X-10: Tima's Story
All right as promised I have decided to post this in chapters, with more material, just as I did with Blinded. I hope that you will enjoy it. Please read often and review.
The year is 2030...
Chapter One: Predator and Prey?
Look at them…People move by on the street like they have a purpose... Moving through their lives like they know what's going on... They haven't got a clue... I certainly don't...
But that doesn't mean I can't enlighten them, at least, to my way of thinking.
A shadow separated itself from the general pitch of the alley leaping lightly up from the damp asphalt and assuming a perch just off ground level on a rusted out garbage bin. The slim figure looked out the small slit between buildings watching the street beyond. She might have been a child but for the well-developed figure and shapely hips that gave her catlike and very adult grace.
What little light reached her played over the soft features of her ageless face. Her cheeks were rounded, her nose flat, her eyes slightly slanted. The skin was a shade darker than tan, and flawless as if carved from porcelain with expert hands. Fine, straight, and Jet-black hair framed her features. Right now it was styled, as it always was when she was on the prowl, her job was easier if her hair remained out of her face. It was slicked back and put up in a doubled up ponytail with the ends gelled in stiff spikes to poke over the crown of her head.
It was hard to say for certain what nationality she was, she could have been Asian, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Indian or any combination of them. She easily blended into each culture, becoming just as the others around her, inconspicuous. It was a blessed trait. Those who did notice her speculated on her heritage. That usually happened only when they could get a good look at her eyes. Green eyes and an Asian descent were contradictory to one another, and it was a reason for people to pause and stare at her. Her eyes were the color of dark emeralds, and her pupils were slightly oblong, almost like a cat. The disparity was enough to know there was something unusual about her.
She straightened her five foot four frame, making herself more comfortable as she continued with her observation. She was wearing a long sleeved, high collared, and corset tight jacket, with a spiral of drawn silver covering each forearm and pinning the sleeves in place. She wore matching pair of black leather pants and black combat boots to protect her feet. Her hands remained bare, gloves were a hindrance to her when she worked.
Not to know it from her look but she had been living on the streets since she was very little, eking out a living, as only she knew how. She had been forced to it, forced by her will and training to survive no matter what, and no matter how she managed it.
Along the way she had picked up a few idiosyncrasies. Adorning her left nostril were two white gold nose rings linked to her left ear by a matching chain. That same ear held a line of five progressively smaller studs looking as if a line of dew had been trapped in the curve of her small lobe, and the right ear, in contrast, was unadorned.
The effect of her adornments, of her dress, of her whole style was exactly what she wanted, figuring that if she was a bit on the gaudy side people would discount her other unusual traits. And it worked, most people were still to courteous to be caught staring at her punk-stylings. She looked out at the street and sighed again, understanding that she had been on her own a long time, realizing again just how lonely this life was.
She knew though that it had not always been this way, once she'd had a home, and known what it was like to belong. Her hand raised to her brow feeling for the bar code emblazoned there, as her thoughts slipped back.
It was safe there, I remember, warm, with lots of kids like me to talk to. There were those older, and younger than me as well as those in my class. Some of them older and younger had my own face, minus maybe the emerald eyes or the catty pupils, but the variety was such that I wasn't creeped out. Actually I'm not sure if it would have creeped me out anyway, back there it was normal.
We were all training to be soldiers, for me and for some of the others it was easy and almost boring. I was the top of my class going through school, in everything. I finished tasks in one-third the time of many of my classmates. They were supportive of me proud of my accomplishments, instructors and fellows alike, even though I was only five. But there were always those jealous ones within the classes, and those made my lives miserable. They couldn't outthink, or outmaneuver me, but taunts, even if you are in training to be a soldier hurt, and kids, being what they are tend to tag along with the worst of the troublemakers, just to keep out of the limelight themselves. And to think the instructors called those kind leaders!
I remember being pulled aside by my commander and taken to an interrogation room. I wasn't scared, they had done this before, training for psyche warfare. But this time was different, there were three men in the room when I was brought in, two were my instructors in various matters of my training, the other... was Lydecker... he may as well have been my father. He of all people had been the one who had given her her name…Tima.
I looked at my instructor as he began to speak, "I thought you should see her... she is exceptional even for this group, averaging two years ahead of her peers and learning at an exponential rate," He finished sounding almost proud of me.
Lydecker only nodded pursing his lips, "I've reviewed her file and her training tapes..." He looked at my head instructor, "Transfer her to our Oregon Base, I have a group there that she would fit into nicely."
