What I’ve Always Dreamed Of

venus airships

Artist’s concept of a Venus cloud city — a possible future outcome of the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) plan.
Credit: Advanced Concepts Lab at NASA Langley Research Center

“Don’t look for what you don’t want to find…”

“So this is it; this is what I wished for; just isn’t how I envisioned it…”
— Eminem, from “Careful What You Wish For.”

Genaro tried to remember what happened. He’d been sleeping a lot lately but it wasn’t a natural sleep. They were trying to keep him quiet so he wouldn’t be a bother. Why couldn’t he see? Why were his arms and legs so heavy?

He tried to stand but although he could find the floor, he couldn’t find his feet. Something at the end of his leg was touching something below and to the side of him, but it wasn’t a foot. It was…was… What was it? What had happened? He realized now he couldn’t move his fingers. What was at the end of his arms? Why was it so hard to breathe?

He opened his mouth but couldn’t scream. He felt like he was suffocating. His head, yes he still had a head, was aching. The pain spiked and then there was nothingness.

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The Vengeful

900 N Michigan

© Marie Gail Stratford

It was late when Mikiko Kojima checked into the Four Seasons Hotel at 900 N. Michigan in Chicago.

The building was known as Bloomingdale’s given the shopping establishment’s significant presence, including its name on the structure. It contained some of the most upscale stores in the nation and the rather luxurious hotel in which Mikiko had been booked occupied the 30th through the 46th floors of the building.

There had been a sudden mix up in reservations at the last-minute once unknown government agencies requested that a room be made available for Ms. Kojima’s stay. Accommodations for at least one guest had to be made elsewhere with certain financial incentives added in order for Mikiko to have room 3014 open to her at two hours notice.

Her suitcase had been sent ahead of her, although it wasn’t actually her luggage. A large Louis Vuitton case had been purchased and clothing in Mikiko’s size was bought, packed, and then sent to the Four Seasons and placed in her room. She would seem a more legitimate guest this way since she had left England only with a small handbag and a carry on.

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Pursuit

thames

Body being pulled out of the Thames River – found at DailyMail.com

The body of a young woman has been found in the River Thames in Reading.

Thames Valley Police said the corpse was found shortly before 10:00 GMT on Tuesday morning, near the Thames Lido.

She has not yet been identified but officers believe she may have been a recently arrived undocumented immigrant.

Police are currently treating the woman's death as suspicious. According to Det Insp Robert Farming, an appeal for witnesses has been made.

Mikiko Jahn sat reading the BBC news story on the borrowed tablet over and over again, and then after a while stopped being conscious of the words. A photo was run with the story. She recognized the girl from Sebastian Wright’s security file.

The dead woman was a fourteen-year-old Syrian refugee who had been trying to escape to Europe when she and a group of twenty-one other young girls between the ages of twelve and seventeen had been captured by human traffickers. She and four others were routed to the UK, London, specifically to Wright to provide a night’s “entertainment” to a few select delegates at the symposium Mikiko had attended last week.

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Predators in Haven

 

sunset in haven

© Sue Vincent

She couldn’t believe he’d done it again, the assassin-for-hire known to international law enforcement agencies as Hellspite had eluded the American FBI, CIA, and even the unnamed British Agency she was on loan to.

Mikiko Jahn was a unique individual. Six years ago, she nearly died in a nuclear power plant accident and would have if the brilliant and eccentric scientist Daniel Hunt hadn’t saved her, literally rebuilt her from scratch with new and revolutionary processes and materials collectively known as Synthecon.

Now, even though in every manner conceivable, she looked, sounded, smelled, and acted like any other woman, only portions of her brain, nervous system, skeleton, and internal organs were biological…human. The rest, which made up over ninety percent of her physicality, was a set complex biosynthetic structures, maintained by hundreds of thousands of nanoscopic probes coursing through her bloodstream.

After the accident, the Japanese and British governments gave Hunt unlimited funds and resources. They only had two conditions. The first was to give Mikiko back the ability to be human, to interact with society normally, to seem to be the person she had been before. The second was to, as much as the technology would allow, make her more than human, augment her abilities, senses, even her emotions. They had plans for her.

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Hellspite

scarecrow

Scarecrow of Romney Marsh – from the Official Disney Fan page

“Why the bloody hell wasn’t I notified earlier? Never mind that. I want every available agent to comb Orly. Thomas might still be in the airport. And get people on her daughter’s disappearance. I don’t mean the local police, I mean our people. Tell them they don’t need warrants, they just need to produce results.”

