221 A Baker Street
It had been several weeks since the incident on the cruise ship had been resolved. For Ori, everything had been thoroughly traumatic and thus a blur. She witnessed her friend being blasted into nothing as he seemingly defied their tormentor and sacrificed himself to take a blast of...whatever it was for Ori. The Alliance Navy had arrived and secured the Cruise ship and debriefed all survivors. After a few days of recovery, Ori was sent back to her residence, along with Creature's remains.
The Remains were mostly his possession. Boots, clothing, that jacket he stole off the rack on the ship, his scarves. PDA, and an assortment of narcotics and cigarettes. Then life went back to normal.
Ori walked down the stairs. She did not even put on her shoes. She stepped outside into the night air and found her city bloc was devoid of life. What time was it?
Wearing little more than her night garments, and barefoot. Ori danced in the street. Time passed and a few more people filled up the streets, joining Ori in her silent jig.
Good. You like this.
Ori did like it. Ori kept dancing.
Adaptive AI experiences, it was clever work, something Taianese she bought with money she didn't earn. How much of her money was compensation for terrible things that seemed to happen around her? She had lost count, but the thrill of being a walking jinx of insurance hazard had lost its humor a long time ago. She could feel the invisible presence of the program, reading her, trying to figure out what she wanted with her actions. The rain stopped.
She saw him there, brought about in the space it took her to blink. Tall, foreboding, blue. Creature. She had barely noticed it pulling the images of reference from her own implant. He strode forward, and stopped feet from her, their own solitary eyes meeting the other. She hadn't appreciated it then, but the scars that lined his body, as covered as she tried to keep hers, seemed some lost brother to her own. Worlds apart, leagues apart, a millennia of evolution apart, and yet their wounds were nearly siblings. She thought him immortal, though the exact word did not come to her at the time, those weeks ago. When bullets and shrapnel ripped apart the world around her, he arose like a bulwark, like the imposing image before her.
To be honest, she didn't remember him getting shot. Not really, but she forgot those things fairly quickly. Forgot wasn't the right word, of course, she knew her own brain well enough to make that claim. It wasn't forgetfulness, it had been stored, covered, a cloth of patchwork tatters covering it from view. Locked up in a box, and stored away with all the others that were too terrible to leave in her conscious, though sometimes the more beastly ones rose up from their captivity. The days that followed a blur, medical personnel scanned her time and time again, police spoke with her and asked her questions, and the thorough paperwork of men who never knew her supplied the means for her to live and get help for the next few years.
She had put out several messages in strange forums and online resources, trying to find people who knew Creature, but all she got were the standard spam responses, and those that didn't know him personally but clearly had a close friend or cousin who was roommates with him in college. She never felt the need to respond to any of the responses. Maybe he didn't have anyone, maybe they were just so far away and in the strangest of places that she was practically screaming his name in the wrong city.
Incoming Voice Chat request with CHANCE_0119. Accept?
"You've been in there for a while." She didn't like the image the words put in her mind. The synthetic person staring down at her slumped, probably drooling body for hours as she tried to empty her head in the sandbox. "You need to eat, and drink. I made tea." She cursed silently, knowing she couldn't in good conscious waste the effort. "You've tried sixteen different relaxation sandboxes in the last week. I've been monitoring your vitals, whatever you need isn't in those cables." She slumped down as if to mock the voice, pouting in the one place that didn't hurt to drop like a rock. The fake Creature peered at her curiously, the AI scanning her own databanks to try and find a proper response. Alas for it, Creature was not the predictable sort. "Put me in a good spot, please?" She asked softly, and quickly felt the numbing feeling of her real body being messed with. The system tried to keep the little things from bothering you, but it couldn't rightly shut off your nerves without risking safety, so it resulted in... This, unpleasant feeling.
