Phoenix
Transformation

 
001: Dying     002: Death     003: Remembering The Past
004: Blackness     005: Spark     006: Fire     007: Resurrection

Post: 09.30.1997
Date: 12.04.2195
Time: 23:51

Dying

This time, he was completely stumped.  He took pride in his ability to extricate himself from any sticky situation within three days.  Of course, being the experienced escape artist that he was, he could usually slip out of any kind of imprisonment within hours or even minutes.  Planning and executing escapes just came naturally to him.  Sometimes, of course, he had to do a little extra thinking and get creative.  Other times, he didn't have the time or the resources to make a clean escape.  However, up until recently, Lady Luck would step in at the last moment and save his neck.  At any rate, one way or another, he always escaped.  Always...until now.

Now he was in a little bit of a fix.  Lady Luck seemed like she had turned her back on him.  He sighed deeply as he took in his surroundings for the umpteenth time in a month or two.  He found himself sealed inside of a transparent sphere.  The sphere was about three meters in diameter, and was apparently made out of some kind of metal-plastic alloy-polymer.  It looked just like glass, but he had tested it's strength several times by jumping up and down and pounding his fists against it, and it seemed to be quite strong.  He mused at how delicate-looking his bubble-prison was.  The smile quickly faded, and out of frustration, he clenched his fists and pounded the wall with all his might.  In one last desperate moment, he cried out, drew his left hand back and threw a punch at the wall.  He looked down at his knuckles, and saw that they were now lightly covered with blood.  Pain shot through his hand.  The wall, however remained unaffected except for a new crimson-colored smear.  He wondered if he had broken his hand.  It didn't matter.  Nothing mattered now. 

Dejectedly, he collapsed to the floor.  The blood was now staining his pastel-blue prison-issue jump-suit.  He didn't care.  In fact, he actually liked it.  He was so sick of wearing the same blue outfit every day, that he welcomed the new change.  He started to paint a little design on the front of the jump-suit with the blood that was seeping out of his hand.  As he did, he remembered the days back when he would change outfits two or three times a day.  He had always been a good dresser.  He smiled again. He mused at how much something little like wearing the same thing day after day irritated him so much.  He had a philosophy about little things being important, and this was just another manifestation of that.  Rule #2: "Little things are the most important."  Rule #1 of course being, "Never trust anyone (or anything)." 

The bleeding was finally starting to subside, so he quickly finished his artwork.  He stopped and looked down and stared at the meaningless design before him.  It was a bird, he decided.  From someone else's perspective, the bird might have seemed to be flying majestically, straight up into the air.  However, from his vantage point, it was careening straight into the ground.  Certain death.  Just like me, he thought, I'll be dead in a few minutes, just like that bird.  He chuckled to himself.  Boy, I really am going nuts!  Here I am, about to be executed, and all I am doing is painting myself with blood and philosophizing about it.  I really ought to be trying to make one last desperate attempt to free myself.  Somehow, though, he didn't quite feel up to it. 

  Post: 10.23.1997
Date: 12.04.2195
Time: 23:57

Death

He gazed past the bubble to the room beyond.  The sphere seemed to be suspended about ten meters above the floor and ten meters below the ceiling.  The bubble was not supported by any visible means.  It just sort of floated there in the center of the room.  The room that contained the sphere was very large and was cylinder-shaped.  The walls and the ceiling were painted pure white, and a single light in the ceiling illuminated the entire room.  That accursed light!  That was another thing that kept torturing him.  It was not excruciatingly bright, but he wished someone would just turn it off every once in a while, preferably at night.  But no, it had to stay on twenty-four hours a day.  Why are they so fussy like that?  Of all the people that I've scammed, it had to be the BAT's that finally caught me!

