Killing Time OST – 12c – Struggle

<< 12b – Struggle

Stunning Vexx wasn’t the best way to end a conversation about tech but I doubted there could have been another outcome. What mattered now was my next move. I believed he was in either of two states of mind; a, he genuinely cared about his assassin of a roommate or b, he was back on advanced tech research and the lack of living organism to test his invention left him no choice but to use me. I was a partisan of the first option but couldn’t forget who Vexx used to be before I cleaned him up.
I had seen the beast.
I didn’t blame Vexx for the way Merrilyn Tech had twisted his natural genius into pure obsession. However, not holding him responsible didn’t mean erasing the facts of my memory. He had developed prototypes of various nanobots and implants, leading a team of scientists who tested them on animals and then on humans. Smuggled humans, a lot like the ones Edouardo Delgada moved around before his untimely demise. Between the highs caused by tech-oil in his veins, the pat on the back for each new invention and the guiding hand of a multinational, Vexx didn’t question his work until a patient died scratching implants out of her neck.
Because of that woman, when I walked into the lab to gun down some PhDs, Vexx had thanked me and kneeled. I had read his files and decided to extract him instead, faking his death and harboring him here. He cursed me for it in the beginning, especially when withdrawal kept him awake and screaming.
It would be easy to believe he still held a grudge or was hooked back on tech. Convenient, even. But I promised myself I’d try for the gray, the compromise.
With a heartfelt sigh, I doused Vexx in cold water. First came a yelp then a growling “Lorrrr”. He didn’t move from his chair though, knowing better than to try to get back at me.
“I’m sorry for knocking you out.” A chuckle interrupted my speech and I cringed.
“I’m known more apologetic ways to wake someone up.” He slicked his hair back and wrung out the excess water. “I’m trying to help.”
“Maybe I should have beaten you to a pulp the last time you trapped me. And don’t tell me it was, and still is, for my own good.” He closed his mouth and waited for me to continue. “I don’t like the taste of my medicine, thank you very much.”
There were a thousand ways to retort to that; my pause was a taunt. Vexx didn’t take the bait, humbled in his drenched clothes. I nodded and picked the BluePrinter off the counter. The device would be our bridge into compromise.
“You can BluePrint me.”
Vexx grabbed the cylinder and eyed me doubtfully. “I can’t assess the state of nanobots with this.” It was my turn to chuckle.
“Yes, Vexx. Of course, I allowed a guy in a lab coat to stick something I can’t see in my brain.” The sarcasm sounded a bit overkill but didn’t he know me at all?
“You’ve got an actual discontinued implant?” I nodded. “No wonder it backfires.”
“We’ll soon know if it does or if your stupid hack’s the problem. Fire away!”
Vexx snapped a BluePrint then slowly moved to his computer to upload the picture for analysis. Drama queen! He still expected me to hit him. I sat on a stool a few feet away and he stopped acting like a lion in a cage. It felt like we were back five months ago when our trust had yet to solidify.
The image of my brain popped into hologram. No dots all over the place like the FBI agent, just one chip the size of my pinky. Vexx zoomed in on it.
“Who plugged it in?” He squinted and spun my head around to look at the implant from a different angle. I had no trouble imagining the lab coat and the stethoscope wrapped around his neck. I felt strangely naked as he shifted my blue print again.
“Djeb.” A humph of surprise resounded. “You don’t give him enough credit.”
“He’s no pro either but you healed well. I’m surprised your brain isn’t more bruised from the fights and all. Not that this is a precise reading.” Vexx zoomed out, presumably looking for brain damage. I fidgeted.
“The chip, Vexx. This blue print is for chip assessment only.”
“But there’s –”
“– The chip!” My rising anger convinced Vexx to comply. He blew up the device in my head and ran a diagnosis on it.
“Temperature, normal. No sign of circuitry problems. If I didn’t know any better –”
“– It’s perfect. Stop hacking.” I motioned to close the hologram but Vexx’s hand grabbed my wrist. I stifled an offensive reflex. “You’ve had your chance Vexx. I’m fine. Let go of my arm before this escalates again.”
His hand reluctantly released its hold. The hologram disappeared and I pulled out of reach to give Vexx the space he needed. I had defeated him. Twice. No gray after all.
For a second, I hesitated between returning to the training room or heading for the house and calling it a day. My feet got up the stairs two steps at a time; no need to invade the minimalistic privacy the techie had. He deserved to have the basement to himself for the rest of the day.
Either that or he might go over the edge even if his mood originally came from genuine care.
I ate light and went to bed feeling sick. The intrusion in my brain annoyed me beyond words. I had retched for days before and after Djeb operated on me to put the music chip in. I hated tech that much. I hated it for drawing a wedge between Vexx and me. Good teamwork required trust and we might not have that for a while.
I’d have nightmares tonight and no amount of sleeping pills would help.

13a – Exam >>


About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

4 responses to “Killing Time OST – 12c – Struggle

  • Jenn

    Oh, this is so not good. I can understand where Lor is coming from. I would hate to have anything put inside me. Also, I would be worried about the way Vexx is acting too.
    I like the way you explained Vexx’s history. It went in very smoothly.

  • mish

    I think that Vexx has picked up on something else wrt the implant , but L doesn’t want him digging any further ? But I think she’s aware of whatever it is … Or am I totally off the mark here ? 🙂

    • Aheïla

      You’re both on and off the mark all at the same time. *evil grin*
      Think of it, I shouldn’t call it the ‘evil grin’; it’s the ‘writerly grin’, the mischievous crooked smile of the one who knows the plot twists to come.

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