Blue eyes opened to a semi-lit room. In the background, various machines beeped and chirped, but not with any kind of regularity. A breath was filled with the faint odor or disinfectant and she sighed.
A hospital. Jesus, how many times would she have to endure one of those? With an entirely cybernetic body, there wasn’t any illness that could make her sick-so why the need?
Christ. Kate felt like slapping herself upside the head. They scanned her when the rescue teams picked through the village’s rubble. Even someone fresh out of medical school would recognize the cybernetics Reyes had given her as a gift.
And of course they would know that Alliance law is against it too, Kate thought with a groan. Which means…
Kate sat up in the bed and rolled to her feet. She raised an eyebrow at the clothes they had placed on her. A two-piece form fitting black body suit had replaced the civilian clothes from Orion Six.
Does everyone in Fleet subscribe to the Claudio Reyes school of fashion? She thought with a sigh.
A hospital room greeted her and Kate spotted the door. She walked towards it. Sheets of electrical energy surrounded her, pain racing up from the receptors placed within her synthetic skin. Kate stepped back, a scream building in her throat and the pain disappeared as quickly as it appeared.
“A force field,” she muttered, “How clever. Only way to keep me inside I guess.”
“You guessed correctly,” a man said from a speaker in the ceiling.
“You do know that I’m an Alliance citizen,” Kate said, “And it’s illegal to hold me like this.”
“It’s also illegal to be a cybernetic life form,” the voice said.
Kate crossed the room and laid back down on the bed. “I guess it won’t do any good to try to fool you then.”
“No, Commander Almir,” the man said, “It won’t. We know all about you.”
Kate crossed her arms. “Then maybe you know how I became this way and will let me go. It wasn’t my choice.”
The door slide aside and two men in the gray uniform of Fleet Security stepped inside. They stayed a respectable distance away and Kate snorted. A rather dumb move if you asked her. Their actions told her where the force field ended and that it changed shape to fit Security’s need.
“It doesn’t matter,” the man from the speaker said. A colonel’s wing’s adorned the collar of his tunic. “The fact that your very existence violates the law does.”
Kate shook her head, chuckling without mirth. “‘My existence violates the law,’” she parroted. “I don’t like the sound of that. It seems you don’t think I have a right to live.”
“According to the Constitution,” the second man, who were the insignia of a major. “You don’t.”
Kate glared at the man and didn’t speak.
“Could what you experience even be called ‘life?’” the Colonel asked. “Katherine Almir died in the Battle of Sol.”
Kate’s face flushed. “And if you had done your goddamned homework,” she snapped, “and you really ‘knew’ me as well as you claim…well then you would have known I was mostly cybernetic then!”
“But your brain was organic,” the Major said, “Unlike now.”
“It’s doesn’t mean I don’t experience life you asshole,” Kate muttered. “It just means…someone…decided they wanted to play God and bring me back from the dead to repay a debt they didn’t need to worry about any longer!”
“Are you saying…?”
Kate threw her arms in the air. “Christ, for Security types you’re dumber then dirt! Yes! Someone brought me back from the dead-twice as a matter of fact-for different reasons. This”-Kate ran her hands down the suit-“should never have happened to me two years ago or four years ago either! The Alliance-and Fleet-should have let me die on Necko!”
The two officers looked at each other with raised eyebrows. How could it be that two people could be so stupid? If they truly had known all there was to know about her, then that piece of information would have been available. However, it appeared that Reyes had played his games again and parts of her background were kept classified.
“We might be able to work out a deal if you work with us,” the Colonel said.
“What kind of ‘deal?’” Kate looked at them. “I get the feeling it isn’t something that will benefit me.”
“Quit playing games!” the Major exploded.
The Colonel placed a hand on the man’s shoulder and shook his head. “We want to know who attacked Orion Six, Commander. All the civilian survivors can tell us was that they were military.”
“Mercenaries were more like it,” Kate muttered.
The Major snorted again and his face flushed. “Mercenaries? Are we to believe that paid soldiers are attacking and destroying our colonies?”
So it was real then. Of course everyone had heard the news stories that claimed colonies had gone missing on the edge of Alliance space. However, no one on Orion Six had truly believed them; after all, each colony that had disappeared hailed from systems hundreds of light years away. How could anyone have taken that to be real?
Which brings up a good question, Kate asked herself as she kept her face an unreadable mask. Who is behind the disappearances and why? The outfit that attacked us didn’t have the clout to pull it off.
“Commander,” the Colonel said before the Major could speak again. “I think you can understand our situation: we need to know who’s behind this.”
Kate crossed her arms again. “I’m afraid I can’t help you.”
“You can’t,” the Colonel said, “Or you won’t?”
Kate cocked her head and shrugged. “A little of both.”
“We could take it from your head by force if necessary,” the Major said.
“I’d like to see you try,” space wasn’t as cold as the tone Kate used.
“Maybe we can come to some sort of agreement here,” the Colonel said as he shot a wilting stare at the Major.
Kate chuckled. “From where I sit that isn’t possible. Here you tell me that I’m a criminal and don’t have a right to live according to the Alliance Constitution…yet you need my help. How farcical!”
“If you just help us there might be some special considerations made,”
“I like those words: ‘Special Considerations,’” Kate shook her head. “As if it makes any difference! You have no intention of letting me live my life-which was why I went into hiding on Orion Six in the first place!”
“Commander,” The Colonel said. “Aren’t you concerned with the lives lost already?”
“Not my problem,”
“You’re a hero,”
“I didn’t ask to be a goddamned hero, Colonel.”
“It doesn’t matter what you asked for,” he said, “It’s fact.”
“Yet here we stand with the very same people I saved wanting to kill me,”
“I didn’t say that,”
“You hinted at it strongly, Colonel,”
The colonel crossed both arms and looked at his feet. “Is there any hope you’ll help us?”
“Not unless you free me,”
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