Killing Time OST – 13b – Exam

<< 13a – Exam

I’m going to kill him, was the thought that slowly steered me back to reality. My head hurt like a truck had ran it over ten times in quick successions and someone would pay for it. My forehead was cold and it helped with the pain.
“Can we do this like civilized people?” Vexx murmured as soon as I opened my eyes.
“Says the man who drugged me and strapped me to a table.” My voice was but a whisper and I could hear the strain in it. Lack of sleep, two doses of tranqu. and God knew what else hadn’t done me any good.
Vexx chuckled as if he meant “yeah, sorry about that” but no hint of fun layered the sound. He pulled away, taking the cold relief with him. A moan of discomfort escaped me and I cursed it. I was as furious as I was spent. I watched Vexx dunk a cloth in a bowl and wring the excess water out. Behind him, the blood analysis machine hummed, drawing my attention from it to the tube stuck in my arm.
My focus returned to Vexx when he resumed his soft patting of my face.
“What have you done to me?”
He cringed. “Nothing that should have hurt that much. Do you want me to give you some painkillers?”
“Oh! Now you ask!”
Vexx cringed again. So maybe he hadn’t snapped but what was all this about then?
“I didn’t mean for this to happen but I had to know.”
Curiosity, huh? “I guess that makes me the cat.”
“Sorry about the pain. Lor, it shouldn’t have done that. I couldn’t have known.”
He waved a syringe and I nodded my approval. What the hell. I was in no shape to fight anyway. I closed my eyes. Nothing forced me to listen to his ramble.
“Lor?” Vexx almost implored me. “Please drop the anger long enough for me to explain.”
“You betrayed me. There’s nothing to explain.”
“Thirty seconds. Give me thirty seconds and then if you don’t want to listen, that’s fine. I’ll even untie you and you can beat me to death.”
The last part of his speech hit home. He was really sure about this which meant either that a, he was long gone or b, he really found something making all of this worth it. I swallowed my hatred and opened my eyes.
Without a word, Vexx maneuvered the holographic projector of his computer so the image would appear above me. When he switched it on, the hologram showed a myriad of small white dots.
“What’s that? Night sky in the desert?”
“Your brain.”
I chuckled. “Huh huh! Untie me Vexx.”
But then I saw mixed emotions flash in his eyes.
The first had been directed at me several times before. Fear. I almost expected it; fear was an assassin’s most common form of respect. The other emotion Vexx wove through it surprised me to the point that something inside me broke and the sharp pain resulting from whatever test he ran seemed meaningless.
No one ever felt that for me before. I instantaneously hated it. Worst, if Vexx felt it after I trashed and complained and yelled and poked his sour spots, then I really wouldn’t like what was coming.
I braced myself. Vexx refreshed the cloth and laid it back on my forehead. The painkillers dulled my migraine and my muscles’ complaints.
“This tech.” He sighed. “It’s next-next-gen.” He barely hid his excitement behind worry. I felt a knot in my stomach. “Sorry,” he said, clearly realizing how he sounded, “but it’s a technological wonder. In a very sick way.”
“Vexx,” I growled, “Get to the point.” I didn’t sound as harsh as I wanted to. Dread pierced through my tone and I cursed myself again.
I had tech in my head.
I had tech in my head.
“What is it? Why does it hurt? How come I didn’t know about it?”
And how do I get it the hell out of my head?
Rationalization was the only way I would get through this. All I needed to do was turn off my emotional responses until all the facts were in. Fear didn’t exist outside of my nightmares and I wasn’t about to give it a foothold in reality. There ought to be a good explanation for this. Maybe I was sick as a child and my dad had the nanobots implanted. Then, when I grew old enough to understand nanotechnology, the nightmares had started so my father decided to protect me by keeping the tech a secret.
I could learn to live with that since it enabled me to save lives by taking down tech.
“The two last questions are actually one and the same.” Vexx started. He towered over me which made me nauseous when he fidgeted back and forth, looking for the best way to break the news.
“Please sit down.” A crooked smile appeared on his face. “I know. It’s usually the other way around. But since I’m tied up…”
“And if you don’t mind, I’d rather finish my speech before I untie you. Just in case.”
I shrugged – as much as was possible given my situation – and Vexx pulled up a stool. We had the weirdest conversation setting and it didn’t even feel all that weird, which said a lot about my life.
“The bots kind of have a self-defense mechanism. Or camouflage, if you will.” Vexx refreshed the cloth but I shook my head when he turned to put it back. “It’s not receiving or transmitting and it’s reflective so every day detection methods don’t cut it. A specialized scan,” he waved at ours, “does. And the bots knew it.”
“You mean, they detected you used rays that could see them?”
“Yes. They filter everything coming in. They triggered pain so you’d stop the intrusion before they were revealed.”
Vexx’s face changed as I felt my own pale. If the nanobots were for my own good, they had no reason to hurt me. The other reason for their existence was a can of worms. Panic rose in me only to be countered by a thought I knew was stupid: “They must be hurting me because the pain they caused was minimal compared to my life without them.”
The world danced around me and I barely heard Vexx as he fumbled to open the straps around my hands. I thought he said my name too.
“That’s what happened when you hacked my chip,” I slurred. And when I Tasered myself.
I couldn’t feel my heartbeats and the world escaped most of my perceptions. I willed myself to be strong, to pull myself together, but I was limp and non-responsive when Vexx finally sat me up to cradle me against him.
He cooed that I would be fine, that I was safe. Something in me wanted to punch him but I couldn’t get my body to react.
Maybe I should have fought harder to keep him from scanning me. Maybe I was still deep in a nightmare. Maybe this was all a lie. Or else.
Or else, I was fighting a losing battle and I might as well give up.

13c – 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

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