Joined: 07 Mar 2006
Location: Under an emu.
|Posted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 12:25 am Post subject: Purpose
Jaded eyes greeted Lieutenant Sakoda from the other side of a mirror as she stared intently at her reflection in the crystal. It was these same gloomy eyes; self-accusing, starless orbs, which she had begun to fear every time she was left next to herself. She could never see the light in them when she stood next to a mirror. Men told her that she had beautiful eyes. They didn’t see the same things she saw.
She held a bitter lip, biting the inside of it with her front teeth. As she leaned over the sink, her right hand passed up her opposite forearm. It moved, carefully running over her skin, to the tender part on the other side of her elbow. From there a pair of fingers rotated around her arm, tracing a laceration reaching up to her shoulder blade. She noted every error, as subtle as they were. Cosmetic lasers weren’t built to achieve perfection, not like clone vats were. There was no need to make scars look perfect; they were imperfections anyway.
“You’re fighting for this, right?” She spoke to herself, and as she realized it, her voice lowered to a crestfallen whisper. “For revenge. For… mother…?”
Why the hell are you piloting anyway? Weren’t you told not to do it? Weren’t you told it was suicide?
“…who you ignored, and now you’re here. You messed up, you fucking idiot!”
She screamed into the mirror, her brow cast sharply downwards. She wheezed over the bathroom sink several times before catching her breath.
“How many people have you killed in the past year? Thousands?”
No… maybe tens of thousands, pod pilots and their crews, and those random, faceless men...
She looked back up at her reflection.
You’re not fighting for revenge, that’s a pathetic excuse; otherwise you would have killed the bastards by now. So… why are you fighting?
Kyoko watched a gruesome crimson jet spill out of a guard’s head just before she took cover around the corner, which immediately exploded with ricochets and sparks. The sheer volume of automatic weapons fire made her cringe, her hands gripping the handle of her Hyasyoda .44 caliber pistol tighter.
“Yuki,” she yelled, “It’d sure be nice if you’d tell me what the hold up is.”
“And it would be fucking wonderful if you’d quit the incessant whining. We came to rescue you, not to hear unappreciative bullshit.” Her superior was fiddling with a control panel that rest on the wall next to a closed blast door.
“How about I thank you once we get out of this god-forsaken place alive.” Kyoko grimaced as she looked down at herself, her body riddled with signs of abuse. She was still wearing the same clothes she wore three days ago, battered with splotches of red in certain places. Her neck still felt strained from the repeated blows she had taken to the face.
Another thunderous barrage of lead erupted behind her. Nicodiemus was laying down suppressing fire with an oddly constructed machine gun cradled against his cybernetic arm.
Yuki threw her hands up, visibly infuriated.
Kale slid up next to her.
“Why don’t you just fry the damn thing?” he said, in a tone that jokingly suggested Yuki was incompetent. He raised his assault rifle to the panel.
As she realized what was happening, Kyoko dove purposefully toward Kale, pushing his gun out of the way.
Kale stared at the rifle he held, then at Kyoko’s marred hand on the barrel, looking almost offended. Yuki also stared at her, but with uncharacteristically mild annoyance.
“What the hell are you doing?” he asked.
“They initiated lockdown from the other side,” Kyoko explained with a furrowed but confident brow. “But their security subroutines are substandard. I can reverse the lockdown for all the doors, cut us a clear path out, but if you blow that panel we’re fucked.”
“What makes you so sure it won’t just open?”
“Because electronics are my background and because I’ve been dealt more than enough retribution for shooting you before and don’t deserve extra, so back off and give me cover fire.”
“I’ve gotta reload, cunts,” Nico spoke up from the opposite end of the three way intersection.
Kale grunted and pulled his gun out of Kyoko’s hand. He motioned Yuki to the corner opposite Nico, who was now feeding a new cartridge belt into his gun. He peeked, noticing that a new wave of guards was advancing toward their position.
“I only need sixty seconds,” Kyoko shouted, now poking around with the wires and circuitry inside the control panel.
Kale picked up a flashbang from his belt and pulled the pin.
“I’ll give you thirty.”
On that note, he threw the grenade as far down the hall as possible, taking cover with Yuki behind the wall. It bounced and then burst, filling the hall with blinding white glow. Even Kyoko could see the shimmer on the wall in front of her as she stuck a handheld device into the security panel.
All three of her directors fired in unison down the hall, which now looked like an interior decorator’s worst nightmare. Kyoko could tell the ill-aimed enemy charges, the ones that smacked harmlessly into the concrete wall behind her, from the others, which made little sound cutting through flesh and bone at the other end of the hall.
“A sub 8, A sub 7, come on…” she griped.