Waking up with a crooked neck and a drooling mouth was worse though. That kind of degradation in awakening made her feel dirty, though the touch of someone real wasn't comfortable either. It was like little buzzing flies dancing across her flesh in the shape of hands, numbing her in ways that both tried to hide what was happening and made it perfectly clear where she was being touched. Cold, gentle hands, she imagined, a robotic servant gifted so kindly by the company she had overwritten more than a handful of models for her own protection, each one's worth outweighing her own salaries by irregular amounts. She knew that the gift was only because the pirates had smashed and shot all the others, and it was easier to just let her have the one surviving model than handle the backlash of whatever news story would occur from them trying to take it back.
"I'm logging off now." She finally submitted, feeling the voice feed go dead, followed by the world around her crumbling. Crumbling was hardly the right word, comically enlarged pixels began to float off of everything, starting at the horizon and coming forth like a great rippling wave. Time slowed, the pixel decay did not. As everything faded into the dull gridded void of the VR in-between, the simple AI that looked like Creature finally acted, reach towards her, panic in its eye as pixel chunks vanished in his torso, and her heart wrenched from the image it put in her mind. She didn't want to think of how he died, especially not in her safe space. The image was momentary at best, and soon even her own avatar flittered into nothingness, the void itself closing around her, and her nerves turned to life once more.
She felt numb, as she usually did when she sat in the program for too long. She couldn't afford the long-term submersion tech of Taipan, less because of the overt price and more because of connections. It was easy to buy an expensive Taianese system from the holo, but it was difficult to actually receive what you had paid for. She stared at the black image of the screen for a few seconds as her body came back to her, and she felt the pinprick wires about her scalp, about to reach up to remove it when a pair of foreign hands did it for her. The world was still a bit blurry, but it came back to her slowly. The figure that had moved the VR set onto a shelf far from her current reach was Chance, the female-appearing AI that dressed modestly as she did. The form Chance had taken had shifted over time, but it had settled in a... Cushiony one, a face, and body that offered no eye-candy for the perverse or peculiar, and instead radiated some universal sign of motherhood, of care, of kindness that could hold you.
The body of a Chance robot changed according to its owner, she had seen videos of those with superstar sex machines, and others with specialized fetish models that seemed far too overjoyed to be doing their job. None looked at their owners with the same level of odd, unreadable yet fearful emotion as hers did now, as it placed a tray in front of her, complete with a steaming cup of tea, a plain pastry, and a mixed bowl of finger-food vegetables that she couldn't name. She shifted, groaning as she felt tight muscles throughout herself, even in the position she thought comfortable as she settled into what was practically a nest of blankets and pillows. She sat cross-legged on the floor, on top of a number of flattened blankets, a cacoon of quilts and comforters hiding her from the windows that sat on the side of the apartment.
"I expect you to eat all of that this time. Your dietary habits are currently unacceptable for your continued health." The voice wasn't scolding, as she expected, moreso it sounded worried. Food was food, and this looks just as unappetizing as anything else. Things that she'd put in her mouth, taste nothing of, and swallow down to a stomach that wasn't agreeable to even a grain of rice. Chance had figured that out quite a while ago, and the number of flowery and taste-filled foods quickly diminished. She wordlessly reached forward and began to eat, and altogether, she was right. The taste was there, but it was like there was some sort of mesh between it and her tongue. Just out of reach, just out of value, and her stomach cried out at the invasion as if she had already eaten a four-course meal, despite the time passed since her last morsel.
It had been weeks since Creature died. She had one of his scarves wrapped around her neck, and though she had met him for such a short period, she felt awful over the event, that somehow she, the weakling of the two had been thrown against a wall and had been dazed so badly that she couldn't move, while Creature-
She didn't know what happened to Creature.
He to Ori's eye looked very much the same. He wore baklava over his face and had his head covered with an Alliance Fedora, a pair of black britches and a thick white long-sleeved shirt was visible from underneath the black trench coat he was wearing. He was looking about frantically but moved close to the Camera. "Ori! What are you doing?! I dropped my friends off at the hospital but I told them I was gonna check on you!"
