Wes Returns

Technically, Wes should have been doing other things, far up north, training the latest batch of clones, getting them ready for the cull. There were some promising candidates in this batch, and if two or three of them survived the Swim they would have candidates for mass production. But this was more important. This was the hunt, and this is what Watt desired.

Zero. There were some memories of their time back before Watt was so strong. She was a good soldier, a good comrade. She’d been a good leader, in the moments when they were allowed to do anything other than follow direct orders from high command.

And she was still a good soldier, he had to admit. No one had ever taken Watt down like that. Wes, in the blinding pain of the moment when Cylee had nearly brained him with a rock, was free of Watt, and wanted for all the world to beg Cylee to kill him, but he wasn’t able to speak and then she hit him again.

Watt had shot her. He had no idea how many of those flechettes had found their mark, but it had been a few. They were deadly, a poison without an antidote. Watt shot her and Wes took the punishment. That was all right. She was dead now, surely? Except they hadn’t found a body.

When Wes awoke he was Wes for almost a whole day. The Spine had been damaged and with it Watt’s connection to him, it seemed. He’d cried that night, but they had him so heavily drugged that he was unable to explain why. When he awoke the next day Watt was back, and angry.

It was easy to think of Watt as a mindless killing machine, even for Wes. But Watt could be patient when it needed to. Watt knew computers, possibly even better than Wes himself, which was confusing. So it was Watt who started analyzing network traffic in the Pacifica intranet, searching for traces of Zero. It was Watt who discovered that someone else was searching for Zero, and was far better at it than Watt himself. So it was Watt who decided to wait and see where this other search ended up.

He suspected that General Vance would not approve of his plan to kill Zero, but he was beyond caring what she thought, at least for now. If he was a useful tool she would be forced to keep him around If she felt his usefulness had passed, well, it would be a contest to see who got rid of whom. For now he thought of how he would do it. The easiest answer seemed to be ballistics. Whoever was searching for Zero seemed to have confirmation that she was still alive, which means that even the fancy poison on the flechettes couldn’t take her down. But Watt hadn’t yet met someone who could survive high-speed lead. Also bullets could go through doors, and that seemed like a good way to finish Zero. Even if she had her Third Eye, she couldn’t guess or see what he was doing through a door. It was a beautifully simple plan, and so, when the day finally came that the random search found where Zero was staying, Watt picked up his favorite rifle and his favorite sidearm and went hunting.

Julian had been keeping track of Wes, but it had been three weeks and Wes had barely moved from his apartment, so Julian got a bit lax. Fortunately digital systems don’t forget. The notice that Wes was on the move was of cursory interest only until he figured out what direction Wes was traveling.

Julian: Isaac, you and Howard meet me at this location. I suspect Wes has gone rogue. Isaac: Funny, Wes just told us to meet him there. He says Cylee’s gone rouge. Julian: Between me and Wes, which one do you think is right? Isaac: Fair. He wasn’t sounding like a sane man. We’ll back your play, Julian.

Blast…if Wes had called for backup at Cylee’s location…blast blast blast. Julian had thought he was being so careful.

Zoom out. I know it’s tense but follow the action from up here for a moment. In an apartment, on the third floor of a fairly random building, we see the dots for Mitzi, Cylee, Kelly, and Tamara. Closing on this position from three different locations we see Julian, traveling via cab, Wes in a car that’s going five miles above the speed limit, and Isaac and Howard, tailing Wes by a little bit. He suspects nothing; he called them.

In the apartment Cylee is exercising. She’s mostly back to normal, but even five percent muscle loss is too much and she needs to make it back. Mitzi is thinking about ordering dinner, Tamara is suggesting they make dinner, and Kelly is trying to match Cylee’s exercise routine when suddenly Cylee and Kelly look at each other.

Agent (Cylee): Who just pulled up? Cylee: Did a car pull up? Agent (Kelly): Yes, and there’s something bad in there.

Go to a split screen in your mind. In one screen we see Cylee and Kelly trying to explain to the others that danger is nearby. Mitzi is prepared, Tamara is skeptical. She’s never been hunted, not really. On the other side of the screen we see Wes talking to the two soldiers of Pacifica. He instructs them to prep lethal weapons, which they absolutely do not do. Julian (add him in a third window above this one) just told them to get stunners prepared, which they do. Wes heads into the building, up the stairs, makes it to the third floor just as Julian pulls up.

Inside the apartment Mitzi is outside on the fire escape, helping Kelly out. Cylee is still trying to convince Tamara that there is danger when Wes knocks on the door. Julian tells Isaac to keep Wes outside that apartment, Julian’s on the second floor and closing fast. Cylee tells Tamara to get down and stay quiet and get out on the fire escape.

Tamara says “who’s there?”

Wes’s Augments determine exactly where she is and he raises his gun and fires.

The bullet tears through the wood of the door and Tamara hits the floor, fast and hard. It shouldn’t be like this, just words in the middle of a paragraph. It should have been in slow motion, with a minor-key version of her theme playing as she falls, the deep hollow boom as she hits the floor, sunlight showing the luminosity of her eye even in death, but this isn’t a movie. She’s dead before the splintered wood of the door hits the ground. Isaac and Howard both fire their stunners into Wes as Kelly screams outside and Cylee rolls for cover. Julian takes in the scene as he comes around the corner, too late, too late.

Mitzi drags Kelly down the fire escape, down the ladder, out to the street. Julian yells to Cylee to get gone, now, and yells to Isaac and Howard to restrain Wes. Then he calls Cassandra to inform her that her doctor is dead.

Kelly cries as they drag her into the cab. They all cry as the autonomous cab drives them to yet another hopefully-safe-house. Kelly screams and cries all night until exhaustion overtakes her. Cylee is almost catatonic, but has made a decision. Tomorrow will be worse.

Mitzi has also made a decision.

“Guys, get Wes into the van.” Julian said as Cassandra answered. “Yes?”

“My Lady, Doctor Patel is dead. Wes killed her.”

“And what about the girl?” Cassandra asks.

“What? What girl? Wes shot her through the door.” Julian said. She wasn’t surprised. She’s not shocked. This was part of her plan, or was at least admissible in her planning.

“Right, yes. Any witnesses?”

“Me, Isaac, Howard, and Wes. The guys suspected something was up when Wes ordered them to bring lethal force, but without any authorization from higher up. They called me and I got there as quickly as I could.”

“Right, yes. Very commendable of them. Have you—“

“I’m ordering a cleanup crew right now. And a coroner on our payroll.”

“Thank you, Julian.”

The Lady hung up. Julian prided himself on being one of the most honest people he knew (not always fully up front with the truth, but he rarely if ever lied) and he could spot a lie. One of the things he had always appreciated about The Lady was that she, too, was honest.

But she wasn’t being honest now. Not that she was lying outright, but she was omitting important facts. Which meant that he, too, needed to protect a few points.

Isaac and Howard had just loaded Wes, who was still stunned, into the van.

“Guys. What did you see in that scene?”

The guys were good soldiers, he would give them that. They didn’t even glance at each other before answering. “Nothing. It was all too fast. He shot through the door and that was it. When we looked inside Doctor Patel was dead, the apartment was empty.” Julian nodded. “Good to know. It’s amazing what can change in the few seconds around critical action like that. The Cleanup Crew is on the way. Will you two please stick around until they arrive? I’ll drive Wes back.”

Isaac nodded and Howard walked back toward the building. Julian drove Wes back to headquarters.