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Forged, Part 2: Forged In Doubt

03 Oct 2009, 00:16

So I put the first part in the wrong forum. Whoops.
The link to Part 1 is thus here.

And as my stories do, this one is expanding slightly. I'm now guessing 5-6 parts total.
-----

Six soldiers sat around a table, looking at their food. Six pairs of eyes flicked around, each watching the others suspiciously. Three people picked at their food, two more simply sat and stared. The Eris Project’s soldiers were on the verge of breaking.

One was still eating with gusto. Despite the setbacks of the last three weeks, nothing seemed to dim Jamie Cole’s enthusiasm – not the black looks that Arland Black and Cameron Jackson kept shooting his way, not the suspicious ones of Sarah Brooke and Simon Tate, not even the dull way that Kien Mak had withdrawn into himself. The others, however, had lost their appetites when they’d heard that Wendell McBride wasn’t joining them, due to an accident on the training course.

Sarah looked down at her meal, then up at Cole once again. She broke the unpleasant silence. “You’re really racking up a body count, Cole.”

Jamie paused. Setting down his fork, he looked up at Sarah slowly. “You want to explain that?” He said dangerously.

“Yeah, I do.” Sarah frowned. “Try this on for size. You crippled Garcia, you knocked Pavri off a building, and now you’ve taken out McBride.”

Jamie frowned. “If you were anyone else,” he said, “I’d smack you one for that. I didn’t hit Garcia that hard. If he couldn’t take, the problem was with his gear. I didn’t go near McBride. And Pavri came after me with a knife for no damned reason in the middle of a training excercise.”

“She wanted you dead because she was head-over-heels with Garcia.” Arland pointed out. “Everyone knew that.”

There was a long pause. Jamie chewed his lip. “Everyone, huh?”

“Yeah. Everyone.” Arland pushed his chair back. “Everyone who’s not a stupid ape.”

Jamie took a deep breath, hands clenching the table, but before he could move, Sergeant Hammer’s voice roared out again. “I don’t recall it being chitchat hour, people!” He glared from Arland to Jamie and back again. “If you two have some kind of problem, you’d damned well better get over it. This squad is going to shape up, or by God we will court-martial the lot of you!” He glared at each of the two in turn, until they looked away.

Arland muttered, “Sarah started it this time.”

“I thought better of you, Brooke.” Hammer shook his head before she could respond. “Right! Finish your meals and get back to your rooms. I’m calling lights-out.”

“Not hungry, sir.” Brooke pushed her plate forwards. Shrugging, Jamie reached for it.

“I’ll take it, then.” He smiled broadly. “Always ready for seconds.”

“Fine.” Standing abruptly, Brooke turned to go, then paused. “Just one thing. What the hell do you mean, if I was anyone else?”

The room got very, very quiet. Jamie looked up from shoveling down Brooke’s meal, and even he registered the danger in her voice. “Just that you’ve always been okay. I still owe ya, after all.” He temporized. “Wouldn’t be right to ignore that.”

“Do me a favor, Cole – don’t do me any favors.” Glaring daggers, Brooke stormed from the room. A few moments later, the group broke up, with Simon hurrying after her, and Arland and Cameron moving in the opposite direction. Sighing, Jamie finished off Sarah’s plate and got up as well, leaving Kien alone at the table.

Shaking his head, Maxwell Hammer took a third set of doors, walking briskly down a corridor before sliding his passkey into a secure lock and entering the Project’s control room. Inside, he saluted crisply. “Suspicion’s at a fever point, sir. I still don’t know who the assassin is, but just about everyone’s figured out that something’s up.” He shook his head. “Except maybe Cole.”

“I don’t think Cole is going to be a facotr.” Colonel Dillenger was studying the tapes of the dinner with interest.

“With respect, sir, I disagree.” Hammer remained ramrod-straight. “He’s dumb, but the toughest of the bunch. If he survives Brooke’s suspicion, he’s set.”

“Given that he just ate a plateful of poison, I doubt that very much.” Dillenger replied dryly.

“Sir?” Hammer managed.

Dillenger pointed to the plate that Brooke was pushing away. “The assassin poisoned Brooke’s food, which she did not eat. Slow-acting, most likely. I do not expect Cole to survive the night.” He considered briefly. “I think we need to move this test into its final phase. Notify the labs to receive Cole some time in the early hours – alive or dead, depending on if he realizes what’s happening. If he’s the one who calls for them, and it won’t be too expensive, save him. Otherwise, study the implants and see how they react to poisons. Meanwhile, prepare for the last challenge to take place in two days.”

Hammer nodded slowly. “Yes, sir. And if no one survives?”

Dillenger smiled darkly. “Then we take the data, and pull together a new group of soldiers. This isn’t the first batch we’ve run through the tests, you know. Dismissed.”

“Sir.” With a snappy salute, Hammer turned to leave, concealing his annoyance admirably. Dillenger and his damned secrets. He wouldn’t tell Hammer who was killing their men, he wouldn’t explain who was funding the project – and Hammer was damned sure that it wasn’t the government, human experimentation like this was strictly illegal. But he also knew that people who asked too many questions around this project tended to vanish. And Hammer was too good a soldier for that.


Inside the control room, Dillenger watched the tapes as a stealthy hand slipped two vials of iocane powder into Brooke’s meal, and chuckled. “What do you think, my Lord?” He said softly. “Have we found your champion?”

The darkness answered, power in a voice that echoed within his head. Perhaps. I certainly hope so, Dillenger. I am growing impatient.

“I understand, o Great One.” Dillenger nodded slowly. “This time, the project will be successful. I can feel it.”
"Some people walk in the rain. Others merely get wet."

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Re: Forged, Part 2: Forged In Doubt

05 Oct 2009, 13:44

Ah, the evil version of the super soldier project. I like the Princess Bride ref.
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Re: Forged, Part 2: Forged In Doubt

09 Oct 2009, 23:09

Thanks. I was trying to think of a poison, and then said heck with it. ;)

And yeah, evil super-soldier program. There's a reason they made those things illegal.

Part 3 probably up some time this weekend - fingers crossed. I'm trying to get all the parts done before next week for my ST.
"Some people walk in the rain. Others merely get wet."

Patchwork Champions - You say "to-ma-toe", I say "world-ravaging-laser-beam".

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