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Breed: Thirty-one


  03:15:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 2387 words  
Categories: Breed

Breed: Thirty-one

Demi grunted as she shifted Mayumi's weight. She was a tiny thing, but she weighed more than she looked. In fact, she weighed more than a couple of her should have.
?So what was with all that face-stroking stuff?? Mikaela asked Tucker.
?Jealous?? Tucker asked.
?I'd like to know, too,? Demi said.
?I've been working with the Dean. He's been teaching me how to do more than just hear a person's thoughts, but to be able to sense the mechanisms of their thoughts. And there's something really screwed up about the way this girl thinks.?
?I could have told you that,? Iago said.
?Is that you're way of saying she's your type?? Tucker asked. Iago stuck his tongue out at him. ?Careful, it'll freeze that way.? Panic filled Iago's eyes as ice crystallized on his tongue, and he tried to yell through a mouth that was frozen shut. ?I still have trouble believing that doesn't hurt,? Tucker said.
Iago sucked his tongue back into his mouth, breaking the thin layer of ice away. ?Kind of like a brain freeze, but I wouldn't say it hurts,? he replied.
?But I'm not just talking about divergent thought patterns, or abnormal psychology. There's something in her head that shouldn't be there. I can't be sure, but I think it was spiking her adrenaline, making her more aggressive, even feral.?
?And you tried to shut it down,? Mikaela said.
?I did. But that didn't work. Or maybe it did, but there was a lag before we saw the effects.?
?But that's why you said it wasn't over.?
?It isn't. She took enough of a beating that I was able to convince her to rest. But I don't know how long she'll stay out.?
?The thing making her crazy. Is it biological??
?You think maybe somebody did this to her?? Tucker asked.
?I think somebody taught her to fight. If she's an attack dog, maybe that's her leash.? Mikaela took out her phone and dialed. It rang, but no one was answering. ?Shit, Mahmoud, pick up,? she said. She hung up, and tapped out a message.
?I think I might know somebody. Pete introduced me. But we'll have to take her to a building with a ground-floor lab.? Tucker took out his phone and started texting. ?I'll have them meet us there.?
?If there is a piece of machinery in her skull, Ryan can help with the tech; but for the brain parts we're still likely to need Pete.?
?And Cris, who's pretty likely to be in tow,? Demi said.
?In here,? Tucker said, opening a door into Onslow.
Most of the building was lit only by emergency lighting.
?I wouldn't have thought the buildings were opened this late,? Demi said.
?They aren't,? Tucker said.
?The locks are electronic,? a computerized voice said from down the hall. ?I asked them politely to open, and they did.?
The source of the voice rolled out of the shadows and into the light immediately under an emergency fixture. He was short, though it was difficult to tell how short, because his limbs were shriveled, and nearly tucked up underneath his torso. He was sitting in a motorized wheelchair, a bulky one the length of probably four people standing in a line.
?I told you,? he said, or, more accurately, the voice from his chair said, ?that I don't do late night booty calls.?
Tucker smiled. ?And I told you you're not my type,? he said. ?Mikaela, this is Ryan, Ryan, Mikaela.?
?That a group name? Are they a band.?
?I don't know everybody's name,? Tucker admitted, ?and we're on kind of a time crunch.?
?Maybe not,? Pete said, exiting out of the same lab. ?I've mixed up a sedative that should keep Sleeping Beauty resting peacefully into tomorrow.? He raised a syringe into the air.
?She's got the metabolism of a team of elephants,? Mikaela said.
?Okay, so maybe just resting long enough for us to chat leisurely,? he said. He stuck the needle into Mayumi's arm and pushed in the plunger.
?Ryan's a technopath,? Tucker said.
?I met one of those just the other day,? Mikaela said.
?Quite a few of us around, actually,? Ryan said.
?Huh,? she said. She liked having her own unique ability. ?How do you feel about that??