By "BAT's" he, of course meant the Brotherhood of Analytic Technomancers, or the Brainless Anal Tinwits as he liked to say.  And they were just that, anal.  Most Technomancers went through their grueling operation to increase their mental power or their physical capabilities, or both.  These guys became Technomancers because they felt that it was the next logical step in the evolution of mankind.  Their ultimate goal was to eliminate all organic life on earth.  The BAT's were one of the most advanced factions of Technomancers when it came to technology.  In fact, the technology in the entire building (and everything else they owned) were linked to all of their members via the matrix.  For example, there were no guards in the big cylindrical room.  Instead, cameras stationed just outside peered into the room through windows.  That way, all of the BAT's could monitor their prisoner even from miles away.  He considered the BAT's to be completely whacked out, and couldn't believe that he was actually caught by these morons of all people. 

Anyway, in the month or two that he had been here, he had never seen the light even flicker once, let alone get turned off.  That was to change rather quickly, however.  Any minute now, the whole room would be flooded with high-energy plasma, destroying everything in it including his bubble, and himself.  However, to perform this operation, the entire power system of the building (and possibly even the local power grid) would experience a severe drain for a few seconds.  Finally the place would have some darkness, if only for just a second or two. I just hope I stay alive long enough to enjoy it.

His eyes scanned everything once more in a desperate attempt to find some minor detail about his surroundings that he had missed earlier.  Something,...anything, no matter how small would give him some hope.  He glanced down.  The floor was black, and had a glassy sheen.  Occasionally he would see a shiny circle fly by on the floor.  At first glance, the circles almost looked like silver balls rolling quickly across the floor.  However, closer inspection revealed that they were, in fact flat, and seemed to be just under the glassy surface of the floor.  After the first few days of his imprisonment, he had realized that these mysterious circles were actually bubbles, and that there was some kind of clear liquid flowing underneath a sheet of what he first thought was the same kind of material that his prison-bubble was made out of. 

He looked up.  Attached to the top of the bubble was a large black, circular device.  He guessed that the black device was a very powerful electromagnet. After he awoke for the first time in the bubble, he had immediately noticed that his entire system was shut down.  When he attempted to restart his system, the only response he got was an error message saying, "System is inoperative due to magnetic interference.  Please try again later."  Not that it would help any if his system were functioning.  Apparently a lot of the useful things that would help him make an escape were removed and replaced with equipment that apparently recycled his body's waste products.  This allowed him to be sealed in the sphere indefinitely with no opportunity to slip away during a bathroom break (one of his favorite tricks). 

His surroundings were all very puzzling, but after a week or so, he finally solved the mystery.  The black floor was a superconductor, and the clear liquid that flowed over it must have been liquid nitrogen (or something similar).  The glassy substance that covered the floor must not have been made out of the same substance as the sphere because metal-plastic alloy-polymers tend to become brittle at extremely low temperatures. Too bad I can't get some of that liquid up here.  I could kick a big hole in this bubble and I'd be out of here in no time.  The liquid cooled the floor enough for the superconductor to activate.  The superconductor then repelled the electromagnet on the sphere, and kept it and the sphere hovering in mid-air.  The magnet was apparently powered by a tiny energy beam that emanated from the side of the room. Why in the world would anyone set up such a complicated prison system?  I guess that's just the BAT's for you.  He also wondered why the place where he had been imprisoned also served as an execution chamber. I guess it's kind of convenient in a sick sort of way.

Suddenly the light in the room flickered.  He realized his time was up.  Glitch.

  Post: 11.04.1997
Date: 12.05.2195
Time: Unknown

Remembering The Past

Time stopped.  His life flashed before his eyes.  He saw countless scenes from his past.  They appeared, disappeared, and reappeared again.  They overlapped, swirled together, and melted into a big soup of random chaos. 

There were places. 

