Breed Book 3, Part 53

“I take it Anita won,” Rox said, raising an eyebrow at Mai.

“If by ‘won’ you mean shot me repeatedly through the spine, then yes,” Mai said, leaned against a file cabinet to try to stay upright.

“I thought you could heal.”

“I am,” Mai said. “Minute ago I couldn’t wiggle my toes. 90 seconds ago I couldn’t breathe. Two minutes ago I was bleeding out. You have any idea how difficult it is regrowing nerve tissue while you’re going into shock and trying to pass out from blood loss?” Rox helped her stand, and leaned her against a nearby desk.

“So why’d she shoot you?”

“Well, if she’d stuck around I might have assumed it was to stop me from doing something I’d regret. Since she locked herself on the other side of that door, other thoughts spring to mind.”

“She’s going to kill Garrity.”

“That may be the best case scenario,” Mai said, and Rox frowned. “When we both used to work here, she developed a… habit. Started carving up targets like a Christmas goose- but one that definitely slept with your sister and diddled your favorite pet. We all thought she was losing her mind, which apparently was not as big a liability as you’d assume given the fucked up nature of what we were being tasked with. I thought it was only a matter of time before one of us was going to have to put her down, frankly, until a mission in Kabul. We were separated from the rest of our team, and our first evac got shot down. So we were hunkered for days while they figured out alternate arrangements. I don’t know if it was sleep deprivation, lack of food and water, or if she just needed to talk… but she broke down and told me. She was trying to get discharged. She thought if she was awful enough, scary enough, that they’d have to bounce her from the program. I… wasn’t terribly supportive of her decision.”

“You fought.”

“Probably would have been to the death, but she was sharper then, in a fight; she could counter almost any move you made, in real time.  And you could read the betrayal on her face… she wanted me to understand, and support her, and instead- I tried to kill her. She kept me alive while we waited for evac. Alive, but only just. At the time it felt like the opposite of mercy; but in retrospect I think maybe she was trying to be kind.”

“So how did you still blame her after all of that?”

“Because my memory is a pile of moldering Swiss cheese. Some days I barely remember me. And because, on some level, I think I felt betrayed. Because she could have looped me into her plan, and together we might have been able to do something about it. But instead she was willing to abandon me- really the rest of us, to this hell. I’m not saying it’s rational, but I promise you, this… program didn’t leave you the faculties to be rational. The intentionally undermined our rationality, so we’d substitute their judgment for our own.”   

Rox tried the locked door, and then leaned against the wall beside it with a sigh. As she did, she heard a jingling in her jacket pocket. She removed the keys. “Really?” Mai asked.

“Really,” Rox said, and the first key she tried opened the door. Inside was an office, decorated with full military pomp. The wall behind the desk was covered in blood spray, and laying on the floor was a severed hand.

“I remember him being taller,” Mai said. “I’ll tell you he won’t last long with that kind of blood loss.”

Rox found a panel similar to the blast doors in the lobby in the rear of the room. “This is going to take a little more doing.”

“Hey, without your luck, we’d have been separated from them by two doors. We just to work the problem.” A gunshot rang out from inside the panic room. “And hope she doesn’t kill him before we can get in there.”

Rox stopped, and gave her a questioning look. “But does it really matter? Even if he spent the last decade planting trees, building a habitat for humanity and club-proofing baby seals… I don’t think he could make up for everything he’d done. So… who cares if she shoots him? I know I’m supposed to, but even I really don’t.”

“I’m not worried about him,” Mai said. “I’m telling you he drove both of us nearly past the breaking point. I would throw a parade if that son of a bitch died. But I’m worried about Anita- about what facing down this evil alone might do to her. You’ve seen what living with that past has done to her. I’m not sure she can survive revisiting it.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *