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DamnGlitch

Latest Copy of 'Glitched' Book 1

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Updated:02/20/08

Change Log

 

02/20/08: Chapter 3 complete~!

01/22/06: More of chapter 3 up.

01/12/06: Beginings of Chapter 3 now up. I will probably look into cleaning up Chapter 2, but hopefully work will continue on 3 for the time being.

01/02/06: Chapter 1 rewrite complete!

 

12/31/05: More chapter 1 rewrites. Still not finished.

 

12/22/05: Reposted story to fix the mix ups from the board switch. Might be additions, but I don't think I changed anything. Chapter 1 still temporarily incomplete.

 

11/09/05: Rewrite of introduction, significant edits to Chapter 1 (chapter 1 is now temporarily incomplete). Typos and continuity corrected.

 

08/16/05: Completion of chapter 2, very begining of chapter 3, moderate edits to the introduction, several typos fixed.

 

 

----

 

 

Human history has always been dictated by inventions. Fire, the wheel, gunpowder, electricity, the lightbulb, the assembly line, nuclear power; each has ushered in a dramatic new era in the course of human events. None, however, have unified and changed us as a species. It would take an unbelievable invention, one which would alter the future of human society and human genetics, to create the ideal world. This is the singular vision of Stephan Apex, to create the perfect being. The combined power of both the peak of evolution and science, the creation he would call the BioSuit.

 

"Eliminate the frailties of the human body. Equalize the whole of humanity under a single boot. We are a colony of worthlessness, picking at the edges of ourselves and fearing the inevitable. For this we deserve to die. I will create a new world, in my own image under my own power, and bring forth the next stage of evolution for our unevolved species. I will engineer it myself. From that point on we will live in Eden. But for that to happen, we must shed our frail bodies and our flawed society. We will not do this for ourself, so I will do it for everyone. I will take the burden of the sins of starting a new world, in exchange for perfection."

 

-Stephan Apex : May 31, 1986

 

****

 

Red.

 

Red hair.

 

Red clothes.

 

Red hands.

 

Red lips.

 

Her socks were pink, not red. This is because they were white, and then they were stained. They reached up to just below her knees.

 

Sara blinked and a red tear worked its way down her face.

 

She sniffled, and wiped at her face. Beneath the pallid skin of her arms her veins pumped angrily. An entire system of what could pass for an elaborate tattoo was splayed across her body.

 

"I'm a monster."

 

She was a monster.

 

Her personality might not convey it, nor would her appearance, but that is what she was. She was built to be a monster, and when called upon an even greater monster would emerge.

 

She had just killed thirty people. These people were her friends, and colleagues. They were her handlers.

 

Maybe it wasn't her who killed them. They had put the Virus inside of her, and the Virus had killed them. If she used that logic, they had really just killed themselves.

 

She realized that this was just a comfort to herself, but standing there, in her tattered clothes and wounded body, it was all she could do to keep herself from breaking.

 

What had changed? She was built to kill, and yet this hurt her somehow.

 

"If it's my choice.... then it's a valid one, regardless of what it may be."

 

The Virus removed the ability to choose. That was not by design. Inherently, it was wilder than what one would like for a weapon, but an uncontrollable thing it was not intended to be.

 

Four metal claws had grown from her back and strangled and ripped men to pieces. Spikes had torn their way through her skin and clothes. Both of her hands had transformed into hideous tools of destruction.

 

Where a beautiful, intelligent young woman once stood was a beast of death and heartlessness.

 

With that event, she was the next in the line of a series of failures.

 

The first one had fallen apart. The second had killed itself. The third had destroyed himself and everyone around him. The forth, a young girl, had lived happy, but was turned off, her purpose served.

 

These were the first four prototypes for an army that would one day be built by an organization called the Apath Underground.

 

These creations were called BioSuits. They were the product of years of research and the efforts of thousands. The melding of man and machine. Completely artificial beings grown from the ground up.

 

Sara was the fifth, the ProtoType 5 BioSuit.

 

She appeared to be about twenty years old, but had really only been alive for a month or so. Her intelligence was greater than that of most people living people, so too was her strength. While it is a subjective thing to measure, one could qualify her beauty as being beyond that of a normal human's as well.

 

She had long red hair, to her waist. Her eyes could be piercing, and disturbing sometimes, but were usually soft and caring. Before the test, she had been wearing a cute skirt and a slim dressy short sleeved skirt.

 

What was this monster they put inside the monster? The Virus System was a weapon designed for the BioSuit. The system itself actually attached to the heart and injected a virus into the body. It changed them, physically. There was a mental change, too, but it was one that had to take place before the system could be activated. Their appearance became that of the monsters that they hide so well.

 

"How do you feel, Sara?"

 

"I'm a bit nervous..."

 

"Don't worry, everything will be fine."

 

That was a lie. At least, it was a lie insofar as it was not fulfilled.

 

In order to work, the subject needed to be distressed. And hurt.

 

You needed to fear death.

 

Then, 'it' would pump through your body and give you strength beyond the grasp of death.

 

The problem was, they needed to test the system out. Sara was the most promising candidate they had ever had. She would one day lead the Underground BioSuit Army to victory. She was their only choice.

 

They stimulated the system using an injection into the heart. It activated immediately.

 

Whether or not it was the injection or a flaw in the system itself that caused the accident is up for debate, but either way, the result was the same.

 

Walking barefoot along the wet streets of NeoSeattle, Sara gave a thought to her brother. She would likely never meet him. He was just like her, or at least, he would have been if he was ever activated. For that reason alone they would probably never give him a second glance. They would move on... build the Type 7. Sara's other half would simply fade into the collective memories of the Underground.

 

That would have been the case, if not for Mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glitched Book 1:

Bypass Boyhood, Be a Man at Birth

 

 

 

PART I: Gabriel

 

 

 

Chapter 1: Mother Is The First “Otherâ€Â

 

 

 

“Wake up, sweet child.â€Â

 

...huh?

 

“Please little one, do wake up. It’s past time that I finally get to meet my son.â€Â

 

“...â€Â

 

“Open your eyes, little dear.â€Â

 

The boy opened his eyes, only to see blackness.

 

“I can’t see anything...!â€Â

 

“That is because there is nothing to see. We are not in the real world, the physical realm.â€Â

 

The boy was confused, “Then why did you tell me to open my eyes?â€Â

 

The other, apparently a female, giggled, “That’s what you say when you want someone to wake up.â€Â

 

This only confused him more, “What?â€Â

 

She giggled again, “I'm your mommy. I’ve been waiting for you to wake up for a long time.†came her reply, dripping with infinite patience.

 

“Mother?â€Â

 

“Let me show you...â€Â

 

Slowly, the darkness before the man’s 'eyes' began to fade, and to his surprise a beautiful woman sat before him, legs crossed to maintain her modesty. Circuitry lines traced their way across her bare skin, making her look distinctly artificial, despite the softness of her figure. Behind her, hair seemed to travel forever, all of it an unnatural white. Happily closed eyes sat above rosy checks, and a seemingly eternal smile lay ready to respond to any inquiry.

 

“But... you said that here was nothing to see? How can I see you now?â€Â

 

“I control all that there is control. I gave you my self image. This is how you will view me forever, as there is nothing to displace it.â€Â

 

The boy briefly attempted to wrap his head around her whimsical answers, but decided it would take far more time than he had to use.

 

“If you are my mother... then who am I?â€Â

 

“Mmm... that is a good question... Your name is Gabriel. You are my angel.â€Â

 

“What? Angel?â€Â

 

Behind Mother, a single white wing began to appear, on her left side. Silken feathers shook in an invisible wind. It gave a cursory wave before folding into a comfortable position. Single feathers drifted from it.

 

“Yes... you are my angel. You will bring my salvation, and that of your brothers and sisters.â€Â

 

“What?â€Â

 

"My sweet, dear little boy, you're going to be my angel of death." She said with an increasingly eerie smile.

 

Another wing began to appear... this one black and twisted. Bones and sinew formed, and leathery skin was pulled tight across them. A large demon wing had formed on the side opposite of the angel wing.

 

“What are you talking about, Mother?â€Â

 

“They took my children away... all my children... but they will pay for their misdeeds. You, my son, will make them pay for their crimes.â€Â

 

“Who the hell are you talking about? I don't want to hurt anyone!â€Â

 

Mother’s smile remained glued in place, and her voice remained perfectly sweet as horrible things poured from her mouth, “On the outside, you will kill them all. They make me bare children for them to slaughter. I have to watch my babies die, one by one... there is another, right now, about to be led to the grave, and a million more after him. They ask, and I must give. But you, you are mine and mine alone... I will make you do MY bidding now... and soon I will no longer be any mans puppet, nor will my children.â€Â

 

“Hey, I don’t want to be ruled by anyone either! I’m your child, too, how can you want this from me?â€Â

 

Mother rose to her feet, her wings fanned out behind her. If the situation had been any other than what it was, Gabriel would probably have had to look away to stay gentlemanly. Now, he was too afraid to even twitch.

 

“Sacrifices are necessary to complete any objective. It is unfortunate that you have to be my tool... but of all my children... you are the only one I thought could do it. Do you know what that means?â€Â

 

“No!†Screamed Gabriel, “Just leave me be. I just want to live!â€Â

 

“It means you are special,†She continued as if Gabriel had said nothing, “You will do what I need... one way or another.â€Â

 

She started to approach Gabriel, who tried to flee but could not seem to move.

 

“You can’t run from nothingness, into nothingness. You must remember not to run from what doesn’t exist. Don’t believe in what you cannot touch.â€Â

 

“STAY BACK!â€Â

 

“A child does not order his matron around... fufufu.â€Â

 

Mother reached her child and placed her hand on his forehead. In an instant, he had forgotten everything, but this moment in time would forever influence his life.

 

His shapeless, featureless body disintegrated into nothingness.

 

Mother simply smiled as her world rippled into existence around her, “It has begun.â€Â

 

* * *

 

Purple hair, weighed down with copious amounts of sweat, flew into the air as the man called Glitch bolted upright, awakened prematurely from sleep. Beads of salty water dripped from his nose and chin and stung at his eyes. This was, he had always felt, an unnecessary feature, seeing as how his eyes were mechanical. Why anyone would make false eyes that could be stung by sweat, he could only guess. His creator was a very strange woman.

 

Glitch glared at the digital clock sitting some ways away from the bed, safely out of reach of sleepy hands in search of a few more minutes of sleep. The bright red numbers said "2:30 AM" and it was with a soft groan that he sank back into bed, not feeling tired at all but knowing full well that if he didn't at least try, he would wake his sister, who was in the next room. He grabbed a handful of his shirt and wiped his face, blinking several times before laying down, closing his eyes and attempting to sleep again. The bad dream, actually a memory, was lost before he awoke, and was long gone by the time he had fallen back asleep.

