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Zenith Omega
Contrapasso V
Wed May 5, 2010 7:29am
174.18.1.185

NRP: I couldn't stomach starting a new thread for the continuation of Zenith's CD so I'm slapping it in here. Sorry in advance Dem.

For those not in the know, here's a link to the other four chapters:

http://disc.yourwebapps.com/discussion.cgi?disc=163916;article=4035;title=The%20Stomping%20Grounds

And the bonus chapter:

http://disc.yourwebapps.com/discussion.cgi?disc=163916;article=4098;title=The%20Stomping%20Grounds

RP:

Contrapasso


Debts


Aiden opened his eyes slowly. Lazily. He knew what he would see before he saw it. The same gray walls he had seen for the past three weeks according to his internal chronometer. Gray walls and a solid metal slab of a door. A small metal sink nestled close to the toilet on the wall nearest the top of his plain thin-mattresses bunk.

The only variable in the whole room was whether his tray and clothing was on the floor or not. Today the tray was gone and his crumpled gray shirt remained where he’d thrown it the night before.

The former assassin started to rise then thought better of it and fell backwards. He regretted it the second the impact reverberated down his spine. The mattress may as well not exist for all the cushion it supplied. Letting out a hissing breath, Aiden crossed his arms under his head and stared up at the ceiling. As drably gray as the rest of the cell.

As was quickly becoming tradition he replayed the last memories he had of Sugi Corps’ Shadow Laboratory.

Pain. More pain than he had ever experienced before. Vere wiggled his metal thumb in Aiden’s eye socket and laughed like a pig as blood and viscous gore oozed from the cavity.

He didn’t know the screams were his until they stopped abruptly as Aiden’s throat gave out.

For a second his one good eye focused on Codex’s body. The hacker lay like a broken puppet. Smoke lazily dribbled up from three holes drilled into his breastplate. The death was Aiden’s fault and for a brief moment that bothered him. The thought came and went so quickly he almost doubted he’d thought it.

Behind him what should have been Samantha tightened her grip as he sagged against her. There was no strength left in his body and no will left in his heart. It was over and he had failed. Tricked by an obese meat bag. Possibly the most outlandish and depressing end the consummately professional and highly skilled reploid could ever imagine himself coming to.

Just as his eyelids drooped the door burst inward and he saw, for the briefest second, the face of a dead man.


His reverie was interrupted by the sharp slap of metal against metal as the automated locks on the other side of the door unlatched themselves allowing the metal plate to slide inward. Outlined in the doorway was the very much alive Antigo; who Aiden knew ought to be very much dead. He had personally put a bullet through the reploid’s processor and seen the slagged mess it made of Antigo’s positronic brain.

As always the door slid closed behind the reploid leaving captor and captive alone in the tiny gray cell.

Aiden watched through his one eye as Antigo leaned back against the wall, crossing his arms unconcernedly across his chest.

“It’s been three weeks.”

Aiden grunted. Antigo tipped his head back.

“Reckon you owe me your life.”

Another grunt.

“The only reason you’re alive is because I need you.”

Aiden felt his interest surge and it must have showed on his face because Antigo smiled.

“That’s right. I need you for a job. We’re going to rescue Zenith Omega.”

The sniper laughed bitterly. “She’s dead as a doornail.”

“You thought the same about me.” Antigo quirked an eyebrow. “So it isn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility that she be alive.”

“Even if her chassis is still moving the personality at the wheel ain’t Zenith.”

“That’s a fact.”

Aiden shifted slightly. “Then what’s the point?”

“I owe her.” Antigo paused a beat. “You do too.”

“Sure I do.” Aiden sneered.

“One could say you wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for her. Hell she could be regarded as your mother.” Antigo held up a restraining hand. “It’s a stretch I’ll grant you but not much of one.”

“So what. You’re just gonna waltz up to James Combs and demand her freedom?”

Antigo’s smile widened slightly. “Something like that.”

***


The low lights glimmered softly off Zenith’s alabaster flesh covering the assassin cum bodyguard in a hazy halo of white light visible in the body-length mirror. The ethereal element was made a mockery by the dull pink lines running haphazardly across her flesh. Thin streaks darted up her arms and around her legs but the greatest concentration were on her torso. Thick raised scars that roped across her ribs and abs like the roots of some horrendous plant.

