A while later, Margaret said, “I feel like I can move now, but I am starving.”
Feeling I could leave her alone, I located a small stream and washed the blood and dirt from her body armor, I returned and we ate field rations and drank water that tasted slightly metallic.
“I think I’ll live,” she said as if reading my mind. “This time. If they capture me again they will kill me like I heard them doing to others from my time.”
“Surely not everyone from the twenty-first century was DNA manipulated.”
“No only a small percentage of the population. But we did bred so our numbers grew.” She pressed her hand to her stomach and shyly looked at my eyes. “I think I’m pregnant now.”
“What?” I sounded in control, but panic played with me.
She laughed lightly. “That’s why they didn’t kill me right away but torture me instead. They wanted my baby.”
“Our baby,” I said defensively. “They won’t get it.”
“Good, I’d hoped you’d feel like that.” She leaned against me again and I felt more protective of her then I’d ever felt of anyone in the past including, I realized, Blythe. I fought with that realization for a few confusing moments, deciding that while I was a functioning assassin, emotions did not, could not have a place in my mind or life. Each decision was kill or don’t kill depending on the situation. Don’t kills almost always became, kills at a later date. So bringing a child into the world of mine would’ve been an extreme risk to me, and the child. It would likely have been used to manipulate me.
Now without that risk factor becoming a father was a knife-edge of terror because I suspected I’d fail miserably. Finally knowing my silence was too drawn out, I responded hopefully in a way that would give her confidence in me.
“We’ll find a place where we can live safely.” I said, and then assisted her with her body armor. She didn’t want to wear the prison garment so I stashed it to use later to start a fire for the night.
“Can you tell me what it was like living in the years you were a mythical warrior?”
She glanced at me with a smile I found especially adorable. “I like the idea that you think I was some type of mythical creature who appeared in the dead of nigh to save mankind from itself.”
I too smiled, nearly laughed, but instead said, “Well I’m not sure about the appearing in the dead of night.”
She leaned back, closed her eyes, and folded her hands protectively over the small bump in her abdomen.
“I didn’t have a choice. They visited all the orphanages to individually select the best candidates. I really didn’t believe they take me cause I was small, short, and overweight. Turned out that was one of the criteria for the creature they decided I should become.” She stretched her arms over her head and then lowered them to her sides so her hands were again on her lap.
“To start they got DNA samples and using that began manipulating it. Periodically they injected it to study its effects. That was horribly painful when I grew wings. They were ecstatic when by concentrating with their supervision I managed to pull wings under my flesh. Then I passed out. They induced a coma state and finished with the DNA manipulation. When I awoke, I was the creature you’ve seen. The first night after I cried endlessly. The second night, the anger their work stimulated roared through me. I killed three scientists and was deemed ready to join the war effort.”
She seemed to shrink as she spoke and I was sorry I asked. “I shouldn’t have asked you to explain what they did to you.”
“I don’t mind, Stanton but I am truly weary from my recent time behind bars. They tried to force me to change, shape shift they called it, but I did not. I knew about our baby and wouldn’t jeopardize it.”
I went closer and pulled her close. “”We have to get far enough away that they cannot find us. We should travel when the sun rises.” I kind of jerked back recalling we were on a ring world. How did the builders make it possible for us to have night and day?”
I kissed the top of her head and stood. “I think I should build a fire so we’ll stay warm and we can heat up rations. Maybe then they’ll be less offensive.”