Paradigm Shift Ch. 02-03byDiamondbarrow©
Her Blissful state of mind vanished the next day as she left her apartment, walked down three flights of stairs (the elevator was still out of order), and hailed a cab. It was Monday, and she hated her job. She didn't have much choice in the matter, though. Occupations were assigned once someone graduated from Conformitory School, based on various testing results, gauging everything from typing speed to lifting to grace and creativity. She remembered scoring well on her grace and creativity exams, but they were no match to her typing and shorthand scores. And so, instead of Sara the Dancer, she was Sara the Secretary.
She was just about to feel sorry for herself when her cab stopped, and the door opened. She stepped out, and looked at the high tower where she worked. There were three of these towers in New Manhattan, and the Executives could monitor the entire city from them, high in their offices, not having to struggle in the streets below. She took a deep breath, and released it slowly. She hated this place, but she would never say so. No one could defy the executives, or the World Government.
She made her way up the 53 steps (she counted them, every day), and placed her hand on the print scanner. After that, she placed her eye close to a small lens, which checked her retina pattern. The doors swung inward, and she immediately felt the weight of the place on her shoulders. The bottom lobby was constructed of polished obsidian, just like the rest of the building, and was unadorned and undecorated. At the far end, barely visible, was an elevator control pad. She then had to do the hand/eye scan again, and her floor was automatically punched into the lift. The elevator ride to the 107th floor was a long one, and she was thankful for the time to think.
She smiled as she found herself thinking of Barrow's body. She still couldn't believe the near perfection of his form. It was as if he were chiseled out of stone, crafted in a sculptor's workshop. Then she remembered the strange things she had seen; the number on his neck below his ear, and that odd mark at the base of his spine. She forced herself to move on to more pleasant thoughts, like what took place after they had undressed. She was thinking about the last thing he'd said to her, just before she had fallen asleep, when the elevator door opened. She sighed to herself, and stepped off.
Every day that week, right around lunch, she found herself thinking of that night. Each time she decided to go with it. She remembered the sudden fire in his eyes when she began stripping for him. She wasn't wearing much to begin with, but she still managed to take it slow, and make it long and enjoyable. She started by turning on some music, something slow and sensual. She turned to face him, swaying with the music, and displayed some of her dance floor creativity. She pulled off every trick she knew. She laid on the ground, spread and then crossed her legs, showing herself off to him. She gave him a lap dance, which he greatly enjoyed. She remembered rubbing her nude self against him, and smiling as she heard him groan with desire. She remembered then that he had wrapped his arms around her, and kissed her, softly at first.
This had thrown her off guard, and she'd almost freaked out. But, she went with it, and found she didn't mind so much. Indeed, she began to kiss him back, and they became more passionate with each one. That was when the foreplay began. He gently squeezed her breasts as she stroked his muscled arms and chest. He was ripped, she had said to herself excitedly. He then held her tight against him, one hand holding her close, the other moving lower, slipping between her legs. This was one of her favorite parts, looking back. She remembered shivering as he probed. Somehow, he knew just where and how to touch her, how to make her melt. And melt she did. It was as he massaged her when she first saw it; numbers, five of them, just below his left ear. 21937. She would have asked him about it, had she not been steadily approaching the first of many climaxes of the evening.
Such was the case on Friday, and she would have continued to fantasize about that night, but her desktop communicator buzzed. She sighed to herself, and sat up straight. "Yes mister Whendt?" she asked in her best secretary voice.
"Could you come to my office a moment, Miss Winchell? I have something that needs taking care of."
"Right away Mr. Whendt," she answered.
Barrow was tired, dead tired. He smirked as best he could with the breathing mask on. The world was tinted a light blue, small bubbles floating past his vision. He could see people moving outside the revitalization tank, and knew he was almost finished. Sure enough, a few moments later, the data retrieval cord retracted from his spine, and the adrenal liquid began to drain.
An hour later, he was in his room, leaning with his back against the door. He didn't like these week-long treatments, but he knew they were necessary. They needed to make sure he was accepting the new implants. He could already see the improvements. Indeed, he had given them a good test the night before the treatment. This thought made him grin to himself, as he fell into bed, the lights turning off automatically. That woman...