Many cities all over the world.  More cities than most people had seen in a lifetime.  Countless vignettes.  Plush corporate offices on the top floors of skyscrapers.  Abandoned run-down warehouses in the worst sections of towns.  Small, modest homes.  Luxurious mansions.  Military bases.  Government buildings.  Restaurants.  Museums.  His work took place in almost every setting imaginable.  As his mind jumped from one genre to the next, he never once saw a place that was home.  There were, of corse, numerous nights at hotels and even an occasional short-term stay in an apartment, but a home was just something that had been sacrificed for the sake of his work. 

There were faces. 

The cold, emotionless countenances of his latest victims (or almost victims), the BAT's.  The warm smile of the little old lady who owned a small nearby pastry shop.  That pastry shop was the last place he had eaten before his capture.  He had purchased one pastry, and then managed to sneak out with five more hidden beneath his coat.  More faces.  CEO's of large corporations.  Important government officials.  Shadowy street mafia types.  Most of the faces he saw had foolishly trusted him and, thereby, fallen prey to him.  All were faces of people who he had known for only a day or two at the most.  All except one.  The face of his father suddenly appeared.  It was a kind and gentle face, much like his own.  It was the only face he trusted.  His father was also a con artist, and had taught him most of what he knew.  His father had died a few years back at the hands of one of his victims.  His father had died because of his job, and now he was following in his father's footsteps. 

There were feelings. 

The thrill of pulling off a successful  hit'.  The elation of having acquired huge sums of money--enough money that he could have retired by now if he wanted to.  The rush that came from having to think fast on his feet to avoid being caught.  These feelings were always short lived, and were soon quickly replaced with cold, dry emptiness.  He was a con-artist by trade, and his whole life had been nothing but one con after another.  I wish I had done something different.  I don't know what I would have changed, but I would have done something worthwhile with myself.  I have spent so much of my life pretending to be other people that I have forgotten myself.  There must be something more to life...something I missed.  I wish I could have just one more chance to figure it out.  One more chance...

Suddenly, the visions were gone.  He was back in his cell.  The lights were still flickering... 

flickering... 

flickering... 

blackness.

  Post: 11.06.1997
Date: Unknown
Time: Unknown

Blackness

blackness. 

blackness. 

no up, 
no down, 
no sideways, 
just blackness. 
 
 

falling. 

plunging. 

nothing to touch, 
nothing to hear, 
nothing to see, 
just blackness. 
 
 

twisting. 

turning. 

head spinning, 
arms flailing, 
body whirling 
in the blackness. 
 
 

blackness. 

blackness.

  Post: 11.13.1997
Date: Unknown
Time: Unknown

Spark

Consciousness was elusive.  It stood just beyond his reach, taunting him like a small child.  Every once in a while, it would take a step or two closer to him only to run quickly away when he tried to grasp it by the hand.  Finally, it stepped a little to close to him, and he snatched it, and pulled it to himself with a gargantuan effort.  The minute he had finally captured it, he was sorry. 

"Ohhh," he groaned out loud.  "Oh, my head!"  He reached up and started to touch the enormous bump on the right side of his skull.  As a result, fire shot through the right side of his head.  Consciousness nearly broke free from him again, but he held on to it with all his might.  Only when the intense throbbing started to subside, did he notice that there seemed to be a general sensation of aching throughout his entire body.  He forced his eyelids to open only to see nothing.  Nothing at all, but blackness.  This revelation puzzled him, but somehow was not shocking considering the state he was in. 

