Rating: R for language, violence and sexual situations (roughly the equivalent of an average day at any metropolitan high school, possibly less)
Alicia stood in front of her mirror, studying her reflection carefully. Her dark blonde hair was loose around her shoulders, eyes still an ice blue. The black dress showed enough to entice, but still left enough to fire the imagination. Eighteen years of military training had left her body in perfect conditioning. In short, she would make Lee start panting from the moment he picked her up, until the moment that he dropped her off, disappointed that she didn't invite him in …again.
They were required to have social interaction with norms. All sixers were supposed to date, have norm friends, and spend time in the open. They were assumed to be Army brats, just like half of the other teens in the area, no different from anyone else. They watched the norms, and learned how to blend in. Alicia could giggle, and flirt with boys at the mall, but in her mind it was part of a mission, no different from the time she had planted a bomb in a hospital. She was under orders to learn how to be a norm, and she would perform above all standards, as usual.
She knew norm males found her attractive.
"You look nice tonight," came a familiar voice from behind her. She knew him well. There had come a point no too long before that he had ceased being "Sir", and had become Dad. One of the X-3's had told her that when that point came, she would know.
She turned and smiled, her eyes meeting Donald Lydecker's.
"Thank you Dad," she replied softly.
"Do you have a social function tonight?" he asked. He had just returned from Seattle that morning, and she had not had time to brief him on her actions and itinerary.
"Yes, I am going on a date with Lt. Lee Ackerman." she replied. "We are to go to dinner and then a dance club." She couldn't keep the annoyance out of her voice. She didn't want to add that they would probably end up at some dead end road with him pawing at her, acting as though she should enjoy his squeezing her body. Lucky for him, she had been briefed on this kind of male-norm behavior, and hadn't removed his spine the first time he'd tried it.
"You don't really like him, but you are going out with him again anyway?" Lydecker questioned, filled with pride at this perfect specimen of Manticore training and technology. His kids were growing up, and despite the problems, were performing above all expectations.
"I should go on a few more dates before ending the relationship," she said coldly. "I have not ended a relationship before, and feel it is a required social event that must be performed."
"Good. When you return home, I need to talk to you. We are leaving at 0600 hours tomorrow."
She perked up at that. We? There had never been a "we" mission before. Even her powerful self-discipline couldn't stop the beads of excitement start brewing in her stomach. None of the other sixers had had a "we" mission with Lydecker. She had gone with him as a showpiece before, but never on a formal assignment.
"I can cancel my date," she said quickly, disappointed when he shook his head in the negative.
"No, I think you need to go out and socialize tonight. Actually, you need to make sure Lt. Ackerman has a reason why you do not return his phone calls for the next several days."
He left her alone in her room. A brilliant smile spread across her face. This was her chance to prove that she was better than one of his beloved X-5's. God, she hated them. They had ruined everything, and almost cost her life.
The fivers had broken out and run away ten years before. They were almost two years older than her, but she had been appalled at them. Leave Manticore? It was home. It was family. It was everything. She knew now what the outside was like, and would much rather pretend that it didn't exist. Who wanted norms when she had her brothers and sisters just like her?
Still, they gnawed at her. The X-6 group had to have their genetic changes toned down some to prevent the problems of the fivers. Her seizures weren't as bad, and with the new treatments almost completely gone, and she wouldn't spontaneously age, but she wasn't quite as fast or agile. She knew that when Lydecker looked at her, he wished she were an X-5. She would always be lacking because she was a sixer.
When the fivers had run, there were some who wanted to terminate the sixers for fear of their following the lead of the fivers. Discipline had become even more severe, and all defective sixers were removed and terminated immediately. It had been hell, and it was all the fault of the X-5's. What was worse was that Lydecker somehow respected them more for having the gall to run away. God, she hated them.
But suddenly there might be a way to cast off the shadows left by the fivers. She knew one had been brought back recently, and was being re-indoctrinated. Sixer consensus was that the fiver had run and run, but the moment she got sick, she had come crawling back, begging for help. They thought she should be terminated. Maybe Lydecker was seeing that the sixers were better. If that was the case, she needed to get rid of this stupid norm she had to socialize with, and get back to the important things. Namely the "we" mission.