Gadgets & People
Part VI: Independent Research
With Jaeger dead set on not giving me any answers, I decided to get some of my own. After a less than satisfying night of sleep I got out of bed and quickly went through my routine before isolating myself with a sketch pad and a pen.
I’d never been an artist, but I had a great memory and motor skills so I could reproduce things I’d seen rather accurately with a little time. After a few minutes I had a fairly accurate reproduction of the symbol branded onto Jaeger’s arm. One I’d also seen in another chimera; Vanessa, one of the regulars at the gym I’d met a few times and apparently a new friend of Jaeger. For good measure, I browbeat Charlie into sharing the file she’d stole on Jaeger, hoping to get something, anything…
A little after everyone finished breakfast, the visiting families (mine included) came back for the second day of their visit. Mr. Martin guided us to an amphitheater for a lecture where I excused myself, instead sneaking into the library and login into one of the database computer which contained thousands of pages about every single cape-related topics you could think of as well as years worth of videos.
After a half hours of searching with rather unsuccessful results, I heard someone creep up behind me. I looked up and saw our science teacher Stanko hovering over my shoulder.
“That’s a syndicate brand.” He said, tapping my drawing. “You were researching it, weren’t you?”
“I saw it and got curious about what it was.”
“Let me guess on Jaeger?”
“You can count the number of group who makes human chimeras on one hand. Omega does them sometimes on request, but he prefers straight up enhancement, that’s his specialty. Doctor Vernichtung and whoever is pretending to be him nowadays was an expert, mostly in his ‘conquer the world with the new master race’ schtick. Then there’s the Syndicate. They’re the ones responsible for most human-chimeras, makes them to serve as entertainment mostly.”
“Fighting rings and sex slaves, whatever pays. The chimerization process doesn’t work well on adults, you need a subject who hasn’t finished growing to achieve any significant result. It’s best to start with a single cell embryo, that way you get a stable result, but if you start young enough, children works fairly well too.”
The words hit me. Children… Like Jaeger and his friend Vanessa.
“Where do they come from, the kids I mean?”
“Mostly human trafficking, but some groups also prey on homeless youth and runaways.”
In my pocket, my phone buzzed to life and I picked it up, seeing a text from Sana asking if I was okay. I quickly answered positively.
“Not that I’m ungrateful for your help, but shouldn’t you be at the assembly with all the other teachers?”
“The administration thinks it’s better if I don’t so I’m to stay away from my lab and parents as they visit. I swear, you forget to lock the cage of one measly dinosaur ONCE and they never let you forget about it.”
“A dinosaur?” I asked.
“It was a tiny baby iguanodon I cloned on a dare. The only thing it could hurt was the shrubbery.” He said and I blinked. “I had a friend who wanted to make a dino zoo, but got shut down because ‘everyone know it’s a bad idea.’ I mean they’ve seen Jurassic park, of course they’re experts now!”
He was definitely salty about that, but I had no idea on what to answer…
“Am I rambling? I’m rambling…”
“It’s alright. Thanks for the help, I wasn’t expecting it.”
“I know I don’t have the best reputation among students and a less than stable relationship with my mood stabilizer medication, but I am actually qualified and knowledgeable about a lot of things.” He said with a humorous tone. “I should probably go and try to be productive with class schedules.” He turned around and took a step away.
“Wait, one final question.”
“Yes?” Stanko turned to face me, a brow raised.
“Who is Ace?”
Stanko froze as I asked the question.
“Just pray to whatever you believe in you won’t meet him.” Was all he answered before walking away.
His warning only served to make me even more curious. I focused back on the Legion database and entered the word into its search engine. Quickly I came to a long entry on ‘The Black Ace’ also known as Mariusz Sniegowski.
The picture at the top of the entry seemed so innocuous, having been taken from the street as he walked out of a building. There was nothing remarkable about the man’s appearance; average in size and build, short hair held in place by gel, a light tan. He wore a simple two piece suit. He didn’t look like a terrifying villain that Jaeger had nightmares about, more like some random accountant.
But his rap sheet was anything but normal…
278 Counts of first degree murder, 431 Counts of unlawful imprisonment and extortion using psionic abilities, 698 Counts of Theft, Burglary and Larceny, 1 Count of breaking the Emergency Truce during the Tzari invasion.
The list only kept going and I skimmed it. Worst of all was that it was merely the confirmed crimes he was responsible for. Linked to it were hundreds of pages of suppositions, guesses and theories about further criminal involvement.
I scrolled to his history. He’d been ‘recruited’ as a child into a polish army experiment on psionic children. The details were scarce but at fourteen he’d escaped out of the facility leaving behind dozens of dead bodies; most having killed themselves or each others… Anything specific after that been left out of the database available to students save for the fact he’d joined with the Syndicate for reasons unknown…
I muttered a curse under my breath. Of all the people Jaeger had to be acquainted with, it was one of the worst monsters the world had to offer… Who knew what kind of evil shit he’d done to him…
“So that’s where you’re hiding.” Sana declared, having crept up behind me.
I jumped a little. I turned around and saw her holding Vani in her arms, who looked rather displeased to be here.
“Mum’s seeing the teachers and I am not babysitting the little asura by myself.”
“Alright, alright.” I got up and closed the computer. “Vani, want me to read you a book?”
“Yes! I want wild things!”
Of course, she wanted her favorite book for the millionth time.
“Alright, but you’ve got to be quiet, we don’t want to disturb the others, do we?”
Sana put her on the ground and I gave Vani my hand, guiding her to a reading nook while Sana went to get the book.