Thursday, 22 September 2016


She opened her eyes, and looked around. So, this was an hospital room.

Her memory contained years of pain, spent in a room like this - no, much more drab and run-down, with older diagnostic machines - while a respirator kept her lungs working and she could smell her decubitus ulcers. But these were not really hers, nor were they memories at all.

Just simulations, inferred from the situation of the "real" K. Lawson, who never moved away from that bed while alive.

"Why am I still around?" - the question had no direct answer, she knew that "it" used every one of them, its "messengers", as organic Processing Units to elaborate its actual emotions and to provide truly independent points of view, but the way their subconscious interacted to create "It"'s emerging personality were so complex that the results were sometimes surreal.

She knew that much of "It" current taste for killing and shady deals came from herself. She never felt so omnipotent as to be able to just brush aside the recourse to lethal force - in many weay, this had been her fundamental weakness.

Had "it" finally decided to let her go, now that it had no more the idealism of Ice to keep in check her penchant for cruel realpolitik? It was probable.

Likely, it also was the reason why it didn't just kill her - "it" had reverted to a past self, one that frowned at the very idea of killing, no matter how economical an employ of resources it was.

So, now that the time had come, it hadn't retained her as she thought it would have done, nor had it killed her, as she would have done in its place.

It let her go, though the shock to her body, when all her boxes "folded" away, was so massive that she passed out.

She felt a presence, on her right - a man in a formal suit was guarding the door, with the all-too-proper quality of a rookie Special Agent, or a straight as a pole middle level.

"You are awake?" - the phrase was both an affirmation and a question - she was awake, but was she lucid? The doubt was reasonable.

 "Maybe" -  she didn't feel that she was functioning at her top.
The world was so dull, now, without electromagnetic waves, gravity and coloured scents..

For the very first time in her life, she really felt human. Drugged with analgesics, numb, human. She felt the tears running down, but she could not give a name to her state of mind.

The man reached his smartwatch, and alerted whoever was his superior.

Special Agent Roman Harmon was talking with the physicians that treated "Hostile One", read the short blurb from his underling, and scheduled in his mind  to commence the monster interrogation as soon as he knew enough of her medical conditions.

 "She has just regained consciousness" - he reported to the chief physician, one Dr. Genevie Torrado, who looked surprised.

"She was supposed to sleep for another twenty-four hours, we fully sedated her as well as used some local anaesthesia in what we thought to be the worst damaged areas. Her metabolism seems to be much faster than what we expected." - She didn't say that they expected it to be superhuman to begin with, but Harmon knew it from the preliminary report.

"What kind of damages?"

"We could not use RMI or PET, as we were alerted that her body may contain unspecified augmentation implants. We limited ourself to external examinations and ultrasounds imaging... luckily, this last is almost on par with the other internal diagnostic techniques, nowadays.
We found traces of what we think were thirty-eight different implants, along with tiny cables, the width of hairs, that connected them all. Fascinating, absolutely fascinating."

Harmon knew that Torrado had worked at the Army failed super-soldier project, that was finally scrapped when it became apparent that no human, however augmented, could stand a chance against a battle 'bot with a hundred times his body mass. Was it professional envy, the undertone below Torrado's fascination?

Envy of someone who got the funds and freedom from any ethic restraint, to build what she was denied to create?


 "All but three of the implants have disappeared, leaving holes in the tissues and, in some places, internal bleeding..." - Torrado scrolled her head - "...the bleeding stopped much faster than I expected, too. She is even tougher than she looks."

Harmon cringed - dressed to hide her true shape, the black girl could pass for being simply a very tall woman. Asleep in a hospital gown that showed her arms, all lean, strong muscles and bulging veins, she was already impressive. Torrado had seen her naked, doing the echos, and was the one that wrote "muscular system excessively developed, yet still elegant" in a margin of the report.

If the woman was even harder than what she seemed to the physician, she was indeed a monster, and he was the one supposed to crack her open and pry informations out of her head.

"The three implants that have remained, where and what are they?"

"One is at the base of her brain. I believe that it is an implant, because the bones of the skull are modified around it in a way a little too geometrical I hope for her that it is, because the alternative is that it is a cancerous mass. If it is, I would quantify her life expectancy in six months or so."

Harmon considered it for some seconds - people with little time to live have little to lose, too.

If it was cancer, it was an information better not shared with their prisoner, as he was probably going to need the perspective of a lengthy stay in prison as a pressure tool, some moment down the road.

"The other two?" 

"One is inside the thoracic cavity, just below the heart, a solid mass of the size of an egg. We think that it is something electronic, because it produced interferences in our cardiac monitor unit."

Harmon considered the bit of information, but it shed no lights. They simply didn't know enough, of the technology used in "Hostile One", to make any valuable inference from it.

"Some technicians from DARPA placed a multi-frequency scanner in her bed, so they are registering all the signals from her body and they should soon be able to make some informed guesses about what it is and it does.The last implant is inside the abdomen, and is the size of a human heart. It seems to be another solid block. No idea about its functions or purpose",

 "In substance, there were thirty black boxes inside her body, most have vanished - we have no idea how - but three are still intact. We have no idea of what they are and do, apart maybe the one in her head. "

"You know what that is?" - Torrado was surprised.

"Something she told the President, before passing out - a remote control."

Harmon reflected that if he was building supermen, remote controls inside their head would be about the first thing that he would do. The second...

"One of the other two is probably a self-destruction system - maybe an anti-matter container bomb."

Torrado face went blank - "It's that the reason we cannot simply open her up?"

