Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Mar 26, 2006

Fiction: Interview

As Told by Dakota Sue

“So what, exactly, did we learn from all this?” I asked Archer when the debriefing finally ended, following him into his office and closing the door.  He shrugged eloquently and lowered himself carefully into his chair.

“Not very much, I’m afraid.”  He chuckled without humor.  “That’s usually the way these things work.  You fight the good fight, but you may never get your questions answered.”

“We’re not serving much purpose if all we can do is react when there’s a disaster.”

“I’m open to suggestions.”

“This Wolf guy may know something.”

“And I’m sure he’d love to tell us if we just asked nicely,” Archer replied sarcastically.

I frowned, thinking.  “It’s too late to scare it out of him.  He knows that if we were really going to kill him, we would have already.”  Archer raised an eyebrow, then nodded encouragingly.  “He’s more worried about his superiors now than about us, is my guess.”

“Why would that be, do you think?”

“Well, just look at what happened to the first cyborg we caught,” I replied, drawing my index finger across my throat suggestively.  “It’s pretty clear that our security is not secure enough.”

“So, you think he might talk to us if we put him in the Witness Protection Program?”  He chuckled again.  “I can just see Iron Wolf living in some sleepy little suburb in Indiana.”

“I didn’t mean we should release him!  Do I look crazy?  But, come on, there has to be somewhere so isolated and miserable that he’d be safe without enjoying it.”

“Even Antarctica doesn’t fit that bill any more.  They have McDonald’s there!  Face it, Susan, there’s no foisting this problem off on someone else.”

“The Moon’d be perfect, really,” I said, going on as though he hadn’t spoken.

He laughed, then stopped and frowned abruptly.  “You know, that’s not a half-bad idea.”

“Say what?”

“Not the Moon, of course, the negotiations with Farside are still a little . . . tentative.  There are, however, regular operations on some of the larger asteroids.”


He nodded, and I could tell he was warming to the idea.  “It wouldn’t be too difficult to leak news that Wolf died of his injuries, then change his name and appearance to ship him off-planet.”

“Durance probably wouldn’t like it very much.  But then, Durance does have one major point in his favor.”

“What’s that?”

“He’s not Finn.  I don’t think he’ll be too upset.  All right, well, I’ll get out of here and leave you alone, then.”  I turned around and started to open the door when Archer interrupted me.

“Not so fast.”

“Oh, what now?”

“I want you to be the one to interrogate Wolf.”

“You can’t be serious.  Me?  What am I going to do, glare at him a lot?  I’m not exactly the most diplomatic person around here.”

“Are you going to make me give you an order?”

“Well, no,” I retreated in confusion.  “I just want to know what your reasoning is.”

“You may not be diplomatic, but you aren’t bad at getting information out of people.  Of course, if you don’t want the responsibility, I suppose I can do it myself.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You’d be a lot better at your job if you weren’t so insecure.  It makes you erratic.”

“I am not insecure.”

“Not to mention defensive,” he added.  I gave up and glared.  He held his hands up, palms facing me, in a quelling gesture. “I’m not telling you this because I think you’re doing a bad job, you know.  I just think that there’s room for improvement.”  I grimaced and looked away, my face heating.

“Now there’s a polite way of telling me I’m an idiot,” I muttered.

“Susan, you’re not . . . ah hell.  I give up, I’m sorry I mentioned it.  Just go interrogate Wolf for me and leave me alone.”

“Yes, sir,” I went through the door, happy enough to escape, but ten steps down the hallway I paused, berated myself, and slowly returned, opening the door again and poking my head through without knocking.  Archer looked up from his paperwork.


“Um, thanks.”

He smiled.  “You’re welcome.”  I shut the door so quickly I almost got my hair caught in it, then wandered morosely down to the security block.  It wasn’t especially difficult to get in to see our prisoner, a fact that surprised me somewhat.  I didn’t think that anyone in the building would know me well enough to recognize me.

Iron Wolf was sprawled on his cot when I went in.  He glanced up at me with his remaining non-artificial eye, the other having been removed for security purposes.

“Wonderful!” He greeted me.  “As though it is not enough that I must be incarcerated, they send the great ugly cow of a woman to talk with me.”

I sat down and stared at him with the best bland expression that I could muster.  “If you’d prefer to be shot, I’m sure it could be arranged.”

“Please, you gutless fools would never go to such lengths.”

I grinned.  “Of course not, why would we bother when your superiors will do the job for us?  More convenient all around, and we don’t have to clean up the mess.”

“I already know that they will send someone to dispose of me.  Truly, it is most embarrassing to be caught in this situation.”

“I wouldn’t say embarrassing.”


“I would say, fatal.”

He rolled his eye.  “Do you ‘ave something to tell me or are you just inflicting your stench on me to amuse yourself?”

“Tell me why you wanted the girl.”

“Hmm, let me think about that for a moment . . . no.”

“Why not?  You have nothing to lose.”

“I do not exactly ‘ave anything to gain, either.  I talk to you, they kill me.  I do not talk to you, they still kill me.  What an incentive.”

“If you talk to us, we may be able to arrange for your transport to a safe location.”

“Thank you, but I haven’t been given enough narcotics to believe that story.”

“It’s the truth.”

“Where?  No, no, wait, do not tell me.  I do not want to hear it.”

“Why not?”

“Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that there really does exist somewhere that I could conveniently disappear.  If you tell me, it is quite possible that some hidden electronic implants will ferry such information to my superiors and, poof, I am again rendered into a corpse that has not gotten the point yet.”
I shook my head, grimacing.  “That seems a little paranoid to me.”

“Paranoia is good for you.”

“Well, except that it’s a little hard for you to tell whether I’m feeding you a line without hearing what it is.”

“Not at all.”

“You think so?”

“It is a fact.  ‘ad I encountered Durance before, ‘e no doubt would ‘ave killed me.  Something ‘as changed.  Since you are ‘ere talking to me instead of ‘im, I think it is you.”

“I’m not following.”

“You do not seem like a liar to me.  Stupid of you, I suppose, but useful to me.”

“So are you going to tell me something interesting or not?”

“You will keep me alive if I talk?”

“Much as I dislike the idea, yes.”

“Very well.  I am afraid I do not know much that may be of use to you.  Overthrow is composed of numerous scattered, independent cells, none of them knowing any of the others.  ‘Owever, these cells are a front for a larger and more secret organization.”

“Which is?”

“Shadow.  I do not know much about them. They are led by a cabal that is called The Penumbra.  They commissioned the girl to be engineered on behalf of a member that . . . retired some time ago, but still maintains significant influence within the organization.”

“What are the goals of this organization?”

“I could not say.  Overthrow is anarchist in name at least, but that does not necessarily mean anything.”

“So why do you work for them?”

He shrugged.  “Why does anyone do anything?  They gave me room to exercise my talents in a manner I enjoyed.  What more needs to be said?”

“That’s disgusting.”

“Ahh, but we are not all lost little lambs in need of guidance.  Some of us are wolves.”

“I advise taking some pictures with you, then, in case you need to remember what gender you are.”

“Am I going someplace cold, then?”

“Maybe,” I replied and let the cell door slam shut behind me.

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