?Gives us a sense of community. Like the telepaths tend to pal around- something about being able to read people's heads makes it harder to cope with everybody else. Technopathy is similar; if you don't know which cell tower you're pinging off of, or more importantly, know every single thing available on the internet about someone the way they do about you, it's difficult to relate. But there's also just enough variation in how our powers work that I still get to feel special- and not just because I get better parking spots. Incidentally, you can set her on my chair.?
?She's not so heavy,? Demi said, ?I've got her.?
?Besides, we should come and put her on the table in here,? Peter said. He disappeared into the lab, and Demi filed in after. She set Mayumi down on one of the lab tables.
?So what are we doing?? Demi asked.
?We need to get a look at her,? Pete said. ?Ryan??
?I thought he was mostly a technopath,? Mikaela said as she entered with the rest of the students.
?I don't think most people understand the extent to which the human body is a machine,? Ryan said, ?the brain in particular.? He closed his eyes. Then a little laser pointer on an arm mounted on his chair lit up a spot on Mayumi's skull. ?There. It's a device, inorganic, an implant of some kind.?
?Can you shut it down?? Pete asked.
?Unfortunately, no. It's been damaged beyond repair, at least remotely. It's designed to use bloodflow in the brain through it to crank a miniature engine for power. But it wasn't designed to be able to shut down or allow blood flow through it otherwise. It'll always be on so long as it's in there, and even if you could turn it off, it would block the flow of blood, cause a bleed in her brain, and eventually a stroke- and even fast as she heals, I don't know if she could come back from that.?
?Can you tell us what it does?? Drake asked.
?I can try.? Ryan closed his eyes. He furrowed his brow, then scowled, grit his teeth, and eventually grimaced. ?Damnit.?
?What's wrong?? Mikaela asked.
?It's too much to hold, too much to map. Even tracking down which part of the brain is impacted and narrowing that down... it's not enough. It's like trying to hold a beach in your hands, it all just trickles through your fingers until you're grasping at a few grains of sand.?
?I have an idea,? Tucker said. ?If what you really need is more RAM-?
?And processing,? Ryan said.
?Right. But what if I could give you access to all of our heads- networking our brains, essentially.?
?That... could work.?
?It's something I tried with the other telepaths, just screwing around, crowdsourcing, really,? Tucker said. ?We'd probably need to meditate. No stray thoughts. All it takes is one person thinking about what they want to eat to derail the entire thing.?
?My god I could eat,? Demi said.
?Okay. Everybody, circle up, and hold hands.? They did. ?You're lying in a warm meadow in the summer sun. There's a breeze on your skin, just the right temperature to cool you without a chill. The smell of flowers surrounds you, but it's faint, not overwhelming. Your eyes are closed butt you can still see the sun through them, a reddish orb on the other side of your eyelids. The warmth on your skin is making you drowsy, but not sleepy. You're so comfortable that the only thing on your mind is those sensations, and even they are fading away.?
?I have it,? Ryan said, opening his eyes. ?It's designed to stimulate the fight or flight responses. There's a GPS and timestamp in there, too. The ability for the device to echo out its location is damaged. It's supposed to let an extraction team find her, but as a failsafe, it stimulates adrenaline and aggressive tendencies- turns her into a human time bomb- if they can't find her through technology, they'll find her when she creates an international incident loud enough for them to find her. She's an asset, belonging to the intelligence agencies. Specifically, to Japan, though she was on loan to the United States.?
?You got all that from a device??
?The device has some proprietary tell-tales, patents the Japanese government doesn't license to anyone, not even Japanese companies. But the chip was last interfacing with a computer using American English. The rest is supposition, but mostly backed-up by information that can be gleaned from the internet. But beyond that, I have no idea what's going on in this girl's head."
"Women, right?? Iago said with a grin. ?Unless you were making a sly racist remark about her being Asian."
"No, I mean structurally, it's all wrong. Some structures are larger, others smaller. But the biggest question mark by far, is I'm fairly certain she has two brain stems. Incidentally, thanks, Peter."
?Huh? I don't think I did anything.?
?While we were networked... I was able to use your biological knowledge as if it were my own. It was unfathomably helpful.?
