The Upgrade: Human 2.0

In a not too distant future a war changed the Earth forever.
On this different Earth Neida lives in a small village with her brother, Deon. When the Crimson Death attacks their village, they are forced to escape to Village Xion since the disease only attacks the mutants - in other words, Deon. Follow Neida as she fights for her brother’s life, (along with fighting the urge to kill her brother for his stupidity).
Will she prevail, perhaps even find love in unexpected places, or will she fail and pay the ultimate price?

Winner of the NaNoWriMo competition Denmark

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8. Chapter VI - Subject 256, Status: Deceased - Part I

 

When Neida wakes up, she has a pounding headache, as a result of her lack of sleep. She lazily opens her eyes, then stares up at the ceiling. She wonders if she should bother getting up. The thought is quickly pushed away from her mind, however, as she a second later is reminded of Deon.

     Quickly, she sits up in her bed, gripping her head when the sudden movement makes the headache worse. She grits her teeth together and then makes her way out of bed, slowly. Behind the door she can hear muffled voices, and she finds it odd when she eventually makes out three different voices.

     In a hazy movement she puts on the rest of the clothes Akari brought her, before she went to bed. The same wonderful smell is still in the clothes and she takes a deep breath of it, hoping it can cure her headache. It has very little effect, though, and bitterly she realizes she might have to take painkillers.

     When she turns the doorknob and opens the door, she is greeted by the sight of Katherine, Akari and the General in the livingroom. They immediately turn their heads when they hear the door open.

     “Don’t stop on my account,” Neida says sleepily.

     “Funny,” the General says in a serious tone without a hint of amusement. She looks over at Akari and sees him looking a little paler, and she immediately starts feeling uneasy.

     “It’s about Deon, isn’t?” she asks with a raspy voice, afraid of the answer. She sees Akari looking away from her, and the worry for Deon doubles.

     “Yes,” the General says, almost causing Neida to stop breathing. Akari is quickly by her side, guiding her towards the sofa. He sits down beside her, grabbing her hand and laying it in his lap, ready to take action if something happens. The General looks at their hands, but does not mention it.

     “The commander and I went to a laboratory where we suspected the rogues would reside.” She stops, but Neida cannot wait for her dramatic pause.

     “And? Was Deon there?” she asks, already knowing the answer.

     “There were a few guards outside, but we easily took care of them. It is when we went inside, however, that things got more … complicated. There was no evidence of anyone having been there for days. I will not mention what we found, but I believe Deon has been moved to another location,” she admits. “We found a room in which there were remains of his DNA, but we did not find him among the dead.”

     “That is great news!” Katherine exclaims.

     “It’s not,” Neida says. “If he’s not there, then where is he? Is he even still…” She does not finish the sentence, but she got her point across.

     “The amount of blood suggests that he is indeed still alive,” the General says.

     “Blood? Why… Are there remains of his blood?” The General looks at her with a meaningful look, and Neida pales.

     “The files we found on the scene suggest some kind of human experiments. The live subjects were transferred to another location.”

     “Subjects?!”

     “Human ‘volunteers’ for them to experiment on,” the General explains.

     “So you’re saying Deon ‘volunteered’?!” Neida rages. Akari clenches her hand as a sign for her to calm down and she reluctantly does so.

     “None of them volunteered to anything. Most of the dead are refugees and have not been reported missing.”

     “Oh…” Neida looks away, a little ashamed of her outburst.

     “Yes, oh,” the General mimics sarcastically. “We have found something worth of notice, though,” the General finally admits, continuing where she left off. “Something that has to do with your brother,” she admits, causing Neida to look at her with a sharp gaze. “We looked through their files, and we found the location they have relocated to.”

     “Where?” Neida asks with wide eyes.

     “Just a few miles to the east of the barracks,” the General says. “But,” she shatters Neida’s hope with the next sentence. “If you think you are coming with us, you are deathly wrong.”

     “What?! But it’s my brother and--”

     “--and he’s currently located with scientists whom experiments on people. This concerns me, because they have killed three of my guards and I want to bring the other victims’ families to justice.”

     “And? What about my justice?” Neida glares.

     “You’ll have to wait here until we rescue him and many others.”

     “No, this is--”

     “If you decide to disobey my command and sneak your way through, I will know, and I will throw all three you out of Xion. Do you understand?” Neida swallows nervously, before she nods. “Good,” the General says. “Now the reason why I came here, wasn’t to tell you news of your brother,” she looks over at Katherine. “Warin are to come with me, the commander and the other guards. I need your skills in order to solve this. II need the best people sorted out for this job.”

