A dark, sly grin spread like a storm cloud over Starlequin's face as he stood at the window, looking out over the city from within the testing office. So many people out there, going about their meager, common little lives. How much would they give, he wondered, for a taste of what he had created? What would they offer in exchange for a golden ticket to the paradise he had built? The VR system was going to change the world, no question about it. Doctors, engineers, artists, would be able to compress and extend their thinking and experimental capacities beyond limit. New medicines, new artforms, new technologies would be birthed by the hour. Starlequin could barely even imagine the fruits that his work would bring.
It almost seemed a pity he likely wouldn't be around to see it in person. But now that the truth was out, he had other plans. He savored the reactions of his 'co-workers' as they finally discovered his secret. It had actually been difficult to restrain himself from flaunting his real loyalties openly; indeed, he'd been so certain he'd given himself away countless times since he'd accepted his position on the project. How blind must they have been? How desperate for someone to trust, that they'd practically prostrated themselves at his feet! Yet he felt no remorse for his deceptions; everything he'd done had been necessary to further the completion of his final project: the full, digital resurrection of every last human being that had ever tasted death! Forget religion. Screw spirituality. Heaven? Afterlife? Starlequin would show the world a real heaven, indistinguishable from the real thing and as close to everlasting as anyone could ask. Too bad now he'd have to continue his work from...alternative locales.
Starlequin turned back to face the others, palms spread outward. "Well, golly gee whillikers, ya got me!" Star shouted, mocking their inevitable outrage. "Took ya long enough, didn't it? I was starting to think my real partners and I were the only brains in the room. But before you get too excited, you might want to stop and ask yourselves: do you have me... or have I got you? You can't seriously think I didn't have contingencies in place for a little snafu like this. I'm the one who designed those lovely, brilliant little pods you've been so cooperatively hooking yourselves into day after day, after all. Every time you opened your minds to them, you were opening your minds to me. I've laid traps and snares and delightful little Easter eggs in almost every brain in this room! Even if you get rid of me, my plans will continue. Automation, baby; wave of the future, after all!" A wicked laugh escaped Starlequin, and he darted toward his own pod.
"But I'm not gonna give any of you the pleasure of dispatching me like you did our poor Niferbelle and Aadreal. I'm taking early retirement, suckers! See you on...the other side!" Starlequin cackled like a madman as he jacked in and fully uploaded himself into cyberspace, finally leaving his body behind like the useless shell it had now become. However, even after his self-imposed exile from the physical plane, his threat would remain. Already, his neurosubliminal programming was taking root in a chosen victim's mind, rewriting memories, generating brand new ideals, creating, for all intents and purposes, a mental clone of Starlequin himself. The process was painless, extraordinarily effective, and entirely irreversible. Now, the only question was...
Who was it?
Written by Starlequin
Starlequin is the Neuro-System Specialist.
CONGRATULATIONS! You survived to the end of the game, but it was all for naught as you get stuffed into your pod and disabled.
The game is over. The Hackers have won!