The woman wished she could move her head, wished she could move anything. Eyes closed against the blinding light overhead, she tried to concentrate on the sounds around her. It all seemed so muted. Fighting against the numbing effects of the narcotic floating in her system, the woman gathered the last of her remaining strength and pulled against the restraints. Nothing. Not a single muscle moved more than a millimeter. Great. Semi-paralyzed and muzzy brained. What a fabulous combination.
She knew full well where she was, also knew there was a horde of white-coated doctors and scientists in the observatory above. They always stayed out of arms reach when a Hunter was being worked on in what they lovingly called the “Black Carpet Room”.
Funny. There wasn’t a single thing black in here. She’d know, having been a guest within these sterile circular walls often enough.
“Soldier.” A single bland, emotionless voice, louder than the others, floated into the space around her. Immediately the din of conversation bombarding her through the speakers quieted. “State your rank and serial number.”
Immediately, she responded with a clear voice. “Senior Commander, SH-58R39C.”
Well, at least her mouth still worked, so she could tell them to kiss her perfect, genetically modified ass.
“State your current assignment and generation, Commander,” the scientist said, sounding beyond bored. Perhaps he was. After all, she had a feeling she was here for a reason that was all too common these days among her fellow Gen8s.
“I repeat, state your current assignment and generation.”
“IMF Special Weapons and Tactics. Generation eight Super Soldier.” Gods, she hated saying that.
For what seemed like the twentieth time, he asked, “Do you understand why you are here in the labs today, Commander?”
Well, she had a good idea, but since she wasn’t completely sure, she said, “No sir.”
“You are here because your generation of Super Soldiers, you in particular, have not responded adequately to the additional neuro education that is required to …”
At that point, she simply engaged her auditory implant and turned the filter on and up as high as her brain could push it. The scientist’s voice faded to a muted, barely audible, “Blah, blah, blah…” She’d heard enough. If they were going to kill her, just fucking get it over with. Knowing why they were going to terminate her wouldn’t change a damn thing.
Eyes closed, with a calm perfected by several journeys through combat hell, she relaxed her breathing and noticed the veins in her eyelids ran mostly east and west. The she heard a schnick. In the next instant, the red of the inside of her eyelids that indicated the lights were turned all the way up suddenly hit the extreme opposite of the spectrum.
She snapped her eyes open. The whole damn room was pitch black. Even her enhanced vision had trouble making out what was going on around her. The humming of the machines that kept the dose of the narcotics pumping into her body at the perfect incapacitating level all went dead at once. A blur of white coats milled around upstairs. The scientists in the observatory, trained to do everything in silence, seemed out of sorts. Was that screaming?
Disengaging the auditory filter, her ears filled with the sounds of chaos. What the hell was going on?
She was strapped to a sterile operating table. The leather bands over her chest and legs were secured with reinforced synth-steel couplings that required a key. That key, a digital chip coded to the locks on the straps, was probably around the neck of the half-zombie sounding creep that had spoken to her over the sound system before all the lights went out.
Which meant she was screwed. All hell was breaking loose and she was stuck on her back, strapped to a table with her ass paralyzed.
“Whatever you do, Scharsi, don’t move just now.”
Who the hell…? Wait, that voice was familiar, pleasant. Not dead and careless like the other scientists. And there was only one human in the whole facility who called her Scharsi. But it couldn’t be. He wouldn’t dare, would he?
She started to turn her head to look at the origin of the voice when the straps were literally blown away from her body. It didn’t do a damn thing for her non-working limbs and parts as she tried to heft herself off the table.
“I said, don’t move.”
“What’s going on?” she asked with a croak. Immediately a tube was inserted in her mouth. Water, thank gods. “How long have they kept me in here?”
“You’ve been under sedation for four hours. They just brought you out long enough to question you quickly. Rebels have attacked the facility. And…”
“And what?” she demanded.
“And you’re scheduled for life termination.”
“Life termination? When?”
The figure she couldn’t quite make out leaned in close. Facial features were coming into focus now. And his scent, she’d know it anywhere. His warm breath tickled her ear as he said, “Right now.”
Tubes slipped from her body. A familiar, but hated, series of needles were removed from her temple, the side of her neck, her chest and the inside of her biceps. Damn that hurt.
The doors to the room slid open, but instead of the typical light from the hallways, it just seemed to get darker. But the feet she heard entering the room was a sound she would never forget. She couldn’t move a muscle. Couldn’t fight. Couldn’t run. All she could do was accept her fate. And she couldn’t blame the doctor near her side who had always been so nice to her. After all, he was only doing his job. Bastard.
This was it. This was the end. The crackle of a body bag, something she was unfortunately familiar with, rustled around her feet, and then encased her totally. The sound of the zipper sent a cold streak of fear snaking its way through the little holes in each bone of her spine.
“Good night, Scharsi,” was said with such affection, followed by a prick in her neck just before the last few inches of the bag closed out the world.
Good night? Hmm, that was an interesting way to refer to death.
I LOVE this book. And TJ, being the great friend she is, has a question that involves one of my books:
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