All she had known, all she remembered, up to this point was darkness. There were no dreams. There were no visions. Even a nightmare would have been preferable. Instead, there was emptiness, cold, blackness and loneliness.
Now, there was light. A bright, harsh, unfeeling light with a halo of antiseptic coolness about it. It was almost as bad as the darkness, but at least, it was something. She had opened her eyes for the first time in a long time. Longer than she could remember. There was absolutely no memory of what occurred before the darkness. She did not know who she was, where she came from or even what her name was. All she had known was darkness. The light that shone in her eyes was painful, but it was a welcome feeling. Before, she felt nothing. Now, there was sensation, feeling! The tears began to stream from her eyes, partly because of the light, partly because of the pain, and partly because she was happy, so happy! Happy to feel and to see once more. But had she seen and felt before? She did not know.
Then came the voice. It was deep, gravelly and full of expectation, of dreams. It spoke slowly and clearly. It wasn't long before she realized that it was speaking to her. And it called her a name.
"Sara? Sara, can you hear me? God, please say you can hear me!"
By now, things were beginning to focus for Sara. A shadow eclipsed the harsh light. The loss of the stinging brightness helped her to make out what was around her. It was then that she saw the face. It was a face of woman, an old woman. Her eyes were lined with age, with concern, and something else. With pain.
"Sara, if you can understand me, say something. Anything."
Sara's body began to register to her brain. She became aware of arms with hands, of legs with feet. She could feel the blood coursing through her vein, hear the slow rhythmic beating of her heart. It was as if she had a sudden heightened awareness of her own physical existence. And it was then that she became aware of a second, more nagging pain than that caused by the light.
Slowly she shaped her mouth. "Food."
The old woman smiled. "Yes, that's usually what happens when the body is brought out of cryogenic hibernation."
She helped Sara lift herself into a seated position. Sara looked about the room she found herself in. It was a clean, spartan room light blue walls and no furniture save for the bed she sat on and a row of white cabinets on one side of the room. The room was brightly lit, and the light still stung her eyes. She instinctively put her hand to her eyes once her mind reminded itself that it had instincts.
"Your eyes are still dilated from being in darkness for so long," explained the woman. "Don't worry. They'll adjust eventually."
The woman had turned away from Sara and was standing in front of a counter. When she turned back to face Sara, she held in her hands a tray with assorted meats and a few cookies. On the counter behind her was a large bowl of crumpled, green leaves.
"Here eat this," she said, offering Sara the tray.
Sara quickly grabbed as many of the meats as she could and tried to stuff them all into her mouth.
"Whoa! Take it easy. This isn't going anywhere. It'll be right here." She set the tray on the bed.
Sara slowed her chewing but still held the mass of meat to her face until she could easily ingest all of it. Once she had eaten the meats she sigh a large sigh of relief that seemed to flow through her entire body.
"I can only imagine how you must feel," said the woman sympathetically.
Sara slowly reached for a cookie and nibbled at it as if she were a food taster. After the first few bites, she crammed the rest of the cookie into her maw.
"Well, I'm glad you approve of my baking," said the woman. "Although, in your condition, you'd probably eat mud pies."
Sara looked at the woman and formed her mouth for speech. At first nothing came out, but soon, three barely comprehensible words escaped from her mouth.
The woman's smile disappeared for an instant but soon returned, only halfheartedly so.
"You are in Dr. Soho's laboratory."
"Who's.....Dr. Soho?" It was evident that Sara was becoming more confident in speaking.
After ten year of cryogenic sleep, she had to quickly relearn the basic physical chores she had learned at two years of age.
"Dr. Soho is...your host. He will tell you more."
"What's your name?"
The woman sighed a very tired sigh. "My name is Geri."
Sara studied her for a moment. "Are you.....my mother?"
Geri looked startled at first. Then, she smiled, this time more fully, more warmly. "In a way...I guess I am. You finish your food and rest for a while. We'll talk later."
She handed the bowl of leaves to Sara and left the room. Sara stared at the leaves, and then began to consume them with as much relish as she did with the meat. The leaves were considerably easier to stuff into her mouth. It was then that she had noticed, for the first time in fact, that her hand was green. In truth, her whole body was a deep beige with an olive-green tint. She did not realize that this was an abnormal trait. Sara merely looked at herself with curiosity for a short while, then continued attacking her salad. Once she finished she tossed the bowl onto the floor where it bounced to one side of the room before settling upside down. She did not want to sleep. She had been asleep for a long time already. She was restless and bored.