Geoffrey Colins had been in bed fifteen minutes when the cell on his night stand rang. Amanda Thomas had abruptly left London by air over five hours ago, no explanation and certainly not on her schedule. Ever since Mikiko Jahn had discovered her identity and that she was tied to the Shadow Man, now revealed to be high-priced attorney Richard Singleton, his agency had been routinely monitoring her digital communications, but for some reason there was a foul up and the recording of her conversation with her daughter Sienna’s apparent kidnappers hadn’t been reviewed until less than an hour ago. By that time, Amanda’s flight had already touched down at Orly International Airport just outside of Paris. Agency staff reviewed Paris police computer records and discovered that her nineteen-year-old daughter hadn’t attended classes all day long. Presumably, she had been taken very early this morning by parties unknown.

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The Man in the Dark

shadow man

Black soul – Foto Giovanni Dall’Orto – Wikimedia Commons

Autumn 2017 – London

“Here’s what we’ve got from your video and description of the suspect. Amanda Thomas, 48 years old, born Zuhal Amanda Clarke, Father George Sanford Clarke, British, a nationally syndicated columnist and novelist, Mother Aliya Fowler, moderately successful painter of mixed English-Arab descent.”

Mikiko expected to be debriefed or briefed or whatever in some official government office, like the British Secret Intelligence Service building where MI6 was headquartered, but she found herself sitting in an uncomfortable wooden chair with several other people, none of whom she knew, listening to Geoffrey Colins speaking to them in a darkened room in what seemed to be an out-of-business clothing boutique, or rather the break room of said-business. A small, portable projector was throwing images on the blank wall behind him, showing a loop of the video she’d taken last night of the woman now called Amanda Thomas.

She didn’t get back to her hotel room at the Premier Inn Heathrow until after midnight this morning. She’d walked back to the nearest bus stop from the house she’d been watching and then, in her normal identity, got on board a bus traveling in the general direction she had come from. She’d received a text from Colins as to which stop she’d exit the vehicle. Once on the street and with the bus out of sight, she heard a car engine starting two blocks away and then drive toward her. At the same time she got a text from Colins stating “Get in the back.”

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First Flight

 

Salerno

© Pacific Press/LightRocket/LightRocket via Getty Images – The bodies of 26 young migrants arrive at the Italian port town of Salerno on Sunday (5 November 2017).

The Present – Salerno, Italy

The young Japanese woman looked as if she were just another curious spectator in the crowd watching the corpses being offloaded from the vessel sent to retrieve them from the Mediterranean Sea. Mikiko Jahn felt the tears welling up behind her eyes and almost overwhelming grief and anger like a weight in the center of her chest before the neural circuitry in her brain suppressed those feelings and replaced them with an impassive calm.

Well, it was mostly impassive. The residual emotions she experienced moments before remained, but they were well contained. How had she come to this?

Two Weeks Ago – The Project – An Unknown Location in Japan

“He’s called the ‘Shadow Man’ for the simple reason that his true identity is not known. What is known about him is that he is a British national and one of the leaders of a cartel that siphons refugees, mostly young women and children attempting to reach Europe from Libya, from sanctuary into sexual slavery. We estimate that as many as twenty to thirty percent of these victims are currently in the UK with the rest distributed in Europe, Russia, and Asia.”

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Murder at 900 North Michigan

 

900 N Michigan

© Marie Gail Stratford

Mikiko left her room at the Four Seasons reluctantly ready to kill the assassin-for-hire called Sandman. MI6 learned his condo was on the 29th floor.

Her contact arranged the Glock. She’d never met Sandman, but she knew his victim’s scent from last month’s encounter. Mikiko barely survived a nuclear accident six years ago and was now reconstructed using revolutionary techniques. Her sense of smell was that of a wolf’s.

Sandman was amusing himself with the girl. There. Mikiko could hear sounds of pain and passion just the other side of the door. “Just another murder in Chicago,” she told herself.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to write a story no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

Once again I’m leveraging a pre-existing character and situation, in this case, my synthetic woman Mikiko Jahn whose latest published adventure can be found HERE.