She had no idea where the tapestries of scars came from. There was nothing in her memories that could account for them. Tracing a finger down the scar that neatly bisected her left eyebrow and ran down her cheek Zenith frowned and remembered the terrible anger on Lord Combs’ face when she’d asked about the scars.

James’ implacable façade crumpled like computer paper in the heart of a fire as cold rage overtook his features.

“The scars are there because I wish them to be.” His articulation was too perfect, a sure sign of temper. “Never inquire of their origin again.”


Zenith did not need to be told twice.

A gentle tap at the door broke her reverie and Zenith hastily threw a short robe ‘round her shoulders and made her way to the door. The privacy cam showed Yashira’s face. The girl looked like hell. Lines that hadn’t existed before now carved channels down the bottoms of her eyes and there was an angularity to her features that made her seem harsher than her seventeen years should have allowed.

Eighteen. Zenith realized. The girl’s birthday had passed a week ago to little fanfare. Certainly her husband had done nothing to commemorate the occasion. Heaving a sigh Zenith keyed her door to open and arranged her face into an implacable mask.

“Milady.”

Yashira nodded gently and gestured towards the room. “May I?”

Zenith resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Like she had any choice in the matter. “Please.” She replied, stepping aside as she did.

The young Mrs. Combs strode into the room and sat down on the slab-like cushion of the modest sitting room’s couch curling her legs in front of her as was her habit.

“Couldn’t sleep.” She explained with an apologetic smile. “I’ve noticed you don’t either.”

Zenith blinked in surprise. Truth be told she didn’t sleep much. Sleep brought on a torrent of strange people and events that, in the course of the dream, seemed like memories. Of course, on waking, all she had were the vaguest snatches of what she’d dreamed and a splitting headache. So no, Zenith didn’t sleep much. But how did Yashira know that?

“Cameras.” Yashira said, as though reading Zenith’s mind. “Probably not supposed to hack them but I can so…” Her eyes flicked up, gauging Zenith through her lashes and bangs. “You won’t tell will you?”

Everything Zenith was required her to tell her master of the security breach. After an infinitely long second she shook her head. Yashira smiled slightly. “I’m glad. It’s good to have someone I can trust here.”

Zenith’s eyes narrowed slightly. Was she someone Yashira could trust? She shouldn’t be. Her loyalty was to James Combs not his celestial bride. And yet something buried deep in her insisted she be a shoulder for the young woman. Some womanly subroutine that blasted her with nurturing feelings in the face of her vulnerability.

Not that she’s nearly as vulnerable as I thought. A fact proven by her hacking Sugi Corps constantly monitored and updated ice. It certainly painted a new layer on her seemingly innocent charge.

“May I ask you a question?” Zenith nodded before processing the request fully. It was becoming a habit to simply acquiesce to the woman. Not a habit Zenith was especially pleased about.

“Where did you get those scars?”

“I…” Zenith breathed out a long breath. “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?” Yashira echoed. “How is that possible?” Her eyes traced one of the worse scars snaking across Zenith’s torso through the opening of her loosely belted robe.

“I don’t know.” Zenith’s tone was sharp. Sharper than she’d intended. But the question hit far too close to home for her not to take it personally. The reploid could almost see the gears clattering away in her charge’s skull as she mulled the problem over.

“There is one way.” Yashira muttered, pressing her forefinger against her bottom lip. Zenith fidgeted in the silence that followed then finally broke it.

“Care to share?” She growled.

“A full personality core wipe.” Zenith paled. A core wipe was the worst sort of rape a being could commit to a reploid. It not only stripped them of their cybernetic ’soul’ but served as the ultimate reminder of just how artificial and meaningless their lives were. Forcing a reploid to see that everything they had experienced and stored away was naught but ones and zeroes to be deleted at the whim of another.

“Who would do that to me?” Zenith whispered. The pathetic smallness of her voice embarrassed and enraged her at the same time. But it must have struck a cord with Yashira because the young woman’s features firmed.

“I don’t know but I’ll find out.”

“Why?” Zenith asked, suspicion rearing its ugly head.

Yashira‘s lips spread in a soft, sweet, smile. “It’s what any friend would do for another.”


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