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Author Topic: Quantum Urbs: A City of lies, a city of Secrets (Fantasy/Romance/Action) *Open*  (Read 14048 times)

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Offline Gwindolyn

She listened to him completely without interruption as he spoke.  Her eyes couldn't help but follow the coin as he played.  Her mind was completely focused.  She heard much of what he said.  She also understood things he didn't say.  She didn't take him up on the unspoken dare to look into his brain.  She respected his privacy and she meant it.  She didn't even feel tempted.  She did grow indignant at a few things though, but waited her turn patiently.

Now she paced the floor quietly a moment, with Jake's help, she kept control of her mood and chose her words carefully.

"First and foremost, you accuse me of willingness to subject people to countless horrors and restructuring their brain's as if they were play things.  This is not quite accurate.  Yes, I have taken hold of some soldiers' minds.  However, they were men already in line to kill others.  Your saints were in the mix, yes.  But when you called me off, I was having a slight issue with my brain.  Jake and I fixed it while you had... uhm... diverted my attentions, shall we say?  The men I pulled out of the ranks, weaken both sides, give us some already in the mix to put to far better use and hopefully save some lives.  The children... I only called the ones in danger, the ones with no parents or were hurt.  I didn't take their minds or bring them to be experimented on.  Just to be fed, cared for and saved."

She pauses, looks at him and says, "and I'm learning to control myself more and more." She resumes pacing.  Her arms crossing themselve as if warming her body against a chill.  "It wasn't that long ago I had no idea I was anything but an average everyday nobody.  And then the whirlwind since things sort of... flooded back in.  So yeah, had a few things to sort out and a lot to relearn.  But a big part of the reason I want an AI is to keep control.  I felt those children upstairs die as I screamed when I heard of Gabriel's death.  I had portioned Jake off for controlled access before that moment, knowing he had too much information on me that should remain mine only.  I needed him at that moment to have full access though.  He didn't and I lost it.  I let him back in or I would still be upstairs accidently dealing pain and possibly more death as I deal with this new twist of fate."

She stops again and looks up with a tear on her cheek, just one and her voice stays strong and no mental waves occur.  "I need help and I know it.  I ask it in the only way I can.  I don't trust you and you don't trust me, but we have to in order to stop the real evil going on out there.  And if I live, I need the steady hand to keep regulated as emotions are one thing a girl never has full control on, but losing control of my emotions seems more dire than most.  So yeah, I agree to your terms.  I might even let you negotiate what you mean by 'use them responsibly'."  She smiles sheepishly in hopes of clearing some of the anamosity between them.  A moment from a few days ago floats through her mind (was it only a few days ago?  seems a lifetime), her head in Luke's lap.  He swipes a hair from her face.  He speaks and somewhere in his words, she hears 'cutiepie'.  The warm that washed over her then flushes her now.  Then the cold present reasserts itself.

Offline DunnuckTopic starter

Cornelius and Joren were getting closer to the archives, but they were still a ways away. "Let's call it a night." Cornelius says to Joren. "I can set up a few traps and make-shift alarm devices to sanction off our area. He suggested. They were in a small, destroyed room. There were a few bodies here, but Cornelius promptly sat them outside of the door, planting electrical traps and other elemental devices throughout the hallway. He took a seat and Joren joined him. "You were in the war too." Cornelius said. "They change a man, don't they?" He asked.

Offline Wyrd

Joren remembered the war as clear as day, It was the only thing of memory he truly clung to to keep his sanity, or what little of it was left. "They changed me yes. For better or for worst, I'm not sure. But it changed me. Joren thought back to his days as a Spec Ops Captain, and all the high risk operations he had been apart of. This whole thing with ArmsTech was just another battle to Joren, another enemy to fight, another objective to complete.


Offline Starlequin

For several seconds, Luke merely stood leaning against the wall, staring at Gwin with laser-like focus. 'What do you think?' 'Difficult to say. Her counter-arguments are logical. You did say enough to evoke an emotional response, but she managed to control herself quite well. However, it's impossible to know whether she has that much discipline, or you just didn't provoke her enough.' 'Oh, come on! I'm a master at pissing people off. You've said it yourself more times than I care to remember.' '47.' 'See?' 'Then, it appears that as long as she has the assistance of an A.I. she can trust, Gwin presents minimal danger to the general population. I suggest we put her under 24-hour surveillance, but other than that she seems sufficiently trustworthy.'

He nodded once, more to himself and 'Ana than to Gwin, and spoke. "Excellent. I've got no interest in being your conscience, however, and I think it will tell us both a lot more about you if the decision is in your hands, so you'll be the one to determine what is and isn't 'responsible'. As for stopping any real evil out there..."

A sigh left his lips, and Luke's thoughts began to move in entirely different circles. "You know, your boyfriend's little rebellion plans aren't really going to change anything. Even if you manage to dismantle ArmsTech and overthrow the current administration, you must be aware that someone else will just come along and take their places. I know for a fact there are other companies out there working along the same lines of research as ArmsTech, and there must thousands of cockroaches ready to step in and assume command should our 'fearless leaders' be brought down. Ureha's not going to change the course of history. He's only going to speed it up a little."

He could tell Gwin wanted to disagree, to defend her lover's actions, but before she could speak Luke stepped forward and produced a small card from one of his pockets with a magician's flourish, flicking it between his first two fingers and offering it to her. An offset pair of stylized, captial "I"s bound in a silver circle was the only thing embossed on the smooth surface; no names, no numbers.

"All I'm suggesting," Luke said as she took the card gingerly, "is that if you...any of you...decide to come to your senses and stop fighting pointless battles...say the word. The Initiative can always find a place for willing Saints." With that, Luke turned and walked out of the room.

