eight days after "For An Eye..."
1643453-BDC Gooseman, Shane - 11
is too young, Owen. He isn't even twelve yet." Walsh tapped
on the screen embedded in the conference table's surface.
"Killbane was almost thirteen when we started the procedure
showed that he can transform!" Negata pointed out.
"And he defeated Killbane with it."
extreme circumstances, Owen." Walsh forced himself to stay
calm. "And the wounds from that battle are barely
Prof. Negata shook
his head. "Joseph, the wounds are closed. He showed that he
is able to transform. The circumstances don't matter in that
case." Determined, he changed the schedule data. "It's
settled. Personal training for 1643453 begins tomorrow." He
closed the file, looked up and frowned. "You are pretty
worried about this one, Joseph. Even though he has shown that he
can survive it."
sighed. "It's because we've lost so many BDCs in this phase,
Owen. I still think we should give him some more time. Why risk
He has developed far enough. A few more weeks won't change
made him take off the coverall before the two lab techs fastened
handcuffs around his wrists. The group of ten heavily armed
guards along the wall ensured that he didn't even think of
resistance. He didn't need a blow of stunning energy. And it
won't change anything.
the color of the cuffs they were made of steel, likely duranium.
He frowned slightly. His eyes flashed around, took in everything
in this foreign room as he tried to make sense of it. The
platform he was standing on had a counterpart above his head.
There was a panel with a row of indicators.
eyes widened slightly as he noticed it Another kind of
test. and the two solidly anchored piles at his sides
to which the handcuffs were now attached, forcing him to stand
with outstretched arms.
techs left the room, followed by the guards. The ambient light
dimmed, and spots turned on above and around the platform,
bathing him in brilliant white light. He heard a part of the
opposing wall slide back. Special show, his mind
whispered, annoyed, worried. Instinctively, after the last guard
had left he checked the durability of the cuffs. The metal cut
into his skin but didn't give way. Beyond my strength.
a nod from the scientific project leader, the head technician
switched on the pain stims.
agony flowed up his arms, through his veins. His whole body bent
in searing pain. His muscles seized in response, but the
pain-inducing cuffs denied the contraction...
looked up, tried to see something behind the blinding light that
surrounded him, tried to find the reason for this torture. The
pain increased. No, he wouldn't scream. Screaming wouldn't help
him, would only entertain them.
we are ready." Negata looked up from the readings in front
of him and nodded towards the technician standing at the energy
donator. "Joseph, tell him what he's supposed to do."
are to free yourself. Use your powers.=
head jerked back at the intercom message thundering through the
hall. He tore again at the cuffs, but the chains were too tight,
he couldn't even lean his weight against them. The metal cut
deeper into his wrists. Blood poured along the cuffs and the
chains that connected them with the pain-inducing piles.
stared into the blinding light, tried to discover who caused all
the pain. The platform beneath him began to glow as its
counterpart above his head did. He was bathed in bright golden
energy. Energy penetrating every single one of his cells, adding
more pain to the agony caused by the cuffs, causing him to feel
sick as never before.
are to free yourself. Use your powers.= After a moment: =This
won't stop otherwise.=
pain increased again. Green and white spots began to dance before
his eyes. His heart thundered in his chest. The breath was
pressed out of him. All of his muscles seemed to contract and
never relax again. Pain. The world filled with pain. Pain.
Pain... No! Don't stop thinking. Thinking is the weapon. Use
it... His mind raced in spite of the now white-hot agony in
his nerves. Define the problem. Define the enemy. What's the
problem... Pain. The pain. The cuffs are harmless aside
from the pain... He stared at his wrists. Concentrate on
the pain. Escaping the cuffs is later. How is the pain
senator leaned back in his comfortable upholstered chair. "This
one's different from the last ones I saw." He snorted and
fussed over cleaning his nose with a white satin handkerchief.
"The one who's still in the program cried and screamed so
loud that it nearly destroyed my eardrums. This one is so..."
He looked at the writhing figure bathed in golden energy down in
the hall and searched for a matching word. "Silent."
stood between Senator Wheiner's VIP seat and Owen's instrument
board and prayed silently that it would be over soon. He wore
gloves, but his nails had dug through the cloth into his palms.
