Technically she wasn’t supposed to exist. 14 days was supposed to be the limit, but curiosity had gotten the better of them – she was the first human-avian chimera to survive that long, and the research team, funded by certain individuals who didn’t care much about the law, had been more than eager to see how such a creature would mature and develop. Dubbed Veritas as a joke, she had exceeded their wildest expectations. But four years is a long time for an eight-man team to keep a secret, and public acceptance of the idea of chimeras hadn’t quite caught up to the reality of existing chimeras. For the public, chimera still equaled monster, and the public outcry had been for her death as soon as the secret had been leaked.
Dr. Cromwell stared through the two-way mirror into Veratas’s room. It wasn’t much, just a glorified holding pen for what amounted to a lab rat. Cromwell rested his hand on the syringe on the table – poison that would end this thing that was never supposed to exist.
Veritas herself was up against the left wall, her slight frame quivering with repressed energy. She was humanoid, four foot five, covered with fine mottled brown feathers from the neck down. Scraggly brown hair dangled to her shoulders and fell in her face – the face that would have looked human if not for the intense golden eyes that peered out from it. Her hands clenched and stretched, eager, over-eager. They were human, probably the most human thing about her, and the way she continually used them to push her hair behind her ear made some of the other researchers decidedly nervous. She wore a brown shift that fell to just above her knees – nobody had ever confessed to giving it to her, but no one had taken it from her either. Her tail dropped below that, nearly brushing the floor with dark feathers when she stood. That was the most avian thing about her, a vestige of flight which in her case did nothing but get in the way. Wings had been denied her by some twist of chromosome. Her toes curled against the floor – human in shape, but rough with bird scales.
Veritas pressed against the wall, her eyes locked onto the pole that bisected the room. Cromwell curled his fingers around the syringe. He should do this now and just get it over with. It was nothing more than killing a frog for dissection. Dissection actually was her final end – there was still debate over how exactly the two halves of her genetics were fitting together. Cromwell didn’t move though. He watched as Veritas pushed off from the wall and started running. Three strides, four, five, then a leap from the top of her upturned water bowl. Her hands grasped the pole and momentum aided by a kick flipped her around so she landed on top of the pole. She crouched like some avian nightmare, staring at the door. Cromwell checked to see that his taser was within easy reach. She hadn’t done anything overtly violent, not yet, but it would be just his luck if today was the day she decided to go berserk.
Cromwell keyed in his code for the door and entered. The door hissed shut behind him. Veritas visibly cringed when she saw him. Cromwell hid the syringe behind his back. They hadn’t been kind. They hadn’t been kind, but it had been in the name of science. She was just an animal, an unnatural creature who had no purpose except to serve the science that had created her.
“Come down Veritas,” he called in a low voice. She fidgeted but didn’t leave her perch. Cromwell took a step further in. “Now Veritas,” he said, putting more command into his voice. Veritas ducked her head. Her knuckles were white around the pole, her whole body was shivering, keyed up in what could have been a fight or flight response – one in which she couldn’t decide on an action.
“Why?” It was a small voice, inaudible except for the fact that the room was otherwise silent. Cromwell shook his head to clear it. He took a step forward, till he could almost reach up and grab her. She shifted as far away as she could on the pole. Her golden eyes watched him warily.
“What am I? Why do you hurt me?” the two questions came out in a rush, like something long rehearsed and long feared.
Cromwell grabbed her arm, yanked her off the pole, and plunged the syringe into her thigh. She screeched as the needle went in; she flew backwards as soon as she was released. Cromwell watched as she died, as the question ‘why’ died on her lips. Eventually she lay limp, dead. Then she was nothing but a pile of flesh to be dissected. She was never anything more. She had never spoken. Never.
Cromwell picked up the body and carried it into the lab. Others would do what they willed with it. The public was now satisfied.