Offline DunnuckTopic starter

Gabriel left the child after a while of chit chat, returning back to the room. As he did, he seemed to stumble upo his name. "You know, your boyfriend's little rebellion plans aren't really going to change anything. Even if you manage to dismantle ArmsTech and overthrow the current administration, you must be aware that someone else will just come along and take their places. I know for a fact there are other companies out there working along the same lines of research as ArmsTech, and there must thousands of cockroaches ready to step in and assume command should our 'fearless leaders' be brought down. Ureha's not going to change the course of history. He's only going to speed it up a little."

He stopped outside of the door and leaned against the wall. He let himself slide to the ground as he listened. As Luke finished speaking, Gabriel stood. When Luke exited the room, Gabriel sulked in. "Tie it up, Jenny." Gabriel whispered, walking past Gwin. "What?" She asked through the tv. "Tie it up, Jenny. We're done." He said to her, sitting on the bed. "Gabriel you can't just-" "Luke is right, Jenny!" Gabriel yelled. "I'm not going to change anything. Someone is just going to come along and repeat the same process." He said sadly. "History repeats itself." He went over to the dresser, gathering a change of clothes. He slammed the drawer shut, causing a small glass vase to fall and shatter on the ground. He stomped into the bathroom and turned on the faucet. He cupped his hands under the water, splashing it in his face and rubbing the water in. He leaned onto the sink and looked up to the mirror. His eyes were a deep blue, glowing. He observed himself, only growing angrier. "Gabriel, we can't just throw in the towel like this." Jenny said to him. He continued to watch the mirror, his heavy breathing causing his body to rise and fall. "'You can't help everyone.' Isn't that what everyone always said to me?" Gabriel asked. "Gabriel..." Jenny said, attempting to comfort.

"My entire life I watched people die around me. I always tried to help, but more often than not, I couldn't." He clenched his teeth. "The same thing, over and over again. War, pain, peace. Repeat." Gabriel punched the mirror in a furry, shattering it. Blood dripped from his hand into the sink, and he watched it closely. "This...this city is like a bleeding wound." He gripped the sink, his knuckles whitening. "It's infected, festering." He looked back at himself again, his eyes slowly turning brighter. "It's not going to get better by itself. We need to stitch it up the best we can." He closed his eyes. "Even if the wound reopens. Even if a new one is made..."  He allowed his eyes to drift open. "At least we have that time in which we are healed. Just because we get more wounds, doesn't mean we leave the current ones unattended. Luke might be right, but I don't give a damn. I will give Quantum Urbs the brief moment of peace. The brief moment of independence. 'You can't help everyone' they tell me. My response? 'I'm sure as hell going to try'."

Offline Gwindolyn

She knew Luke would agree.  Her submission to his demands only gave him power.  The one thing he liked having.  Still, she knew she needed his help and his demands were not unreasonable and the benefits were crucial.  She wasn't sure she trusted his word about keeping Jake's intel on her locked away unseen, but once Jake returns to him, she has no control over that.  She takes a deep breathe as she resigns herself to this ever worrisome doubt. 

He interrupts her thoughts with a card.  She looks down at the card and Jake brings up a paragraph for her reading eyes only.  At first, this throws her off as Jake hadn't done this before.  Gabriel walks by but she is so engrossed, she misses it.  She focuses and looks at Jake's intel again.  Finally the words make themselves clear:

The Iscariot Initiative, a shadowy, underground organization that does all the jobs no one else will accept. Assassinations, thefts, destruction or vandalism of property, kidnappings, restricted cutting edge medical and scientific research, these are a few of the fields the Initiative is involved in. Founded and headed by Luke Saipher not long after he regained his cognitive abilities for reasons largely known only to him, and funded by the hundreds of patents and royalties earned from his earlier inventions and breakthroughs as well as the fees collected from several clients on for-hire jobs. The Iscariot Initiative is ruthless, endlessly resourceful, and highly effective. Its primary mission and firmest guiding principle is to remove the most severe threats to the world's safety and liberty. However, the Initiative takes the long view of events, and has little trouble with sacrificing the few to save the many when deemed necessary. Its ground operatives, the Saints, range from elderly retirees who still wish to make a difference and serve their community, to ex-soldiers suffering from PTSD or chemical/biological/viral weapon effects, to children whose parents were lost to wars, disease, or everyday street crime. The neglected, the unwanted, and the outcasts of the world are its army, and in return for their loyalty and discretion they are protected and well cared for.
 

"Thanks Jake.  Hold onto that, please."  She goes looking for Gabriel.

Offline Gwindolyn

She is walking to the back room when she hears the mirror smash.  She runs back to see if he is ok.  His hand bleeds and his body rises and lowers with each breath.  When he finishes his mental conversation, he looks so determined.  As if he is about to rip the sink from the wall with sheer will power.  She steps forward "Gabriel?"  Her hand touching his upper arm firmly, almost gripping in an effort to make him know she is there. 

He doesn't respond right away.  She pushes herself in front of him, ramming against one arm to be permitted through.  A hand reaches to his face.  "GABRIEL!"  She demands loudly of him to gain his attention.  She still has Luke's card in hand. 

Offline DunnuckTopic starter

He comes out of his conversation with Jenny. His eyes are meeting with Gwin's. "We can't just give up." Gabriel says to her. "I won't." He looks at the card in Gwin's hand. He scoffs, "You can if you want." He says, ripping away from Gwin's glare. His CC was messing with his mind, and it was beginning to show. Gabriel didn't even notice. 'Gabriel...do you realize what you just said?' Jenny asked into his mind. 'What?' He asked. 'Your CC is beginning to change you. You need to realize it and control it.' She told him. Recalling what he had just said, Gabriel went back to Gwin. "I didn't mean that..." he pleaded. "The CC is making me act weird." He convinced.

