Canít risk the Metascape again, have to play this on gut instinct this time. I reach out my hand towards the left door and clasp the cool silver knob. Time to save the goddamn world.
I hurl the door open and step inside an elephantine room. The ceilings are at least 30 feet high, and three of the four walls are made of glass, looking out over the entirety of the city, bathed in the gray pre-dawn light. About thirty feet away from me is a large, round table, surrounded by twelve seated men, all wearing suits, all old and wrinkled. The door closes behind me and they turn to look as I enter the room. For a moment we freeze, Mexican standoff-style, no one moving or speaking, everyone tensed and waiting for someone to make the first action.
Then a man at the front of the table stands up, and some of the tension of the twelve Board members is relieved. Not mine, though. Not by a long shot. The standing man begins to speak.
ďJack Fenix,Ē he says, with a little half smile, and he looks past me at the wall through which I came. Why? What the hell is there? I keep my eye on him, for now. ďMy name is Henry LeCerc, and some people might consider me the chairman of the CyberCorp board of directors.Ē Why doesnít he just kill me now? Why waste time making some idiotic speech? Unless . . . unless thereís no security here. Unless no one is supposed to ever make it this far. Unless Iíve got him exactly where I want him. Might as well listen to him drone on then.
Personally, I believe Iím just a member of a team, a team thatís working very hard to ensure one thing above all else; the success of the human spirit. To be honest, Jack, Iím quite surprised you made it this far Ė the only way you could have done that is to have somehow accessed the preliminary TRUscape maps, which would take quite a bit of skill, so either youíre a very gifted man, or merely and incredibly lucky one. No matter. You see, Jack, itís not in your best interest to stop us, because, as I said before, we at CyberCorp are only working towards the triumph of the human spirit. Jack, you of all people, in your line of work, must have realized how disgusting, how weak and fallen the meat self is Ė the flesh is the root of all humanityís problems. We at CyberCorp only want to do away with the flesh, to allow manís soul to rise to itís full unencumbered height and glory within the new world, the true world. Our goal is not one of domination, but of salvation. Awakening. Not only shall we awaken the soul of humanity, but the god of simulacra, so long feeding on the unreality of the modern world, will finally be sated when we create the true unreality, which in turn shall be the true reality hereafter. Being fed, he will stop and arise, and reclaim his throne at the top of reality, and everything shall be as one Ė simulacra and reality, indistinguishable and inseparable for all time. Harmony, Jack. Happiness and harmony. Doesnít that sound glorious?Ē
I whirl around to face the wall that LeCerc has been glancing at throughout his entire speech, and find myself greeted by the site of a huge machine, a mainframe of some sort, that extends to the top of the thirty-foot wall and appears to continue down through the floor. For all I can tell, the computer is built into the very structure of the building. And lucky me, Iím right in front of a control panel. My mind immediately brings to the surface a useful piece of information, which is that Iím carrying a crowbar in my belt. I pull it out and raise it up. Itís time to go to work.
But before I can bring it down on the control panel I hear a bloodcurdling shriek behind me and LeCerc is running at me, a crazed look in his eyes and spittle flying from the sides of his mouth. Behind him, the other board members are getting to their feet, pushing their chairs aside. I donít think so.
LeCerc is almost on me, less than three feet away, when I let fly with the crowbar, swinging it in a mighty arc. It impacts the side of his skull with a sickening crunch. Blood splatters across my face and LeCerc topples beside me in a broken heap, a pool of liquid crimson quickly collecting around his lifeless body. I take advantage of the dumbfounded second of inaction I bought by dismantling LeCerc to whirl around and bring the crowbar down with all the force my body can muster into the control panel. White hot sparks fly everywhere and Iím thrown back about ten feet, at which point three or four board members come at me and I come out swinging, spattering blood and brains with my crowbar. I am a man possessed by the all-consuming fire of vengeance. With each crack of bone I see Mandyís face, and I know that these fuckers deserve every last hit. Hell yes.
I snap out of it to find myself surrounded by a pile of bloody, broken bodies, myself covered in blood, and the crowbar Iím still clutching in my right hand bent in three places. I look back at the control panel, still sputtering its last breaths, and with my last strength, I bring the crowbar down again and again, further and further into the tangle of metal and wires deep inside the mainframe.
After several swings, the crowbar snaps in two and I collapse to my knees, panting and gasping for breath. I am exhausted in more ways than I knew existed. But itís done. I let that seep into my consciousness. Itís done. I just saved the world. I just . . . saved the world.
I canít help but smile and ease myself into a sitting position, resting against a chunk of the mainframe. My breath comes heavily, but Iím not going to pass out. In the distance, the sun is just beginning to rise over the city, bathing it in a warm dawn light. My head falls back against the mainframe, and I close my eyes, resting. That one was for you, Mandy. That one was for you.