i'll see you on the other side.

He could sense the difference as soon as he woke up to the melodic tune of heart monitors, making sure that he didn’t slip somewhere into the deep abyss while he had been waking up from the twilight anesthetic they had put him under. He hadn’t yet opened his eyes, focusing more on the sounds around him and the recognition of the operation he had just experienced—enucleation of the eyes, leaving all muscles intact, and replacement of the ocular orbs with cybernetic ones that, in line with the cybernetic systems in his arms, would allow for far more specificity and function in his work. No longer would he have to rely on certain scanners, no longer would he have to check vitals in the same way older medicines and procedures did, therein cutting the cost that would come of going to his clinic in Lowtown for everyone.

While many might have seen it as a destruction of self to go through such a voluntary endeavor for the sake of those who found themselves in his care, it was part of a very deeply philosophical belief that, one, people could make themselves better from such advancements if they took to them with care and consideration to their own humanity and, two, everyone should have been able to receive medical treatment at a lower cost. As wonderful as the government system was, sometimes people didn’t want to go through official channels. As accessible the government system was, sometimes people couldn’t afford the usual and customary prices that came with the procedures that they may have needed. As wide-standing as such official facilities had been, that didn’t mean there wasn’t someone at the top reaping the rewards and embracing the benefits of the system, and though Kang had to make a paycheck, the price would have been significantly overestimated considering the source.

He hadn’t paid much attention when she had entered the room, listening more than he had opened his eyes until her felt a soft hand against his, ushering his eyes open. They looked the same—they had been sure to make sure of it when they had gone through the numerous consultations prior to his arrival on Babylon by way of the Sparrowhawk; but they weren’t the same, and it took him a moment to focus more readily on the figure in front of him, aged, but not significantly so if his memory served correct. Perhaps it was the result of surgical work or perhaps it was good genes, but there was no reason to question the woman in the physician’s coat in front of him. For as long as it took for him to focus, the displays still aligning to both his visual cortex and the cybernetic systems in his arms, scanners included, there was no threat to being in such a vulnerable position—not when she had been his mother.

“어머니,” he said, turning his hand to catch her own so her presence wasn’t completely disregarded. Inevitably, she would move to check his vitals and senses and systems, Kang adhering to them with ease considering they had been the same he had gone through many times for people who had more accidentally lost their vision—be it through bad health or accidents that caused for cybernetics.

“How are you feeling?”

“It will take some getting used to,” Kang said, nodding, closing his eyes and attempting to feel just what was different from one version to the other. Aside from the actual implant and the interfaces that came with the scanners and medical information that filtered through, something that had been specifically built for his particular prosthetic implants for the sake of his work more than anything else, there were artificial membranes and new curves that his eyelids would inevitably fit around—it wouldn’t look weird, it wouldn’t feel weird, but for the moment, it was brand new.

“You’ll have some time of therapy to make sure they work completely, and we’ll make sure they work accordingly,” Minhee said as she continued to make notes in her data pad, keeping them secure on his records, while Kang glanced around the room to scan over his surroundings. Many looked normal—they were artificial standings, furniture and the like, which wouldn’t read on the more special functions of his cybernetics, but when he focused again on his mother, he could see her worry through the rate of her heart and the more detailed expression on her features that, subtle as it was, was still more obvious to Kang now.

“I’ll be okay,” Kang said, figuring it came more from a place of personal worry than medical concern, sitting up further in bed as if to suggest he was ready for everything that was to come. It would just take time—he anticipated a week, but who knew how well his already cybernetic body would take to something new.