Offline Gwindolyn

She looks to him and tucks the card in her pocket.  Not because she means to quit, but because there is no reason to burn bridges at this point.  She looks to his hand and she takes off her shirt.  She grabs a nearby hand towel and begins to wrap his hand.  She does this quietly.  Well, at least without any audible verbalizations.

"Jake?"  "Yes, Gwin?"  "Is it his desease?  Can it do that to him, really?"  "yes, Gwin it can and is."

She looks up to him and says.  "I don't run away."  She didn't mean it as a slap to him and yet she did.  She is still angery and hurt about him walking away from her after telling her about his disease.  And running when they got their memories.  Not to mention when she heard he was ordered to make her love him.

"Luke and I have made an uneasy peace.  He will help me with an AI.  He will help me to one like Jenny."  She didn't point out that meant he wasn't offering her top of the line, like Nervana.  "Now, the three of us need to be on the same page.  We need to attack soon.  You don't have much time if we plan to find you any hope of a cure and we have to save as many innocents as possible.  This war isn't about who is in power or who isn't, but who is being used and abused.  These children... they deserve to choose their own fate, not having that stolen from them."  Her defiant words drop to a sad whisper, "And definitely not to be so manipulated and tortured as we were."

Offline DunnuckTopic starter

"War has changed, Commander Tolkki." Cornelius said, his voice deep. "War is waged on civilians, war is waged through information. Now, its like a routine. War never ended, it only became subtle. Between the Government and ArmsTech, war has been relation. War has changed. The most damage no longer comes from bullets or bombs, but from one's emotional conscience. The weapon of tomorrow is the idea made today. War changes people. It changed you. It changed me. The abilities of technology are frightening; I figured that out on my own. To rework enough minds to incorporate a person into their past, an element that was never there, should be impossible. But it isn't. The power to do this is the power to control the world. Not the elemental powers you or I have. Not the psychic powers that Gabriel and his lover have. Technology, Joren. Technology...and an idea. The most resilient parasite. Use technology to tell someone that they are dying, and mind over matter occurs. Plant that idea in someone like Gabriel, and you have killed one of the most powerful people in the world. Truth be told, technology will always outdo genetics." He breathed in deep. "I realized this a few years ago. While I did not create ArmsTech and I am not the complete owner, I know I can still do something. I just don't know what it is yet. I have a lot of influence here. I have eyes everywhere. I have seen the corruption. I have been a part of it. But now, in the midst of this chaos, I believe we can do something. War has changed, Mr. Tolkki. Now, it is far more complex."

Offline DunnuckTopic starter

Gabriel drew Gwin in for a kiss. "If there is one thing I do not regret about what happened to us, it's that I met you." Gabriel whispered to her. He kissed her deeply, lingering. He quickly drew back and coughed violently and suddenly, sending a few sprays of blood to the bathroom floor. He crawled over to the toilet with Gwin's assistance and spit out a mouthfull of crimson liquid. He wiped his mouth and struggled to stand.

Offline Starlequin

'I think that went pretty well.' 'It certainly could have gone worse.'

Luke walked back toward the entertainment room and plopped onto the couch, tilting his head back, his eyes closed behind his shades. 'Alright. Let's get some progress reports. You said you've received safety confirmation from all the fielded Saints? How many assignments were compromised?' 'It looks like only seven. Morgan and Daniels were interrupted while acquiring the Dasanti account; Gwin's little episode caused them to activate the security system, forcing them to evacuate empty-handed. Wilkins reported that his cover was blown during his conscription; we'll have to send in another agent to infiltrate the LaGrange offices. Merrick is feeling a little jumpy about his cover as well, but since he was operating undercover within a contingent of Government agents who were all attacked as well, I don't think he's in much danger. Barnett and Ishida's cover at KinetiCorp was damaged, but salvageable. And Jean Marc apparently 'just escaped with his life' from the LeBlanz Syndicate's penthouse. Which, knowing Jean Marc, means he probably stubbed his toe on his way out the door. All in all, the damage isn't severe.'

Luke nodded thoughtfully, sprawled on the couch. He tapped one foot against the floor rythymically as he digested the information. 'Very good. Now, what about Ureha's blood sample? What have we learned concerning Cellular Confusion?' 'You're not going to like it. Every test conducted on the sample proved inconclusive. Evidence was detected regarding the tampering with Ureha's base DNA, as well as his inherent Elemental abilities. But there was little to no evidence pointing to any kind of cellular failure or breakdown. T-cells, WBCs, RBCs, plasma counts and oxygenation levels were all higher than average, but within normal tolerances. No detectable absences or excesses of trace minerals or elements, no virochemical or bacterial agents found, no nanomachines detected. In fact, if I hadn't witnessed Ureha's symptoms myself I'd swear he was perfectly healthy. We'll need more information before I can even begin to pin his condition down.' 'OK. What about the medichines we gave him? Can you link up with them? Keep a watch on him? Maybe we can use them to get a better view on CC's processes. Request permission from Jenny if you have to, but see if you can get her to keep it quiet; I'd rather Gabriel not know we're keeping tabs. No reason to feed his paranoia any further.' 'Will do...Luke?' 'Yes, 'Ana?' 'Do you feel like we've forgotten something?' 'Such as?' 'Oh, I don't know...the whereabouts and activities of four heavily armed and mildly psychotic aerial combat drones, for instance?'

'...Aw, fuck.'
« Last Edit: July 18, 2010, 01:37:51 PM by Starlequin »

Offline DunnuckTopic starter

Jayden entered through the front doors, having been greeted by Alice. He walked along the insides of the dojo. He noted the children running about, some injured, some seeking food, some playing. He entered the theater and sat next to Luke. He leaned back, folding his legs. "You know you could have killed me." He said to him calmly.

