Sensational

ONE

Good Morning, Samson thirteen. The current time is seven fifteen A.M.. The date is September seventeenth, two thousand and fourteen.

Energy stores optimal. System Check?

"No, that's all right," Sam says to himself. "I have a feeling it'll be a quiet day. Just run a standard mark scan at ten-minute intervals and find the nearest town."

Working.

"Where are we anyway?"

Locating. Nahamston Vermont, United States.

Samson rolls his eyes. "I know we're in the States, Del. I don't sleepwalk that badly."

Nearest town located. Estimated twelve miles south-southeast. Optical tracker online."

The glowing pointer appears in his vision, and Sam, the world's only completely renegade superweapon, starts off at a brisk fifteen-mile-per-hour jog.

TWO

Samson is the child of evil, as far as he's concerned. At the age of five, he watched as his parents and grandfather were murdered by the insane hijackers of the infamous World Trade Center attacks. He has no recollection of why they were there in the first place, although he's decided it must have been a "take your kid to work" kind of thing.

He was removed from the rubble after several days at the bottom of a stairwell, almost every bone in his fragile little frame broken. To the amazement of all, he'd survived without food and barely any water, and showed an incredible resistance to the pain of his crippling injuries.

Naturally he was reported as dead by the on-site government agents, and abducted into a research program.

For the next ten years he barely achieved consciousness. What there was of life consisted of pain, drugs, needles and blades, electric shocks and the horrific buzz of something flowing in his veins that wasn't blood.

And then a voice; calling him "Samson" although his name, nearly forgotten, had been Roger... or Rodney... or something. But not Samson, certainly.

And though he'd been anchored to the same steel table for nearly a decade, he sat up effortlessly without the slightest ache or pain. His arms pushed him up without complaint, although they were much longer and more powerful than he remembered.

His voice, though, came slowly. "Whe- where...?" he grunted to nobody in particular, but nobody answered.

THREE

Days passed in the large room, where "Samson" found he was unable to leave. His metal bed was in the center of an operating-theater-type surgical center, though a certain lack of tools gave it an eerie, abandoned feeling.

It was a while before he realized he'd not only gotten older, but gone through most of puberty unconscious. He was almost three feet taller and, when he found a reflective metal tray, discovered he looked nothing like he had at five.

The sole door was reinforced steel, with a wheel in the middle to unseal the locks. He was unable to turn it at all.

Samson expected to get hungry, after a day or two, but it never happened. In fact, he felt none of the body's usual needs; he wasn't hungry, he wasn't tired, he wasn't sore from ten years on a flat metal surface.

After four days, although he had no idea of the time, he decided to start playing with the computers. Perhaps somebody would come to stop him.

Pressing the ON button of a desktop PC, Samson was rewarded with a strange logo, a hand clutching a lightning bolt, and then a plain Windows-style interface.

Curiously, there was a file in the middle of the screen, labeled in all capital letters: "OPEN IMMEDIATELY". Of course Samson could barely read, but "open" was familiar, so he clicked the mouse on it until the screen went black.

A man's face appeared onscreen, and Samson felt a chill as he spotted himself in the background, lying asleep on the table. This movie must have been taken, he decided, from this very computer.

The man was middle-aged, graying in the hair, with extraordinarily deep wrinkles. His eyes were a sad gray, and his lips were dry and cracked. Overall, he looked... neglected. As though he hadn't bothered to care for himself in much too long.

"Samson Thirteen," the man spoke, and isn't that just great, Sam thought, now I have the wrong name AND a number. "If you're watching this, and I hope you aren't, it means we've been shut down.

"My name is Verence Stergo, and I am the researcher who made you what you are, now. I suppose I should apologize, although for what I cannot say. You must be distraught to be used in such a fashion... but to consider what possibilities there are for your life, now... well, who could be angry?"

Verence, Sam decided, doesn't seem very sure of himself. But he kept listening to the stammering old man.

"You're almost fifteen now, Samson. You're supposed to be brought online at eighteen, but we don't expect the project to continue that long. Unfortunately... you can't be reintegrated into society. You're far too dangerous, Samson. Sam.

"I confess I've developed a fondness for you, over the years I've worked on you. I... never had a son of my own. I'm going to try and keep them from destroying you outright, but in the end you're just a phase in their research. Something to be discarded, or tested to your limit until you self-destruct. I can't allow it...

"I suppose if I cared for you like a real father, I'd kill you... release you myself. Spare you the long, slow, monotony of your imprisonment here. I don't mean to make it sound so harsh, but I can't think how you could possibly escape, and nobody who knows what you are is going to just... let you out."

Sam's eyes widened at that point. He didn't need to eat or sleep anymore, as far as he knew... so just how long could he last in here?

And what did the man mean, 'what he was'?

"I'm sorry for what you are, Sam. I'm sorry for making you this way. For cutting you off from humanity, from nature. You deserved better.

"Unless..."

