Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fatal Error

Disclaimer: usual lack of proofreading applies, and usual language warning is in effect.


"Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver; the other gold." The abrasive lyrics assaulted Rani from all directions, reverberating harshly with each syllable. Denied a single direction to lash out at the source, Rani remained silent. There was no retort for abandonment, no witty reply to isolation.

Rani’s only consolation was that it would all be over soon.

“You know what comes next.” The voice was right, Rani knew what was coming. The jaws of the trap would be snapping shut irrevocably. The game was almost ending. “You never had a chance, meddler, this is my story. Now watch Aethon as he fails.”

* * *


The Gingers had to be using Windows for their infrastructure; no other operating system would activate its firewall to keep a threat contained inside the network. If it was Windows, then the firewall would be easily bypassed. Just the application of a little pressure at its control panel and. . .

Agony, crimson lances of searing agony.

The flame raced up his extended right arm, scorching his skin even through his cyber suit. The pain barreled over Aethon in a torrential wave, consuming him with its unrelenting intensity. His was only thought was the red hot pain washing over him. He could feel his flesh frying and his bones blackening. There was no escape from the terrible sensation.

There was corruption in the core component of this batch command and the process needed to be terminated. There was a critical error within the program that needed to be resolved before everything crashed. But was a secondary objective, first he needed to put out this fucking fire before he experienced a case of death by cremation.

The mere thought of extinguishing the flame activated the nano-transmitters woven into the polymer binding of his suit, causing them to compress and leech the oxygen from his immediate environment. A quick eternity of fiery torment later, the flame was quelled and the micro-crawlers were at work reconstructing his damaged dermis. It still hurt like hell, despite the freshly grown nerve endings, but he was once again intact. The next wave of pain wasn’t as devastating as the first, though still enough to render an upsurge of nausea. The suit would administer a sedative later, but for now he needed clarity of mind and optimal reaction time. He would endure it; he had to. For now it was his pain, and he welcomed it. The pain meant he was still alive.

The security protocol wasn’t finished with him yet. The firewall was literally hot. The armed woman pointing a pistol at Aethon was figuratively hotter.

“That might have worked on Donut, but it’s going to take more than double stuff-able Oreos to stop me.” Sometimes he really wanted to reach through the fourth wall and smack the shit out of Ray. Other times he wanted to high five him. At that precise moment in time, Aethon didn’t know which he wanted. “I’m a feminist, just so you know. That means I see you as an equal, and will feel no shame in kicking your ass.”

The official verdict was high five.

The bullet ricocheted off the polymer weave before Aethon even registered that the shot was fired. Aethon would’ve been grateful had he not been preoccupied with the impact damage that felt suspiciously like a broken rib. Not just a minor break, but a shattering as thorough as any iPhone screen crack.

Still, he fared better than his attacker, whom took the brunt of the damage when the projectile rebounded upon her. The force of the slug struck her across the temple, knocking her to the floor. She didn’t get back up. She didn’t move.

Muttering light curses and dark promises, Aethon approached the immobile figure slowly. He was cold and calculating, but not that heartless. Even a Ginger didn’t deserve to die like that. Well, a Ginger, sure. A hot Ginger didn’t deserve to die like that, however. Unless it was Ara, bitch had it coming.

Her wrist had no pulse. Her neck confirmed it. There was no blood pooling beneath her head, as Aethon had been expecting, but she definitely wasn’t alive. He was now officially a lady killer, by proxy anyway.

“That fucking hurt!” Her voice was metallic, seeming to originate from her chest. She rose swiftly, showing no indication that the dent in the side of her skull phased her. The gleam of exposed metal beneath her scarlet hairline betrayed her lie. She was a bot, the lowest form of intelligence. The fact that was an attractive bot was immaterial; she might as well have been a troll.

She had done the impossible, and that made her mighty. She had pissed off Aethon.

“No, you don’t get to do that.” Aethon snarled through clenched teeth, seizing the bot by its vest and lifting it off its feet. “Pain is for the living. You can’t have my pain.”

Aethon hurled the machine bodily into the red hot door, and threw himself at it in the same application of his weight. The pair slammed through the door, fusing the security bot to the threshold in a heap of molten metal and burnt fiber. Like a teenager’s sex life, the struggle was over almost before it had begun. Also like a teenager’s sex life, he was sore and tired and not sure how to react to the sudden climax. Aethon also found himself inexplicably craving Oreos.

* * *


“Not so chatty now, are you?” It was Rani’s turn to taunt. The enemy’s flaw had been exposed, he was vulnerable now. “You were right about this being your story. The story of your ending.”

“You’re bluffing, Rani. There are four of you left; your team is broken.” Rani could hear it in his voice, hiding beneath the incredibility and disdain, the mysterious murderer was afraid.

“You spent so much time and energy worrying about me and my team that you didn’t even pause to contemplate your own allies and their motivations. There’s a reason they stopped you from killing me again. They want you to lose.” With those words, the end had begun.

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