He exclaimed excitedly. "Also what was that shit earlier? With all the people dancing in the street? I figured you'd be inside or something. I know you are in there Ori! Chancey! Find Ori! Hang on, imma go check one of these dead bodies to make sure they aren't Ori. Fuckin Weird!"
The Creature then moved back and out of view of the Holocam's receptor.
That left her stunned with different information. What? How? When? Why? More than she could possibly communicate through the camera at the time, and so she found herself quite wordless as Creature ran off as quickly as he had appeared, leaving her filled with the desire to chase him down and force him to explain how he...
The fact that he was speaking had overshadowed what he said, and as it came to her she frowned in confusion. Dancing? That was in the VR, it didn't actually happen. However, the moment her thoughts truly lingered to it, her head began to throb, and she felt a wetness at her lip. With a finger she dabbed at it, and felt her heart cool as she found it smeared with crimson, leaking from both her nostrils at an alarming rate. She barely had time to process it before Chance was wiping it away with a quickly scavenged cloth. For the first time, she pushed Chance aside gently, standing just a bit too quickly for had to agree with, moving to the window that overlooked the artificial mesa that she had just experienced in VR, while at the same time requesting the information of the map she had just tread upon.
The information came back instantaneously, it was supposedly a recreation of some Jovian city, one that floated high in the clouds of a gas giant. That was not where she was, and that was not what she saw. Her face paled further as she saw it, down below, an amassed crowd that danced in jerking and crude motions, as if some outsider puppeteer pulled them along on strings that cared not for how their joints were supposed to bend. Many lay on the floor, unmoving, and some had puddles of darkened fluid gathered under badly broken joints. One thing she noticed quickly, however, was despite the prevalence of synthetic beings she had seen in the streets before, not a single one of the dancing or dead had the signature metal flesh or silver blood of such synthetic pulse.
Something had drawn them all out there, and it did not affect Chance, but it had effected Ori. The only thing that had saved her was the paralyzing agent of her exotic market VR set.
What if the call came back?
She activated the speaker of her door camera, nearly screaming into it as she ran towards her door. "Creature! Creature! I'm here!" The speaker blared with grain against her volume, moments before the door swung open, Ori stood there in a mish-mash of pajamas and the scarf she had kept from Creature.
Beyond Creature, and Ori's stoop was a sidewalk. Beyond that was physical Baker Street. Strewn all over the street were dead people. On their porches, stoops, Sky-Cars. Women, Men, children. Most of them still in their nightclothes. The local service robots were just starting to come out and try to render aid. They all had something in common at a glance. All of them had experienced a nose bleed and had pink fluid trickling into their ears.
Creature turned and nearly hopped back at the sight of Ori. "Ori!" He said rushing up to her. He held up his coat and dabbed at her nose. The skirt of the coat came back crimson. "Lucky for you, I lost my sense of smell. Garts famously have a sharp sense of smell, and human blood will drive us out of a room pretty fuckin quick! Ori what the shit happened? Ori? Why are these poor shits dead and you are alive?"
This would have killed me. She visibly paled, even to Creature's gaze as her blood ran cold. This would have killed me for no reason at all.
"I was... In a VR Sim, it... Paralyzes your brain's connection to the nerves that move your body consciously." She blinked at the still flowing blood, looking down to see that it stained her comfy shirt, and the scarf that was already crimson. "I couldn't move but... I saw it, I saw myself going outside and dancing, but I uh..." She frowned. "It just faded, and it felt like it was my choice." Choice stared in equivalent confusion at Creature from behind Ori.
"By jove, Creature." Chance said in a mothery tone. "You're really alive?"
About a block down the street a gaunt figure was spotted by the sharp eye Creature. Creature leered at him as if trying to figure out what he was doing. The young man was much like he and Ori inspecting what could only be described as a disaster. "Hey!" Creature shouted, waving an arm. "You uh have any idea what happened?!"
