Prologue: Solving for 33

After this is 6’s intro and backstory POV and then we get into the main story…..




I have never had an easy time feeling. I know I have them, feelings I mean, they are there, but they are all just so faint. I can only really feel slight inclinations really. I like and dislike things, but that’s about the most I can emote. I’m not psychopathic, just largely apathetic towards everything. I find it difficult to care, so I usually just don’t.

This lack of feelings, and difficulty processing emotions stems from my creation and design.

I was made to be a first generation combat oriented Number. My focuses were made to be weaponry and assault. Most of my talents, education, genetics, traits, and even mind set were shaped to complement and enhance these focuses.

I was taught gun and weapon smithery, acting, engineering, and basic piloting and driving skills. My training involved a mix of leadership and team building skills, offset with combat training and tactics lectures. By the time I was activated, I was one of the deadliest Numbers in any form of direct combat. A one person army, capable of creating my own weapons and resources, and effectively capable of subduing a unit of over a hundred armed Cruxi without being given any weapons, armor, or assets all without severe bodily harm to myself.

This, however, is not what I believe is the cause of my apathy. More than half of all Numbers were made with combat as their primary focus, and they are as capable of feeling as any normal person. No, this apathy of mine is due to my secondary purpose.

I was also designed to be an Assassin and Anti-Number Number. My body exudes a verity of pheromones that cause attraction and affection in females, and my appearance, like most numbers, is attractive in and of itself. I, however was designed to be a level above even that. Jet black hair that is constantly in a state of messy charm. Regal features that complement my soft boyish look, and piercing electric blue eyes. The tall lithe frame that gives the illusion of both strength and weakness depending on how I hold myself at the time. All were carefully designed to appeal to all that were attracted to the male gender. As was probably my age halting at 18. These factors combined made me incredible good at both infiltration and seduction as well as combat.

I was also specifically encoded at the genetic level with something all female numbers recognize and perceive as familiar and attractive, this was done so that if one ever needed to be controlled or killed, I would be able to do so easily. I was the first result of the experimental sibling project, deemed codename: “Brother”. 32 was the second, codename: “Sister”. We were seen as resounding successes.

All these extra genes and factors came with a cost however, it lessened the amount of the genes inside me that controlled a Reapers natural psychopathy. I had just enough that I could technically feel and emote, but not enough that I could be deemed normal. This also had the effect of making me prefer acting alone instead of with the other Numbers, thus making it next to impossible to find my partner.

One eventually had to be created expressly for myself and 32, my female counterpart. A number was designed for each of us that could relate with us, and that we both could connect to. 22 and 23 were designed for the sole purpose of being able to bond and connect with us, even at the genetic level. Their DNA and genetic maps were made to complement and balance ours. I was assigned to 22 and 32 was assigned to 23.

Essentially I was made to be an effective and ruthless solder, assassin, and literal lady-killer, and 22 was made to be my moral compass and conscience. She was the one who directed my actions, who kept me from creating needless and unnecessary casualties as I worked.

I was sent to a number of planets and situations when I was activated at fifteen. I had seen warzones, corrupted governments, criminal empires, and Reaper guilds before I had even been paired with 22 as a partner. At nineteen, I did the same, just with the company of my first real friend, 22, either along with me or in constant contact with me via transceiver. Together we saw the end of two separate wars, caused the collapse of seven illegal organizations, and killed one hundred and forty two Reapers and twelve Analysts.

This time continued for fifteen years, until the incident that resulted in the destruction and collapse of the Numbers initiative.

I hold partial responsibility for that as well, as without the mission success and overall utility and versatility of 33 and 32, the sibling project would not have continued or been as well funded as it was.

The sibling project had decided to create the next generation of “Brother” and “Sister”, only this time they would perfect the genetic makeup so that these new Numbers wouldn’t have the emotional and empathetic flaws that 32 and I suffered from. They created 3 and 2, dubbed “Little Brother” and “Little Sister” respectively. 2 was a resounding success that embodied everything that the project had hoped for, but only because of the failures discovered when creating 3.

3 was a mentally unstable, and highly dangerous Number. He was isolated and removed from the usual Number acclamation process due to remorselessly killing 4 over a disagreement in his first year in acclamation and second year of life. He was set for termination after the completion of the first generation hundred Numbers were all processed and activated. Unfortunately with the creation of 1, who was to be a nexus information hub for the other Numbers, 3 learned of this. He also gained access to all the information he needed to escape his confinement.

3 was free from confinement and lose in the Initiative’s main facility for a total of six hours and forty six minutes. In that time he had destroyed almost all research and information that was stored on Numbers, he also killed most of the staff and project heads of the initiative that were stationed in that facility. 3, however, did not limit himself to killing just humans, he also killed his fellow Numbers. 1, 5, 7, 8, and 10 were all killed in the shared acclamation area, and when 32 and 23 were sent in to terminate or subdue him, 3 killed them as well.