The boy's legs had given way and he hung stretched out by the
pain-inducing cuffs, still without making a sound. Blood poured
over the cuffs, dripped to the floor. The boy was bathed in
sweat, and his head lay back, an instinctive attempt to ease the
pain-restricted breathing. Still the child gave no sound. Joseph
remembered how it had been with Killbane, remembered the
pain-filled screaming, the tears and cries that had suddenly
turned into roars of fury as the trooper transformed and tore off
the cuffs. He had destroyed half of the installation before they
had been able to stun him.
Shane's silent agony was by far more disturbing.
at the technician's instrument board looked over to him. Walsh
met his glance, shared horror, distaste, and anger and the
deep sorrow that there was nothing they could do against
"It's taking too
long, Owen," Walsh said calmly. "Accept it: 1643453
isn't far enough along yet."
senator sneezed again. "If this one can't transform, it's
useless. Send it to GTP."
know the procedure, Joseph." Negata lowered his
"He's much younger
than the others were at the first test. Grant him more time to
develop and he'll make it. He's one of our most promising BDCs.
Give him another chance later."
senator in his comfortable chair shook his head. "It's
useless. Abandon it. This project is financed by my funds. And I
won't pay for a circus of worthless things."
they are living beings." Negata cut in, waved with a
slightly trembling hand, and sighed. "Stop the pain
stimulation. It's over. 1643453 is abando"
Sawyer cried out. "Look at the pain indicators!"
senator snorted. "They're as high as before!"
the stims," Max snapped, annoyed, "the indicators of
the pain he feels. They are at zero!" Walsh's and
Negata's heads flew around. The two men stared down into the hall
while Sawyer continued. "He's using a different solution
than the others."
was all Negata said, looking intently down at the boy no longer
writhing in the chains.
worked. The searing pain went away when he altered his skin. But
how to escape these rotten cuffs? He hadn't been able to snap
them before the pain reduced his strength to nothing. The
transformation wouldn't last for long, even with the sickening
energy flooding his body. The sickening energy... He
ground his teeth, forced his shaking legs to carry his weight
again. Energy... Those things transmit energy... Less energy
than I receive at a whole...
closed his eyes, drew deep breaths that burned like hell in his
chest, ignored the sore sensation in his stomach, and used the
energy causing it.
flash of bright yellow light caused the stims to detonate, melted
the cuffs, and shocked all of the men in the observation room.
Something sparked below the tech console and Sawyer crept
underneath to check it out.
has it done?" the senator demanded to know.
scanned his instruments. "He turned the stim energy back
onto the generators and reinforced it with the energy we donated
for his transformation abilities." The scientist's hand
slapped onto the panel. "He made it. He's free!"
molten metal burned into his wrists. The sickening energy flux
from above had also stopped as the pain stims exploded. He could
no longer change his skin to prevent burns. Shane stumbled
forward, tried to cross the belt of blinding light to look at his
enemies, at his real enemies... Figures became visible behind an
observation window, faces burned in his retinas, and he
collapsed, his body hitting the floor face down, with pain-seized
muscles and acid burning in his throat. He was too weak to vomit.
care of him," Prof. Negata said, not addressing anybody in
particular. He didn't look up from his instrument readings. It
was too fascinating. "That's something I've never expected
to see. This precision. Great! Joseph, I think this one is
developing better than" He looked up and saw that
Walsh and Sawyer were already gone.
Wheiner looked thoughtfully down into the hall. Stroking his
shaved chin, he murmured. "Interesting. Really
interesting behavior from those two..."
