Project Shadow Ch 5
Man I'm writing these chapters fast. At the request of a fan, I've added a little more 'Carlos comedy' in this chapter (I was going to sooner of later but irregardless). So, here it is; Chapter 5. Enjoy.
When Carlos was sent to look the other two cyborgs, he found Dimitri in the den, slouched on the couch. "It's been 8…months since I was last in Russia." He groaned.
"I know, I know." The young Spaniard said as he closed the door behind him. "3 weeks since we escaped the Testing Grounds, and you're the only one who hasn't settled in yet, 0022."
"That's not true; 0014 hasn't settled in yet. And why have you been calling me by my cyborg name lately; I thought we agreed that we'd call each other by our real names to remind ourselves that we were once human!"
"That was before I found out 0014 couldn't even remember her name; if for no other reason, it makes her feel better."
"Why are you really here; because I know it's not to lecture me on how to make a girl who can't remember anything feel better."
"Well, to be blunt, 006 sent me to let you know that lunch is almost ready."
"Alright," Dimitri sighed as he stood up, "Tell him I'll be right down."
"Gracias." Carlos said as he turned to leave. "By the way, you wouldn't happen to know where 0014 is, would you?"
"Teh, where do you think; the same place she always is."
"She hasn't moved from that spot since breakfast."
"Caramba, I wonder why she's always out there?"
"Who knows with that oddball?"
In the kitchen, the team couldn't help but listen in on Carlos and Dimitri's conversation.
"I told you there was something weird about that girl." GB said.
"She's going through a lot; more than any of us ever have." Albert said.
"What could she possibly be going through? She doesn't remember anything!" Jet yelled.
"Exactly; her past was taken away from her and what she can remember is making her wonder if she wants to."
"Still, you have to admit, a lot of what they said was true." Joe said.
The team could only agree with the Japanese teenager. It had been 3 weeks since they found the three of them. Because it was his safe house, Carlos settled in almost instantly. The rest of the team settled in after a few days, but Dimitri refused to and 0014 kept tossing aside the chance; she just spent most of her time outside, staring off into space. Occasionally, she would grab at her chest as if something was there.
Although there wasn't anything for her to tell, Carlos and Dimitri had opened up a fair amount since they escaped; before the Black Ghost Organization found him, cyborg 0015, Carlos Hernandez, was a Spanish street gambler who ran away from home to get rich. He and his partner, Tulio, have gambled in almost every European mainland country and several Asian countries, including Japan. Because they would for one reason or another get run out of town by angry gamblers (or sometimes even out of country), the two of them had safe houses made almost everywhere to stay in until the heat was off.
Cyborg 0022, Dimitri Sokolov, grew up on the cold, cruel streets of St. Petersburg, Russia for most of his life. After his abusive father died, his mother was unable to take care of both of them, so she abandoned him to the streets and left St. Petersburg when he was 7 years old. Since then, Dimitri has relied on his wits to survive, getting into and out of trouble, picking pockets, ducking police, and sleeping wherever he can; in alleyways, under bridges, in abandoned buildings, and if he's lucky, he sneaks into the Winter Palace after it closes.
0014 keeps saying that she still can't remember anything, but Albert knows better; since she escaped with them, the young girl has had nightmares and each time, she refused to have Ivan wake her up. She never told anyone about her nightmares and even though he knew about them, Albert never pushed her to tell. However, he couldn't stop wondering what she said on the first night; leégett az egész. He quickly discarded the thought when she and the boys walked into the kitchen. It was amazing how much they looked like normal teenagers in ordinary street clothes; Carlos wore a forest green sleeveless t-shirt and stone grey khakis. Dimitri had on a jeans jacket over his grey shirt as well as black pants. 0014 wore white long sleeved turtle-neck, long blue jeans and had her hair tied back with a red scarf. As the three of them sat down, Chang placed their food in front of them…which they couldn't identify.
"006, did something crawl in your pan and get fried?" Dimitri said.
"I said the exact same thing when I saw what he was making." Carlos said before 0014 smacked both of them upside the head. "Boys, don't be rude." Although she spent most of her time outside and alone, 0014 had taken charge of keeping the boys in line, and both knew better than to argue with her.
"Yes, ma'am." Both said. After 3 weeks, both Carlos and Dimitri had all but lost their native accents (although Dimitri refused to admit it).
"Hmm, not bad." Dimitri said after taking a bite. "It actually tastes like chicken."
Carlos then paused before taking a bite and looked over at the young Russian. "¿Qué?" He said.
"Why does that surprise you?" GB asked.