     “I understand, ma’am.” Katherine bows her head and heads off to her room immediately.

     “But Katherine--”

     “Is a guard. My guard,” the General interrupts Neida. “And she is the only one who will leave this house, until we have solved this problem.”

     “But--”

     “Reporting for duty, ma’am,” Katherine comes into the room again, this time with her armor on.

     “Excellent. Let us go.” The General moves towards the door, and behind her Katherine follows.

     “Wait!” Neida yells, standing up from the sofa to follow. “What about us? What are we supposed to do meanwhile?”

     “I have no idea. It is not my problem.” With the parting words, the General and Katherine leave the house, leaving behind a dead silence.

     “I can’t believe this!” Neida suddenly rages, turning around to complain to Akari. “Who does she think she is?!” she yells. “Oh, you cannot come with us to save your brother, oh no, this is a job for the guards!”

     “Neida, she has a point,” Akari admits.

     “Oh, really?” She walks closer to him while she glares. “Taking care of Deon is my job. Resolving crimes are the guards’ jobs. They are not going to help Deon specifically, and if something is about to happen to him, they are not going to storm inside to stop it!”

     “But they still protect the innocent,” he argues.

     “But that doesn’t mean they are going to prevent deaths if it crushes their hope of taking them by surprise!”

     “Okay, Neida. You need to calm the fuck down! You’re not thinking rationally when it comes to Deon.”

     “Ugh, I know! Goddamnit, I know!” she sneers. He does not answer her. Instead, he merely looks at her, causing her to sigh and sit down on the sofa. “I know I don’t always think rationally when it comes to Deon… which...” she looks at Akari who is sitting next to her. “Which is why you’re coming with me.”

     “I am what now?” he says surprised. “I don’t know if you didn’t hear the General says that we will be thrown out of Xion if we go. Do you want to risk that? Your brother is surely going to catch the Crimson Death if you go outside these walls,” he continues.

     “My brother is surely going to die if I do not rescue him,” she argues and gives him a pleading look.

     “Neida…”

     “Do you want me to beg? Because if that is what you need for going with me, then I’ll do it.”

     “No, Neida,” he denies. “No begging. I will go with you. I was going to come with you, I just wanted you to know what we are risking to go after them,” he says with a small smile and reaches out, giving her hand a comforting squeeze.

     “Thank you Akari. I appreciate it,” she replies.

 

     “How sure are we that Deon is actually in this building?” Akari asks. “You know, after our last epic failure?”

     “We are sure because this time, we did not leave anything to the chances?” Neida answers.

     “And do remind me how?” he says with a smirk. She sighs and glares at him.

     “Because you were able to intercept a transmission between the General and Katherine,” she says. “But why asks if we were sure, if you already knew?” His smirk grows wider at her comment.

     “I wanted to hear you say it. I’m just that good.”

     “That good at being a pain in the ass,” she mumbles.

     “At least I’m a pain in a lovely ass.”

     “What?” she stammers.

     “Nothing, let's go. The General is to busy gathering her guards and planning what to do to notice us going in around the back,” he says and starts to walk towards the building.

     “What did you say before?” she asks baffled, but she follows him.

     “It depends on what you heard I said,” he says with an even bigger smirk.

     “Umm…”

     “I just you gave a compliment. All I need is a thank you,” he says as they reach the backdoor.

     “A tha--? No! I will not thank you for…”

     “Neida don’t go all fussy about it, it was just a compliment,” he says and opens the door. “After you,” he continues and holds the door for Neida.

     “Now that, I will thank you for,” she smiles and walks in. The first thing they notice is the cold. It bites through their clothes, creating shivers. The second thing they notice is the darkness when they close the door behind them.

     “Neida, do not walk too far off,” he whispers in the dark. “Neida?” he repeats when she does not gives an answer.

     “I’m here,” she says. “My foot hit something.” She bows down to find out what her foot hit. It is cold, wet and it has an odd long shape.

     “What did it hit?” he asks curiously as he tries to find Neida in the darkness.

     “I’m not sure. But it’s cold and wet. Wait I think…” A loud sound of metal hitting the floor startles her and she let go of the thing.

     “Sorry… I fell,” Akari says apologizing.

     “For fuck sake Akari! It is a miracle if--” she does not gets to finish her sentence.

     “Did you hear that?!” a muffled voice asks.