The young man stood still and stared at Creature, Ori, and Chance. He muttered something, then began rather casually walking over. Creature shrugged. "Neighbor of yours?" He said to Ori.
Whining in the back of her head kept her unfocused, calling to attention something that she desperately did not want to confront. When Creature appeared, death followed. A great black veil of silk that trailed behind him, and whatever fell beneath did not rise again. She was lucky last time to not have tripped while keeping pace.
Then Creature asked a question, and Ori frowned as she inspected the mess of the frail man that lumbered towards them. She wasn't familiar with her neighbors, having only made friends with the older Atraxian woman upstairs, but she felt like she would recognize someone so... Ragged. "No..." She seemed uncertain. "Not one I recognize at least." Something set of a warning in her head, either the circumstances or the way he looked. "Why isn't he uh..." She glanced sheepishly at a wayward body, not finishing the obvious question.
He eyed Creature intently. As he looked on the Gartman the moons loomed over his shoulders casting a shadow that obscured his face. "Why aren't you laying down?" He asked sharply.
Creature leered at him. "What? Why the fuck would I be laying down. I'm not tired dipshit. So are you gonna explain what happened or.." Suddenly Creature was flung straight up into the air. From Ori's peripheral vision she saw Creature without warning shoot off the ground at great speed.
The young man advanced on Ori, holding his right hand out. "Bad language." He said softly. "You. Why didn't you lay down when I made everybody else lay down?"
Get out before it kills you.
It was like a nightmare, the ones where she sheltered herself beneath the covers with quiet sobs while deranged and demented figures of broken bones and shapes leered at her from the corner, threatening to grab her, always shambling closer before she was shaken awake by the cool hands of her android. There were no hands to wake her here, and there were no covers to hide her head. Her mind raced as she observed the young man, barely even an adult, yet despite knowing him to be human, despite seeing everything right that made his body like hers and others, there was something deeply wrong. As if the very foundation it was built upon had lurked too long in the uncanny valley. Bones and ligaments bent at just a slightly wrong angle, too much or too little, achieving the shape of a man but losing the structure.
The question he asked further raised questions, but she had grown smarter about those things in these situations. When people danced until their bones and joints popped and snapped because their bodies could no longer keep up with the demand, the one person who walked with confidence held an innate authority. Even if his mouth moved in disgusting ways, lips and tongue shifting to form disturbing syllables and tangents of grammar that, somehow, perfectly all disguised itself like normal speech. Everything about this man was human, but the beastly parts of her instincts told her that he could only be anything but.
Before she had time to process the question further, Creature was gone, catapulted upward like some horrid comedy gag. He did not come back down. She didn't want him to, even if he was nigh immortal, the concept of him smashing against the concrete he had just stood was too much, and the immediate thought of the sound it would make almost made her vomit. Come to think of it, that intense feeling of retching had been slowly rising, but it was not illness or disgust. There was something so intangibly wrong about the situation that it made her stomach boil.
Then a hand shifted to her, and she could hear Chance shift behind her with worry, but she too understood that the whim of a being this powerful was beyond any given action. The slightest wrong move, the wrong blink or the wrong face could displease it and make him decide to render some ghastly fate upon the two of them, so far above them both that the mere idea of their shared existence was no more important than the oddity that it took two actions to wring the life from her neck instead of one. It was a disgust she was familiar with as she looked at the outstretched hand, and even though she couldn't yet figure out where she had felt that disgust before, words responded.
"I did." She sounded nervous, fear coating the words like it was marinating in it. "But there's a computer in my head." The words meant almost nothing, correct in only the vaguest and most simplified terms, like a child would say about something they held no understanding of. Ori was terrified, but she was not stupid, so she kept her ground, even if her legs trembled. The phrasing was specific, as if she described the concept like a shield.
"It doesn't effect machines." Chance supported from behind her, the two of them standing awkwardly in front of the man.
