Feature Writer: Alei
Feature Title: MASTER PC – CALLY’S JOURNEY 7 by Alei
Email link: Aleiand@hotmail.com
Link to other stories: https://mcstories.com/Authors/Alei.html
Master PC – Cally’s Journey
The Predator – Meanwhile …
“So, how did it happen?” asked the man behind the desk.
“We don’t know sir. Escape should have been beyond it’s parameters,” replied the man in the white smock coat.
“It did just a bit more than escape, didn’t it Mr. Huggins,” came the reply.
“Yes sir, a great deal of damage was done to the information systems as well as the various lab cultures and growth farms,” the man in the smock coat replied.
“And the XV-99 was responsible for that?” the man behind the desk replied.
“I … I’m not sure that responsible for is the right word sir.”
“Oh really?” replied the man behind the desk. “Your report indicates live elements of the XV-99’s systems corrupting the entire information system. It said here that these self same elements initiated an uncontrolled meltdown of all of the processing subsystems causing them to destroy all of the advanced batches, not only those in process but those is storage as well. How can the XV-99 not be responsible for that” the older man declared with obvious frustration.
The man in the smock coat loosened his collar a bit as sweat began to trickle down the back of his neck. “It’s the protocols sir, all of the X series have them. They are simply incapable of engaging in this kind of action without a creative and directing authority. Within their own designed limits, X series can be very innovative and creative, but only within those limitations. In order for XV-99 to have caused this kind of damage, in order for it to even contemplate escape from this facility would have required some form of outside guidance and authority, something which the XV-99 could not have supplied itself.”
“It’s been suggested that it’s latent could have done exactly that Mr. Huggins,” the man behind the desk commented coldly.
“That’s … that’s impossible sir,” the man in the smock coat replied nervously. “Latents, those that survive in any degree, are incapable of integrating successfully with the X protocols, at least independently, and XV-99 had gone well past the prescribed limit of Latent survivability since it’s last episode. The Latent in XV-99 was gone sir, no trace detected or discernible and that’s presuming that even if it had survived in some form, that it could influence and direct the X protocols, which it would not have been able to do.”
The man behind the desk settled back into his chair a bit in thought. “So, then if it wasn’t the XV-99, it must have been someone … inside.”
“Yes sir,” the man in the smock coat said in a relived voice.
“That’s troubling Huggins, very troubling,” said the man behind the desk. “You know how sensitive the work we do here is. If a breath of this ever reached a reporter … ”
“Sir, we have protocols to handle that,” said the man in the smock coat confidently. “A number of both our Y and X series were once members of the media.”
“Oh yes,” the man behind the desk smiled wistfully. “Y-741 was a most enjoyable distraction. Still, don’t be overconfident Huggins, this breach might get out of hand in ways even we can’t control.”
“Yes sir,” the man in the smock coat replied obediently.
“So, what are the retrieval protocols of XV-99, how soon will its core deplete so that we can locate it and bring it back?” the man behind the desk asked.
The man in the smock coat looked suddenly nervous again. “Uh … sir … as you saw with the technical proposal for this model … well … ”
“Out with it man, what are you dithering about!” snapped the man behind the desk.
“Well sir,” the man in the smock coat replied in a nervous voice, “that is one of the advanced aspects of this design. Unlike the earlier models, it has the ability to replenish itself over an extended period of time. It can rebuild and replicate it’s components over a long term … in addition to other significant enhancements.”
“What do you mean,” the man behind the desk ground out in a dangerous tone “by long term.”
“Theoretically,” the man in the smock coat replied in a small voice, “we don’t know … we never tested it out fully … but given the right environment … indefinitely?”
“INDEFINITELY!!!?” the man behind the desk thundered. “YOU MEAN TO SAY IT’S OUT THERE AND IT CAN JUST KEEP ON GOING!!!?”
“yes sir,” the man in the smock coat whimpered.
The man behind the desk sat still in dark contemplation. “What is the status of the program at present,” he finally spoke in flat level tones.
“All the advanced growth bins were destroyed,” the man in the smock coat said is a hesitant voice, “as were the design records and supporting research archives. We can’t grow anything greater than a level X-4 and … it might be some time before we can make any progress at recovery … as you know … key members of the research team … encountered XV-99 during it’s escape and were … injured.”
“Yes,” said the man behind the desk levelly. “Which is exceptionally fortunate for you Mr. Huggins. Failures like this are not easily overlooked.”
“sir?” said the main in the smock coat with genuine fear in his voice.
“Fortunately for you Mr. Huggins,” the man behind the desk continued, “you are the most senior of your colleagues … in working order, so I’m going to need you and your skills to rebuild this program.”
“oh thank you sir,” that man in the smock coat said in a choked voice. “I swear nothing like this will ever happen again.”
“Oh, I hope not Mr. Huggins,” said the man behind the desk in a dangerously pleased voice. “You see, while I do need you, I understand you have a wife and a daughter who is in college. They I don’t need at all. So, in order to motivate you, I’ve already issued take orders for them both and to apply a X-series modification program to them. Since level 9 is now unavailable to us, level 4 will have to suffice. I understand from your research that this does not necessarily need to be a permanent condition for your loved ones. If you can advance the program sufficiently quickly, the process may eventually be reversed … which means Mr. Huggins, speed and effectiveness are at a premium here.”
“No sir,” the man in the smock coat recoiled in horror, “you wouldn’t do that … it’s … it’s … INHUMAN!!”
“No Mr. Huggins, inhuman it is what your wife and daughter soon will be. The order has been given so I’d advise you to work especially hard and well, you and your knowledge, your ability to rebuild and advance this program are their only salvation. Just be thankful I need you Mr. Huggins, just think of what I might do to you if I was able. Carlos, take Mr. Huggins back to his lab.”
“Noooooo,” the man in the smock coat screamed as two burly men dragged him from the room.
“What now sir,” said a thin woman in a severe suit as the hatch slid shut cutting off the man with the smock coat’s screams.
“We need to apprehend XV-99, bring it back. If what Mr. Huggins says is true, the only source of new level 9 components lies with that unit. How many level 9 operatives do we have active?”
The thin woman tapped some commands into her Pad. “Two are on missions, two are on rehabilitation and are low on components. We can restock then with what we have of level 4 components but that will significantly reduce their effectiveness. Six others are in various states of readiness.”
“Very well,” said the man behind the desk. “Terminate the level 4 retirement program and bring all older models up to full readiness. We should be able to supply them from what we can currently produce. If we are short, issue additional take orders to refill the ranks and assign them to all normal field operations possible. Recall all level 5 through level 8 operatives from tasks that are not absolutely critical and assign them to the task of locating XV-99. All level 9 series are to stand by to support and retrieve XV-99 once found.”
“The differences in operating capabilities between the models is significant sir,” the woman replied. “Even the other level nines are likely to be outmatched.”
“Oh, no doubt you’re right,” the man behind the desk replied casually. “Against any of them singly, I’m sure the 99 would triumph, but alone and without direction, against them all? Quantity has a quality all it’s own.”
“As you say sir,” the thin woman replied with a slight nod of the head.
“And I want a copy of the taking of Huggin’s wife and daughter streamed to my personal system. I’m feeling a bit … on edge. Watching them squirm might just be what I need.”
“Of course sir,” said the thin woman as she began to make the necessary arrangements.
THE END OF CHAPTER SEVEN