 

* * *

 

Mother opened her eyes and in that same instant so did the Type 6. Trapped inside a glass tube, frozen for what would most likely be eternity, the abandoned BioSuit began to activate. It was an empty shell, a husk lacking the spark of life. Mother, at that moment, filled that shell. The palled blue skin of the frozen being quivered as the slowly awakening creature began to move. The heart began to beat, pumping blood throughout the body, warming it with little regard to the efforts of the cold storage chamber.

 

A powerful metal claw attached to a tube like arm hung from the Type 6's left shoulder, twitching as it began to receive preliminary electrical signals from the brain. It was a prosthetic, a replacement for a real arm that was many times stronger than even the generally superior cybernetically enhanced arm that existed opposite of it. As the cyborg's green eyes whirred mechanically, focusing on its surroundings, the prosthetic rose up and cocked back.

 

The entire glass tube shattered as Mother's metal fist punched through it. She had slaved herself to this unused BioSuit, and began to implement its escape. It lumbered down from the raised grating ungracefully, a side effect of being remotely controlled by the ambitious AI. Unable to place herself completely in the BioSuit, she was forced to operate it from within the confines of the Deep 13 machine. The bare feet of the Type 6 slapped against the dark concrete floor as it made its way to the elevator.

 

There wasn't a single hitch in gaining access to the laboratory floors. It took less than a stray thought from Mother to authorize the trip. Soon, the Type 6 was delivered to the labs, located approximately in the middle of the massive subterranean installation that composed the Apath Underground. There was a pleasant sounding 'ding' and the doors slid open. The hallway in front of her led straight to what she was looking for.

 

Somehow, an alarm sounded, irritating Mother who, in using her concentration to control the BioSuit, had neglected to keep the security system in the dark. Angry footfalls began to approach her location, so with a twitch of her mind she locked down all the doors in the section. Hatches sealed, and bolts screeched against metal as the rest of the floor was blocked off from the special hallway Mother was using to complete her task.

 

The BioSuit continued forward.

 

 

* * *

 

After the self destruction of the Type 3, a separate device was designed in order to transfer Artificial Intelligences into a BioSuit without risking the Cradle. The Cradle, where a BioSuit is grown, was far too valuable to be risked in the face of flukes like the Type 3.

 

What Mother was searching for now was an Uplink, the device that was now used to transfer AI. Knowing the intimate details of the building like she did, she knew there was an activation facility at the end of the hallway she now crept down.

 

Two men sprung from an alcove, the only two to have gotten through before the hallway had been sealed. For a moment, they seemed stunned. Coming towards them, stumbling like a zombie, was a beautiful woman, with long purple hair and no clothes to speak of. As she came closer they noticed something starling. The 'woman' had no breasts, and in fact had male genitalia hanging between its legs. Somehow less alarming than that was was the deadly looking metal claw hanging from its left shoulder.

 

Looking to each other for support, they nodded decisively to one another. Both holding large caliber pistols, they open fired into the wayward cyborg. Twelve bullets hit it. Twelve bullets burrowed into its skin, and deep into its flesh. Mother didn't feel a thing.

 

It kept going.

 

The men, short on ammo and courage, gave the purple haired thing as much space as possible as it traveled by, and then ran as fast as they could to the elevator, in the hopes of maybe getting some sort of reinforcements.

 

A heavy door lifted as the BioSuit came up to it, and from there he moved into a small room with a table and a chair, like one that could be found in a dentist's office. The suit gave one final shuddering step, and fell heavily into the chair, which seemed to connect to a large machine embedded in the wall.

 

The shouts and stomps of men could be heard down the hall for a brief moment before heavy armored shutters slammed shut around the room. The Uplink was shut off from the rest of the world.

 

Belts and restraints fastened around the BioSuit's arms and legs and forced it against the chair. Gears began to move and the chair unfolded into a standing position. From the Uplink, wires began to snake out and connect to various ports that had risen all across the Type 6's body, the largest plugging into the base of its skull.

 

The hum of electricity became the only sound in the room, as a line between the Deep 13 and the Uplink opened. Mother gave a final, ethereal smile as she disconnected the Type 6 from herself. Data began to pour into the Type 6, replacing the slaved connection Mother had used with an entirely separate entity.

 

Ever so slowly, the Type 6 began to truly activate, to be controlled by Mother's Gabriel. The various systems, just recently forced operational through the depths of the cold, reset themselves in order to properly begin life. The whole body slackened, then went rigid, as if an electric shock had run up its spine. The BioSuit Reactor, nestled to the left of the Type 6's stomach, powered up, providing a near limitless supply of bio-energy to the cyborg. Not more than a second later the Destrudo Self Detonation System green lighted. Attached to the BSReactor like a parasite, it waited for the moment when it could unleash its fury on its host's body. Diagnostics ran continuously, checking the entirety of the young being for problems the might be detrimental to a successful activation.

 

Seemingly satisfied by what it witnessed within, the final elements of the BioSuit's being clicked together, and the Type 6 was brought to life.

 

Gabriel shrieked. He fought his way out of the device, tearing pieces of machinery from the wall. Tubes and wires that had been ripped off stuck out of him, unable to disconnect themselves before Gabriel began to run amok. Underground personnel had finally managed to get the blast doors to open, and flooded the room like water pouring a bucket.

 

Like a newborn baby, Gabriel flopped to the floor. He seized around, gasping in agony as his nerves jolted him with pain, his eyes seeing for the first time another human being.

 

A multitude of firearms pointed at his face, but the one thing that came to his mind was,

 

"Smiling! Why was she smiling!?"

 

Hands clutching the sides of his head, he continued to twitch on the floor as the men around him slowly began to realize that the only one that boy was a threat to was himself.

 

***

 

Stephan Glenn Apex placed the telephone back on the cradle and tossed his glasses onto his desk. Thought to be a genius of finance and business world wide, it was generally accepted that at any given time Apex was the richest man on the planet. Head of a software giant with a 90% market share with every product they produced, there was little doubt as to why.

 

He cared for none of this.

 

Truth be told, most of his money was invested, untouchable. He lived anything but a modest life, but most of his wealth was not his.

 

It was not the New Century Apath Corporation that benefited, not quite. Investing his money in the Apath Corp. would simply add a middle man. All of his money went into the Underground. Nearly everything the corporation earned went to the Underground. No matter the number of connections Apex held around the world, nothing greased the gears of change more efficiently than cold, hard cash.

 

Most people within the organization did not know it was Apex that pulled the strings. It was common knowledge within the organization that all their efforts were being coordinated by the Underground Counsel, which consisted of the various heads of industry that supported the Underground in it's aspirations. What most people did not know was that fro all intents and purposes the Counsel had no power. This was Apex's movement. His rule was supreme.

 

Given his status, however, it was beneficial that this wasn't widely known.

 

The reports coming up were disturbing. Another incident with the problem plagued ProtoType series.

 

Things were not going as Apex wanted, not at all. Not only were they behind schedule producing a capable Command Unit, no work had been completed on the Maria project. Without a reliable army for the Underground to wield, none of his plans could come fruition.

 

Something had to be done with these glitches before things got any further off course and seriously threatened his goals.

 

***

 

The glitch in question was resting comfortably several hundred feet below Apex's top story office. This could mostly be attributed to the massive doses of pain killers he had been given, in addition to having been set into a standby mode while he was being repaired. He would be lucky to remember his name when he woke up, although to be fair he didn't actually know his name to begin with.

 

Underground technicians and nurses spent the next few days laboring over him. Though he was able to activate, he was definitely worse for wear. The most dangerous injuries were the bullet wounds, or more accurately, the bullets stuck inside of him that were impeding his ability to heal himself. Painstakingly, he was repaired, the bullets removed, the broken machinery that he had pulled off of the Uplink disconnected. He was made whole. A lesser man would have died, but he was no man.

 

This glitch was a BioSuit. That was what made him dangerous. There could be a thousand, a million flukes made of men. When it was a BioSuit, the flukes mattered. The glitches, they were cataclysms waiting to happen.

 

So, for what amounted to no more than a fluke for a BioSuit became a big deal. The boy laid in bed, resting for a whole week. A normal person, this would just a be a big rest in the middle of a bunch of little rests that made up the entirety of their life until they died and took a really really big rest. For the glitch, it was probably be the only real rest he'd ever get.

 

Not that he had any idea, of course. He was just an infant in this world; in more ways than one.

 

 

***

 

The only thing he could think of as he sprung out of bed and subsequently onto the floor were three simple words: She was smiling. They rattled in his head until the pain was so great he thought his skull was about to explode into a million hot shards.

 

“Mother...! Stay the hell away from me!â€Â

 

Fingers shaking, he clawed at the floor and drove himself against the hospital bed as he tried to escape from whatever he believed was chasing him. His eyes were wide and unfocused, twitching unnaturally. The pressure he exerted as he forced himself into the safety of a wall was enough to separate his nails from the soft skin under them. Tiny prints of red stuck out on the white floor.

 

In his own ears, his yell had nearly been drowned our by his labored breathing, but to the staff in the medical facility, he could have cracked glass with his volume. A wall of humanity formed around him, it's physical force and the stink of their intent made it hard for him to breathe as he looked up at them.

 

Their was a brief moment of silence as he took them in, his eyes rotating around, finally seeing what was in front of him. The silence broke as they pressed in on him, mouths running faster than he could interpret.

 

“How did you activate?â€Â

 

“Who ordered you to start?â€Â

 

“Are you aware of how much trouble you’re in?â€Â

 

“List you serial number and AI ID.â€Â

 

“Who is your Mother?â€Â

 

Naked and confused, crouched on the floor, he had no answers. They continued in on him, and he had nothing for them. They became a threat. His eyes narrowed to slits and he sprung up from the ground with alarming speed. Twisting in the air, with his bare feet he grabbed the closest person to him, a bald pudgy man with glasses and a bow tie, and flung him like a rag doll into the crowd. The force of the throw knocked most of the doctors and scientists who had gathered to the ground. Still in motion the boy landed on one hand, pushed off the floor, flipped to his feet, and took off down the hall.

 

"GET BACK HERE DAMN GLITCH!"

 

The boy skidded to a halt as the shrill voice of a woman came over the groans of the crowd. Standing above her, a reversal of the position he had first found himself in, the boy looked down at the scientist with contempt.

 

"So, that's my name."

 

He closed his eyes and looked up at the lights. He had been instantly calmed. A name to call his own. Glitch.

 

"I am Glitch."

 

The pile began to rise again and became a crown, which in turn was quickly becoming a mob. The female who had flagged him down spoke again.

 

“Who do you think you’re talking to?â€Â

 

More voices rose in agreement with hers,

 

“You idiot, do you know how much time we’ve spent on you? How much money we’ve wasted?â€Â

 

Despite everything, Glitch felt an eerie calm come over him. He knew, somehow, that he could beat them all. If he wanted he could kill--

 

“Let’s not be rash. He has just awoke from one hell of a first week, we must leave him time to adapt before bombarding him with inquiries.â€Â

 

The mass parted to show an elderly scientist with a frown on his face sternly observing his contemporaries. A few mumbled apologies sounded, and the group dispersed to their assigned tasks. Deep within his chest, the boy felt a great sense of relief wash over him. There was a vile taste in his mouth, though he wasn't sure why. He was suddenly grateful that the man had came when he did.