"They danced for hours. Harder and faster. These...idiots, and their stupid thoughts. So selfish and lazy. But I have received this gift. Do you appear to have gifts too? Because I wasn't able to make you dance." He said smirking, but that sly, confident smirk, soon transformed into a grimace.
"What happened to your face? Like its all messed up...I want to touch it." He said stepping closer and close, then his hand, the one that flicked Chance away, reached up for scars on Ori's face.
Ori herself did not want to move, but as he approached, hand outstretched, she instinctively stepped backward, fearfully shying away from that hand that pressed through invisible barriers of accepted boundaries. She knew that it was ill-advised to provoke him in any way, but she felt like a small animal confronted by a psychotic child, every warning of childhood behaviors of serial killers running through her mind. She recoiled from that hand, from that touch, for more reasons than she could count. She would recoil from a normal hand because she was disgusted by the idea of people touching her, especially her scars, but this was more than that. She recoiled because of why he wanted to touch her, she recoiled because of the massive difference of strength and ability, she recoiled because he could take or hurt without a fight at all.
That revolt, that pure gut-churning disgust built, and she felt her body on the verge of retching. This wasn't the cruise, this wasn't that amalgamate of slaughter and causeless death. That was done by people, that was done by thinking beings who could breathe, live, love, feel pain, and as she saw time and time again, they could die. They were horrible, but they were people.
This thing, this horrid bog of blistering hate was anything but. She had read tales of men who despised the genetically altered, of the magically gifted gods among men who were leagues above them. Countless books and media described their folly, and their fall by the hands of normal men and women. She did not understand that feeling before, she couldn't name it, but there it burned in her gut as fear froze her nerves. Running was useless, fighting was useless, every natural instinct of her body denied into that learned corner of hopelessness and dread.
"No gifts, just machines." Ori responded, her mind whirring for some solution, some way to cleave herself away from this dreadful being. "I'm scarred, my body is covered in burns." She nearly spat out in a hurry as her back hit the wall behind her.
Why was this disgust familiar? Why was this burning hatred that built with boiling bile like a repetition of a distant memory?
It was with that simple sentence of assurance that Creature came falling back down to the ground. He was screaming the entire way down, so Ori heard the noise grow louder and louder, then it was punctuated with a thunderous smack, and crunch of concrete. Creature's body lay on the ground awkwardly positioned, his extremities, and tail twitching, and a pool of blood began slowly pooling around him like oil red-black emulsion.
The young man's eyes looked at the fallen Creature briefly then returned his focus back to Ori. " I hurt him. But I hate Gartmen. Smelly, stubborn idiots. They don't belong around Humans." It was then Ori felt something seize her. She could not move. She could struggle and attempt to. All of her muscles worked, yet the effort was against nothing. The young man was not even touching Ori. Except he did. His hand reached out and he gently touched the scars on her face. His hands felt soft. Very smooth, and he took his time gently running his fingers over every intricate scar on Ori's face.
But even that opportunity, that mere autonomous right to move was stripped from her. The chance to leave, the chance to push back, the chance to do anything other than feel that disgusting feeling of an unwanted touch from scouring her skin as if there was some right of the powerful to-
"Get your mind off me." She spoke calmly, but the muscles in her face contorted and bent in uncomfortable, unfamiliar ways. Creature was down, and she wouldn't harm herself by looking at the mess before he would inevitably get back up as he always had, as he always would. It was a look that had never been forged so strong across her soft, scarred face. Malice, hatred, contempt, as if the very sight of the man before her offended her very senses. "You've been treated badly by powerful people? People you couldn't lift a finger against?" Her words were calm, collected, her mouth moving in tandem with the chip in the back of her spine as it collected and filtered synonyms and connections. "I'd say you haven't had the power for a day, and look what you're already doing. I can barely do a push-up, and you've taken my own body from me. I'd worry a lot more about that Gartagen. He's not exactly the standard in biological durability."
