Dystopia Chapter 49

From the Story Arc: Dystopia

Previous Story in the Arc: Dystopia Chapter 48 by Krasnaya Zarya (Friday, October 27, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Dystopia Chapter 50 by Krasnaya Zarya (Friday, November 03, 2006)

(posted Sunday, October 29, 2006)

Getting to the ventilation shaft was almost anticlimactic, in Alex’s mind. After the various pyrotechnics of his first escape attempt, he had really been expecting some physical confrontations of equivalent standing, especially given the resourcefulness that the ISB and GSF had shown outside of Sofia’s cell. Except for the blaring alarm claxon and dodging the periodic patrols, the covert escape was going off without any sign of resistance.

“Surprising, given one of our members,” Alex continued the thought out loud, partly for himself and partly for his invisible companions. In particular, for his robotic duplicate who he knew was just a meter in front of him.

“I told you before, I’m trying to be quiet,” Aleksander growled, trying to remain quiet. His heavy feet were the only audible pair of the quartet.

“You’re not doing a very good job.” Alex once more checked the halls around them, worried that someone might hear them passing. “Can’t you tiptoe or something?”

“I fall over.” There was a short period of silence, followed by a couple quick thuds as the invisible Aleksander caught himself from tripping over his own feet. “It’s been ten years since I’ve had a body, I’m surprised I was able to move lifelike enough to fool you.”

“Hmpf,” Alex glowered, trying his best to ignore the jibe and failing miserably at it. “I hear it’s like riding a bike…”

“Quiet, you two,” one of the Sofia’s snapped. He wasn’t sure which one. He also wasn’t sure whether that was a good thing or bad thing: either the alternate Sofia was recovering, or his wife was wearing down. “Aleksander, you want to check the vent to see if it’s still open? The last thing we need is to get trapped…”

“Or be caught in a trap,” replied the other Sofia, whichever one it was. Being invisible did have its disadvantages in a world where duplicates exist.

This is going to bug me all day…

The group stopped under the high wall vent that had been their entrance only a short while before. Aleksander had carefully put it back when they had passed through then, and at a cursory glance one could not tell that it had been tampered with; a closer examination revealed that the screws had been stripped during the initial forced opening, and pounded into place later with a hammer (or a robotic finger).

“I will be right back,” Aleksander whispered and, assumedly, left his body to travel through the ventilation system.

It gave Alex a weird feeling, having his duplicate fly around in an energy form – something normally reserved for certain alien species in his own dimension. Not just the thought that it, too, could happen to him; Somewhat comforting, mused Alex, to know that I may not die. No, there was something else disturbing, something almost… tangible. Like he could feel his alternate self flying around.

Perhaps that was it. Alex had long since considered that while Sofia was a pyrokinetic, he might have been an energokinetic, thus utilizing his strange biology instead of exploding. Is it possible that this might include a kind of extra-sensory perception, an innate feeling of where energy was and where it was going? It would certainly explain his uncanny abilities with troubleshooting fault electrical equipment.

And if he could sense it, could he control it, the same way that he controlled it within his body? Heretofore he had been unable to: once he flung the little (or not so little) bursts of energy, it left his hands and went into Newton’s and Einstein’s. But how would he be able to test it, to find out if it was possible? A teacher, perhaps? He certainly had his share of psychic friends, though he wasn’t sure he’d trust any of them with his mind.

Egads. No. Alex though, pushing away the sudden image of Communard and his odd prescriptions of “nasal shunts”. It had taken the Rikti War to get Sofia to learn her abilities, yet this little incident has unlocked no hidden potentials in me. I guess I am limited to my body. He smirked. At least until I explode and become an energy being of my own…

“No good.” The voice of the just mentioned entity interrupted his train of thought. “They’ve resealed it and set some guards out there.”

“Can’t you just cut through the barricade?” A Sofia asked. Argh!

“Yes,” the voice sounded a little annoyed. At the least, it was sarcastic. “And then we get the alarm system going off and Viy knowing exactly where we are while we’re still trying to get all four of us out of a vent which will probably be flooded with some toxic gas or another. No good.”

“Looks like it’s back to my plan,” Alex chortled smugly. “I know how to get to the main entrance, it won’t take us long. They can’t detect us with the cages going, so we’ll just walk right out.”

“I don’t like it,” A Sofia stated.

“Neither do I,” added the other one. “But it’ll have to do. Let’s go.”

Just like during Alex’s earlier solo excursion, the trip up to the top floor took an inordinate amount of nail-biting stressful time. Between hoping that someone will come by and use the elevator without bumping into one of them and hoping that nobody would hear Aleksander’s thumping walk (at least, that’s how it sounded to Alex’s sensitive ears), Alex was getting a terrible migraine.

Wait. That’s probably due to my medicine. He frowned. Or lack thereof. We need to get home soon.

Once on the main floor, they began the long walk down the familiar hallway. It looked just like he had seen it last, with the various labs and small office rooms on each side of the corridor, the massive double steel doors at the end, with a flashing green keypad. Except…

“There’s no guards,” Alex muttered, slowing down and staring at the gate to freedom. “There were guards at this door and…”

“There’s nobody here at all,” Aleksander added. The hallways were totally empty, not a single person to be seen throughout the entire floor (counting the escape party).

“Oh no…” A Sofia groaned. “Trap?”

A flash of purple light at the end of the hallway preceded the appearance of a figure in sharp black military uniform, surrounded by a glowing green sphere. Viy raised a hand up to the comm. unit at his ear, the other hand resting on a small pad with buttons on his waist.

“I know the four of you are out there!” Viy shouted down the hallway. “You can’t hide now.”

Watch us… Or don’t.

Nobody moved, waiting for Viy to give up.

Viy merely grinned, and pressed the buttons on the pad. He was surrounded by a large purple glow for a few moments, which was quickly replaced by a squad of soldiers wearing the same kind of special ops gear that Alex had seen earlier. The leader of the soldiers reached up and flipped a switch on his goggles.

“Sonic detection picks up all four of them straight down this hallway, sir.” The officer said to Viy without moving. Alex took a step to the side experimentally, and the officer’s head turned slightly to match. “Orders?”

“I’ve had enough of them,” Viy replied. “Blanket the hallway with fire. Kill them all.”