Micros were simply the best for anything. To relax, to concentrate, and the chemical version made it possible to flush them out of her body at any time if she needed to. Kara was five hours into her shift and had a mandatory break. Not because she wanted to, but because all operating rooms were in use.
She was standing on a balcony on the upper floors and looked below towards the entrance. The cars were blocking the sidewalk and most of the street. She still heard the crying and screaming, although a lot quieter up here. The granny stationed in the room entered.
“Who are you? What are you doing in my room?”
She leaned onto the railing of the balcony and did not turn around.
“This is my spot to relax and cool down. Best place in the whole hospital.”
The granny walked up to her. Her infusion hanging from a long metal rod attached to a small robot driving after her. She leaned onto the railing next to her and looked onto the street below them.
“Lots of things going on today, huh? Are you my doctor?”
“Nah. I do surgery. Just taking a break.”
“You come to my room often?”
“Almost every day. You know that you have Alzheimer’s, right?”
“So, we had this talk before?”
“How long do we know each other?”
“Almost four months now.”
“I wish I could remember.”
“You do. The first few times, you called security on me. Took a whole month until you would talk to me, and now it already feels like we’re old friends hanging out.”
The woman was twitching her fingers, and Kara began to smile.
“You even remember our sign.”
“Today, I needed something stronger to relax, but I left you half of it.”
Kara took out a small injection stamp filled with a green liquid and stamped it onto Granny’s arm. She exhaled.
“You are an angel.”
“Take care now. Gotta get back to work.”
The old woman kept standing on the balcony for a while, observing the people below. As the evening wind was blowing colder, she went inside and tucked herself into bed.
Did she know someone named Kara? The name somehow got stuck in her head.
Their hands touching the magnetic bars inside the elevator shaft sounded like small feet tapping over the floor. They squeezed open the elevator doors and entered Kaiser’s little palace.
Kaiser was further down the hallway, past the pools with water gliding from the tile walls. Z walked through the knee-deep water and punched into a tile. He pulled out a small cable and connected himself to the servers.
‘Now we only need the key from Kaiser’s implant.’
‘What does the counter say?’
‘With so many dead, the empty space will suck in everyone only mildly interested. People will see an opportunity and take it. What a mess. In a few months, everything will be back to how it was before. No matter how much money Kaiser pumps into it, the people themselves have to change as well.’
Several plants were sitting in the water, and a luminous staircase was leading towards an open space. The water was flowing alongside the stairs until it beneath in the last one. There was a large screen flying in the air, and behind it, Kaiser was standing in his usual attire. The monitor flickered, and a camera perspective showing them entering the room appeared.
“I have to applaud you. You have made it here after all.”
His voice was as crisp as he was standing right next to them. The room was not just any room. It was a materializer, many versions ahead of the one Oljac had. Hundreds of objects could be printed in real-time in this one. Impressive technology, but in its current state, merely entertainment for the mega-rich.
“Alby, your greatest efforts, you did not manage to stop me. My plan succeeded, and my vision will come to life. If you don’t mind, tell me who you are and who you are working for. You won’t see me again either way afterward.”
V deeply exhaled and was completely relaxed.
“You were just like your father after all.”
Kaiser was silent for a moment, then laughed out as she stood before him.
“Well, I guess it fucking looks like it.”
Kaiser got up and padded her on the shoulder.
“A crazy billionaire orchestrating a genocide for money he would never be able to spend. Power over the government and every market in the world. Sounds like some ego complex. I did not keep that money. Money was never the goal. I did not destroy ELIM and kill all those people so I would be rich with DELPHI. That sounds more like something my father would do.”
“Then why move from ELIM to DELPHI? Why kill all those people with ELIM implants?”
“ELIM had internal problems since the 5.0 update. They were getting greedy, lazy and nothing I said changed it. The implants advertised to change the world were now costing people their yearly salary and would only get them a cheap replacement for their phone. Social media and entertainment poisoned the entire eco-system. Nobody cared about the people. I understood once I got hold of their off-shore transactions. They could easily develop an infrastructure for the entire knowledge economy. In a week at home, people could have learned what would have taken months or years otherwise. ELIM knew who they would compete with and made deals with companies and governments instead. In the end, almost half of their profits came from entities too scared to adapt to the changing future. The whole company was rotten to the core.”
“What about the exploit in the ELIM hardware?”
“Exploit? That shit had been there even before the 5.0 update. It wasn’t an exploit; it was cheap and low-quality manufacturing. They could have swapped materials years ago and averted any kind of malfunction in the first place. This was bound to happen pretty soon anyway. The new marketplace update would have overloaded most old models.”
“But they would not have exploded.”
“You got to give people a little bit of show, eh? In the end, fear still sells the best.”
“Then why not kill the criminals with 1B? Why so many others?”
“There was no proper data on actual crime. Police reports and government files are not reliable, and I could not get the data from the ELIM models. Everyone had to switch to DELPHI. I am not saying it was good or right, but there was no other way.”