I wonder where I am.  I can't seem to recall.... His thoughts drifted for a moment or two as he tried to force his mind to remember.  What had happened.  Ah yes, that's right--the BAT's...the bubble.  I was about to be...executed.  What happened?  Did they change their minds?  Did something go wrong?  A chill swept down his spine.  I don't suppose that I'm...I'm...No, I couldn't even be thinking this if I were dead.  Or could I?  What, exactly, is it like to be dead?  I suppose it might not be all that much different than lying on the ground like this in complete blackness.  Is death cold?  It feels really cold here right now, and I don't know why.  The floor was terribly cold, and his hands and his back were starting to feel a little numb.  I'm freezing!  Still, on the other hand, my body seems to be intact, more or less.  I thought that when someone dies, they just sort of leave their body behind.  Of course, ghosts have bodies, or so they say.  Not physical, but bodies, with arms and legs, none the less.  Ummm....There must be something....Oh, I know, I can't be dead because I have cyberware, and ghosts don't have cyberware.  Cyberware is technology, and technology definitely does not make it to the afterlife (if there is one).   He sat up straight and smiled in triumph, despite the pain.  However, after a second or two, another chill swept over him, as a small, but penetrating question slowly came to his mind.  Do I still have cyberware?  I haven't used any of it since I di--since everything went black.  He pondered his most recent thoughts for a minute or two, and then resolved to satisfy his curiosity.  His plan was to issue the startup command to his system.  He decided that if it worked, he was surely alive, and if it didn't, there was a good chance that he was dead.  He issued the system startup command.  The pause that followed seemed like an eternity, but the response was loud and clear.  "System Online."

  Post: 11.22.1997
Date: 12.05.2195
Time: Morning

Fire

Well, that settles that!  I'm definitely not dead.  This new realization gave him a warmth inside that seemed to counteract the coldness he was feeling outside.  Now, if I'm not dead, where am I, and what happened to me?  Okay, calm down.  One thing at a time.

Visual Enhancement

Error: Hardware not detected.

Yeah, that's what I thought.  I wonder what hasn't been removed.  He checked all his systems, and then said outloud, "not much."  Even his flashlight was gone.  This particularly irritated him at the moment.  Of course, my system is working now, which means that the electromagnet is either off, or not nearby, and that means that the bubble is on the ground now--if I am, in fact, still in the bubble.  He ran his hand across the smooth hard floor and realized, to his disappointment, that he was still in his bubble-cell.  He ran his fingers across the floor again and felt the ice cold condensation that had formed there. I wonder why the floor is so cold.  The bubble must have fallen, and smashed a hole in the floor of the room.  That would probably let the superconductor coolant out, and that's what is making the floor of the bubble so cold.  Suddenly, the importance of new discovery hit him.  If the bubble is cold enough, I could probably smash through it.  He stood up, and stomped his foot.  Nothing happened.  He tried several more times, without success, and then finally jumped up, and landed hard with both feet.  Finally he heard the sound of the bubble cracking.  It was the sweetest sound he had heard in his entire life.  He continued to pound at the bubble with his feet and hands until he had finally made a hole large enough for him to get through.  There, that ought to do it.  He checked once more with his hands to make sure the hole was big enough for him to get through.  Now, the only thing left is to roll this thing, so that I can squeeze out.  He stood up, and carefully started walking.  At first, it wouldn't move, so he put most of his weight against it.  Without warning, it broke free from its nest, and started to roll freely.  The momentum of the sphere tossed him around for a few seconds as it slowed down.  Oops.  Hmmm.  It rolls evenly.  I guess that means that the electromagnet must have broken off when it hit the ground.  He rolled the ball forward until he hit the wall.  Then he slowly rolled the bubble along the wall, stopping from time to time to check and see if the hole was at the bottom.    Finally, the hole was centered perfectly in the corner between the wall the floor.  He carefully crawled out, and then enthusiastically shoved the bubble away from him.  "Ha ha!  Yes!  I'm finally free!"  His voice echoed throughout the large room.  He took a minute to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the moment. 

Well, I'm not out of this mess just yet.  This is where the fun begins.  He started walking along the wall, keeping one hand on it as he walked.  Finally, he found what he was searching for, the door.  A few small irregularities in the surface of the wall alerted his fingers to this fact.  The door was not locked, but it may as well have been because there was no handle or control pad on the inside.  He traced the seam of the door with his finger.  He activated his omnidriver (one of the few devices that he still had).  In his mind's eye, he pictured the slender metal shaft growing out of his index finger, however, it was still completely dark.  Looks like I'm going to have to do this the old-fashioned way.  In a matter of seconds, the door swung open.  The dim emergency lighting in the hallway blinded him momentarily.  When his eyes finally adjusted he saw the lifeless bodies of two BAT's lying at his feet.

