Book Review: Aurora Rising

I needed something – anything – to listen to while I was making expensive saltwater at work. I got this audiobook from the library because it was marked as “Always Available,” thus no wait time.

The Book

Aurora Rising
Author: Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff
Amazon Link

There’s really not much you need to know about this book in terms of warnings or generic “people may not like this.” Unless, of course, you want to count the fact that this is so very YA.

On With The Review

This book was just not my thing. Like I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of YA – and, in this book, all the typical YA elements made it so, so much harder for me to read. In a nutshell: play the Mass Effect trilogy to get a better story with better characters and better villains.

Reasons I think this is a fanfic of Mass Effect but with teenagers and YA tropes:

  1. Everyone was overly sexualized. Except in the book it was dumber because things “sounded like two [insert alien animal here] trying to have sex”.
  2. There was an ancient, dead species who left clues for a way to defeat an ancient villain.
  3. A techy character with intensive disability (Fin in Aurora, Joker in Mass Effect)
  4. A snarky computer (Magellan in Aurora, Edi in Mass Effect)
  5. A war between the humans and the warrior race (Syldrathi in Aurora, Turians in Mass Effect)
  6. A species that infects another and takes over their body (Raham in Aurora, Thorians in Mass Effect)
  7. Upstart humans have become important in the military and are part of the interstellar school for badasses
  8. Psychics/Biotics

If you played Mass Effect, there is literally no reason to read this book.

 YA tropes in this book I hated:

The characters were too young to be sent off as soldiers on their own. The book acted like they were a normal crew of warriors for the GIA (which, if I’m being honest, I don’t remember what it stands for other than ‘The Man’), but it seemed to me like they should have been some sort of black ops or elite group. They also had 0 (zero) grunts and were all highly trained officers. The idea behind the space travel was that as one got older, it got harder to stay awake through the fold (a wormhole), and that was the excuse as to why only young people appeared in the book. I thought, however, that the lack of older characters – especially commanders who might send orders to the ship – was appallingly lacking.

Another YA trope that got me hard was the “everyone here is an outcast because they’re terrible, but now we’re family” sort of thing. Kill off all the parents, ostracize all the children, make everyone in the whole group look for a new family. Then, once they find this friend group works, they attach to each other like leeches. It makes for extremely awkward, repetitive dialogue. When the characters turn out to be “the best, but just bored at school or with personality issues that are magically solved by being in this family,” I just don’t dig it. In this book, every main character fit into this trope, and there were altogether too many main characters for my taste.

Next: the eyes and hair. I literally could care less about people’s multicolor, flower-shaped, or red eyes or their silver hair or whatever. Why is it so common in YA to have fancy eyes? I’ve never liked that trope, never found it interesting. It makes these characters with weird eyes have hardcore Mary Sue complexes, even beyond the “everyone hates me” tropes mentioned above.

Also, the “oh no, I’m super hot and have all these great powers, but I’m a weapon” boo-hoo nonsense. At least you’re not a whore like Scarlet, the diplomat of the group (which why do they have a diplomat in the army? Shouldn’t that be a separate field? Whatever).

I had thought this book couldn’t be worse than City of Bones because it was sci-fi, but lord it made me angry because it was so cliche and not creative in the least. If you’re a sci-fi fan, you’re getting nothing new out of this. Nothing.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

What I’m Reading Next:

I’m going to finish How to Fight Presidents soon enough, but I’m also reading the indie book The Gossamer Globe! Stay tuned.

American Chimera – 24.1

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Dallin waved to the interrogator. “Oh, what a pleasant surprise!” He smiled, lifted a finger, and reached below his desk. “I saved you a few bananas. I remembered how much you liked it last time, and I just couldn’t deprive you of it once I picked a few bunches.”

The interrogator reached over the desk and took one. She held it before her, and her lip trembled.

“Oh, come now. It’s not that precious.”

She took hold of the stem and peeled the fruit. “It is,” she said. “Your tree is one of a kind. None like it will ever exist again. It needs to be protected, tended, and loved.”

“Many one-of-a-kind species are gone, though. Seeing the very end of the banana won’t be such a travesty, not when there’s been so many other problems.” He pulled out a tin wrapped in waxed canvas. “Mara also made some banana bread. I wanted you to try some before you went back to D.C.”

