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Manhattan Triage Preprocessing Transcript, Subject 429Ė10024-DR

Priority: High (Operation Martyr)

Interviewer: Cpl. Lansing, Analee (CELL HumIntel Acquisition)

Subject: Sweet, Caitlin (Female, Divorced, 38yrs. Term.)

Subject#: 429Ė10024-DR (biog. database extract appended)

Date of Interview: 23/08/2023 19:25

Date of Report: 24/08/2023 04:45

Subject dosed prior to interview with 130mg chlorpromazine to mitigate onset of Rapture and 65mg GABAbarbitol to ensure compliance. Meds administered via isotonic Glucose IV drip (standard rehydration protocols).

Sweet: Is my daughter all right? Can I see her?

Lansing: Emmaís fine. Sheís sleeping.

Sweet: And thatóthat man, is heó?

Lansing: Thatís actually what Iíd like to talk to you about, maíam.

Sweet: Caitlinís fine.

Lansing: Yes maóCaitlin. Nowó

Sweet: Please, can I just see Emma? Just for a moó

Lansing: I told you, Caitlin, Emmaís sleeping now. Sheís fine.

Sweet: I wouldnít disturb her, I just want to seeó

Lansing: Maybe in a little while. Maíam, we really need this information.

Sweet: (inaudible)

Lansing: Perhaps you could start by telling me what you were doing in that part of Manhattan.

Sweet: Weówe used to live there, you know, before. Last week. We kind of hunkered down when it all startedóthatís what they told us to do, right? Stay calm, stay in your homes, let the authorities do their jobs. So thatís what we did, we holed up in the apartment for three days before Mikeóthatís my husbandóhe decided to head out and try to find some food. We were supposed to go grocery shopping, you know, the day it started. We didnít really have much on hand.

So Mikeís gone for six, seven hoursóthereís no cell phone coverage, right, there hasnít been since everything fell apart, and I start toóis that my†.†.†. thatís my daughter screaming, thatísóEmma!ó

Lansing: No, maíam, thatís not Emma. I told you, Emmaís sleeping.

MedTel Annotation: IV GABAbarbitol increased to 85 ml/l 19:26

Sweet: But†.†.†. who is it, whoís screaming, whoísó

Lansing: Itís not Emma, Caitlin. I promise. Honestly, itís nothing to concern you. If we can get back to your story†.†.†.

Sweet: Itísóitís a bit bright in here†.†.†.

Lansing: I can turn down the lights if you like.

Sweet: No, actually the lightís†.†.†. nice†.†.†.

Lansing: So your husbandís been gone for six or seven hours†.†.†.

Sweet: Yes. And the cell phones arenít working, and thereís this, I donít know, this muffled whump from outside. Like an explosion, but far away. So I go out onto the balcony, you know, just to look around, just to maybe see whatís happening. And about three blocks down along 15th thereís one of those spires, you know. Just sticking up out of the road, four, five stories high, glowing around the base with this banner of thick smoke streaming out the top. The smokeís blowing my way and before I know it itís in my eyes. Itís not like regular smoke, itísógritty. So I turn my face away, you know, look away in the other direction andóand I see him, down there in the street.

Lansing: Prophet.

Sweet: Who? Oh, you meanóno. Mike. Facedown. He never even got half a block. He†.†.†.

Lansing: Would you like a moment?

Sweet: No, itís okay. That screamingís a bit distracting though, you know? Anyway, thatís when I decided to leave. The neighborhood just wasnít safe, and Mike wasógone, and Emma and I were on our own. But my folks live in Brooklyn, and MacroNetís been saying there was this evacuation site downtown, so Emma and I just picked up and left.

Lansing: Just so I understand: A spireís just detonated three blocks from your apartment. Your husband didnít make it half a block down the avenue. And you decide to take your child outside.

Sweet: Yes. óWhat?

Lansing: Nothing. Please go on.

Sweet: So I take Emma down the stairwell and we head out the back way because I donít want her to see her daddy like that. And Iíve got my iBall out but the realtime updates arenít working so weíre basically going by memory. And the farther uptown we get, the more dead soldiers we see. Or at least, you know, they had uniforms. Like yours. Not regular army or anything. Are you real soldiers? Armed forces? CSIRA?

Lansing: Yes, maíam. Weíreófor all intents and purposes, we are the armed forces.

Sweet: Well I didnít see any regular army, but there were a lot of bodies that looked like you. They were burned, and blown apartó

Lansing: Yes, maíam.

