Fiction~~You Shall Know the Truth~~Ch. 1
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Know the Truth
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The first and last thing required
of genius is the love of truth - Goethe
Dr. Elias Kerr sat on the floor, fixated on a hologram of his latest project. Blue ink staining his lips from a half chewed pen, he struggled against the tight feeling in his chest as he stared at the man who was the love of his life. He corrected himself automatically. The man who might possibly be the love of his life, if he put any stock in the genetic inheritance that was now affecting his life and his work. He wasn’t entirely certain if he was interpreting the feeling correctly; he’d never felt ‘the gift’ before. Everyone in the family had described it to him, of course, and they’d all said that when he met the person he was destined to be with, he would just…know. Like that was a reasonable explanation to give a scientist! That was his family, all guts and no logic. It was beyond irritating.
He’d always thought his family’s claims, that they had the ability to detect their soul mate, were a bit ridiculous. It was an interesting phenomenon, and one that every one of his relatives fully believed in, but it was impossible to prove anything. The ability to detect something as nebulous as ‘love’ was a cross between supernatural drivel and pseudo-scientific fluff to begin with. If such a thing existed, he should have been able to measure it. As every test he’d badgered his family into letting him perform had shown no difference, he’d dismissed the concept as a mass delusion, albeit one that had tragic consequences at times. There was more than one member of the family who claimed to have met the love of their life only to discover that their ‘destined’ partner was already married to someone else. The unfortunate person spent the rest of their lives mourning their imagined loss. It was such a waste.
And yet, after all the years of mentally shaking his head at his family’s unbalanced, undisciplined, unexamined approach to life, here he sat. In love. He’d had no more success measuring the feeling in himself than he’d had with his sisters or his parents, but now he finally knew what they’d meant. He ‘just knew’ this was the man for him, which was aggravating in the extreme. He hated the fact that he could find no explanation for this feeling, but couldn’t discount its validity; the sensation was too singularly different from anything he’d felt before to ignore it.
In all his covert research into the history of ‘soul mates,’ however, he’d never read about anyone running into THIS particular problem before. This was so much worse than a simple love triangle.
Chewing on the pen again, he looked at his work and ordered himself to stop being such a selfish idiot. The logical half of his mind reminded him that whatever he was feeling was irrelevant; it was the project that mattered, and the project was on schedule. The equipment was perfect; he’d unpacked it himself just to be sure. He’d personally checked all the manual calibrations 63 times, confirmed Gabriel’s physical health 81 times, and checked and rechecked the man’s brain activity so often that he’d actually lost count.
There was nothing wrong.
Gabriel, rather his body, was completely and utterly brain dead.
It was a good thing, he told himself angrily, ignoring the tear running down his cheek. He needed to stop this attachment. The terminally ill volunteer needed someone without a mind for the transference to occur; it was, literally, a matter of life and death. So Elias should be ecstatic that everything was going so well. This was the process that would turn tragedies like Gabriel’s into hope for the future. Euthanizing empty shells that no longer had a mind would become a thing of the past if they could be used to help the terminally ill by offering them new bodies.
Rubbing the wetness from his face, he still stared at Gabriel’s image. Maybe he was too close to everything. Was that why he couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something wrong, in spite of the superb test readings, or was it simply an inability to let go of a dream? He just couldn’t seem to stop his constant testing, even though the results always indicated exactly what he’d expect from Gabriel’s condition. But then again, these were human beings he was dealing with now, not computer simulations. He didn’t have room for doubt; he had to figure out what eating at him. He was the lead scientist on the project, not some teen with puerile self-interest as his only concern.
Tossing his pen to the floor and wiping his mouth, he stood abruptly. He’d go check on Gabriel’s body again. It was late enough that he could avoid running into the constant barrage of questions from the other scientists and the techs. Why they couldn’t understand the formulas and processes he’d come up with, he had no idea; it seemed fairly simple to him. Still, even his professors had sometimes stared at his work with a baffled look, so he supposed he should be used to it. It was one of the reasons he was usually on-site when he started a new project; people could use what he created in his mind, but it took them a long time before they figured it out, and they rarely completely understood it.
This made it a bit difficult to get more than a few quiet minutes for himself. Maybe being close to Gabriel, with no one around to interrupt his train of thought, would give him the enlightenment he needed to solve his obsession with this. He could give his seal of approval tomorrow with no reservations, although regret over his own loss might haunt him.