So it was that I was packed up and shipped out that very day, headed for an even more advanced group of kids than the one I was in. I was thrilled, it was a chance to be more equally appreciated for what I could do, it was a chance to prove my mettle to Lydecker and the others.
Only we never made it, I never knew whether it was a missile, a bomb or a mine, but there was a deafening explosion and the truck disintegrated around me, bucking violently as bright flames filled the space of the bed. I was spared only because I was sitting against the tailgate and thrown free with the force of the explosion. As it was I took a piece of shrapnel just above my collarbone. When I had regained consciousness I had searched for my escorts, only to find them in tatters in what remained of the cab. I was now alone, wounded and in a strange place.
I waited a long time by the wreckage... waiting for those who loved me to come and rescue me. I was getting steadily weaker as I waited, but I held on stubbornly for a week. Then I was forced by necessity and the severity of my injury to move on.
Tima blinked back the tears that were threatening yet again after eleven years. She still felt betrayed that Lydecker had never sought her out. Tima was a Manticore X-10, better, faster, and stronger than all the generations that had preceded her. Her fingers moved slowly again over the barcode between her brows. The genetically programmed pigment that identified her and the memories were the only reminders of her Manticore training now and they held no comfort.
All generations of Manticore Kids post Generation six were bar-coded on their foreheads to make eluding pursuit harder than it had been for the twelve X-5 kids who had willfully escaped Manticore. Tima still couldn't understand why X-5 would be driven to escape their life at Manticore. What did they find was so horrible about their treatment there? They were carefully avoided as a subject in Manticore except what one generation passed to the next on their daring escape.
'09 X-5's had become a myth, a legend, just like the Nomalies in the basement. Some of her predecessors had even tried to emulate them. Those few who did were immediately caught and reprogrammed, and that made the rest much too scared to consider crossing Lydecker.
All she wanted to do was go back... back to a place where she had been appreciated... loved even. Not the non-entity that she found herself now, back there she had been possessed of a purpose. Slowly her hand went slack at her side.
She shook out her body and her mind trying to focus on the task at hand. She had put what Manticore training she had to good use if only to keep herself alive, hunting in the countryside and stealing when she came to a city. She had passed many towns and cities since her life was turned upside down and none had ever held her.
Tima's goal originally had been to travel to the base she had been destined for upon her transfer from the Wyoming installation. It had been a long, lonely two-year trek that ended in a deep seeded disappointment. She had arrived at the Oregon base only to find that it had been abandoned. The installation was only a burned out husk when she arrived, and no trace of where the operation had moved was evident. This only deepened Tima's feeling of dejection.
After that she had no desire to try and trek back to her starting point. She had been afraid to find Wyoming in the same state. There was always a part of her that had hoped one day Lydecker would come for her and welcome her home. It had yet to happen and now her travels had led her to this city.
She had only been here about a month. But she had been frugal on her travels, lifting enough not only to keep her alive, but to set her up if and when she ever decided to settle in a spot for a while. She had found herself weary of travel when she had arrived here. She had decided it was time, time to stay put, and perhaps Lydecker would finally catch up with her. Maybe, just maybe he would bring her back into the fold of the world that she understood.
She was housing herself in a pretty swank apartment in the better part of the city, she had used the money she had been saving up the last eleven years to not only lease the place but to get furnishings for it. That had depleted most of it and she was going to have to skive some of the locals to build her money back up again, and remain able keep the pricey apartment. She had to maintain her status quo and so she came out to replenish her dwindling funds the only way she knew how.
Tima focused her eyes again on the sliver of street before her. She had been here in this spot for a week now, scoping out the prospects of the area. This was the uptown district, an area that looked as if the Pulse, which had reduced much of the country to poverty, had never touched it. Here there were a lot of high-level town officials, organized crime bosses, multi billion dollar company CEO's. Crooks all of them, she knew, cutthroats and brigands the lot of them, happy to step on the little people in any given area for a few hundred thousand dollars.
These were the new fiefdoms, and the people in this area were the local and tyrannical lords and landowners. Her conscience need not be pricked if she should free them of some of their hardly earned excess. She glanced around at the thickening afternoon crowd thinking over her list of prospective hits, and realizing that she had already decided on the person that she would hit this week. She had already memorized his patterns and knew that he would be by soon. Slowly she tied the bandanna around her head and waited patiently.