“And then the same show at DELPHI. For what? Making the world a better place? Kill all criminals and crime will go away? Invest a few trillion and poverty stops to exist?”
“It’s a fucking start. Don’t stand here and pretend like I’m what’s wrong with this world.”
“The criminals you killed will get replaced. The money won’t make people rich. You threw a stone into a pond. It will make ripples to all sides, but it won’t create a tsunami.”
“What makes you think that those ripples won’t be the start of something bigger?”
“Then what was your plan after this? Will you suicide anyone doing crime in the future? How do you plan to change a system that you just turned into an authoritarian gulag? All the people you killed are the reason this system still exists. This system is built on debt. If the poor die, the rich lose. All their assets are double and triple secured by bonds bound to some poor soul who can’t afford to pay back their debt.”
“Now you make it sound like this system is doomed in the first place. Why not burn it all down? Is that your solution? How is that any better than what I did.”
“There is always an opportunity for change. You just didn’t see it. You took the easiest way, like a coward. You used money and technology to bend everything to your will. Turned it into a heaven for yourself and a hell for others. You were so close to making an actual positive change.”
She kicked his knee, and he dropped to the ground. A pistol materialized in her hand. Elias tried to overwrite her access, but he was already locked out of the system.
“Imagine, just for a moment, everything you love vanishing before your eyes: Your mother, father, daughter, son, cutting their wrists open in front of you, jumping out of the window, launching themselves into traffic. You run in panic to the nearest hospital with them on your arms. Blood flowing over you. Once you arrive, dozens like you are already there. The doctors are working nonstop, but there are still too many ahead of you. Your love dies in your arms. On the way to the hospital, in the emergency room, on the way to the operation. A part of you dies with it, and another part emerges. It takes over the space left behind: grief, sorrow, sadness, anger.
What do you think you have created in that person? Someone willing to change the world in a positive way? Someone willing to help out in the community and care for others? You have created way more of what you tried to destroy. It will live on, accumulate, grow, and one day tip over. The cycle will start anew. Sure, you might be able to change the world by then, but not the people living within.”
She aimed the gun at his head while looking into his eyes.
“Who hired you? Why do all of this?”
“You hired us.”
His eyes opened up, and a glimpse of clarity came onto his face.
They both did not show any reaction, but that was already enough.
“How? He killed you. I saw it.”
“Body backups. You should have given the psycho a better backstory and killed him with us instead of wasting millions on Hagger.”
“The guy could have sabotaged the whole project if someone else would have found the code in his head. You knew about my involvement and knew too much about me. How did you manage to get body backups? The tech is still in its infancy.”
She did not answer him. It was the only invention they would never share any details about.
“Oh, well. I was never really fond of killing you in the first place.”
She shrugged her shoulders.
“It’s business. We expected it at some point anyway. If you stay alive for too long in our line of work, someone will turn on you at some point.”
Kaiser was still lying on the ground, but the atmosphere around them had changed. The tension had vanished. The fight was long over.
“What’s next? You’re sure you’re not going to kill me?”
“We will hand you over to the police. They already have all the evidence, so don’t even think about getting out of this. Just accept it.”
“The way you two think makes me excited about the future.”
She raised an eyebrow.
“Maybe I’ve managed to start something truly remarkable in a way I did not anticipate, no matter what you think about it. I will watch and observe, and you will shape the future.”
Under his pain, he smiled. Several transactions and contracts were sent out, and V and Z received ownership of his entire portfolio.
“If I get arrested, the government takes everything. Would be a shame to let it go to waste.”
The wall of the materializer opened up, and a small copter flew into the room.
“This does not redeem anything you did.”
He crawled into the copter, and its glass door closed. He looked after them until the materializer closed the wall of the building again. The floors below were utterly decimated, and the fire was rapidly making its way up rapidly. There was no other copter in the building, and the military would nuke the entire place if they had to. Maybe they never planned to leave.
‘You have to get out of there quickly. I already dispatched a drone to pick you up on the roof.’
‘We are not getting out of here Julio. Have you forgotten about the bodies lying in the pods behind you?’
‘But you are still alive.’
‘These bodies are busted, but send the drone anyway. There is something we don’t want to lose again.’
‘When are you guys swapping? Why are you not in your new bodies yet?’
‘Relax kid. Let us have our fun. We got Kaiser and you stopped Goliath. Get yourself some micro from the fridge and relax.’
‘You guys are crazy.’
‘I’m in the middle of something, you know?’
An overweight middle-aged woman had jumped into an oncoming freight train and was now lying before her. The train had cut her body in half just below her belly. Kara had no idea how they had managed to get the woman into the hospital and how she had been alive and conscious the entire time. After they had removed the woman’s implant and connected her to stabilizing devices, she started to babble about her friends and family.
Four robots and Kara were simultaneously reconnecting intestines, organs, and arteries. Synthetical organs would have been appropriate in this case, but the insurance would not cover it. The woman laughed out whenever Kara had to forcefully move the organs around, and her whole body would start to wobble uncontrollably.
