“Drake, can we talk?” I say, and it sounds like it’s coming through a very long tunnel, echoing and blurring one word into the next. I can barely hear my own voice, but slowly, very slowly, the bursts of light clouding my vision are beginning to dissipate. I can almost hear what he’s saying now.
I think he says something like “That’s exactly what I’m trying to do,” but in the state I’m in, I really can’t be sure. What I am sure of – well, mostly sure – is that he steps off of me and stops ranting, for a few seconds at the very least. It’s long enough for me to regain some of my faculties, and all of a sudden I’m much more in control of the situation around me.
I roll over and face Drake, and I’m surprised to see not the ruthless cybernetic killing machine he once was, nor the raving psychopath he appeared to be thirty seconds ago, but a thinking, feeling, man just coming to terms with the fact that he finally possesses total control over his own very powerful body. This is not the Drake I expected to find, nor even really knew existed. It sure is a welcome change though, that’s for goddamn sure.
Drake stares at me for a moment and then he reaches out his right hand, apparently in order to help me get to my feet. I take it – after the blow he dealt me, I probably need it pretty badly now. I stand and steady myself, and then facing him I ask, “What do you want from me?”
“Now, I want your help,” he replies. What the hell? What happened to this guy?
“What?” I say. “What happened to you? Are you still being mind-controlled by CyberCorp?
“Not anymore,” he replies. It seems genuine; his voice has lost a lot of the artificiality that made it so jarringly harsh before. Still, better be safe before I rush into anything.
“How’d that happen?”
“I’m still not completely sure,” he says, and his hawk-like eyes reflexively scan the street for any incoming threats. “But I believe it had to do with a flaw in the experiment. 101C was just that, an experiment, so it used a lot of unproven or cutting-edge techniques and technology. The mind-control implant they gave me was the height of cutting edge technology. Hell, as far as I know, I was the first human ever to be implanted with a device like that, but nevermind. Point is, it didn’t work quite as well as they wished it did, so sometimes it’d just turn off and it’d be like I came out of dream, completely unsure of where I was waking up. Eventually, I caught on, though, and at one point when the control of the device was at its lowest, I carried out some . . . auto-surgery.” He turns his head to the side to show me a deep nasty scab just behind his left ear.
“Waitasec,” I say. “You did that to yourself? Today?”
“Yeah,” he says. “The way they fixed my metabolism, it’s already healing up, so its nothing to worry about. Important part is, the chip is gone. They can’t control me anymore.” His eyes dart to the left and right almost imperceptibly. He couldn’t even have known that he had done it.
“So why come to me then? And why attack me like that?”
“Sorry about the attack. You said that you would shoot me, so I assumed you were carrying a gun. I neutralized you in the quickest way possible to prevent casualties on either side. I suppose I could have been a bit more gentle, but this body is still relatively new to me, and I have yet to learn all of its nuances.
“I think you smashed my VR5 chip when you hit me in the head.”
“Did I? Good. This brings me to why I came looking for you. You see, after I removed the control chip, I realized I knew a lot of things people weren’t supposed to know, simply because they thought they could control me utterly. For example, I know the purpose of the 101C experiment.
“What, to give CyberCorp an army of mindless super-soldiers? Yeah, I think that part’s pretty obvious.
“Yes, but these soldiers, enforcers, were to have a greater purpose. They were meant to be CyberCorp’s agents in the coming of the Awakening.”
“You know, I’ve been hearing that word a lot lately, but no one’s bothered to explain to me just what the hell it means, exactly. It has to do with the launch of VR5 TRUscape, right?”
“It is the launch of TRUscape. It’s the plan by which CyberCorp will do away with the failing and weak “meat world” completely and bring everyone into a higher plane of existence within the Metascape itself. Rumor has it, the CyberCorp board of directors is all one big techno-cult. They all worship the simulacra god of unreality or some bullshit like that. You know, I would go so far as to say CyberCorp probably invented the whole nanovirus scare in order to package the cure with the VR5 chips and sell more of them. Far as I know, they want every person on earth to ascend with them into the new world, and leave everyone’s real bodies in states of catatonic bliss. A bunch of creepy sickos, if you ask me.
“So where do I come into all of this?” A lot of things seemed to be fitting together now.
“It’s because of CyberCorp that my sister is dead. I want revenge, and I want justice. I want your help to bring down CyberCorp and stop the Awakening before they control every last freethinking mind on the planet.
Damn. “You just dumped a lot of stuff on me at once, there. I don’t know, I’m beginning to doubt whether you and I could really take down CyberCorp on our own.
“Look,” he says, and his eyes shine with the fire of justice. “I don’t know if we can do it alone, but with or without you, I will do it or die trying. Are you in or not?”
Go with him to take on CyberCorp
He’s obviously unstable and a huge liability. I’ll do it on my own.