"Because we don't keep any meat in storage; we always bring it from wherever we've been run out of. Otherwise it quickly spoils and turns our safe houses into actual roach motels."
Everyone froze mid bite and looked at Chang.
"If it's not chicken, then what is it?" 0014 asked cautiously.
"Well," Chang began, "since there wasn't any meat among the provisions, I looked around the forest and found a few pit vipers to cook."
"What?!" GB said as he dropped his fork.
"Pit vipers?!" Dimitri yelled, pushing his plate away from him.
"SWEET!" Carlos said as he dug into his plate. 0014 then shrieked as she bolted out of her chair and plastered herself against the wall.
"What's with you?" Dimitri asked.
"I-I-I j-j-just rem-m-membered something;" 0014 trembled. "I'm d-d-deathly afraid of snakes!"
"You're kidding right?"
"I-I think I'll skip lunch. I'll be outside." She murmured as she stepped out of the kitchen.
"Hey, are you going to eat your snake?" Carlos asked before she closed the door.
"Hard to believe that's the same girl who helped us escape the Testing Grounds." Jet said.
"Da, it's easy to forget why she's called 'The Goddess of Blood'." Dimitri said before 0014 fired a shot through the door that shattered his glass, causing him to yelp in surprise. "Then, of course, she quickly reminds us why."
"You know she doesn't like being called that." Albert said. "I'm going to go check on her."
As Albert left the kitchen, Jet couldn't help but cringe. He wasn't sure if anyone else noticed, but Albert spent much of his time with 0014. He claimed that it was just because he knew she needed someone to be there for her, but Jet had seen over and over how 0014 relaxed to his touch. And each time, Jet not only got more and more scared that Albert was drifting farther away from him, but got more and more angry that 0014 was the one pulling him away. Of course, Dimitri, who was sitting across from him, noticed Jet cringe. The young Russian knew about the friction building in Jet, and he also knew how to get under his skin about it. He decided he'd do just that after lunch.
"Hey, 0022, are you going to eat that?" Carlos asked.
Dimitri stared at Carlos, then at the two empty plates in front of him.
"You ate both yours and 0014's?!" He said.
"Of course I did, snakes are delicious; especially poisonous ones."
"Whatever, skhoditʹ s uma." Dimitri sighed as he pushed his plate towards Carlos.
"'Go nuts'? Don't mind if I do." Carlos said as he dug into Dimitri's plate.
"Ach, Spaniards." He murmured.
Albert found 0014 in her usual spot outside, her left arm was wrapped around her stomach, and her right hand was covering her eyes. She was muttering something under her breath as she usually did, something Albert couldn't understand; however, sometimes he would catch words like menekülés, halál, or kapocs, although he didn't know what they meant.
"Where do you keep hearing those words from?" He asked.
"I don't know." 0014 said, looking up at him. "They just keep coming to me every now and then."
"How are you doing?"
"I was fine until I found out what we were having for lunch."
"Although I was surprised and a little amused to learn that you're scared of snakes, even when they're dead, I wasn't asking about that."
0014 wrapped both her arms around her stomach and looked back down; she knew full well what Albert meant. "Part of me is scared to go to sleep," she said, "but part of me knows it might be the only way for me to remember. I know everyone's doing what they can to help, but I'm getting desperate, and that's making me even more scared."
Albert placed his hand on 0014's outer shoulder and felt as she once again relaxed to his touch.
"0014, I've never told anyone about them, nor have I had a reason to pry anything out of you," he said, "but now, I think you should tell me, at least, what you've been seeing in your nightmares."
0014 opened her mouth, however, before she could speak, a loud crash came from inside, catching both their attention.
"Oh, what now?" She grumbled as she and Albert rushed inside. Both walked in and found Jet flying circles around Dimitri, who was screaming at him in Russian and trying to swat him out of the air with a baseball bat. Carlos, GB, and Chang were all watching from the behind the safety of the kitchen door, Carlos snickering at the two of them.
"Dare I ask?" 0014 said after she and Albert had worked their ways toward the group watching the fight.
"I don't know what started the argument," Carlos replied, "but the fight started after 0022 snapped at 002 for calling him a 'pathetic excuse for an amateur flyboy'."
"Where did he even get that bat from?" Albert asked.
"Oh, please, that's not even the most dangerous thing I have here."
"I won't ask what is."
"How long have you been watching those two fight?" 0014 asked.
"Since it started, why?"
"And you didn't do anything about this?"
"Of course I have; I've been taking bets on who's going to win." Carlos said, holding up a small wad of money. "006 and 007 have already betted $400 on 002 winning. Heh, I still say 0022 will literally beat him like a rug."