The interrogator nodded. “Thank you, Dallin.”

“Oh, not a problem. Not a problem at all. I’m glad I can share this bounty.” He looked to either side, put a hand up to his mouth, and whispered, “There’s some cinammon in that. We only get cinnamon every few years, but Mara’s kept the last harvest in the freezer. She ground some up for this batch of banana bread – extra special.” He leaned back. “I don’t always give cinammon out, you know.”

“You don’t?”

“No. Last time I gave it to someone who didn’t work here, it was a disaster.”

“Why don’t you tell me about it?” the interrogator cooed. She ate some of the banana Dallin had given her.

A smile from the old scientist showed the desire he had to talk. “Ok,” Dallin caved, “But I’d rather you not go spreading this around everywhere. We don’t have the supply needed to help the world.”


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American Chimera – 23.4

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The interrogator entered the dimly lit cell.

Janie shot up from her bed, fists formed. “What you think you’re doin’ here, in my cell?” She marched over to the interrogator and threw a punch.

Despite carrying a bag on her shoulder, the interrogator smoothly took Janie’s fist and used her momentum to drive the poor woman into the door. “I’m here because I want to be.” She pulled Janie’s arm behind her and held it stiff against her back. “No guards are here to save you, so I suggest you do as I say.”

Janie fought against the interrogator’s instructions. She struggled, tried to kick and elbow, but the interrogator still managed to throw her into the cot against the wall. “I ain’t ever doin’ anything for you! I was happy to rot here as long as I didn’t have to see your ugly face!”

The interrogator put a knee to Janie’s back. “I’m sure you were. But you’re not in charge here, see? I am. And I get to do what I want.”

“Then what do you want, bitch?”

“In a week’s time, I’m leaving for Washington for at least a month. Maybe more. I’m seeing all the prisoners before I leave, just so you have some human contact while I’m gone.”

“Better I be alone than see you!” She snapped her teeth at the interrogator’s wrists, missing.

“That’s not how your husband felt.” The interrogator, with one hand free, lowered the pack on her shoulder to the edge of the bed. “He was lonely, wanted any form of company he could get – even if it were me.”

Janie growled. “Stop trying to make me jealous. We’re both sterile – and I doubt he’d waste any motivations for sex on you.”

“But he tells me things. Many things,” the interrogator continued. She withdrew an unlabeled canister from her pack and placed it on the bed in front of Janie. “He told me about how you used thermite on the hinges of a bus door to get Dani out and save her. She was trapped inside a composite and steel box, but you knew how to break that open.” She shook Janie forcefully and put weight on her. “You still know how to do that?”

Janie nodded. “I fucking know how to do my job!”

“You’re a dangerous little thing, you know.” The interrogator pulled Janie back, ensuring she couldn’t yet make it to the canister. “In Brett’s tale, you used the thermite on the hinges. The hinges, you understand?”

“I understand!”

“And you waited until an emergency to use it. You didn’t waste it on something stupid. You waited until the bus’s alarm was screaming, telling you that Dani was in trouble. Didn’t you?”

Janie stopped struggling. “What are you getting at? Is…Is Dani in trouble-”

“Don’t question me!” the interrogator shouted. She pressed a hand into Janie’s back, making her squeal. “The computers always watch and flag anything out of the ordinary. I am visiting everyone out of kindess and courtesy, and that includes you. Fighting back won’t help anyone.” She released some of the pressure, then waited a second. “When you rescued Dani from the bus, you used thermite to get her out. You used it on the hinges. Then you went uphill, right?”

Janie nodded. “Uphill. Yeah, uphill.”

“It was a hard climb, wasn’t it?”


The interrogator reached back into her bag and withdrew two syringes with capped needles. “Old Man Potter and Stacy were unconscious, weren’t they?”


“Imagine what they would have seen had they been awake. It would have been painful. It’s probably well and good they were asleep.” She withdrew a key fob and tossed it into the pile. “It would have been nice if you’d had a van ready to take Dani to the hospital, wouldn’t it?”

Janie nodded, blinked. “A van. A van, uphill, past unconscious people.”