He should get dressed, he thought absently. Opening his closet, he automatically chose from a week’s worth of white shirts, each with different ties already secured around the collar. Seven sets of black slacks hung next to them, with seven sets of socks and shoes beneath. He dressed quickly, pausing to wipe away a few more tears, and grabbed the white lab coat by the door as he slipped out of the room. He made his way through the darkened, metallic hallways, his footsteps muffled by drab olive carpeting.
A small part of his brain mocked him as he walked. He was sure it was the same part that had laughed at him when he’d dubbed their empty shell ‘Gabriel’ in the first place. Officially, the body was test subject T1. Elias had renamed him in his thoughts almost immediately after seeing him, however. He didn’t think he would ever forget that particular moment. Excited and giddy at the underground, off-world lab provided by S.N.S., practically gushing over the new equipment, Elias had come into the holding room in a euphoric daze. He’d stopped and stared the moment he saw the mobility table and the nude man strapped down on it.
It had been like looking at an angel. That was his first embarrassed thought. Not one of the pearlescent, languid males who made up the celestial choir on the temple walls, but an angel from the older stories. Warriors who fought and bled and died at heaven’s whim, so beautiful it made you weep just to look at them. Elias almost had, tears coming to his eyes as he’d seen him and realized that this was The One. The instant pull in his stomach and the despair in his mind told him that this was the person he was destined to be with.
Gabriel, it sang out in his mind. His name is Gabriel.
Golden blond hair had poured about a cruelly beautiful face and chiseled frame. The honeyed stuff was so long that it had even trailed across the large man’s slender hips and pelvis as though in attempted modesty. He’d swallowed heavily as he’d snuck a furtive look at Gabriel’s groin. The member all that hair surrounded had been flaccid and silky, but large enough that he didn’t think there was a chance in the world of hiding it. His eyes had roamed almost feverishly over the man’s body, searching for flaws. Gabriel’s lashes were enviously long; his jaw was smooth and just the smallest bit stubborn. Every inch of him had been muscled in perfect proportion for a sword wielding battle-angel, and Elias had given up on finding any flaws. It was only when temptation almost persuaded him to call out and wake him up that he’d remembered the reason he was there.
The body was sound, but the mind was gone. This was supposed to be the person that someone else’s consciousness was transferred into.
He’d wanted to weep all over again. This one was supposed to be his, yet was already gone from the world by the time Elias met him. Muscles were kept in shape as the mobility table stimulated them with electrical impulses and moved the body periodically to keep him limber. The expressive face; and he ‘just knew’ it must have been expressive, was bland and unmoving with the cold calm of nothingness. It was merely a reflection the being who had once been Gabriel. Only the body was left of what had once been his man.
Elias would never even find out what the man had been like before he arrived. By Elias’s own rules, they weren’t permitted to know anything about the shell. He had thought it would make the process too difficult if they knew they were watching the death of someone who had, in reality, died long before, their minds destroyed by whatever illness or injury had taken them.
However, even though Gabriel was gone, over the weeks that Elias had worked on the project he’d dreamt of him. Grew a fantasy of what he had missed out on. During the hours spent touching his mental lover, in order to take his measurements and vitals in precise detail, he’d made up the man’s past in his head. It was ridiculous, and as juvenile as naming the shell he had been, but Elias couldn’t help himself.
He’d decided that Gabriel had been a justice officer. One of the best, in fact, who had received so many awards that he had to keep them in a trunk stored at his sister’s house. He had a dark sense of humor, a gentle touch, and a rare but touching smile.
He loathed peas.
He had a puppy named Izrak who had mourned itself to death when Gabriel had been injured. He loved soft music and spicy food. He was bad at basketball but excelled in art. He was also a fantastic, demanding lover who kept it a closely guarded secret that he enjoyed bottoming. And in Elias’s secret heart of hearts, when he’d take the extra minute to braid Gabriel’s hair himself rather than let one of the techs perform the task, Elias could imagine how he and Gabriel had met and shared their lives together.
Over the month of constant testing, Elias had found more and more excuses to spend time in the holding room as he wove his fantasies about the two of them. He would type his notes next to Gabriel so that he could listen to the man’s breathing. In his head, he could hear the same sound after they’d made love. He began to eat lunch in the holding room as well, thinking that the privacy was more conducive to his digestion, and he’d fantasize about feeding chocolates to Gabriel as they talked.