Walsh asked, worried, crouching next to the collapsed
Sawyer checked his portable
scanner. "Stable. He's going to survive, Joe." He added
the second, comforting sentence in a very low voice. As long
as he doesn't break mentally at this. Those pain stims were
invented and used in the Colonial Wars to force enemy spies to
talk in spite of their high doses of pain-killing drugs. "The
next hours will be crucial for him. You know that," he added
in a whisper before he continued in his normal voice: "We
have to take him to the lab. For the next two days he's to be
kept under medical observation."
child stirred. His gaze was unfocused and dizzy with exhaustion
and sickness. His eyes wandered around, finally found the face of
the man squatting next to him; blinked, once, twice, then widened
with fear, naked fear, unmistakable and heartbreaking. The
commander stretched out his hand to help Shane sit up and the boy
shrank back with sheer terror on his face, turned away... and
vomited, wincing. Walsh caught Shane's shoulders to prevent the
boy from collapsing as he lost consciousness
Sawyer called for the medics, knowing he wouldn't be able to
stand the expression on his friend's face now.
boy lay curled up in fetal position, his head hidden by his arms.
Though the sweat-soaked body twitched and shivered from time to
time, he was totally silent, as if he couldn't risk making any
sound. Max checked the displays above the bed. The breathing had
calmed, as had the racing pulse, though the heartbeat was still
too fast for a child of his age, even a child with his
specialties. He sighed. At least they don't insist on normal
measurements the first days after PTS.
kid winced again. The muscles of his body tightened beneath the
sheet. Shit. If he throws up again, I'll have to find a way to
feed him artificially. That would be a real problem with
Shane's strained and overwrought bio defenses. But the boy calmed
down again, and Max got up, wiped once again the
sweat off the child's forehead. If I'm caught doing it I'll
likely be fired. He remembered the last bollocking he'd
gotten for coddling the children. Sawyer turned round at the
sound of the door sliding open.
For the third time in an hour. He stood in the door, asking
Max shook his head
no changes. They had decided that he'd take the watch because he
hadn't been visible as the boy left the blinding circle. The
gentech didn't want to think about how his friend must feel now.
They both had to witness these procedures far too often and far
too often with fatal results. At least Shane had withstood it.
But the price... "I'll call you as soon as I know, Joe,"
Max said in a low voice. A long moment later, the commander
stepped back into the corridor. Sawyer's eyes rested on the
closed door, and he nearly missed the whisper at first.
did they do that me?"
child's eyes were dulled by the tranquilizers all of them had
after the first session. When the first strain had eased, the
tranquilizers would be replaced by fear calmers, which didn't
affect their alertness and aggression, but reduced their ability
to feel fear. He would be given those drugs for the rest of his
life... Sawyer felt disgust for himself: he had helped to adapt
the drugs, to make them work on the STs in spite of their
enhanced body defenses and immune systems. He had been so
"I haven't done
anything to them..."
looked with wet eyes at the child. Shane, it doesn't matter to
them what you did or did not. All that matters to them is what
you will be able to do someday if you survive their
treatment. But he couldn't tell the boy that.
will happen again, right?"
question threw Max off-balance. What should he say? Whatever the
boy was, he was also an ST, he'd been treated as a weapon from
the very beginning, had been betrayed and tortured... If he
"Don't lie to him."
The voice from the door was rough with pain. "He deserves
the truth." Walsh stepped into the room but stayed as far
away as possible from the bed, seeing the fear appear again in
his son's eyes. Fear of him. It cut like a bayonet into his soul.
Walsh continued faintly but firmly as he addressed Shane himself:
"Yes, Shane. They'll do it again. Not in the same way; a
different way. You will be bathed in energy and forced to use it
to transform in very different ways. That's your ability, and you
are expected to learn to use it as effectively as you can."
After a moment, Joseph added even more faintly, with hands
cramped around his arms: "I didn't want them to do this so
early. But I couldn't do anything about it."
green eyes, showing the drug-induced dizziness, looked up at him,
but the child didn't answer. As the boy finally spoke, both men
knew that the kid would never have said it aloud if he hadn't
been almost sedated: "If I had known about it before, I
could've thought of a solution before it got so bad..." A
shiver ran through the figure beneath the sheet, and the last
words were barely intelligible: "Thanks for the truth..."
clenched his fists beneath the sheet, caught up in the dizziness,
the dullness of the world around him and in his mind. But one
thought was very clear, and his self defended it with furious
strength: Don't trust them!
to Elizabeth 'fatima' Bales for her help with English.
her, none of the Shattered Souls stories would ever leave my