Agent Clarissa Shaw stood silently, looking into the contents of a Site-64 interrogation room. Sitting at the table inside was a Saker who called itself Miles Wilson, an android designed to resemble an African-American man in his mid to late twenties. Agent Shaw brushed a strand of her blond hair out of her eyes as she reviewed the contents of a file she held in her arms. With a minuscule smile, she pushed up her thin rimmed glasses and entered the interrogation room.
“Afternoon Miles,” Shaw began as she took a seat at the table, neatly placing the folder in front of her. Miles immediately looked away, his gaze focused anywhere else than risk eye contact with the agent.
“Hello Ms. Starling,” Miles mumbled.
“You can call me Agent Shaw,” Shaw began, “I told you already that was just a cover.”
“I liked you better when you were Ms. Starling,” Miles replied. “You seemed nicer then.”
Miles then paused; his eyes looked around the room but still refused to make eye contact.
“That was a Silence of the Lambs reference, right?” He asked, “Agent Starling?”
“Correct,” Shaw said with a smirk, “Fitting, don’t you think?”
“Whatever you say,” said Miles. “I don’t have anything else to tell you.”
“Oh, I doubt that,” Shaw said as she opened the file and scanned its contents. “I think there is still a lot you can tell me, like what your particular purpose as a Saker unit was.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about…” Miles shook his head. “I’m sure I would know if I was a robot. Clearly I’m not.”
Shaw sighed, pulled a photograph from the file, and slid it across the table.
“What do you see here, Miles?” She asked.
Miles looked down. The photo was of him in a college baseball uniform, standing among several other players. He smirked as he slid the photo back across the table.
“You have a picture of me from when I played baseball for the Beavers, so what?” He said, his gaze shifting to the one way mirror.
“That picture was taken for a newspaper article that was published in 1998,” Shaw replied as she placed the photo back in the file. “You’re how old? 23? 25? You should be in your late thirties by now, but it appears you haven’t aged. On top of that, my friends did some digging. The Miles Wilson pictured here died in 2001 from small-cell carcinoma.”
Miles closed his eyes tight and violently shook his head. Shaw could hear him mutter, “stop” under his breath.
“I think someone in Miles Wilson’s family is very close to Anderson, if not Anderson themselves,” Shaw continued, “And I think Anderson made you as a surrogate. You’re designed to look and act as human as possible. Anderson hasn’t terminated you yet because you’re too special. I wouldn’t be surprised if…”
“Why are you doing this?” Miles interrupted, slamming his fist down on the table with a sickening thud, his eyes filled with tears as he finally made eye contact, “Why are you guys trying so hard to tell me I’m something I’m not? What does it matter to you if I think I’m a human or a robot? At the end of the day I’ve still told you everything I know!”
“As I said before, I doubt that,” Shaw said coolly. “I imagine we’ll find out soon enough.”
Agent Shaw sat in the office of Agent Sasha Merlo, leader of MTF Gamma-13, Asimov's Lawbringers. While Shaw sat back in her chair, relaxed and with a cup of coffee, Merlo’s eyes remained glued to the phone, biting her nails. A portion of the MTF had been deployed to the residence of Jeffery Wilson, Mile’s father, to bring the man into Foundation custody. Now they both waited to hear the mission status. The room remained silent, save for the ticking of Merlo’s electric blue clock on the wall.
“Aha!” Merlo ecstatically shouted as the phone rang, the sudden influx of noise forcing Shaw to jump and spill some of her coffee. Shaw attempted to regain her composure as Merlo flipped to phone on to speaker.
“Go for Merlo!”
“Merlo, this is Carter. We’re at the Wilson residence,” A man’s voice came over the speaker, heavy rain could be heard in the background. “It’s gone.”
Shaw watched the color drain from Merlo’s face. Her smile morphed into an expression much more solemn.
“It’s gone!” Carter repeated. “The house is burnt to the ground. There’s nothing here. We’re combing the area, but I don’t think the search will…”
Merlo hung up. Slowly she sank back into her office chair and spun around, turning away from her companion.
“Just once, I want us to be faster.”
“There’ still a chance. If the rest of the team combs the area, maybe…” Shaw began, only to stop talking when Merlo shook her head.
“The man’s house burnt down. Something tells me it wasn’t because he left the goddamn stove on,” Merlo replied. “No, Wilson knew we were coming. He’s long gone.”
Merlo then got to her feet and began to head towards the door.
“Do you want back up?” Shaw asked.
“I should do this alone,” Merlo called back, and disappeared into the hall.
Merlo took a deep breath as she read the name plate on the door, and then gave a sharp knock.
“It’s open,” Called a man’s voice from inside.
