Killing Time OST – 23a – iBroker Souls

<< 22c – Numbers

I slammed the door on Gabriel’s heels. I’d have to thank the man for agreeing to leave so I could have a fight with Lorelei. The damned woman sat on the table, all Zen and seemingly at peace with her crazy endeavor.
I knew her. I cradled her against me in her darkest moment. This should be one of them and yet she smiled.
Nutjob.
Storm the castle?” I tried to level my tone but failed miserably. “What part of ‘they won’t cancel the meeting because the place is a fortress’ don’t you compute?”
“Oh, I perfectly understand it.” She fiddled with the ‘castle’s’ hologram poking and turning it to open the security details from the front door to the oval office. Lethal measures, army of guards, endless detection methods: the whole shebang. “I also understand that other approaches are going to be just as risky because they’re predictable.”
“Doesn’t mean you have to headbutt the bull!” I walked up to the table and grabbed her shoulders. She looked at me straight on. This would have scared me before – I would be a liar if I denied it – but not now, not after all I saw of her. “There’s about a thousand ways that entrance hall can kill you.”
“I know.” She trapped my face between her hands and of all things, this was the scariest. “That’s why you’re going to hook me up.”
The affirmation was so surreal I froze. Then it registered.
“How dare you ask me that?” I pushed her hands away and turned my back on her.
“How would you dare say no?” I hated how she phrased everything. Like my agreement wasn’t even a question. “This is your revenge too. You won’t get it, or your freedom, without me. I need you to do this. You need you to do this.”
“I can’t. I won’t.” Taking tech out of her head had been a challenge, a dangerous flirt with my obsession. Putting tech in her was a step I didn’t want to take. No matter how good her arguments.
“Do you think it’s easy for me to ask?” The shake in her voice turned me around. “I’m into this mess to avenge the fact I had tech in me all my life. If more tech is what it takes, fine. Irony me up! This ends. Now.”
Her resolve shook my own. She had been right to phrase it like I didn’t have a choice; she’d press my buttons until I said yes. Because that was how set she was on getting things done. And she was right about it probably being the only way.
She walked up to me and locked our gazes. “I’m not letting anyone but you fiddle around in my brain, no matter how good the doctors Gabriel can find are. You hook me or I go au naturel.”
Going in there a hundred percent human was suicide. She knew it. She didn’t care. She would do it if ‘no’ was my final answer.
I pulled her into a hug and, to my surprise, she let me. The past days had shaken her more than she showed, all strong in the face of adversity when she had every reason to crumble. A tear ran down my cheek and lost itself into her hair.
“Quite the last stand, huh?”
Gabriel had suggested that we found another chance to attack and gosh, had we looked. There was none. The alternative to this was to wait for a better opportunity which might never present itself. Lorelei wouldn’t have that and neither would I.
Something I wanted had to give.
“I’ll do it.”
Lorelei relaxed in my arms. I felt like I just signed a contract in blood. The devil would come knocking soon enough.
“I’ll need material and a list of exactly what you need to get through this.” The calibration of each component would drive me crazy even before I began operating on her. Should the artificial muscles encourage power or flexibility? How many enhancers would provide the best balance of coordination and improvement?
“You’ll need to perfect your reboot chip.”
I tensed. I didn’t think the devil would come so soon. “Anything but that.”
Lorelei knew what that gadget meant for me. It was what I worked on when she hacked and slashed her way into my life; a chip that, like a defibrillator, sent a jolt through the body to reboot tech that had been deactivated by, say, Lorelei’s Taser. Shielded in rubber to isolate it from the EMPs and electric charges, it opened and performed its duty when the other chips short-circuited. The idea was to make guards virtually unstoppable. The fine tuning was incredibly tricky though, hence the frying of my test subject’s brains.
I shuddered.
Lorelei pulled away to study my face. “You have to.”
“No.”
A flame of anger burst in Lorelei’s eyes. “Fine,” she yelled, punching my chest so hard I’d have a bruise. “You want to be selfish and all scared, let me put it to you this way: who do you think they’ll sic me on if they get half a chance to reprogram me?”
The world blurred in front of my eyes. Oh God.
“That’s right. My allies.” She poked the already existing bruise. “I’m not stepping in Merrilyn Tech for a well-placed Taser to render me helpless. If you don’t make the reboot chip for my safety, make it for yours. At that point, if it ends up killing me it’ll still be better than the alternative.”
Lorelei spun on her heel and returned to the hologram. She began taking notes, planning the day all her hopes of succeeding would be pinned on the quality of my work. She trusted me and I couldn’t betray that, no matter how scared I was to lose control if I resumed tech research and implementation. She didn’t fool me though; I knew she pushed me so hard because she was just as scared.
Maybe not scared. Desperate. Lost.
I wished she would finally let it out and cry.
“I’ll program something to list the measures and make a preliminary proposal of enhancements you could need.” She nodded. If I didn’t find something for her to do, she would be nosing over my shoulder or jittering around before the end of the day. “You should see if the task force can help at all.”
“They don’t want their involvement to be detected.”
“Even if they just park your car, it’s better than no support at all.”
Lorelei shrugged and headed for the door. “I’ll be in the gym.”
Oddly enough, that statement soothed me; some things never changed.
“We have three weeks before the meeting,” she said from the threshold.
I found a chair before my wavering legs brought me down.

23b – iBroker Souls >>

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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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