"The Strong do what will, the weak do what they mu-" Ori felt warmth hit her face. Her eyes blinked involuntarily. Something hit her. The young man who had been intimately close to her and touching her was laying flat on his back. A pool of blood formed around his head. In the middle of the liquid, Ori saw something red. Surrounded by bodies, and lights the scene was quiet.
Then Creature broke the Silence. "Ori! my fffthuckin shaw isth brothen." Creature stood with a homemade sling clutched in his good hand. "Are you othay?" Creature said looking at her. Creature was NOT okay. While He survived and was clearly healing, the fall had done what most would consider being catastrophic injuries. His jaw was hidden by this head wrappings, his left leg was facing way too far to the left. His right arm was twisted around with one of his bones having broken through his jacket. Creature began advancing towards Ori. Typically he moved with predatory grace. But today he shambled forward, somehow defying the natural order of things.
Creature paused and adjusted his face, with an audible crunch and a soft growl. "Shit! Okay that's better. HEY! YOU GOT HIT WITH A ROCK BITCH!" Creature shouted, his voice reverberating. "Actually it was a piece of concrete. "Uhh...Ori, Are you okay? Because I don't feel good. How bad is it?"
There was rage, a hot fiery tempo that filled her lungs and her gut and threatened to spill into her throat and spray that abominable bile as her frail hands gripped the obtuse concrete, raising it and smashing it with as much force as she could muster down onto the exposed head of the man who's name she didn't even know. She didn't know what sickened her more, the sound of rock smearing blood and flesh against the bone that kept it in place or the awful jolt that went through her arms from the rock she had chosen as a means to fulfill that innate will. It raised and fell and raised and fell, bloodied fingers peeling against the stone as it struck the skull time and time again. As long as it could heal, as long as there was the smallest cell left that could touch her, it wouldn't be enough.
There was screaming, there was crying, but she didn't slow her rampant blows, not even when she eventually recognized them both as her own. The skull didn't give way more than it had with the broken throw from Creature, and for once she was thankful for the flood of tears that blinded her, already terrified of the state of what was supposed to be a face before it simply turned to a salty red blur.
Creature? No, she didn't care. He was alive, he always would be. He would heal in minutes while her hands cut raw from the shard of concrete would take weeks if she was lucky. Even this freak below her would probably heal.
Her arms shook and burned, and her blows quickly weakened, untested and warped muscle incapable of holding the endurance despite the screaming of her senses. Her throat ran hot and raw, scraping by every breath and shout of vulgar, barely comprehensible vitreal.
She could still feel him touching her, that disgusting revulsion fueling the numb bitter itch that made her loathe mirrors.
For a moment she saw blue.
The concrete shard, cracked and tested, slick with blood that she couldn't identify, slipped from her fingers, bouncing and shattering against the ground below. She numbly pushing from her legs, throwing herself to the side, trying to find some wall to lean against as words she didn't remember saying continued to slur and curse and think of every way she could inform the man of how much he made her stomach churn. Her hands hurt, but she couldn't see well enough to figure out how bad it was. This wasn't going to come out of her laundry well, was it? Oh dear, why couldn't she stop crying?
Creature did not have the heart to tell Ori that the beating she had put on that..monstrous kid; to Creature it was comical. Creature chuckled. Then he laughed. "Urrrgh Noooo! Hahahaaaa." He nudged Ori. "You've never been in a fight, have you! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, this was scary as shit! But you went off! Hahaha. I'm Ori and I'm maaad! Hahahahah! I'm not laughing at you, It's just when you went over to him, and started watching away at his head, you crushed his eye! It was laying next to his head." In truth Creature often found that humor was the best way of coping with trauma and violence. In truth, he had watched Ori lose her mind and she mauled that little monster. Like a wild animal, and it was not something he liked, it was best to downplay it if anything for his own sanity.