Sara hopped off of the bed. It took a while for her to stand. She had not done it in so long and her leg muscles seemed to have atrophied slightly. Once she gained her composure, she began to explore the room.
* * *
Charisse sat in the conference room with Dr. Geraldine Page. Normally, she disliked associating with her, even though she didn't quite understand why. Of any human being on the Earth, Geri was the only person who truly understood Charisse, and when she asked to speak with Charisse, she had only agreed out of respect for the only person she could ever call "mother."
"What is it that you wish to talk to me about?" asked Charisse with stoic diplomacy.
"You must promise that you will tell no one about what I am about to tell you, not even Dr. Soho."
Charisse grimaced. "You know I cannot make a promise like that. I am programmed to comply to whatever he wishes. If he is suspicious and ask me about you, he will learn whatever he needs."
Geri had winced at the word "programmed". Charisse always sounded like a robot, an unfeeling computer, when she spoke like that. But Geri knew better.
"You wouldn't tell him what he didn't specifically ask for. I've seen you hide information from him that way."
Charisse's expression grew dark. No matter how hard she tried to be the most unreadable human alive, she was always as transparent as crystal to Geri. "I will do what I can."
This answer seemed to satisfy Geri. "There is another Mega-female soldier in the lab."
Charisse's attention snapped to full. "How can that be? We saw no one else. There were only Trisha, Kim and myself."
"This person was not allowed to see anyone else but Dr. Soho and myself. She is a radical, new prototype. The fusion of the characteristics of plant and animal. Basically, she has the advantages of both. It was Soho's most ambitious and most difficult project."
"Why hasn't Dr. Soho told me about this? He takes me into his confidence on many sensitive matters."
"You, my dear, are nothing to him but a grunt. You are a mindless soldier. A tool. He cares nothing for you past that signature of his on your genes." Geri held a look of firm conviction the verily made Charisse's blood run cold, but she refused to let Geri see that she was in any way daunted.
"Then why are you informing me? It is obvious you know the risks of telling me anything anywhere in this complex."
A determination entered Geri's features. A fearless mindset that Charisse had seen once before in only one person - Kismet.
"Dr. Soho is busy reviewing his notes. He becomes completely engrossed upon his plans when he prepares for an operation." Geri let that sink in. It meant that Dr. Soho would be too busy to check his security systems. She continued. "I want you to smuggle her out of here as quickly and quietly as you can."
Upon hearing the word "smuggle", Charisse leapt to her feet, knocking her chair aside. "I cannot do that! I am Nightshade! I cannot obey a command that goes against my programming!"
Geri was still calm and placid, yet her determination held. "I am not asking you to go against Dr. Soho. I am asking you to protect him. Sara is too emotionally unstable to undergo the conditioning. If he tried again, she would kill him. That almost happened fifteen years ago. Sara had to be placed in cryogenic freeze."
Charisse knew that the reason she was given for smuggling Sara out of the lab was a lie, but somehow she was able to allow it to fool her programming. "Very well, I will try. Where do you wish me to take her?"
Geri hesitated. "I want you to take her to Trisha."
Charisse hissed like a cat. "What you ask is impossible!" she spat.
Geri still held a firm gaze on Charisse. "You must do this BECAUSE I ask it!"
Charisse momentarily forgot her anger and studied Geri. "Why do you want this girl to escape? You never tried this with myself or the others."
"Believe me, I have thought and planned, but Soho was always ten steps ahead of me. You can succeed where I have failed."
"I ask again," said Charisse leaning forward until her nose almost touched Geri's, "why?"
Geri kept silent for quite a while. Charisse could just barely notice a change that had come over Geri. It was a mixture of rage and fear. But before Charisse could say anything more, Geri answered her question in subdued tones and unleashed emotions.
"She's my daughter."
* * *
Trisha sat in her room and stared at the small flower made of ribbons and crepe paper that was sitting on her dresser. The ribbon was tattered and faded and the crepe paper was slowly beginning to disintegrate. She didn't care. This flower was the only thing that she had which reminded her of the one person who taught her how to survive a childhood that could be euphemistically called torture. That person had given her the flower when she was but a child.
