Master Made Me
by Michael Bard
© Michael Bard -- all rights reserved
She had awoken in a jungle garden. It was hot and humid; filled with thick scents of plants and skittering animals. But to her it was comfortable. She remembered nothing before but emotions. Nothing but fear and pain and a curious eagerness. Awakening here she was filled with both horror and anticipation.
Lightly, with a grace she had worked long and hard for, she ran through the thick-fronded ferns. With each footstep she crushed tender plant life and released a cloud of delicious information. Scents of the plant, of its flowers, of the richness of the loam. Secrets of the insects that burrowed through the ground, secrets of tender roots. For a second she stopped, her tail whipping up until its tip touched her head, and waited, sniffing. There was life around her, birds, insects, small scurrying animals. Food. A few more steps and then a leap onto the moss-covered trunk of some tree. She almost slipped, but the nails in her legs dug into the bark and almost effortlessly she scrambled up.
She stopped, motionless, silent, her tail hanging still and almost invisible in the stripped shadows from a pair of moons through the glass overhead. The light was bright, but this was her home. Above there was the sound of a bird singing its existence, and below it the scrabble of tiny claws on bark. She waited, patient; the claws clicking and skittering closer. Through the sounds, the scents, the movement of air, she knew where it was. Closer, closer, and then a grab, a squeal...
And more skittering as it slid from her grasp and clambered up the bark. She turned and leaped after it, but then a new scent drifted through the tiny jungle. A scent that called her irresistibly, as a queen bee calls its drones. She stopped, and then leapt from the tree onto the soft loam and ran through the bluish light towards her master.
Her master threw her back into the garden, sealing the lock behind with a hiss. She couldn't move, could only sob her pain. How had she displeased her master? She'd come when he called! Maybe she hadn't been fast enough?
Slowly, painfully, she crawled through the dense ferns in the dark garden until she was beneath the trees standing at the stagnant pool, and then she paced in until she was waist deep in the tepid water. Only then did she lean down and drink, and then look up through the glass at the stars as she started licking the wounds that covered her upper body.
What had she done wrong?!
Finally she made her way to the shore and collapsed in sorrow. She had displeased her master! Sobbing, hating herself, she fell asleep.
As she slept she dreamed, of memories, of a time before, of things she'd forgotten... Memories of being furless, tailless. Memories of walking with human beings like her master. Human beings who were her friends, who had trained her. Human beings who had been prey for the corporations which existed beyond Sol; corporations that kept the Jump Drive secret from the rest of humanity; corporations which lorded over their inferiors and did what they pleased. Friends, happiness, and Duty.
Dawn brought a painful glare from the blue-white star gentled not at all by any atmosphere. Its piercing light, brighter than noon on Earth, forced her awake, and forced her to take shelter from its glare beneath the dense foliage. She was not on Earth -- that was obvious. The gravity was much less, the light more bright than Sol in Earth orbit, and it was tinted a glaring blue-white. Crouching, hot, sore, thirsty, she waited for the sun to rise enough so that some shade would allow her access to the pool. Waiting and remembering.
She'd been trained by the UN as an agent to investigate the disappearances, kidnappings in truth, and maybe to find out what was going on beyond Pluto. According to the corporations, the extra-solar colonies that had been launched aboard slowships decades ago had all failed. More and more were coming to doubt that claim but there was no proof. She was one of many, trained, taught, genetically enhanced with better reaction time, better vision, better senses, even better memory. Hypnotic treatments allowed her to hide the core of what she was even from herself until it was time to come out.
Now it was time.
Noon came quickly upon this world which had to have a faster rotation than Earth. First it was time to drink and sate her growing thirst in the muggy heat, and then it was time to creep through the branches and hunt some food since her master had seen no need to give her any. This time her hunting was cold, methodical, ruthless, and successful. Licking the blood from her lips and her new whiskers she smiled as she sharpened her claws on the bark. Only then did she consciously realize that she had claws, and she began to wonder what the corporations had done to her.
Her examination was slow, careful, and methodical.
She could see clearly in dim light, and bright light hurt. Her senses were more acute, she had claws and fur, and she had a tail. What had been done? More worrisome, what ELSE had been done? Think. Her body felt the same, and an attempt to control the tail achieved nothing. It could all be transplants -- hair follicles throughout her skin, new eyes to replace her old, different teeth in her jaw, claws replacing her nails. The tail could have been added, and given it's own limited nerve cluster for control. She seemed to feel it, but that could be practice, or limited neural rewiring via nanites. Likely also a retrovirus, altering her DNA to make all the changes a part of her. And that opened the possibility that there might be other changes, subtle ones that would come in time, but for the moment it seemed that there were no other major physical changes. Likely her newly acute senses were a gift of the retrovirus.
She had to get answers and she knew who from. Swiftly she ran, almost danced, to the entrance, and there she hid and waited, silent, motionless, invisible but for the golden glitter of her eyes. Time passed. The sun set, and then rose again, filled the room with glittering light, and began to set again before she heard faint sounds from outside. Then a smile, a tensing of muscles, and then...