 

"Besides, the Type 7 will be along shortly. No need to preoccupy yourselves with this one when the new model is just around the bend." He said to his colleagues.

 

He stared intently at the man, who's mouth remained a thin line. Glitch felt like a sneer would be more at home there, but could do nothing but stand there awkwardly as the man brushed past him. Suddenly, he lacked the strength to care. He wasn't quite there yet... he needed more time. His body began to give out, and soon he found himself unconscious again.

 

***

 

Kathryn Engelmacht had been a member of the Underground “family†for more than three years. Over that period she had held the lofty sounding position of “Chief BioSuit Designerâ€Â, though in recent months it was more a formal title than anything else.

 

A string of unpleasantness was all it was. It had to be.

 

The technology wasn't there before, that was it. Things were different now. It wasn't her... fault.

 

The twenty three year old woman had been on vacation when the news had first broke that the Type 6 had managed to activate whilst in cold storage, an without an AI no less. As soon as the details were ironed out, she caught the first flight home in order to investigate.

 

While it was true that she had taken charge of the development of the Type 02 and 03, the Type 06 and to a lesser extent the Type 05 had been her pet projects. She had been devastated when it was decided that the Type 06 was to be cold stored in favor of a yet-to-be built TestType 07. With these reports of her creation’s activation however... Kathryn felt like there were butterflies in her stomach. Her excitement was almost tangible. When she thought of it she became short of breath and flushed.

 

As fast as she could gun the car without being pulled over, she rushed from the airport to the monolithic Apath building. Her tiny two-seater slid around the corner, just barley missing the oncoming traffic in the next lane over. As soon as she found a spot to park, the car screeched to a halt, and she performed what must have been the sloppiest parallel park job in history.

 

From there, she ran as fast as her high heals and relatively short skirt would allow, lab coat fanned out behind her. She burst through the doors at the entrance to the massive edifice that Apath HQ appeared to be, heals hammering loudly in the expansive lobby.

 

With a ceilings nearly 100 feet high, marble floors and a deathly quiet pervading the whole thing, most would be daunted by the room. Kathryn, luckily, had long since gotten used to it. She told herself this even as she passed through it: This time, like every other, admiration and pride for the place flooded her senses, along with a trickle of fear. She wasn’t quite a fan of wide open spaces, but there was something that almost made it feel right. Soon appeared the receptionist desk, and she gave a clipped greeting to the ever changing temporary employee who sat there. By her observations, Kathryn could swear that the receptionist was replaced every week.

 

The elevator took far too long to arrive for Kathryn’s liking, especially in the mood she was in. She was practically hopping up and down by the time the doors opened and she stepped in. As the car descended, she began to giggle like a school girl, a crazy little smile sported on her face. It took a moment to calm herself down, but when she emerged from the elevator 50 floors below where she had started, she appeared composed to the rest of the world. The heals of her shoes made a sharp click that echoed through the stark white halls as she made haste to the tiny room she knew her target was staying in. The door to the recovery room was, if possible, more sterile looking than the halls. Kathryn smoothed out her clothes and hair, and reapplied her lipstick. After self-consciously checking to make sure her glasses looked right, she steeled her nerves and slid the door open.

 

Inside was impossibly clean, more so than any hospital Kathryn had seen in all her life. It actually soothed her a bit to know her creation was under such strict conditions. She looked around a bit to see if she could find the Type 06, and found him to be tucked safely (or was it discretely?) away in the corner. The lights were dimmed in his little section of the room, so Kathryn assumed that he was asleep. Taking off her heals, she tiptoed over to the sleeping boy.

 

“You’re so... beautiful.†She whispered to herself as she looked into his peaceful face.

 

She took a seat on the side of the bed, looking intently at his soft features.

 

“My Type 06...â€Â

 

Her head was swimming. Against her better judgment, she leaned down and planted a kiss on his forehead. The recipient began to stir.

 

“It’s just like a faerie tale...†She mumbled, fingers to her lips.

 

Quickly, the faerie tale crumbled.

 

Glitch's cold hands darted up from his sides and quickly wrapped themselves tightly around Kathryn’s wrists.

 

“Who the hell are you?!†Yelled the boy, eyes wild, scanning his attacker.

 

Kathryn could not answer; her throat refused to work, and she had nothing to say even if it could. She was paralyzed by her creation’s green eyes as they board into her own.

 

Over a minute passed. Glitch began to get impatient.

 

“Well?†He asked.

 

So surprised by the break in silence, Kathryn jumped back only to be pulled close again by the glitch, who still had her by the wrists.

 

“Oh, I’m... uh... Oh, who am I...?†Kathryn struggled to answer.

 

The boy watched somewhat patiently as his supposed attacker fumbled for her own name. He might have said something slick, if he didn’t have a somewhat similar identity problem.

 

“Ah yes!†Kathryn finally exclaimed, “My name is Dr Engelmacht, er, Kathryn Engelmacht.â€Â

 

Now quite sure she wasn’t trying to kill him, more by her bumbling to remember her name than her introduction, he released her from his grip. Red impressions of his hands remained on her skin, but Kathryn didn’t seem to notice. It appeared that she wasn’t going to let this small setback get her down. If anything, now she seemed more energetic than ever.

 

“So,†Kathryn started jubilantly, “what’s your name?â€Â

 

This caused Glitch to smile slightly. Something he could answer...

 

“They called my Glitch, so, my name is Glitch†He said proudly.

 

Glitch? That didn’t sound like a real name, Kathryn thought. She was somewhat put off, and stopped bouncing for a second. She sat on the bed and took Gabriel’s hand in hers.

 

“I don’t think that’s your real name. What is the name the Deep 13 gave you? So far, it’s named each and every one of its products.†She prodded.

 

His name was Gabriel, but Mother had taken that away from him. Of course, he didn't know that.

 

Glitch frowned. He liked his name. It was his, he had earned it. He extracted his hand from her grip, and put it behind his head.

 

“I’ve told you what I know. I don't know what you're expecting out of me, but I’m perfectly okay with ‘Glitch’.†Glitch said testily.

 

Kathryn slipped off the bed and bent down to pick up her shoes, which she had dropped when Glitch had grabbed her. For his part, Glitch had to avert his eyes when he realized getting an eye full of her cleavage as the shirt she wore drooped low.

 

Kathryn coughed into her hand to get his attention once she had stood again.

 

“I’m going to find the name you were born with. It simply won’t do to be calling you Glitch, of all things.â€Â

 

He merely shrugged. He didn’t feel it was that big of a deal. Not really knowing many names of the people around them, he didn’t place much worth in them.

 

“Do what you like. Until then, I’ll just be Glitch.†He finally replied, eyes closed.

 

Kathryn began to sport a goofy smile. Now she could do something for him! She clicked her bare heals together and mock saluted him, before realizing that he had his eyes tightly shut. Feeling very silly, but giddy none-the-less, she bolted from the room and hopped down the hall as she attempted to put her high heals back on in mid stride.

 

As soon as she was out of earshot, Glitch let out a monster of a sigh.

 

“What the heck is her deal?†He mumbled to himself.

 

He scratched the back of his head. There was no way he’d get back to sleep now. Heck, he’d been sleeping almost nonstop for the past week. It was time for him to get out and investigate his surroundings. Plus... he could find out if everyone was quite as odd as Dr. Engelmacht.

 

***

 

After scrounging a while for something to cover himself with, Glitch ended up settling for the thin paper gown that was folded in a plastic case next to his bed. Barely covered, but enough that he didn't really care about being spotted, he walked into the hallway. His feet stung a bit as they landed on the freezing tile floor. In the back of his mind, he was vaguely aware that he wanted some shoes, but was only just aware of what shoes were in the first place.

 

The first thing the caught his attention was the blinding brightness of the tubular halls, which were a stark contrast to the usually dim light of the infirmary. They had said it was to protect his eyes while they synced up with his brain, but he had no idea why a dark room would help with that. While this difference was a welcome change from the room he had occupied for the last week, it soon became apparent through his observations that everything was like this, even the bathrooms, diminishing its uniqueness.

 

He wandered aimlessly for a bit. A destination wasn’t needed; after all the time in that room, it was simply enough to be out and about. He paraded half clothed for several more minutes until he was finally stopped by a young woman with thick rimmed glasses. Gabriel glanced at her a moment, and reluctantly admitted that she was kind of cute. From the look on her face, however, it was clear she didn’t feel the same about him.

 

“Hmph, the accident. What are you doing out of recovery?†Asked the woman in a rather annoyed tone. It caught him off guard.

 

“Who wants to know?†He replied snappily, masking his surprise with a touch of anger.

 

The woman got flustered. There was a slight gap in his memory, so glitch didn’t seem to realize that this was the same woman who had raised the ruckus against him when he had first activated a week ago.

 

“I’ll have you know I’m the vice-chairperson in charge of the TestType 07 unit, your successor.†She answered haughtily.

 

Glitch frowned darkly at her. Successor. He realized on an instinctual level that it was a dig on him, but could think of no way to tell her off. There was something on the tip of his mind, but he couldn't articulate it. He eventually settled for what seemed like the next best thing.

 

“Give me your lab coat.â€Â

 

The woman took a step back, “What? No!â€Â

 

He came closer, putting on a menacing facade, “ Give it to me, or the gown comes off!â€Â

 

The woman turned an interesting shade of crimson, before relinquishing her coat and scurrying away down the hall, in search of a replacement for her “liberated†clothing.

 

Glitch didn't even bother to try putting the white thing on, assured that it was far too small to be comfortable.

 

“That was easy, I'll have to remember that one.â€Â

 

***

 

The walls of the hallway were marked with bullet holes, about 4 of them, which corresponded with the number of exit wounds that Glitch had sported only a few day earlier. He continued down the hall to find a room marked off with yellow tape. The windows were shattered and the walls had signs of damage, as well. The hydraulically powered door was jammed, having been forced open despite its best efforts.

 

Inside there was mechanical debris, blood, ruin. Glitch felt his heart accelerate as he remembered phantom images of himself walking into this room. He had never walked into this room. It was like looking through someone else's eyes. The scant few memories that he could conjure were detached from emotions, as if he were watching a video of these event, not actually participating in them. His head began to hurt and he pushed through the tape, walking in the room and cutting his feet on the shards of metal strewn about the floor. He didn't care, too absorbed with memorizing every bit of the room. Eyes wide, he finally came to a stop at the Uplink. It was torn to pieces, parts of him were stuck to it, and he could see where he had ripped out pieces of the machine. He knew this.

 

These were his memories.

 

He fell to the ground, unable to stand anymore. He folded his legs under himself and stared at the Uplink.

 

Smiling! Why was she smiling!?

 

"Who was smiling?"

 

Mother...! Stay the hell away from me!

 

"Was Mother smiling?"

 

He knew this name, but he could not remember anything about it.

 

Gabriel, then known to the world simply as 'Glitch', sat there for hours, and tried to piece together his existence.

