3 years ago,
One week after the fire.
I said nothing. What do I say about my own funeral, I wondered. The camera focused on someone in the crowd I knew: my mother. Her eyes were bloodshot. Well, it was a tragedy.
I could feel my body weakening already, the aftereffect of the operation. Dr Kong said I could be up and about in three days, the nurse told me. I looked at her. I didn’t say anything, or ask any question. Perhaps the operation was about taming my inquisitive nature.
But then something told me that something more sinister was going on. Why did the government lie to the whole country that we were dead? Why were we being buried in a mass grave when we were alive live on national television?
Three days later, my friends and I were taken to a windowless hall where Dr Kong waited with a team of ‘experts’ flanking him. He gave a long, windy lecture highlighting on the breakthroughs of something he was doing. Whenever he said the word ‘subjects’ he pointed at us. Apparently we were specimen of some experiments he had been doing. I wondered, isn’t experimentation of human beings illegal?
“The antiserum increases immunity and CD4 count,” Dr Kong said. “However, that immunity can be lowered drastically according to how you want it. The subjects have responded well, and once you use it in combination with mind control drugs it will make them do anything, everything, you want. Technically, they are slaves…”
That’s when I knew really what had happened to me, us: we had been turned to puppets. They would use us the way they wanted. And to confirm my fears, Dr Kong said, “Training will begin in three weeks. They will be turned to razor-sharp weapons…” before he finished saying whatever he was saying, one thing rang out loud – the fire was not an accident.
When the plane lands at JKIA local/domestic terminal, I spot the unmistakable Squad Land Cruiser Evoque. Leo and Gor are there to pick me. Tatyana went silent the minute I went to the Masjid Musa mosque. Whether we met again or not did not matter. It was the mission’s operational security.
Leo is a 5th Dan Black belt martial artist. Gor is a 1st Dan and climbing up, but he is an explosives expert. They are the most careful men I know in this world. The way they look at me as I approach the Evoque, the way they scan the milieu for anything suspicious – Secret Branch guys are armatures.
By the time I reach the Evoque I know they have already analysed me: physiological responses, psychological state, emotional condition and physical state whether I can be send on another mission any time soon. The high speed computer in the Evoque does that, communicating directly with the chip that’s in the left side of my brain. I know this because I have seen new recruits undergo the procedure we underwent three years ago.
Leo is always the gentle one. Well, not gentle in the literal sense of the word, but gentle to me. Sometimes I dream of his well-toned body against the sylphlike mine. But that’s as far as it goes: dreams. In the Squad we are not allowed to relate with each other. Hell, we are not supposed to have relationships. Command says it’s a weakness, and weakness leads to mistakes. We can’t afford to make mistakes in the business we are engaged in. Those who tried, even secretly, were killed. Yeah, Command always told us that loved ones are a liability.
I enter into the car, fasten my seatbelt and Gor floors the accelerator. Nobody asks how The Coastal Affair was, or how I felt being the White Sister. We were trained not to ask questions.
But Leo says something that drops my jaw on the floor where I almost step on it when picking it.