The “Little Brother” had found a way to kill the original “Sister” and 23 easily by simply taking some of the still living young Numbers as hostages. 23 had followed a Number’s strongest and most natural instinct, to protect our own kind, and determined that it was better for them to comply with 3’s demands than risk the children. 32 did what she and I always did in a situation that required an ethical and moral choice, and listened to the only friend she had. That decision cost them their lives.

Before that 3 had initiated an emergency shutdown and erase protocol that linked all Number initiative facilities. This protocol caused all digitally stored data on Numbers and related projects and research to be destroyed, and was meant to be used only in states of complete compromise of the Initiative to outside forces.

As the system went down, 22 and I were already inside the facility moving to contain and control the situation by any means necessary. We were to take 3 alive if possible, but that was only a secondary objective as 32 and 23 were the ones determined to best be able to handle 3. Our goal was the rescue of any personnel and Numbers still alive in the facility. When doing so we found 2, 6, and 9 being held hostage by 3. We also found 32 and 23’s corpses in the acclamation area with them.

3 began to make demands and threatened the hostages, and 22 had me lower the rifle I had aimed at him ready to kill him where he stood. She walked forward, trying and failing to talk him down, got close to him, then swiftly drew her side arm and fired three energy rounds into 3’s skull.

We found a safe place for the children to wait, then searched the rest of the building and found only a few surviving Initiative staff members. We secured and escorted the hostage Numbers and survivors out of the facility, and were met with more dead bodies.

99, a fit handsome looking middle aged man in a grey suit with a trimmed and well-kept hairstyle and beard that had just the touch of grayness setting in, was sitting on the ground and waiting for us while holding a pulse pistol. He killed all the non-Number survivors without even bothering to look up. When he did raise his head though, he didn’t even spare them a glance and only looked at us Numbers as he told us that the system was down, that we Numbers were free to do as we chose now. He also said that he would be the one to take the blame for killing 3, that even if he had done horrible things 3 was still a Number and killing him broke our own rules. That we did so would make us seem as bad as he was, and that due to my own connection to 3, I would be further distrusted and shunned by the other Numbers.

22 said that he shouldn’t do that, that no one would believe that 99, father figure to all Numbers, would ever break one of the rules he himself set. So that even if they did, it would only seed disunity and distrust throughout all Numbers instead of just towards me. That the best way was for her to sacrifice herself, that it was the reason she stopped me from killing 3 in the first place. That the recording of his death would prove my innocence and that I wasn’t like 3 even if he was based off me, that i wouldn’t kill my own kind.

I let her talk, explain, and argue with 99. This was just the type of decision that I was poor at, I couldn’t even garner much more than mild dislike and discomfort at the idea of being abandoned by my own kind. Things like that were why 22 was the one who led our pair, I wasn’t capable of always making the best decisions for us because I just couldn’t bring myself to care about many things that would effect both our lives. As long as we were alive, safe, and healthy I would always be happy, at least that was what I thought. I forgot one thing though, that we didn’t need to be together to fulfill those conditions.

22 eventually convinced 99 and had him promise to release the recording of 3’s death to all Numbers in a week’s time. Then she walked away, and I followed her.

As we arrived at one of the facility’s military grade ships that were now as good as abandoned, 22 told me we should check back in with 99 before we left this place. She sent me back to see if he needed us for anything else, and I left without even questioning why she seemed so depressed when she said that. I just assumed that she would miss being able to interact with other Numbers, and that I should be as nice and helpful to her as I could to help her recover her spirit.

The sight of the ship leaving the atmosphere without even so much as a trail or atmospheric tail in a clear anti-tracking mode, shattered that thought though. I realized what 22 must have before she even killed 3. That even if she took all the blame, if we were together I would still be shunned and distrusted by the other Numbers.

For the first time in my life I felt a strong emotion without the help of 22’s presence balancing and optimizing my Biorhythms, as I stood next to 99 I felt empty and sad. I think I might have been experiencing depression, but I had nothing to compare the feeling to, I had only ever felt minor dislike and discomfort before then.

99 said he had to finish what 3 had unintentionally started, and make sure that no one else was able to restart the Numbers initiative, or use any of us like they did ever again. He asked me if I could care for the children, at least until I could find Numbers willing to look after and teach them on a more permanent basis than either of us could provide, that by me doing that he could leave all the sooner, hopefully even before the federation could begin to recover the initiative’s remaining data and personnel.