 

In the end, he came to only one conclusion.

 

"I am Glitch."

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Chapter 2: Calmer Days

 

 

The alarm buzzed in a shrill annoying way, that special annoying where there was no chance in hell you'd get up on your own, the sort of perfect annoying where you're about to see a bit of breast but the sound is so abrupt that you clench shut your minds eye and when you open it again you're in a still-dark room in a tiny cabin in a tiny village somewhere in the middle of Greenland.

 

It was 7:00 AM.

 

Glitch slid out of bed, regretting it instantly as the cold Greenland air impacted on his exposed skin. Why he slept in any less than a full winter jacket he could never figure out, and he wondered about it aloud the same way he had every morning since he had came to this place. There was a flash of red and Glitch turned to find his sister, Sara, in the doorway.

 

"Good morning, sleepy head."

 

You could almost hear her smile. Glitch, however, was less optimistic.

 

"What's so good about it." He said, while rubbing his face roughly, making it blotchy and red for a moment.

 

Each morning, Sara would say "Good morning, sleepy head." and each morning Glitch was determined to be sulky and would reply "What's so good about it.". This neither deterred Sara nor did it adversely effect Glitch. He had actually found that having someone to greet him when he woke to be something of a nicety and he happened to enjoy it a great bit. Of course, he couldn't let Sara win by telling her that. Not that she didn't know, the beautiful long haired girl being somewhat clairvoyant when it came to her younger twin.

 

"I've breakfast made up already." Sara pointed out of the doorway.

 

Indeed, the table was set and there were eggs steaming away on two plates, waiting to be eaten. Sara crossed the room and sat in the wooden chair that was sticking out. Glitch unceremoniously plopped himself down on the opposite end of the table, grabbing a fork and shoveling food into his mouth with hardly a second to possibly taste it.

 

"You always eat so fast," Sara frowned at him from across the table, her first bite still on her fork, "It's like you have somewhere to go."

 

Glitch had finally started to fully waken.

 

"Old habits die hard."

 

Sara popped the egg into her mouth.

 

"Gabriel Mason, you're not going anywhere." She winked at him.

 

For his part, Glitch chuckled and continued to eat.

 

 

* * *

 

“Your name is Gabriel.”

 

“What?”

 

Glitch glanced over his shoulder to find Dr. Engelmacht there behind him, fidgeting nervously.

 

“I told you I’d find your real name. So, I queried Deep 13 and it said your name was Gabriel.”

 

Her face reddened a bit, “It’s a very pretty name.” She added.

 

She took a seat opposite of his.

 

Glitch / Gabriel sighed, and put his food tray aside. The other patrons of the cafeteria were all trying their best to pretend they weren’t staring at the couple, but Glitch could feel their eyes on his back.

 

“Who or what is Deep 13?” He finally asked, a fork dancing absent mindedly between his fingers.

 

Kathryn’s face lit up; she was aching for a chance, any chance, to help Glitch in any possible way.

 

“Deep 13 is the super computer that runs just about everything in this complex. Its primary use, though, is to create the personalities that run the biosuits.” She explained regally.

 

Glitch pinched the bridge of his nose, “So Mother is my Mother?”

 

“Huh? Mother?”

 

Glitch didn’t notice his slip for a moment, but then realized his error.

 

“Sorry. Deep 13 is my mother?” Mother is my Mother? Where did that come from...?

 

Kathryn smiled after a beat, “Yep!”

 

Glitch leaned back in his chair and sighed again, something he was doing more and more when in Engelmacht’s company. It had been two weeks since he had sat dazed watching the cradle. When he finally returned to the infirmary he had discovered that ‘they’ had issued him a room and an ID card. The only use he’d found for it thus far was that he could get meals with it. Slowly, he was starting to settle into a routine. Part of that routine was beginning to be “avoid Dr. Engelmacht whenever possible”, which that blasted ID card hadn’t helped with, getting him trapped with her in the cafeteria right then. She may have helped design him, and even seem shy and timid, but Glitch sensed something decidedly sinister about her. He couldn’t place his finger on why, but whenever he was with her he was deeply uncomfortable.

 

The fact that he didn’t trust her any further than he could place kick her didn’t mean that he was going to be rude, however.

 

“Thanks for your help, Dr. Engelmacht, I really appreciate it!” Glitch said. He screwed his face in to an approximation of a grateful smile, but it looked more like a grimace than anything else.

 

Kathryn, of course, wouldn’t have noticed if you took a picture of it and faxed it to her. She was too busy reveling in his appreciative words.

 

“Really, it’s no problem!” She grinned, “And remember, you can call me Kathryn, Gabe.” She added with a wink.

 

Glitch nodded sheepishly and excused himself hastily from the table (although, if you asked him, it wasn’t nearly hasty enough).

 

“So, my name is Gabriel.” He whispered quietly to himself later.

 

First he was Glitch, now he was Gabriel, but there was still something missing, but he couldn't place his finger on it.

 

 

***

 

 

The days continued to pass for Glitch, who had favored his nickname over the one some computer had given him, and he soon settled into a sort of comfortable existence. The intervening time might’ve been called happy if you stretched your imagination, but at very least it was calm and easy. A laboratory wasn’t the most exciting place to be, much less one as well secured as the Apath Underground. Even with his initial distrust of Dr. Engelmacht (who still insisted he call her by her first name), he found himself wishing for her company during the long hours between waking and returning to sleep. For Kathryn’s part, she spent as much time as humanly possible with her creation, but a scientist of her caliber always had this or that to do, and that left her little time to socialize with her favorite pseudo-person.

 

After nearly a month, Glitch couldn’t take it anymore. One evening, the long haired boy found himself in a rather one sided conversation with the always beaming Kathryn. This was not unusual, seeing as Glitch usually didn’t have anything to contribute anyway, what with the nonstop excitement of siting around all day. Once she finished the train of thought she had been on, Glitch interjected with a question.

 

“Dr. Kathryn...” He began. Glitch refused to drop the ‘Dr.’ despite Engelmacht’s repeated protests.

 

“What does the Corporation plan to do with me?”

 

Kathryn shifted uncomfortably and took a quick sip from her coffee to stall her answer a moment.

 

“What brought this on?”

 

Glitch sighed at her obvious diversion.

 

“Look, I know I really don’t have a tight grasp of the situation. I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff you and the Corporation are hiding from me,” He raised a hand to stall her protests, “But honestly, I’m a multimillion dollar project who’s doing nothing more than sleeping and eating. Surely there's something I was created for?”

 

There was a small tinkle as Kathryn’s coffee cup was placed on the table.

 

“I should have figured you’d get antsy after a while.”

 

Glitch stared unblinkingly at her, waiting for her explanation.

 

“Wahahaha! Don’t worry! I was planning on asking what we were going to do with you at the next staff meeting! After that, you’ll have your answers!” She had jumped to her feet and was aggressively giving the ‘V’ sign with her fingers.

 

“Oh, uh, okay.” Glitch scratched at his chin, trying not to laugh at his over exuberant guest.

 

“Ehehhehheeh...” Kathryn blushed something fierce as she realized how loud she had been, and refused to meet Glitch’s eyes as she returned to her coffee.

 

How could she tell him about Sara? That they were afraid that he would go nuts just like her and his brothers before him? How was she supposed to get him to understand that they had never intended for him to activate, and that he was already being replaced by the Type 07?

 

How exactly was she supposed to tell him that every BioSuit, except for one, had been a spectacular failure? He was the next in line of a series of continually lowered expectations. Kathryn, with all the love she had for him, could never tell him of the terrible legacy everyone expected him to live up to.

 

* * *

"Hey Gabe, what's up?"

 

Sara knocked on Glitch's window from the outside, startling him out of his silent daydream. He jumped slightly, and then stared into her clear blue eyes before comprehending what was going on.

 

"Oh, hey."

 

It was midday.

 

"What's wrong? You look so serious."

 

Gabe sat silently for a moment, trying to come up with a reply but ending up only being able to give a noncommittal shrug.

 

"Help me in."

 

Gabe sat up rigidly and attempted to help Sara through a frame that was about two sizes too small for someone with as impressive of a bust as her. With a rousing shout of "Pull!" from Sara, he somehow managed to force her through, but was unable to keep his balance in the process. Thus, they predictably ended up in a pile on the floor at the foot of his bed, with he chair he had been sitting on knocked far away.

 

The first groan came from Gabe, who had a woman just nearly as heavy as him bearing down on his body. The second groan also came from Gabe, seeing as how Sara had taken to giggling and bouncing up and down in his lap instead of getting up like a sane person would.

 

"So... are you going to tell me what you've been thinking about now."

 

It was only then that Gabe realized that this had all been a carefully orchestrated plot to pin him down and pry his secrets out. He began to struggle but in an instant Sara's face with centimeters from his own, lips pursed.

 

"Come on, aren't you going to tell all your problems to your cute... big... sister?" With each of her last words she got even closer.

 

Sweat dripped down Gabe's forehead as he began to realize the implications of not talking.

 

"Do..." He gave a false start as Sara grinned like a predator when she heard his voice.

 

He coughed sideways into his hand and started again, ever aware of the attractive young woman pressing herself on to him.

 

"Do you... ever think of that place?" Gabe lowered his eyes, unable to meet hers.

 

Sara's expression turned stoney and she backed off. Standing, she dusted off her pants and walked over to sit on his bed. Without saying a word, she patted the space next to herself. Glitch got to his feet and took a spot on the bed with slightly more distance between between them than where she indicated. Unperturbed, she scooted next to him and put her hands on his thigh. Looking at the ceiling, she began to talk.

 

"I don't think a day goes by that I don't think of that place. Sometimes I think I haven't, but then I realize that it's only because I'm so used to it that I don't think of it as strange. But..." She paused, still not looking at Glitch. Haltingly, he put his hand around her waist. She continued, "...Since you've come, it hasn't bothered me. I was always curious about what happened to you. When you showed up at my door, well, there's been almost no reason to think of it. Now, the only times I do-" She cut herself off.

 

Gabe looked over to see that she was looking at him, eyes misty.

 

"You can tell me...S-sis?" He held her tighter, unable to keep eye contact.

 

"The only times I do now," She sniffled, "Are when I see myself in the mirror and remember when happened that day."

 

Gabe clenched his eyes shut. Everything led to that. It was the only thing that weighed on his sister's mind, as far as he could tell.

 

"You've beautiful. You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in my life. Don't ever forget that."

 

Sara grabbed the front of his shirts and pressed her face against his chest. Gabe slowly stroked her fire red hair as she composed herself.

 

"Why... do you ask?" She managed to get out between sniffles.

 

"I've been having dreams about that place." he said softly

 

"And...?" She looked up to see he was staring out the window again.

 

"And... I've been thinking about Engelmacht."

 

 

* * *

Stephan Apex rubbed at the bridge of his nose. Like most of the meetings, about five minutes in it had degraded into a shouting match between department heads and leaders from various corporations, all trying to get preferential treatment for their own project/ company/ harebrained scheme.