Harmon could not answer for sure, but scuttlebutt was that, when his colleagues had found the body of the Utica kid and tried to look inside it, something had gone off with the power of a couple of fifty kilograms of high explosive. It seemed much, but it was no more than some milligrams of anti-matter.

During the war the bots had fired coil gun rounds, with such a payload.

This woman probably had, inside, the same kind of self-destruct tricks.

Not for the first time, Harmon wondered if he should  not have gone into civilian industry, like his predecessor. His pay-check would have been ten times his current one, an¡d he would have had no human bombs to debrief.

When "Hostile One" was  fully back to lucidity, replaced his man in the room, and started interrogating the "alien enemy", with Torrado at his side as medical advisor. It was one hell of a frustrating experience, for both.

"Your name is?"

"Keisha Lawson"

"You were born?"

"May 5, 2066" - She was 21 years old? Harmon thought that she was in her early 30s,

"Where were you born? - here it was when they started having problems.

"I do not know."

"Who are your parents?" - Harmon had entered the name, Keisha Lawson, into the system... and the system answer did not make much sense. There was an afro American Keisha Lawson, dead at 35 out of complications of a spinal chord unrecoverable injury.   The dead was 5'5", though - a whole foot shorter than this one.

"My mother  was Devicia Lawson. I do not know who my father was".

Devicia Lawson was listed as the mother of the deceased Keisha.

"Are you a clone of Keisha Lawson, born in Fort Lauderdale?"

"I th...." - the voice of the cute montser tapered off mid sentence, while she apparently continued to speak.

Then, she stopped, looking a bit confused. She started again, "I th...." and couldn't continue the phrase.

Harmon could almost fill the rest for her "I think that I am" - or would it be "I thought that I was?"

"You are associated with a terrorist group called 'The Hand Of It"? " - the name was invented...

"I am not associated with any terrorist. I was tied to a terrifying ass-hole, that's true."

"You were? You are not tied to it, now?"

"I h...." -  again, she looked confused and frustrated and tried to complete her phrase - "I h... ".

She hoped that she was not, not any more. But the leash was as firm, around her neck, as it ever was before.

"What are the purposes of your organization?"

"I have no organization."

"What are the purposes of 'It'."

She opened her moth but, this time, no sound came from her vocal cords. harmon could read lips, but even those became aphasic.

They continued so for eight hours, then Harmon had his vice, Special Agent Katherine Douherty, continue the interrogatory.

Fourteen days after, they were still at the same point, when Harmon and his squad were summoned by their boss, [] Homeland Security Special Hazards Director Robert Dyson.

" I read your report, Roman. She won't tell us anything, in the end?"

"It is not that she don't want, director. She can't - whatever it is that thing in her skull, every time that she tries to tell us something significant it activates and scrambles her brain. Personally, she seems to have no loyalty whatsoever toward this 'It', but the only way she has let out tiny bits of information is by mistake, lapsus, off-hand remarks. All things that can be blurted out without thinking. The moment she focuses on something, it's over."

"However, you have spent two weeks interrogating her 24 hours a day. You have got some information."

"Yes, and what we obtained is quite grim, director." - Katherine looked every bit as tired as her boss - "I do not  think that we could prosecute her, logically,"

"She is a terrorist!"

"She has been born and bred in a state of, dare I say, wholesome slavery. Collaborating with us -as far as we can tell, this is the first fully autonomous decision that she has taken in her whole life."

"I see... not exactly what I expected."

"She has already come to regret it... she fully understand, now, that we have not enough expertise on systems like hers, to get her rid of her last implants. She tried to help us, hoping we could really free her - we can't, she knows it for sure, now."    

"What more?"

"She doesn't need to sleep. She does not get bored. She does not get annoyed. Her brain is as inhumanly-wired as possible, while still acting mostly human. I would not care to have  interrogate another one like her that was, actually, hostile."

"So, what do we do with her?"



"We keep her at hand, under a discreet surveillance, so that we can tap her lapsus-linguae the next time that we cross her boss."

"The Witness Protection Program?"

"She is a witness, of a kind. I think that it is useless try to hide her - we do not know what kind of signals those black boxes inside her body may send, but I myself would add a transponder to any piece of hardware, valuable like her, that I decided to decommission."

"She is not human. Why not simply dismantle her and see how she is built?"

"I think that anyone who tried would be dust, by the time his scalpel opened her body, Even if we could, our scientists are very sceptical about our ability to reverse-engineering the tech. And, anyway, it is what "it" is counting on."


"She was decommissioned while she was talking with the President, so that she was in perfect conditions to be taken in by us. I gathered that she didn't expect it, that she didn't think that it was a dumb clock, to handle the 'decommissioning', whatever it really is. I think that she expected to die. I think that she is right, on all account. She is a probe." 

"A probe... to see how we handle her?"

"Yes. If we treat her as a the U.S. citizen that she believes to be, as an hostile foreigner or as some machine. I have no doubts that, in one way or the other, whatever we do with her will reach her 'sisters'."

"So, if we treat her just like the killing machine that she is..."

"We  could expect no more defections - because, in her mind, she has defected - from any of her sisters. "

"You said that the Witness Protection Program is unnecessary, but we cannot let her go back to her old life, can we?"

"We will have to enrol her into it anyway, even if the secrecy needs would be less stringent than usual. We will have to build her a normal life anyway."

"And see how can she stick to it - as Dr. Torrado says, she is fascinatingly inhuman. How much can she function, constrained in a n everyday life?"

"We'll see".

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Feel free to point me out conceptual, orthographical, grammatical, syntactical or usage's errors, as well as anything else