We want to live forever. Get us off this rock.
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He stared back–nodded once. “Yes. You deserve to know. We’ll talk as we move. I’m tracking the others.”

“All right,” I said, picking up his gun.

He eyed it and spoke carefully. “I’ll need that if we want to survive.”

“I’m surviving just fine,” I said.

“If I don’t have a gun, I’ll die here.”

“If you do have a gun, you’ll shoot me.”

He laughed. “I had a great shot just now and you still took me down. Don’t you think you can handle me? Besides, if I get killed, you won’t find out the truth. I know your connection’s down–you fried this whole place good just now. If they link in again, you’re done. You need me alive.”

I considered his logic. I could torture him for information–but that was the shadow’s idea. Even now, it clawed to be released. I turned my head and spat, hating it. “Fine. Take it.” I tossed the gun to him, ready to defend myself.

He caught it and nodded. “Thanks,” he said, tucking the rifle under his arm. He extended a hand. “John Parris. Contractor. Security & Control, BioMed RevX.”

I looked at his hand, which he dropped. “Sorry. I don’t know my name.”

“You don’t have one. You’re a killing machine. Specifically, a Demmel XS-60 android. Spy and stealth assassin. Designed for infiltration and terror.”

I considered. It fit. “So what do they call me? And who built me–BioMed RevX?”

The corners of his mouth quirked upwards. “Yeah. Closest thing you got to a name is your beanbag coordinates. Shall I call you 54-10?”


His expression hardened. He reached for his belt and grabbed a thumb-sized orange lump. “God, wrap this thing around your waist, will you? No offense, but your crotch is creepy.”

I shrugged. Parris rubbed the lump between his hands. It loosened into a paper-thin towel. He shook out the wrinkles and handed it to me. “Let’s go,” he said.

He took two more pills. I tied the towel like a loincloth. The material radiated an uncomfortable amount of heat. Parris had walked away, so I followed. He lowered his goggles and read a handheld device.

“So what is this place?” I asked.

“Amazon biosphere,” he said, pushing aside a plant frond. “Training grounds. There’s others.”

“Other training grounds?”

“Other droids.”

“Like me?”

He glanced backward. “God, I hope not.”

“Tell me.”

“BioMed RevX contracts with the military. They build killing droids. All shapes and sizes–some humanoid, some not. Military wants all sorts of shit, and some whack-assed scientists play here. They made you. They made things like you. They made insects and birds and–holy shit.”

He’d stopped walking. I glimpsed something purple. I stepped past Parris. Another beanbag, flaccid on the mossy ground. Like the one I’d woken on yesterday morning, naked and amnesiac–only this bag was twice the size of mine. Brown liquid dripped from the bag’s umbilical cord. I examined the end. Torn. The indentation meant nothing to me–a head, a long tail, some legs perhaps–but it was big. It smelled like blood. Nearby lay a monkey’s tattered remains.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Nothing you’ll want to meet,” he said. “Even you can’t take it down.”

“And you can?”

“I’ve got its frequency.”

“That works?”

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