The few times during the day that he had to touch Gabriel, his mind’s eye saw their illusionary sexual exploits parade by until he was sweating and aroused. He was practically panting with need by the end of each brief exam and the bathroom across the hall had seen more of him than ever before as he snuck in to relieve himself a few times a day. It made him feel like a pervert, to be lusting after the poor man’s lifeless body, but no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t keep the images out of his head.
It surprised him how dominating he’d become in his own head. He could see Gabriel moaning when he suckled on his nipples. The bigger man would literally collapse, quivering and helpless as Elias went down on him. Musky arousal would overwhelm Elias as he dragged his tongue up and down the shaft of that impressive penis, sucking on it like a popsicle until Gabriel screamed in release. He’d watch blonde hair fly as his angel was bent over the kitchen table in the middle of dinner to be taken quick and hard. He could slip into the shower behind Gabriel, sliding arms around his waist, pushing so the man knew exactly where he was meant to be, and then thrust into him from behind, against the wall. Trying it once face to face, Elias pushed his lover’s knees up to his chest, but being a bit bigger than he was, the man had thrashed so strongly with his legs when he’d come that Elias had been knocked off.
After that, Dream Gabriel very kindly acquiesced to Elias’s request for positions that didn’t require brute strength just to stay in place. Besides, Gabriel’s bottom was as perfect as the rest of him and Elias had always had a fascination with--
Elias’s flashback ended abruptly as he smacked into a wall. Bouncing off of it with his face, his eyes teared. “Ow.” He touched his forehead and flinched at the throbbing pain. “Ow. Ow! I HATE this!” What a ridiculous thing to do. Darn it, he’d bruised the same spot yesterday! It wasn’t too far from the bump he’d received from the day before that, too, come to think of it.
All this fantasizing was getting hazardous to his health.
Whimpering just a little as he gave his bruised forehead one last tentative poke, the genius took a deep breath and continued on his way to the lab. His palms grew damp the minute the exam room was in sight. He didn’t want to worry about how much the simple thought of seeing that beautiful body was affecting him. He never touched Gabriel inappropriately, after all. He’d actually had people fired for trying to do so. He didn’t call his body anything but subject T1 in front of the staff, not by verbal or written word. Gabriel and their imagined life together were strictly a personal fantasy. This impending feeling of loss he felt was his own business, and he would overcome it.
He had to. As soon as the donor’s mind was implanted, Gabriel would be an entirely different person. A few weeks of therapy as the mind adjusted to the new body, and a new Gabriel would walk out of the lab, healthy and happy. Elias would never see him again.
Closing his eyes tightly at the thought, his brow furrowed as it finally registered an odd roaring noise. What in the world could be making that level of noise at this time of night? Was there a problem somewhere? He listened intently; walking in what he thought was the right direction. It almost sounded like singing, if strangled cats could sing, that is. Turning a corner, he grimaced as he saw a garish poster covered in aesthetically unappealing pink hearts and disgusting fat winged babies. That’s right. Today was the Valentine’s celebration. The ‘morale’ crew had gotten together and organized some sort of dance thing for the evening. He’d forgotten all about it.
It wasn’t as though he had anyone he’d like to be with, after all. The last forced socialization, his only company had been the few sincere people who had come up to thank him for his last project, the cure for Jorian’s Plague. This was outside his norm. He never really associated with anyone outside of the work place. He liked his solitude.
It would have been nice to dance with Gabriel, his mind whispered temptingly, and Elias’s breath hitched. He stared at the poster, eyes blank as he dissected his fantasy in a moment of brutal honesty. The unknown man might be taking up most of his waking moments, in some form or another, but he couldn’t come to the dance, could he? He was just a construct in Elias’s mind. The part of him that would have loved was already dead. The body just didn’t know it yet.
“Are you all right, Dr. Kerr?”
Elias jumped at the interruption of his thoughts. He turned to find a guard from the higher security area staring at him.
“Sorry, Dr. Kerr, I didn’t mean to scare you,” the man said solemnly.
The scientist nodded and waved the concern away. He didn’t think he could bring himself to smile at the man, but he wasn’t going to be rude. After all, Devlin Grimson was one of the few people he talked with. When Elias had first arrived, the guard had sought him out to thank him for his work. Devlin’s sister had been one of Jorian’s many victims and it seemed that Elias’s cure had been able to save her.
It made things a little awkward to have someone constantly looking out for him as Devlin seemed to, but it was meant with the best intentions. He wasn’t attracted to him, after all. Elias wasn’t exactly the sort of man people ‘wanted.’ A little short, a little on the thin side, he might pass as average, but no further. Brown hair and dark eyes were rather mousy and mundane in his opinion, but the feature that made things completely unredeemable was his nose. He’d inherited it from his mother. A little button nose looked cute on a petite woman. It simply made Elias look like he should still be in school.