‘Why are you contacting me over the internal network dad? You know that’s illegal, right?’
‘It is over.’
‘What is over?’
‘Does not look over to me. I still have dozens lining up for me in the ER.’
‘You no longer need to remove the implants.’
‘You sure about that? Those people won’t freak out again tomorrow?’
‘No. Let me take you out for dinner once you are free.’
‘Sure, at your place? Or are you bringing stuff over?’
‘No, I meant a proper dinner. There are some people I want you to meet.’
The drone flew through the smoke of the building and joined the others on their delivery routes. Several helicopters were cycling around the area. Only two terrorists were left in the building, and the police were trying to get through to them on every network and frequency.
The owner of the building had just arrived at a nearby police station. He did not want the police to intervene, but at the same time, was arrested for dozens of crimes, including money laundering, political espionage, mass-murder, and breaking dozens of privacy laws. The streets around were blocked off by the military, alongside the park in which a sizeable military robot and two trucks were being deconstructed. It was a weird day for both the inner and outer city.
Standing naked aside each other, they could see the damage their bodies had taken. The missing arm and hole above her hip, in which elastic materials were stretching and bending from her movement. Small cuts all over her skin from sliding over the ground and concrete particles scratching over it. He was only missing a few fingers, but his back was completely exposed. The skin was missing alongside large parts of the synthetic muscles. The small patches of skin left had melted and deformed itself. They strafed over each other’s skin, wrinkled from cuts and impacts.
The fire was creeping up the building and reached the materializer. The white floor was getting warmer by the minute.
It felt like an eternity since they had met in person. None of them had expected one casual meetup to develop into a lifelong relationship. V pulled out a small cable from her shoulder and connected it on his. A direct connection. Full sensory transfer. He sensed the missing inputs from her arm and the space on her hip. She noticed how strange it felt with half of the shoulder muscles gone.
She put her hand on his chest and felt the pressure on his skin. The warmth of their hands moved as electric impulses through their chest into their brains. They could feel each other’s heartbeat: the energy core humming in their chest. It was a constant, relaxing humming, a cat purring in their ears. She moved her hand slowly down his chest along his hips and butts. She grabbed tight and pulled him closer. Their bodies touched and he got hard. He moved his hands over her shoulders, along her blades, down her spine. He rotated his fingers around the hole above her hips. It felt strangely arousing. Her hand moved over the burned skin up to his neck. She gripped the edge of the skin. Their foreheads touched, and both closed their eyes. The fire had reached the entrance of the room and had already moved onto the floors above them. It was getting hot as the walls were covered in flames.
The scenario aroused her more than his dick throbbing over her clit. She bit into his lips. He took her by her hips and pushed her onto the ground. He laid on her while she continued to chew on his lips and tongue. He moved over her waist and grabbed her belly. She let go of his neck and searched for his dick. He moved his lips over her neck and below her ears. She put him in slowly. It was a pleasurable pain, and she moaned silently as he moved his hips. More liquid filled up inside her and the pain vanished. She scratched over his back and tore up skin while their tongues entangled.
The fire was spreading towards them, and their movements accelerated. He lifted her into the air while pounding away. The slapping turned into a splashing as she bit into his shoulder. She pushed him back and rode on top. Their hips moved in rhythm while the fire crawled up their hands. He embraced her with both hands and they inhaled the fire. His hips raised above ground as they sprinted to the finish. The sizzling around them overshadowed the slashing and the scream as he came inside her. Fluids filled her up and made her cum instantly. He moaned, and she screamed up as she tilted herself back, him making another deep thrust. Eyes and mouths opened; they were melting in flames.
Time stood still when they overloaded their cores. The chemical reaction pulverized everything around it. Their chest vaporized in a circle around the core and continued with the rest of their bodies. They vanished in a cloud of heat and accelerating photons that ripped apart the materials around them. The room disappeared, then the floor and several ones below and above.
The helicopters cycling around the building were hit first by the shockwave and nearly crashed into nearby buildings. Glass shattered all around and covered the air in glitter. The burning floors above the explosion had lost their support and smashed, wiggled, then slid off and diagonally fell towards the ground. The gigantic chunk of metal burst onto the street and into another building. In the news, it looks like a failed demolition. Debris were blown through the air into surrounding buildings, and smoke covered the streets. The sudden swell of noise ebbed and was replaced by absolute silence.
‘Look at those two. Aren’t they cute?’
Julio and Shana were sleeping on one of the beds in the hideout, Shana laying on Julio’s chest. V and Z were wearing comfy baggy pants and hoodies. Julio opened his eyes and looked at them half asleep.
“How long have you guys been standing there?”
“Long enough. You two look cute together. I guess you took the micro?”
“That was some party drug mix, wasn’t it?”
“The best of the best.”
“Why do you guys have that stuff lying around here? Don’t you have anything legal?”
Shana was starting to move onto Julio’s shoulder. V and Z put their hands over their mouths and slowly walked out of the room. Shana was smiling towards Julio, then fell back asleep.