The Great Hunt: Episode 16

Sam smirked as she put her plan into motion. Months ago, Simon had said he wanted to find the IDM before he had a meeting with Lyla to discuss any theories he had the origins of Alenkas. Sam had thought that it was a discussion waiting months too long, and so finally had decided to take matters in her own hands.

The plan was simple; as she was the one that always handed out the assignments of which districts to search, she’d simply include another one in Lyla’s order, telling her to search district forty six -it’d already been searched but Simon had wiped the slate clean about three times since they first started the endeavor. As it stood only a few people were still willingly helping out the squirrel besides herself and Cal- and then when she was done to head back to the Tree after waiting an hour.

That hour was important to Sam’s plan. She hoped to start to talk about the discussion beforehand, getting both Simon and Cal’s minds into gear for the upcoming plans. She already researched the possible risks, and there were a lot of them.

Lyla could ignore her, for one, but that was unlikely. Mostly because Sam handed them out in person, and the albino cat always tried to talk with everyone, even if there was nothing new going on. The worst person for this was Emma, who would always talk about the latest person she’d fucked.

Despite being in Alenkas for so long, Sam still wasn’t too comfortable for the whole sexual appetite aspect. Hell, she was the sole female that hadn’t turned nudist! Granted, she still had a small voice in the back of her head saying it’d be easier if she just opened her legs…let everyone have their way with her. It’d be pleasure beyond her final belief, and finally she’d join the ranks of Lyla and Emma.

But every time that voice came up, she shouted it back down in her head. Her body was her own, no one else’s to use as they wanted, no matter how hot it’d be. She wasn’t comfortable showing off, and despite the fact that she did -she had a very good idea of what she did to Simon- she didn’t do it as much. She was still uncomfortable with sex overall, despite the original rumors about her.

When she was working with NuVO, it was an intern for the company. She had been assigned to the Alenkas project, and the majority of her ‘teammates’ were just trying to get some eye candy. They said that that was the only reason she was there, and the least she could do is show off some skin.

Needless to say, the reports that she gave to Human Resources didn’t exactly help her, but rather simply made it obvious that she was complaining. The overt responses trimmed down as the number of warnings grew, but now they were being more careful. A few pinches of her butt, a rub here or there…it was starting to get to her.

So she moved. She changed teams entirely, moving to the character team. At first the team was welcoming, glad that they had another person to help them. And then the rumors from her original team started to circulate; ‘she’d do anything to get higher’, ‘you should see her in the sack’, and the forever famous, ‘She’s a great lay, and she wants it all the time. She’s just so horny all the time. She can’t help it, you know?’

She crumpled up her current map in anger as she thought about it. It was so unfair of them, all of them, to judge her for something that she had no control. So she was a smart girl, and could keep up with the best of them. And yet…here she was.

By escaping to Alenkas, she escaped those character-destroying-worthless-douchebags permanently, or at least for a few months. By the time they came back out of it, she would have to go back to school, where at least she’d be safe from those dirtbags.

“You ok, Sam?” Simon asked. The cat flinched and looked around wildly. Both Cal and Simon were next to her, all with concerning looks on their faces.

She shook her head, “Yeah…yeah I’m fine. Just…lost in thought,” she answered. Simon and Cal exchanged glances, before they nodded and walked back to their desk.

“If you need anything, anything at all, just let us know,” Simon said. Sam nodded, and with a quick muttered ‘thanks,’ went back to her work. The only one who had even heard of the rumors surrounding her was Alex, who was with her on the character team. And the wolf had promised her that he wouldn’t say anything, as he never bought into those things to begin with.

Of course, he had his own torments from the team. Sam’s eyes opened as she thought of something. She checked the time, running to take a look out the window, ignoring the questioning remarks from Simon and Cal. Lyla would be coming here soon, and from there she could talk more. But for now…

“Hey Cal, how many others at NuVO knew you were gay?” she asked abruptly. The orange tabby shot her a questioning look. “Just answer the question, I’ll explain later,” she continued. The cat made a thoughtful look.

“I don’t know, probably a lot of them. I made no attempt to really hide it, you know?” Cal answered. Sam’s breathing deepened. Surely they wouldn’t have been focused because of something like that, could they?

“Simon, did you have any problems with anybody higher up, or anybody close to you back at NuVO?” Sam asked suddenly.

Simon seemed prepared for her, “Of course. We all did, we all had various thoughts on how Alenkas should work. It was a common thing for the base coding team.”

“Did any of them seem jealous of you, or thinking that you shouldn’t be working as hard as you were?” she continued questioning.

