Woman in the Shadows

shadow woman

From an HD mobile wallpaper – Shadow Woman

“So, just exactly what are her capabilities, Professor? The information will be necessary for my report.”

Hiro Takeshi was the special liaison between the Project and the Prime Ministers of both Japan and the United Kingdom. He had already received periodic updates as to Mikiko Jahn’s progress for the past three years, but the world’s only synthetic woman was due to go operational within a week and Takeshi was nervous. He wanted everything to go well with the Project and the woman.

Even he didn’t know what the two governments would ask of Mikiko, but he was responsible for making sure she delivered, even though he had no control over anything except the purse strings.

“Well, she’s not a goddamned superhero if that’s what you’re thinking, Mr. Takeshi.”

Takeshi was bilingual and bicultural, but he’d been born and raised in the Kensington district of London and so was a citizen of the Crown. However, the British PM Theresa May had made it abundantly clear that both she and her Japanese counterpart Shinzō Abe had damn well better be pleased with their exceptionally large investment in this young woman and the Project that had produced her, and Takeshi knew his professional neck was in a noose.

“That’s what she’s not, Professor Hunt. Tell me what she is.”

They were both sitting in Hunt’s private office and, to the best of the abilities of the Project’s security forces, it was guaranteed to be free of any listening or other monitoring devices. They were free to speak on any topic or, if so inclined, to have raunchy sex on top of Hunt’s desk while wearing matching Minnie and Mickey Mouse costumes. That last thought, however humorous Daniel found it, was highly unlikely since he was a confirmed bachelor and enjoyed the company of women far too much, while Mr. Takeshi had been married to the same woman for thirty-five years and was about as sexually adventurous as a stick of celery.

“You know what I’m about to say because it’s in the reports I’ve been sending your office via private courier.” Hunt sighed and prepared to go into the explanation yet again.

“Ms. Jahn is a core of biological and neurological systems supported by a highly advanced synthetic infrastructure and superstructure. All of her that is visible is constructed of biosynthetic components, her skin, her eyes, her hair, her fingernails, everything, going well below skin deep. Even her skeleton isn’t the one she was born with. It would never have endured supporting her enhanced body.”

“Yes, Professor. Let’s talk about those enhancements. As I recall the original mandate, you were required to augment her human abilities as far as technology would allow. How far does that go?”

Hunt leaned back in his chair and assumed an expression of superiority. Not only did Takeshi seem to expect that, but it gave the Professor pleasure to let this little sniveling bureaucrat know that it was actually true.

“All of her senses are enhanced. She can see, hear, and smell with much greater acuity than a human being. Her sense of touch is far more sensitive, as is her sense of taste.”

“Kind of like that blind chap on Netflix.”

“Not quite, since that blind chap can’t adjust his degree of sensitivity. Mikiko can. She can read print on the pages of a book with her fingertips but dull that same sense so that she would barely feel a punch to the head.”

“Seems quite handy as far as it goes. See and hear better?”

“We’ve tested her and those senses are about on par with a wolf’s.”

“Wolf?”

“You see my dear fellow, a wolf can detect and identify an individual scent up to almost three kilometers. It can also hear well into the 25 kHz frequency and perhaps as high as 80 kHz. You and I, by comparison can hear only up to 20 kHz. As far as eyesight goes, she can detect even the slightest movement within her field of vision and while retaining a human’s capacity to detect fine detail and color, can also see somewhat into the infrared spectrum.”

“She can see in the dark.”

“Up to a point, Takeshi. Like I said, she’s not a superhero.”

“So far, she sounds like one. Why her hearing ability alone…”

“There’s more.”

“Oh yes, quite.”

“She has an excellent sense of balance which makes her capable of some rather impressive gymnastics. She is also physically stronger and runs slightly faster than one would expect, but nothing incredibly fast. Same for jumping and other physical activities, enhanced higher than the best most people could perform, but don’t expect her to outrun a speeding bullet or jump over tall buildings.”

“Combat skills?”

“For the past eighteen months, she’s trained with some of the finest spec ops personnel in the world, not only in hand-to-hand, but firearms, cyphers, in short, she’s had a crash course in how to be a covert agent.”

“An enhanced covert agent.”

“We didn’t quite know what to expect, so we tried to cover the relevant material.”

“Did she take to it?”

“Mikiko enjoys the physical and mental training but she rather dislikes firearms.”

“Don’t blame her one bit.”

“We did ask MI6 to provide their top marksman, who by the way is a woman, and while Mikiko may not like to use such weapons, she’s become quite proficient. Again, eyesight, reflexes, coordination, all enhanced which improves upon just about any task that could be asked of her.”

“Anything else?”

“She’s a bit of a chameleon.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“This was a little unanticipated on our part, but we found, within limits of course, that she can control her facial muscles and structure as well, as, get this…” Hunt thought this next bit kind of exciting “…her hair and eye color.”

“What?” Takeshi sat up straight in his chair.

“It’s true. You should have seen her last Halloween. Just about scared some lab techs half to death when she burst into the cafeteria late that evening posing as…”

“Don’t want to know. Master of disguise then?”

