It’s day 5, 39th week, 88 NE, at the 1800 hour, and I’m heading home. A smooth and quiet monorail trip gives me time to cool down, but today’s workday wasn’t very heated. I sat in the office all day, watching monitors for irregularities outside the dome. Right before lunch, there was a red hit at the northeast corridor, an entrance and exit no one but SAI knows about. Emma, and I checked it out; it was a starved Savage looking for food.
He was, by far, the grimmest Savage I’ve seen: pale white with a pasty gray complexion and greasy, scraggly, sickly jet black hair. Bulging, purple-blue-green veins flowed from his temples, down his neck, and across his cheeks. He had deep, violet irises and wide, dilated pupils. The whites of his eyes pooled blood red. Raggedy clothes barely clung to his frail, skeletal figure. Bleeding, severely chapped lips gaped open on his face. Rotting, yellow, chipped teeth were barely kept in his mouth by the clutch of decaying, blackened gums. His groans hissed with a coarse hum and his voice did not utter a single coherent word. We put him out of his misery. Emma’s shot hit his chest while mine blew his brains out. We torched his body precisely where he ceased to breathe, typical protocol for Savage cleanup.
Citizens without SAI clearance don’t know about Savages. I hardly know about Savages. Where they come from or what caused their existence remains a complete mystery to me. I do know they all look the same, male or female. They aren’t dumb and they don’t just eat human flesh. They’ll eat anything edible. A well fed Savage can out muscle a masterpiece of testosterone with a tall physique. Only bionics and splices match up with Savages fairly. What little bionics and splices the human population has work for SAI; a few live normal lives.
Generation four had a select few born without limbs. They are known as the Branchless. Stem cells were used to grow limbs for the Branchless, but the procedure to attach them can’t be performed until each person stops growing. In the meantime, the Branchless were given mechanical equipment with synthetic skin. Nanotechnology enabled the mechanical limbs to grow with each child. The tech limbs weren’t perfect though. Their sensation of touch is only one third of the average person. Tech limbs can feel pressure and can gauge how much to apply or not in scenarios. For instance, someone with nanotech legs has no problem walking. Walking is less of a strain for that individual, and most with such leg equipment can outrun the fastest completely human runner. Unfortunately, someone with nanotech arms may accidentally squeeze a hand too tight and fracture or break bone. The nanos work hard to communicate with neurotransmitters that are in charge of nervous system actions to minimize the chances of painful mishaps occurring, but technology has its flaws too.
My partner, Emma, was born without her left limbs. In a fight, she uses her bionic attributes to her advantage. A year ago, she upgraded her bionic arm with a laser cannon, though she only uses her arm as a weapon if she can’t find one. I saw her use it once in a training exercise. Mitchell wanted to test it out. It was pretty trippy seeing her left hand split open and fold back as her porcelain skin dissolved into ash black machinery. The nose of the cannon was as wide as a tennis ball and glowed an alarm signal red. By thought, she triggers the cannon’s blasts. After she’s done, her complexion reappears like the tide rolling in on the sea shore as her hand reforms. Aside from the superhuman strength, bionic limbs equip an individual with cool features. The upgrades they give are another reason no one downgrades for all-human replacements.
Some bionics don’t know they are special. A small percentage of the Branchless bonded so well with the nanotechnology that their limbs feel like their own. Sure, these individuals have unique, super strength exhibiting abilities, but they’re more inclined to think they’re descendants of splices and not bionic freaks. The reason they never find out is because their parents don’t bother to tell them. For Elites, it makes sense. They don’t want the world to know their genes are trash or deformity prone. Groundling parents convince their kids they’re the next evolution of man, and using their enhanced power, they must fight the Suzerain Nation to liberate the people.
Splices are a whole other story. They are humans spliced with the DNA of different Earth species. Nanotechnology allows splices to keep a human appearance− well at least a human face and upper body− but the majority of them are far from such a look. Splices usually don’t produce offspring. It’s a gamble what the kids will look like or if they’ll be alright. Splices have wild animal tendencies and have to be watched constantly. Only the smart splices work for SAI. Splices that are under control police the underground prisons in the cities. Prisoners don’t even attempt to pick fights with beasts that will rip them apart limb from limb.
