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Breed: Forty


  12:11:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1124 words  
Categories: Breed

Breed: Forty

?Why are we always meeting in my office?? Linc asked.
?Because I've got a key to yours, but not vice versa,? Anita said. ?And you've got a bigger television. Now hush.? Linc recognized himself on the television, even if he was wearing a full face mask. Of course, the footage was shot earlier in the day, so it wasn't surprising that he'd recognize it.
Then Rox burst into the room on the screen. She downed the first two men she saw in the room, before taking cover against the doorframe. Then Ben followed, took another, by shaking the floor, then shot him when he fell. Rui came next, and set the couch on fire for a distraction. The footage was cut together from a variety of different angles to obscure the fact that nobody was getting hurt, and that the guns weren't live.
?There were cameras?? Linc asked.
?Yeah,? Anita said. ?I didn't see them, initially, but when this hit, I stopped by the cabin. It was rigged the entire time.?
?It was just a worthless old cabin on the back end of the campus,? he said. ?Why was it wired up??
?You might have to ask the Dean that,? she said.
?It looks bad,? Linc admitted.
?Yeah,? Rox said, folding her arms.
?The spin's worse,? Anita said, turning up the volume.
?The footage appears to show mutations running wild, preparing an attack on a VIP, preparing to take down their security as well as kill or capture them. Again, we warn viewers who are easily shocked or don't wish to see extreme racial violence to turn away-? she muted the television again.
?What are the saner outlets saying?? Linc asked.
?Mostly the same,? Anita said. ?One of them at least got it right, that it's a rescue op, but most of the rest are running wild with the Cox version. It's sexier, so it'll sell more... ads, I guess. I was going to say papers, but how the hell old am I? It was rhetorical, in case anyone was feeling brave.? Mikaela shrugged.
?So that's you?? Mikaela asked Rox.
?Do they know that?? Linc asked.
Anita shook her head. ?Tape cuts out before anyone takes off their mask. Mahmoud is the only one identifiable on the tape, but so far nobody has made that connection.?
?They won't,? Mahmoud said from the back of the room. ?I couldn't damage all the footage, but I was able to pixelate my face. I found out early enough I don't think anyone has a raw copy. Well, anybody but whoever leaked it in the first place.?
?You don't know?? Rox asked.
?I tried to find out,? he said. ?Whoever it was covered their tracks. I don't think they were human; they were either someone like me, or working with someone like me. It would take a technopath to hide from me.?
?Or a telepath to make you think they were,? Mikaela said.
?Jesus,? Linc said. ?You're thinking transhumans did this??
?You heard the man. It would have to be. If it was just a garden-variety, run of the mill hacker, he'd already know their mother's social security number by now.? Linc dropped down on his couch. ?So how does that play with your desire to train all of us to defend ourselves??
He narrowed his eyes. ?I think it makes me glad we've already started,? Linc said. ?Vanilla human beings, even ones with guns, they're an inconvenience. But if other transhumans are working against us...?
?What if this isn't against us?? Mayumi asked.
?This footage is scaring the hell out of people,? Mikaela said.
?Yeah. But what if that was the intention? What if whoever leaked it wanted people afraid- to think twice before trying to hurt us??
?She may have a point,? Mahmoud said.
?She might,? Linc said. ?But intent is meaningless. Even if this was a misguided attempt at helping, it's more likely to cause more strife, more violence. That's why I think we should all be ready. And in the meantime, try and stay in groups, stay in public places. Don't do anything to make yourself a target- and if you feel like you might become one, make sure at least that you're not making it easy on them.?
?And where does that leave us?? Mikaela asked.
?Wherever you want to be,? Linc said. ?If you want my help, I'm here. If you want Mayumi to train you in self-defense, you can go that route. But we're on the same team, here. Even where we disagree, we support each other, we protect each other. That doesn't just go for those who are part of this program- that's all of us. All of our kind. Until someone proves they're against us, they're with us. Because if we let the bigots divide and conquer, we won't stand a chance.?
?We'll hash it out,? Mikaela said. She nodded for Mayumi to follow her, and they exited his office.
?How are you holding up, Rox?? Linc asked.
?Kind of freaking out,? she said. ?But now I know how Mahmoud felt.?
?And I'm...? Mahmoud paused, contemplating, ?I'm oddly getting used to being on the evening news. At least this time it kind of feels like I earned it. I mean, I was just kind of standing there, but at least there was a sliver of something people might feel intimidated by.?
?This was supposed to be a safe place,? Rox said.
?Yeah,? Linc said. ?I need to figure out why it wasn't. But we're going to take care of this. I promise. I know this is scary. But you're safer here than you could be anywhere else. The entirety of the US Armed Forces wouldn't stand a chance at this school, and I'm pretty sure the Chiefs of Staff know it. Just keep each other safe. Do that, and no one can hurt us.?
?I was going to ask if you'd walk me home,? Mahmoud said, ?but then you'd be walking home alone.?
?I'll give the two of you a ride home. I'll be out in just a second.?
?Kay,? Rox said, with Mahmoud trailing behind her.
?How is it you're always the one telling me when bad crap happens?? Linc asked Anita.
?Just lucky, I guess. Or I have fewer extracurriculars keeping me from the news.?
?Or you know more than you're telling.?
?Every woman does. Stop trying to poke holes in my mystique. And please don't point out the unintentional en tendre. I'm an English professor; I noticed.?
?Lock up on your way out, Anita. And thanks. Hell of a strange day.?
?Hell of a strange life. And I don't see it getting any less weird any time soon. And I wouldn't want it to. Good night.?

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