There was a flash and a explosive sound, and Pax found himself in bed. He felt rested and rejuvenated, like he had just been sleeping. He knew he hadn't - where he was, no one ever slept. They must have restarted then, or he had to take the quick way out. You could never tell with the corperations though. Production line wasn't done yet though, or he'd be back in his normal flesh suit. His room was the state that operater rooms usually were, from his limited experience. There was the bed, with it's knot of blankets and sheets. A empty wardrobe where he would have stored clothes, had he needed them. A bookshelf filled with books with indescernable names, that he was sure he'd probably already read a hundred times. And a desk, with a ancient computer, the screen glowing red and indecipherable yellow text. He pushed off the bed, crossed the room, and slouched into the chair.
The text on the screen had meant something to him at some point long ago, but he didn't remember how to read it. That wasn't his job anyway - he was just to sit and record deviations in the subjects. There were two of them, and managment was interested in deviations in any style. He was one of four watchers asigned to the case. Either way, it was simply a problem of pressing any key on the keyboard and the message would go away, replaced by a feed from the Foundation. He tapped, and the image vanished.
The video showed a man in his mid thirties, sitting on a ledge and eating a skewer of meat. He was watching the crowd walk by in the darkness, lit up every now and again by virtual lights. The screen drew a white box around him and identified him as Thema 1, most likely the first target he was to observe. He pressed a few buttons, and after a few seconds, a audio chat opened. An excited man with a somewhat whiney voice spoke immediatly.
"Hey, 65! Good morning! Did you take the easy way out last night?"
Pax shifted uncomfortably. "I'm not sure. Got the fuzz."
"Ouch! Just don't push it - it'll all come back eventually. Me and 83 stayed till the shutdown. There was some wierd knock on effects after the ripperdock, and we wanted to document for managment. I don't know what happened to 75, he dropped out of text chat after the vents. You think this will be the one?"
Pax looked up and the man hadn't moved. "I've got eyes on Thema 1, no movement yet."
The man on the other end laughed. "No shit - you do got the fuzz. You even remember what we're here to do?"
"I remember. Watch them, notate anything out of the ordinary, and report to managment."
"Fine! Sounds like you do - just don't tell the others, eh? So, refresher: I'm Robert, 53. 75 is Thomas, but he's a loner. Rebecca is 83, you two have worked on a previous suit before. Rebecca is the next one who comes on, then usually Thomas a bit later. He does some of the technical observations. I think he takes the easy way if nothing interesting happens by the vents usually. Pistol is in the desk, and the round is a piece of code that neutralizes your agent. Code is cleaned the next time the realm starts up. Oh! I've got eyes on Subject 2 on 117th."
The man had jumped down and discarded the wooden skewer into a pile of litter, then melded with the crowd. After a few key presses he had them on another camera, Subject 1 following Subject 2 through the crowd. A dotted line flashed between both boxes, and the word "Verbinden..." hovered beside it.
"Looks like he's trying to connect to her." Pax reported.
"Then we're right on schedule. I'm bringing up the data stream."
The two subjects flowed through the crowd, one following the other. He caught subject 2 subtly look back - did she know she was being followed? A new voice crackled over the connection, female and deep.
"Morning boys - how's it looking?"
"We're on track." Robert replied. "They're just about at the elevator and Subject 1 is doing a data read."
"Great. I got the cameras on while I was going through my morning routine. I'll see them as soon as they enter."
The two figures on Pax's screen entered the elevator, one after another. The doors closed, and they were gone. He did a quick sweep with the camera, and noticed a Donny Boys thug posted across the street watching the elevator. With a keypress he tagged the thug, and then started browsing the bookshelf beside him.
Even the books were wierd. They had titles like "So überstehen Sie Einen Systemabsturz", "Leben in Einer Unternehmenswelt" and "Einsamkeit und du". As he looked at the spines the words skittered and stretched slightly, as if they weren't connected to the page. While they didn't come off the spines of the books, he was left with a distict sensation that they were in another place entirely. It was as if the words were looking at him - as he moved, they would always be legible and face him.
"Alright guys - We have a Scenario four. They're coming down now."
The thug had pushed off the wall, and waved at another one close by. They both watched the number in front of the elevator descend, and once the man and woman stepped out, they stepped in to block them.
"I don't have audio - anyone get this?"
"Got it." A nasally voice spoke, though bearly a whisper. After a few minutes he spoke again. "Everything is within standard parameters."
"What did they say?"
"Same stuff as always. A dick waving contest between two imbiciles. Nothing to worry about."
Pax sighed. He could feel the frustration he had with this man, even if he couldn't remember it.
"How's the simulation holding up?" Robert asked.
"Still some corruption. Didn't get a clean reboot. Corporate IT is on it, but don't expect a fix soon. We work 10x their speed. Probably going to be around 20 reboots before they get to us. I'm doing what I can." The nasally man muttered.
The pair were walking closer now through the darkness. This also seemed familiar. After a while, the woman turned and opened a panel in the wall.
"They're at the panel." Pax reported. There was the sound of lots of keys being pressed, and suddenly someone swore. Both of the people were obscured by the closing panel, but as he watched, the white bounding boxes both quickly fell past the bottom of the screen.
"Anyone got eyes on them?" Pax asked. More swearing, then a sigh of defeat.
"I was afraid of this. They're both out of bounds. Corruption probably hit the mesh this time. You should all take the quick way out - I'll see if I can fix this. Anyone experiencing symptoms?"
After a moment hesitation, Pax spoke up. "I am. Memory and language, I'm guessing."
Robert swore. "Alright, I'll see if we can reload you. Take the quick way out, and we'll get your memories from this round for next time. Everyone else, we're going to need to do a check up to. See you on the other side."
With that, the audio call ended and the screen went dark.
Pax opened the drawer and pulled out the pistol. It looked generic, gamey even. He tried to pull back the slide and it refused to move. "Guess it's loaded then." he muttered to himself, and held it. He was sure he had used this device before, but he couldn't remember it, or even if there was any additional instruction. The room shook, and one wall disappeared, revealing a gray void beyond, with several bits of wall hanging in the error. Thousands of tiny things in the distance flickered and fell, and his room rumbled again, the shutdown eating more of it. Out of time, he put the muzzle of the gun to his hip and fired. There was a flash and a explosive sound, and Pax found himself in bed.
Obrigado pela leitura!
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