Maxine

Maxine

By Kristina Blaise

Begin entry (damn, I guess I really do have to do this every time. Boss’ orders).
Dr. Mason here, back at it again with another freak that the Department has taken under its wing. We have too many of those for our own good, but then again I suppose it’s kind of our job. Post tenebras veritas! Protect the people from the horrors that lurk in the shadows! Yeah, it’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it. Seems fitting it would be me. Well, me and our bigass private army, of course.
This week, I’ve got something a little different for you. I’m not dealing with the result of interference from the extraterrestrial race we call “the Precursors”. This isn’t about Abaddon White, either. It’s…well…you know how the areas outside the Ark are a giant irradiated dustbowl inhabited by lawless garbage? Well, you’ll be happy to hear we snagged a live one.
Listen, I know Muties are a bit taboo around here. The director has made it pretty clear that even so much as talking about Muties is really bad. If word got out, the bougie dickheads we work for would likely go into conniptions. They want to be absolutely sure this giant floating gated community is completely safe. That way they get their money’s worth. Maxine, however, was too fascinating to pass up.

“…A Thing of Beauty…”

 
Maxine’s unique in that her mutation isn’t quite as visible as with some of the other Muties. One of our agents—codename Bronze—is probably our only other Mutie specimen who comes close to this since he can control the visibility of his mutation, but this is…extraordinary. All the stuff is under the skin, not on the surface. It’s crazy.
Maxine’s story is an unremarkable one. Another outland ganger making the lives of our agents’ Outer Guard Corps a living hell. We were all hoping the water would be enough of a natural barrier to keep them in the wasteland, but a surprisingly large number of them actually make it to the outer limits of the Ark. Most of the time, this is a nuisance the same as any other disturbance we have to handle, but this time it actually yielded something nice.
Maxine’s biology is…a thing of beauty. It could mean some really good opportunities for improving our mainstay agents, assuming she cooperates. The mutation she’s undergone has caused her endocrine system to develop some…er, quirks that come in handy in her line of work. It would appear that when performing acts of violence, her brain gets flooded with chemicals that induce a state of euphoria. A true “combat high”. And that’s just the start; Maxine’s blood also thickens and her nerves become numb, giving her a reduced amount of pain and a slight “healing factor” in which wounds clot and heal faster. You can see why I’m excited about this. Anyhoo, here are my transcripts from interviewing the subject.
 

Nature’s Perfect Killing Machine

 
“You a boy or a girl?”
“I’m a scientist. Doctor Sam Mason at your service.”
“You here to poke me with your big needles?”
“No, no! Just want to talk!”
“Good. I would’ve had to eat your eyeballs if you poked me with any more needles.”
“Oh, fascinating. Are eyeballs one of your favourite foods? Nevermind, don’t answer that. So Maxine…if that is your real name…”
“Only name I was ever given, babe.”
“Right, okay. So…you have a gift, don’t you? Something that’s helped to make you a very efficient killer.”
“No one likes an asskisser, sweetie. I might be tough, but I’m not some kinda warrior goddess. Of course, some of my fans would tell you otherwise.”
“You have fans? Ah, I’m getting off topic again. Look, you don’t have to be modest with me. I know about your mutations. The rapid healing, the combat highs…it’s just awesome, plain and simple. You’re nature’s perfect killing machine. Well, give or take a bit of man-made radioactive fallout, anyway.”
“Cut to the chase, you David Bowie-looking geek. I’m not staying here forever.”
“Um, okay, not sure how to feel about that…well, would you mind staying around so we can run some tests? If we took some blood samples, it could really help us research new ways to improve our agents.”
At this point, Maxine laughs quietly to herself, slowly steepling her hands.
“Like hell.”
So, that was that. She pretty much went silent after that little snap. That was, until the next time I tried to reach out.
 

Trying Again

 
“Alright, Maxine. So, the last time we tried talking, I know it didn’t go over so well…”
“Yeah, like hell I’m gonna fork over my blood to your pigs. They’re out there killing my people. You know I can’t allow that to go on.”
“Right, but heat me out. What if we could somehow…come to an arrangement, right? You give us what we want, and in return we can make things a little nicer for you?”
“I’d never cooperate with you fascists.”
“Not even if we guarantee your tribe safety and immunity with the Department?”
 

The Deal

 
Maxine goes silent a moment in contemplation.
“The correct term is ‘clan’, actually—“
“Whatever.”
“Well, anyway, I’m listening.”
“Perfect. So, yeah, basically it’d be just like it sounds. In exchange for your generous donation, the Department will turn a blind eye to your activities.”
“Can you even do that?”
“Ma’am, our primary goal is the research and defence against threats of supernatural or extraterrestrial origin. Providing border security for the rich assholes who live on the Ark—pardon my French—has always been a side gig we use for funding. Nothing more. This won’t be the first time we’ve negotiated with wastelanders, and it won’t be the last. The Department would be more transparent about this sort of stuff, but, well, we aren’t transparent about anything.”
“Yeah, I get that. Shadowy government organization and all that.”
“Actually, we were specifically founded outside any government. It was a Cold War thing. Kind of irrelevant now, but it helps us scout a bigger pool of talent I guess. Anyway, you in?”
“Hmm, I guess. I seriously feel this is too good to be true. You guys’d really do that?”
“Absolutely.”
“Wow, okay…umm, give me a few days to think about it. Can we throw something in there about sharing some of the Ark’s food supplies? My people are sorta starving.”
“I will…see what I can do.”
 

What Lies Ahead

 
And that was the end of our second meeting. It went a little better, to say the least. I’m not thrilled about having to explain to the Director that we have to help out a cabal of bandits now, but whatever. I just hope this doesn’t end in a bloodbath. The research we could take off of Maxine could theoretically make our field agents the best army in the damn world. We had tried our luck with cybernetic enhancement but, well…fuck, you know how that worked out. We’ve got a bunch of freaks who look like baddies from a 1960s British sci-fi show running around the wasteland, and the handful of actual successful test subjects either cut and ran or went crazy. It was the holy fucking grail of my personal fuckups. Hopefully this time will be different. Maybe this time the ‘perfect’ in Perfect Soldier Program will actually mean something.
Anyway, that’s all for now. I’ll keep all the authorized personnel up to date on the situation. If Maxine tries anything stupid, I’m hereby giving the order that Enforcer Grant can use whatever methods he wants to bring her down. A few vials is all I need to start to work on this new PSP wave. Hell, putting her down will be less of a headache for me. Convincing the director to cooperate with bandits is a little like if I tried to convince him to cooperate with the Nazis back when he was in the war. That old man is a battleaxe, but I admire him greatly. Also, don’t tell him I said that.
Mason out.

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