“She is a mule,” black-hair said, jerking his hand off the collar of her jumpsuit.
His fingers clenched into a loose fist before his arm froze, caught between the desire to punch her in the face or to pull away in revulsion after having brushed the red ident chip on her neck. The stupid bastard could have just scanned her and avoided grabbing her collar to verify her answer; although, had he done so, the look on his face would have been fear rather than disgust. He should have just shot her in the back once he’d stepped out of the doorway and started following her.
“The name is Kay, K87564. And I prefer hybrid; mule implies sterility, and I can assure you, I’m anything but sterile. Are you taking me in?” she asked, sliding a hand to her hip, tilting her head to black-hair’s partner.
Sandy-hair wore the security uniform, but despite his training, he only saw a hip thrust rather than a shift in stance. She hid the hyper burst of a chemical release behind a seductive smile, knowing that the look would only produce a brief hesitation; sandy-hair’s hand was already moving to the pistol holstered on his belt. He should have approached with weapon drawn and also shot her in the back.
“No,” sandy-hair said after looking her up and down one more time.
That was all the time she needed as the chemical release was followed by a rapid cascade of gene resequencing that nearly stopped her heart, her mind violently fighting the blackout induced by the backlash from the burst. A rebounding burst of adrenalin nearly blew her heart out of her chest, clearing her vision.
Now, sandy-hair’s arm was moving very slowly, his mouth still open, the throat tense as the vibrations of his vocal cords continued to work. She didn’t need to hear his next sentence anyway, the muscles on his face having already said they were there to kill her. She’d been surprised he’d even asked her to identify herself. He and his partner should have known who she was, and they should have been briefed on the danger of getting this close to her. Even the fifteen meter range of their shock pistols may not have been far enough away once they’d hesitated and allowed her to transmogrify.
Her eyes darted across the open clearing of the deserted park again, scanning the dark allies and hidden doorways at its edges. Park was an odd name for the metal and stone in the middle of a city cube. She had never seen a picture of a real park, not having ever bothered to hack one from the secure archives, but she knew a real park did not look like this. Catwalks instead of sky, dust instead of earth, liter instead of vegetation, dim yellow lamps instead of stars; no, this place only carried the label of a park. It was just an address, a point of reference in the center of the fifteen kilometer cube. It was nothing more than a deserted open space, the perfect spot to surround her at range.
She continued to scan. Still nothing moved. She should have been less casual and shifted her vision into the infrared as soon as these two had started following her. She hadn’t, since initially this encounter hadn’t the markings of a termination. The lack of containment had momentarily lulling her into thinking these two were nothing more than a bored security patrol looking for a little ass. If she had been marked for termination, these two would surely have known that backup was required, not needing to know her identity. They would have kept their distance and shot her from behind once their containment was in place; they were not following proper termination procedures for one of her kind.
She looked again at sandy-hair, his thumb just starting to flip open the snap on his holster. She wondered what the look on his face would have been had she answered truthfully after he’d barked at her to identify herself. Had she added the C to the end of her number, would he have still tried to draw the pistol? Or would he have attempted to flee instead? Probably draw, wedded to the power of the shock pistol in his belt, blind to any caution those weapons always seemed to subdue. And he was quick on the draw she saw, his hand already on the weapon. It was not fast enough to matter, though.
An explosive reflex threw a ridge hand, catching him in the temple and killing him instantly. Finally she noticed, catching movement out of the corner of her eye as sandy-hair’s shattered head hung at the end of her hand, his mouth still open and his hand still on the shock pistol. These two had miss-timed their containment and engaged her too early, not that it mattered for her, other than that now she would have the satisfaction of killing these two before she was terminated. She shifted her stance, and her same hand took out black-hair with a palm strike to the nose; his pathetic reflexes hadn’t even caused his still poised hand to fully clench in defense.
She watched the two slowly fall to the pavement and waited for the terminating shot; death had never been a thing she’d been overly concerned about.
She did have another thirty seconds before the muscle spasms started, though. A sprint would have her out of the center of the park in a few seconds, and she could scale a wall to a catwalk in another two. She might even be able take out a few more security thugs, depending upon how many pulse rifles were trained on her. She could probably evade the pursuit for a few minutes if the initial pulse blasts didn’t hit their target, but they would track her, and she wouldn’t have time to remove the ident chip in her neck. Besides, once the spasms started from the reaction of such a rapid gene alteration, she would have difficulty staying mobile.
Termination was inevitable for her kind anyway, and she’d only hastened this day of reckoning; it had only been a matter of time before she’d failed to completely modify her records, causing her movements to be flagged as suspicious. They wouldn’t have needed proof of her activities; suspicion was all they needed to terminate a number. So she stood still, choosing to die here, not that this spot held any significance to her; the final entry on her would read: K87564 (Chameleon) – Terminated, Central Park, Cerulean City Cube 8B367, Sol 27, 2236. File Closed and Locked.
The two bodies had almost hit the pavement, and she scanned the perimeter again, looking for the yellow flash of a pulse blast. She could dodge a single shot, but they had her surrounded, and if they were following procedure, they would lay down a pattern of blasts that would be difficult to evade. Surely, after seeing her dispatch these two, one of them would have been quick enough to drop a laser dot on her skull and pull the trigger, causing the others to lay down a lattice of blasts that would cut her apart. They had to know hesitating would only get more of them killed.
The seconds ticked by, seeming like minutes to her, and still no terminating shots came. She felt the first twinge of a spasm. She scanned the perimeter again, this time turning over her shoulder, trying to get a count of their numbers. Six had moved, giving up their positions, and she assumed four times that many had surrounded her. She glanced over head just as two dozen figures moved in unison, stepping out of the shadows. Panic consumed her as another small burst of adrenalin thwarted another spasm. None of them were carrying blast rifles. She sprinted for a wall, frantically looking for any open doorway or window.
Flashes lit up the park, and she felt the static discharge from the shock nets, the smell of ozone sharp in her nose. An eruption of mini lightning blasts lit up the ground in her path, and she jumped sideways. Another set of blasts turned her back to the center of the park, and her mind was almost unable to count the two seconds she had before those weapons recharged. Both her legs jerked violently, and she stumbled, falling to her hands.
Fighting the cramping pain that had started rippling through every muscle, she fought off another blackout just as the shock pistol still in sandy-hair’s holster came into focus. She crawled to it, dragging her useless legs behind her. She had to reach that weapon and stick it in her mouth before the shock nets immobilized her.
Posted in: Chameleon, Chameleon, Current IssuePublished: May 2, 2011