Dust: Chapter 01 Part 2

I walked up to the security door and pressed the icon on the wall next to it. A control panel appeared where the icon had been and the system cycled through a dozen different models before finally settling on one it liked.

I raised my hand, but hesitated before pointing at it. “Uhhh….”

I brought my head down to my hand and rubbed my temples. “Damn it.”

Then it came to me in a flash. I stabbed my hand at the panel. “Sinologic Security Type 109: Dual tamper switches. Requires bluetooth access. Passwords discovered have not proven reliable. Avoid all doors with this system if at all possible.”

The green tick appeared again and the door parted to let me through.

“If only it was that simple.” I muttered as I stepped through.

On the other side of the door was a corridor identical to the one I’d just left. The layout itself changed, but we’d never seen this wing with our hidden cameras so we had no idea what textures to skin the walls with. So midway up the walls you could see where the top of our known skins ended and repeated above them.

A warning beep in my head told me that someone had opened the lid on my box in the real world. I summoned a vid-window in front of me, displaying the feed from the hidden camera inside my box.

Back in the real world my body lay dormant inside a coffin-sized Pelican case. I watched through the camera as a pair of uniformed security guards looked over my body.

I froze. My disguise in the real world had been to make my flesh and blood body look like an empty cyber prosthetic. That was why my bio-rhythms were at their minimum, all the make-up and shaving wouldn’t mean jack if a random muscle-spasm, noticeable breathing or bodily function gave me away.

After a brief eternity, the guard glanced down, smirked and closed my lid.

Relief washed over me. The misery awaiting me at the wake up was now officially justified.

“Alright.” I said to no-one in particular. “I could do some escape scenarios.”

I summoned my minimap and a scale model of the whole archology appeared in my hand. I zoomed in on the top of the pyramid. “Floor 399: Residential Suites. Room 225.”

The world around me faded to black as it began to load the new environment.

Then I changed my mind, banished the scale model from my palm and opened a vid-window with a game of Tetris in it. “Scratch that. Let’s take a break.”

I awoke into agony. Painful, full-body stiffness greeted me with open arms. Forcing my body to not so much as twitch for six hours had built up a back catalog of aches and soreness. A second later my pain editor cut in, I was grateful the agony was gone but I still couldn’t wait a second longer than necessary for my muscle relaxant. I pulled my hands out of the shaped padding I’d been packed into, turned off the magnetic locks and prayed whoever brought me in had paid attention to the words ‘fragile’ and ‘do not stack’ in English, Japanese and Korean stamped on my box.

Thankfully the lid swung open and I tasted non-compressed air for the first time that day. I clawed my way out of the box and dropped down to the cold floor of the mail room. Tachi and I had smuggled ourselves past security by pretending to be a delivery of cyber-prosthetic bodies for one of the researchers, a snivelling little deviant named Satou Giro. On one of our earlier probes into the company we’d sent in a silicone life-doll with built in cameras and a burst-transmitter. The box itself concealed a dozen cameras, allowing us to observe the layout of the mail room and the corridors leading to Satou’s quarters.

The footage we got from the night after that guaranteed us Satou’s unquestioning cooperation.

My arms ached and my legs trembled wildly as I tried to remain standing. Right when I thought I’d reached my full height my joints suddenly slipped out from under me before I could right myself again. With what little strength I could muster I tore out the lining from my box and got out my muscle relaxant. The pills tasted revolting, I gulped down the protein shake I’d had ready to take with it. To paraphrase King Arthur ‘I never realised how empty my stomach was, until it was filled’.

[Eurgh!] A sarcastic (and very British) voice said through my Cype. [There’s a sight to wake up to.]

Did I mention I was stark naked? I think I did imply it already.

I looked over my shoulder and saw Tachi’s smug (and very Japanese) face smile at my expense. [How’s the morning sickness old chap?]

I replied in the same fashion. [Leave it alone Tachi. It’s work-time.]

I heard Tachi snort his smirk with my flesh ears. Like a lot of the elite in Japan, Tachi had transferred his brain and other essential organs to a biopod and had it installed into a cyber-prosthetic body. So when he wanted his body to lie absolutely still, he just turned it off. He hadn’t needed to starve himself like a teenage girl in the lead up to the operation either. Meanwhile I was still licking the inside of the protein bottle in the hope I’d missed a drop.

Smart-arse.

While I may have some basic augs the army gave me when I passed infantry specialisation, I’m a long way from a full-borg like Tachi. Personally I prefer to stay au naturale.

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