“I hope you enjoyed this story. Do you understand?”

“I understand.”

“And you never acted unless there was an alarm, correct? You didn’t act without reason or signal?”

“At the alarm, I used thermite on the hinges to open the bus. I went up the hill, found a couple people unconscious, and wished for a van with which to get to safety.” Janie nodded. “I…why are you giving-”

“Do you understand?” the interrogator asked.

Janie squealed as the interrogator pushed her arm into an even more painful position. “I understand, I do! Agh, you’re hurting me!”

The interrogator let go, picked up her empty bag, and backed away from the bed. “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll think about what I said today.” She took out her key card, showed it to Janie, and used it to open the door.

After she left, Janie put the canister, two syringes, and key fob between her thin mattress and the top of her cot.

The computer, after detailed voice and video analysis, flagged the video of the encounter for potential weekly review by humans.


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American Chimera – 23.3

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“So Janie knew how to get her out of that box?”

“Yup. Give ’er the right tools, and I reckon she could fix ’bout anything.” He grumbled. “If we’re s’posed to stay imprisoned for life, why cain’t we at least see each other?”

“It’s not within the plan.”

“Will it ever be within the plan?”

The interrogator shrugged. “I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Brett nodded and slumped in his chair with resignation. “What’s gonna happen now?”

“I know that I’ll go to D.C. There, I’ll wait for budget updates and reassignment to this facility. With the discovery of a female chimera, it’s likely new security forces and agent presence will be required. As the agent most well-versed with the American and Korean chimeras, I will likely be assigned to that role. At that time, I will return, and we’ll see what has been decided.”

“I guess.” Brett slapped the tops of his legs. “Don’t reckon I could convince you to let me stay out, could I?”

“No.” The interrogator popped open the glass bottle of Pepsi and handed it over. “I’ll send you back to your cell once you finish that.”

He took it and enjoyed a sip. “Then I’m gonna make this sucker last.”


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American Chimera – 23.2

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At the time, I weren’t ’ware that Stacy’d passed out. Her face was bloody as hell, but she was out of the fire and safe enough.

My beloved daughter was still stuck. The bus’s alarms blared, screaming out that the thing was on fire. Despite the loud noise, I could still hear Dani’s screams for help.

I hustled down the hill, crowbar in hand, and made my way down to the bus. Old Man Potter lay unconscious and drunk in the creek, but Stacy’d gotten him clear of the blazing heat. I shielded my face from the lithium fire as I made my way around the bus.

“Dani!” I shouted. “Dani, are you alright!”

“Help!” she screamed. Her legs stuck out the broken back window, waving for help. “Daddy, help me!”

I looked over the back of the bus. The door was right crushed, no way I could open it wide enough for my girl to get out. As much as it pains me to admit, Dani was stronger than me – even at the time – so I handed her the crowbar. “Here, baby – see if you can crack ’er open. I’m gonna get Mama, see if’n we cain’t get the hinges off this door.”

Over the crackling of the fire and bursts of offgas from the broken battery casings, I shouted up the holler, “Janie! Janie, bring your kit!”

“What?” she shouted.

“The Bojangle’s kit! Dani’s stuck!”

Janie grabbed her kit and slid down the embankment. She steadied herself with a hand, and I caught her at the bottom, but she still managed to get a cut from a stob or summat on her leg. She tossed the kit on the ground and looked at the bus. It didn’t take her long to fish out a can from her kit. “Git Dani away from the door.”


“The composite shell is the same stuff that coats the Bojangles’ machines. It’s hard to break, but thermite can burn through it. It’s hotter ’n hell here, and I’m ’fraid the reaction might start afore I get the powder in place.”

While she opened her canister and screwed on a spout, I went back up to the door. “Dani,” I said. “Dani, Mama’s gonna try gettin’ you out with the robot kit. She’s breakin’ out the thermite, so you best back up if’n it’s safe enough.”

She nodded. “It’s hot in here, Daddy.”

I knew it was. The bottom of the bus burned a white hot. Sparks and smoke exploded from the batteries, the wires, and the pipes running down its length.

“Can you do that for Daddy?”

She scurried off, deeper into the bus. I bit my finger when I heard her coughing, ’cause there was nothin’ I could do but suffer and wait.