  Post: 01.19.1998
Date: 12.05.2195
Time: Morning

Resurrection

He stared at the two large masses of metal that lay at his feet.  Arms and legs were spread at confusing and unnatural angles as if they had been wildly flailing about in the last few moments of life.  Fluids of various colors seeped out of numerous cracks in their metallic bodies. 

"Glitch!  What happened to them?" 

He looked down for a few more seconds at the metallic mess at his feet before moving on.  It made him uneasy to think that someone--or something took out two technomancers with no problem at all.  Whatever it was would have to have been very powerful. 

He shuddered and then slowly stepped over the bodies.  He proceeded down the long hallway until he got to the door at the far end.  The door opned up to a large curved corridor.  It looked like it probably made a giant circle, but he couldn't tell yet.  The wall across from the doorway was featureless except for a blue emergency light, and the words "LEVEL 26: Detention". 

He cautiously peered out into the corridor, and saw six more dead BAT's. Glitch!  Are they all dead?  The thought gave him additional hope, and at the same time sent a chill down his spine. 

Less cautiously now, he started walking down the corridor, which seemed to endlessly curve to the left.  The corridor was lined with shiny metal doors on both sides.  Each door had a small window in it and a number above it.  He stopped at one and peered inside.  He saw a cot, a sink, and a toilet, but no occupant.  He walked to the next door and looked in, only to see the same thing.  He grinned.  I guess they realized that I could have easily slipped out of one of these cells.  Heh, heh, heh.  They gave me special treatment.   This thought pleased him immensely. 

He again started walking down the hall which continued to curve.  For a little while, there was nothing more than a seemingly endless array of prison cells with a few dead BAT's here and there for variety.  Finally, he found something different: a door labled "Prisioner Confiscations". This must be my lucky day!

He pressed the open button on the side of the doorway.  The door remained motionless.  No emergency power for the doors, I guess...but then again, who does?  He studied the door.  The doorway was a perfect square.  It was featureless except for a small slit that made a line from the top left to the bottom right.   Looks like a D-Tech.  Model 540 or 550, by the looks of it.   He squatted down and ran his hand along the bottom of the right side of the door frame.   There should be an emergency release around here somewhere...there.   He pressed a small hidden button that mechanically opened a panel on the side of the doorway.  The open panel revealed a large handle with the word "Emergency" on it.  He firmly pulled the handle and was rewarded with the sound of a loud clank.  He stood up and noticed that the diagonal slit was no longer a slit, but had become an opening that was wide enough for him to get his hands in.  He gripped the doors and started pulling them open.  The work was not overly difficult, but it was strenuous enough that his body decided to remind him of its physical condition.  Waves of pain shot through him, but he ignored them long enough to get the door open. 

He stepped inside, nearly tripping over the body of another dead BAT.  The room was large and rectangular and contained numerous rows of large lockers.  "Oh no," he groaned.   It could take hours to find the one that has my stuff in it.  There must be a faster way than just checking each one.  Then again...maybe not.  He studied the nearest locker.  It was about two meters high, half a meter wide, and a meter deep.  Several small buttons and a large chrome handle were located on the right side of the locker door.  Printed above the handle was the number 109A.  He looked at the locker on the left.  The number there was 108A.  I'll bet the one on the right is 110A.  It is.  "Ha!  I should have been a mathematician!"  Yeah, right!  He paused for a moment as something seemed to tickle his memory.   Those numbers seem familiar.  Three digits followed by the letter "A".  I wonder where I've seen something like that before.  Oh well, I'm sure it will come to me if it's important.  In the mean time, let's find out what's in locker 109A.

