Authors: J. Richardson
The network had a much bigger purpose with much more sophisticated soldiers than the idiot street thug. However, there was no lack of willing henchmen like him, men who didn't have to be specially bred by Dr. Pendelton. There were plenty of natural born mean and sadistic bullies to enlist to take care of their profitable minor enterprises. Indeed, evil seems quite capable of evolving on it's own without any manipulation, the birth of natural genetic sociopaths.
Anissa could only allow herself so much time to wallow in her misery. After about thirty minutes, she washed her face, found some antibiotic cream for the burn and placed a bandage over it. As pulled together as she could accomplish she reluctantly took the stairs to the second floor.
Like so many of the villages, Luciano's had the restaurant, a bar, a market that gave the appearance of offering legitimate goods and various storage areas on the first floor. The third floor was reserved for the owner of the village and for important members of the network. On the fourth floor was housing for the employees. On that level Anissa had a large room for herself, her son and father.
The second level was the place for a great deal of the business to be conducted. About a dozen rooms were set aside for Anissa's “girls” to take their customers and offer their paid for favors. There was a main room, a living area that was usually filled with smoke and loud music, drinks were served to the waiting patrons. Off the main room, a smaller room served as an office for Anissa. Money was paid there and kept in a heavy safe and logs of the girl's activities were kept. It wasn't a good thing if you weren't popular and busy. At best, a girl's portion of her earnings was small, any girl not earning well was moved along. She couldn't allow herself to think about what happened to any girl that was deemed not profitable.
More activities that she was forced to turn a blind eye to, were conducted in other rooms on the second floor. There was steady traffic in and out of these rooms; drugs were sold, weapons and other illegal stolen goods went into the rooms and went out. Sometimes, there were regular visitors, faces that she recognized and more often lately, faces that she had never seen before. One thing they all had in common, they slinked and slimed and had the air of menace about them. Like Pendelton and the owner, Luciano who were both constantly around, there was no good in them.
Anissa took a deep breath before she opened the door and then walked quickly across the smoky room to her office. In her small space, she closed the door and turned on the fan.
Tap, tap, tap,
“It's me, can I come in?”
The girl entered and closed the door behind her, she sat in a chair next to her boss, “Hey,” she gave her a smile. No worry that this one wasn't popular. She was young and pretty, so smart that it made her boss's stomach turn every time she thought of the life she was leading. The dark circles under the big eyes were proof that her beauty would be short lived if she stayed here. She really liked the girl. Like herself, Shelly was here not by choice but due to a feeling of having no choice.
“You don't look so good, what is that? What happened to your hand?”
Shelly was actually the only person she could call a friend here, “The usual, my temper and my mouth.”
“Damn, girl! You know you have to be more careful than that---was it that cigarette sucking piece of s—t?” The young girl gave a disgusted shudder, “He just loves to burn people with those cancer sticks.”
The music from the next room blared loud. There was no sense in answering. “Would you like to come for lunch tomorrow, come see Lee? That child just adores you.”
“Sure, love it.” The girl stood and a cloud of dread crossed her face, “Gotta go now. The sheriff will be here soon for his freebie.”
Anissa's stomach flipped over again.
It's true, I've got to be careful. Got to think about the boy.
The circle on her hand still burned and hurt.
I will be careful but I'm going to start finding out everything I can about this place and what's going on. I think that Jackson is a good person and that he might be able to help me get away from here. I'm sick and tired of being a scared little mouse. Maybe I could even figure out some way to help some of these girls.
She moved behind the desk, opened the log and wrote
At the end of the long hall, past the rooms of paid for pleasures and perversions, past the rooms of dirty deals and deeds, was a spacious carpeted room behind a heavy door. A long narrow table stretched from one end to the other, dominated the large room. Somewhat faded and shabby, the room retained it's original plush appearance, dark upholstered chairs lined the table, heavy drapes on the tall window, ornate chandeliers above cast extravagant light.