Janie secured the canister and came over. She poured the two powders down the spout and onto the door. She poured the powder such that it ate through the ceramic and cut the door in half and ate away the bottom hinge. It didn’t take too long, thankfully, ’cause the canister got too hot and the thermite started burning through. Janie’s still got the scars on her hands to show what she did that mornin.’

She screamed from the pain, but managed to eke out, “Dani! Dani, push the door! I cut the top, so you gotta push it open now!”

Dani put the crowbar in the crack between the door and the bus, and she got it to pop off its threshold. She crawled out, just getting her big ol’ bottom out.

I hugged her when she was free. Her clothes had holes in them, and her carapace felt flaky from where she’d been burned. A human wouldn’t have fared so well.

Though she was still awake and stronger than me or Janie, I pointed up the hill. “Stacy’s up there – head on up. We’ll get Mr. Potter up to safety.”

Dani nodded. She did as I asked, and I sent Janie after her. I dragged Mr. Potter as best I could, but I ended up just takin’ him further downhill to get ’im out of the way of the lithium flames.

We stayed ’til the fire department was called, then went to town with the ambulance that came to get Stacy.


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American Chimera – 22.4

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The door to Dr. Worthington’s room opened. At the influx of light, Dr. Worthington turned her head and squinted her eyes. “I’m afraid I don’t have any more data you’d want.” Her voice crackled like it hadn’t been used in days, like her breath had been rattling through a dry throat.

The interrogator shuffled up to Dr. Worthington’s bed and sat at the foot of it. She reached out, held the old woman’s crepey, thin hand, and squeezed tight. “I know you can’t give me anything else. You’re 97 years old and falling apart. It’s why I put you at the top of the list for euthanasia, now that my job here is wrapping up.” She grasped at the blankets beneath her. “I’ve done things like this before, but…I feel awful, Dr. Worthington.”

“Ah. If you feel bad, you’re doing something right.”

“What?” the interrogator asked. “You want me to feel bad, forever? You told me to feel bad about what’s happening to Dani, to Stacy. Aren’t you going to tell me how to make that stop? Aren’t you going to help me stop this awful train wreck?”

Dr. Worthington chuckled. “No.” She laid her head back down on the pillow, closed her eyes. “You’re in a hard place. You know what you have to do in order to keep the country and the world safe, but lord help your soul if you don’t feel bad doing it.”

“You’re a despicable old crone, you know that?”

A light smile accompanied Dr. Worthington’s chuckle. “Well, you’re here to make me a miserable dead crone. Now, what did you bring to kill me? Drugs? A gun? Just going to withhold the blood thinners?”

The interrogator stood from the bed. “I’m going to do what’s right, Doctor. Nothing can change that decision.”

“I wasn’t trying to change your mind.”

“Why? Are you afraid of what would happen if you did change my mind?”

“Oh, child,” Dr. Worthington chided, “There’s no use in my being afraid. No value. If I die, it’s not going to harm much of anyone – even my children wouldn’t have lost much, not really. I mean, how many years do I have left? You’re putting more weight and importance on getting my love and approval than you should, is what you’re doing.”

“I hate that I can’t despise you.”


The interrogator took a gun from her pocket. She checked the chamber, checked the safety. “Dr. Smith wouldn’t give me the drugs to make this less painful. I have to start reducing the mouths to feed – I’m sorry, Doctor.”

Dr. Worthington didn’t tremble. “Don’t worry. Just tell whoever I saved that they’re welcome.”


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American Chimera – 22.3

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“She’d found some way to get drugs. I don’t know what kind. But the cops took her in, sent her to the VA where the shrinks tried to help her. She was gone a long time.” Stacy wiped her face, beat back tears with her eyelids. “Oh God. Oh, God, I don’t know what’s happened to Antigen on accounta me. Dani is real – you know it, I know it, but her doctors didn’t. What did they make her suffer? What did they do to her? What if I’d just let it go and never called Mom about that?”

The interrogator clenched a fist. “It’s not your fault. Your Auntie Jen is here, in a cell. I’m not a psychologist, but I think she should be able to get over some of her issues, especially when we reveal that she’s been right all this time.”