“Most of them at some point. I was the head programmer for a reason, Sam, I could understand the code better than most people. Where are you going with this?” Simon asked.

“The lists, at the beginning. Of the sign-ups, I mean. I think I understand now, how we were all chosen. We’ll have to correspond with others, but I think I got it. There were false rumors about me circulating, Alex was having a tough time, Cal was gay, you were annoying…” Sam said.

“Slow down, speak softly. What did you figure out?” Simon asked. Sam took a deep breath to attempt to relax, attempted to put words to her thoughts. She had her eyes on the prize, she understood everything now. She got it, and she knew she did!

“The motive! The one thing we couldn’t figure out, is why would the Heats start up. What if that was just a side-effect of forcing so many people into Alenkas all at once? The people chosen for the test weren’t randomly assigned, Simon, they were picked out!”

Simon raised his hand to his head. “Wait, slow down. You’re saying that the Heats are only a side-effect of all of us being put in at once? That’s…really unlikely. We’re just data shells of our real bodies, Sam. The system should be able to handle it.”

“Not that, ignore the part about the Heats. For a long time we were wondering how we managed to get into the test. What if it wasn’t random, as we all thought? You made that randomizer, but how do we know that they used it? What if they only wanted us to get out of their way?”

“Sam, calm down. Why would they want us to get out of their way? Who’s way?” Cal asked from the corner.

“Think about it. We all have some aspects that are considered negative to society. The rumors about me being a slut,” -she ignored the ‘the rumors of what!?’ from the two of them-, “Alex’s own fears, Cal being gay, you being you, Lyla being an Ice Queen, Kevin being a dirtbag, Emma for being herself, Lucas and Aiden for being bi and together, don’t you two see it!? It’s so clear now!” Sam yelled.

“Sam, hold on. There’s no big conspiracy here-” Simon started, before being interrupted by Cal, “Actually she has a point. Think about it Simon, we don’t have any evidence of the randomizer being used. So what if they didn’t? What if she’s right, and they just wanted us out of the way for three months? Although who would have the ability to do that?” Cal asked.

“The Board of Directors, the CEO, the directors of the Alenkas teams…quite a few people would,” Lyla called out as she walked in. “Sorry, I couldn’t help but overhear you guys, so I thought I’d offer my point.”

“None of those guys have any time, Lyla. Even the directors of just the Alenkas teams hardly had any time for either you or me, and we were the damned leads. Hell, I was even on that team, and I had the most spare time, and you all know how much I worked on Alenkas,” Simon said, pushing up his glasses.

“Who would benefit, Simon, from having you out of the way?” Lyla asked. She stared at him hard. The squirrel was staring straight back, not enticed in the least to look down at her nude body. Her tail, usually waving from side to side was as still as they were.

“Quite a few, probably. Trevor Hill, definitely, maybe Kason Lordle. Beyond that, not many would actually ‘benefit’. I was the lead programmer, I knew more about Alenkas than anyone else,” he said.

The names ran through Sam’s mind. Trevor Hill, the director that put them all into the Alenkas pods at the beginning. Kason Lordle, a spokesman and PR manager for the Alenkas project. She had never interacted with either of them…which to her only proved her point to herself more. Someone who had never met her would only be able to judge her by what they heard.

“Would those two be able to fill your shoes?”

“Not at all. The only one who could do that would be maybe Revan Kult, but you know how we got along,” Simon answered.

“On the other hand, that just means we have to keep our eyes open. Lyla, tell Lucas and Aiden to tell everyone to stop putting the facts about the IDM in the reports, as a just in case scenario. Simon, did either of those three have any particular traits that could link them to the ones writing the reports?” Sam asked.

Simon was taken aback by the albino cat suddenly taking command. “Uh, not that I think of. Maybe just search for keywords, but that’s it,” Simon said. He blinked at her, which Sam knew meant he was thinking. But the fact he didn’t immediately object to the fact she overruled him meant that maybe he was thinking she was actually right. Or at least had the potential to be right.

“Tell everyone, don’t mention it in the reports. Lyla, get everyone to do one final search of Alenkas. If I’m right, someone’s been fucking with us for the entire time, and we finally just now put the clues together. Try to find out everyone’s backstory from NuVO. Get them riled up,” Sam said. Cal snickered from the back. “You too kitty, you’re going out there too. We all are,” she commanded. The cat stopped snickering.

As she took more control and responsibility than she had ever taken in her life, she realized her body was shaking. Not with want, or need, as was most common in Alenkas these days, but with thoughts and ideas. She could do this. “The final search begins now,” she said with a commanding tone.