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Looking Glass [OnyxShard]

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“Looking Glass”

Swirling lights, strange sounds, the characters… unintelligible. “Am I ever gonna adjust to this?” thought Onyx. He thought back, had he made it this far before in the simulations? The simulations had paled in comparison to the reality of what he was attempting.

Onyx remembered when he and Darkiran had first discovered, what they had both come to refer to as “The Chair,” in a captured Swarm base. Only after closer examination did they realize the true potential of their discovery. Project Looking Glass the Swarm researchers had called it, an attempt to merge a Virtual Reality interface with networked nanobot technology.

The project had been abandoned. In testing the nanobots had overwhelmed the nervous systems of the testers, rendering them in a comatose state, or worse. That had not stopped them though. They were Faceless. They believed QONQR’s technology belonged to them.

The Chair had not spared the Faceless of casualties either. EIDramar, their ally, had been the first to test the chair. Onyx remembered the violent convulsions just before the end. Their attempts to resuscitate EID after his vitals had failed. But it was all for naught. He had suffered brain death. Onyx wondered how the Swarm researchers had rationalized QONQR, their supposed savior, destroying the very people trying to protect it.

Onyx snickered at the paradoxical nature of Swarm ideology. He had never fallen for their “exhaulted” Dr. Kimyo’s propaganda. The Swarm were fools.

Onyx stopped… What was he doing again? What was happening? And why were his thoughts so foggy?

Immediately Darkiran’s warnings flew back to him. It had been just before he had connected to the chair. “Too many people have been lost researching this tech. The minute you notice things slipping away from you, you’ve got a minute or two at best before it’s too late to bring you back.”

The ominous warning cleared Onyx’s thoughts just long enough. “Focus… just focus” he said to himself, as he cleared his mind, his surrounds stabilized. He could make out the characters now.

STAGE 5

The sharp text floated above the portal directly in front of him. This was the last stage in the program he had written, he could do this.

Soon after he entered he saw a flash of green whizzing about in the distance, his last target no doubt. He ran after it, keenly aware of just how little time he had left. How to destroy it? There’s no way I can catch up to it at this rate, thought Onyx. The weapons he had collected in previous stages didn’t have the range to hit it from this distance.

“I don’t have time for this!” He exclaimed, as he continued his sprint towards the rapidly moving green mass.

Then he saw it, out of the corner of his eye. A few meters away on a platform sat a device he had yet to encounter in the program. He changed course with a renewed sense of urgency and prayed it was something he could use.

As he approached he could see the device more clearly. Explosives? He hadn’t programmed explosives. Obviously QONQR had had a few ideas of its own for him. Just as he leaped up onto the platform his surroundings started to fade again. This was it, he was out of time. It was now or never. No time to place the explosives, no time to strategize.

He hit the detonator.

The blast threw him into the air as the flames engulfed him and just as it was all fading away he could see the green mass was destroyed. He had won.

“I knew this was a mistake!” Darkiran shouted, at the now blank monitor of the terminal from which he had been monitoring Onyx’s progress. Tears welled up in his eyes, as he began to mourn what he believed was surely the loss of his friend. To his surprise the terminal responded.

“He volunteered for this, he knew the risks…” the words emotionless, digitized, the hallmark of Prometheus.

[Part II]

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“I should have known you’d be watching Prometheus. You should have done something to help him!” Darkiran retorted.

“Watch your tone Darkiran. Do not forget the cell you would still be rotting in had I not freed you. I saw your potential and I intervened. I see all that QONQR touches, Agent OnyxShard is no exception.” The terminal responded in an even flat cadence.

“Don’t you mean WAS no exception? Look at his brain activity!” said Darkiran, pointing to the monitor showing Onyx’s vital signs, tears still on his cheeks. He had a pulse, he was still breathing, but the motionless green line under EEG showed the electrical activity in his brain had indeed stopped.

“Perhaps we are looking at different activity then.” Prometheus quipped. And with that the terminal flickered and displayed the local network diagnostics.

“This… this isn’t possible.” Said Darkiran mouth ajar as he stared in shock at the screen.

“You see it then, I presume.” The terminal responded in what Darkiran could only assume was an edge of sarcasm, but perhaps his mind was playing tricks on him.

“This is hundreds of terabytes of information we’re uploading… how are our servers even holding this much data?” asked Darkiran.

“Was it not you who once commented to me about the unpredictability of augmenting current electronics with nanobot technology? It is not unreasonable to assume they store information more efficiently than ferromagnetic discs.” responded Prometheus.

Darkiran stopped to think for a moment. Prometheus was right of course, the augmented servers of the chair could theoretically hold the memories and thoughts of a person… but an entire conscious? Was he implying that Onyx was still in there? The better question of course then is not, how he got in there, but where is he going? The traffic was so erratic. Information flowing out to servers all over the planet. Darkiran broke his silence.

“If what you’re implying is true, then where are the nanobots sending Onyx?” asked Darkian, not seriously expecting an answer.

“The better question would be where isn’t he going?” Prometheus responded. His answer as frustrating as the question itself.

Then it hit Darkiran. The relays Onyx’s data was being sent along; Portland, Houston, Atlanta, São Paulo... Those were Legion strongholds.

“What is Swarm tech doing sending their operatives to the Legion?” Darkiran exclaimed in frustration.

“More importantly, what are they doing with them? That is the question we must answer Darkiran, Agent OnyxShard’s life depends on that answer.” responded Prometheus.

“There has to be more to the chair than we initially thought. I’ll start pouring over the data fragments left on the old Swarm database immediately.” said Darkiran, his attention now focused fully on lines and lines of encrypted code.

“Allow me.” The terminal spouted. With those words, the entire database started decrypting. What would have taken Darkiran days, finished in a few seconds.

“You know the Swarm’s decryption keys?” Darkiran asked.

“A parting gift. I must go, but I’ll be watching. Bring him back Darkiran.”

To Be continued...

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