Alec, who’s the only splice that works for EDSAI in Glory, is a scientific puzzle. His parents are both splices. His father’s DNA is laced with a weird blend of a lion and a crocodile, and his mother has a cocktail of arthropod DNA. He came out with human looking skin that acts like an exoskeleton. As every human, he has an endoskeleton too. Crocodile-like teeth prevent his lips from closing and his eyes are a cross between a lion and a crocodile. He can only grow facial hair, forearm hair, and hair on his ears. He barely has eyebrow hair. His skin molts every few years and he’s cooped up at home until his new skin grows in. Alec can actually roar like a lion when he has enough adrenaline pumping in him. For the most part he doesn’t talk, only when addressed. In the field he’s unstoppable, but unfortunately, he ages faster than the average human. He’s been on earth 25 years, but physically he’s nearly 40. The bright side is, even at 40 a splice like him is a monster to battle. EDSAI needs him in the field for as long as possible.
It’s true, I hated the slow, uneventful day I had today. But I know tonight is where the action awaits me. Chris’ face beamed with joy this morning when I woke up and found him peering at me. The first thing he said was, “Happy Anniversary,” with a smile hoisted on his face.
He’s big on anniversaries. For me, every day is just another day, but marriage to a romantic softened me. Celebrating our third wedding anniversary, I look forward to the surprise Chris conjured up by the wits of his creativity.
Finding the right gift for Chris is impossible. He’s not hung up on material possessions. The only gift he’d truly like, aside from my company, would be if I could give him a lot of land from the park for him to live on. Walking barefoot along the grass, under the night stars, by the pond would be exactly where he’d eat, sleep, and live. There are only several problems with that plan. One, people would ask questions if it were night all the time. Two, even if I were rich enough or had enough pull to obtain the area by the pond in the park, the people of Glory City wouldn’t be able to enjoy the pond. Three, I couldn’t live outdoors. Indoor plumbing, motion pictures available at my fingertips, interactive reading, and virtual reality games are my absolute must-haves. The list goes on, so instead of giving him the outdoors for a lifetime, I’ll give it to him for a night.
I rerouted the park Sentinels’ beat. They think SAI is doing a stakeout tonight. Therefore they won’t dare to go within a three mile radius of the pond tonight. We’ll have the area from 10 pm to 6 am− just after sunrise and an hour before the park opens. I did the same last year for his birthday and our wedding anniversary. For days, after both occurrences, he treated me like a queen. I will not lie; I look forward to that treatment again.
Amazingly, this peculiar man captured my heart in such a short time span. In the beginning, I hardened my heart and built fortresses around my psyche to keep him away from my already broken heart. Stigmo told me I had no choice. Chris would be my husband. All the evidence Stigmo had implied that Chris helped citizens escape Glory City with assistance from the outside.
Glory City EDSAI is a mouse compared to the giant of Luna City’s EDSAI. Stigmo felt and still feels Chris can unlock the answers to mounds of questions that surround escapees. People daring enough to leave any city know that somehow the world outside is slightly bearable, but who told them and why? Where do the escapees find refuge? How do they navigate out there in a barren wasteland?
Stigmo could have made everything easy. He could have imprinted fake memories to make Chris think I was his wife. That’s typical protocol; Previous Earth motion pictures portray such scenarios all the time. Stigmo said Chris had to trust me one hundred percent and that with his trust, Chris would uncover everything. We’re not sure how he does it, but he can share information without Matieka or the Glory AI, Shepard, detecting it. That’s why EDSAI needed someone to get close to him. Stigmo, the driving force behind EDSAI, only wanted the best experienced and well trusted agent assigned to Chris… of course that agent was me.
I may belong to the Stigmo family, but the general public doesn’t know. I was adopted by Claudius but I kept my surname, James. Only one person knew Stigmo was my legal father, and that was Thatcher, the only man I truly loved.
First, I moved in down the hall from Chris Allen, in the Archibald Building, 44th floor, Apt. E 23. I built a similar routine like him. I rode the monorail to work; I ate breakfast and dinner at Ned’s Diner in Glory Downtown and took long walks in the park at night. Occasionally, we ran into each other. It took six months for him to even say hello, but after that it didn’t take long for him to fall for me.
*Edited by Aly Fry