C.O.R.EMature

Isabell's eyes shot open as an internal alarm buzzed through her head. She blinked the sleep out of her eyes. A red hot warning flashed through her mind. Someone was coming near. She shrugged off the comfort of Justin's arm, and wormed her way out of his bed.

She squeezed through the rotted bars that separated the  two lonesome cells in the wing. Though, she had never ventured into another holding wing, she presumed this was a way of grouping and classifying subjects with similar traits. Humans in this wing, and who knew what else in the others. The strange guttural sounds, were animalistic sounding, but even that was a stretch; demonic was more like it. 

 Bell made her way over to her own bed. She feigned sleep, though she was fully awake now. It was Tuesday time for her injections. Her arm itched at the thought. Though, in truth, there was never a dull moment at Core Tech.

Not a minute later, a guard kicked the door to her cell, rattling, it's fragile frame. "Rise and shine 88. Ready in five!"

She pulled herself out of bed and headed toward the back of her cell. Her bathroom was the only privacy, she had. The guards never stepped foot in it. The walls were covered in sketchings; reminiscent of diluted memories. Mostly images of her parents, whom she could not remember clearly. 

She opened her vital cuff and ran it under the water from the sink's faucet.  It would signal to whoever cared, that she was in the shower.  

Meanwhile, Bell counted and reevaluated her findings.The cabinet underneath the sink, housed various knick- knacks; A collection of anything she'd been able to pickpocket off the Labcoats. Lighters, stethoscopes, a blood cuff, and more recently, an entire purse, that's disappearance was blamed on another guard. The man was quickly erased and dismissed from his position.  

Erasing was a process, cleaner than a lobotomy, but with similar, if not worse results. She'd seen the after effect of it, when the accused thief, was "escorted" off the premises, during field work training. His eyes were lifeless, he walked without purpose. He was a shell of the man he once was, which wasn't really saying much.

Its  not that Bell enjoyed stealing, or did it for a rush. She grew bored, and her over active mind needed something to tinker with constantly or she would get into trouble. Aside from her findings, the only possessions she had, were the few toiletries the facility provided her with. Which wasn't enough to keep attention for very long. But, anything that she touched left a vague imprint on her mind. For instance; she could feel shame on a cigarette lighter, or invision a smug smile on the nurse whose purse she stole, just from holding one of its contents. It disgusted her. The entire place was staffed with spineless monsters. Immoral and easily boughten. But not the true threat.

"Let's move it!" The guard beckoned from outside the cell.

Every test, and needle was given in the procedure room. As much as the Labcoats studied and observed her, none had yet to look her in the eye. It had little to do with guilt or remorse. No, they were all worried she'd zap them with her mind. Complete ignorance. If Bell had such powers or control, the task would have already been done. Instead, she sit day after day in a hospital room that reeked of bleach, inside in underground operation, that ran under the pretense of being a home for runaways and neglected children. 

That was C.O.R.E Tech, for you. Citizens of reputable engineering. Yes, others knew of their existence. There was a whole world underground, a ring of similar industries, who either threatened or bought their secrecy.High military powers, air pirates, and other extortionists, supplied them with funds in exchange for weapons. 

"All vitals, are in check. Subject may  proceed to field work." Nurse Nora Crane, aka Nurse Nightmare, said to the guard assisting Isabell.

Bell gave the lady a mock salute as she was dragged away for field work. The guard led her down a long hallway, until they came to a halt at the steel double doors. He stepped close enough for his retina's to be read by a retracing laser device, that descended from the ceiling. It beeped. Once he was granted access he pushed her through the doors.

Isabell was greeted with a single nod. An all too familiar, pale, spindly man sat in the center of the room, glancing over her chart."Eighty, eight, your calorie count is low." She matched Belikov's glare with her own steely gaze. "I dreamt of you again Sir. Naturally, I woke up puking. Unavoidable calorie deduction."

Belikov fingered the dark beard, braided down his chin. "I created this operation to make you an inferior being, instead all I get is attitude and insolence. Every, single, day."

Isabell, curled and uncurled her fingers. It wouldn't be the first time she lunged at Belikov. Even the knowledge that he was engulfed in an invisible forcefield, sometimes didn't stop her.   

Taking her focus off of the low life scoundrel, she glanced at her surroundings. Everyday the room took on a new persona, and adapted to a different climate. Today it was humid. Colorful  birds surrounded a holographic waterfall, tropical trees and plants, made the plane seem endless, instead of the four walled- indoor structure that it was. A sweet flowery scent even hung in the air. Bell closed her eyes for a minute. The perfect illusion of peace.

"That's it," Belikov coaxed. "Clear your mind. You'll need absolute focus in one minute."

Isabell opened her eyes. "I usually get five to clear my mind."

"Yes, well. I'm not feeling overly generous today." He reclined his chair His goggles, lowered to protect him from the fake sun. "By the way, those birds, are real. And lethal too and, ah looks like your minute has come to a sudden end."

Suddenly, the pleasant chirping stopped. The birds trained their attention on Isabell. Then the shrill squawking began. Fangs erupted from their beaks. Their wings expanded, and their plush feathers turned into sharp, jagged glass. They all rushed her at once. 

Isabell threw herself on the ground, and rolled on her back. She was out of their field of view long enough to concentrate.

 Retreat. 

She gave the silent command, over and over again, to no avail. She screamed and covered her eyes as they zeroed in on her. Their sharp claws ripped through the fabric of her Core tech uniform. She kicked out against the mob of cyborg birds with her boots, extending the spurs by stomping her foot hard on the ground. She cut through several ,resulting in a shower of glass. 

Her hands bled heavily. The remaining birds  took notice and started lapping it up. Disgusted, she kicked even harder. Then something miraculous started to happen.

 The glass feathers, turned back into real ones, and the fangs retracted. The birds shrank until they were of normal size. The  dead ones that she had stabbed with her spurs, were simply bird corpses; Unmodified, by human hand.

Belikov gave a low hiss. He disapproved of her methods. "You were to bend their will to accommodate your well being, instead you changed them back. Negated all my work." His voice was a stunned whisper.

The remaining birds began to scatter throughout the room. "You mean they can't change back again?" Isabel asked.

"No. It was a one time deal. You're dismissed 88." He signaled for the guard to take her away.
Before Bell could question the healing properties in her blood any further, or weasel any new information, she was escorted out of the room. Clearly something she had done or undone had made Belikov nervous. She couldn't help but be curious.

The End

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