     “Dammit Akari!” Neida hisses and tries to find a place she can hide, but it is near impossible in the dark.

     “I think it came from the cooler,” another voice says, suddenly sending shivers down Neida’s spine.

     “The cooler?” she whispers questionably to Akari.

     “Don’t look at me. Or… I will not actually know if you do, but not the point,” Akari rambles. “How I am supposed to know this was a cooler? I saw a way in and no guards.”

     “Amazing Akari.” The sound of metal gives away and then a small beam of light comes into the room. Two silhouettes are standing in the doorway.

     “Get the lights! I can’t see anything in this blasted darkness,” the voice says and one of the silhouettes disappears from the doorway. Neida looks down at what she hit when there finally is some light to see. She can make out a faint outline of what it is, but it is covered in some sort of reddish wet substance. The same substance which now is on her hands. She carefully reaches a hand out into the light and her eyes widen. It is… Blood. No...

     Then a blinding light lights up everything once before buried in the dark. Neida looks again at the thing she hit. An arm. Covered in blood. Akari is by her side and holds a hand in front of her mouth to keep her from making a sound.

     “We need to hide and not scream,” he whispers, even as her body is shaking in horror. “I know you are not going to like this, but we need to hide in between all these… People,” he whispers in her ear, his breath warm against her ear. “Nod if you understand, and I’ll remove my hand,” he continues. She nods and he removes his hand.

     They hide between the bodies of the countless people. Neida decides to hide with her face down because she cannot control her breathing enough not to make a cloud of white smoke when she exhale. She can hear footsteps not too far away from where they are hiding. Footsteps, which walk closer and closer to where she is hiding.

     “I don’t see anything?” the first voice says, the closest one to her.

     “It’s probably those damn rats again,” the other voice replies.

     “Told the Doctor we needed the traps for the rats and not intruders, but he won't listen.”

     “Did you read the latest Amira?”

     “Yeah. Page seven must be the pride of her family. Those big tits with a body like that. I would cheat on my wife any day if I could get a piece of that pussy,” the first voice says in a husky tone.

     “Indeed! But the lass one on page fourteen,” the other one whistles. “Wow. Mini me is also a fan. The wife too. Said I was on fire, but all I could think about was the lass on fourteen,” he says and laughs. The steps near the door now.

     “Why are you still with that one? Didn’t you say you can’t stand looking at her. She had that…”

     “Rash. Big ugly thing in her face. Appeared after she got pregnant the third time,” the voice finish for the other voice.

     “Yeah that.”

     “If you close your eye it’s not hard,” they hear him answer. “I picture the lass on page fourteen or the girls I fuck behind the bar when I go out,” he admits. “But my wife… She can do this thing with her mouth. If God hadn’t proven a hoax, I would think she is an angel when she does it.”

     “That good, eh?” the other laughs, his footsteps sounding from outside the door.

     “Aye,” he agrees. “The girls at the bar are good, but not so experienced as--” The last sentence is cut off as they door to the cooler is closed, and they hear the muffled sounds of the men walking away. It is only when they are completely sure that they are gone and not coming back, that Neida hurries away from the pile of bodies and then leans on the wall as she throws up. She can hear Akari behind her, but she is not sure what he is doing, before she starts throwing up again and his footsteps are unheard.

     She is surprised, however, when she suddenly feels his hand on her back, rubbing in an attempt to calm her down. It appears to be helping, until she remembers that she just layed in a pile of corpses and she throws up one last time.

     “Shhhh,” Akari soothes her. She spits down at the ground, trying to get the taste of bile away. “Are you alright now?” he asks quietly. She nods, but then she realizes that he cannot see her.

     “I’m… Better,” she answers in a shaky voice. “But those corpses, along with hearing those men’s conversation…” She shudders in disgust.

     “I’m glad to hear,” he says almost relieved. “Sadly these men are not the pride of the male population.”

     “I get why,” she says. “Come on, we need to find the bloody door.”

     “Yay, walk into the minefield of dead bodies. Hopefully we get there before we slip in some blood and… You get the picture.”

     “Yes. And stop talking about it,” she pleads. A slight ‘uggh’ sound followed by a cough breaks the silence. “Fucking table,” Neida mumbles angry when she can breathe again.

     “Yeah, those are hard to work with, takes your breath away.”

     “Shut up Akari! You were the one who fell over a table, remember?”

     “Aha!” Akari suddenly exclaims.

     “What? Did you find the door?!”

     “Even better. Money!” he says happily.

     “Money!?” she asks in disbelief. “We need to find the door!”

