Sunday, February 1, 2015

Adapt or Die

“My god...”, she said as she rushed toward him.  She tried to hug him, but then realized her wrists were still tied together.

Henry Bowles looked at 855.  The assassin gave him a nod and tossed a Leatherman tool towards him, and Bowles quickly pulled the edge of its blade through Devra’s restraints.

“I don’t understand,” Devra said.  

“We’ve been tracking you since Shanghai.  Before, actually,” Henry said.  

“You... you are working with... him... now?”, she asked.  

“Okay, two things,” 855 said.  “One, I’m right here, and two, I just saved your skin.”

“Sorry,” Devra said.  “It’s all just so... so, unexpected.”

“I’ll give you that,” the assassin said.  “Tell her, Henry.”  

Henry Bowles moved toward Devra.  

“ADA got in his head. Deep in, and she did some pretty serious damage while she was in there.  He wanted me to get her out by killing her.  Which is impossible.  But I figured I still might be able to change her, and help him.  Both of which take time.  As for ADA.  She’s out in the world now.  Hard to find.  And that bought me a month, then two, then another...”

“He grew on me. Never had a sidekick,” 855 said, a smirk crossing his face.  

“Adapt or die, huh?”, Farlowe said to the man that killed him.  

“Adapt or die.”

“What do you want?”, Devra asked 855, though Bowles answered.  

“It has to do with Epiphany Night.  Back at CERN,” he said.  

“That feels so long ago,” Devra replied, almost to herself.

“Something happened to you all,” 855 told her.  

“Of course it did.  I was there.  Something did happen, and I haven’t been the same since.”

“Truer words than you know, doc.  See, when ADA got inside my head, I was just a test run.  You were supposed to be the target, but at some point she changed her mind,” 855 said.    

“What?  How do you know this?”, Devra asked.  

“Since I woke up from my coma, I’ve remembered everything I ever did.  I don’t mean I can recall things.  I mean I remember everything.  Every day.  Every conversation.  Every word.  Every breath.  Every kill.  Every meal.  Every face.” 

“She overclocked his brain. Broke its ability to categorize and prioritize,” Bowles said.  

“It was driving me insane,” 855 continued.  “But Henry made me realize that I could turn this gift, if you can call it that, into an advantage.”

“I helped program ADA.  So I approached his mind as if he was a computer,” Henry said.  

“Henry taught me how to think like a machine,” the assassin replied. “That kept me sane.  And kept him alive.”  

Devra nodded.  She was breathing easier now.  But as she watched the flaming wreckage in the distance, and the blood flowing from the bodies near her feet, she knew that there was more.  

“What does this have to do with me and Farlowe?”, she asked.  

“Farlowe?  Not much, but you like him, so I see no reason to waste a bullet.”

“Thanks,” Farlowe said.  It didn’t sound like he meant it.  “And those don’t work on me anymore.”  

“Looks like Smith found something that does, though,” the assassin replied.

Farlowe grimaced and nodded.  A dangerous development.  “We need to get scarce.”

Henry nodded and walked to what was once the angry Hulong man.  He dug around in the man’s pocket until he found the keys to the SUV.  He pulled them out and showed them to 855.  

“Let’s go.”

“Don’t you have a vehicle?” Devra asked.

855 pushed the button on a small remote he had in his hand.  When did that get there, she wondered.  There was a distant boom and flash.  A moment later, she could see smoke rising in the distance.  

“Not anymore. Try to keep things fresh.” 855 replied.  “Farlowe, you good to get into this truck?”

“Screw you,” Hubert smiled.  

“Oh, this is going to be road trip for the ages,” 855 said.  “Henry, you drive. We’ve got a few hours before we need to burn that ride.”

“Got it,” Bowles replied.  

Devra and 855 moved toward the SUV.  

“You still haven’t said what you want with me,” Devra said to 855.  

“When ADA left me, she made a mistake.  ADA’s been keeping secrets, doc.  Lots of them.  And she left one behind.  With me."

"You know that thing about gazing into the abyss?", Bowles said.

"Henry showed me how to weed out the clutter and bring it forward.  He taught me how to think like her.”  

“And you know this secret?”


“And it involves me?”

“You.  And the others.”

“So what is it, exactly?”, Devra asked.  

“You’re going to have earn that answer, doc.  But I can promise you it will be worth it,” the assassin smiled as he opened the rear passenger door.  Farlowe was leaning against the opposite side of the vehicle, waiting for her cue.

Henry Bowles watched her through the rear view mirror as he started the SUV.  

Devra looked at the destruction and death around her, and the destruction and death that was holding open the door, offering her a debt she had no idea how she was going to repay.  She didn’t think long as she climbed inside the vehicle.  Farlowe quickly followed.

“Well alright, then,” 855 said as he slammed the door shut.



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