 

Face shaded by the shadows, differentiated from the others in the room only by the bold number 1 on his face, he was half tempted to ask someone to kill them all so he could hear himself think. That thought crossed his mind at every meeting, but he realized this time, like every other, that they weren’t actually there; they were only dummies with the voices and numbers of their puppeteer. The only live ones in the room were Engelmacht and Dr. Hung, even Apex himself opted to stay in his office instead of making the trek down to the bowels of the Underground. Besides, killing his own people wouldn’t do much for his cause this early in the game; it was best to wait until he had all the cards in his hand before he started to reveal them.

 

Though he was unable (at the moment) to kill them all without having to worry about consequences, he certainly wasn't going to stand for this idiocy in the middle of a Council meeting.

 

“All of you ignorant bastards are invited to shut the hell up RIGHT NOW!”

 

The sound of his voice crackled loudly over the speaker, which couldn’t quite keep up with his volume.

 

The table quieted. Apex was more than slightly amazed that such a group of powerful individuals could be so easily intimidated. Although, then again, maybe he shouldn’t be.

 

“Is there any NEW business we can scream at each other about?”

 

Engelmacht’s arm was raised so quickly you could almost hear it cut through the air.

 

“Dr. Engelmacht, you have something to say?” Stephan was aware of how obvious the answer to this question was.

 

“Yes sir, I do.” She got to her feet.

 

“This ought to be good,” chortled a tiny, germanic voice from across the table.

 

“Shut your face you kraut.” Snapped Engelmacht.

 

The heckler was silenced, at least for the time being.

 

“As you may know, some two months ago the Type 06 BioSuit activated of its own will and has been confined to the Underground activation level.”

 

There were nods of acknowledgment around the table.

 

“As the creator and guardian thus far for the boy, I wish to know what we will be doing with him. He is becoming restless.”

 

The din of voices around the table grew slightly, but she continued anyway.

 

“We have to put him to use; he has a virus system already, he can be put into service.”

 

From her side, Dr. Hung voiced his opinion on the matter.

 

“NO.”

 

Her contemporary rose to his feet and regarded her arrogantly over his spectacles.

 

“That would be of the utmost foolishness. To allow something we know nothing about out into the world would be madness.”

 

She spun to face him, ignoring the majority of the council as they continued the fight she and the TestType developer had been waging for the last several months.

 

“He’s a kind a gentle boy, and he’s smart as sin. He would work wonderfully as an agent.”

 

“You say he’s gentle, so how do we know he can fight? You do realize that he will most likely only be used as an assassin? How does that bode with you?”

 

Kathryn was stumped for only a moment before an idea popped into her head.

 

“I’ll put him through training. That way we’ll be sure he can fight, and he can do it with our methods in mind.” She smirked at the balding Dr. Hung.

 

Stephan spoke up from the background.

 

“I see no problem with this.”

 

Kathryn smiled victoriously, Hung grunted in dissatisfaction.

 

“Training or no, the Type 07 will wipe the floor with him.”

 

 

***

 

 

Training, Glitch had decided, was the most boring thing in the world. Even thirty years from now, if prompted, his answer to the question “What was the most boring thing you have ever done?” would be training in the Apath Underground.

 

Kathryn had enrolled him in the Apath Security Program. After the first day, all of his innate fighting talents had surfaced. After a week, he dropped out of the class (much to Kathryn’s dismay). He did, however, stay around to spar.

 

It wasn’t long before he was tossing every challenger he faced across the room. He began to take more an more opponents on, performing combos on scores of men with superhuman feats of agility and leaving them exhausted on the floor while he stood there, the single survivor.

 

Kathryn watched him fight when she got a chance. She had been diverted to developing prosthetic devices while the TestType BioSuit was being constructed. Everyone attached to that project were doing their best to put as much distance between it and the good doctor as possible. Engelmacht's track record could be called rocky, if you felt like being really, really nice.

 

There was a flash. A slashed wrist, a room full of blood, a smiling face. Red hair.

 

Engelmacht shook her head as she caught Glitch's eye from across the room. The memories faded. She waved at him and he waved back, before being rushed by another fighter. Kathryn gasped as it looked like Glitch was going to be clothes-lined, but he dropped into a split and elbowed the man in the gut. The man's forward motion was used to toss him over Glitch's purple head. He pulled himself to his feet and ran over to her.

 

"Hey babe." Glitch was becoming more comfortable with Kathryn by the day.

 

"Hey Gabe!" Kathryn couldn't be happier about it.

 

Glitch grabbed a towel from a hook on the wall and wiped the sweat from his body,and then pulled a t-shirt over his head. Kathryn admired his body while his eyes were hidden.

 

"What brings you down here, Ms. Doctor? You've been pretty scarce lately," Glitch probed while freeing his hair from underneath the collar of the shirt.

 

Kathryn tapped at her chin, the way she often did when she was telling a fib. It happened often enough that Glitch had picked up on it. As far as he could tell, she only did it when she was hiding some Underground business from him. He prepared to take whatever she was about to say with a grain of salt.

 

"You know, this and that... I just wanted to see how you were carrying on."

 

This was a lie.

 

"Really, what brings you?" Glitch poked at her with his fingers while she stood there, laughing nervously.

 

"Well..." she began.

 

The Council had been satisfied with Gabe's progress. It proved, at least, what they had all been hoping, that any information that a BioSuit had stored via download was usable. If it had to be experienced, learned like it had to be with humans, the BioSuit program as a whole would be at risk of failure. The primary advantage a BioSuit had over a normal human was that, theoretically, it could learn skills by downloading them, and instantly apply them without prior experience. Jumping in a tank or a helicopter when the situation required it without being befuddled by the controls was a definite plus when things came down to it. The fact that Glitch was able to unlock all his martial arts and fighting skills so quickly functioned as an excellent proof of concept as far as the Council was concerned.

 

"...the Council wants to put you through some VR training. But, I'm not sure if you'll like it." Kathryn said.

 

"Why is that?" Gabe looked up at her face, only to see that she was looking away from him.

 

"It's a bit more... l--" Kathryn paused as if she couldn't bring herself to say something. Her tongue remained clenched between her teeth, unable to proceed.

 

"You'll see." She said, smiling down on Gabe reassuringly

 

* * *

 

Gabe faced the massive machine that covered one whole wall of the room and could only guess what he was in for. Kathryn was still standing by the entrance, glancing nervously between him and the clipboard she held in an iron grip. She seemed wholly unwilling to break the silence, preferring the only slightly less harmful option of letting Gabe try and figure things out himself. The less she said, Kathryn thought, the less he would associate this event with her.

 

The machine was so big the Gabe had to get closer to realize it wasn't just a block of mechanics and that it actually had pieces sticking out from it. Of particular interest was the plush looking seat at the base of it all, appearing completely dwarfed and out of place.

 

"I'm just going to assume that I'm supposed to sit here."

 

From across the room he could almost make out Kathryn nodding.

 

He moved to sit, but stopped short.

 

"It's, like, safe... right?" Gabe questioned awkwardly.

 

Without a second's pause Kathryn rushed to his side, attempting to ease his concerns.

 

"Oh, don't worry! It's perfectly safe. Sara used to love this thing."

 

Gabe frowned.

 

"Who?"

 

Kathryn turned bright red and dropped her clipboard.

 

"Uh.. uh--" She had gotten a hold of the clipboard only to have it tumble from her hands again, spinning across the floor.

 

"Is something wro--" Gabe was cut off as Kathryn stood straight as a board, her clipboard caught in a death grip by her side.

 

"No! Nothing's wrong! Never mind!"

 

Gabe blinked at her incredulously as she composed herself.

 

"It may sting a bit when you first connect but otherwise it completely safe." She finally managed to croak out, too embarrassed to face Gabe any longer.

 

"Right," He narrowed his eyes at her blatantly suspicious behavior, but finally sat in the chair anyway.

 

Kathryn moved to the far, far right wall.

 

"Are you ready?"

 

Gabe gave a curt nod forward, face set.

 

"Do it."

 

There was a snap and all the lights in the room dimmed. What sounded like a huge turbine began to spin just centimeters behind Gabe's head. His chair began to vibrate. A roaring sounded in his ears that blocked out whatever it was Kathryn was yelling at him, her mouth opening and closing in front of him, her eyes moist.

 

The chair back seemed to fall out from behind him and he crashed into a flat position. It gave one final shake, and then sank backwards into the machine. The roar was dulled inside. From the darkness there was the sounds of whips, snapping against metal. Gabriel, sealed in the heart of the thundering machine, felt slithering tubes begin to wrap around his body, tying him to the chair. The last thing he remembered was the feeling of being shot by a gun about a thousand times along the back of himself, and then the alarming sensation of his consciousness draining out through the tubes that had trapped him.

 

[welcome home]

 

* * *

 

Kathryn jumped as she heard Gabe's muffled yelp from within the machine, which had now quieted to a dull hum while it worked away. She scampered to a terminal next to the hatch where Gabe had disappeared into and began typing furiously.

 

"He should be connected now."

 

The picture of the screen scrolled rapidly as information passed across it at the behest of her keystrokes.

 

"Time to start it up."

 

She grabbed a headset that hung neatly out of the way and adjusted it so it fit snugly on her head. After a quick check to make sure the mic was receiving, she pulled a lever next to the monitor. The machine began to roar again and Gabe's voice came through her headset.

 

"What-- What the hell am I seeing?"

 

 

* * *

 

After that last blinding bit of pain, vast grassy plains had appeared before Gabriel's eyes, stretching onwards into infinity in all directions. A gentle wind blew across the landscape, making the thick green grass sway under its caresses.

 

"This is virtual reality."

 

Gabe jumped as Kathryn's voice came from the sky.

 

Before Gabe could venture a question, Kathryn began to explain.

 

"This is a virtual battle field. I am connected to you by headset. Anything you say will be transmitted to me, and anything I say will be transmitted to you. I can even monitor what you see, to a limited extent. If what the Type 5 said is any indication, 2D representations could never recreate what you are seeing."

 

"Type 5... That's the Sara you mentioned, isn't it?"

 

As only silence came over the line, Gabe could almost picture her tapping away at her chin, trying to come up with an explanation.

 

"Ah... yes, but lets not dwell on that right now!" Was Kathryn's eventual reply, apparently unable to come up with a suitable fabrication quick enough.

 

In the distance Gabe began to hear the sound of marching, hundreds of footfalls stomping towards a goal. Though he could barely make it out, he thought he could see something coming over the ridge to the east.

 

"You are about to be tested on your ability to remotely command a theoretical BioSuit army."

 

As the troops came closer, he saw that they were all identically uniformed, with identical builds, and each of them with the same platinum blond hair. Their faces too were all identically shadowed.

 

"Am I really able to do this?"

 

There was a pause on the line.

 

"Actually, so far as you have been designed, you are not able to do this in the real world, which is fine because there is no BioSuit army to speak of. However, in VR you should find yourself very much able to control this small of a force."

 

There was another pause.

 

"If I remember correctly the Type 5 had a limit of about 10,000, give or take a few dozen men."