Trisha remembered the first time she met Dr. Geraldine Page. She was only five years old and frightened. She had been kidnapped from the orphanage where she had been staying. She only had a vague impression of her true mother and father. They were merely warm, pleasant, if hazy, memories that appeared in dreams once in a while. But the one who counted the most to her was Geri. She was there for her always. She was the mother that she wished for when she was alone and scared.
And we left her there in that cesspool of a laboratory, she thought to herself. Trisha sighed heavily.
Trisha looked up and saw her best friend Kim Kido peeking her head into the room without actually entering. She was more than a friend. Trisha considered her to be the sister she never had. They had both survived and escaped the laboratory of Dr. Soho, and they had both been altered by his twisted and sinister genetic experiments.
Trisha motioned for her friend to enter the room. Kim stepped in her face beaming back at Trisha in more ways than one. The overhead light reflected perfectly off of her features. The metallic gold luster of her skin still startles Trisha when she sees her friend even after twenty years.
"Whatcha doin'," asked Kim in that childlike mimicry she was fond of starting every conversation with.
Trisha pointed to the deteriorating flower on her dresser. Although Kim is a telepath, no thoughts were sent along with the gesture. It wasn't necessary.
"Yeah, I really miss her, too," sighed Kim. "I wish there was some way we could get her out of there."
Trisha had had the same thoughts, but there was no way they could break the laboratory's security. How they got out was a one in a billion fluke as it was. Getting back in would be damned near impossible, especially since Nightshade was now there. Fighting Nightshade out in the city was one thing, but attacking the lioness in her own den would be a kamikaze effort with a one hundred percent chance of failure. At least, that's how it looked.
The longing that had held Trisha before now encompassed them both and turned to depression. They both sat on the bed and stared at the flower. In the silence that fell on them both, a quiet whisper emanated out and filled the room with hope.
* * *
Charisse entered the room where many of the operations performed on her were carried out. She forcefully push the evil memories from her mind and focussed onto what it was she was here for. Looking around, she quickly spotted a short, green-skinned girl examining some electronic equipment in the far corner.
The girl whirled around immediately taking a classic defensive stand. Then, she stood up in bewilderment as if she did not know why she did it. Charisse approach cautiously. She presented a smile. It did not come easily for her, but she was able to manage it.
"I am..." She hesitated a moment. "Nightshade."
Sara looked at her. Nightshade was older than Sara, but she seemed to share an alikeness the Sara could not quite pin down.
"What do you want?"
"Geri wants me to take you to see...some very good friends of hers."
Charisse tried hard not to lose her temper. "Please, you must come with me."
"I don't want to go. Where is Geri?"
"Geri is busy." Charisse could feel her blood pressure rising. "We must hurry. You are not safe here. Geri told me to take you to a place of safety."
Sara looked very hard at Nightshade, trying to make up her mind. Finally, she allowed a small smile to show. "Alright."
They were able to make it through most of security by putting Sara into a burlap sack. At last, they had made it to the underground garage where several vans used for smuggling equipment were kept. Nightshade carefully placed the sack in the nearest van. Then she casually went to the keeper in the garage and signed out a van. Since she routinely took vans out to engage Kismet and her band, this didn't seem out of the ordinary to the keeper. Nightshade took the keys and left in the van with her smuggled treasure crouching in the back.
It would be two days before they reached Monument City, New York. Nightshade hoped that Geri would be alright when she got back. Upon reaching the main road, the van lurched forward with a new urgency to complete its mission.
* * *
Trisha was sound asleep in her room when a sharp rapping woke her.
Who the hell would be knocking at this hour?
Trisha got up and put her robe on. She stormed angrily toward the front door ready to give the offender a rather large portion of her mind. Trisha violently whisked the door open and...stopped dead in her tracks. There standing in front of her was a young girl, barely a young woman, with green tinted skin dressed in a laboratory smock and holding a folder with one word on the front - Chlorophylia.
The girl looked confused at first, but soon she reached out a hand and said, "Hi. My name is Sara. You must be Geri's friend."
At the mention of the name, Trisha's face nearly drained completely. She reached for the girl's hand and led her into the apartment. After locking the door, she offered a seat. Sara sat down while Trisha left the room. She returned almost immediately adjusting a thin band around her head with a tiny speaker placed on her forehead. She sat in a chair opposite Sara. Suddenly, to Sara's amazement, Trisha began to speak without moving her lips.