Out came the omnidriver again, and in a matter of moments, locker 109A was open.  The locker contained a few articles of clothing, a backpack, and a couple of shiny, strange-looking devices.  They appeared to be cybernetic implants of some kind.   Those implants won't do me any good at the moment, but a backpack is always useful, and the clothes....  Well, I might as well change, seeing as the pastel-blue jumpsuit with blood all over it might attract attention once I get out of here.

He took pride in his ability to completely change his identity in just a few minutes.  Changing his clothes was a required part of such an identity change.  This being the case, he was fully changed and admiring his new outfit in under twenty seconds.  The shirt fit fine.  The pants were long, and a little baggy in places, but he could deal with that.  He couldn't tell for sure what color his clothes were because of the blue emergency lighting, but he guessed that the slacks were gray, and the top was black.  He stuffed his bloodied blue jumpsuit into the backpack along with the cybernetic implants.   I probably won't need any of that junk, but you never know....

He closed the backpack and shut the locker door.  His hand froze on the shiny handle as something caught his eye.  He stared at his hand.  It was covered with dry blood from when he punched the bubble in frustration.  The blood had partially obscured something else that was on his hand.  I knew those numbers looked familiar!  He licked the fingers of his left hand, and used them to clean off the blood.  Tattooed on his right hand was the number 192A.  It had been placed there by the BAT's after his capture.  He had often wondered if the tattoo was just some kind of prisioner serial number, or if it had some other significance.  Now he had solved at least part of that mystery. 

He quickly located locker 192A and opened it.  He got out his belongings and started going through them.  The only things that seemed to be missing were a few of his implants, and, of course all of his fellinium rods.  Implants and cash--Not a problem.  I can always get more of those.  Everything else was there including guns, clothes, a few professional escape artist accessories, and, most importatnly, his sais. 

The sai was an ancient weapon that was amazingly still in use eons after its invention.  Of course, at this time, very few people used, or even knew what a sai was.  The sai consisted of three metal prongs and a handle.  The center prong was much thicker and longer than the other two.  As a child, he often thought that sais looked like massively deformed forks.  Despite its viscious looks, the sai was, in fact, a defensive weapon.  In fact, the sai was one of the few martial arts weapons that was designed to defend against an attacker with a sword.  Of course, the modern sai was often somewhat different the traditional design.  For example, his two sais were collapsable, and had several other modications as well. 

Actually, he hated fighting and would much rather talk his way out of a jam than fight.  Fighting was sometimes necessary, however, and it was unwise for someone in his line of work to be ill-prepared for physical combat. 

He put his own custom-made belt on, and slid the sais and the guns into thier special holsters.  He put on his cloak and shoved all the rest of his belongings into the backpack.  The backpack was now quite full, and as he slung it over his shoulder, he felt his aching body complain again. 

Now all I have to do is find my way out of here.  He walked back out to the corridor, carefully stepping over the dead body in the doorway.  He resumed his search for the way out.  The hallway was the same as before--just cells, and a few dead BAT's here and there.  He continued around the corridor until he finally saw the doors of an elevator. Not operational, of course, but there must also be stairs around here somewhere.  Sure enough, the next door over was marked "Stairs".  The door was partially open, so he simply squeezed himself through.  To his surprise, the stairwell inside only went up.  That's odd.  Why aren't there stairs going down?  He looked back at the door, and saw that the words "LEVEL 26: Detention" appeared again, this time in somewhat smaller lettering.  Hmmm...I wonder....  He walked up one flight of stairs.  Sure enough, the next doorway was labled "LEVEL 25: Storage".  Well, I'm either underground, or the BAT's number their floors backwards (which wouldn't be all that surprising).

The trek up the stairs a long and tiring one.  Several times during the ascent, he had to stop to catch his breath.  His aching body despised the work, but he forced it to go on.  His throat was dry for the first time in a month or so.  Apparently now that he had been outside of the biosphere of his bubble, some of the moisture in his body had escaped into the atmosphere, and had not been reclaimed by his internal life-support system. 