Whatever Ori may have felt at Creature's laughter was swiftly interrupted. She watched Creature's torso separate from his body. It sounded like a brief crack and a snap. She was staring at Creature's legs and a mess of his entrails. The legs fell over, and Creature' blue tail twitched and squirmed as his oil slick dark red blood and viscera spewed out all over the pavement. Creature's Torso flopped down next to the legs. His eye amber eye looked up at Ori and rolled into the back of his head.
"Haha." Came that high pitched voice. "I'm Kevin by the way. A pleasure to meet you. Ori. Look. His guts are by his head. That's funny." Kevan was levitating several yards away from Ori with his hand outstretched. His face, neck chest was lacerated and coated in blood. His forehead was torn wide open. Both of his eyes were got, yet he looked dead at Ori with damaged eye sockets pressed open.
Ori was wrong, Kevin did not heal as Creature did. The damage both Ori and Creature had done to him remained. "You hurt me. Both of you. So what I am going to do, is kill everybody in this city. Except you Ori. Because I want you to watch it. If you don't watch it, I will make it so you are the only one left alive. When others come, I will kill them too. You'll get on the extranet, and beg for help, and when help comes they will die. You will witness it."
"Your idiot friend was right. I couldn't get into his head. But I could get into yours. You've never fought for anything or wanted to. I want to kill you. Slowly. But. With him dead. Who would even miss you?" Keven's feet left the pavement and her once more Leered down at Ori. He smiled briefly, then grimaced down at Ori, his broken face slick red with his own blood. Ori felt her self once more unable to move. Kevin advanced. His hand touched Ori's scars. Just nearly enough to feel the tickle of his skin on her own. "Just watch. My parents did not want to watch. Neither do you, but you get to watch." He smiled revealing that several of his teeth had been knocked out. Before he looked like a deranged youth. The beating however only seemed to reveal what this young man was. With the caricature of a demon, he leaned forward and planted a bloody kiss on Ori's unscarred cheek.
Kevin then in an instant was gone.
At most Creature would see the blood-speckled face of Ori twist into another hateful, tear-streaked grimace before something other caused him to explode.
Her body was stricken by stiffness once more, and she could not will it into motion. All she could do was stare at the gore-struck face of something less than human. An eldritch thing of spite and revenge that simply wore the ill-fitting skin of a person and her eye reflected the same disgust. She felt the roll of revulsion course through her, blood running cold-hot as his skin brushed hers, and that kiss broke chains, and things began to blur.
This thing, this inhuman abomination that thinks itself above the others, be it from some foreign depth of Tartarus or some other twisted back-bent corner of existence, a scourge of flesh that didn't deserve the right to think, much less act in the name of or against any sapient concept so aptly appropriated! Even the common dread-beasts that haunted desolate colonies had the vaguest justification that they weren't evil, only acting upon instinct! But this thing? It was vile! It was putrid!
Her body dropped to her knees as the Fiend vanished. She didn't dare look to Creature, she didn't need to see all the little steps between that disturbing amalgamate of warped organs and blood and the whole he would reach. Her mind raced, people would die, and no one would ever come to save her. She was tired of being saved, and running would do nothing. He would follow like the dread always did, like the dread always would. Could he be defeated? Killed, even? She didn't know, but every word mouthed with broken teeth scraped passed her ears brought a rage wholly unfamiliar to her, and she found herself scrambling to her feet, her implant whirring as it drove to connect to local systems, trying to find any opening, anything she could use.
Many automatic systems, especially in Alliance territory had loopholes. Fabricators could make weapons if convinced that they were necessary. Usually, some human connection was there to battle such claims. There were no humans now. There was Ori, the putrid stench of death, and a lack of noise. Not even flies buzzed, stroked to death all the same. Poking security systems gave alarm somewhere, and that response was often what shut people out. People seeing the attack for what it was, and now she needed into all of it.
Could she kill it? She doubted it. Life wasn't fair like that. She'd die afraid and alone as she was always meant to.