He spent the next half hour trying to guess her best asset. Was it her flexibility? Perhaps it was her stamina... Oh, but that technique! Barrow drifted off to a dreamless sleep for the first time in months, a smile on his face.
He awoke as the sun was setting, about 9 hours later he guessed. He slowly sat up in his bed, and tangled his fingers in his hair. He scratched his scalp for a minute, and yawned. He had just gotten to his feet when he heard a familiar song. He slowly walked over to his computer, and kicked the desk, causing the screen to awaken. He sang with the song, and old one by a band called Powerman 5000.
As he listened, he read a new assignment. He received them periodically, about two or three every month. He had programmed his computer to play a random song from his database whenever this happened. He smiled darkly as he saw the target's file; a Ceracorps executive. Ceracorps was responsible for what he was, for the foreign implants in his brain and muscle tissues. Ceracorps had tortured him, tested his limits. They pushed him until his spirit and mind were broken. But, they had been satisfied with the results, and green lighted the project codenamed 'Ironman.'
He shook the thoughts from his mind, and stored the information on the screen into his memory. They would be sorry for what they had done. He took his time getting dressed, his mind still thinking, bouncing between Ceracorps and Sara. When at last he was decent, he stood in front of his closet, looking over his options. There were two Desert Eagle .357 Magnums, two DE .44 Magnums, and one DE .50AE, which he used on armored opponents. And then there were his babies.
Twin black M1911A1 .45 caliber pistols, salvaged from the prewar era. They were custom fitted with built-in suppressors, had laser sights, and could hold extended clips for those more arduous assignments. He grabbed these, as well as two extra clips, and placed them in the waistband of his dark denim jeans. He then moved on to his knives. He grabbed a 4-inch tech knife, hanging it off his belt, and a 6-inch flame-bladed butterfly, which he tucked into his boot.
There, he thought, as he threw on his long overcoat, and looked in the mirror on the door of his closet. There was nothing too obvious, no suspicious bulges or the like. He knew he wouldn't need the entire arsenal he was carrying, and he doubted anyone would see him. However, Barrow preferred to play it safe. He took a deep breath, and left, heading for the streets on the surface.
Eric Whendt groaned as his body jerked. He smiled as he felt the warm liquid begin to cover his hand. He sighed in contentment, relieved after a long day at work. He began licking the liquid off his fingers, savoring the salty flavor. He put his computer on standby, and proceeded to his bathroom, where he washed his hands and got ready for bed. A few minutes later, he pulled the red satin comforter over himself, and rested his head on his silk-cased pillow. He was thinking of that whore of a secretary, Sara Winchell, and her warm pussy.
He had enjoyed it when she tried to fight back. It allowed him to beat her into submission. He grinned, and closed his eyes. They were open again, a moment later, when he realized that his window was open. He slid out of bed, and looked questioningly at it. He did not remember opening it. He pushed it shut, and locked it, trying to remember when he might have opened it. After a few minutes, he gave up, figuring it must have merely slipped his mind. He got back into bed, just as he heard approaching thunder.
He smiled. He did so love storms, ever since he was a boy. As the rain began falling, he closed his eyes, ready to fall asleep. He felt sure he would dream of that wench, and he knew he would enjoy jerking off to it later. The lights went out, as they were supposed to. A board creaked, and his eyes snapped open again. He looked towards the window, and there, outlined by distant flashes of lightning, was a tall figure.
He bolted to a sitting position, his mouth open in horror. He then remembered who he was. He was an executive for Ceracorps. None would dare harm him. So he became indignant. "How dare you break into my room," he shouted angrily. "Get out, or I'll have the guards after you!" The figure slowly began to approach, stalking towards the bed. Mr. Whendt began to realize that this person knew exactly who he was, and that he was here to kill him.
