Chapter 3

James kept his word. Every chance he got, he'd quickly and quietly pull Cybil aside to her barracks after a given mission to tell her about her siblings. One such mission involved hacking into a CIA database and digging up information.

She was given information not for a high-profile target such as the Pentagon, but for a secret bunker in an undisclosed location. Getting there wasn't the challenge, as she was inconspicuously transported to the site. The problem lay in getting past the bunker's defenses. Despite the location being seemingly devoid of human life, the laser nets and the likely toxic fog that clouded the air made it a fortress.

She proceeded carefully, ignoring the slight chafing the gas mask caused as she slipped past each laser barrier. Although she tried to keep focused on her goal, she couldn't help but wonder why no one was here. The thought continued to roll around in the back of her mind as she found the computer she was looking for. She quickly hacked the government database and retrieved the information, fighting off a churning feeling in her stomach as she did so. She could also feel eyes on her, even as she took her leave as stealthily as possible.

"I guess I could tell you about Max now…" Cybil's body still reflected soldier-like tendencies even outside of her missions, though James could see the twinkle in her eyes that showed that inside, she craved the knowledge. He gladly began.

"Well, Max was a bit tricky… maybe that's the wrong word. Perhaps it's best to call him interesting. Like Ty, he was meant to gather information as well, but in a different way. He has the appearance of a rather handsome Hispanic boy."

A single raised eyebrow broke through the young woman's stoicism.

"What? I had to make him, at least technically, attractive. He was supposed to be able to fish intelligence out of anyone or anything he came in contact with. In effect, he was meant to be the ultimate spy. In terms of his creation, it went pretty well. The only thing missing from him was his right eye, and his enhanced senses were more than enough to make up for that, anyhow."

He had to stifle a chuckle before continuing.

"The issue was that he was a little too good at his job: even while he was being controlled, every woman in the place practically fell in love with him. Even the men weren't unaffected. And all that's not saying anything about his supernatural hacking abilities."

He shook his head, looking out of a nearby window.

"I'll bet his family has their hands full right about now…"

A few weeks later, another mission found her… looking for some kind of crystal in the Appalachian Mountains. She didn't know what to think about it, and as per her place, she didn't ask. She was airlifted to the area via helicopter, and scaled some mountainside from there. After a hike that was tedious even by her standards, she came across the object of her quest; a bluish-green gem about the size of a baseball. It felt warm to the touch, a huge contrast to the freezing temperatures she'd endured to this point. She promptly took a deep breath, steeling herself for her long trip back to the LZ (landing zone) where the helicopter was waiting for her.

James greeted her on the way back to her barracks.

"You look cold."

Perhaps out of her disorientation due to her ordeal, her stoicism faltered for just a second. Then, a miracle happened.

"I feel cold."

James had to work to keep from fainting, jumping for joy, or bursting into tears. She spoke! She'd always been capable of speech, but never used it unless her missions demanded it. The fact that she responded on her own, despite being off duty was a huge step in the right direction.

Cybil herself clamed up, possibly from not being used to hearing her own Italian-accented voice, or fear of speaking out of turn. Nevertheless, she observed the man she knew as her creator trembling in front of her.

"I-I'm f-fine…," James reassured shakily. He drew a breath to calm himself before starting his spiel.

"At one point, this group of thugs said they needed a sniper." Cybil was unsurprised by the bitterness in his tone. Though she was still in no position to resist her orders, she agreed with him. She'd been on a few "wet work" assignments by now, and while she was in no position to voice her disapproval, she agreed with him mentally: they were a group of thugs.

James took another breath.

"I had my work cut out for me: I had to specifically design someone who would always have a sniper's mindset. He needed to be incredibly patient, able to wait for a target for days or weeks, if necessary. He also needed to be naturally good with firearms, especially sniper rifles. He had to have perfect aim, which is why his quirks are Sniper Vision, which allows him to focus in to see through air obstructions and across vast distances, and Sniper Mode, which allows him to divert all of his focus to his target in exchange for perfect accuracy.

"He was designed as an Asian American pre-teen, and partially on the advice of an anonymous friend, was named Ryu." The sigh that followed was fill with frustration and just a hint of sorrow.

"He'd probably hate me more than anyone else now… Ostracized, looked down upon, laughed at, all because of me."

Cybil's face seemed to ask, "Why".

"I… I couldn't finish the body. I got down to the torso before they cut my funding to redirect it to their robotics division. I ran out of material. He was still capable of living, but they scrapped him anyway. Some garbage about not wanting the hassle of transporting 'half a soldier'. Ridiculous."

The look on her face mirrored his own frustration at how things went.

"I hope… I hope that his parents accepted him for who he is, and he can somehow find some happiness in his life. I really do."

Cybil looked down at the floor. I hope he does, too.