“Not as such. She can control hair and eye color and her facial features to a small extent. She’ll never be able to pass for a Norwegian, but she could pose not only as Japanese, but as a woman from various areas of China, Korea, other Southeast Asian nations. Not sure how long she can maintain before reverting. Never thought to test it that far.”

“Still, it could be an advantage.”

“Depending on what you will be asking her to do, yes. By the way, what exactly will that be?”

“The Project will receive notice of her first official assignment by special courier within a few days. I’ll need to submit my report first. I don’t suppose it would be possible to have a word with her.”

Daniel Hunt’s facial expression was one of casual arrogance, but his voice had sounded rather friendly up to this point. He leaned forward putting his face as close to Takeshi’s as possible given the desk between them.

“I’d prefer not. We try to limit access to her. After all, she’s rather unique.”

“She did go into Tokyo to do a bit of shopping as I understand it. Thousands upon thousands had access to her during that time. Besides, I’m the special liaison and I’ve only seen her through a one-way mirror and on videos. I should think a proper introduction is in order.”

Hunt thought about it, thought about the funding, not that the government would back out now, but he still needed to keep them happy, well, happy enough anyway.

“Very well.” Hunt picked up the landline’s receiver and punched some buttons. “Yes, Hunt here. Where is Mikiko just now?”

“Yes, I see.”

“Of course. It’s just that Mr. Hiro Takeshi would like to have a word with her.”

“Yes, that Hiro Takeshi.”

“I see.”

“Then we’ll be round in about fifteen minutes. Very well. Thank you. Good-bye.”

Hunt softly replaced the receiver suppressing the impulse to hit Takeshi in the face with it as hard as he could. “She’s just about finished with her workout in the gym. Weight training today as I’ve been told. If you would come with me…” Daniel stood indicating the liaison should as well, which he did.

It was only thirteen minutes later when they stood outside the doors to the Project’s gym complex. “We have a wide variety of exercise equipment available here and top flight instructors.” Hunt made a point of obviously looking Takeshi up and down. “I would be more than happy to extend the facilities for your use, Sir.”

Takeshi blushed. At fifty-seven, he was well past his prime and did after all, love his biscuits and port.

Hunt opened the doors. “After you.”

Takeshi hurried in hoping to outrun his embarrassment as well as the annoying Professor Hunt. He’d walked forward several meters before he realized the room was dimly lit. “What the devil?”

The light was further diminished as Hunt entered and closed the doors behind him. Then the lights came up.

“You wanted to see me, Mr. Takeshi?”

Harley

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in the 2016 film “Suicide Squad”.

The middle aged man was confronted with what could be the double of, oh what was her name, the Joker’s girlfriend in that film his youngest loved so much.

Her hair was multi-colored, but mostly bright yellow and green with a touch of fuchsia, bound in pigtails on either side. Her face was almost pasty white with dark circles round the eyes and bright red facial cheeks. She was wearing gym shorts and a tight t-shirt tied at the bottom to expose her midriff. She was holding what looked to be a thirty-five kilo barbell over one shoulder as if it were a baseball bat as light as cardboard.

“Um…that is…Mikiko Jahn?” He extended his right hand, then realized his mistake, withdrew it and bowed.

“That’s who I used to be, Mr. Takeshi.” She was leering at him, both seductively and with what could have been a gleam of murder in her eyes.

He was still bowed when he heard a loud bang on the floor. He looked up and realized Mikiko had dropped the barbell and was now bowing as well. She stood again. “Pleased to meet you, Sir. Am I not what you expected?”

Takeshi heard laughter behind him. Daniel Hunt was actually laughing, really laughing. What the Americans would call a “belly laugh.” It would have been a shock to everyone at the Project, and indeed it was to  Mikiko.

While at the elevators, Hunt had texted the young woman’s principle trainer Tashiro Momoru and made the arrangements. Then he told Momoru to “get lost.” No sense in having a pissed off government official make him a target of his wrath along with the Project’s Director.

Takeshi turned. “You planned this?” He was still blushing and sweating and produced a cloth handkerchief from his inside jacket pocket to wipe his forehead.

“Consider it a further demonstration of Mikiko’s abilities.” Hunt had stopped laughing but he was still smiling. He looked over the liaison’s shoulder and saw the syntheorg’s facial expression. She wasn’t pretending. She really was enjoying the prank. Normally, she was reserved, especially in front of strangers, and Hunt wondered if her ability to manipulate her own neuro-emotional net was increasing.

“I see.” Takeshi nervously chuckled and replaced his handkerchief. Well, all in good fun, eh?”

It wasn’t the reaction Hunt expected, but maybe it was for the best. Hunt walked over to Mikiko.

“I apologize if I frightened you, Sir. It was Dr. Hunt’s idea, as a demonstration of course. I had so little time to prepare. If I’d had some advance notice…”

“So the penny drops, Dr. Hunt.”

“Yes, Mr. Takeshi. You see, Mikiko is a very special person, and not just for the reasons we discussed earlier. I’m sure she and the rest of us would like some notification next time?”