He began scrambling away from the dark figure, until his back hit the wall. The figure raised something, and pointed it at him. A pistol, he figured. He began to regret how he had lived his life. A noise caused them to look in unison to the bedside table, where a music box sat. Mr. Whendt realized that he must have kicked it open while trying to keep away from this madman. The haunting tune seemed to dull out all other sounds, seemed to become the only thing in the room. The figure was captivated by it. The executive saw his chance.
He grabbed the figure's wrist, trying to pry the gun from his hand. He couldn't budge it; the figure's grip was too strong. Too strong to be human, it seemed. The figure tore his hand away, and the executive's world became white with pain as something hard and metallic collided with his face. He could feel several of his teeth missing, and blood was pouring freely from his mouth. The last sound Eric Whendt heard was a hammer being pulled back, then snapping forward.
The figure shot the corpse once more for good measure, spreading more of its brain matter. He closed the music box, stopping the melody, and took it, placing it in his pocket. He opened the window, and climbed out.
She felt dirty. She had been in the shower for two hours now, and she still felt so dirty. That pig, she thought to herself, tears silently streaming from her eyes. There were several purple and blue spots on her body; bruises from his fists. She sobbed once, and reminded herself to be strong.
She had made sure to wash his disgusting semen out of her, and had taken a contraceptive just to be safe. Having those contraceptives was the only illegal thing she had ever done. Well, besides owning outlawed reading material. Anything preventing childbirth had been banned after the war, the government condemning it as murder. She regularly bought them from a dealer at the club, and had a large store of them. She was thankful for that now.
She turned off the water, and slowly stepped out of the shower. She was sore, so very sore. That bastard, she thought, and sobbed once more. Strong, Sara, she reminded her self, and grabbed a towel from the rack. She took her time drying off, being extra careful of her bruises. She had just tied on her robe when there was a knock at the door. She was frightened. No one ever visited this late. It must be that son of a bitch, sending his goons after her for fighting back, she told herself. She grabbed a knife from the kitchen, and made her way slowly to the door. She took a deep, shaky breath, and grabbed the doorknob. She opened it slowly, peeking out. She saw dull black boots, and dark grey denim. She looked up to the man's face.
"Oh, Barrow!" She threw herself at him, the knife hitting the floor with a clang, and embraced him. She did not know why she had done it, but she didn't really care. She needed to cry, and cry she did. Barrow was confused, but quickly deduced that something bad had happened, and he gently held her to him, stroking her back. A few minutes later, they were on her bed, her face buried in her chest. His shirt was getting rather soaked, but he didn't mind. He merely held her, rocking her gently.
An hour later, she had finally managed to stop crying, and began to talk. She explained how that bastard had called her into his office, then locked the door. Being an executive, she did not question the action. To defy the executives was to ask for death. Barrow listened intently, angry that anyone would harm her that way. He vowed to himself to find out who this bastard was. He was already planning how he would kill him (a slow, painful death, where he would force the mother fucker to eat his own testicles. Barrow would then gut him, and strangle what life was left in the victim with his own intestines until he was quite dead. Then, he would... well, you get the idea...), when Sara kissed him. She kissed him passionately, fiercely, needing him.
Barrow did not object, and returned her kiss, holding her body to his. She tore off her robe, and began to undress him. "Fuck me Barrow, please," she said. He obliged, and reminded her to be careful of her injuries. She thrust against him, and pushed him onto his back.
She awoke with the sun on her face, and was pleased to see his arms still around her. She still wasn't sure what had driven her to have sex with Barrow, especially with what had happened that day. Perhaps she just needed a dick that she liked to cancel out the one she hated... She sighed contentedly, and snuggled back against him, hugging one of his hands to her chest. She realized he was awake when his hand lightly groped her breast, absently teasing her nipple. She giggled some, and let his hand do what it wanted.
"You came back," she commented. Barrow lightly nuzzled her exposed neck, and sighed some.
"Did you expect me to stay away?" She honestly didn't know what she had expected. She hadn't really been in a condition to converse with Barrow after their first meeting, and she hadn't seen him until last night. She shifted to her other side, and looked at him, slipping her arms around his neck.
