Red vs. Blue: Reconnaissance (Chapter 10)
Posted By: Stelladea<email@example.com>
Date: 2 December 2011, 10:05 pm
"Tucker!" I yelled frantically, blinded by the stark absence of light. "Church! Simmons!"
I couldn't even hear what was going on the other side of the door; so dark was the room that I could feel the weight of it on my shoulders, silent and oppressive. I would have reached for my gun, but the fog-like obscurity prevented me from pointing it anywhere useful. Instead, I fiddled with the buttons on my armor, making sure all the features were working properly and—
The voice rang out from somewhere behind me, and I spun around.
An evil chuckle reverberated against the walls. "You'll find out soon enough."
Light flooded the room suddenly. Squinting, I saw a high metal ceiling with fluorescent lights rise above me. Below that lay an enormous technology system that could have belonged to Command—movie-theater-sized computer screens, a dozen desktops, and countless buttons and dials, all flashing, blinking, flickering.
Had I not scanned the enormous, machinery-filled room twice, I would have completely missed the figure leaning casually against the wall, his purple armor shining and a finger stuck into the wall.
"O'Malley!" I snarled. I raised my gun, laid my finger on the trigger, but didn't get a chance to shoot.
What happened next should not have taken me by surprise, but it did. At first, I thought the explosion I heard was the blast from my shotgun, but I was sadly mistaken. An electrical spark flew down from a ceiling light like lightning, hitting me square in the chest.
The pain was unbearable.
A thousand knives cut into my body. Piercing every inch of skin, every vital organ, I thought my whole body had caught fire
this was much worse than the flames I had faced at Red base
but then it was gone.
Breathing hard, I realized I had crumpled to the floor. My limbs were still twitching from the electric current that had just run through my body, but I gained control in a few moments and stood up shakily. O'Malley stood there, laughing evilly at me.
"That should teach you to try and shoot me," he said, amused.
Knowing I couldn't try to kill him again, I checked to make sure I had my gun anyway, but it wasn't there. O'Malley held it before me, fingering it lovingly. Another laugh resounded in the room.
"Well, my dear, I feel it is only appropriate to begin this lovely conversation by introducing myself properly. I, of course, am the strongest and most powerful AI, Omega. Or O'Malley, if you wish."
"Thanks a lot. Why don't you start by telling me things I don't know?"
"Ah, you're a feisty one, I see," he mused. "What is it that your tiny human mind hasn't figured out yet? Everything?"
I glared at him. "Practically, thanks to you."
"What a shame. Now, before I tell you anything—I forgot to mention this—you won't ever be leaving this room again, so I have to make sure it will stay that way."
Another spurt of electricity shot through me, slamming me against the wall—I was really getting tired of that—and chains sprang up, binding themselves around my arms and legs.
"Let me go!" I fumed, writhing against the metal. "You dirty bast—"
"Now, now, let's not get hasty," O'Malley interrupted casually. "You said you wanted facts, but there's always a price to pay for knowledge."
I didn't say anything, and he chuckled again. "See? That's a good girl. You need to behave."
I could have exploded with fury, but I restrained myself. The more information I could obtain, the better—and it wouldn't have been a good PR move to screech curses at him.
"How did you come back?" I spat instead.
"You haven't even figured that one out? Dear me, I am disappointed." He attached my gun to his armor and stuck his finger into the outlet again. The lights above flickered dangerously, but he ignored it and inhaled contentedly. "Dr. Leonard Church is quite the genius, isn't he?" he asked. "Once he realized his Freelancer program was doomed to failure, he made a plan B
a sort of rebellion, if you may.
"He created Epsilon, a memory AI, to keep all his files lest he be caught. He tweaked it so that if it were left on, it could feed." He looked at his own finger in the wall and smiled. "Feed on electricity."
"You caused the power outages." It wasn't an inquiry; it was a statement.
"Quite right. You aren't as dull as I imagined after all."
"But how did you take the electricity? The Epsilon device had no power cord."
"That's the beauty of it, isn't it?" O'Malley replied. "Dr. Church's technology was quite superior to the rest of humanity's. So, it is all thanks to you that I am back. You are the one who left me on in the first place, so I grew strong, gaining energy from your base's power. But I've already thanked you graciously for that, if you don't remember."
I ignored that horrible piece of information—the entire ordeal had been my fault. "Why did Epsilon come back as you? Why couldn't it have come back as someone else—like Delta, for instance, or Theta?"
"What, resentful?" he chortled. "The Director made it so that only the most power-hungry, only the strongest AI could present itself and come back. I made the cut; the others didn't. Happy?"
"I still don't understand. How did you escape?" I remembered the disappearing and the sand. "There's no way you could have run out of the base that quickly."
"Of course. You think I would lower myself as to run from the base." I didn't say anything, so he continued. "After knocking out your electricity, which had been easier than I thought, I decided to have a little fun and blow the Reds' fuse as well. Then I just transported myself here."
"You're lying!" I yelled, my cry echoing across the room. "Only Freelancer Idaho had the AI who did that! You just turned invisible and ran."
"You're sure?" O'Malley vanished and instantly reappeared not three inches away from me. "Obviously you don't know the extent of Dr. Church's project. You see, to preserve all the work he'd done, he decided what whichever AI was strong enough to take the electricity and come to life in its own form also should have the privilege of owning every special ability the AIs had. In short, I'm invincible."
He turned away so the reality of this statement could sink in.
"That's how you could communicate with your guards, even without a body," I said quietly.
"Yes. Now, down to business." He sighed as though he were upset about something. "Unfortunately, you have not only stumbled upon my lair, but found my Operations Room. I'm afraid you and your little friends have little time left at all."
He strode over jauntily to his array of computers and began switching a number of dials and switches. About twenty different areas of the lair appeared on his computer screen, but he maximized the ones where I could see the others.
Tucker, Church, and Simmons were still trying to break into the room, but were having no luck at all. I watched as they threw a grenade at the door, disappeared for a moment while it went off, and returned to find the door still intact. It looked as though the rest of the Reds and Caboose had met up with them and were now attempting to assist in the rescue mission.
"This is vandalism, you know," said O'Malley as another bomb went off. "But you'll help me encourage them to leave me alone."
"I'll never help you!" I snarled.
"Oh, but you will."