The tall and rather heavy set figure of Luciano filled the chair at the head of the table, to his right sat Dr. Pendelton. The researcher coughed and covered his nose with an aging hand, “Good God, Luci! Bring a fan in here, I'm about to suffocate.” The room was hazy with the smoke of cigars and cigarettes.
Luciano gave an order to the man who had just entered with a bottle of Brewer's Bourbon and a tray of glasses, “Bring a couple of fans in here, boy.”
“Yes-sir,” said the waiter as he poured the liquid into the glasses and dropped a cube of ice in each, distributing the beverages along the table.
Five more men were seated beyond the doctor, of various ages and eclectic appearance. A middle aged woman sat on the opposite end from the owner and boss of the Luciano Village Complex. If there had ever been any softness or beauty in her face, it was long departed. Hair short cropped, wire rimmed glasses and a scar that ran from the corner of her mouth, across the cheek to her ear. She came very close to being as powerful as Luciano and was the network boss of Los Angeles. To her right, four more men and the Dallas sheriff. Then, at the left hand of Luciano, the man that had been the driver and beer drinking friend of Bud at the secreted government bunker.
Fans whirred and bourbon was sipped, the meeting began. One by one, those seated, the bosses from various big cities of the country, gave reports of how things progressed in their town. The Los Angeles boss stood and her coarse voice spoke above the noise of the fans, “Our army is growing and the training by the doctor's soldiers has been successful. We are now controlling a good deal of the commerce of the city. Of course, there are always some stubborn independents who refuse to join the network. We're working on the elimination of that obstacle.” The woman sat back down and lit a long thin cigar.
Pendelton rose and opened a door behind him, a hulk of a young man entered. The figure dwarfed the doctor, stretched well over six feet with a thick muscular physique. At the older man's motion, the man's booted feet stood in a wide stance. Uniformed and heavily armed, without expression, the cold eyes stared forward. The woman from California smiled, exhaled the cigar smoke.
“It has taken a long time, nearly seventeen years. Finally, the super soldiers have matured,” said Pendelton. “Just as the Los Angeles boss said, we're using them to train and expand our army. They are the leaders, capable of teaching even those who were not bred genetically as themselves to be ruthless combatants. They are strong, extremely agile and without conscious. Soon, we'll have an unbeatable force and this country will be ours. It will belong to the Network.” Puffed up and full of himself, the doctor showed off the soldier like a prized bull at the State Fair. After he recited a long brag list of the soldier's abilities, he spoke to him directly “Go along son, dismissed.” The young man robotically turned and left the room.
A young man with a much heavier accent than Luciano's, spoke, “What about the government, the United States armies? I've heard rumors of them growing strong again.” Only the northern half of Houston, Texas was above water and this was the boss of the oceanfront city. “I've dealt with even the small militias, the locals. You can't underestimate them. They will fight with vengeance for their property and their people.”
Luciano turned toward the government man at his side, “What do you say? How do you think the government forces are progressing. How much of a battle can we expect?”
The man looked around the table, said “They are building, not strong yet. I gather quite a bit of info around the operations base. The army is growing in numbers again and they are well armed. It will definitely be a war, your plans better be well co-ordinated and organized. The government structure is becoming much more solid.”
Pendelton narrowed his gaze and looked at the man, “What about spies in the network? Do you think intel is being passed along to the government? There are a couple of people in my Village Complex that I'm a bit suspicious of. Matter of fact, I wonder why
are here. Why would you betray your own government?”
The man just laughed, “Why would I want to be on the losing side? The U.S. government hasn't done me any favors. And spies---hey, I see pretty much every body that comes and goes on my base. I haven't seen anyone from the Villages that I recognize ever show their face there.” He smoothly lied about Bud but the old doctor still watched him, it was doubtful that the man trusted him.
The meeting ended. The Sheriff stayed to report on the local business, telling the boss that he had everything around the Villages in hand. “The street thug tells me that your girl, Anissa has been in the park a lot.”
Pendelton was paying attention. “The park?”
