Strings of Retaliation – 17a – iHack a Killer

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Since I went to bed before Lorelei was done burying her mood in her punching bag, I expected to spare myself another night in her bedroom. No comfy pullout couch or devil-may-care attitude from Lorelei could reduce the awkwardness so I welcomed every night I could spend on my own. Through my slumber, I barely heard her come up the stairs and go to bed.
Worry jolted me awake. At first, I couldn’t figure out why, but when my breath slowed, I heard the panicked moan in the next room. I slipped on the flannel PJs Lorelei gave me a while back and walked up to her room. As I expected, she was covered in sweat, tossing and turning as she fought an enemy she couldn’t best.
Even without the nanobots, her body produced an insane amount of melanin when she slept, especially when a bad dream generated stress hormones. The old habit made it impossible to snap her out of the nightmares. I did the next best thing: I crawled into bed next to her.
As had happened several times during her post-nano-extraction madness, her subconscious registered my presence after a few seconds and adapted. The agitation waned, her breath slowed and she relaxed in my arms.
So much for sparing myself the awkwardness…
Maybe I should have pushed her to talk to me when she got home instead of leaving her alone with her punching bag.
When morning came, I woke up alone to the smell of coffee and pastries coming from downstairs. No surprise there.
I headed to the dinning room and found it all prepped for breakfast but empty. Lorelei sipped coffee in the bright sunlight of the patio. She stood and gave me a quick kiss for potential paparazzi’s sake. Again, I wondered how necessary this whole masquerade was. It seemed a little too much.
“We need to talk about Saskia,” she added as she pulled away.
“Good morning to you too.” I followed her inside the house, where no mic could record our conversation.
While Cook Julia poured me coffee and served us some eggs, Lorelei told me all about Saskia’s condition and how Gabriel would make sure I could free her. The slow, measured retelling shocked the hell out of me. She didn’t even pause to steady herself with a sip.
“If we remove the failsafe,” I said with a tone matching hers, “we need to get rid off all the remote control system as well, even if they are separate. Otherwise, it’s too risky.” It seemed a safe comment. I took another bite of French toast. My real concern started with the psychological side-effects of a nightmare infused coma stretching over a few weeks.
Lorelei put down her utensils, crossed her arms and looked straight at me. “I want them all out.”
I swallowed hard. I should have known better than to read ‘reason’ in her conversational tone. “The FBI won’t let us do it. And Saskia may not want it.”
Lorelei was breathing in to bite my head off, when her house manager’s voice interrupted us. “Incoming call from… your brother.”
“Ignore,” Lorelei ordered.
“He calls an awful lot.”
“Don’t change the subject.” Lorelei’s fist hit the table and, as if the shock swallowed all her frustration, she was much calmer when she said: “Saskia deserves freedom.”
“Exactly.” I braced myself. “It’s not freedom if you choose for her.” Lorelei was still leaning back in her chair which may or may not mean I wouldn’t get hurt. “You know the risks of the extraction and how hard remission is. She needs to choose it for herself or she won’t make it.”
Lorelei nodded stiffly and took a deep breath. Then, she walked away, leaving me alone at the table.
What the hell just happened?
My appetite had left with Lorelei so I asked Cook Julia to clean everything up and headed for the basement. I still had a few clothes in my secondary bedroom and no wish to walk pass the upstairs bedroom where, by the sound of it, Lorelei was showering. It wasn’t too hard to pull the files about my first nanobots extraction. What bugged me the most was the whole question of generations.
Obviously, the various iterations of SSW had been tweaked over the years. Freeing Lorelei from her bots had almost killed her and the new version might have fine-tuned their ‘unremovable’ feature. No matter how I twisted the information I had I couldn’t figure out what type of improvement they could have done over 7+ versions of these.
May be I wasn’t smart enough.
When Lorelei left, most likely to put in a few extra hours at MerriTech, I decided to look for answers where I knew they existed.
“Agent Walker,” Gabriel answered when I called his communication chip.
“Hey.” There was a little fritz on the line. “This won’t take long.”
“It’s fine.”
“I need the files for all generations of MerriTech’s special projects.”
“I prepped a request for the G7 files already.”
Was that his way to say he was cooperative? I still had a hard time believing his backed Lorelei’s plan. Or maybe she didn’t tell him the details?
“If it’s structured like software release notes, I need all the updates to know what I’m dealing with,” I insisted. “I’m not helping otherwise.”
Gabriel chuckled. “Careful, that may convince my bosses not to give you the files.”
“I’ll let you work you magic then. Better work it fast. Between her tour and her patience, I’m not sure Lorelei will give us much time to solve this.”
There was another fritz on the line. “I’ll do my best.”
The line went dead without a goodbye.

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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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