     “Yeah, I found that too,” he admits afterwards.

     “Well next time, tell me!”

     “The handles are a bit jammed, but I think I… No. Get over here and help me,” he says with a sigh.

     “Okay… I’ll just stroll over there then,” she hisses.

     “Just follow my gorgeous and sexy voice” he says and she can almost hear the smirk on his lips. “What do you want me to say then?” he waits a little before continuing. “Yeah, don’t I know it,” he sighs. “Sometimes I wish I could just... But no, I have to restrain myself from doing so. It’s hard, more than anything,” he admits. “Once in awhile I enjoy it, but most of the times i just find it boring. Then rarely I find something that makes it all worthwhile. You know what I mean? Heh… Funny tim--”

     “Found you,” Neida says close to his ear and Akari lets out a surprised sound. “You almost sounded like a girl!” she laughs.

     “That was uncalled for,” he says when he has collected himself. “Nevertheless help me with the door,” he continues. She nods, but then remembers he cannot see her.

     “Okay.” She feels her way to the door and lands on something warm among all the cold metal.

     “That’s my hand, you know,” he says in a low voice. “But pull on three?” he does not wait for an answer before counting down. They pull in unison and after a few seconds the door gives in. Carefully, they peek outside and pull the door just wide enough for them to squeeze out.

     White walls and warmth meets them on the other side. The light in the ceiling flickers from time to time, but there is light nevertheless. Neida looks down at her hands, they still bear witness to what was in that room. She shift her pleading eyes to Akari.

     “I’ll take care of it then,” he says and take her hands in his. He is about to spit on them before she rips her hand to her.

     “What are you doing!” she whispers angry.

     “Do you want them clean or not? You can wash my spit of when we get back to Katherine, but this is the only way to get rid of the--”

     “Don’t say it.” He sighs, but agrees. Again he takes her hand in his, this time he gets the chance to spit. Gently he washes all the red away, then dries them with his shirt. “There all good,” he says with a smile. “Now let’s find your brother.”

 

When they finally start finding any people alive they are on the last floor, or perhaps the basement would be a better word. They are forced to hide, however, when a woman in white walks down the hallway. This time the only hiding spot is a closet.

     “If you wanted to find some alone time for just you and me this close, all you could do was ask. There is no need for us to cramp together in this disgusting closet,” Akari whispers.

     “You have such great timing Akari,” she whispers, listening for the footsteps of the woman.

     “Well… I can’t resist a beautiful woman,” he whispers right into her ear. “And you are no exception.”

     “Really Akari? Is it like a switch you can’t turn off or something?” she asks exasperated.

     “What do you mean?” he smirks.

     “Ever since you tried to charm the secretary, which you failed by the way, it’s like you use any excuse to come with some lame one liner,” she explains.

     “Lame? You think it’s lame?” he asks and pretends he is hurt.

     “You see? It’s like you can’t turn it off.”

     “Ah, well I blame my--”

     “Shhhh, someone’s coming.” Neida presses her back farther into Akari, in an attempt to distance herself from the people on the other side of the closet. Akari breathes right next to her neck, his breathing sounding loud but steady. It is warm and she cannot decide if it is pleasant or just plain uncomfortable.

     “--sick bastard, can you believe what he said about his wife?” the familiar voice of the General sounds through the door.

     “A least he got what was coming to him, and it was delivered by two females after what he called us... Ma’am,” she voice of Katherine says. Akari’s breathing speeds up a little as it is revealed who exactly is on the other side.

     “Exactly. Who would’ve believed that a man could scream as loudly as a woman?”

     “As loudly as females, whose only function is to be fucked… is what I believe he would have said, ma’am,” Katherine says, causing the General to laugh.

     “True,” the General agrees. “He definitely had a colourful language…” Their voices fade away as they walk further down the hallway, away from the closet.

     Neida can practically feel Akari’s fast heartbeat through her back, adding with his fast breathing.

     “I think we can go out now,” Neida eventually says.

     “Yeah…” Akari agrees hesitantly. Carefully moving forward, Neida slowly opens the closet doors and sneaks a peak outside. The hallways have an unnatural silence to them, and after the conversation of the General and Katherine, she does not want to think of the reason why. At least she knows the disgusting men have been taken care of.

     She steps out of the closet, and behind her Akari does the same. Together, they walk the opposite direction of where the voices of the General and Katherine disappeared to. It it luckily the one they have not been down yet.

 

(This chapter is continued into the next)

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