?How can she have two brain stems?? Iago asked.
?That's the operative question, yes.?
"What if it isn't just that she can heal quickly?? Mikaela asked. ?What if she can control her body on the cellular level? If I had to guess, either she got a performance boost from this configuration, or her handlers decided this was the way to go, that this was the optimal brain for an operative."
"So what the hell are we doing, here, then?" Peter asked.
"The implant was designed to clip her wings,? Mikaela said. ?I think we should cut her strings."
?I'm a genetics student. Gifted, to be sure, but that's a far cry away from a neurosurgeon.?
?We can't take her to a hospital. They'd refuse to operate on her without talking to her. And there's no way she can talk- she'd attack them and we'd be back at square one- provided we could even recapture her.?
?Isn't that making a bit of an assumption?? Peter asked.
?It would be,? Tucker said, ?if I wasn't able to read her mind. She's still fighting, even unconscious. Her brain-?
?Her entire body,? Ryan interrupted, ?is flooded with adrenaline. The implant is making it impossible for her to have a rational conversation. Her every fiber tells her to kill everything in her path to be able to get away. She's practically feral.?
?What if we don't have to cut her open,? Iago said. ?Could you just zap it?? he asked Demi.
?I wouldn't suggest it,? Peter said. ?It's possible, that her brain is where her advanced healing is seated- so if you blast her brain with electricity, you could kill what lets her heal faster. Not likely, I'd say, but it's more dangerous than going in more surgically. That, and who knows if there's a fail-safe to the device that might react violently with being zapped.? He turned to Ryan.
?I'm not sure. There's nothing active in the device that would indicate a failsafe. But that just might be part of what's broken. And electricity could bring that back online. Removal is the better option, of the two.?
?Look, even if I'm the lesser of two evils, I don't think I want to try my hand at an amateur lobotomy,? Peter said.
?One of us has to,? Mikaela said. ?If you know somebody pre-med, we can give them a call. Otherwise you're her best bet.?
?And she can take it,? Drake said. ?You should have seen the beating she took without even slowing down.?
?I can still see part of it,? he said, nodding in the direction of the branch protruding out of her chest.?
?Let me,? Demi said, and wrenched on the trunk sticking out of Mayumi's torso.
?Jesus,? Peter said, at the sound of wood grinding against bone.
Blood bubbled out of the wound like oil from the ground. ?That's a lot of blood...? Drake said.
?Why isn't she healing?? Demi asked.
?Towels,? Peter said, ?We'll need towels, as in all the.?
?On it,? Drake said, and teleported away. Thirty seconds later he appeared with a stack of towels nearly as tall as he was. ?Crap,? he said, as they started to fall. Iago managed to catch the stack and steady them long enough for them to set them down.
?Everybody start mopping up,? Peter said. Iago handed out towels as the rest circled around her, trying to contain the flow of blood. Peter put pressure on her chest. ?Someone's going to need to lift her and get a towel beneath her so we can stop the...?
?There it is,? Mikaela said, and pulled his towel away. She mopped up the remaining blood with her own towel, exposing a circle of freshly regrown skin. ?It was a bad enough wound it took a second to fully heal.?
?That was a lot of blood.?
?Too much,? Ryan said with a grin. ?Average human being stores about a pint of blood for every 10 pounds. So does she, but... she weighs somewhere in the range of 500 pounds.?
?Jeez,? Demi said. ?I thought I was just tired.?
?So her blood pressure?? Pete asked.
?Is variable. Her body's already adjusted to being a quart low. If I had to guess, she stores extra blood for occasions when she has to bleed a lot, without losing functionality. And on top of that she's got extreme bone, muscle and skin density.?
?Explains why we had such a bitch of a time putting her down,? Demi said.
?And why we'll have such a hard time if we have to do it again,? Mikaela said. ?We have to help her. And it looks like the only way to do that might be an amateur lobotomy.?
?You had me at amateur lobotomy,? Ryan said.
?Christ,? Pete said with a sigh. ?Okay. But somebody take my phone and try to hunt down Cris.?

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