“Are you going to the dance?” Devlin’s green eyes sparkled a bit as he teased, but Elias merely shook his head again.
“I’m just walking. I needed a few minutes alone, before the procedure.”
Devlin blinked, looking at him sharply, and Elias hoped all signs of his tears were gone.
“Are you sure you’ll be all right? It’s pretty late to be wandering around by yourself.”
Elias tried to smile as he backed up a step. “I’m fine. I’m just heading to the exam room. I’ll be fine.”
“All right.” Devlin reached for the door handle behind him as he took the hint. “If you need anything, though, you know who to come to.”
Elias nodded again. “I know. I will. Thank you.” Elias backed up another step, not turning until Devlin was back inside the dance. It was nice to have someone who knew how to be polite, he thought to himself, using any excuse he could get to distract his mind. Too many people simply wanted to talk to the man who had found the cure for the Plague, or the scientist who had discovered the causes of the Cristobel Syndrome. Devlin’s devoted gratitude might be a bit embarrassing, but at least it was sincere. Elias would take that any day over the glory seekers and groupies.
Besides, his body only wanted Gabriel. It didn’t care that the mind was gone; it wanted sex and it insisted on one person and one person only. Elias quickened his pace away from the dissonant music and laughter. Maybe that was the problem. Maybe that was the reason he was having such a hard time with the procedure and the test results. With his body’s response, he didn’t feel like he was going to transfer someone into a blank slate tomorrow. It felt as though he would be killing his future lover.
“I need to say goodbye. That will solve this,” he murmured, wiping away another annoying tear. Walking quickly, he took the tube up to the exam room where Gabriel was situated for the transfer tomorrow.
Putting his hand out to open the door to Gabriel’s room, he paused. He heard laughter from inside. Did he have the wrong room? Looking at the number on the wall, he was positive that this was the correct room, but he’d feel terribly stupid if he’d made a mistake and walked into someone’s intimate moment. He’d been so distracted by his worries over Gabriel that when the tech had mentioned a room change he’d barely paid attention. Darn it, was this Gabriel’s room or not?
More laughter rang out and Elias frowned. It wasn’t a very pleasant sound. Listening to the harsh, jeering tones, he began to wonder nervously if someone might actually be in trouble. He couldn’t ignore it if someone needed help, but he couldn’t tell from the sound alone what was going on. Chewing his lips, Elias turned and went around the corner to the control room. There should be someone inside monitoring the exam rooms at all hours of the day, but Elias had already discovered that the night shift was rarely present at their assigned posts. He’d lodged protest after protest without success. He could use that to his advantage at the moment if the guards were true to form. Knocking and receiving no answer, he nodded in satisfaction. He could call Devlin for help if it was necessary, he thought. His lips reddened from nervous biting, he opened the door to an empty room filled with blank video screens and audio monitors. This wasn’t good. Before, even when the guards had been absent the monitors had still been on.
Flicking on the screen to the exam room, Elias froze at the picture that took shape. Five guards had their stix in hand. They were lashing out at a sixth man who snarled in rage while he backed against the wall and tried unsuccessfully to fight back. The victim was large and muscled, his nude body gleaming with sweat as he dodged the electrified rods, glaring fiercely as Elias stared at the screen. Dark blond hair stuck in damp strands to the man’s face and body as fought the men surrounding him.
Elias stared at the man’s eyes. Blue, perfectly aware eyes filled the screen. How could these be the same eyes? Eyes that he’d examined earlier that day on a man that every reading told him was completely brain dead?
“Gabriel?” His whispered question startled him out of his shock
He looked at the men, coldly enraged. He knew each of them. These guards were the ones from the night shift that had always given him the willies whenever they’d insisted on escorting him back to his quarters. What did they think they were doing? How dare they try to hurt his Gabriel!
“Lookin’ forward to bein’ erased, boy?” The tinny speaker-voice of one of the guards taunted as he lashed out, catching Gabriel on the calf with his stix. Elias’s nails dug into his palms painfully as he heard the soft grunt Gabriel gave in response.
“Stop hurting him,” Elias whispered furiously. He looked for the alarm button to summon help and had just spotted it when Gabriel spoke.
