Seven Days: Part Two of Seven
Posted By: SeverianofUrth<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 11 March 2005, 3:14 PM
Seven Days: Part Two of Seven
The strips of light seeping through the serrated blinds shone on the Consul's bright bald head, and it made my eyes water. I wiped them away with the back of my hand, and started examining my shoes to avoid the shining cone of skin and bone.
The Consul, seated behind his huge mahogany desk, was currently dictating his orders to the A.I., who looked suspiciously like the popular M.J. Fischer AI Models. I could not begrudge him of this little flaw, however, and I tried my best to ignore the rising sense of disgust as the naked A.I., whose characteristic 'skin' usually consisted of scrolling lines of binary code but now featured a flawless brown skin, wiggled and squirmed as she took down the Consul's orders.
Finally, the Consul finished speaking, and the AI vanished away. I let out a sigh. And the Consul then turned towards us, his long, thin fingers now steepled before him like the transplanted Eiffel Tower on New Bastille.
"The vids came in yesterday. I've watched them, but to tell you the truth I can't make heads or tails out of the damn thing." The Consul said. His head glinted.
"Bad quality, sir?" Jimmy asked.
"What vids, sir?" I asked.
The Consul ignored both of us. He went on. "The boys at Intel thought that they might be able to figure it out, but after a hour they gave up. Said nada. Nothing. Might by lyin', of course, but what the hell- I think it's time you kids got a chance."
"If I may ask, sir-"
"The scene on the beach is clear, and we know that whoever did it didn't do it with anything we know about. Might be some stolen ONI tech the Intel's been keeping mum about, but I doubt it- I've seen nothing like this."
"So take them, and get out of here." His eyes seemed to flash. "I got work to do."
"Aye, sir." I said.
"Wait, sir." Jimmy said.
"What is it?"
"Sir, about the vids... why the hell do they exist?"
The Consul looked pissed. "What do you mean, son?"
"I believe, sir," Jimmy said, "that surveillance was to be restricted to New Hawaiian government properties. No recordings were to be made of public areas. In fact, this is the first time I've heard of such a thing-"
The Consul closed his eyes, and sat back on chair, while sighing wearily. "Listen, son. I know what we've told to the civilians- that we're not watching them from restrooms, beaches, whatever. But we need it. The threat's still there, kid, regardless of the fact that New Hawaii's located in a god-forsaken corner of the galaxy that most people don't even know exists."
Jimmy would have replied, and the Consul would've gotten reallypissed, had I not bowed, snatched the disks off the mahogany desk, and grabbed Jimmy by the shoulders and hauled him out of the office.
He shook my hands off, looking angry and ashamed. He muttered, then, outside the Consul's office, half to himself, half to me,
"Thought we weren't in Kansas no more, Toto."
I have no idea what he was talking about, Ben. Maybe you know- you're a history buff. Or at least, you used to be.
But I know the sentiment behind his mutterings, Ben. When illusions are stripped away, it hurts. At Calibani, as I executed the last of the O'Connor brothers, I realized for the first time that the movement- to which I had dedicated the entirety of my life to, then- was flawed, filled with men not immortal and prone to corruption. They were good people, Ben, the O'Connor brothers: four of them, all bear-like, shaggy and bearded with good humor and even better cooking.
I hunted them through the streets of Utiga, the capital of Calibani. Ben, I shot David O'Connor right through the forehead, when I held his daughter in my hands and he knelt in front of me to beg for her life. Blood had showered all over the little girl's dress. I let her go, and all she could do was to look at what remained of her father's face.
Remorse. Why do they haunt me so? I paid for my crimes at Apotrops. Paid for them hundred times over in that asteroid prison.
The O'Connors had done nothing but try to expose the corruption of the Securidad branch of our movement, Ben. The Securidad had been smuggling detrimeth in secret. But I had been ordered to kill them, and believing every lie told to me, I killed them.
Only when Ben O'Connor- same name as you, brother- choked out a explanation did I realize my mistakes. By then it was too late; the rope had crushed his windpipe.
