before.
“Can you hear me? Stop it! I don’t want to hurt you!”, she said, once again.
The creature stomped forward, raising a clawed hand toward her: Juno pulled the trigger.
With a last spasm, the cyborg collapsed on the ground and laid still, small sparks crakling through the wires in its body. She had stopped her, finally.
She had killed her, she thought has she leaned over the motionless heap of metal, looking at the woman face staring blindly at the ceiling.

Look at her skin. Look at her flesh, where it meets the metal. Its rotten. She was already dead, Juno! You couldn’t have saved her!

She took a deep breath straightening herself up. She couldn’t make her eyes stare away from the dead woman face.

Were I to die, will I end up like this? My burned out bionics keeping my dead body moving, hunting living people?

She lifted her hockey stick and made sure the cyborg would never raise again. The floor got wet with dense, dark machine oil.
Juno turned her back to it and left the room.