A tear rolled out of Stacy’s eye and ran down her cheek. “We’re not gettin’ out of here, ever, are we?”

“No,” the interrogator answered. She reached to a lower shelf of her side table and removed a box of clean handkerchiefs. While handing the box to Stacy, she paused, but just for a moment, before giving her the box. “You and Auntie Jen aren’t going to leave this facility for the rest of your lives. What happens to you is more dependent on politics than any sort of behavior on your parts.”

Stacy rubbed her eyes with a handkerchief, then squinted her eyes angrily. “Then why ask all these questions? What do you want from me?” She tossed the handkerchief to the ground. “You’ve got Dani under lock and key. You got her parents, me, Antigen, God knows who else. Why can’t I see Mom or Dad? What did I do wrong?!”

The interrogator closed her tablet. “This isn’t about wrong or right. It’s about what’s convenient.” She stood, offering a hand to Stacy. “Come along. Our time today is up.”


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American Chimera – 22.2

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I don’t know if you’ve talked to my aunt or even if she was abducted by you Yanks, but Antigen was in the Chimera War. I don’t remember her from before the war, not really, but mom says she didn’t used to be such a beeyotch. She says Antigen is disturbed by PTSD and other acceptable mental problems brought on from being a drone soldier, but Antigen’s been mean since the day we went and got her from Fayetteville. Off and on they sent her to a hospital where she was supposed to get better, but it never really helped.

Once, she had to stay with me and my family when Gramma got a hip replacement and Grampa didn’t have the chops anymore to take care of both her needs and Antigen’s. So Antigen sat on our couch in the den all day with the lights off. She closed the blinds and pulled the curtains, then taped scads of aluminum foil around the edges. If I’d done that, Mom would’ve whooped my butt for putting tape directly on the walls!

I didn’t know if mom wanted me to say hi to Antigen or not. It was always a risk to do too much or too little. After I got home from practice, I peeked into her room and knocked on the wall where I’d entered. “Antigen?” I asked.

Her eyes opened, the whites visible in the darkness whereas her face was not. That scared me, you know, since we’re white – our faces are easy to see in mild darkness. What had she done? Anyway, I was weak, so I screamed and jumped back.

“You scared?” Antigen asked. I saw the shadows in her room change, and she jumped up from where she sat. “Why should you be scared? I know your secrets. They don’t believe me, but I know what you’re hiding.”

“What?” I asked. My voice wavered more than I wish it would’ve.

Antigen crawled on all fours across the couch and peered over the arm. “I saw you with her yesterday. Your friend. The doctors won’t believe me, but what do they know? They think I’m crazy. But you know I’m not crazy, don’t you?”

“Are you talking about Dani?”

“The spider,” Antigen said. “The Chimera we created. You know it’s real? Right? Right? I’ve seen you with her. You can tell me the truth.”

The air in the room smelled weird, so I pulled away from the door. “You’re scaring me, Antigen. Are you ok?”

“I’ve never been so alive,” Antigen said. “I know what we need to do. I need your help, kid – the war isn’t over, you see? It’s just a trick. It’s just a trick, and the damn Gooks are out there, infiltrating us. We’ve got to kill her, see.”

I shook my head. “No, you’re in America. America! The war is over!”

Antigen leapt from the couch and grabbed me by the collar. “The war is never over! Don’t you see what they’re doing?! The fiendish Dr. Kim has got to you, has she?!” She shoved me into the far wall in the hallway where light from the door shone on her face. Dried blood cracked from her face, her pupils were different sizes.

“I don’t know a Dr. Kim! Stop, Auntie! Please, stop! You’re high or something!”

“I’m the only one who understands, kid. There’s a Chimera out there, and we’ve got to kill it. Kill it before it can kill us all.” She pulled a shiv made from a sharpened toothbrush out from a pocket. “You know what you have to do.”

I shook my head. “Dani’s my friend.”

“It has to end.” She shoved the toothbrush into my hand, releasing my collar where a smattering of blood – both of the wet and dry variety – stained it. “Take it. You’re the only one who can stop this.”

I nodded and grabbed the toothbrush tight. “Ok, Auntie. I’ve got the…thing. Is that all you want?”