“Not erased yet.” The deep voice sent shivers through Elias’s spine, but it wasn’t the sound itself that stunned him into near immobility. It was the fact that Gabriel was actually talking. Not just moving, but talking. The man’s brain was so undamaged that he comprehended spoken language and responded to it. That shouldn’t be possible! A mistake of this magnitude? Impossible, even with major flaws in the machine calibration or his calculations. And this was a living breathing person, not an experiment; this great an error was unforgivable.
One man laughed with uneasy bravado as they all grasped their stix more tightly. “You can’t do jack shit to us. You won’t even remember us, freak.”
Another guard taunted. “You’re gonna die tomorrow. Everything’s gone after they overwrite you. But today’s Valentine’s Day, and we talked it over.” He waved at the others and leered. “Everyone here should get a little ass on Valentine’s Day, and we figured we’re sure as hell going to enjoy yours before we lose the chance. Tight ass like yours deserves a little playtime. ”
They were going to rape him?! Elias glared down at the filth masquerading as real human beings, hand shooting for the alarm again. He wouldn’t let them do this. His fingers stopped just short of depressing the button as another man entered the room.
“What do you cretins think you’re doing?” the well dressed intruder hissed. Elias smiled in satisfaction. It was Dr. Takahashi. The director of the center had actually shown up. There, now they’d find out what happened when you abused…
“D-doctor Takahashi! Uh…we…AAH!” The guard yelled as Gabriel took advantage of the unexpected distraction and charged him. Two of the guards grabbed frantically at their holsters. Gabriel had managed to get a grip on one of his tormentor’s stix wrenching it hard, but two darts sprouted from his chest almost immediately. He fell to the floor with a groan, his eyes closing while his body twitched for a moment, and then went perfectly still. The guard who’d been attacked moaned quietly, cradling his arm that looked bent in an unnatural angle.
“Quit that pathetic moaning,” Takahashi snapped. “It’s less than you deserve, you imbecile. Waking a man like him without the proper precautions? You were all nearly dead, and how do you think our client would feel waking up in a sodomized body? I swear to you, if anything else happens to him before the transfer happens, I will kill you myself! I will not lose millions on this simply so you can add some notch to your grunting, half-brained belts! ”
Elias sat frozen as he watched the guards cringe and move towards Gabriel.
“Clean him up. You know that pissant scientist will notice anything different about him. Little fairy is so anal he’d notice if you added an extra damn freckle.”
“I’d like to see how anal he really is,” one guard muttered, ignoring his injured cohort as he picked up Gabriel’s unconscious legs.
Dr. Takahashi gave him a cutting glare. “You will leave Dr. Kerr alone until this project has been successfully completed. After that, Mr. Mureta has ordered a complete burn of the facility and anyone who might jeopardize the company’s plans. At that point, I don’t care if you split Kerr open like a squealing pig, so long as he has finished the transfer beforehand!”
Elias drew his hand away from the button and stared in horror. The director…Dr. Takahashi had been such a pleasant man. Someone to be considered a colleague, a fellow scientist, and here he was coldly discussing the disposal of not only Elias’ beloved Gabriel, but himself. Trying to control his breathing, Elias listened in a daze as men casually discussed the various sexual horrors they planned to visit on him as soon as they had what they wanted. They buckled Gabriel’s unconscious body back down on the table, arranging his limbs exactly as he’d been left. Trailing in the director’s wake, they laughed in subdued, nervous bursts as they walked down the hall and past Elias’s hiding place. One man followed behind slowly, still moaning under his breath.
Elias huddled in his chair until he couldn’t hear them any longer.
“Crud, crud, crud, crud,” he muttered, clenching his hands into fists. “This is the Crapinomicron of all crud!”
With a small shift, he stopped the video feed from the exam room, pried the button off and shorted a circuit. The lack of power might buy them some time if a guard actually came to his station and tried to monitor Gabriel’s room. Elias would scrounge every moment he could get, right now he was feeling so shaky that he wasn’t sure he would even be able to do anything with the time he’d bought.
Gabriel was still alive! Elias hadn’t met him too late…as long as he got him out of this place. His brain raced with possibilities like a hyperactive hamster on a wheel. He had to get Gabriel off planet first, which was going to more than a little difficult considering the complete lack of ships available. The shuttle, as far as he knew, was their only way out and it wasn’t due for a week yet. Elias knew better than to believe it would be unguarded. The communications relays were constantly monitored as well, so there would be no way to get a message to the Interplanetary Officers and request help. The communications room was built like a small fort, actually. He’d always wondered why, and now he worried that he was finally finding out.
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