Stergo paused for a long time, head in his hands. Finally, when Sam was practically bouncing off the walls from impatience, the man spoke again. In barely more than a whisper: "When you're done watching this video, go to the last desk on the right. The fourth container under it is locked, the pass number is 131924.

"There's a syringe inside, filled with a nanoSoft solution. Inject it into yourself, it will upgrade your software. You'll see what I mean.

"I hate myself, Samson. I hate myself for taking an innocent child, hardly more than a baby, and making him into a machine like you. I wanted a son... and I ruined life for somebody else's.

"Forgive me?"

And the screen reset to black. The computer shut off.

And once again he was alone.

FOUR

Finding the needle was easy, after a moment. He shoved the three identical cases off the fourth and punched in the code number, and with a hiss, the case hinged open. Inside was nothing but a single syringe on a foam padded surface, filled with a few milliliters of softly glowing green fluid.

Sam, having felt the dull poke of needles his entire life, didn't hesitate to stick himself with the thin little thing, but it took him a moment to realize he had to depress the button to release the contents into his blood.

With a pneumatic snapping sound, the liquid vanished. Seconds later, Sam felt a weird electric buzz, all throughout his body. It felt cold, then hot, then tickled, and finally there was a heavy feeling, as though something was settling onto him, or into him, like a weight. Within moments, nothing.

And then...

"Delilah" Nanotech Personal Assistant, online. Performing systems check. Stand by.

A voice! Sounding like a young woman, standing directly behind him, but when he spun to look, there was nobody there. It must be in his head, he decided, unsettled. "Um... hello?"

Hello.

"Who... who are you? Where are you?"

I am a nanotechnology-based personal computing system with personality-based artificial intelligence and modular nanoSoft interactivity. My name is Delilah, a reference to that I was designed to direct and inhibit project Samson.

Which would be you, it seems.

"But where..."

I exist throughout your body in the form of a nanite infection. I am self-replicating, therefore my processing power can be replenished even in the event of massive blood loss. Although if we work together that isn't likely to be a problem. I was designed to be what you call "street smart".

Sam sighed to himself, which he realized no longer meant the same thing at all. "I won't be getting into trouble anytime soon. I'm stuck here."

No we aren't.

"Really? That's what professor evil said on the computer video."

We would be stuck here, I suppose, if you hadn't injected me. However there are certain resources available to us which will let us effect our escape.

Sam perked up. "Really? Like what?"

You. Please stand and look around the room for me.

"Can you see what I see?"

The voice in his head sounded, if anything, a little impatient. You ought to stop referring to us as a singular. We're one person, now. And yes, we share vision, as well as every other sense. Wait, there. That case, the one on the bottom.

Sam had just glanced at the stack of discarded cases, identical to the one containing "Delilah". He reached for the one on the bottom of the pile. "Do you know the code?"

I think so. The bar code on the case indicates that this is a nanoSoft armory, of sorts. I hope you don't mind needles.

"Not especially." Sam's eyes widened. He'd never used a word like that before, not in that offhand way. "Can I ask you something?"

Of course.

"Are you making me smarter?"

There's only so much I can do without having you read some books, but yes, I'm making some moderately complicated alterations to your neural connections and chemistry. Catching you up, you might say.

"Um... thanks."

I assure you it's entirely to our benefit.

Sam listened to the code she told him and punched it in, and was rewarded with an array of syringes, most green like she had been, four blue, and two red. All had a peculiar soft glow.

"What should I do first?"

The green ones. Those are nanoSoft standard operations programs. Just shoot them up, and I'll sort them out and streamline the installations.

"Okay... here goes." Sam stuck himself with the first of six green needles. "Wait, what will these do?"

I can tell you as they're injected. The needles themselves aren't labeled. How foolish of them.

All right, that one was a data storage module. You may notice a more perfect recollection of events in future, and will now possess a photographic memory.

"Neat. How about this one?"

Linguistics. Your cortex and broca's regions are being reformatted to include six major languages and four hundred dialects.

"I can't imagine needing anything like that," Sam commented, already poking a third needle.

We're going on the run, Samson. We'll need to blend in. Hold on, that one was important. Listen closely.

Blink your eyes a few times, they're going to itch. And indeed, they did. Badly. Sam felt tears forming at the burning pain, but it was gone in seconds. And when he opened them again, cloudy colored shapes swam across his vision.

That is your optical heads-up display. I can disable it if you wish, however it provides a wealth of readily-available information which would otherwise be difficult to interpret.

As a minute passed, the shapes in his sight coalesced into lines and displays, semi-transparent and blue-green in color. It was like looking at the world through a fighter pilot's canopy.

And one of the displays was a feminine face in the left-lower corner of his vision, who smiled at him indulgently. Nice to see you, too, she said, and he realized he was looking at Delilah's face.

We'll shoot the rest of these up and get out of here. Right?

"Right," Sam answered reflexively, and turned back to the case of needles. Two seconds later, he realized there was a pretty girl in his head and he was filling his blood with software.

Life was strange, and he was right to assume it would only get stranger.