“Bring me her head when you’re done. Damn Gooks.” Antigen stood up, breathing beleaguredly. She stumbled back to the living room and the couch where she lay down on it.

With her gone, I was able to tell that my heart was beating a million miles an hour. I took the toothbrush – also bloody all around the handle, carved with God knows what to a pointed end – and fuhhh, er freaking ran out the front door. I called Mom, not knowing what I should do otherwise, to get help.

Cops came in about 15 minutes, and an ambulance arrived a little later.


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American Chimera – 22.1

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The interrogator tapped her tablet with stylus. Her eyes looked into the face of Stacy Ellington, pensive without betraying her intent.

“What?” Stacy held her wrists and wrung them. “We both know you’re not a shrink. What you want?”

Nothing changed. The interrogator blinked once, twice, but kept tapping the tablet with her stylus in rhythmic fashion. She clutched at something under her jacket, something solid.

The pace of Stacy’s breathing increased. “Is something going wrong? You haven’t acted like this before. I’m not going to die, am I? You’re not going to kill me?”

The interrogator released the object beneath her jacket. “Your fate hasn’t been decided.”

“Is that what I’m here for? You, like, my judge now or somethin’?”

“Perhaps.” The interrogator pressed a button on her tablet, shutting the mechanism down. “You’re young. Hopeful. Not yet cynical and disillusioned enough with the world to be displeased by the garbage people older than you left behind.”

Stacy rolled her eyes. “Please. You talk as if people my age don’t realize hags like you killed all the animals. ‘Save the environment by killing all the cows?’ My ass.”

“Cows aren’t truly natural animals. They’re not part of a healthy ecosystem-”

“Yeah, but where are the buffalo then? Where are the wolves, huh?”

“They’ve been gone for longer than you’ve been alive.”

“Because you didn’t save them. We’ll inherit the mess you left, all because you didn’t save the animals!”

The interrogator breathed in as if to refute Stacy’s comment, but then thought better of it. “Several years back, there was a war. The Chimera War. Have you learned about it yet?”

“That was like seven years ago. I remember it happening, dillweed. That’s not history.”

“Tell me how you feel about that war. How would you feel if it were happen again, right as you are about to flower into your draftable age?”

Stacy pulled back. “I’m not gonna stop bein’ Dani’s friend! I know the Accords don’t want her alive, but you can’t make me betray her!”

“That’s not what I requested. I want you to tell me what you, a fine young woman with a brain surely ripe for use as a drone soldier, think about war.”

Stacy gulped and looked around her. The interrogation room only offered her shadows and steel, nowhere to run. “Alright. I reckon it won’t change anything.”


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American Chimera – 21.1

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“Excellent work, agent,” Ivanov’s hologram said. He put down the tablet containing the interrogator’s report. “You’ve really picked up the pace recently.”

“Yes, sir.” The interrogator bowed her head and cleared her throat. “I was kindly allowed by Dr. Smith to see specimen 803. Her information has proved extremely invaluable, and the most innocent have already been released. I should be able to finish the interviews of those minimally involved by the next call.”

“I can see that. I think it’s time we start talking about what’s next for you when you’re done here.” Ivanov typed something into his own tablet, which triggered a document to upload onto the interrogator’s. “As you astutely recognized when you first got here, the discovery of a female chimera has reinvigorated interest in Dr. Smith’s research here at headquarters.”

“Does that…does that mean you want me to return to questioning the prisoners about how they triggered Dani to hatch as a female?”

“No. It does mean, however, that we need to station a semi-permanent agent or rotation of agents at the lab. We think you, with your experience, would be the best choice.”

The interrogator shook her head. “I’d rather not, sir.”

“And why not?”

She swallowed. “You’ve seen my record in full, sir. I served in the Chimera Wars, and I’d rather not continue participating in the creation and upkeep of our own stock of atrocities.”

“You were intelligence in the war, not a drone soldier.”

“How does that make my request any less valid?”

Ivanov smiled. “It’s not the same. You weren’t psychologically wrecked like some of those poor kids, and you’re hands down the most knowledgeable agent when it comes to chimeras of any sort.”

“I don’t believe this research is right. It’s immoral, a crime against humanity, just like the accords said. It’d be best, in my opinion, if this place were wiped from the map.”