I agreed, I had no reason not to and I felt that doing something like this was what 22 would’ve wanted, if she were still with me. It was a way to indulge my instincts to help my own kind, and also cope with the loss of the first and only person I had ever been able to call my friend. I felt that if I could just act the way that 22 would have wanted, that she would somehow come back, or more realistically I might at least feel just that tiny bit more like I always did when she was by my side.

It didn’t work, sure I was mildly pleased that I could help these children, and I did feel some fondness for them, but that was all I could muster without 22 near me. When 22 was right next to me, or when we touched, I could feel so much more. I was practically normal at moments like that, and I was just starting to realize that losing my friend meant more than I had originally thought. It meant that I may never have moments like that, where I could truly feel, ever again.

It was a strange trip to the nearest Human Federation planet that I knew for sure had a number pair that were off mission and could care for the children.

The entire time I herded them into a small freighter ship, answered their questions, and flew us to our destination, my mind was in emotional flux. Well as much emotional flux as I was capable of, I went back and forth from mild panic to mild excitement and happiness to minor sadness constantly. I, and every other Number, was finally free, without the data detailing our weaknesses or the genetic codes that would unravel our DNA we couldn’t be threatened into service anymore. But I had also lost my friend and may never be able to find her again, not when she doesn’t want to be found by me and risk my reputation falling by association with her. It would defeat the purpose of her leaving me behind in the first place. Then there was the panic of no longer having a place to return to or a clear and defined purpose. All that kept circulating in my head, causing faint but real emotions and anxiety inside me.

The children themselves provided my only refuge from my own mind, they helped me distract myself from the chaos that was going on inside me at that time. I had learned more about them then I likely know about any other besides 100, 99, 32, and 22.

2 seemed like a sweet and almost naively innocent child, one that I should implicitly trust and protect without thought, but a rational part of me pointed out that she was meant to seem that way. With a heart shaped face, soft looking straight hazel hair, and eyes and features just like mine and 32’s, many would find it hard not to be attracted to 2 regardless of her age. Just like 32 before her, she was designed to be attractive to any and all who preferred her gender and even some that did not. That attraction was a weapon that she could use to lower someone’s guard and get close to them, then it would be easy to kill them at a time of her own choosing. Perhaps it was our similar purpose and design, but 2 and I bonded fairly quickly. I was probably the only Number left capable of really understanding her since her intended partner, 4, was killed two years ago. Even though she was only three years old, we both understood that we were similar in a way that no other Number was, that we were both predators that even other predators feared. I also understood, even if she did not yet, that 2 would grow to surpass 32, and to a lesser extent me, in capability. She was designed to after all…

9, a boy with tan almost dark skin and bright red hair and eyes, seemed to like me as well, unfortunately he was the one I felt the least for of the three and I think he picked up on that. He still seemed to like me though, he looked at me with happy expressions when he talked and kept telling me thank you at least. As the oldest besides me in the ship, he wanted to know more about what he was supposed to do now or if he would still have to do training instead of asking for information about me and my life. The boy was almost ready to start his training, and if this tragedy had happened just a year or so in the future he probably wouldn’t have even been present for it.

6 was the one that I seemed the fondest of, out of the three. A small, cute, quiet girl of about nine, with soft looking lavender hair, a round cute face, and sharp bright purple eyes. She was likely originally meant to be 3’s partner, and as such if she was anything like 22 or 23 were she likely only felt whole when she was with her partner. The fact that she was happy and probably felt like she was complete during 3 murdering and holding her friends hostage had probably weighed heavily on her psyche. She probably needed all the comfort and reassurance she could get, especially since she was one of the few Numbers not designed for some form of combat. since 3 was originally based of my own genetic map with only a few small alterations, she was probably experiencing the same sense of rightness and wholeness when she was near me as well, and since she didn’t have time to properly attune her biorhythms to 3, since he was separated from her and the others after only a year, she was probably slowly adapting to attune herself to me. It wouldn’t have been much of a problem, though it did make me feel slightly guilty as I had always only thought of that as 22’s right, in the grand scheme of things. That is if I was not both piloting a ship and starting to feel the effects of that attunement as well, and as much as I had thought I had wanted to before, that was not the time for me to feel stronger emotions. Especially not the chaos of emotions I had at that time.

Though the trip itself only took hours to arrive at the planet of Tesla-3, I was forced to spend over two days searching for 45 and 48. The children and I slept in the ship to avoid unwanted attention, at least until 99 sent out the all clear for Numbers to be out and roaming freely without fear of a second Numbers initiative taking us back or worse terminating us on sight. When I was finally able to get into contact with 45 and 48, I learned he already had, I just didn’t have the transceiver that gave access to the closed network Numbers used, that was still with 22 along with most of the other gear that I packed into that ship she left in. or maybe she left it for me back at the facility, I never bothered to go check after I saw her ship leave.

