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Breed: Fifty-four


  11:31:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 1074 words  
Categories: Breed

Breed: Fifty-four

Rox had only felt this way once before, the day she lost her father. Her vision was blurry, though she couldn't be sure if that was her eyes wouldn't focus or if they were filled with tears. She stumbled through the cold night air, and right into Ben. ?You okay?? he asked, but he sounded far away. He leaned in closer, and pinched her arm. ?You need to be okay,? he said. ?For the rest of us.?
She closed her eyes for a moment, took in a breath and held it, before letting it out. ?I'm all right. Let's go.?
She started confidently towards the hole they cut in the fence. She peeled back the metal links so the rest of them could pass underneath.
?We may have a problem,? Sonya said from the other side of the fence. She nodded down the road, to where they left their car. There were red and blue flashing lights over the hill.
At that moment a red van pulled up, and the driver's side window rolled down. Rox frowned, recognizing her English teacher. ?Ms. Fessuns??
?That isn't my real name. Part of a stage name, really.?
?You'll want to get in the car with me. Now would probably be ideal.? They stared at her a moment more. ?They've found your car already. But I know a backwoods way out of here.?
?We have to wait for Mahmoud,? Rui said.
?He isn't coming,? Anita said grimly. ?He wasn't even in all the drafts, but... he never made it. Like he was... made to die.?
?Mira?? Rox asked.
?I don't know. She wasn't here in all the drafts... but I never saw her get out.?
?But the future??
?I don't see the future, just the different ways reality could be unfolding. But the longer we stay here, the more likely we get caught- quantifiably.?
?How quantifiably??
?It's tough enough on my head seeing different drafts of reality, let alone trying to count them. But we're approaching a plurality where we're all marched away in chains, and, frankly, I'm not doing that again. So this party bus is leaving, with or without you on it.?
?And if we say no?? Rox asked.
?Goddamnit,? Anita said. She put the car in park, and put on the emergency break. Then she climbed out, and Rox saw she was holding a pistol. She spun it on her palm, and it stopped with the butt facing towards Rox. She picked it up, and Anita guided the barrel to her forehead. ?Your powers are based around luck, right? So if it's the right thing for you to do to shoot me, pull the trigger, and I'll stop being a danger to you. But if me dead is bad for you, the gun'll jam, or the round will inexplicably be a dud.?
?You're insane.?
?Seeing every moment unfold hundreds of different ways has definitely taught me that sanity is a relative concept.?
Rox's finger curled around the trigger. Her hand started to shake. She'd fired live rounds at the range, but never like this, never at a human being, let alone into one. Then her finger relaxed, and she gave the gun back. ?All right, we'll go with you.?
?Good,? Anita said, taking the pistol and sliding it into a thigh holster.
?I could have shot you,? Rox said.
?I watched you do it. Just not in this draft of reality. Everybody saddle up.?
They piled into the van.
?Anybody who feels they might have any extra pull with that big old slot machine in the sky might want to exert it.?
?What happens now?? Sonya asked from the back seat.
?Knocking on wood, because clearly you wouldn't jinx us by presuming we're going to get away scott free, right?? Rui asked.
?Right,? she said, and rapped her knuckle on Rui's forehead.
?Because you're a blockhead,? Ben said with a grin.
?Well, you can't go back to school.?
?Why not?? Rox asked.
?The NSA built this place as a honey pot- a mousetrap. Why else would they have built this facility within driving distance of the school, probably the greatest concentration of transhumans in the hemisphere? They wanted to catch you in the act, to justify taking their next steps.?
?Next steps??
?What, you thought their end game was just surveillance? They have plans, the kind people like them always draw up as a worst-case scenario, and then find a way to use just because. Since you cleaned their clocks but good, I imagine they'll hush tonight up, because the headline they want is that the world is scary but they're your only hope- not that they're hopeless but you should totally give them some scary new power to abuse because, hey, creating one monster to fight others could work. But it won't take them much digging to figure out who broke into their piggy bank, then...?
She trailed off, and let the moment linger. ?But that's kind of beside the point, because you've got something bigger to worry about. You weren't the only ones there tonight.?
?We heard. We had back-up.?
?I don't mean the other students. A professional knew you were coming, and used your clumsy break-in to cover his tracks.?
?His tracks??
?I saw him leave. And I know who he is.?
?You recognized him? How??
?My dayjob, or maybe my night job, it requires me to recognize certain kinds of people.?
?And what job is that??
?I'm an assassin. I kill people. But not you. At least not tonight. I only kill people when I'm paid to.?
?And nobody's hired you to kill us??
?Not yet.?
?So you aren't an English teacher??
?I dabbled. But I came here because of Mayumi.?
?Somebody wanted Mayumi dead??
?Not dead. And while the people who... own isn't the right word, but the people who invested in her, they'd kill to have her back, they don't know I knew where she was. They might have offered me a lot of money for her. I guess they still could. But I had some other business, first.?
?But what does all of that mean for us??
?Right now? Road trip. Someone just used you to cover up stealing all of that sensitive information you didn't trust the government to have. We need to stop him. Or kill him. Which I guess would pretty effectively stop him- presuming he can be killed. And presuming we can catch him.?

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