“This isn’t Pyongyang. You can’t just blow up the labs, and you can’t just erase American ideas off the map.”

“I didn’t just blow up the labs. I took all the hard drives I could.” The interrogator puffed her chest. “I didn’t like what the North Koreans did then, and now that I know more about what’s gone on in Nevada, I don’t like what I see here. I request you station me somewhere other than here once the interviews are complete.”

“Request denied. There’s no one better for the job. We’ll get someone else, someone younger, to take rotation with you. Surely there’s incentives to working there – they’ve got to have hobbies in Nevada, right?”

The interrogator pursed her lips.

Ivanov waved away her concerns. “Don’t worry. You’re going to be done with these interviews soon, you and Dr. Smith will kill off interviewees that aren’t useful and can’t be released, then you’ll come back to DC for a while. Official stationing won’t need to happen until the next budget cycle begins.”

“Understood.” She stood from her chair. “Agent Ivanov, I do have, uh, one more question. I sent you the video proof from Dr. Worthington’s drives. It’s undeniable that Hinkley molested a child, and he could be hiding other crimes, maybe even continuing them. Are you going to send an agent to arrest him again?”

Ivanov’s cool demeanor melted. The corners of his lips sank to form a tight frown while his hologram tapped the top of his desk. “Look, I didn’t expect you to find that file. I agree that the man’s a criminal, but my hands are tied. We can’t just arrest him now, immediately after we released him.”

“Why not? You don’t have to bring him back here immediately. He’s not going to be that expensive to transport.”

“Imagine what other people would think. If you were also abducted and released, wouldn’t you start to question the value of your affidavits? If we arrest any of them, even on credible charges like the one you’ve made, someone is going to crack, and that could encourage the lot of them to break the news internationally.” He leaned forward. “If you are so worried about the last war, imagine one in which we are the bad guys. The North Koreans were up against the entirety of civilized might, of which we are a major player. Hell, everyone donated to the cause. And, yet, it took us a year and a half before the production of the Korean Chimeras was halted – with many thanks to your services – and the government capitulated. If we’re the bad guys? If America is caught doing these dastardly things? Well, we have the resources to make a thousand times the number of chimeras. We have the bombs, the soldiers, and the hardware not just to keep our borders safe, but to make offensive strikes all over the globe. When we decide to go total war, we can show them real war. But the foreigners won’t let it go, I can guarantee. It’ll be an evenly matched war, at least for a while, but in the end we’ll all suffer.” He pinched his brow. “The climate may never be rectifiable after we finish the war.”

“That sounds awful.”

“So you understand why I can’t arrest Hinkley?”

She bit her lip and looked away from the hologram.

“It still bothers you, huh?”

“It bothers me that you lied and said you’d look into it. Open an investigation.”

“I did look into it. It just didn’t take very long for me to realize what a terrible idea it’d be. You have to admit that it’s obvious, right? That the risk we’d be making is just too high?”

“He could just be arrested for child molestation.”

“Total war is too big a risk.”

“You’re letting an evil man get by without punishment.”

“Someone will eventually bring him to justice.”

“He’s old! He could die before then, probably will!”

Ivanov pounded a fist on his desk. “That’s enough, agent!’ He stood from where he sat. ”You will be assigned to this post after you get rid of the useless captives, and you’ll have plenty of time then to help Dr. Smith with his quest to make more female chimeras.“

The interrogator paused, looking all around the room. “Alright. Yes, sir.”

“I can’t believe it,” Ivanov said with a shake of his head, “You came in gung-ho, supportive of our efforts, ready to make more chimeras and keep our country safe. What happened to you? Is there something you haven’t put in your reports?”

“No, sir.”

“Then why the change of heart?”

The interrogator lifted her chin. “The female chimera suffers. Specimen 803 understands her pain, sir, and that’s something not even the North Koreans did to their chimeras. It’s absolutely cruel. No more of them should be created.”

Ivanov signed some papers. “Health issues can be improved in subsequent generations of the bugs. You’ll learn to accept it like the scientists do.” He pointed to the door. “Unless there’s something else you want to complain about, I think we’re done here.”

“Yes, sir.”


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