Elizabeth sat in a metal chair at a metal table. Again, everything was grey. What was it with institutions and grey? Labs, factories, police stations...
She chuckled bitterly. She actually felt like she was in a police station, now that she thought about it. The size of the room, the spareness, the metal furniture.
It was an interrogation room, plain and simple.
She wasn't sure how long she'd been here. Jason had been so angry with her when she'd awoken that he'd had to leave the room and get one of his flunkies to deal with her. His face had been so red, his fists balled so tightly, that Elizabeth had thought he might snap into pieces at any moment.
The notion had given her almost boundless pleasure.
The flunky had brought her here, to the interrogation room, as she now thought of it. The man had said nothing to her, simply deposited her here and closed the door behind him on his way out.
That had been at least a half an hour ago. Probably longer.
She smiled. The longer she was here, the longer she knew it was taking Jason to calm down. She'd really gotten to him this time, and though she recognized that there would be repercussions, it somehow didn't matter that much to her. She was getting under his skin, and that made it all worthwhile.
Besides, having time on her hands was not a bad thing at this point. She had a lot of information to sort through. Her connection with Swapna had left her confused and exhausted, but also exhilarated. She knew she'd gotten a sizeable chunk of information from the artificial intelligence, but she wasn't yet sure exactly what information she'd gotten.
Every once in a while, she'd get a flash of some memory she knew was not hers, but it was fleeting, and when she tried to focus on it, it slipped away again.
No matter. She would sort it out in time. And she suspected she was going to have much more time on her hands in the near future.
The door opened with a resounding click. Elizabeth jerked her head towards the sound. Jason entered, slammed the door shut behind him, and strode to the wall opposite her.
His body language was unmistakable. He was beyond angry. He was furious.
He stood facing away from her for a moment, massaging the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. His breathing was audible.
Elizabeth decided not to say anything to him just yet.
Finally, his breathing quieted down a bit, and he turned towards her.
"Swapna," he said tightly, "is sulking."
The statement was so unexpected that Elizabeth had to put a hand to her mouth to stifle a giggle.
Jason's eyes narrowed. "You think this is all a game, don't you?"
Elizabeth pulled her mouth into a tight line and put her hand back down on the table. She hoped her eyes weren't gleaming too awfully much as she looked back at him.
He took a step towards her. "I don't know what you did to her in there, but she's gone off into a corner of her processing space and won't talk to us."
"Maybe she's embarrassed."
The heat in Jason's gaze rose by a notch or two, leading Elizabeth to believe she'd sounded more smug than she'd intended.
"Embarrassed?!" Jason practically spat the word out. "What could possibly move you to say that?!"
Elizabeth's eyes widened. She'd never seen him like this. He was about ready to lose his grip on himself. Part of her was enjoying his discomfiture, but another part was sending little tendrils of fear through her system. If Jason was as unstable as he appeared, she might be in danger.
"If Swapna even has feelings," she said, trying to keep her tone neutral, "it's possible that her virtual nose is out of joint, because I out-thought her."
"What?!" Jason gaped at her, his mouth half open.
Nice look for you, there, Jace, Elizabeth thought. Way to impress the girls.
Jason pulled out the chair across from her and sat down. He put his arms on the table and leaned towards her.
"I know you're extremely pleased with yourself, Elizabeth," he said, a bit too quietly, "but you have to know that this is a losing game you're playing. You're helpless here. I'm in control. My rules. My game. My agenda. This plays the way I intend it to play. Are you in the least comprehending me?"
Elizabeth crossed her arms and glared at him.
Jason sat back and shook his head. "Defiant to the last."
He stood up again and strode to the wall. "Delude yourself all you like, Elizabeth. But you know as well as I do that there is no way you could have out-thought Swapna. The human brain is electro-chemical, and its signals do not even approach the speed of the purely electrical signals that a computer uses. And Swapna is a highly advanced parallel processor. You're no match."
He turned to face her again. "And your pathetic attempt to extract information from her..." he shook his head. "Did you seriously think that would work?"
Elizabeth shrugged. "Made you shut down the connection pretty fast, didn't it?"
"Of course. You might have been injured. We can't have you damaged, Elizabeth. That wouldn't do at all."
He was lying, of course, and Elizabeth knew it. He'd shut down the connection out of fear. Fear of what she might do, what she might learn.
Elizabeth nodded her head slowly. "Right. I get it. After all, it's your game, right? Like you said."
"Best you learn that now," Jason said.
"Your rules. Your turf."
Elizabeth stopped nodding and looked sharply at him. "But you're forgetting one thing, Jason."
He frowned derisively. "Oh? And what might that be?"
"You sent Swapna into my head. And that's where I make the rules."
Jason's expression wavered for a moment.
"And if your precious Swapna is sulking," she continued, "it's because I kicked her silicon ass."
The tenuous connections she'd been making suddenly coalesced. The new information in her head was no longer composed of fleeting fragments. The building blocks were coming together.
From the change in Jason's expression, it was clear to Elizabeth that he could see what was happening to her. A bead of sweat was forming at his hairline. A ripple of anxiety crossed his face.
Elizabeth sat forward.
"I thought JP-7 was your pride and joy," she said.
Jason frowned. "It is."
"Then what's Area Fourteen?"
Jason's eyes widened. "How could you possibly...?"
Elizabeth reached for more memory blocks. They came to her without resistance.
"Oh," she said after a moment. "It's your training facility, isn't it?"
Jason's breathing was becoming audible again.
"It's where you've been training all the other Smart Ones."
Elizabeth watched with glee as the blood drained out of Jason's face.