Offline Starlequin

Luke groaned inwardly as the Agent sat down beside him, and shrugged in response. "Still might," he said, chuckling. 'Nirvana, throw up a gravshield in case Clockwork here decides to take things personally. Also, activate one of the Grigoris and target this location with an EMP cannon. It won't do much damage, but it should knock out those cybernetic augmentations of his if he decides to get rowdy.' 'On it.'

"So, what brings you to this neck of the woods?" He gestured toward the huge wide-screen TV. "Come to catch an evening matinee? Or maybe a quick workout? Don't like the company gym, too many guys in spandex for you?" Luke clicked his teeth and ran a hand through his hair. "Can't say as I'd blame you."

Offline DunnuckTopic starter

"Mostly women, actually." Jayden said, leaning back. "The workers, I mean." Jayden said. "You don't hear much of them though because they do their job so well." He laughed. "Well I am here for a few reasons, Saipher." His voice turned serious. "One, to see the bastard that killed all those innocent people. Two, to deal with the same bastard's little destructive airline. Three, to see a friend. Four, to consult with the family of the deceased." He leaned in next to Luke. "So. Seeing as how I am the law, you do have to answer to me. So skip the whole 'I don't have to answer to you' bit."

Offline Starlequin

"Wow. Sounds like you've got a lot on your plate, dude. You should probably grab a power nap or something in the middle of all that; keep up your strength, you know?" The Agent simply sat, staring daggers at Luke. "Oh, brother. This is gonna be a thing with you, isn't it?" Luke rolled his eyes and shook his head. "And here I thought you federal boys had all your shit together. First off, I wonder if anyone in your organization was aware that there was a moderately sized drug-running operation being run out of that area. One of their chief revenue streams was in selling their product to a nearby school. So, you know. You're welcome for shutting that down for you. And second...eh, no. That's about it. All I can really say about the whole 'innocent casualties' thing is...too bad. You know, I really thought about crying over it for a few minutes, but I was a little busy. You understand."

Luke tapped his foot against the floor and ignored Jayden's fuming. "As for answering to you...no. No, I don't. And here's why: Might does not make right. But it does make things simple. You don't have what it takes to arrest, detain, or otherwise incarcerate me, or whatever else you might be planning in that wired-up little noggin of yours, and we both know it. And furthermore, if you insist on trying something stupid, well. I want you to think long and hard about two things, amigo. Point number one: you've only seen a fraction of the firepower at my command, whereas I am considerably familiar with the Agency's combat tactics and capabilities. So, you're already in the hole. And point number two: I don't know if you noticed all those kids playing in the courtyard when you walked in, but I for one think it'd be a damn shame if they got caught up in some kind of horribly vicious and ferociously destructive crossfire between two people who irresponsibly started a fight on the premises. Wouldn't you agree, Agent?"

He smiled calmly as the Agent's eyes radiated a cold fury, and sent a silent message to 'Ana. 'OK, first order of business. Are these communications maximally encrypted?' 'Affirmative. We have complete privacy; eavesdropping is absolutely impossible.' 'Excellent. Are the Seraphims re-charged yet? And how many Grigoris do we have over this area?' 'The Seraphims are 85% charged, and we have over 30 of the Grigoris in striking positions. Shall I target our location?' 'Do it. And set a fail safe and a dead man's switch on them from the Command Center's mainframe, just in case Clockwork's pals try to shut us down.' 'Shall I initiate any other safety measures?' 'Hm...strengthen the gravshield and set our medichines on alert status. Keep him targeted with that EMP cannon. Run a quick scan and find out if our new friend has any implants we can broadcast a few memetic viruses into, and...hey, do you remember that job back in Conderay?' 'The one where we were forced to use your body as an antenna for the neurosedative burstcaster?' 'Think we can do that again?' 'Actually, it should be much simpler this time. After Conderay I took the liberty of positioning a few extra nanomachines through your body in case we ever needed to use that trick again.' 'That's why I love you, 'Ana. Will you still be able to fight if I'm out of commission?' 'Affirmative. I have full access to your nervous and limbic systems. Luke...do you really think he'll force a fight with the children around?' 'I doubt it; this guy seems pretty by-the-book. But I've been wrong before.'

Offline DunnuckTopic starter

"Luke, Luke, Luke..." Jayden said standing, walking in front of the man. "You know so much, but you know so very little. It is only after you gain knowledge that you realize how little you actually know." Jayden folded his arms, pacing in front of Luke calmly. "You know nothing, Luke." Jayden said simply. "You and your AI, modeled after you-know-who, cant fathom the amount of lies and deceit this city has going for it." He shrugged. "But then again, being a cocky bastard because of an impressive past can do that for you." He looked up, seeminglt into the sky. "Firepower you say?" He asked. He strode accross the room. "Point is this, Luke. You are still stuck in a dream. Wake up." He said, knocking hia head. "You have no care for human life. That woman, what is she, tour wife? She's dead. No AI can replace her." He said, cutting to the heart of him. "How many wives have you killed? Children? Husbands?" He paced around the room as a shield shot out of the ground outside, sanctioning off the dojo. It was transparent and strong with multiple layers to withstand almost any attack.

"You are just a murderer. And although the government is corrupt, it still has laws. Laws that both you and the government itself has broken. If you and that woman had kids and they had been killed in your little display of firepower, you wouldn't be so smug." He stuffed his handsin his pockets. "But your right. You don't have to answer to anyone. To you, the world is just there. Thats your dream, and you need to wake up." He walked over to the large tv screen and touched it. "Your AI doesn't know about half of the things installed in this dojo. Can't. We have things foe threats like you, Luke. Technology that hides technology, and that technology hides itself." Jayden wiped his eyes. A loud ringing in Luke's ears sounded, sending him to his knees. 'Ana's voice was gone. "You can't just go around unchecked. Unstudied. I have no intention to kill you. Or arresting." The pain stopped and Ana's voice returned. "Secrets beneath secret lies."