By the time we got out of the Securidad building, Jimmy had calmed down, and we spoke no more of the incident in the Consul's office.
The 'hog having been entrusted to a car-wash down by the sea, we walked back to the lab on the sidewalks of New Honolulu. Palm trees, laden with soft-shelled coconuts, lined the streets, and they provided a pleasant shade over the walking pedestrians. The sidewalk itself was beautiful, the color that of obsidian, shining and glistening even beneath the shade of leaves.
There was a restaurant on the corner of Aberra Avenue, and it's name was Jojola's. The owner, who had the misfortune of having being named Hitler Jojola, was a pleasant man to hang and drink with. We went in and ordered some lamb-chop enchiladas, and Jojola added on, for free, a bottle of lemon vodka. So we drank that down also, the liquid burning down our throats; and Jojola talked, and told jokes, and we laughed along with him. .
"So, y'know, I says to myself that this ain't the right set of hooters, and right enough, the ol' woman appears and says to me, 'get the fuck out of there, you cock-suckin' urchin!'" Jojola said, laughing all the while. He had an infectious laugh. The sip of vodka I had taken swirled up to my nose when I laughed, and it burned- I started choking and gasping. Jojola called for a cup of water, and a pitcher of the awful beer- Le'Guinness, it had bee called- came instead. I drank that down. It tasted like horse piss.
Our talk then turned to politics, the UNSC mishaps that seemed to go on and on and on, and finally our days in Apotrops. We all turned silent then: the politico prison wasn't something you could easily laugh about.
Jimmy and I were finished with the food by then, and so we took leave of Jojola. I never called him Hitler- mainly because the name has a bad vibe to it, but also because, partly, Jojola loathed the name. Normally, I wouldn't have let that bother me. I'd have burned the little man time and time again. It's just that I didn't want him to start pissing on the food.
Alright. That was a lie. I liked him, and respected him.
The funny little man. God bless his soul.
By the time we got back to the lab, I was a little buzzed, while Jimmy was nearing the state of drunken-ness he liked to call cataconia.
"Goddamn lightweight," I said as we walked in. The doors slid open for us.
"Fuck you, Rubashov." Jimmy staggered once; I decided not to help him, should he fall.
We turned the lights on, and I walked over to the kitchen and started brewing some cheap instant coffee. Jimmy padded over to the restroom and started splashing water all over his face, then came out, drying his face with a towel. I handed him a cup of the coffee, and he downed it in one shot, not minding the scalding heat.
I got my cup, and sipped it black as Jimmy popped the vid-disks into the players. I dimmed the lights a little, too. Then we sat back, waiting, expecting gun-toting psychopathic murderers and bloodbaths. We prepared to be disgusted out of our minds.
Grains of sand glittered beneath New Hawaii's small, icy moon, and the green waters of the ocean seemed to glow with a verdant light.
There was a woman, sitting on the sand, shoulders and back slouching comfortably as she watched her daughter run to the ocean. The others, all parents with kids and all comfortably middle-aged, slumbered on the warm sands. They were all full of good food and satisfied with their newfound lot in life. The fires they had lit for the dinners had by then died down to nothing but embers, glowing with faint red light. All the children were in the waters by then, splashing, playing, and the adults slept or dreamily watched. It was a jolly good scene.
Then it all begins.
A little girl slides into the waters. There is a tense, choked silence as her body falls into the waters, blood darkening the green sea, and then the screams begin. Her legs remain standing for a while more.
The other children are also hacked apart, arms flying and legs falling. Blood turns the waters red. The attackers are coming from the sea, but nothing can be seen of them. They are, for all purposes, non-existent.
Some of the parents rush for their dying- dead- children. Some run away. But all are hunted down, screaming and choking and pleading to God for help.
And then, there is only silence. That, and the waves lapping into the beach, stirring the corpses as they floated away.
There was a pause. Then:
"Any possibility of them being invisible samurai warriors?"
"Not a chance."
I think I would have appreciated the familiar, Ben. The unknown frightened me, then.