45 and 48 promised to take the kids in, and help them find something to do now with their new freedom. All except 6 who insisted on staying with me, to the point that she clung to my leg as 45 tried to pull her off me and 48 tried to explain how it just wouldn’t work.

Perhaps it was more selfishness than charity on my part that made me do what I did next, after all I did enjoy the increased feeling I had when she was near even if it wasn’t as strong as it was with 22. I didn’t say anything and allowed them to argue their points, and after a day of 45 and 48 trying and failing to convince her otherwise I asked the child if she really would like to come with me.

I explained that I would probably lead a life that was filled with conflict, battle, and danger, it was all I knew after all, and that if she stayed with me for much more than a year she would eventually fully attune herself to my biorhythms. I told her about how that would cause her to be more unfeeling and empty than even I could be at my worst when we were apart to long without contact or proximity. I also felt guilt as I knew that 22 would begin to experience just that if she remained away for more than a month or so without contacting me.

6 told me she was fine with that. And reconfirmed her decision when I asked if she was sure that this was what she wanted again.

We left 45, 48, 2, and 9 that very day. I sold the freighter for credits, and made the purchase of a new transceiver I modified to work like my last one before placing in the cleft behind my right ear. I got one for 6 as well, but she was the one to modify her own and to my surprise she told me she learned how to do it from watching me do the same just earlier. She obviously was designed to be technologically competent, perhaps more so than even I was.

The left over credits were used to buy a small, fast, nondescript skimmer type ship and a dark-matter fusion-coil to power it. We used that ship to leave the planet and go to one where I had a hideaway and stash of equipment and credits. One of the many bolt-holes that I made sure to have at least one of, in every major system I had ever visited. The closest was on Yarsea-2 so that was where we headed.

6 learned how to pilot ships, though not very well at first, by watching me do it for the day long trip. I somehow promised her I would let her pilot on the next trip we took.

After clearing the bolt-hole of everything of value, I scraped it and removed the traces of anyone ever using the abandoned building. I used the credits from the emergency stash to rent a small warehouse in the inner portion of the capital for a few months. I spent the time teaching 6 everything I could about everything I knew. The tactics didn’t really come naturally to her, and she was barely passable at any form of self-defense or other combat oriented pursuits, but she picked up all of my technical skills and engineering prowess in just a few months. She even began to surpass me by tinkering and testing things on her own.

In that I time also mourned the loss of my first friend 22, who by now wouldn’t even be a shadow of the person I knew. There were many times I had to get away from 6, because just being near her both hurt due to her very presence and effect on me reminding me of the friend I couldn’t even find any recent rumors about, and also allowed me to better feel that hurt by her nearness. I learned to cope within a month, and the pain itself had mostly faded by two. Another side effect of my genetics besides my apathy, I always moved on. I could never hold on to any singular emotion or feeling for long, after a month they just stopped mattering to me. Even grief for a dear friend, faded into nothing after a time, it was a testament to how much I felt for 22 that it even lasted that long, really.

After six months we left the warehouse and the planet. We had discussed what we would both like to do with our new freedom, and after some intense debate we had reached an understanding. We would offer our skills to those that payed the right price, and 6 would reserve the right to turn down any jobs she felt were beneath or posed abnormally large amounts of risk to us. We also decided to base ourselves out of a neutral hub planet, where no one race or government had total control and laws were much more lenient. The planet we chose was the massive trade-hub-world Terra-4 founded jointly by humanity and the Silarrae, and a planet I had much experience on.

I let 6 do some of the piloting on that trip, she started out dreadfully and almost killed us both at multiple points, but she was improving at an astounding rate.

When we arrived after a week of travel to Terra-4, I went first to the bolt-hole I had left on the planet. It was more of a small house than a bolt-hole really, and 6 and I lived out of it for about seven months until I was able to make enough money doing odd jobs for various wealthy people and organizations to purchase our own portion of city space. It was about a block large and there were three buildings within that space that came with my purchase and we now owned. I had gotten a discount from the organization I purchased it from due to my success on every job I did for them and their desire to maintain our friendly relationship.

6 and I spent over a year purchasing and installing equipment, renovating and repairing the buildings, and generally converting them into a base that held everything we wanted and needed to do the kinds of work we had decided to go into.

When we were done we input our logo into the holo-projector on the roof that projected our logo as a new sign above our shop and base.

Black-Lavender Company was finally in business.

and that is that………. remember to rate, review, comment, predict, and share the love for A Numbers Game!!!!!

really helps me keep the motivation to write going strong!!!!

oh and wish me luck on my finial tomorrow!!!

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