Bast licked her lips again, as she had every few seconds for the last several…Bast didn’t know. Hours? Days? Weeks? No, it couldn’t be that long. Days seemed most likely. With the way they turned the lights on and off at irregular intervals and without windows, it was impossible to be certain, but some action had happened and some team – Project Myrmidon – had been dispatched again, which meant enough time had to pass for them to have a mission, come back to the base, and head back out again.
The important thing was, it had been long enough that she was no longer thirsty.
Having one of her Hungers finally met nearly brought her to tears. She’d held on to that feeling, crystalized it, and smuggled it in the back of her mind. She might need it later.
Her tongue lanced out reflexively, and while it was good to have liquid still, she realized that it would be unsustainable for too much longer. Eventually it would become a form a torture, the slow and intermittent dripping driving her slowly madder. Mad. I’m not crazy yet.
With her vigor somewhat renewed, she’d taken note of the other lab technicians they had scurrying about her cell and drawing her ichor. She’d given them names. Downer was a male and always had something to complain about; no matter what happened or what breakthrough they’d made, and moved with a slow and heavy gait that was punctuated by sighs. Sunshine was his opposite, an excitable woman who would always counter his claims with a burst of obnoxious optimism that made Bast want to rip her heart out and shove the organ, still beating, into her mouth and chew and chew and…
The water droplet brought Bast’s mind out of its obsessive spiral. She licked her lips and continued her list of techs. Waif was a young woman with a high and light voice that made it sound like she was constantly daydreaming, but her daydreams involved theories and formulas instead of emptyheaded thoughts. She was involved in an illicit relationship with Liam, the only one whose name Bast knew, courtesy of Waif’s gasps from the closet in the back of the lab during their last liaison. Liam was a nervous man with a slight stutter, and when he held glass beakers they clattered together like he had a slight tremor. He often asked one of the others to do something delicate, which reinforced that idea.
During their tryst, their hearts had pounded even louder, becoming a pair of drums beating in union and eventually drowning every other sound the couple had made. Bast could swear she could see the two hearts, even though they were behind and above her and in another room, miniature suns that promised an end to all want.
Knowing who they were was important. She needed it for the next phase of her plan.
Again, her tongue took in the miniscule amount of moisture. It wasn’t close to irritating her yet – the memory of that thirst was still fresh – but she no longer needed it now that the Hunger had been met. But those drips of water would serve one more purpose, so Bast could endure as long as needed.
Downer and Sunshine were in the room now. They’d been silent for the last few minutes, the only sounds they made the gentle pecks of fingers on keyboards and the constant song of their beating hearts. Downer finally broke the silence. “I heard they got a line on Alpha Prime.”
“Oh?” Sunshine chirped, the clacking stopping from her keyboards. Bast didn’t think they were supposed to speak about such things around her, but all four had a tendency to forget she in the room as they experimented on her. Not her physical body, but that she was alert. Aware.
“Mmmhmm,” he said, with the air of a man doling out an immense secret. “They shoved one of the second generation harnesses on Myrmidon-C and sent him out. I think they-”
The distraction made Bast miss a couple words, but it was easy enough to pick up the thread once she’d gotten her attention back.
“-verestimated how strong he is. And I doubt Alpha Prime will let M-C get out alive. Word is, A.P. was at his sister’s when they sent in M-C.”
Sunshine gasped. “Oh no! I’m sure M-C will be alright. They’re all very capable.”
Downer sighed. “You’re only saying that because you’re sweet on Myrmidon-A.”
“Don’t you even say that!” Her tone wasn’t angry, just annoyed. “You think everyone’s crushing on everyone all the time. In fact-”
Bast was glad for the distraction this time, and used it as an excuse to tune them out for a bit. The two could go back and forth for several minutes on such banal matters and never get anywhere. Fortunately, it wasn’t too long before she could resume paying attention, as she heard Downer rise.
“I’m going to take this batch of ichor to the centrifuge, not that it’ll really get us any new data. Going to though just so I can log it. Shouldn’t be more than twenty, tops.”
“Okay! I hope the experiment goes well – you never know, today may be the day we identify it.”
Downer muttered as he left. Bast’s mind raced. Twenty minutes. Sunshine seemed like the easiest mark.
She licked her lips one more time. Time to act.
Bast subsumed her pride, and called upon that crystalized feeling from earlier, the stored joy at having her thirst quenched that nearly made her cry. She let herself fully feel the memory now, that joy causing moisture to well in her eyes. Once the tears were running out of her eyes, she let out a noise. It was muffled by her lips and high pitched, a pained sound more suitable to a wounded animal than a goddess – or even a human.
Sunshine shrieked at the sound. Glass shattered on the floor, and Bast wanted to curse, desperately hoping no security would come bursting in. But the only sound was Sunshine’s pounding heart. Lub-dub-lub-dub-lub
lub-dub. Lub dub. as Bast cleaned away this latest drop, Sunshine began to walk closer. “Did…did you say something?”
Twit Bast thought, and let out the noise again. Sunshine leaned over here, the first time in ages Bast had seen one of her captors.
The woman wasn’t exactly what Bast had expected. She was bespectacled, which had been expected, but had on heavy eyeliner and much darker hair than the blonde Bast had been picturing. “Oh my god, you’re crying!”
Bast moved her head as much up and down as the restraints allowed. It was barely anything, but enough to get the message across. Sunshine looked torn, and Bast could imagine why. If these four hadn’t been able to divorce themselves of their humanity, they wouldn’t have been chosen for this task. But there was a difference between ignoring the corpse-still body of a monster in the room, and ignoring the weeping person strapped to a table for who-knows-how-long.
“I can’t…what’s wrong?”
She recoiled slightly from the anger in Bast’s eyes, pulling herself out of Bast’s line of sight in the process. “Oh, duh. You can’t speak. I don’t-”
“Know what…wait, did water just fall on you? Blink once for yes, twice for no.”
Bast gave a single blink.
“Is that the problem? Is the water bothering you?”
“I’ll let maintenance know. How long has that been going on? Oh, duh, you can’t tell me. Sorry, I…sorry. I’ll go tell maintenance.” She stood up, and Bast felt a surge of panic that leant real fear to this sound, more of a plaintive one than before. Sunshine froze.
“You…don’t want me to go?”
“You’re lonely, aren’t you. No one to talk to?”
Bast licked the water away as Sunshine began to chatter. “Oh, I can only imagine. It’s not that we don’t want to talk to you – I mean, if you’re really Bast, you must be over three-thousand years old, I can’t imagine what you’ve seen, what you could tell us! But they’re worried about what you could use against us. We still don’t understand how your power works. And we’d ask you, but, well, then you might kill us all.” She let out a nervous laugh, and a few seconds of silence followed.
That seemed to spur Sunshine to action. “Why don’t I just email maintenance, but I’ll stay here? I can talk to you while I work – we’re trying to identify the chemical composition of your blood. Er. Well, it’s not blood. It’s ichor. It’s really interesting – have you ever analyzed your own blood?”
“Oh, my, well..” She started talking about amino acids and exotic chemicals. Normally Bast would tune her out, but since Sunshine was talking to her, Bast clung to every word with the same desperation she had used at first when licking the drops of moisture off her lips.
And slowly, as slowly as those pathetic drips took care of her thirst, this near incomprehensible technobabble began to help Bast to feel less alone.
Two Hungers down.