Mad. Crazy. Insane. People are crazy. Glad I’m not a person like them anymore.
Why do they want to know my story? Been locked up here for a long time. No one bothered with me before. Why now? Why them? What’s going on?
Craziness. Insanity of people. Must be that.
Can’t stay here much longer. Restless. Need to kill. Must get revenge. Dr. Tobias and Dr. Russell must die. Must die. Must die. Always die.
Can’t die. My death never comes. Always alive.
Why do they want me? Need me? Why?
Always ask. Never know. Never, never know.
Crazy. Mad. Insane. Madness for humans. Not human anymore. Can’t be human anymore. Dr. Harris tried. Failed. Always failure.
Stuck as I am. Can’t change.
What do they want? Must know. Must ask. Can’t get answers. No answers. Never answers.
Seek revenge. That is all. All I live for. Must kill Dr. Tobias. Must kill Dr. Russell. Kill. Kill.
They stole everything. Everything I had. Life. Family. Mind. Freedom.
Want it back. Must have it back. They must change me back.
Can’t stay like this. Stuck forever.
Must escape. Prison. Prisoner here. Can’t escape. Must get out.
Just like them. They keep me locked up. Just like Dr. Tobias and Dr. Russell.
Sick, crazy, deranged scientists. Playing with human lives. No regard. No regard for humans. No regard for lives. Do whatever they want. Don’t care. Selfish. Selfish lunatics.
Get up, a harsh voice demands.
I stand. Follow guard to same room. Always the same room. Same dim light. Same two men. I sit. They sit. Guard always stands behind me. Always stands behind me. Never anywhere else.
Do you remember where you left off? two asks.
Continue from there, one requests.
* * *
They walked through the mesh of gates and fences and found themselves on a walkway winding through an elaborate garden in full bloom. The four assassins followed the doctor through the garden to a pair of silver doors set into a building draped with ivy.
The doors slid open as they approached and Dr. Harris led the way into a pure silver setting. It looked similar to Shyan Lab, but Nyan Lab felt cleaner to the assassins. The lighting was brighter and oddly cheery. Plants bloomed on several of the counters and a waterfall bubbled in a corner next to a tall tree full of lavender blossoms.
Dr. Harris led them over to a large antique steel desk and gestured to several chars sitting before it. He went and sat behind the desk in order to look at them all. The assassins sat and regarded the doctor as silently as he did them.
“I wasn’t sure how many of you there would be,” Dr. Harris began. “It looks like there are less of you than I thought. But it’s for the best. Would you tell me your names?”
In clipped, toneless voices they each gave their name and nothing else. It sounded like four staccato beats as they spoke and Dr. Harris didn’t ask for anything else.
“The plants,” Dr. Harris said, his gesture including them all, on matter how far away they sat from the five of them. “I’m a horticulturist by profession, and that’s what Nyan Lab is known for. But I am a specialist in the sort of devices that Dr. Tobias and Dr. Russell used on you, a type of altering device designed specifically for humans. That allowed me to create this.”
Dr. Harris held up a silver device with several small buttons under a screen displaying two lines, one jagged and the other straight.
“Every person is assigned a distinct signal at birth that allows them to use a Personal Transporter. That’s what the straight line represents. It’s the normal functioning of any given human’s signal. Your signals have obviously been tampered with. The jagged line represents signals that have been distorted by unnatural causes, such as your own. Normally, it would be smooth curves. It became jagged like this because something went wrong. When I noticed the change, I tracked the signal strength to Central Park. That’s how I found you.
“I’m the only one who can possibly help you at this point. I can’t guarantee any success, but there’s no one else in the galaxy with enough knowledge of these sorts of devices to even know where to start. I’m asking, do you want my help?”
“Yes,” Schuyler said immediately.
“I need to know what happened,” Dr. Harris said quietly, putting down the device and leaning forward. “Whose signal was distorted?”
“Mine,” Schuyler said. “They told me to kill my family. I went. I killed my daughter. I held her heart. She was dead. Felt like my head was falling apart. Shattered.”
Dr. Harris nodded. “I couldn’t say why that happened. I don’t think anyone could. But Dr. Tobias and Dr. Russell apparently left some human quality within you. You killed your daughter and it got the best of your mind. I have to ask, Schuyler, would you agree to let me experiment on you, to try to reverse what they did?”
“Yes,” Schuyler replied unhesitatingly.
“Good.” Dr. Harris stood and the four assassins rose with him. “We need to begin now. There’s no telling how long this will take. I’ve shut this particular lab off from the others in this building. My assistant knows what I’m planning and she will be arriving in the morning to help. Her name is Aryelle. She will not bother you and I ask that you not bother her. Once she arrives, the six of us will be sealed in this lab until our experiment is done with.”
“We’re another experiment then,” Dionysius said flatly.
“I wouldn’t call it that, exactly, but, yes, it is an experiment. We don’t know what’s going to happen. All we can do is follow the procedures Aryelle and I mapped out months ago when we detected the changed signal, which represented the experiment Dr. Tobias and Dr. Russell conducted on you, and pray we’re right. We want to get you back to normal, or as close to normal as possible. I must warn you that we could fail. Are you willing to let us help you?”
“We have no other choice,” Jen said tonelessly. “There is nowhere else for us to go.”
“Good. Follow me.”
Dr. Harris led them to a long table. On the neighboring table was a tray of instruments and devices. Dr. Harris instructed Schuyler to undress and lie on the table. The other three assassins stood on the other side of the table from Dr. Harris.
“I’m going to put you to sleep,” Dr. Harris said softly as he prepared a hypodermic needle. “You won’t awaken until the procedure has finished. Are you ready?”