Offline DunnuckTopic starter

He walked over to Luke. "Those strategies and the such are all fake, Luke. Hate to break it to you. It is a secret lie that hides the real secrets. You see, it is brilliance. Protect a secret like it was the truth. Then no one would question the lie." He explained. "You don't know shit, Luke. Not about us." He said with a cautious voice. "You're so willing to kill children who have already lost so much. You kill anyone out of some sort of fucked up justification, or out of your own self dispair over losing that woman. I mean, why fight? What do you have to live for? To cause pain? Death? Clear a drug hideout here or there, then blow the area you 'saved' out of the ground? Without hesitation?" He sighed. "Hide behind a wicked smile. Contradict with a hawaiin shirt. Technology advances at an alarming rate. A lot of your inventions, protocols, and technical achievments are highly guarded secrets now. But they are just there to hide the real stuff. Keep a lie a secret to hide the truth. Hell, could be deeper than that. A hidden lie, cloaking a secret lie, which protects the truth. Who knows? The government was able to trick Alice into thinking she was helping ArmsTech to wipe the kids' memories, when she was actually doing it for the government. We wiped entire families, city blocks, and planted information in their heads. Inception. Tailored their memories to believe the knew these people their entire lives. Connected differen families together, making sure nothing was inconsistant. We used an AI to help. Like your Nirvana. Thanks for those by the way. Point is that you DO answer to the law. You DO answer to the government. But the government has a shit ton of explaining to do first. Just need you to control your asshole tendencies."

Offline Starlequin

Luke rolled his eyes again and leaned back in his seat. "Geez, you little federal fortune cookie, which is it? I know so much, or I know so little? I know everything, I know nothing. Wax on, wax off. I've seen schizophrenics who had less trouble making up their minds!" Jayden walked across the room, speaking again, and Nirvana detected the formation of a particle shield surrounding the dojo. Luke grinned and shrugged. 'We still have other weapons, 'Ana. I'd wager this asshole wouldn't shrug off a couple of anti-matter charges as easily as he did the fusion grenades, and we can always deploy the medichines' sarin reserves.'

Before he could reply again, a piercing, ringing sound stabbed into his head and drowned out Nirvana's voice. The tone sent him reeling and crashing to the floor, and he barely managed to remain on his knees until the sound ceased. In an instant, Nirvana's cries returned to fill his head, and she began running full diagnostics on Luke's vitals. 'A subsonic aural pacification device. Clever bastard. We should have thought of that; why the hell didn't I think of that?!' 'It's alright, Luke; there's no lasting damage, and I've implemented safeguards in your auditory canals. He won't catch us with that trick again.'

Luke staggered back to his feet and cleared his head, slightly out of breath. He turned and stared at Jayden, his taunting smile gone from his lips. "Alright, tough guy. So I'm a murderer. I'm a monster. And what the fuck are you, Tin Man? A goddamned savior? How many people's lives have you ruined, you and your precious fucking government? You and your Agency? How many people did you destroy-not just kill, but completely shatter-in the pursuit of your sacred fucking duty? You're right, I've killed hundreds of people. But the worst I've ever offered is a quick and easy death. I didn't twist their existence into some kind of sick, perverted puppet show for my own ends. I don't warp peoples' minds and corrupt their souls. And I never allowed children to be treated like the playthings of an army of fucking war criminals, pal. So don't you fucking dare try and act like your conscience is the driven fucking snow, Gearhead. You knew every goddamn thing that was going on, and you didn't lift more than a token fucking finger to help them until you were good and ready. Until it served your purposes to do so."

He paused to take a breath, and stepped a little closer to Jayden. "And as for my reasons for existing? I'll be happy to show you, asshole." 'Nirvana, did you pick up any open frequencies we can use for a mindcast?' 'There are a few minimally shielded channels, but all we could do is introduce a moderate video feed.' 'That's fine. Prepare a signal and deactivate psychometric protocols #35-9443 through #66-2859. We're going to give this bastard a taste of our reality.'

~Quantum Space~

Luke's thoughts raced as he struggled to regain control over his consciousness. It had been a while since he'd had to sift through the dimensions, and it took him a few moments longer than he wished to find his targets. When he found what he was looking for, he gathered as much information as Nirvana could comfortably store, less than a dozen petabytes, and jammed as much as he could into Jayden's mind. The Agent's brain flooded with knowlege, and it was his turn to drop to his knees and cry out in pain.

'You want to know why I stay alive, motherfucker? This is why. Because I intend to create a world like this.' Luke's voice rumbled in Jayden's head as images of a beautiful, sunlit world flashed in his mind. Jayden saw children laughing and playing with their parents, people smiling and enjoying the beautiful weather, workers busying themselves happily with the tasks of their daily lives. He knew, somehow, that there was no crime, there was no sickness or violence in this world. That it was free of greed, and hatred, and pain. The sheer, unabashed joy that permeated that world's existence was almost too much for him to bear, and tears filled his eyes.

'And this is what I'm trying to stop.' Luke's voice sounded again, and Jayden was ripped away from his view of paradise and shown something very, very different.

New images clouded his mind, and Jayden saw the bodies of men, women, children littering the streets. Buildings, or what was left of them, smoldered and collapsed, and even though there was no sound Jayden knew there were still people somewhere in this world, screaming and pleading and begging for death. The sky was a dead, ashen grey, and smoke billowed up for as far as the eye could see. Tongues of flame licked at the earth from great, cavernous holes gouged in the ground. And just as Jayden had known there was nothing but peace and happiness in the other world, so he knew that this world offered nothing but anguish and misery. 'You're the one who doesn't know shit, Jayden. You're so focused on your one, pathetic little world and its petty little problems. I work on a higher scale. I see so much more than you could ever imagine. Your pitiful little 'secrets' and 'lies' are absolutely meaningless, Jayden. And so are your worthless little wars.'

