Dystopia Chapter 5

From the Story Arc: Dystopia

Previous Story in the Arc: Dystopia Chapter 4 by Krasniy Zakat (Friday, July 14, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Dystopia - Sofia's Journal by Krasnaya Zarya (Wednesday, July 19, 2006)

(posted Monday, July 17, 2006)

The room that made for something of an office in Aleksander's laboratory was currently occupied by two men, two drastically different men, both in physique and temperament. Aleksander, long, wiry and hawkish, who sat in a black swivel chair, was the very image of the outstanding physicist – from the white lab coat he wore to the variety of gadgets that were strewn across the desk in front of him. Both the lab coat and the gadgets were not his, though, having recently been taken from his visitor from a mirror universe, who lay unconscious in another room.

Standing on the other side of the desk was a tall, stocky fellow, older and better dressed. His black three-piece suit was neat and tidy, smooth except for a small thickness around the stomach, barely betraying the fact that the decades were catching up on his physique. He was a large man, not fat, but heavyset – the kind that was used to intimidating his fellow man just with his towering presence. Even now that he was passing middle-age, with graying hair and weathered face, his chiseled features and burning black eyes caused most to wither under his attention.

Except for Aleksander, who never seemed to notice his place in the social hierarchy of human interaction, which frustrated Viy to no end. Even now the outrageous, red-haired physicist was visibly unperturbed, as was evident by his sarcastic smile, a clear display of derision to a man of lesser intelligence, and by the thinly veiled display of annoyance.

“He brought all of these, Aleksander Mikhailovich?” The rigid officer demanded, his gaze sweeping across the vast array of devices. They came in all shapes and sizes, most of them defying any description that would hint at what they might do.

“That's what I said,” Aleksander replied, irritated. It was an annoying habit of the government official to always want things repeated to him, especially if it was something that he was having trouble believing. In this case, he had been trying to insinuate that multiple trips had been made, or that these were fakes, due to the sheer number of them. “There were dozens of pockets on his clothes, all of them stuffed with these machines. Obviously, he wanted to be prepared for anything he encountered.”

“Not prepared enough, it would seem.” He sneered and leaned forward, giving one of the machines a thorough scrutiny. It didn't seem to please him, for he quickly returned to his military stance and shifted his gaze back to the scientist. “What does it – do these – do?”

Aleksander had given the small antenna-like object his own examination previously, but had been unable to divine its purpose. He'd had similar issue with the other items, since he was unable to turn any of them on, except for a small flat rectangular one, which appeared to be a miniature computer. With the technology to create advanced circuitry so small, his duplicate must have been laughing at Aleksander's inability to create a decent positronic brain. Even that machine was unusable, as it asked for a password, which he hadn't been able to guess. Incidentally, he had neglected to present it, together with a few other gadgets that had 'slipped his mind' on the tabletop for this rather obnoxious inspection.

“I am a scientist, not an oracle,” Aleksander answered, sighing heavily. It always felt like some kind inquisition, which it wasn't too far from, seeing as how Viy was an agent of the Internal Security Bureau. He didn't like working with him, but it was the only way to get access to the resources he needed to cure his condition, permanently. “It will take time to get them up and running. I need to duplicate his power source, which is, frankly, vastly superior to our own. It seems they run on some kind of broadcasted power, as there is no port to plug a cord into them, and they have no batteries.”

“I see... How much time will it take you?”

“I don't know. Weeks? Months?” Aleksander shrugged.

“Too long. There could be others coming here to rescue him within days... We need to duplicate his technology now.” Viy narrowed his eyes, the cold orbs calculating the possible outcomes of whatever convoluted schemes were running through his head. There was a small glint to them, which Aleksander had generally come to dread; something bad was about to happen. “We are bumping up schedule. I am taking the visitor with me back to base, where I can interrogate him personally.”

“I would rather you didn't,” noted Aleksander, trying to keep a civil tone. “I did not enjoy this... scheme, and I would rather leave my double in my own possession. To ensure he is not.. roughed up too much.”

The agent sneered, regarding this turncoat civilian with something between sheer malice and pitying scorn. “I don't think you have the option to refuse me,” said the ISB man coolly. “In addition to your unfortunate counterpart,” his lip curled, his hand waving over the desk. “I have to take all of these with me.”

“All of it?” Aleksander shook his head, looking down at the desk. He had expected this much and hid some of the objects; the small computer, for instance, was not present. “Give me time and I ca-”

“No, you can't,” Viy cut him off. Aleksander looked up and saw that in the brief seconds, the agent had somehow drawn a small laser pistol and was aiming it straight at his chest. “I will be taking you and your portal anchor with me, as well.”

“And if I were to refuse to accompany you?” inquired Aleksander with interest.

“I'm afraid you don't have that option, either, Aleksander Mikhailovich.”

“I am sorry to hear that.” Aleksander's eyes flashed, and the both of them were instantly bathed in a bright white light, shattering sounds filling the air. Viy had been flung out the door by Aleksander's burst of energy, and was laying in a small heap against the wall of the corridor, the pistol at his feet. Aleksander was still sitting in his chair, staring down at the small hole in his shirt, the cloth singed and smell of burnt metal permeating the room. The laser beam had passed straight through him, through the back of the chair, and into the wall behind, exposing not blood and flesh, but copper wiring and steel.

