Once again, Mashka woke up with a start. The drug still pumped through her veins, and it was getting more and more difficult for her to listen to The Administrator tell her why she was a ‘guest’. She was relieved to see that the brooding Czech had left. The thought of him made her skin crawl. It was just her and The Administrator, who was polite and oddly charming. But she kept wary of him, especially since she knew she was not thinking clearly.
“So,” she began groggily, “I think you explained to me how this... operation of y--- what on earth have you given me?”
He chuckled, “It’s a calming batch of hormones and sedatives to keep you relaxed and incapable of causing trouble. If not for them, I would have to have that bald man in here to keep an eye on you.”
“I'll stick with the tranquillizer.” she replied quickly. She felt like there was something she needed to remember. But it was all a blur. A name popped into her head, “Aleksei, where's Aleksei?” she asked, realising her brother was missing.
“He is still evading capture.” The Administrator sighed wearily, “But I assure you, we will bring him to safety.”
“Go brother go!” she praised.
The man smiled, though he looked slightly perturbed, and replied, “He’s full of this irrational fear. We were not intending to harm either of you, but there were complications.”
Mashka rolled her eyes, “Da, certainly, we should not be afraid of you at all. It’s not like we have been shot at, kidnapped, drugged or otherwise terrified. Besides all that, da, we can trust you.”
The Administrator gave a half smile, as if pondering the logic behind what she said. “I see where that could seem threatening. But we had to find you before the others did.” The Administrator insisted.
“I should feel so loved.” She grinned sarcastically.
He leaned forward with a pained expression, “But we do love you.”
Mashka stared, astounded by the nerve of him to say such a thing, after all she had gone through. What was even stranger was the sincerity behind his words.
“Then you have a strange way of showing it!” she seethed, her foggy mind slowly clearing, “I had a normal life, and what have you done? You ripped away the last bit of dignity I possess in this hateful world!”
“We are trying to defend you. You are very,” he paused for effect, “special to us. We are your family, if only you would just realize that.”
She stared at the older man. There was something strange with the way he was talking. “How are we family?” she asked, gritting her teeth, “You keep saying ‘family’ and ‘home’ but why?”
“Because Mashka, we created you.” he said matter-of-factly.
Mashka paused a moment, absorbing what he said. She broke into laughter, “You expect me to believe that? You’re an idiot to think I would trust such a wild statement.”
The man’s face was dead serious. “We placed you in the hands of loving parents, to raise you and groom you for this moment. They worked for us. We gave you to them as an embryo, same as your brothers. They never told you, because all of us hoped you would never need to know. But the world has changed."
Mashka’s head felt like exploding, both from the drugs slowly wearing off and from trying to take in all this information. She was positive it was all lies, they had to be.
“What evidence do you have to prove your claims? Right now it‘s your words against physical and legal evidence.” she glared at him, watching for his reaction to the statement.
Instead he chuckled, “You certainly paid attention in debate class, didn’t you? But never mind about that. You want physical evidence?”
Reaching into his desk, he pulled out an envelope, and handed it to her. In her mother’s handwriting on the front it read, ‘to Mashka, Aleksei, and Vladimir’. She pulled the letter out and began reading.
If you are reading this, then we are no longer with you, and we are not there to share the truth with you. You may feel confused, betrayed, or frightened, but know that we love you so much, none of what we have written here changes that. Please forgive us.
It may have been wrong for us to withhold the truth from you, but we wished you a happy and normal life. We intended on telling you when the twins turned seventeen, when you would be old enough to understand all this, and respond rationally. If you are reading this, we were wrong.
So to set things right, here is the truth. First, you are our children, biologically or not. We loved you as our own. However, you were all conceived using the most advanced form of genetic medicine. Your father and I could not procreate naturally, so when given the chance to raise three beautiful children, we could not resist.
Regardless of any explanation we can give, I am sure you all feel either cheated or scared, as you see the world around you change drastically. We were informed that you were all different, with immense potential, You didn’t ask for these talents that you are now discovering, but understand that it is for a higher purpose. The three will touch the world, more than you will ever know, and if we raised you right, you will change it for the better.
We hope that as you read this you are all well, that Mashka has been a wise older sister, Vlad has learned caution, and Aleksei has become a bit more reckless. Most of all, we hope that you know we both loved you dearly.