When I saw the address in Chicago, I looked it up and indeed found that the “Bloomingdale’s” building contains the Four Seasons Hotel on floors 30-46 and condos on floors 21-29. It wouldn’t be much trouble for Mikiko to get from the 30th to the 29th floor to seek out her target and her synthetic body has enhanced senses including a sense of smell that can recognize a particular odor for up to about 3 kilometers. Her hearing is goes into the 80 kHz range, so listening through the door is child’s play.

Oh, 100 words is pretty limiting and if I’d had more “real estate,” I would have explained the child sex trafficking angle of the story. There’s another tale of Mikiko’s that covers her stalking these predators in much more detail. Today’s wee bit of flash fiction occurs immediately after that one (which I’m still writing).

To see some of the events that led Mikiko up to this point, read First Flight.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com. Given the number of entries already present, it seems I’m getting off to a pretty late start.

The Swimmer

woman-underwater

From the story “Swimming naked in Snowdonia?” – Found at walesonline.co.uk

The Present – The Sea of Japan off the Coast of North Korea

Without actually taking on the characteristics of a sea mammal, Mikiko’s body had adapted to become the most efficient human swimming machine possible. The British Naval Submarine Wilson could only travel undetected to within eight kilometers of North Korea’s eastern coast. It was too risky to launch the agent in a raft, so she’d have to swim that distance underwater carrying all of her equipment.

Through the small port in the airlock door, she could see the boat’s Captain Wallace Davies as he gave her a “thumbs up.” As the small chamber filled with seawater, she reciprocated, though for a moment, she irrationally wanted to bow.

She was dressed in a standard civilian wetsuit (no Naval, military, or government markings of any kind) but in addition to the pack she was wearing, she was outfitted with a new carbon fiber fin made in America called the Lunocent. Wearing this device, even an unenhanced human could swim nearly 13 kilometers per hour, twice as fast as Olympic Gold Metal winner Michael Phelps.

Then as the water reached her face, like a sea-lion, Mikiko exhaled and moments later, when the chamber was completely filled, she rotated the upper hatch wheel handle and pushed. She launched herself out of the submarine and quickly put on the Lunocent fin. Mikiko figured she probably had eight to ten minutes before she had to surface for air and she wanted to put as much distance between her and the Wilson as possible before she did.

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The Search for Armageddon

 

camera

© A Mixed Bag 2013

“It’s just a camera. Where’s the special device you told me about?”

“It’s quite special Mikiko, if you’ll allow me to explain.”

Everyone called Desmond Llewelyn an “old curmudgeon,” but the Japanese agent found him endearing, sort of how she remembered Sofu. For the past year, he’d been outfitting her for missions assigned by their two governments.

“It’s a sophisticated sensor that detects specific rad levels from weapons grade uranium.”

“Then I’m going into North Korea…”

“Not precisely. During World War II, your government conducted secret operations to develop the atomic bomb. After VE Day, a U-boat transported Nazi uranium to a base in occupied North Korea. A working prototype was developed but the war ended before they could use it.”

“So you want me…”

“Intelligence says that Kim Jong-un is bluffing and has no nuclear weapons, but they are actively searching for the prototype. You have to find it first.”

Seven years ago, Mikiko Jahn had been horribly mutilated in a nuclear power plant disaster. Her “reconstruction” had been extensive and left her with a body more than human, but the frightened little girl inside didn’t know if she had the courage to face her personal atomic holocaust again.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of November 5th 2017. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I leveraged two series I’ve been working on. The first is the saga of MI6 Agent Ian Dennis and his discovery that North Korea’s nuclear weapons development is a fake. The second involves Mikiko Jahn, a young Japanese technician who was horribly disabled and mutilated in a nuclear plant accident and who has been reconstructed using advanced synthetic materials and techniques to become more than human and an agent working covertly for the Japanese and British governments.

I did find out that the Japanese were working on the atomic bomb during the war, they did have a secret base in North Korea, and after Nazi Germany fell, a U-boat carrying the remaining Nazi uranium was sent to the Japanese. In real life, the U-boat was intercepted, and the confiscated uranium was used to make the first four American nuclear weapons. I thought I’d tweak history a bit.

Oh, “Desmond Llewelyn” is the name of the late actor who played “Q” in the first twenty or so James Bond, 007 films. I have a sort of affection for the character, so I thought I’d pay homage to the man behind “Q”. Also, “Sofu” in Japanese means “grandfather.”

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

To read other stories about Mikiko, visit:

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

The next chapter is The Swimmer.