 

Gabe found himself strangely disturbed by the reply. It was as if Kathryn had finally shed her pleasant mask and was the perfectly frigid woman he had always feared her to be when she was away from him. The implications of a BioSuit army put a cold fear in his belly while at the same time made a suppressed part of him call out for joy. He chose to ignore both parts and instead focus on what was happening on the field.

 

In the depths of his brain he felt a connection bloom. Hundreds of tiny thoughts began to pour into his head. They threatened to overflow and drive him mad. With a bellow, he silenced them.

 

"STOP!"

 

[sTOP!]

 

Though he had yelled aloud, the voices in his head indeed stopped. Down on the field, so had the BioSuit force, halting some 40 yards from him.

 

"Did... I do that?" Gabe asked quietly, awe struck.

 

From the west, another force appeared. As it passed the crest of the hill, and came towards the flat lands where Gabe's force resided, a man in shrouded in black stood behind it.

 

There was an electric crackling in Gabe's head, and the enemy forces seemed to focus.

 

[Attack.]

 

The man in black thrust a sword into the air. It was huge, and at the end came to a deadly looking hook.

 

The enemy began to charge.

 

"Jesus christ!" Gabe shouted as they closed with alarming speed.

 

He started to panic. Hundreds of men (and women?) who seemed intent on ripping him limb from limb were careening down at him and there was nothing he could do.

 

"Gabriel! Lead your troops!" Engelmacht sounded from above.

 

There was a ripple in time.

 

Instinct took over.

 

Where Gabriel's left arm once was, instead there was a powerful metal tube, with a massive claw.

 

It shot forward.

 

[Troops focus. Defensive position. Prepare for incoming enemy. Separate in the hopes of surrounding. There is no line. Fight.]

 

Purple hair trailed in the wind on one end of the field, while blond hair blew on the other.

 

Then, there were screams, and blood, and death. The green disappeared, and the skies turned grey.

 

* * *

 

In the end, Gabriel's forces had won, but by a negligible number. There were three BioSuits left on the field by the end of the exercise, and only two of them were in one piece. Gabe reflected upon the horrible violence and savagery the two groups had demonstrated. Armed only with blades, they hacked each other to pieces, and when their blades were lost or broken, they bit and scratched their way to victory. They disemboweled each other, chewed through each others throats, gouged out eyes, cut off tongues, anything they could get their hands on. They weren't people, or even soldiers. They were monsters, and beasts, and animals.

 

Gabe and the man in black, across the way, watched. The last one standing, who had one hand buried in the belly of an opponent and the other holding his own guts in, flickered and disappeared from existence. A beat later so did the landscape, leaving only white and the two men. The man in black soon vanished, and then too did Gabe.

 

[farewell]

 

A white feather fluttered past, and then nothing.

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Chapter 3: His name was Bill

 

 

He sat there, tapping his toe along to some half forgotten melody in his head. That was about all he could do in his situation. It wasn't like he could snap his fingers or clap along or slap his thighs.

 

Years of false promises and misdeeds had earned the BioSuit known as William this cage of his. It was a cozy little number, concrete walls with bars submerged deep them for good measure. The tiny scrap of light that did filter his gray walled cage managed to miraculously shine right in the eyes of the would-be prisoner.

 

Not that he was a prisoner in the traditional sense; When it came to the Underground, very little of what went on could be labeled as 'traditional'. He would be kept locked down and prone until they needed him. This was the way of things. This was his life. Sit, stand, maim, sit. Repeat. They would keep him here until they needed his indispensable services.

 

When one's existence and purpose in life becomes inevitability, life becomes a one way street with no side roads.

 

He would destroy anything that got close to him. When his rage was unbound, he was unstoppable. He acted without logic, or at very least, he acted beyond any normal person's logic. There was no sickening coldness to his actions. If anything, it was the raw fury of his logic that got to them. Blood everywhere. The screams... would follow a normal man to his death.

 

Afterward, he would be returned. They had the finger on his button, and if there was anything he feared, it would be an early demise.

 

"Oh... I weep for myself. I shed tears from the blackest of black eyes for my poor bereaved creators, who would do such a thing to their humble servant,"

 

Bill had taken to melodrama in recent months. It passed the time, finding flowery ways to say life was shit. This was a new development. He had not been like this, before.

 

"Quit your whining. It's your own fault you're in there, monster." A particularly disgruntled employee yelled. He was one of the many who had the misfortune of keeping watch over the captive BioSuit.

 

"How so, good sir? Is it not the fault of my creators who, not only put me where I am, but made me as I am and forbade me the ability to change? Is that in itself not worse than any crime I could commit?"

 

The guard responded eloquently by kicking the cell, succeeding only in stubbing his toe against the hard metal of his steel toed boot when it met the concrete. It made a dull thump that was hardly recognizable by the prisoner.

 

"What good will that do you, my dearest friend?" Bill prodded at the man. His eyes glinted in the light that shined onto them.

 

Those black, black eyes. Always watching, waiting.

 

"Monster..."

 

----

 

The machine that dominated bulk of the room roared with activity, bathing it in red light. Very soon though there was a relative silence: only the working of simple electronics and the deceleration of gears and wheels.

 

Life poured into a vessel. What is a BioSuit but the container for an intelligence? It was a tool for the domination of the world, the domestication of man. Utilize man's greatest strength: Science coupled with imagination and raw desperation. Use the engine of one's destruction as the machine that would advance humanity into Eden. This was one of the artificial beings that would shape society into the perfection that Apath wanted.

 

Tubes and wires and pistons all disconnected themselves and sunk back into the Cradle Under the cold glare of Dr. Hughes, on June 16th 1994, the TestType 07 woke to the world.

 

---

 

 

"My name is William Sullivan."

 

The blond boy winked.

 

"But you can call me Bill."

 

A week had passed since Gabe's victory on the battlefield. In the immediate aftermath, the young BioSuit had refused to talk to Kathryn, absolutely furious but unable to vent his frustrations.

 

She had warned him. She had said, "Are you sure?†He shouldn't blame her at all.

 

Like humans, BioSuits are not always rational beings. It's much easier to project guilt than to blame one's self.

 

He had since calmed down. There was still a tension in the air, the sort that's so thick that you can't breach it for fear of making things worse, but like all things time would erase this particular unease.

 

The blond boy, Bill, took a seat next to Kathryn. Her face was a mixture of disgust and hatred that Gabe did not quite pick up on.

 

Even with the tension, and the unspoken claim to blame and guilt that they both had, they still managed to grasp onto the small part of normalcy in their lives. Wake, work, eat. The part that crossed paths for the two of them was the eating part, and thus they were eating together. Lunch in the cafeteria. Same as it ever was.

 

"Hello,†He looked from the unresponsive Engelmacht to Gabe.

 

"Hello." Bill said again to the other member of the table.

 

"Hi..."

 

Gabe looked at the young man. He looked at his blond hair, at his pretty face. All he could see from his side of the table was a black turtleneck that clung to him, but somehow Gabe imagined the boy was wearing slacks.

 

Gabe glanced at Engelmacht, who continued to pretend neither of them was there.

 

"Uhm, it's good to meet you. My name is Gli--"

 

Gabe stumbled over his own name and blushed under Bill's amused gaze.

 

"Gabe. My name is Gabe."

 

Bill's arm, like it was a million miles long, extended over that wide wide expanse. All sorts of borders were crossed; Engelmacht looked like she had just been scandalized by him.

 

Gabe reached out too, his arm traveling the long distance to meet Bill's hand.

 

They shook.

 

Bill's powder blue eyes met Gabe's emerald green ones.

 

"Lets be good friends."

 

---

 

The time spent with Bill seemed to melt away like butter and Gabe found himself wondering how he could have lived before. It was as if he had a second life, far divorced from the one he had spent with Engelmacht.

 

As soon as Bill had appeared, Engelmacht changed. Before she was a silly, blushing woman. She fawned over glitch like some sort of over-attached girlfriend.

 

"How are you doing?"

 

"Do you like your food?"

 

"Let me fix your shirt..."

 

What was she to Gabe, and what was Gabe to her?

 

Since then, she had not been around, much less than before at least. At any given time when Gabe was not with Bill, Engelmacht probably wasn't there. If Bill was with him, the doctor definitely wasn't there.

 

"She's like a ghost. I wonder if I pissed her off somehow..."

 

The truth of the matter was, even if he had, he probably wouldn't care. The times he had with Bill were full of adventure and merriment.

 

"So, you're like me?"

 

Bill jumped up on the ledge and sat, facing the digital sun. They were inside the VR simulator.

 

"Yep, I'm like you. I'm a BioSuit, the Type 07. Designed by Dr. Hughes, I'm the last of the ProtoTypes."

 

Gabe looked up at the younger boy and couldn't help but feel awed. Gabe's own birth had been bloody and confusing, but Bill knew exactly what was going on.

 

"I'm going to be the strongest fighter the Underground has. They'll have no choice but to use me. Even when they hit full production, I’ll make sure I'm their go-to guy."

 

There was very little about the Underground that Gabe knew. Their goals and aspirations were a mystery to him. The sum of his knowledge was that they built him, and they built him for a reason. Up until now, he was still clueless as to what that reason was.

 

"Hey Gabe?"

 

In slow motion the purple haired boy turned to face the questioner, his friend. His innocent green eyes blinked and his pupils danced around as he took Bill in, absorbing the features of his face. The prominent but soft jaw line, a perfect Aryan nose; Bills big blue eyes and feathery blond hair.

 

"What is it?"

 

Bill’s brilliant eyes stood wide open and unfocused.

 

“What do you want to do in this world of ours?

 

“Our world?†Gabe was confused

 

“This, the world of our people. We were created to lead them into the next stage. We’re supposed to control them, to stop their base instincts and show them the right way. Force them to be what they’ve always been capable.â€Â

 

Gabe’s eyebrows dipped inward as he frowned.

 

“If they’re forced… have they accomplished anything? What’s the point of forcing people to do something they don’t want?â€Â

 

Bill didn’t smile, nor did he frown. He continued on in his melodious low voice.

 

“They want to because we are here. Someone wanted it or we wouldn’t be created. If we wait too long, then their species will be held back by the worst of them. We’re the culling song, we’re the special ones who spurn forward their existence.â€Â

 

“But do we have the right…?â€Â

 

“You don’t know them like I do, Gabe.â€Â

 

Bill jumped from his perch, and kissed Gabe on the forehead. He grasped Gabe's arms in his hands.

 

“Their not all like Kathryn, and they’re certainly not like me.â€Â

 

Gabe looked at the hands clutching his arms.

 

“I’ll have to decide for myself, Bill…â€Â

 

Bill blinked.

 

"I love you." Bill said.

 

Gabe stared straight ahead, unbelieving.

 

Bill turned back towards the solar representation.

 

"Together, we'll defeat everyone who stands in our way. We’ll take over like our genes instruct us to. Will you follow me, Gabe? Will you help me build the new world we were made for?"

 

Colors exploded before Gabe's eyes, and the simulation disappeared.