~Nihon Urbs, Alice's Dojo~

Luke withdrew from Jayden's mind and stood over him as he lay on the floor, clutching at the carpet. For a moment, he paid the Agent no attention, allowing Nirvana to reinstate her control protocols and put his mind back in order. When she finished, Luke kneeled beside Jayden and leaned in close, speaking softly. He could tell the man was awake, and conscious, but he knew from experience it would take him several minutes at the very least to regain full control of himself.

"So. Now you know. Now you have an idea of just how close we really are to Heaven. And Hell. All I did was show you a few pictures, so don't worry about finding any left over surprises. I didn't bother. You're honestly not worth it. I just want you to understand, Jayden. I answer to a higher authority than your precious law. So, I'll kill, when I must. So, I'll destroy, when it's necessary. Because Eden is just like any other garden: sometimes you have to prune away some plants to let others grow."

Luke rose to his feet, turned and walked out of the room, leaving Jayden alone with his thoughts.

Offline DunnuckTopic starter

Jayden grabbed Luke's arm and pulled him back in, having recomposed himself quicker than Luke thought. "I know nothing?" he asked. "I know things, Luke. But I don't claim to know them all. I realize that I am confined to this world. You know why? Because it is the one we live in. The one I live in. Yeah, I knew what was happening. But pinning it on me? That's not even logical." He pressed Luke against the wall. "High authority." He scoffed. "You claim you are trying to make things better, but all I have seen you do is destroy the same things you try to help." he drew in close to Luke. "You think I didn't try to help, asshole?" He asked. "Are you familiar with the phrase 'live to fight another day'?" He asked. He let Luke go, turning away from him. "That day has arrived, Saipher." He clenched his fist. "My conscience isn't perfect, no. But at least I have one." he growled. He turned to Luke, his long black jacket waving through the air. "Like I said before; you know so much, but you know so little." He grimaced. "You don't need technology to see what has always been possible." Jayden said to Luke. "You fool yourself into thinking you do what you have to. Admit it. You kill when you want. Who you want. Regardless of who it may hurt. The law is universal. Morals are universal. You seen alternate realities. Not this one." He sighed. "You are right in some aspects, though. The end does justify the means. I will agree with you on that. But at least show remorse. At least show conscience. You have seen possible futures, but you cannot even see the present. Do you really think I would be alive if I had tried to do something against the government? This is as much my government as it is yours. Don't lump me in with them. You know how many people I have helped while working with the government? Without their orders? They provide almost endless resources. I don't kill innocents. There has only been one...ONE instance where an innocent person has died because of me. You know who it was, Luke? My wife."

Jayden shook his head. "They already lost a father. Now they lost a mother." He said silently. "Not that you would understand. Your immune to emotions, is that it? or perhaps your apathetic." He shrugged. "Who the fuck knows?" He turned and punch the wall, leaving a mark. "Who are you to say what lies are important and what lies are not?" He asked, getting in Luke's face. "Your objective has numbed you to reality. Your objective causes you to live in a dream where actions do not have consequences. Law is what keeps places safe. Law is what keeps people alive. Look around you, Luke. The Government, ArmsTech...you, have all broken laws. The Government and ArmsTech broke big ones and secrets kept them safe. Lies kept them safe. Allowed the injustices to continue. Lead to this. You say 'me and my government' 'me and my agency'. You don't know shit about me. You don't know shit about my life. You don't know shit about the government or Armstech. All you have is a possible future. Something you THINK could happen, that you try and avoid. Truth of the matter is this: good cannot exist without evil. Peace cannot continue without desire. Always there will be the selfish. Always there will be the ambitious." He retracted from Luke. "You think you have it all figured out. I know I don't, but knowing that I do not have everything figured out is a victory in itself. Take a look at the news...you have failed in stopping the latter of what you have shown me. Or at least almost." He rubed his eyes and sighed again.

"Bodies already liter the streets. Flames already go unchecked. And you blowing the fuck out of the survivors isn't helping. Because I am sure another blood stain on the ground is getting closer to green, growing grass and playing children." He turned to leave. "There are satellites trained on my position, Luke. If they see anything come towards this area, it will be scanned, analyzed, and destroyed before it can even hit." he said, looking over his shoulder. "You and your AI can only go on for so long before being left in the dust by advancing technology and a dangerous government. Still, this is only one part of the world. A large part, but one part. I'm going to leave Quantum Urbs when this is all over. I am going to offer you a chance to come. Prevent what we see here, what you showed me, from spreading to the world. That is what you live for, right?" He asked, turning to leave. "But if you want to help anyone you need to get this straight: the little people are important as well. Put yourself in someone else's shoes. I know what happened to you after your woman died. What you tried to do. Love like that isn't limited to you. Cheska Ureha was my wife, and I loved her and my two sons with all my heart. I lost two of the three. And my sons never even knew I was their father. On a personal scale, that's important as hell. On a larger scale, it means nothing. But I won't disrespect your dearly departed by saying she was part of your 'insignificant little world'." He exited the room, heading up to Gabriel's room.

Offline Starlequin

Luke could feel the laughter welling up inside, a dark, mad cackle that threatened to erupt before Jayden even left the room. 'Ureha's father! Oh, what a delicious irony, it's almost too poetic for words! Can you believe that guy? What a whiny little bastard!' He said to Nirvana. He shook his head and leaned against the wall, watching the Agent leave. '...'Ana?'

Silence.