0014 grabbed Carlos by his shirt collar and dragged him out of the kitchen.
"0015, I'm only going to say this once," she sneered, activating her drill, "break up this fight, or else!"
"Y-yes, ma'am." He gulped. As 0014 let go of him, Carlos worked his way towards the bedrooms and said, "Un momento, por favor." After a while, he came back, holding something in his hand.
"You might want to cover your ears." He said as he held up the air horn he was holding and pressed the trigger. Immediately, Dimitri dropped the bat as he and Jet crashed to the ground, both clutching their heads desperately until Carlos took his hand off the trigger.
"What the hell are you trying to do, blow our heads off?!" Jet yelled.
"Chert poberi, why do you even have that?!" Dimitri groaned.
"Eh, you never know when you might need one." Carlos replied.
At that moment, Joe came out of one of the bedrooms, strangely, wearing his cyborg uniform, and headed outside.
"Where are you headed off to, 009?" 0014 asked.
"I'm going out for a moment." Joe replied.
"Joe," Francoise said from the kitchen door, "is everything alright?"
"I'm not sure; I can't explain it, but I feel as if there's something out there, something dangerous. I'm going to go check it out."
"Do you really think there's something out there?" 0014 asked Carlos after Joe left.
"Doubtful;" he replied. "This is our most isolated safe house; the closest civilization is about 60 miles from here. As far as we know of, no one else knows about this place."
"I wouldn't count on that;" Chang said as he and the others came out of the kitchen. "While I was out looking for lunch, I felt as if someone was watching me."
"I felt the same thing this morning." GB said.
"So did I last night." Francoise said.
"Has anyone else?" 0014 asked.
"Yeah, I've been getting that feeling since yesterday." Pyunma said. "I went to the Dolphin to scan the area, but the radar didn't pick up anything."
"Well, I haven't felt anything these past 3 weeks." Jet said.
"Me neither." Albert said.
"Nor have I." Geronimo said. "However, I have been sensing uneasiness upon the land for some time."
"What about 001?" 0014 asked.
"Well, if he has, he's not going to tell us;" Dimitri replied. "He's been sleeping for the entire week straight."
"And I'm afraid it will be another week before 001 wakes up." Doctor Gilmore said.
0014 glanced over at Carlos and noticed an uneasy look in eyes. "0015," she began, "is there something you'd like to share with us?"
"As a matter of fact, there is." He admitted. "And 0022 does as well."
"Hey, why are you getting me involved in this?!" Dimitri complained.
"Because it has to do with what we were often told back at the Testing Grounds."
Dimitri stared at the young Spaniard with widened eyes. Then his entire body cringed as he said a curse in Russian. "Oh, you mean that." He mused.
"Hold on, what are you two talking about?" Jet asked.
"Back at the Testing Grounds, every time the soldiers put us back in our cells, they always said the same thing to us." Carlos said.
"And what exactly did they say to you two?" Doctor Gilmore asked.
"'No matter what, you are nothing more than shadows'."Dimitri replied.
"And that's not all;" Carlos said, looking at 0014. "When I was looking over her file, it mentioned that 0014 was the first of nine cyborgs, which I think included the two of us, created for something called-"
"Project Shadow." 0014 finished as everything looked at her confused. "The information was implanted into me while I was cryogenically frozen. But I'm afraid I don't know much more than you do, 0015-" The young girl then paused suddenly mid-sentence, her eyes completely blank for a moment, then changed to a look of horror as she softly gasped.
"0014, what's wrong?" Albert asked.
"I was the first of nine cyborgs created for Project Shadow." She trembled.
"Da, so?" Dimitri said.
"If you look at our numbers, there are six of us missing."
"I've often wondered about that." Carlos said. "What are you trying to say?"
"Everyone else for the past few days has been getting the feeling that they're being watched except 002, 004, and 005."
"GET TO THE POINT ALREADY, WOMAN!" Dimitri snapped.
"They've all found us!" 0014 snapped back. "Project Shadow has begun!"
An eerie silence fell upon the group as they realized the truth in her words. Suddenly, another realization occurred to them; an unspoken communication passed through the entire team as they all looked at one another and then said in unison, "009!"
to be continued
For those of you who are wondering about the snake-tasting-like-chicken part, it's based off the fact that, as I was told, chicken tastes like rattlesnake (as it was so cleverly put to me). I'd like to take this time to thank my biggest fan, Antigone97, for the comments and for not only being a devoted follower, but a great source of motivation when I needed it. So Antigone97, if you're reading this (and I know you are), thanks.