Sweet: Some of them were in pieces, just scattered aroundó

Lansing: Yes, maíam. I get the picture.

Sweet: And then we turned a corner and we ran into what was killing them. They were theseómachines. These walking machines. Like, you know, that old invaders-from-Mars book they made us read back in high school, Walls or Wells or something. There were soldiers fighting back but they werenít doing well, I mean, no offense but you guys were getting your asses handed to youó

Lansing: Why did you keep going?

Sweet: What do you mean?

Lansing: You have your eleven-year-old daughter with you, youíre walking through a war zone, and the farther you go the more bodies you see. Why didnít you turn around, go in another direction?

Sweet: We were trying to find the evacuation site.

Lansing: Uptown.

Sweet: Yes.

Lansing: MacroNet said the evac site was downtown. Thatís what you said.

Sweet: Did I?

Lansing: You did.

Sweet: Well, itóit just seemed like the right way to go, I guess.

Lansing: I see.

Sweet: Could we take a break? I could use some fresh air, stretch my legs a little.

Lansing: Itís not really safe outside. Besides, wouldnít you rather stay close to Emma?

Sweet: Sheíll be okay. I donít think she likes the light as much as I do.

Lansing: Iíll see what I can do. Just as soon as we finish here. It wonít be long.

Sweet: Easy for you to say. Youíre not trapped in a glass box.

Lansing: Thatís just a precaution, maíam. Honestly. Now: You had encountered one of our detachments in a combat situation, is that right?

Sweet: Combat situation? Oh, yes. And that was when we ran. Emma was pulling at my hand and I was just standing there, I donít know, stunned I guess, but my little girlís screaming and so I snap out of it and we just run back the way we came, as fast as we can. And there are things skittering along in the wreckage after us, not like those war machines, not big, butófast. We could never really get a good look, we were too busy running but you could hear them gaining, they made these little clattering sounds as they moved, like, like big spider crabs or something. And Emma was pulling me to the side, sheís going Mommy, Mommy in here! because sheís seen this little hidey-hole she thinks weíll be safe in and Iím not so sure but she breaks away from me and dives into this wrecked storefront, right through the display windowówell it was already shattered of course but there was glass everywhere, itís amazing she didnít open an arteryóand I go in after her and the whole second floor has come down, thereís concrete and those twisted wires everywhere and some of those collapsed slabs, theyíve formed this little cave. And Emma dives right into it. And I dive after her.

And I know weíre going to die then, because weíre snug and secure in this little lean-to of collapsed concrete, weíre completely protected except for that open part at the front we came in through, itís the only way in or out. And thereís something there, somethingóbloated. And spiky.

You know what a tick looks like? Mean little front end with needles and teeth for digging into you, and a kind of bulbous inflatable back end that swells up when it feeds? This was like that. Except it had these wavy metal antennae or tentacles or something, like the hoses off one of those old-style vacuum cleaners you had to run yourself. And it was half as big as Emma! It made this hungry little clicking noise, and its antennae were waving around in our direction and it was climbing over the rubble toward us blocking the only way out and we were dead, I just knew right then that we were both dead.

Except something shifted in the building then, something just gave way, and instead of squashing Emma and me it landed on this tick-thing and squashed it instead. This big slab of concrete, and dust everywhere, and these antennae-tentacles sticking out from underneath, whipping back and forth. Thatís were I got this cut on my face; those things were sharp, like needles.

And Emmaís screaming even louder now, sheís calling out for help and those little lungs of hers are amazing, if thereís anyone within ten blocks I figure they have to hear her. But I donít know whether to curse or pray, because that big pile of cement did save us from the tick, but now weíre trapped. There are gapsóthereís about four or five places where you can see into the rest of the store, even all the way onto the streetóbut thereís no way even skinny little Emma can fit through any of them. And the chittering hasnít stopped. Itís only getting louder. I can see things moving out there, the shadows of monster ticks and other things too, I think.

And thatís when he shows up. That Prophet youíre interested in.

Lansing: Yes. Tell me about him.

Sweet: I guess he must have heard Emma. He was just there, all of a sudden. He dropped down into sight from somewhere overhead, and he wasóI thought he was some kind of robot at first, you know? You see those things on National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, theyíve got those soft-bodied humanoids over in Japan? Acto, actino-something. Soft muscles, almost like ours. Thatís what I thought this was at first. Except he wasnít built like any of those nursemaid robots you see in the retirement homes, he looked like he was built foróheavy construction, or something. And Emmaís shouting Over here! Over here! and Iím right there with her, bellowing my lungs out, and this Prophet of yours, big as one of those museum statues, he just turns toward usóslow, almost lazy, like heís got all the time in the worldóand without a word he just stares through this visor the color of dried blood. Emma and I both shut right up then and there and he didnít move for a bit, he just stood there cradling this big gun the size of a fire hydrant, sizing us up like he was deciding whether to rescue us oróI dunnoócook us for dinner.