Two men in khaki military uniforms darted into the room, rifles held high. They didn't even get a chance to fire at the scientist, who flung himself out of the chair towards them, his body suddenly aglow with an eerie orange light. He leaned on the small office desk for leverage, and vaulted the table, sweeping to the floor some of the precious newly acquired equipment. He brought his hands forward, clenching them angrily into fists. His hands passed through the weapons, instantly melting them with an intense heat, and reached their respective chests. Then his fists opened into flat palms, the light concentrating into small balls before exploding into blinding light and concussive force.

He quickly exited the room, leaving the men behind, smashed into the opposite walls of his makeshift office. He was greeted by more men, more laser rifles, and a very upset Viy, who was picking himself up off the floor. Aleksander could make out the shimmering light of the forcefield that had protected the ISB agent from injury. The laser pistol was once more leveled at his chest, but Viy froze, staring through the hole in Aleksander's chest.

“He's a damn robot!” Viy shrieked, immediately opening fire. The soldiers joined in, a rain of light and heat pouring down the hallway.

Manipulating energy had always been Aleksander's trick, ever since the accident in Chernobyl had bestowed its strange curse upon him. He had assumed Alex, his counterpart, had at the very least similar abilities. However, just like the little fascinating computer this knowledge was not, so to speak, on the table. He had a guess it was some kind of psionic ability, latent since birth, but activated by the sudden trauma of his bodily functions going haywire. With the mysterious chronic build up of energy by his mitochondria, he found himself able to produce these beams at will. But his body was unable to handle the stress, or the radiation poisoning, and one fateful day some ten years ago, reached its end point.

The explosion had been spectacular, destroying the majority of the hospital he had been staying in, the loss of life great. It was only by sheer luck that his wife had been away from his side, away from his amazing death throes.

It hadn't been death, he quickly found, but a strange new life. Someway, somehow, his mind had taken the last bit of energy, in those final few nanoseconds, and manipulated it into a copy of his brain. His existence, ever since, was as a complex formation of particles, duplicating his mental abilities. It had taken time to adjust, to learn how to interact with the physical world without any matter.

It was a long, difficult road, yet made all the easier when he found that he could control certain robots, possessing them like some desperate ghost. Artificial Intelligence may have been a dead field since the end of the Cold War, but he could be his own brain, controlling the android from the inside. The robotic duplicate he now inhabited was the latest creation along these lines, having been constructed after his last deal with Viy.

He was not confined to the body, though. Even now, as the soldiers of the Global Security Force tried to rain down destruction upon his mechanical form, he had expanded his awareness outside the metal shell, into the surrounding space. Once the lasers entered his sphere of influence, he diverted them, setting them into a permanent orbit around the android. It took a great deal of effort, on his part, to trap light, but so long as he kept it moving, he found he could store massive amounts of it. Coherent beams of light especially were easier maintained while still in motion. One could not suddenly stop light, or find a way to spend the immense kinetic energy it had, but one could send a beam of laser simply pinning in other directions. The most difficult, of course, were the beams shot straight at you – while the others would simply continue along a curved path, these head-on felons had to be pushed aside forcibly.

Soon the shooting stopped, the soldiers staring at their target in amazement. Aleksander was motionless, untouched by the mayhem that had thrown at him. The hallway was scorched by lasers, all the way down to the heavy metal door at the end, which led to the portal lab, and was covered in black marks except for a perfect circle directly behind Aleksander. Every now and then they caught a glimpse of red sparkle near him, as the otherwise invisible lasers intersected with dust in the air.

Viy was fumbling with a small pad on his waist, pressing one of the four buttons on it as he stared in horror at the imposing figure before him.

Subtly, Aleksander broke the lasers out of their orbits, altering the structure of the coherent beams, mixing and merging them. Each wave was stretched or shrunken to match it's immediate neighbor, redirected until they moved in parallel. Seconds later, he was surrounded by a photonic shell of energy. If one were to see the lasers, still invisible, they would have formed a number '6' above Aleksander's head. He concentrated more of his energy and created a fork in the path, dividing the tip of the 6 into two and sending out sweeping cones, instantly sending the entirety of the energy into two different directions.

Once thus released, the altered laser was off on its unstoppable way to create destruction. Aleksander felt wistfully annoyed at the destruction of his lab, watching the concrete blacken and smoulder as the cones went. Not that he hadn't felt wistfully annoyed to kill... but he had no wish to be brought in anywhere, knowing better. And perhaps he would not have to give up his alternate self, as well.

Sofia would kill him.

The death of the soldiers was instantaneous, leaving only sizzling ashes behind. He doubted even the personal force field worn by Viy could have stopped such an onslaught without an extra power source to increase its protection. He didn't have a chance to test his theory, though, as Viy had disappeared in a small burst of light just before the lasers impacted his position.

Teleporters. Something that had always annoyed Aleksander, if only because he could not risk ever using one, since it might not know how to deal with his particle-based self, and could end his life as he knew it. Men like Viy had no such worries.

Aleksander re-entered the android body and stormed down the hallway, his shoes pounding on the floor and the tails of his coat flying behind him in an absurd imitation of angel wings, back to the main room where his alternate self lay unconscious. Perhaps there was still time to make amends for his betrayal, to get his help. He would need him to deal with Viy, at the least.

He never got the chance to ask. On the other side of the doorway were a group of GSF shock troopers, one of them holding a large ominous weapon. He recognized it on sight, and as the device powered up, he knew he had to flee, immediately. He absconded from the android, passing upwards, but was too late. As the electro-magnetic pulse passed through the hallway, causing the robot to fry internally, he felt an excruciating pain, one that he never thought he could feel without nerves. His consciousness faded.