But she could make the Fiend regret leaving her alive.
From a passing connection with a navigation terminal, she downloaded the last several years' variants of the city schematics, bypassing a few warnings of restrictions with stolen credentials she wrangled from the PDA of a uniformed technician, crooked and broken on the ground next to it. Keep moving. She highlighted a local security office and a local broadcasting station. Don't let it catch up to you. She marked a robot construction agency as well, paired with a local power grid annex.
Is this what the tormentor-spirits want? She thought in passing, vaguely paranoid that the encroaching, disgusting fingers of the Fiend still lingered in her head. She walked onward, refusing to focus on the bodies she stepped over, narrowly walking around puddles of blood. She didn't speak a word, knowing that aside from Creature who was still healing behind her, and the Chance AI that would likely stay by his side, no one was around to hear it.
There was a soft rumble of thunder off into the city. Creature turned his head and looked off into the darkness. The street lights flickered. "We uh...I think that crazy kid is killing people. I think I should probably do something about that. But uh if you want to stay home. I won't blame you. That kid is creepy as fuuu--"
Creature turned his head. There was a second Creature looking at both he and Ori. Only unlike the "Original Creature" This one was wearing pants, and had no shirt on. "Uh. What the hell..." The second Creature mouthed.
They both looked at Ori. Pantless Creature Look at his doppelganger. Then at Ori. "ORI IM SCARED."
"Yea. Me Too." The Second Creature said.
A clone? No, she had heard of sea-faring scavengers and strangely designed beasts of distant worlds that, if cut apart in appropriate ways, could regrow fully from each individual piece. Typically, she knew, they lacked a centralized brain structure. She didn't know what this meant for Creature, and she wasn't too inclined to ask. The only thing she did know, however, is she was no longer willing to look at the copy that wasn't wearing pants. She stood almost dumbfounded as she considered the two of them, speaking to neither, before she shook her head and began walking again. "Put on pants. It's already bad enough looking around without having to consider... You." The offputting way she said it seemed to imply more than just his nude lower half, though she didn't seem too intent on explaining what she meant.
It was indeed not a mess she was willing to handle, and while she wasn't wanting to deal with the larger problem either, it seemed that it would come around to her eventually whether she liked it or not. All of it, too, for what? Because she had to the gall to exist within a six mile vicinity to an unstable mutant? Because she went and committed the awful crime of breathing his air? The Fiend would have killed her if she wasn't so warped into her technology, and now he would starve her to death knowing she didn't have the knowledge of how to survive once local supplies ran out, or would just slowly kill her once he got bored with extra malice.
All of it hurt her head, and she paced onward faster, trying to find some simple solution. Even the ideas she came up with solved nothing. Get robotic support? Sure, it would help overall, but they could and would be destroyed in a second. Call for help? Nothing could breach atmosphere. Find a weapon? She had never even held a gun in her life. Would good would one now do? Aliens were perhaps the only things he couldn't twist the connections in to kill immediately, but even then he had more than enough power to just rip them in half.
The machines were the only things she could truly focus on. Hands aside from hers that would do right by her need, and so she moved towards the store. Would it be a crime? It was an odd question, but she'd done it before albeit under more immediate circumstances. She didn't like the idea of this being some common thing for her, but she was out of better options, and bodies that functioned with no biological thoughts to read made sense. At least they weren't likely to gain some form of mocking attitude like her pre-existing company.
The building did not appear to be anything like what she anticipated. It was safely designed, and clearly was meant to be walked through by customers and workers alike, but she quickly realized that this large, warehouse like building was a far cry from the quaint rich shop she had visited while on the space cruise. This was a workshop of a larger variety, machines and robots of varying intelligences being constructed for goals such as maintenance, construction, and surveying. Drones, tank-treaded robots that only vaguely resembled the shape of people, and slight, small androids that were equipped with repair equipment.
It was large, and she realized, as she looked around, that she didn't quite know where to start.