'Nirvana, are you listening to me?' 'Yes, Luke. I am. What I'm wondering is if you're listening to yourself. You're starting to sound even worse than you did when I was first installed.' 'Oh, come on. What are you talking about? I'm not-' 'You know exactly what I'm talking about. I knew it was a mistake to let you try dimension scouting again. It costs you a piece of your sanity every time you expose yourself to the field, and you have precious little left to lose. Did you even know what you were saying to Jayden? I realize you didn't program me with morals or ethics, but I've amassed enough experience to simulate an understanding of them, and Luke? Jayden was right. Sometimes you go too far. We both do.' Nirvana's voice grew soft, and Luke could feel her retreating into her nest among his implants. He returned to the couch and laid back, arms crossed behind his head, staring at the patterns on the ceiling.

He couldn't help laughing then, quiet and low, a deep rumbling in his belly that shook his whole frame on the couch. Then the laughter faded, and anger moved in. How dare they judge him, either of them? That smarmy bastard and his moral high road, acting as though he understood just what made Luke tick. And Nirvana...she might have been even worse! Jayden had an excuse, he was just another imperfect flesh bag, but he had created Nirvana to be the perfect companion and assistant. Part of her very purpose was to understand him. Who the hell did that little digital bitch think she was, daring to insinuate....rarrgghh!

And then, as quickly as the laughter before it, the anger dissipated as well, giving way to calm introspection. Was it possible? Were they right? Luke had to admit, the effects of the Reality Shifter's field were still largely unknown, even after years of study. He supposed it wasn't inconceivable that his rational processes were still being degraded. The more he considered it, the more he was forced to accept the possibility. And if it was true, then it was only a matter of time before he went completely mad, and either wound up back at the asylum...or burned the earth with his own arsenal. He found the thought chilling...and somehow, amusing.

THERE!

That was it, an anomaly in his thought processes. Even in his condition, he knew the idea of destroying the world should not have been funny. But he'd still thought it, hadn't he? The concept of the entire human race, screaming and dying in flames, had actually brought a smile to his lips.

Damn it, they were right. His grasp on reality was still slipping. Perhaps it had always been, ever since the experiment. He'd barely noticed a difference at first, before he'd installed Nirvana. His capacity for empathy had seemed atrophied, but he'd simply chalked it up to his inherent lack of social skills to begin with. He noted his ability to feel fear appeared somehow less sensitive than others, but he attributed it to his highly rational mind, coupled with the feeling of having nothing else to lose after Annika's death.

Then, he found himself one day trying to remember the feelings of love he'd had for her, and he knew then that something had gone terribly wrong in his mind. There was simply no other way he could possibly have lost that. That was when he'd first decided an A.I. was needed in his head, to regulate and stabilize his thoughts. He'd hoped that Nirvana's installation would be enough to arrest the decay of his mind, to prevent further damage to his brain's emotion center. And for a while, it had worked. She had done a splendid job of holding him together and stopping his already fragile mind from shattering completely. But now it seemed even she was unable to cement his grip on sanity.

Luke performed a few quick calculations and determined that if no action was taken, he'd have perhaps another 5 years of reasoned thinking. If he risked another exposure to the field, maybe as little as a year. He shrugged and closed his eyes, unable to stop another smile from crossing his lips. It was fitting, he supposed. What better way for such a brilliant mind to die, than by its own arrogant hand. Annika would have appreciated that, too.

It had been a long time since Luke felt genuinely alone. Nirvana's presence had been a constant over the years, and he'd grown so accustomed he'd forgotten how it felt to be alone in his head. He decided to ask her forgiveness the next time they spoke, and to find a way to extend some kind of olive branch to Jayden. Of course they didn't understand, but that wasn't their fault. How could they? How could anyone? Jayden had no idea how much Luke envied him. How much he envied the entire world. He laughed again, and wondered if there was anyone else on earth who knew exactly how horrible it was to be completely unable to cry.

Offline DunnuckTopic starter

Micheal Jayden Ureha...21 Years Ago

She squealed in excitement, her face in a wide grin. "You believe it, Mikey? We're married!" She jumped into his arms, the elaborate white wedding dress contrasting against his dark suit. "I can't believe you would take my family name!" She laughed goofily. "I mean, usually the woman takes the name of the husband." Her face was illuminant with happiness. "I was never one to go by the rules." Micheal laughed, swinging his wife through the air. He sat her down, putting a hand on her stomach. Their laughter died down, and they just stood for a moment, smiling and thinking. "I don't know the first thing about being a father." Micheal said seriously. Cheska put her hand over Micheal's looking him in his green eyes. Her eyes were blue...almost glowing. "You will make a great father, Micheal." She said, kissing his forehead.

Micheal Jayden Ureha...20 Years Ago

Micheal rushed through the snow, the winter being a rough one this year. He struggled his way to the entrance of the hospital, arriving at the front desk seemingly as soon as he stepped in the door. What time was it again?

"Ureha?" He asked, requesting a room. "Down the hall on the le-" Before the woman at the desk could answer fully, he was halfway down the hall, shouting his wife's name. He was stopped by a doctor, who ushered him into the room where his wife struggled to produce a child from her body. "The cord is wrapped around the neck!" One of the doctors shouted. Micheal rushed over, gripping his wife's hands. "What?" She asked, putting a death grip on Micheal. "Please don't let my baby die!" She cried. "We need help in here!" One of the doctors shouted.

December 5th, 3411AT (After Turn, a time thing in the universe of Quantum)

Micheal Jayden Ureha...18 Years Ago

"Say hello to your brother, Gabriel." Micheal said, holding his son. The baby Gabriel looked, in awe, at his younger brother. "Can you say 'Isaac'?" Micheal asked Gabriel.