Kale pulled back around the corner and cursed, rotating his elbow so he could see a newly acquired wound.
“Kale, are you alright?”
“It’s just a graze.”
Yuki took his firing position, firing a few warning shots from her submachine gun.
“Nico, get the fuck over here,” she ordered.
“A sub 1… got it!” Kyoko exclaimed. She pulled the device from panel and immediately pocketed it in her vest. Taking up her pistol, she watched the blast doors open.
A sour pain tore through her flesh, the trail of which felt cold and metallic. She only noticed the muzzle flash on the other side of the gate afterward. Her eyes widened and her mouth hung open in shock before she fell to the floor with an echoing thud.
Her finger circled the location of the hole, a white mark that no longer existed on her chest. She chose not to keep it, just like her boyfriend had chosen not to keep some of his. She wished she would have understood it back then. Scars were like tattoos now. If they didn’t mean anything special, there was no point in keeping them.
Don’t you fight for Omerta? You owe them and, sometimes, they owe you. You even call your superiors by their first names, because they are your family now.
She reached for a clean pair of panties.
“My family, the syndicate…” she grumbled. “Sounds lovely.”
“You wanted to see me, sir?” she stood straight, carefully closing the door behind her. The office was completely silent aside from her voice, which was somehow fitting for the moment.
“Yes,” came an oddly stressed reply from the deep, humorless voice belonging to her CEO. He put out his cigarette, motioning with a hand for her to take a seat.
Without reluctance, she did so. Having sat down in the chair opposite his desk, she folded her hands in her lap.
He looked at her squarely.
“Lieutenant, you’ve done much for Omerta; you’ve put your life on the line for our interests and numerous times you’ve proved your worth as our chief electronics specialist.” He slowed down in tone and rhythm. “I’m… certain your mother would be proud.”
Kyoko attempted to hide her amusement, looking away a bit. She would have rolled her eyes in any less formal a situation.
“You think I’m kidding, don’t you.” What he said was anything but a question, the overly serious intonation at the end of his sentence made that much clear.
“Zaitsev… sir, pardon me, but you have no idea how much my mother would hate to see things the way they are right now.”
“She wanted to protect you.”
Kyoko’s smug look dissipated instantly.
“She didn’t think you were ready to face the void and all its uncertainties. She believed in you, only she was being cautious... scientific. I don’t think you gave her a chance.”
So… she lied?
Her brow furrowed a bit as her face returned to address him.
“And you know this, how?” she inquired.
Zaitsev leaned back into his chair and sighed. Kyoko could tell that he was looking directly into her eyes, and something about it was fully excruciating. Did he see something in her?
After a moment he spoke, his voice soft but obviously disapproving her lack of faith. It was almost fatherly.
“Kyoko, your mother was my top asset in chemical research, and I knew her personally. She talked about you, how much potential she thought you had, all the time… She was thrilled when she found out you passed the pod-compatibility test. Yet she didn’t think you were ready to face the consequences of what we do. She wanted you to test the waters at headquarters, expose you to us little by little, and measure your progress. If I hadn’t known who you were, I wouldn’t have risked my life carrying your helpless carcass to safety after the attack.”
Her jaw was unhinged at this point, but her lips hid it well.
Zaitsev shrugged off whatever deep, dark thoughts entranced him and reached for a file on the side of his desk. He threw it down in front of Kyoko.
“This, Lieutenant, is something I thought you might want to see.”
She picked up the file hesitantly, swallowing her shock into the back of her throat, where her voice shook slightly.
“What is this?” she asked, opening the file.
“That…” Zaitsev said in a subtly triumphant manner as he lit another smoke, “is what we have been looking for the past six years, and you’re one of the first to see it.”
And as she read the description latched onto the file, it finally clicked.
“I want you to go over this information thoroughly. Get in contact with Ushra’Khan, ask them to explain themselves and give them a couple days to respond. If they’re less than cooperative, I will be ordering a full-scale assault on their operations. We don’t need half-answers and I sure as hell am not going to wait for them to give us a workaround.”
“I understand, sir.” She spoke confidently, for the first time in months.
Zaitsev exhaled a thin cloud of ashen smoke fumes, reclining back in his seat. “Relay the orders to the directorate. They don’t know about this information yet. Also, I want you to prepare several press scenarios, just in case this has to go public. You’re my new press secretary.”
“Yes, sir… I mean… thank you, sir.”
Zaitsev nodded. “That is all.”
Securing the file between her forearm and hip, she stood up, her salute indicating firm acknowledgement. As she exited the office, Kyoko felt the fear reside. There was no longer any grey, only black and white, and she knew to which side she belonged.
My family, the syndicate…