He was nearing the top now.  Left.  Right.  Left.  Right.  Left.  Right.  Just a little more.  Hmmm...let's see.  We're all the way up to...  He glanced at the sign on the door as he turned the corner to go up another flight of stairs. LEVEL 2: Communications.  One more.  Left.  Right.  Left.  Right.  Almost there.  Left.  Right.  Left.  I'm there.  Stop.  Breathe.  GROUND LEVEL: Repairs.  He paused for a few moments, and then opened the door. 

He was surprised to find himself in a rectangular room that was much smaller than the giant corridors that he had walked through underground.  There were only a few doors in the wall, and only one small adjoining hallway off to the left.  He started to wonder why the ground floor looked so different that the other levels but relized that he was too exhausted to contemplate the reason behind the design (and with the BAT's there may not have been a good reason). 

He decided that the exit was most likely down the hallway off to his left.  He walked towards the hallway and turned the corner.  As he looked down the corridor, three things immediately caught his attention.  1.  The hallway was much shorter than expected.  2.  The door at the opposite end  of the hallway was wide open to the outside where, incidentally, it was raining.  3.  Halfway down the hallway, between him and his long awaited freedom, a large figure was standing completely motionless.  The figure seemed to be made almost entirely out of chrome.  An emergency light in the ceiling shined directly down on it causing its shiny body to paint the hallway with blue sparkles.  The BAT insignia was affixed to its chest. 

Oh glitch!

After a brief silence, the figure spoke.  "Remove all of your weapons and drop them to the floor.  Lie down on the ground and spread your arms and legs." 

"No 'What's your name?' or 'How's it going?' just 'Get down and spread 'em!'  That's not very tactful, if you ask me."  Must stall.  Need time.

"I didn't ask.  Just do it." 

"Or else?" 

"You will die." 

"You'll kill me." 

"Yes." 

"With what?  Your bare...."  He noticed that the BAT's left arm was missing.  "...hand?" 

"As a matter of fact, yes." 

He didn't doubt it.  Technomancers were sometimes known to waste people with single punches.  Talking my way out of this would definitely be preferable to a fight.  Must keep conversing.  "How come you only have one arm, anyway?" 

"I was having it repaired when it fell." 

"When what fell?" 

"Cyberspace." 

"What do you mean it fell!?"  He was no longer stalling, but was genuinely interested. 

"Moments before you were scheduled to be terminated, cyberspace just...shut down.  Most, if not all, of the brotherhood was in the matrix at the time of the crash.  When it went down, it took them with it.  You've probably seen some of the aftermath." 

"How come you survived?" 

"I was in for repairs at the time.  My matrix interface unit was disconnected and being serviced at the time as well as my arm.  Now, I must say, you have done an admirable job of stalling, but It will stop right here.  My duty is to make sure that your execution will be carried out despite the fall of cyberspace, so you must surrender to me now." 

Uh oh.  Situation deteriorating rapidly.  Talk more.  "If I don't surrender, you'll kill me.  If I do, you'll kill me.  What kind of a deal is that?" 

"It is not a 'deal'.  It is what is going to happen." 

Conversation still not going well.  Try anything.  "Listen, I know it was your duty, and all that, but if you let me go instead of killing me, I won't tell a soul.  I'll just leave and won't ever bother you again, and you can go back to your mate and your little BAT juniors, or whatever.  It would be so much better for the both of us." 

"BAT's do not have family other than the brotherhood.  I lost them all today." 

Glitch!  Conversational error.  Alternative action might be necessary.

"I will kill you and then join them in their death.  This is your last chance to surrender peacably." 

The time for talking was over.  He reached for his guns, and aimed both at the BAT. 

"Your guns have been disabled," the BAT said calmly. 

He squeezed both triggers, and the dead silence that followed confirmed the fact.  Glitch!  He said nothing, but dropped his guns and quickly drew both of his sais. 