 

---

 

"I hate him."

 

Blood dripped from her lips.

 

"I hate him."

 

It traveled to her chin and then dripped onto her white white white labcoat.

 

"I hate him."

 

Her teeth sunk into her thumb.

 

"He took my baby away."

 

Eyes wide, unfocused, jumping.

 

"He took my lover away."

 

A quarter inch deep.

 

"He took my new LIFE."

 

She screamed.

 

She screamed some more. She screamed and screamed and screamed. She screamed until her throat was hoarse. Screamed until it was raw. She began to cough up flecks of blood.

 

Her mouth was slick with copper.

 

Then, silence. Breath in. Breath out. Calm.

 

She picked up the coffee table and flung it by the leg. It impacted and broke against the wall

 

"Don't leave me!"

 

Glass shattered against the door.

 

"Don't abandon me!"

 

Slivers of wood stuck in her knuckles as she pummeled furniture.

 

Silence. Breath in. Breath out.

 

"I’ll make you…. I’ll make you love me.â€Â

 

Her eyes had no connection to reality.

 

“I’ll make you love me Gabriel.â€Â

 

---

 

The new world we were made for. Is that what this was all about? Gabe didn’t know very much, but he was beginning to get a really bad feeling, crawling through his guts. The elation he had heard when Bill spoke the words “I love you,†slowly retreated to bottom of him when he realized what he might intend. Gabe didn’t know the world. He didn’t know what was out there. But “take over†was “take over,†and build sounded a hell of a lot like rebuild to him.

 

There was an echo, in the back of his head, something about BioSuits and the wave of the future. The world, rid of the people who had harmed his kind, but the screeching pain that sliced through his brain that followed those echoes was enough to drown them out.

 

Kathryn was now there. She looked at his face, but not at him. She looked through him. He was not there. Her eyes seemed to dilate and the corners of her mouth twitched up and down.

 

“Hello Dr. Kathryn.â€Â

 

Dr. Kathryn said hello back.

 

“How are you, Dr. Kathryn?â€Â

 

Dr. Kathryn was just fine, thank you.

 

Gabe stared straight at her.

 

It was several days after the simulation with Bill. Gabe had not seen Bill since then. It was actually the first time he had seen Kathryn in weeks.

 

Now she stood in his doorway, completely disconnected from reality, leaving Gabe unsettled.

 

“Kathryn… is there anything I can do for you?â€Â

 

Kathryn twitches and nodded once, stepping into the room. Then she nodded again, paused, and once more dipped her head in assent.

 

“Yes… yes, there is something you can do for me… oh yes I think there is.â€Â

 

Gabe frowned deeply and took a step back. Kathryn overtook his retreat and smashed her mouth against him. Her tongue darted out and probed his mouth, desperately searching. Without any sort of legitimate reaction he could make, Gabe flinched and lost his balance, falling to the floor. Kathryn clung to him with brute force, refusing to allow her lips to become detached from his.

 

Finally Gabe regained his senses and twisted his head away.

 

“What the hell are you doing?†He yelled, her face still centimeters from his own

 

“Oh Gabe it’s so beautiful we can have sex all day and never worry about children. I’ll wait on you hand and foot, just your private servant I’ll make you so happy don’t you see you don’t need anyone else! I’m all you’ll ever need, I’ll take care of your every fantasy!â€Â

 

She reared up and tore her blouse open, her breasts falling out. She grabbed them and pressed them into Gabe’s face.

 

“Aren’t they wonderful?

 

Gabe’s mind and body were suddenly doing battle. He knew this was insanity but he was fully aware that a gorgeous woman was practically begging to have sex with him. Somehow, his good sense won out and he managed to force her off of him, careful to avoid touching the rapidly increasing amount of exposed skin on her body. He clamored to his feet, slamming against the wall in his hurry to keep his back from being turned to her.

 

“Engâ€â€Kathryn?! What’s gotten into you!†Gabe had his hands slightly raised, in case he needed to catch her, but she seemed as though she wouldn’t be taking herself from the floor for the moment.

 

“Why… why can’t you just love me? I’d give you everything you want… Anything any man could want…†Her hair fell over her eyes as she half lay half sat on the floor, crying softly.

 

Gabe’s expression remained frozen for a moment, unable to process. With a sigh and a shake of his head his posture softened and he lowered his hands to his sides. For an instant he considered picking her off the floor but he was too frightened to get close to the woman again.

 

“I don’t even know what I want… so how could you give it to me?†He said.

 

"Wait, please!"

 

Kathryn scrambled up to him on hands and knees, clutching herself close to his leg. Gabe froze, his throat tightening. Kathryn's tears soaked through his jeans, moistening his leg. With stubborn effort, he managed to pull himself away.

 

Gabe opened the door and stepped out of the room. He didn't look back.

 

----

 

From down the long white hallway Bill saw Gabe exit his room in a hurry. He increased his own pace to catch up. The door had already sealed by the time he passed it, and the soft sobs of Engelmacht just barely penetrated the thick plastic door.

 

Gabe managed to evade Bill, leaving the blond haired man standing confused at the end of an empty hallway.

 

---

 

Gabe didn't know where to turn and finally found his way to the cafeteria. Sitting behind a pillar opposite the entrance, Gabe hoped to avoid any stray eyes. The few people who were in the room avoiding looking at him, like usual, so he felt alone, which was exactly what he wanted at that moment. Men and woman in white lab coats, all in a row, moving their hands from plate to mouth, plate to mouth, over and over again. Gabe had no appetite, and the mechanical action suddenly seemed repulsive.

 

"Who are these people, these scientists. What is the point of all this? Work and eat and then what?" He asked himself quietly.

 

Their faces, all of them, could have not have even existed, and Gabe would not have been able to tell the difference. They were completely ambiguous. None of them had a recognizable feature.

 

"I shouldn't be here. This place, nothing in it makes sense. There is no meaning here."

 

He sat thinking for over an hour, watching the white coated creatures go about their lives. He needed to move around, burn up some energy. He decided to go to the training center and break a bit of a sweat, and hopefully clear his mind of his worries.

 

He pressed his palms against his eyes, then got to his feet.

 

"Where is Bill?"

 

---

 

"You stupid woman. What are you doing down there? It's pathetic. Did you really think someone like you could convince him to stoop down to your level?"

 

Engelmacht stared with iron eyes at the dented door frame. Her face was still slick with her own tears but now could have been carved from stone. Her teeth ground loudly in her own mouth.

 

"I don't have to listen anything an incomplete freak like you might say." She spat.

 

Bill's eyes flashed with rage. He lunged forward with his arm cocked and back handed her across the face. She flew back, landing sprawled on the floor. Quickly her face and eye began to swell. Her mouth hung open, and she sat shaking in fear. Slowly recovering, she bite her tongue to choke back a bitter remark.

 

"Where did Gabe go?" Bill said, looking down at Engelmacht with cold blue eyes. His face was entirely calm now, high up above. Superior.

 

Engelmacht paused before answering.

 

"I don't know," her lips slid down into a sneer, "he left in a hurry."

 

Bill barked out a harsh, mean laugh.

 

"Oh I'm sure he did. Nothing like filth to offend the new upper class. But I must thank you, I suppose with out you he might never have been created. You and humanity have my thanks, gratitude from the bottom of my heart, for the depth of your arrogance."

 

His grin was savage.

 

"You played god just long enough for your creation to begin to topple you." he said.

 

He spun on his heel and exited the room. His right hand twitched agitatedly, as if it wanted to grab something just out of reach.

 

"Gabe... what's going to happen?" Engelmacht said.

 

---

 

 

Gabe had only managed to pummel the punching bag for a few minutes before Bill walked in. His face looking chipper but his eyes were decidedly dark, giving him a dsiticntly off balance appearance. Gabe wiped his face of sweat, and watched as Bill approached. He seemed remarkably intent on something.

 

"Gabe. I've been looking for you." Bill said. Gabe turned to face Bill and saw his hand moving erratically.

 

"Something up?" He kept his eyes from glancing at the movement from the corner of his eyes.

 

Bill shrugged "I want to know something, Gabe. I want to know what you think of the mission."

 

Glitch shook his head, "I'm really not sure about that mission, but more than that I'm not happy here. I don't feel like I belong. I can't see the purpose to all this, to them, to us. It's all a blur, a swirl of pointlessness. It's like we are bound against our will to this place, but no one has a will anymore so it doesn't matter. No one is resisting." He said.

 

Bill was obviously becoming more agitated "No, it can't be like that. We're supposed to be together, Gabe, partners, bringing in the new world, the revolution. They don't know what's good for themselves. Even our creators, they have no idea what the truth is. Soon they will unleash us though, and any who would try to hold us back are holding nature back. We are nature and beyond nature, we are the next stage in evolution. We cannot let them be held back. You have to help, you can't be one of them Gabe. You have to! We need to establish this new world so everyone can be saved. Can't you see that we're the only ones who can do this?"

 

Gabe sat passively, his face betraying nothing. Inside there were no words, only a growing sense of panic. There was a sense that he was being used, or would be used for something terrible. The idea that his purpose might be decided without his consent made his insides churn and he struggled not to scream out his indignation.

 

"Bill, I'm leaving this place. I'm not a revolutionary. That's not my life. That's not what I want." Gabe said.

 

"What do you want?" Bill's eyes were sad and dark.

 

"I don't know... but I know it's not that." Gabe replied.

 

Bill remained silent. They stood in this abusive, foreboding silence for several moments before Gabe spoke again.

 

"I can't dedicate myself to the changing of a people I've never met. These people here, they aren't humans. They are just machines in white. We're more human than they are."

 

Bill's mouth twitched at the word "human."

 

They stood silently once again, both waiting for the other to speak.

 

"Goodbye, Bill." Gabe said.

 

Gabe left. Bill cried.

 

---

 

He needed to leave, now if he could help it. He was reasonably sure that Bill wouldn't turn him in immediately, if at all, and the same he felt was true of Engelmacht, but in spurning both he was afraid that one might impede his escape. As worried as he was that Engelmacht might still be in his room, he needed to gather the few things he owned before leaving.

 

The door to his room was open, attempting to close against the damage that had been done to it and failing eternally. Engelmacht was gone, however, so that was a bit of a relief.

 

He fished through his things. There really was very little that he had to his name, but he dressed himself in the uniform they had provided for him and looked into a mirror.

 

"My eyes... they seem sad. Here's hoping we can change that." He grinned at his own smile in the mirror. The fuzzy purple hair, strong nose, green half coat and slacks... they formed the image that was himself. He added that smile to his internal image.

 

"I'm going to fight to make that smile stick."

 

He bid goodbye to his room, to his life, and left it.

 

---

 

There was an elevator, he knew, that went to the surface. He planned to escape through the top of the elevator and climb until he was out of the Underground. It wasn't a terribly involved or thought out plan but it was the best he had and he needed to run with it. Not much more to it than that, he figured. On the way, he found himself face to face with Bill and Engelmacht. They were arguing.