Merlo took a moment to compose herself before stepping inside. The office itself was quite large. Numerous shelves lined the walls, each filled with minor anart items that had been brought to Site-64 over the years, but didn’t require official object classification. At the back of the room was a large desk covered in a slew of files each labeled “Clayton.” Sitting in a rather large chair behind the desk was a tall, sharply dressed man with slicked back hair.
“Merlo?” Holman asked. His voice was a deep bass.
“Director,” Merlo said with a halfhearted chuckle, “We’ve had some developments with Wilson…”
“Oh? Go on.” Holman quietly placed the folder he was reading down and made it clear she had is undivided attention.
“Gone,” Merlo cringed, “The residence was burnt to the ground. Carter is having the rest of the crew comb the area, but you already know how that will go.”
Holman nodded in agreement. A sympathetic smile came to his face.
“We just can’t win, can we?”
“Maybe not this time, but we still have the Saker. I’m sure that we haven’t exhausted that avenue yet.”
Holman’s smile quickly morphed into a frown.
“About that,” Holman said with a sigh, “I just got word from Overwatch. The Saker is to be transferred to Site-81.”
“Excuse me?” Merlo nervously chuckled.
“I’m sorry, Sasha,” Holman replied, “It’s out of my hands. Security reasons.”
“Those motherfuckers broke into Site-19!” Merlo shouted as she banged her hand on the desk, “How the hell is Site-81 going to help? You’re just going to let that bald quack take our prize? We lost three agents during the last raid! Aside from that punk out at Site-84, Gamma-13 is the authority on Anderson…”
“Agent Merlo!” Holman’s voice filled the room like a sonic boom; Merlo took several steps back from the table.
Merlo remained silent for a few moments as Holman took a few deep breaths.
“Edgar, please,” said Merlo, “Don’t let them do this to us.”
Holman closed his eyes and slowly shook his head.
“There’s nothing more I can do. I’m sorry.”
Merlo nodded in understanding. With a sigh she turned and began to head to the door.
“Oh, Sasha,” Said Holman as Merlo began to disappear into the hall, “Remember that you’re still in charge of Miles until the transfer. Do with that information what you will.”
Merlo gave Holman a sly smile and nod before quietly disappearing into the hall. There was work to be done.
Agent Merlo sat alone in her office, her eyes glazed over as she furiously scanned document after document from Anderson’s POI file.
“There’s got to be something here…” she mumbled to herself.
Merlo’s phone then rang.
“Go for Merlo,” she impatiently shouted as she picked up the receiver.
“Ah, um… this is the office of Sasha Merlo, yes?” asked a deep, metallic, male voice. “I have to say that it’s very nice to have a chance to finally speak with you.”
“Who is this?” She ask.
“Oh yeah, sorry about that, I’m Anderson,” he replied, “I, uh, I believe you’re familiar with my work.”
There was a pause. Merlo wasn’t sure what to say. This was Anderson?
“Why should I believe you?” Merlo hesitantly asked.
“Well, if you put me on speaker phone I could disable that Amur unit that’s been in your office the last two days.”
Merlo immediately dropped the phone and reached for her pistol, quickly scanning the entire room before she heard the laughter coming from the other end.
“Yeah, uh, I was just kidding,” Anderson chuckled.
“You have my attention,” Merlo hissed, “Why call just now?”
“Oh, right! Well, you see, you are right to think that Miles is very valuable to me. I was sort of hoping that maybe I could pick him up.”
“… You’re serious.”
“As cancer,” Anderson replied.
“That’s not going to happen,” said Merlo, her eyes were wide in confusion.
“I thought you might say that…” Anderson sighed, “I wish this wasn’t always so difficult.”
“I’m sorry?” Merlo asked. “I’m making this difficult for you?”
“Don’t get me wrong Sasha,” said Anderson, “I really do like what it is you and the Foundation do. I think it’s, uh, the bee’s knees. You guys do things I’d never want to touch, you know, containing eldritch horrors and such. I, uh, I just wish you weren’t so quick to squash the little inventors. Given enough time even anomalous technology becomes mainstream. I mean, Christ, if we were cavemen you guys would try to contain fire because it would be too spooky for your tastes. Do you know what I’m saying?”
Merlo didn’t respond. This was Anderson?
“Well, fuck it then,” Anderson said after several more moments of silence. “I, uh, guess I’ll just have to come get him myself. I was really hoping it wouldn’t come to that. Oh well. I guess I’ll see you soon Sasha. Tell Ms. Starling hello for me.”
The line went dead.
Merlo then felt something move on her neck. Out of reflex she quickly snatched at the spot and threw the object away. A small black ball bounced against the wall and came to rest on the ground. The object quickly produced a set of legs and a red spot for an eye. Merlo recognized it as one of Anderson’s Amur Recon Drones. In a flash, the tiny robot scaled the wall of her office, and disappeared into the ventilation system. Merlo’s mouth hung open for a few moments before she slumped back into her chair.
That was Anderson.