"I'm not sure," she said after a pause, "but I'm glad you did." She kissed him, another one of those odd moves she couldn't explain. Then she saw it again; those numbers... She propped herself on her elbow, and looked down at him. "Can I ask you something?" she inquired.
"You can ask me a lot of things," he replied nonchalantly.
"What are those numbers on your neck?"
Barrow seemed almost to slump. He turned to his back, and sat up, scratching his head a little. "I'm sorry if that's something personal," she said, and moved to her knees, getting in a position to rub his neck. He shook his head some.
"Don't worry about it. You can ask me personal things. I trust you." She smiled, and began lightly massaging his neck and shoulders. He sighed lightly, and reached behind him, finding and caressing her thigh a little. "It's a serial number, which let the scientists know which model I was." She stopped massaging for half a second, then continued. A serial number? Why would they give him a serial number?
"What do you mean? Are... are you a synth?" She had a sickening feeling. Had she been having sex with a machine?
He laughed some, and shook his head, which gave her infinite relief. "Not really, no. I guess I'm more of a cyborg." This time she did stop. He couldn't see her, but he knew her mouth was hanging open.
"You're an Ironman, aren't you...?"
The project codenamed 'Ironman' had been initiated in the late 21st century by a large council of Ceracorps scientists and World Government representatives called the Regulators (this term would later become the name associated with Ceracorps enforcers, who were seen as thuggish pawns). They were charged with the task of creating the ultimate fighting machine in anticipation of the upcoming war against Russia, the last Free State on the planet. Government spies had uncovered a secret Russian experiment which, if successful, would greatly increase the efficiency of their soldiers. This enhancement would take the form of a skintight bio-mechanical suit, which would fit underneath their combat armor. It would greatly increase strength and agility by stimulating their adrenal glands, which would also render them virtually immune to pain, fatigue, and fear.
The Regulators decided to go one step further than the Russians, and designed a series of bio-mechanic implants, which would wire directly into the nervous system. The Regulators also decided to include nanotechnology, which would perform such tasks as increasing the efficiency of muscle tissue (the idea of increasing muscle mass was rejected, as it was possible that the subject would gain so much muscle that they would lose agility), increasing the speed of the flow of electrons to the brain, and repairing minor injuries, such as hairline fractures or flesh wounds. They demanded that the project be immediately tested on humans, wanting to finish it and attack before Russia's project was complete.
In the end, over 500,000 'Ironmen' were produced, and the domination of the world was finally complete three weeks into the war. The government never released any information on the project, and all of the Ironmen were secretly killed, listed as casualties of war. The only glitch was the test subjects. Two had escaped captivity, and disappeared, and the Regulators feared they would talk. They'd been hunting the subjects ever since. To this point, neither of the subjects had spoken out about the project. How did Sara Winchell, a public citizen, know about the project?
Barrow stood up slowly, and began to dress, his mind a storm. Sara had placed a hand over her mouth as soon as she had said the word, and hadn't moved an inch since. She watched him with her eyes, afraid of what might happen. After securing his belt, he turned to her, and gave her a questioning look. "That was a classified project; a secret the World Government has spent a large amount of resources to keep covered up. Start talking." Sara was frightened. Would he kill her for knowing? He must be one of the missing subjects she'd read about. Sara pushed those questions out of her mind, and figured she had better explain herself.
"I-I'm a secretary... at tower 2. I-I lost an important file, and started looking for it, and somehow ended up in the Regulator's main network. I... I was curious, and started poking around..." Sara suddenly felt very vulnerable. She was in the same room as a killing machine, and had just admitted to reading top secret files. The fact that she was naked didn't help any.
Barrow's expression was an odd mix of shock, confusion, and immense relief. He opened his mouth several times to speak, but couldn't seem to find words. Finally, he managed something. "And you have no idea how you got into the network, or how you managed to view top secret files," he asked, a little skeptical. Sara gave her head a quick shake, afraid to speak. She still wasn't sure what would happen here. Barrow laughed. Sara nervously laughed as well, feeling somewhat less scared, but not about to let her guard down. Barrow didn't know why, but he believed her. There was something about the way she looked so afraid, that he knew she could only tell the truth.