(In the Near Future) – Scientist creates realistic human-like creatures for warfare and medical research as well as many other things; however as the quality of them increases, the line between his creations and real people gets blurrier.

Mackenzie played the beam of her torch across the alley, letting it flood the shadows with light and disturb those who had taken refuge beneath the heat exchangers. Most of the homeless raised a hand in defence against the light, muttering harsh words before shrinking back into their nests.

“Show yourself,” she called out.

The torch, gripped tight in her hand, rested above the stubby body of her maser. Mercer came up behind her, panting, his own weapon drawn. He went to step forwards but she stopped him.

“What are you doing? Let’s blaze the lot of ‘em,” he demanded angrily.

“Some are humans.”

“And some are tags.”

She stepped deeper into the alley. She shone the torch into the face of the first man, looked beneath the scraggly beard and nodded. The man gathered his few possessions and left without a word, slipping past Mercer who kept a rear guard.

The next man was cut, face bloody and torn. Mackenzie pulled out her PIT and he flinched, eyes going wild as they tracked the small device that she held out. There was no fight in his vision, only flight. The box beeped once, twice and finally turned blue.

“Tag,” she called out to Mercer.

The dishevelled man didn’t move like his companion. He stayed exactly where he was as Mackenzie moved on. Two more humans, both scurrying away as soon as she gave them passage, until only one shadow remained.

“Show yourself.”

The man stood slowly, uncoiling like a snake. She didn’t need the PIT. The deep tattoo stood out, as black as the shadows against his pale skin, marking him as a tag. He took a step forwards, towards her, no fear in his face, no malice in the eyes.

“Stop,” she said.

“What is the punishment?”

“You’re accused of felony trespass.”

“What is the punishment?”

“You’re to be returned to your parent corporation.”

“What is the punishment?”

“They can do what they want. You’re…” He looked at her, as she faltered speaking. He took another step, his chest meeting the muzzle of her maser. At this range, it would fry his heart.

“You’re property!” she spat.

“What. Is the. Punishment?” He knelt before her, letting the muzzle rise from chest to throat to forehead.

“I don’t know what they’ll do to you.”

He looked up, his eyes staring into hers. He isn’t human. He isn’t human. The words kept on rattling around in her head, but right now she was looking into a mans face and telling him he didn’t exist.

“No,” he finally said, placing his own fingers around hers, his index resting within the trigger guard. “What is the punishment, for you?”

“Destruction of property. Reclamation incident.” She saw him flinch at the legalese, the lightness of taking a mans life reduced to breaking a park bench. “A slap on the wrist.”

“Then thank you,” he said, and pulled gently on her finger.

Prompt originally posted by slicetheginger on reddit and received 2 upvotes.

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