Strings of Retaliation – 16b – Lamb

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Gabriel and Dr Emmerson had fallen into a strategic defensive position. Gabriel stood square between me and the door, ready to jump to the doctor’s rescue if needed. On the other side of the bed, Emmerson was about to cower in the corner further away from me. I had to turn this around or it would make it way too easy to book me a room next to Saskia’s.
Lamb, lamb, lamb.
“Please,” I said to Emmerson with as calm and controlled a voice as I could manage, “explain.”
The doctor swallowed hard. “This facility shields the patient from external radio signals. As long as we keep the failsafe in check,” he pointed at the needle through Saskia’s tear duct, “she’ll be fine.”
“How about getting her out of the bed?”
Emmerson glanced at Gabriel. “It is… under advisement.” The cocking of my eyebrow reverberated in the doctor’s shoulders. “Further research is necessary to understand the failsafe and cancel it without side-effects. We are afraid of the redundancies.”
Emmerson’s constant visual check with Gabriel stank of lies by omission. I crossed my arms over my chest.
“From what I understood of the report,” Gabriel said, his opened palms turned to me, “other research objectives complicate the extraction.”
My fists and throat closed. My face warmed up significantly. My eyes watered as I did my best to keep my murderous self at bay. Turning back to Saskia felt like defeat, but the misery she was in fed my self-control.
If I gave in to the rage, she would stay like this forever.
If I gave in to the rage, all my Siblings of the Silicon Wombs would suffer her fate.
“Care to divulge said research objectives?” I had known she would become a prime test subject, but this was worse.
“Your inactive nanobots were a well of information,” Dr Emmerson said.
I refused to go the long way around. “You want to study real-time interactions.”
“It’s the key to safer management.” Gabriel’s carefully-chosen answer literally choked me.
Manage it and reverse-engineer it. I shut my eyes, stopped breathing and clung to Saskia’s bed with all my willpower. Like a tsunami, memories of my struggles when I learned about the nanobots washed over me, and the madness after they were retrieved pulled me under. Faces of all the people I had killed waited for me under the surface. I could have tapped right into Saskia’s nightmares and it wouldn’t have been more crushing.
A hand grabbed my shoulder and swallowed the wave. My eyes snapped open. Staring at me, Gabriel’s face morphed from worried to puzzled. He let go of me and took a step back. He didn’t need to. Not anymore. My mind had cleared, the anger smothered by cold, calculating resolve. Not the playful control that overtook me when I went on an assassination. No, this was something new. Alien. More dangerous.
I needed Saskia to stop this circus and careful manipulation was the only way to free her.
“I know someone who can solve this is a couple of weeks.” Even my voice didn’t sound the same.
Gabriel moved away from the door and further into the path between me and the doctor. “That request has already been denied.”
“Really?” I smiled. “Is there any test you can’t run while she’s awake?”
Emmerson’s eyes kept jumping from Gabriel to me. “No.”
“Is there any test you can’t run while she’s like this?”
“Ye…yes.”
“So she’s more useful to you awake.” The doctor nodded in response. “Thought so.”
A few silent seconds passed as neither men wanted to pick up the conversation. To my surprise, Emmerson was the first one to speak: “I’m sure the person who extracted the nanobots from your system would be of great help.”
“Then we’ll ask for him again!” I said with my best rendition of Gail’s tone. Gabriel frowned. “Saskia will be better. Dr Emmerson will be able to perform more tests. The FBI will hold up their end of the deal. I won’t be pissed. Win. Win. Win. Win.”
I stayed by Saskia’s side for another fifteen minutes weighed down by the unfinished conversation. By the time we were out of the complex, I was ready to fight teeth and nails with him. The reserve I had in front of other witnesses didn’t extend to our private conversations.
“Are you okay?” He murmured. Bitch slapping me would have had the same effect.
“No.” I looked out the tainted window. “She’s living hell.”
“It’s not ideal, but it’s a humane treatment.”
“You’re dead wrong. Take your worse nightmare, multiply it by ten and never wake up.” My voice broke and so did the dam of my lower lid. “She’s in a medical coma and the nightmares still come. No filters. That’s how we’re built.”
“I’m sorry.”
“I don’t care, Gabriel,” I murmured. “Fix it. Get your bosses to let Vexx help. He can work remotely if that’s what it takes. She has to wake up.”
Vexx met with me when I got home, but a single shake of my head re-directed his attention to Gabriel. I left the two men alone and hit the gym. A little music covered the sound of their arguments and I punched away all the nerves I couldn’t take out on the FBI. By the time I stopped, I barely had the energy to shower and go to bed.
And there they were, etched anew in my synapses. The nightmares. Unlike before, faces and lab coats were involved. Like before, I couldn’t snap out, though I felt the damp bedsheets stick to my body.

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

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