Takeshi noticed that Mikiko’s hair and facial color were returning to what he assumed was normal for her. He hadn’t realized her eyes had been green before, but now they were brown again. Her clothing still looked scandalous and he concluded that she handled a thirty-five kilo barbell with such ridiculous ease, she could have used it as a club if she’d wished.

“You are right, of course, Professor. Please accept my apologies, and Ms. Jahn, I am sorry for so abruptly intruding upon you.”

“Thank you, Sir.” She bowed again as did Takeshi in response.

Takeshi considered bowing to Hunt or offering to shake his hand, but he had the distinct feeling the scientist was in no mood for either. “I need to be leaving now.”

“That’s fine, Mr. Takeshi. I’ll escort you out.” Hunt looked back at Mikiko.

“I need to shower anyway, Professor.”

“I’ll see you later with the rest of the Team then.”

“Yes, Professor.” She bowed and Hunt bowed back, then the young woman excused herself and left.

Hunt suspected Momoru was just around a corner nearby laughing his ass off.

“Come with me Mr. Takeshi, and this time, I promise no surprises.”

“That would be a relief, Professor Hunt.”

The two men walked out of the gym and as Mikiko’s enhanced hearing listened to their retreating footsteps, even after the gym doors closed behind them, she knew that her “introduction” to Hiro Takeshi meant that she had entered the next stage of her existence. She knew she’d be doing some work for her government as well as the Professor’s however even Dr. Hunt seemed not to know what that work would entail.

Unbidden, she recalled her firearms training. Her MI6 instructor said she had a hundred percent kill rate with both rifle and handgun at even the fastest a human target would be expected to run.

This is the fourth story in the series about “The Reconstructed Woman.” Here are the previous chapters:

  1. The Reconstructed Woman
  2. Burn Victim
  3. Woman Under Repair

This is the first time we don’t see a “flashback” into Mikiko’s past, although I considered depicting an early example of her manipulating her appearance. However, the story didn’t take that direction, so I kept everything in the present, focusing on the shadow government’s interest in her abilities and only vaguely hinting at what services they would expect her to perform.

I also gave Hunt and Mikiko a chance to have a little fun, although in the latter’s case, there’s a question as to whether or not she was expressing her natural emotions.

The time is drawing near for Mikiko to accept her first assignment. Not only is her synthetic body ready for the challenge, but she’s been trained in combat and survival skills. The question is whether or not what’s left of the woman inside the syntheorg is also ready for what faces her.

The next chapter is The Search for Armageddon.

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4 thoughts on “Woman in the Shadows

  1. Indeed, your question of “what’s left of the woman inside the syntheorg” could be augmented by questions about the effects on the fundamental sense of self of numerous traumas and stresses, beginning with her deadly accident, and numerous years of surgical, medical, and psychological treatments during her reconstruction and rehabilitation. The very nature of all this focused attention would have to make any individual extremely self-absorbed and introspective. We readers have not been privy to any clear sense of her personality development or maturity even before the accident, but at this point fully a third of her existence has been in an exceptionally un-socialized and inhuman cultural environment, with virtually no peer exposure and entirely supervisory social interaction. Her personality has not been allowed to mature along lines that constitute normal human accommodation of interactions between others and the self. Some might suggest that this is a recipe to produce a sociopath.

    Add to that the fact that her developing sense of self must acknowledge her above-normal capabilities as a kind of superiority, and her lack of human female biological capabilities and limitations as a kind of isolation and distancing from humanity. I don’t know that I can imagine *any* process of psychological counseling and social training that could adequately compensate for these effects. One model might be that of the superhero, who adopts a sense of responsibility to uphold the best features of a humanity from which he or she is isolated — particularly valuing the preservation of human lives; and particularly discounting the failure of so many humans to accept similar responsibilities and values above their innate sense of self-interest. But this model suffers from the disadvantage of lacking peer identification and the possibility of loving and being loved in return, or being able truly to sympathize or empathize with other humans.

    It may be considered miraculous if your protagonist can survive all this for any length of time without destroying herself.

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    • Part of the reason I created the neural regulator (I need a better name for it) is to manage her emotional and perhaps even cognitive states. I’ve run some dialogue mentally regarding how that regulator may be preventing Mikiko from “naturally” grieving, but it does help her survive and stave off severe emotional responses to her trauma.

      I’d been thinking about the old “Six Million Dollar Man” show and it seems that after the pilot episode where he struggled with the transition and even attempted suicide, he adjusted very well. And yet, having an artificial arm, two legs, and an eye much be haunting as you attempt to live a human life. In Mikiko’s case, her “repairs” are much more extensive and so she requires a sort of on board assistant to manage her “identity” if you will. I don’t have it all worked out yet, and you bring up a good point about us not having a clear sense of who she was before the accident (that’s a part of her life the regulator has kept at bay so far), but the question is whether or not that life, that personality is gone forever. If becoming, for the most part, synthetic biologically and neurologically gave her a new life, maybe it have her a new *her* as well.

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