Silent, swift, the scent once again hissed from the door and across her. One sniff and then she took great gulping delicious breaths of it through her nose, the taste of it making her body quiver with anticipation. Her master was coming!
Again, sobbing, beaten, torn flesh hanging from her back and blood dribbling from wounds there and on her legs, she was thrown once more into the garden. It was day, the light painful on her eyes, and only through force of will was she able to drag herself back to the pool and drink. The warm tepid water cleared her head and she remembered that the scent had driven her. Closing her eyes she could remember her past, and remember what her master had done. She remembered the pain, the humiliation, could remember every stroke of his whip. With a snarl from anger fortified by her pain, she leapt into the mud-bottomed pool and tore his stains off her fur. Freeing herself from any touch of him was more important than the blood her claws drew.
He would not take her again -- she would kill herself before she'd let him take her again. Either she would find a solution, or she would rip out her own throat.
Through two of the planet's days she crouched in the water, the mud oozing between her toes, the wounds slowly closing. There were fish which she caught and swallowed while they were still alive, but she barely tasted them. She had come for her mission, a duty to humanity, and now that paled beside her burning need for revenge. Eventually she paced out of the pool, the water and mud dripping from her fur onto the lush greenery. The scents of the vibrant life filled her nostrils, and filled her mind with memories.
He'd come, eventually. And, as before, the scent would overpower her will...
She flung herself to the ground. God damn him! Her head impacted with an out flung root and an incredible stinging pain filled her nostrils and blotted out the scents of the garden. Damn him! Damn...
Blotted... out... the scents?!
She smiled, a smile full of teeth and hatred, and then slowly she got up and made her way to one of the trees. Then, closing her eyes, she flung her face against the trunk with all her strength. Again and again, oblivious to the pain, oblivious to anything but the blood filling her nostrils and sealing them. Finally, battered, bleeding, her head ringing, she stopped. The only thing she could feel was a blinding pain that filled her face, a dull ache that rose from pain to screaming agony and then fell again. Licking the blood from her lips she smiled and went hunting.
She needed her strength for soon she would be after bigger prey.
When he finally came she pretended submission, she pranced with eagerness to greet him, followed him meekly as he led her to a room filled with a furred bed, the walls lined with whips and bars and things she didn't even want to know about. He turned and she smiled, and when he turned back she was already in the air heading towards him.
The fight was brutal, but less one-sided than she'd expected. Her master was not slow, he had also had genetic enhancements before birth, but he had no natural weaponry, and he wasn't filled with the hate that she was. The bed rippled and tore beneath them, water spewed out and onto the floor, its colour tinged red with blood. At the end she was on top, and he was on bottom, half covered in crimson water.
She looked down at her master. He was still breathing, every breath a rasping bubbling effort that dribbled red-stained saliva down his chin, and leaning down she licked the blood, savouring its taste. His eyes focused on her and she smiled, her eyes glittering in the bright light.
"Where's your conditioning now, you bastard?!"
Her only answer was a frightened gurgle.
"Answer me you bastard!" she screamed, her voice almost choked with tears. "Look what you did to me!" For once her tail did what she wanted and curled into view. "You implanted this into me! This tail, these claws, even my eyes!"
His mouth moved but she couldn't make out the words. Clenching her hand around his neck so that the claws he'd given her dug into the skin she leaned until she could taste the fear on his lips; smiling, she licked the blood from his chin and then turned so that her ear was against his mouth, his wheezing breath tickling the fine hair around it. "WHY DID YOU DO IT?!"
"I made... beauty."
"Beauty!?" She spun around and glared her golden eyes into his merely human ones. "You made me into a monster!" Never blinking, she looked down at the dying form below her. "So confident in your doctors, weren't you? All the brainwashing, the conditioning... Why'd you do it? You could have just grown an animal. WHY'D YOU DO IT TO ME?!"
A smile crept onto his face, slight, the muscle movement causing more blood to ooze from his split lip. "Because... could, Josephine."
How'd he know her name?! She screamed her anger and tore at his thighs with her hind claws.
"You depended too much on your scent, didn't you?"
All that answered her was a gurgle and rasping breath.
"Answer me damn you!!"
With a final rattle the breathing stopped.
Tears filled her yes, tears of hate, tears for vengeance sought and eaten and found oh so bitter. Of answers yearned for and lacking.
Her 'master' was dead, at her hand. And yet the victory was ash -- now what?
She was on his world, orbiting a blue-white star. But where? There might be many sources for this information, but she only knew of one, and he was dead. But, there were other sources here -- she'd have to act fast, be ready. And there were the computers, and the tools she'd learned on Earth.
Swiftly, ignoring the pain of her wounds and in her soul, she swept to her feet and leapt onto the floor and then shook the water out of her fur. Feeling better she stalked out of the room searching, her tail waving.
She had little time and much to do.
Her 'master' would have computers; she would find them and she would find out why. And, if she could, she would find a way home with the secrets Earth needed, and damn all the corporations to an everlasting cleansing fire!
Website Copyright 2004,2005 Michael Bard. Please send any comments or questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org