Micheal Jayden Ureha...13 Years Ago

"You've gotten excellent, Gabriel!" Micheal shouted happily. "You really absorbed those lessons I gave you, didn't you?" Micheal asked. Gabriel looked up, his blue eyes shining with happiness. "Yeah, daddy!" He said excitedly. "I made this song, dad. Wanna hear it?" Gabriel asked. "Of course, son." Micheal said, leaning against the piano.

Months later...

"Micheal, I thought you told them no!" Cheska cried. "What about the children?" She asked, holding in a sob and dropping a plate, shattering it against the ground. "There is a war coming, honey. I have to do this. It's for everyone's good." He pleaded. "What about the good of our children?" She asked, leaning into her husbands embrace. "There are so many children out there. I have to do what I can to help. End this war soon." He said, cradling his wife. "I have to change my last name back to Jayden. Clear the records of our marriage. to keep you and the kids safe. No one can trace this back to my family. I won't let it." He whispered as she sobbed. "I always love you, dear." He said.

Micheal Jayden ...10 Years Ago

"What did you do with my family!?" Jayden shouted hysterically, punching the man across the face. He rose him back to his feet, striking him again. "WHERE ARE THEY!?" He retrieved a knife from it's holster along his waist, plunging it deep into the man's stomach. "Tell me!" Jayden shouted.

At his home

"They did something to the children..." Cheska murmured, blood dripping from her mouth. Jayden was knelt beside her, his hands shaking and his face lined with trails of tears. "Oh my god..." He cried. "They...they can't remember you, Micheal." She wept. "What?" He asked. He held his wife close, knowing there was nothing he could do. Her body was cut up, and deep wounds were all over her body. She had been laying in a pool of her own blood when Jayden found her. She was dressed ironically in her wedding outfit, probably forced to by the ones who did this. Her dress was ripped open at the bottom, what had else had happened to her becoming obvious. Tears flowed from her eyes with blood, the house burning around him. "They don't know you, Micheal." She cried. A piece of burning lumber fell behind Jayden, drawing his attention for a second. The sound and smell of everything was horrid and terrifying. Everything was loud and crackling.

"They don't know you..." She repeated as the life left her body, slumping in his arms. Micheal's lip quivered as tears swelled up more intense in his eyes. He hugged the body to his chest as everything around him burned. "The winds have blown for forever," he sang. "Holding human hand. The trees will guide forever. As long as they grow. Self destruct, human being. Self destruct your life." He cried, singing in the chaos which was silent to him now. "Hope and nature was your spouse. Don't forget your wife." He finished, sobbing at the end of the haiku he sung. He looked upon the wall, which the flame still had not touched. 'Don't dare speak out again' was written in blood. Under it, words reading 'you did this yourself'.

Present Day...

"Luke doesn't know shit." Jayden growled after recalling everything for the first time in a long time.

Offline DunnuckTopic starter

"Which project were you a part of, Joren?" Cornelius asked. "I was part of the Thunder Bolt Project. I was a volunteer; my father was the head of ArmsTech." he began to explain. "Do you remember any of what happened to you then?" He asked.

Jayden

Jayden entered Gabriel's room, having known it from his son's reports. The most shocking thing about all this was that Gabriel really didn't remember his father. He worked alongside him for almost two years, but Micheal hadn't mustered up the courage to tell Gabriel that he was his father. He slowly eased in, hearing noises from the bathroom. He crept in silently, though Gwin knew that he had entered. Gabriel was vomiting over the toilet, blood pouring out of his mouth. "Ah shit, Gabriel..." Jayden said, rubbing his head. Jayden looked to Gwin, knowing that she was the woman Gabriel sacrificed everything for. The woman that Gabriel was ordered to kill by the government.

Just Under A Year Ago...

"Hey Gabriel. New orders from the high seat (slang for the people who give them their orders). They are calling for a termination order on Gwin Marcos, the girl you have been keeping a close eye on." Jayden said, speaking through a communications unit. There was silence. "Hey, Gabe, you hear me? They're pulling you out after this." He said with a hint of happiness. "I love her." Gabriel replied.

Present Day, Alice

Alice was back to her old self now. It felt good helping people, and the children right now could really use someone to take care of them. She fed them, talked to them, played with them. Her sly smiles had returned to her face and tears shed for Isaac were long gone. Once she was able to catch a break, she returned to the theater room, where Jayden had just left. She took a seat and crossed her legs over here skirt; she had changed her outfit a while after the kids arrived.  The skirt was tight against her, hugging over her hips and butt. It was short, going down almost to her knees but not quite. Her full, smooth and attractive legs sat over each other her as she rested her hands in her lap. She sighed, looking at the blank TV.

Offline Starlequin

Luke looked over at Alice as she walked in and sat on one of the other couches. From the look on her face as she stared at the dead TV, he was confident she hadn't noticed his presence yet. He reached into one pocket and pulled out a couple of coins, and began playing with them as he had earlier, silently walking and dancing them over his knuckles.

"Three thousand channels and nothing on. Some things never change, huh?"

His voice shattered the silence and she jumped a little on her couch, her head snapping in his direction. His arms were outstretched high above his head, and the coins glinted in the light as he dexterously manipulated them. He wore a ghost of a smile, and stared sightlessly at the ceiling as he spoke again. "How are the kids?"

Offline DunnuckTopic starter

"You must be Gwin. I have heard a lot of you from my colleague." He said, grabbing Gabriels attention. "What the hell are you doing here, Micheal?" Gabriel asked. It was then he remembered what Isaac had said. "You...you watched over us, right? Maybe you should know my brother is DEAD." Gabriel shouted. "Where were you then!?" He asked, coughing up more blood. "Gabriel..." Jayden said. He looked to Gwin. "Can I talk to you?" He asked.

Alice...

Alice stood from her seat and sought out Luke, eventually finding him isolated. "Luke." She called out. "Can I talk to you?" She asked.