"Those toys will not help you either.  Give up.  If you give up now, I will make your death swift and painless." 

Well, I've already botched this conversation, so I might as well have some fun with it.  "Oh, boy!  A swift and painless death!  I knew that I was going to check out sooner or later, and I always wondered what my death would be like."  This feels great!  "Even when I was a little boy, I would often stay awake in bed hours after my bedtime just imagining what it would be like to die, and it was my big dream to have a swift and painless death.  I guess today really is my lucky day!"  Well, plan A is now officially glitched.  Switch to plan B.  He gripped his sais tighter, but continued to allow them to hang down at his side.  The BAT stood motionless and silent. 

The fight was almost over before it began.  In the blink of an eye, the technomancer leapt into the air and swung its arm.  The target was his head.  Such a blow would mean instant death.  He instinctively reacted by attemptitng to block the attack with one of his sais.  He was only partially successful.  Instead of hitting his face straight on, the metal fist grazed his chin.  Pain gripped the left side of his face.  No time to think about that now.  He counter-attacked by thrusting with the opposite sai.  He realized too late that it was the wrong move to use on this opponent.  The move only worked on individuals that had light or no armor.  Pain shot all through his left arm as the sai harmlessly bounced of the technomancer's heavily-armored abdomen.  Too close to punch now, the BAT gave him a powerful shove.  He careened through the air, struck the wall, and hit the ground.  The sais dropped from his hands and clattered to the ground.  Pain finally had free reign over his entire body.  No time to feel.  Must act.  He grabbed the sais and scrambled to his feet. 

Both individuals paused for a second while deciding what was going to happen next.  The BAT stood there with a single arm halfway extended.  The other gripped his sais firmly and prepared for the onslaught.  In that brief instant, the target points of technomancers flashed through his mind.  He had never fought a technomancer before, but he remembered learning that the only places that they were anything less than invincible (in this type of combat) were the joints--especially the neck.  He started to examine the BAT's joints for possible targets, but was interrupted.  Without warning, the BAT lunged at him.  This time he was ready.  The BAT swung several times in rapid succession, but every punch was either deflected or dodged.  Finally, the BAT made a desparate lunge, throwing all of its weight into it.  Mistake.  Without hesitation, he easily dodged the attack, and quickly plunged one of his sais into the neck of the BAT with a dull crunch.  As soon as he felt the sai sink in, he pressed a small button on the handle.  Bright pink flashes temporarly overcame the blue emergency lighting as energy from the sai flowed through the BAT's body.  The pink lightning stopped, and he yanked his sai out as the BAT fell forward.  He felt the floor vibrate sligtly as the technomancer's massive body struck the ground.  The body convulsed a few times, and then was still. 

The hallway was silent except for the sound of his heavy breathing.  He looked at the dead BAT.  The Multi-colored fluid that was quickly flowing out of the body started to form a small puddle on the ground.  He stood there for a minute and tried to catch his breath.  Inside, he was a whirl of emotions.  He could not decide what he was feeling because it changed from one second to the next.  In one second he wanted to break out laughing.  In the next, he was on the verge of tears.  Next, he wanted to shout at the top of his lungs in anger.  He remained silent.  After he had finally calmed down, and had caught his breath, he decided that what he was most was exhausted.  A single tear slid down his face and dropped off the tip of his nose.  I want to go home.  With that, he decided to leave.  He cleaned his sai by wiping it on the leg of his pants.  He looked it over to make sure it was clean.  As he collapsed the sais and put them back in their holsters, he looked back at the dead body, and said with a grin, "Pretty cool 'toys', huh?" 

He turned and walked to the door.  He looked at the world that lay beyond the door.  It was a dark and strange world, but one that he was used to.  It was freedom.  It was home.  It was heaven.  The wind was blowing.  It was raining...it was raining in heaven.

this page and its contents copyright (c) by mike uchida