"My name is Trisha. Where did you come from?"
"I came from Dr. Soho's laboratory."
A dark cloud covered Trisha's heart. So, Soho's making more soldiers. Damn him!
"How did you speak without moving your mouth?"
"Oh, that," Trisha laughed uneasily. "Well you see, I have no vocal chords with which to speak on my own. So, this gadget does it for me."
"Oh," said Sara with finality.
"Can I see that folder?"
Sara looked at the folder in her hands as if she had just realized that she had been holding it. Then, she handed it to Trisha. Trisha read the cover letter. Her heart skipped a beat as she read the signature - Dr. Geraldine Page. She jumped up, grabbed the phone and hastily dialed a number. After about five rings, the sound of someone fumbling with the phone receiver a groggy voice finally spoke.
"Kim, get over here quick! We've got a crisis!"
Kim perked up almost immediately. "I'll be right over."
After about fifteen minutes, Kim entered through the living room window in full uniform. When she realized that not only was Trisha not suited up, but there was also a stranger in the room, she almost died on the spot.
"It's okay," said Trisha smiling. "I guess I should have been more specific. Don't worry, it's actually fortunate that you got dressed up. This concerns all three of us in a very personal way."
Trisha introduced Sara to Kim and then showed Kim the folder. Kim read through the letter.
"I didn't know Geri even had a family besides us," said Kim. "But according to this you are her daughter, Sara."
"You mean, she is my real mother?"
"I guess she didn't want to tell you for your own protection," said Kim.
Trisha paced across the living room. "That bastard! Using Geri's own child for his twisted experiments."
Sara wrinkled her brow in confusion. "I don't understand. Who are you talking about?"
"Dr. Soho, of course."
"He didn't do anything to me."
"My God! He turned you green, for Christ's sake!" Trisha was ready to explode. "He turned you into a f**king plant!"
Sara once again studied her hands. "You mean I'm not supposed to be green?"
Trisha was about to make another retort when it suddenly occurred to her. Sara had developed an awareness of herself looking the way she was.
"My God, you don't know, do you?" asked Trisha in horror. She turned to Kim. "He must have started on her as an infant."
Kim's body tensed. She looked as if she were a bomb ready go off. Finally, she grabbed a dagger from one of her boots and slammed it into the reinforced gypsum board wall to relieve her frustration and anger. It helped only a little. Trisha didn't protest the damage to her living room wall, as she had done the same many times with her katana sword. As a result, she had become very adept in the use of spackling compound.
Trisha managed to calm herself down and slowly, carefully explained the situation by telling Sara the story of her childhood with Kim and Nightshade in the laboratory. She told her what kind of woman Geraldine Page was and what kind of monster Dr. Soho was. When she was done, Sara was racked with fury. So much so that Trisha prepared for a major emotional explosion. Instead, she began to cry. It was such a heavy uncontrolled sobbing that Trisha thought she would fall literally to pieces. So she held her. Held her tight. And Sara let the sobs come.
Kim read quickly through the rest of the file. She realized now that when Sara reached fifteen years, she underwent the same programming procedures that Nightshade went through, that they were all destined to go through. Only in Sara's case, she was too emotionally unstable to be programmed due to the early age at which she was altered.
"Bastard!" she spat quietly.
Sara had eventually exhausted herself from crying. Physically and emotionally drained, she collapsed in Trisha's arms. Trisha hefted her into the bedroom and let her sleep, the tears still falling from her eyes.
"God, I feel so sorry for her," sighed Trisha. "And Geri. What must it be like to live with that monster who endangered her baby's life?"
Kim looked at her. "It's time."
Trisha didn't understand.
"This is the best excuse. The only excuse. We've got to get Geri out of that hell hole."
Trisha shook her head. "We've had this discussion before. There's no way we can get in there without getting caught or killed."
"Sure, if we went in there by ourselves, but we're not alone anymore." Before Trisha could protest further, Kim continued. "They're our family now, Trish. With the Black Pack on our side, there's no way we can fail. What happens now is as much their business as it is ours. We're a team. We have to stick together."
Trisha nodded wearily.
"Don't worry," said Kim putting her hand on Trisha's shoulder. "Everything will work out."
They embraced. The only comfort they can find in cold and unfeeling world.
Continued in Rescue.
Return to The Document Library.