The lights went out across the entire installation. A flipped switch and everyone was unconscious – a neurological EMP. It was dark. They moved silently, though they had no reason to. He heard the footsteps – one of the benefits of the architecture in his mind was that he was never really unconscious – though he might appear to be to the unperceptive.
When he awoke he was not surprised who it was that he saw in front of him. An old friend – a memory anchored in place by all those implanted commands; by that face and its repetitive instructions.
‘Tennant? Not Ensign?’
‘Oh, thought that was a bit bloody obvious as a secret name signpost, but whatever. Yes, Ensign, is a further lie. Your real files were never on any kind of computer that could be accessed by a network.
‘Everything about you has been undera quantum encryption key folded up through fourspace and buried in some randomly generated pocket universe.’
‘And why would all of that need to happen? Why a maze of identities built around me?’
‘Because the core truth of what you are is so dangerous that hardly anyone has the clearance to know the truth of it all.’
‘And you do?’
‘Of course I do. I initiated the project.’
‘And what do you want from me now?’
‘What I want from you now, is thatyou serve the function you were designed to function.’
‘But I don’t wish to be that thing anymore – I haven’t wished to be that thing for a while now.’
‘Oh, then why the rejuve job? The threat you have posed to these people here?’
‘That was just some of the programming kicking in, and all the fear about me came from that old data in the machine.’
‘So, you would like me to believe that you are no longer dangerous?’
‘Then we will have to see what we can do about that.’
Torture is never something that one administers casually – but it is a tool that one must use occasionally. He applied the amplifier, a rather simple device, that made all the pain receptors in the body available for exploitation by the torturer.
‘You know, in the old days you had to work really hard to extract information or program an agent, but this simple little device, worked up by an anonymous neuroscientist on the payroll, cut out all that heavy labour.’
Screams were an interesting thing to get used to, but if anyone could truly claim that they had done this it was him. It became noise after a while – noise that meant he was chasing in the right direction after the goal he had set himself – of breaking or fixing something in the mind of his subject. He had worked with this man before … this man of many names; and he had achieved much. In those hours he had spent with Tennant he had created what amount to the best field agent in the history of the intelligence community.
What did this act constitute? A remaking? He smiled. He did not do much that was creative in his life but he wielded pain like a scalpel and created creatures.
Small cuts, large cuts, bruises, salt in the wound, words whispered in the ear, words flashed on a screen, a slow steady rhythm ticking. At the end of all this he would have the product he desired – he had no doubt of it.
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