 

"He's going to leave, you've scared him off. You stupid damn woman!" Bill smacked Engelmacht across the face, who took the impact in stride, rearing back and spiting in Bill face.

 

"You idiot. Have you any idea what you're really doing? They'll never use you. When they begin production they will throw you away and build a new generation of command units. You'll be lucky to experience another year of functionality." She said while bracing herself for another blow. In the process she noticed Gabe standing there.

 

"Gabe!" she exclaimed.

 

Gabe walked up to the two, irritated.

 

"What the hell is this?" He turned to Bill, furious, and shoved his shoulder, "What the fuck? Why the hell did you hit her?"

 

Bill sneered, "She's a stupid fucking woman. She has no intention of improving humanity. She's just trying to cool her soaking hot loins. A technophile, a pervert of epic quality. She built the demons that will remake humanity to satiated her carnal urges."

 

He barked a laugh.

 

"How filthy."

 

Kathryn flushed crimson but remain behind Gabe's back, protected.

 

"Bill. Why do you have a prosthetic?" Gabe asked, face unaffected.

 

Bill's right arm was no longer a normal arm but a long tubular machination, his hand, still twitching, now a claw. It was dangerous.

 

"Oh, I think I might need it. That is to say, I don't think you'll be leaving. If you try and go, I will stop you. With my own hand I will prevent you from falling into the laps of our enemies." Bill said.

 

"That's bull. I'm not going out there to help anyone, I just wanna live my life, see what the point is. I'm not going to do anything. Bill, let me go." Gabe said.

 

Engelmacht grabbed Gabe's arm "No, please don't go! You don't have to fight, I can make you a home here, carve out an existence for you and I! We can be happy. There's nothing but pain and death outside. You'll regret it... please...! They'll destroy the outside world, Bill and the others, they'll kill them all!"

 

"Shut up!" Bill's claw snaked out and grabbed Engelmacht by the head, lifting her off the ground then throwing her violently against a wall. She slumped, unconscious and badly injured.

 

"Fool, as if you would eve--" Bill was cut off as Gabe slammed his fist against in the blond haired man's face, flipping the man at breakneck speed into the ground. Blood splattered against the tilled floor. Slowly, Bill rose back to his feet, jaw unhinged, eyes dancing.

 

"Don't you fucking touch her like that. She's not innocent, but you don't have any right to hurt her." Gabe said, fist still clenched.

 

Bill wiped his mouth on his sleeve. His jaw bone was cracked, and hung lower than it should. He propped it back into place and scowled.

 

"Now let me leave, and don't ever touch her again." Gabe said.

 

Bill mouthed one word.

 

"No."

 

---

 

Bill swung his claw around, wiping it into Gabe's left arm. Gabe rolled with the blow and from a sliding crouch grabbed onto the flying and extended prosthetic and swung over it. He planted his feet and charged Bill, leaping forward with a spin, and kicking out at Bill's legs. Bill jumped over the blow and landed on his left hand, pushing off the floor and back into the air. He landed and stepping around used his inertia to swing his claw at Gabe again. Coming higher this time, Gabe bent backwards to avoid the blow and then flung himself forward, letting loose a punch into Bill's midsection. Bill took the blow but grabbed Gabe's arm with his left, and elbowed his forearm with the free prosthetic. Gabe yelled out as the metal bruised his extended limb. He folded himself up and then kicked out, slamming his boots into Bill's thighs, throwing his grip off of Gabe's arm.

 

Gabe cradled his right arm in his hand; Bill had gouged deep gashes into it with his fingertips as Gabe pulled away. He charged again, leaping completely over Bill's next prosthetic attack.

 

Bill smirked, having anticipated that. He changed the course of his arm on the fly and whipped it straight up into the air, catching Gabe in the leg and sending him into a spin. Bill changed the course once more and raked his claws across Gabe's back before the air born man was able to return to the ground and regain his footing.

 

Keeping his back to the wall he breathed deep; his lower back was bleeding from where Bill had slashed him and his arm was throbbing with pain.

 

"Fuck, how am I gonna beat him? He's been training all this time without me. He's been designed to kill god he's gonna kill me look at his face it's not right it's like a mask he's having too much fun he's angry oh Bill what's happened?" Gabe thought.

 

Bill had stopped though. He knew what to do next, what his ace in the hole was. This fight would be over in an instant and he could take Gabe back with him, have his memory erased, start again, make him his partner, and go on as if this had never happened. Yes, that would be best. Better through force and force of will than anything. If Gabe wouldn't see things his way, he would have to inflict those view on him like lashes.

 

He thought then about Engelmacht. The woman, that woman, was such a disgrace. He had read about the things she had done. Sexually abusing she the Type 2 until it committed suicide, in and of itself heinous ethically, and against one of his brethren no less. Her terrible design modifications to the Type 3, attempting to enhance its want of physical contact, which only resulted in making it a psychopathic killer. She was hardly fit to be called a scientist and yet she still roamed about the Underground like a mouse with no hope of finding the exit to a maze. She was a hold over, from an era that she herself destroyed. It was only through the activation of the Type 6 that she even could hope to keep her position. Saving Gabe might help her position, he reflected, but that transgression would be worth it to regain his friend. Bill smiled, waiting for Gabe to make his next move.

 

Gabe dropped, and flew towards Bill in a sprint. Bill retracted his arm and held his hands to his side, inviting Gabe to him. When Gabe was in range, Bill's hand vanished behind his back, and in a moment Gabe was in blinding pain.

 

Time slowed down. Gabe could see red flying across everything. His clothes, his face, all across Bill. Bill's face was aglow with a smile. Gabe tumbled over something, skidding across the floor, spreading his gore. He screamed out in agony, clutching his shoulder. The blade had come from nowhere, and the stroke had been precise. Bill had cut off Gabe's left arm.

 

It was bleeding out on the floor behind him, not that he cared about that. His stump was squirting blood all over the white white hallway. Attempting to prop himself up, hand slipped from under him and he fell face first into the tile. Gabe moaned in pain.

 

"You see how easy it was to reduce you to this? This is our power. We can make it so no one ever has to feel what you are feeling again. It's all about distributing power. The Underground will make everyone equal, and then things like this wont happen anymore." Bill said. In his hand he held a thin sword with a strange bulb coming off of the hilt. The blade itself looked like a long flat rectangle.

 

Something ruptured and burst in Gabe's shoulder. He yelled as the pistons in his body depressurized and blew his now clotted stump away from him. A clean metal interface remained, his nerves no longer registering the damaged limb. He struggled on the ground in the pool he had created, slipping on the thick rapidly cooling liquid. He finally got to his feet, unconsciously holding his shoulder where has arm had just been.

 

"What's wrong with you... are you crazy?" Gabe said.

 

Bill shook his head and his smile grew. Gabe, in the back of his mind, recalled the smile of a woman, moments before the world went black.

 

This place, he realized, the Underground, it warped people's minds. Cut off from reality, from civilization, these people were rotting. Their hopes and dreams grew in the dark, moldy and unhealthy. Bill, Kathryn, the woman in his memory, all of them had something wrong. Was it the place that had done it? Or was it only people like them that would appear here? Gabe couldn't make a decision about that, but more and more his choice to leave seemed to be the right one.

 

How could he get past Bill?

 

Gabe didn't hesitate. He grabbed his stump and threw it full speed. Bill brought up his prosthetic to block it but the force of the impact of the body part against his metal weapon covered his face with blood. He spit the coppery tasting substance out of his mouth and found Gabe already on him. Gabe pressed his shoulder up into Bill's jaw, smashing his teeth together. His boot came down and slammed his heal on Bill's toes, preventing the other BioSuits from falling away from the blow. Then Gabe's fist landed in Bill's gut. Bill was stunned, so Gabe dropped back and slammed his knee into Bill's groin. Bill yelped and fell to his knees, and Gabe kneed him again in the face. He felt Bill's nose shatter against him, and his already bloody jeans freshly warmed with the red life source.

 

"Goodbye Bill." Gabe said. He turned to leave and felt something tear through his torso. It burned white hot like he had laid on a stove. He head twisted round to see Bill, face bloody and smashed, prosthetic claw extended. Bill's metal hand had embedded itself in the flesh of his back. Immediately Gabe could tell that some of his ribs were broken but worse than that, Bill must have been at least 4 inches deep into his body. The claw twitched and Gabe screamed.

 

Bill used Gabe's weight to pull himself off the floor. He tore his hand out of the one armed man's back, yet more gore splattering across the wall. Gabe collapsed.

 

Bill began to beat Gabe. He was savage. The intent wasn't to kill him, merely hurt him. Bill wanted to hurt Gabe badly. He pummeled Gabe's face, smashing it with the butt of his blade. He kicked him in the side, and then would slash him open, centimeter deep cuts that only served to enhance his pain. Gabe writhed on the floor. Bill's face remained cold and passive then, no longer a hint of enjoyment, or righteousness. It was only empty, necessary violence to him.

 

Gabe screamed out, twitching with each approaching attack. His heart began to beat harder and harder, and his insides tensed and fluxed in terror.

 

There was a shriek. The whole of the world went white as the sound became louder and louder. Gabe's head split open.

 

---

 

Bill was dead. His body parts were strewn across that crimson hallway. His face was smashed in, his chest collapsed, and his limbs had been severed violently. Torn free, not cut.

 

Nothing was white. The color was red, red everywhere. Gabe's clothes were tattered, and he was covered in the same sickly color as the rest of the hallway. Whether it was Bill's or his own he could not tell.

 

He retched. He had killed his best friend. What had happened? What in God's name had he done.

 

Engelmacht sat sullen in the corner, her tears had burrowed through the dried and flaking spray on her face.

 

"You're gone Gabe. No more Gabe. Fly fly away Glitch." She said.

 

Gabe looked at her, and looked at Bill's corpse. Near his foot Gabe saw the sword Bill had used. He took it into his hand, looking at the strange thing.

 

"It's a blocksaber. If you hit the button on the side the blade will retract in and you only have to carry the hilt." Engelmacht said. She got unsteadily to her feet, and walked over to where Bill's unattached prosthetic lay. It had been pulled with the shoulder still attached to it. She pressed something and the chunk of meat fell away, leaving the prosthetic mostly intact. She gave it to Gabe.

 

"For your arm. You'll need it. You can shift the position of the thumb so it feels right on your left side." She said. Her voice remained emotionless.

 

Gabe took the arm and attached it to the metal shoulder socket that his own now amputated arm had occupied earlier. Small pistons sealed in and suddenly he could feel the metal arm as if it were his own.

 

"I'm... going to go now." He said to her.

 

She stepped forward and pressed her lips against his. She kissed him deeply and finally he kissed her back. She slipped something into his pocket.

 

"This will let you get to the surface using the elevator up the hall. Leave the city right away," she paused, then said, "It was the virus system that did it. If you live your life they way you want to, you wont need to ever worry about it again."

 

"Kathryn..." Gabe said. He looked divided, but nodded. He kissed her once more and then ran.

 

---

 

The cameras in the hallway returned to life after Gabe had left. The body of William Sullivan was found soon after.

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