Yakov and Inna
Mashka thudded against the back of her chair. The letter was entirely in her mother’s hand writing and the signatures were her parents’. There was nothing she could say. She did not know whether it was her fogged state of mind or not, but, it made sense to her. Where else would these powers come from? Why else would he leave? When she looked up, the Administrator had taken a small chair and pulled it up in front of her, so he could stare eye-to-eye with her.
“Duscha,” he began, “We never intended on putting you and your brother through any of this. Our intention was not to activate you. Many things changed between the time you were created, and now. We were desperate, and we needed you to manifest.
“Powers are rising in the world today. Soon, they plan to destroy all that our nation has tried to build in stability and prosperity. If they had you, they would be able to do so much more.”
“You made this problem!” Mashka retorted, “If you had refrained from doing what you should not have, this predicament would not exist!”
The Administrator smiled sadly, “Yes it would not be so. Or someone else would have discovered the 'Chrysalis' sequence first. But the past has already happened. Many would have preferred that we eliminate all of you, because of the risk you entail. But we don’t want that. Because you have such great potential for this world.”
“But I’m just one person.” Mashka responded, “The world does not rest on my shoulders. What happens now and in the future, I have no way to change.”
The man sighed heavily, “Have you considered what you can do with your ability? Do you even know the full extent of it? If anyone else had gotten to you, they would have trained you to become a killer, one that could topple nations and destroy alliances. And if you failed to break and do as they please, they would simply dispose of you.”
Mashka looked him straight into his blue eyes and asked, “But won’t you do the same thing? What use am I to you other than a tool?”
“You see duscha,” he said earnestly, “There is not just you out there. There are others which we created and hid all around the world. The issue is that recent, events, caused us to lose track of them, and another group promptly finds them first, either killing or using them. We don’t entirely know. But you, you could help us find, and protect them. And perhaps make the transition less frightening than what you went through. I don’t want you to kill or lose the innocence you possess. If you just trust us, life will get much easier, and there will be no need for lies or sedatives.”
“So wait. If I show good behaviour, you will let me go?”
“Not quite,” he clarified, “you will have free roam of our facilities where you will be protected. Eventually, yes, you can go out. But first, we must eliminate the threat towards you. And also, we need to train you in self-defence and control of your ability. Though I must say, your skill in evading capture is impressive.
“But before that, let’s take one step at a time. We will move you to more comfortable accommodations, if you promise not to try to escape. You may call for an escort for when you decide to walk through the halls. And if you have any questions, just come to me.”
“And what about my brother?” she asked, “Will he be safe? He is not the type to really harm anyone. He’s just scared. Do not hurt him, please.”
“It was never our intention, duscha.” As he stood, he kissed her on the forehead, and gave a paternal pat. He then walked to his desk and pressed the intercom. “Please send someone to escort Maryja to her new accommodations. I do not want our Czech friend. He has better things to do than frighten young women.”
The two guards, who had earlier been her refuge, escorted her out. When they arrived at her room, one of them opened the door and then coaxed her in with a hand against her back.
She looked around. There was a large window from which she had a beautiful view of Moscow. In the distance, she could see the onion-domed church of St. Bartholomew. The room had a wide king sized-bed with an ornamental wood crafted frame, and two night-stands each holding a lamp. There were also a private bathroom and closet. There was even a shelf of books. Many of them she had read before, or was planning to read. It looked as if they decorated it with her in mind, down to her favourite colour. The entire room had a warm and homey feel.
She turned to the guard.
“If there’s anything you need, use the pager next to the door. We change shifts every four hours. If you need food or any other commodities, you may also press that button on the wall next to your bed. A female employee will attend to your need. Dobriy den.” he nodded, and left her in the room.
She sat on the soft bed, all the while in her heart asking, 'Why? Why did mama never say anything? Why did she slowly die without telling us? And why had she and... Yakov not gotten over their differences, if they knew it was all for this “greater good”? And lastly, if that man calls me 'sweetheart' one more time I'll-!
Lying down, she glanced out the window at the early morning sun. It worried her that Aleksei could be out shivering in the cold, with no comfort whatsoever. She hoped that he had found some shelter. Despite her anxiety, a combination of fatigue and the soft bed caused her to slip from consciousness into dreamless sleep.