“Yeah, she claims she is looking for safe places to take her boy. Maybe---I've got the idiot keeping an eye on her though,” said the lawman that only enforced his own law and the rule of the Network.
Luciano stood, “You handle it.”
Pendelton and the Sheriff left. The government informant went in the other room, where the soldier had been. He put on some raggedy clothes, an old hat and dirtied his face up. Later, when he passed Bud on the street, he didn't think the man even noticed him.
As the government double agent covertly made his way out of the Villages, the broad shoulders of the soldier made a path through the street crowds. Pendelton trailed behind him, taking great pleasure in the confident stride of his “body guard” companion. The imposing and good looking form actually even caused an occasional stare from the perpetually disinterested pedestrians. Finally, the researcher had accomplished his goals, he had successfully bred and nurtured a super soldier. He followed his creation through the front doors of the medical complex and into the lab.
“Get yourself a beer, son. Have a seat, I need to discuss some things with you.” He nodded toward the refrigerator in the corner of a living space. The lab was the doctor's true home. As his soldiers had matured and his success been more assured, he found it harder and harder to be around the small apartment with the woman he basically considered to be stupid.
she had provided him some pleasure and even companionship over their many years of marriage. Still, he believed her to be far inferior to him. Here, his work, that was what excited him. He observed his pride and joy as he stretched out on the sofa with his beer.
The young man not only had all the over developed skills that his creator had intended, he was handsome with chiseled features and perfect teeth. His blue eyes clear and his thick blonde hair cut close to his head. He smiled at him and felt a twinge of regret when he barely got an upturned mouth in return. That was the downside of the sociopath personality. He had grown very fond of the boy and his creation would never have any true warmth from him. Even though, he was his son.
When he told the wife that he had artificially inseminated the baby died at birth, she cried for days. He felt a slight pang of sympathy for her, but after all, she was just a vessel. He had worked and sacrificed, he personally had designed and engineered the boy. With his own genetic genius and the genes to make the boy an extraordinary fighting machine, he would truly be a super soldier. The boy would never really care that Pendelton was his father but the doctor named him and called him
from the beginning.
“Son, I'm going to need you to make a trip down to the farm. I'll make you a list of things I want you to bring back. There's also something else I need you to do for me.”
Son put his heavy booted feet on the long low stainless table in front of the sofa, sipped his beer, “Sure. What is it you need?”
“It's the woman, Anissa.”
“You mean the manager of the whores?” said Son.
“Yes---yes. I just think there is something going on with her. I don't trust her. Of course, the boy, her son, he is my real control over her. Her father is old, don't know how much longer he will be around. The boy, I'm afraid is going to have that defiant streak, just like his mother. I hated to loose his father, he was becoming a strong soldier. He unfortunately was growing far too infatuated with Anissa. After he disappeared, I told her the truth,
He did, he was shot trying to escape the farm.”
“A little defiant himself, huh?”
“Well, as I said, he had become far too involved with the woman. He was not willing to accept his assignment to the farm,” said Pendelton.
“Hm-m, not so sure that I would take assignment to the farm.” This time, there was much closer to a smile toward the doctor.
Just the faintest speck of fear darted across the doctor's mind. He said as he rose to look for a pencil and paper, “The farm will never be the place for you, Son.” Was the fear
the young man or
Rummaging around in a shiny drawer, he thought of the sprawling acres, about thirty miles south of the City Villages. The farm produced huge amounts of food crops, ran cattle, had chickens and pigs. The labor to grow, preserve and process all these commodities was slave labor. A large number of the workers were provided by the “non successful” efforts of the doctor, the mistakes that either physically or mentally didn't turn out quite as planned. This was also the end for any of Anissa's non profitable employees, or others such as the father of Anissa's baby that failed to stay within the guidelines of the Network. There was a time when the idea was explored that the failures, the culls themselves could be a profitable food source. It was eventually discovered that it was much more profitable to use the cast offs as labor. After all, they only had to be provided with the minimal food and shelter. And women that were sent to the farm, made good breeding stock for the researcher's engineered prodigy.