And Emma says in this very scared quiet voice, Heís one of them. And I knew just what she meant, somehow, but you know what? I was okay with that.

Lansing: Excuse me?

Sweet: Weird, isnít it? Itís hard to explain, he just seemed toónot look like, exactly, it was moreóalmost as if he smelled like one of them, if that makes any sense. And it scared the hell out of poor Emma, but to me it was almostócomforting. I forgot to be afraid for a little while.

Lansing: Mmmm.

Sweet: And he saved us. He started tearing through that concrete as if it were cat litter. And the ticks were all over him, he spent more time blasting those vicious little things than he spent digging us out. A couple of times I thought This is it, theyíre going to tear him apart but they never did. And he got us out. He rescued us. I told him what weíd seen, where the bodies were, where the machines were fighting, but he seemedódistracted. Put his hand up to his helmet once, you know, as though he was trying to hear a very faint radio station. I wanted to go with him, I almost asked him to take us to the refugee camp, but Emma just didnít like him at all, Emma never stopped being afraid of him even after heíd saved our lives. So he went on his way, and we went on ours, and thatís when you picked us up. And thereís really nothing more I can tell you so if you donít mind Iíd really like to get out of here now. Iíd really like to follow the light.

Lansing: Just one more thing. Why did you tell him those things?

Sweet: What things?

Lansing: Where the bodies were. Where the machines were fighting.

Sweet: He asked.

Lansing: How did heódid he speak to you?

Sweet: Of course.

Lansing: With his voice?

Sweet: How else would he speak to me?

Lansing: Did he soundówas there anything distinctive about the way he spoke?

Sweet: Not really. I mean, his voice was a bit buzzy. But thatís just the suit, right? The microphone.

Lansing: Yes, of course. The microphone.

Sweet: I really have to be on my way, now. I have to, to†.†.†.

Lansing: Follow the light?

Sweet: Yes.

Lansing: Follow it where, Caitlin?

Sweet: I donít know. Wherever. Iíll know when I get outside.

Lansing: Uptown. Toward the aliens.

Sweet: You donít really get it, do you Corporal? You donít get it, because you donít got it.

Lansing: Got what, Caitlin?

Sweet: This. In my eyes. On my hands. I can even feel it in my head, somehow, itís growing but itís notónot evil. Itís all good. Thatís why youíve got me in this cube, isnít it? You donít want to catch it.

MedTel Annotation: Halothane introduced into Quar. Cube 19:36

Lansing: We donít really know what it is yet, maíam. It just seems prudent to get all the facts before exposing ourselves.

Sweet: Well, then, youíll never get anywhere, will you? Youíll never have all the facts until you know what it feels like. And youíll never know what it feels like until youíre exposed. And you wonít expose yourself until youíve got all the facts†.†.†.

Lansing: Yes, maíam.

Sweet: Itís just a funny little circle. Youíre running around and around†.†.†.

Lansing: Yes, maíam. Would you like to see Emma now?

Sweet:†.†.†. Emm†.†.†.?

Lansing: Your daughter, maíam. Would you like to see her?

Sweet: Oh, isnít that nice†.†.†.

Lansing: Maíam?

Sweet: The screaming†.†.†. stopped†.†.†.

MedTel Annotation: Subject loses consciousness 19:37

Subject Disposition: Routine. Transferred to Trinity Center for culture/autopsy. Custody transferred 22:34 (S. M. Samenski receiving).

Notes & Comments: Subject presented mild physical symptoms of early infection (acidosis, mild vitreous turbidity) but no obvious signs of Rapture during initial processing (note, however, that her self-reported, almost unconscious movement toward centers of high Charybdis density is consistent with incipient Wanderlust). Rapid onset of more obvious behavioral changes was apparent during the course of this interview, a period of only 12 minutes; this is significantly faster than preliminary results led us to expect. Changes in speech patterns suggest elevated metabolism in the religious circuitry of the temporal lobe, but we are still awaiting Trinityís galvanic-necropsy results.

