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Breed: Thirty-seven

12/14/15

  12:40:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1495 words  
Categories: Breed

Breed: Thirty-seven

?What happened to Mayumi?? Linc asked, still trying to catch his breath. He'd run halfway across campus from the nearest parking lot.
?She's fine,? Mikaela said. ?But right now you've got something else you should be focusing on. Because I need you to tell me the truth.?
?I've got a lot of lies in the fire,? Linc said. ?You'll have to be more specific.?
?Mayumi. She's not just some Japanese exchange student, is she??
His eyes got wide. ?Fuck,? he mumbled. ?She was the one, last night? I heard about the incident, but I never... is she okay??
?She's not seriously hurt,? she said. ?I'm not sure she can be seriously hurt. But okay? That's a different question entirely.?
?Christ, the protest. She got hurt, didn't she??
?Yes.?
?And she lashed out. Violently.?
?What is she??
?Your phone,? Linc said. She frowned. He took his out of his pocket, and then removed the battery, and set it on the table. ?Your phone. There's no such thing as too much caution, here.? She removed it from a pocket, then slid out the battery, too. ?I don't know everything.?
?Start with what you do know, then work out from there.?
?I met her in Pakistan.?
?Pakistan??
?We weren't exactly supposed to be there. But there was a high value target we were stalking, pretty sure he was hiding out over the border. So we went in to find out. And that's when we stumbled into her. She took out a dozen terrorists in under thirty seconds with her bare hands; and I don't mean the usual, dumb as an inbred post underwear bomber, but guys with military backgrounds. But then she turned on us. We'd stumbled onto an operation that wasn't supposed to exist. And as a contingency, she tried to wipe us out. Actually, she succeeded.
?I can restart my day. It's about 24 hours back that I can go. She killed my entire squad. I was one of the first she downed. She killed our medic while he was trying to get my intestines back inside the wound. Then she started towards me and I knew that there wasn't any way in hell I was going to win the fight. Of course... it isn't that simple, either. I couldn't just flip a switch. I had to sit there and wait while she pulled out my intestines, then she looped them around my neck, then that around a doorknob.?
?She lynched you by your own guts??
?Yeah. But it was what I saw after that made me try to save her. She started crying. She stopped being the cold, emotionally dead killer who tore through some of the best soldiers we've ever trained, and went back to being a teenaged girl. Not that she is, mind you; she's probably my age. But her cells repair with such efficiency that she basically doesn't age.
?But she was a tough son of a bitch. It took me fourteen attempts to take her down- knowing in advance where it would go down and how.?
?We all but had to drop a house on her last night to get her to stop Terminating. How'd you stop her??
?What finally worked? A hell of a lot of body armor.?
?That doesn't seem so bad.?
?I wasn't done. I wore layers of body armor, then goaded her into attacking me. And while she did, my team peppered her with blasts from shotguns. I can't tell you how much buckshot I took; but I can say I don't get through airport metal detectors without incident.?
?So you 'saved' her.?
?Yeah. Though... I almost went back on it. Because until we captured her, my only thought was on getting her free of the people controlling her. But once I had... I realized I didn't know any better what to do with her.?
?But just like that, she was normal??
?Hardly. She was definitely trained. Name, rank and serial number. She went days without saying anything else. I was beaten up bad enough I took a medical leave, and smuggled her back to the States.
?A buddy of mine in the reserves works Justice in his civilian life, has some experience in deprogramming, cults and the like. We took her out to this little cabin his family owned, and spent a month with her. She was trained in SERE or some equivalent- Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape. She played for time, manipulated us, and at every opportunity tried to get away. But at night, when she thought we were asleep, she'd cry.
?Then one night she started talking. At first I thought she was talking to herself, but it became clear she knew I was awake. Maybe she'd always known. But at night, she was vulnerable, she was human. And I got the sense that that was who she really was, that she was trapped in that programming, but that she was chiseling her way out, slowly. Matt and I started working her in shifts. He'd take days, I stayed up with her nights.
?And eventually, we had a conversation. That she wanted us to let her go. Not so she could go back, but because she was going to need to stand on her own feet. We couldn't keep her under lock and key forever. She was right. So we let her loose. She was good most of the night. Then when morning came, she knocked the both of us out clean, and ran. I was out most of the day, and was getting ready to wind back the clock when she came back in, and sat down, and asked what was for dinner.
?The programming was strong enough that she had to run. The next day we gave her a wide berth. We figured there was no reason in getting another concussion. And ultimately, she'd been right. She was going to have to be able to do some of this on her own, or we might as well start looking for a way to put a bullet in her. She came back again, an hour earlier.
?The strangest part, was how much she forgot. She remembered me and Matt well enough to respond, know we were friendly and have that kind of familiarity with us. But the further she got away from her training, the more about her past she forgot. I suspect- I've always suspected- that the training's still there. But her memory of her mandate, her missions, faded; probably by design. The best operative in the world is the one who can't remember their last mission, or give up any useful intel if they're compromised.
?She's even forgotten her capture, me smuggling her into the country, even deprogramming. She remembers the general ideas, that I 'saved' her, that she owes me some modicum of allegiance, maybe even deference. But she's mostly a blank slate.?
?I think you're right,? Mikaela said. ?About her training. She kicked the hell out of us last night- and a cop before that.?
?Jesus.?
?Cristobal set him right,? she said. ?But it took six of us to stop her little rampage- nobody seriously hurt. But there was more to her rage than met the eye. She had an implant, meant to work like a beacon. When it couldn't phone home, it flooded her system with adrenaline. Maybe she's been fighting it for months, I don't know, but when that piece of shit policeman hurt her- it flipped a switch. We unflipped it,? she said, and handed him the implant.
?What the hell?? he asked, rolling it around in his hand.
?That came out of her skull.?
?You said she's all right,? he said.
?She is. We had breakfast this morning. She's back to her old self. Hole in her head already closed up, there isn't even a visible scar.?
?You should have called me.?
?For all I knew, you put that thing in her skull.?
?And if you'd lied to her about it,? Tucker said, coming out of Mikaela's bedroom.
?We'd have been very unhappy,? Demi said, following behind.
?So it was the truth?? Mikaela asked. Tucker nodded.
?Too bad,? Demi said. ?I really wanted to punch somebody about it. May?? she called back into the room.
Mayumi appeared in the doorway, and Linc ran to her and scooped her up in his arms. ?I was so worried,? he said.
?Me, too,? she said, and her voice quavered. He set her down.
?Look, I know we don't see eye to eye. But I think this underscores why you and your friends should be tactically trained.?
Mikaela's jaw tightened. ?And I took the opposite message. The police have been militarized. That's a large part of the aggression that came out last night. Without that, Mayumi never would have lost control. If we militarize, we're just going to meet aggression with aggression. You're wrong.?
?I always hope I am,? Linc said. ?But I prepare in the event that I'm not.?

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