Missing limb.


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Thread: Missing limb.

  1. #1

    Missing limb.

    My MC has lost a leg in Iraq fighting with the Peshmerga. She comes back to the states to get fitted for a prosthesis, and long story short she meets an old college friend who is now a high-tech genius who runs his own AI company. Amidst all the computer-driven limbs, he shows her a pair of artificial legs that are driven by state-of-the-art servos. The caveat for her is, they can only be used on a double amputee. Now, the only thing on her mind is, how can she get the pair of legs fitted so she can go back in the fight. As the author would she be unbelievable to cause damage to lose the other limb? Would she still be likable as a crazy person who only wants revenge to the ones that caused her damage?

  2. #2
    It's possible to have characters do a lot of really extreme things and still be likable. Their decisions don't even necessarily have to make sense to the reader as long as the reader can understand and relate to how it makes sense to the MC.

    Having said that, what do you mean by "back in the fight?"

    Is your MC a US soldier working with the Peshmerga, or an actual Peshmerga soldier?

    If a US soldier, while it isn't unheard of in today's military for soldiers who suffer an amputation to remain in service, I'm pretty sure they are put into non-combat duties. More than that, while it may be believable for your MC to willingly undergo the removal of a healthy limb for this procedure, it might raise mental health flags within the service. I would imagine most other military organizations would view amputations in a similar light.

    So it might stretch credibility if you intend to have your MC go through this AND remain an active combat soldier -- unless you set it in a vague near future where the combat-viable amputees are commonplace, or if she intends to try to "get back in the fight" despite no longer being a soldier.

    Also, given that there have been a lot of advances in prosthetic limbs, what is it exactly that would make these so special or advanced that it would be enticing to lose a perfectly good limb for them? That's another factor that I think would determine whether or not your readers will buy her motivations. To not seem completely crazy or irrational, the reward would have to pretty strongly outweigh the risk.

  3. #3
    The military wouldn't take her back with artificial limbs, period. I don't care how advanced the limbs are, she is not going to be on the battlefield as an active duty military soldier. If anything, she'll wind up behind a desk.

  4. #4
    Member KHK's Avatar
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    I think if she's one of those volunteers going completely on their own to fight ISIS (or whomever) with the Peshmerga, the question of whether the military would take her back into the fighting echelon is moot.
    And Peshmerga, I suspect, would take anyone able and willing to hold a gun.

    Now, the much greater challenge for you as the writer, IMO, is to portray the MC well enough to convince the reader how important this is for her. Important enough to be willing to lose another, healthy limb?
    I'd say, that's possible, but would take some really intricate crafting of her character, motivation, past history that had led her to this phase, etc.

  5. #5
    Thanks for the input Inthethirdperson. She ended up with the Peshmerga after being rescued from Daesh and her anger stems from that horrific encounter, and yes all that is bad for a woman in captivity happened to her. I wrote it with innuendos and other character’s comments so it is not in your face raw. She has the ability to get back with her fighting group, which are the very ones who trained her to fight.

    Cephus, This is fiction and the legs are an enhancement over her real ones. The reason they have to be paired is that the human leg couldn’t keep up with the modified one. I’ve spent some time with friends that are amputees working on a design for a shower foot. I’ve redesigned the fittings and have a handle on how the whole thing works. My wandering mind was to leave your legs here and use modified legs for battle. That’s how this idea ended up in my story.

    KHK, that is my conundrum getting rid of the standard leg in a manner that makes sense and wouldn’t have the reader cringe over her seemingly insane decision. The other option is make an accident timely, telegraphed and realistic, with just a hint of doubt that she engineered it herself.

  6. #6
    Member KHK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LCLee View Post
    The other option is make an accident timely, telegraphed and realistic, with just a hint of doubt that she engineered it herself.
    As a reader, I think this could work well enough for me. Leaving me pondering whether she was insane/motivated enough to do that (which sounds entirely plausible given the background you describe), or it was a really freakish coincidence.

  7. #7
    I find the concept bizarre. Sure, a lot of stories are based on strange happenings, but engineering the loss of the remaining leg seems too much to me. A genuine accident though ... ?


  8. #8
    Member InSickHealth's Avatar
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    Having been very close with soldiers that have lost limbs to combat, I'll try to shed a little light on things that go through a soldier's head when taken out of military/combat due to amputations or dismemberment.

    -that soldier was taken out of their trained purpose violently and abruptly. (in my experience) the Joe's I've known have often talked about how hard it was to suddenly be out of the fight that they dedicated themselves to. Being cheated of both their role in battle AND an honorable death can weigh heavy on a warrior

    -if it was an IED or something similarly sudden, it's a total coin-toss about how they remember the event. It's across the board between, 'I remember every second including the pain' or 'I remember the event but with zero physical feeling' or 'I just woke up in a hospital without my arm/leg).

    -when someone is dealing with such a traumatic and life changing injury in combat, brothers/sisters in arms will visit, and they do care, but very quickly the victim is on their own with very little direction given to them.

    -losing a limb in combat can be traumatizing in the sense that one not only lost a fight, but have to live with physical evidence of said conflict. Imagine walking around in public after an event during a bad night of drinking, and then imagine that your black eye is a quarter of your mobility for life.

    There's probably a million things I can say based on the time I've spent with wounded soldiers, but I've had a bit of wine tonight. Feel free to message me if there are any questions I can answer.

  9. #9
    I can see it working. Your character would need one hell of a motivation. Revenge? Group identity?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by LCLee View Post
    My MC has lost a leg in Iraq fighting with the Peshmerga. She comes back to the states to get fitted for a prosthesis, and long story short she meets an old college friend who is now a high-tech genius who runs his own AI company. Amidst all the computer-driven limbs, he shows her a pair of artificial legs that are driven by state-of-the-art servos. The caveat for her is, they can only be used on a double amputee. Now, the only thing on her mind is, how can she get the pair of legs fitted so she can go back in the fight. As the author would she be unbelievable to cause damage to lose the other limb? Would she still be likable as a crazy person who only wants revenge to the ones that caused her damage?

    I gotta agree with Cephus.
    I'm pretty sure that the military would not let her back into a combat theater with a prosthetic leg. I could be wrong, but she would likely be processed for medical discharge, with a 50% retirement rate.


    But she could go back as a contractor. As for the remaining leg, there is no reason that she couldn't simply opt to have it replaced as well. If this AI company is looking for guinea pigs, they would be willing to handle the procedure.
    So if you take that one step further, and consider the cost of the legs, and how she would be indebted to the AI company, you will have the 6-million-dollar-man-scenario. She could go back into theater because she is paying off her legs by working for the company. This wrinkle would give you leeway to send her on non-standard missions, or give her special security clearance.

    Otherwise, on a 50% retirement she would be unlikely to be able to even afford an oil change for those new legs.

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