Subjectís daughter (SWEET, EMMA, SUBJ. #430Ė10024-DR) showed no signs of infection at autopsy despite extended close proximity to infected subject post-infection. We have yet to encounter an instance of person-to-person transmission.

Flag D. Lockhart/L. Aiyeola/L. Lutterodt: Subject claims Prophet spoke to her, contradicting telemetry intercepts suggesting that his injuries had rendered him effectively mute. It is possible that Prophetís injuries are not as severe as weíve been led to believe; this also raises obvious information-management concerns, should Prophet engage in conversation with other civilians.

Corporal Analee Lansing, 24/08/2023 04:45

Motherhood issues. Thatís what you guys live for, isnít it?

Shrinks, of course. Neuromechanics. Psychiatrists. Therapists. What, you thought I didnít know? You thought I didnít have you pegged the moment you opened your mouth? I donít care how many stripes youíre wearing, Roger; you ainít no soldier. And who else would they send in to talk to a suit full of bad wiring?

Anyway, itís what you guys live for. That and sexual dysfunction. They havenít outfitted the N2 with a hydraulic dick, moreís the pity. I do have this rubberized nozzle rammed up my ass so I donít soil the suit; I suppose that might come in handy for giggles as well as shits if you swing that way, which I donít.

But yeah, Iíve racked up such a rep for killing things that it actually makes you suspicious when I take a moment to help out a mom and her little girl. Maybe you think thereís a bit of a weird vibe there and thatís all you need to go to town, right? Shrinks and mommy issues.

Okay, then. Let me tell you about my mother.

She was a cunt.

Not always, mind you. Not at first. She was never Parent of the Year materialóbit on the judgmental side, that just goes with the whole Bible Belt mind-setóbut at least she wasnít a drunk or a methhead. Never hit me. Never forgot me on the luggage carousel. Perfectly decent woman, you know? No complaints, all while I was growing up.

Then the dementia hit, and holy fucking Christ.

Sheíd turn into a monster. Not full-time, not in the early stages anyway, but sometimes sheíd justósnap. Turn into this rabid snarling animal. íCourse she was getting on by then, and times werenít great generally. My folks lost most of their savings in the Double Dip, which meant they couldnít replace those fancy antique plates we had after she threw them at me during one of her episodes. All we had left was that cheap plastic shit that would barely dent if you dropped it from orbit. And I wasnít around much by then, for obvious reasons, so she started whaling on Dad instead. Poor bastard never fought backósome TwenCen bullshit about not supposed to hit a lady, he wouldnít last a day in todayís armed forces let me tell you. I came home on furlough one weekend and heíd locked himself in the bathroom and she was stabbing at the door with a goddamn screwdriver. He was one big fucking bruise, all purple and yellow, this gentle old fart who never hurt anyone. I mean, he was seventy-five years old! And that was when I decided, enough. I gave the old cunt a choice between the police station and the psych ward. I never saw her again after I got her institutionalized. Not once.

But what really pissed me off was the way people kept making excuses for her.

Nobody saw a monster. All anybody saw was a victim of the disease. Thatís why Dad never hit back, Itís not her fault, itís the dementia. People would visit her in the home and sheíd rant and spit and say all these vile things about Dad and everyone would just sadly shake their heads and say, ďItís the Alzheimerís speaking, how can you cut her off like that, sheís your mother.Ē

But the thing was, they couldnít have it both ways. If this was the disease, then it wasnít my mother at all; my mother had died years ago, she died when the dementia undid all the circuits that made her what she was and rewired her into this vicious twisted body-snatcher thing made out of recycled meat. In which case I owed it nothing. And if she was my mother, well, then my mother was a rabid dog that needed to be put down if you ask me, and I didnít owe that thing any special breaks, either.

No matter how you looked at it, I was off the hook. Switch the wiring, pimp the neurotransmitters, and mother turns into other. Thereís nothing fixed about who or what we are, Roger. Even if it looks the same, itís not. Itís all just wetware to be wiped, rewritten, rebooted. I learned that when I was just a kid, I learned that without any of your fancy degrees or candy-colored MRI readouts.

And thatís why I have to laugh every time you sneak a peek at your reader, there. Because youíre a mechanic, dude. You should know this shit better than I do. You fumble around using words and drugs when you really should be getting in there with a very tiny soldering gun, but when it comes right down to it youíve spent your whole damn career trying to change the circuitry in peopleís heads. So why do you keep looking for answers in my file, Roger? Iím not that person anymore. Iím something new.

And believe me. The thing thatís talking to you now has no mommy issues whatsoever.†

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