Written by WilloWisp
2.17 - Look On My Works
The vidscreen glimmered in the otherwise dimly-lit living space. I slouched in the patched, torn armchair, watching the documentary. I'd seen a thousand others on the same subject, but just found this one in a recent scavenging trip topside.
"...but try as we might to reach some insight into the fascinating, almost mythical story of XR Innovations, we are left, ultimately with more questions than answers. What were the true circumstances behind his lover's death? What could have driven such a brilliant inventor and industrialist to so completely destroy his life's work? And what were the full capabilities of the fabled Quantron chip?"
I took another sip from the bottle in my hand. I'd long ago forgotten whether it was whiskey or vodka. One of the maids tried to feather-dust my head. "Oh, s-s-s-sir, you've gotten all dirty. tyty." I shooed her away, and she strutted, catwalk-like, over to her sister units.
All three were dressed in fetish-versions of a maid uniform. Bridget, the one I had waved off, studied her sisters with mock disapproval. "Jenni, th-th-this will not do at allllllll." She had lapsed into one of her Scenaricorp roleplay scripts. "You have been quite naughty." She sighed, sensually. "Quite naughty," she repeated more breathy, "Quite naughty, quite naughty quitenaughty quitenaughty qtntyqtntyqtnty..." Her voice rose in speed and pitch, and one of her sisters tried to clean her face with glass cleaner. I tried to focus on the documentary while the chipmunk sound sound of Bridget's voice continued in the background.
"Sadly, we may never know the answers. Mr. Peters' lifestyle and habits led him to a reclusive existence. His brilliance, it seems, was coupled with a fierce rivalry with his equally successful brother, and drove him into spiraling paranoia. Already secretive by nature, by the time of his announced invention of the Quantron, he kept no notes."
There was a fzzt-sound, and Bridget's head spun around on its bearings, her voice slowing to its individual digital samples. The back of her head popped open, and she remained still for a second, her voice samples sounding like a monotonous buzz. Suddenly, she jolted violently, and her voice resumed its normal speed and pitch with a vwrrrrp-sound. The sudden movement jostled her backup cartridges loose, and two months of backup data fell noisily onto the concrete floor. "Oh dear, you will have to be punished. Please ass. Please ass. Please ass. Please ass..."
The man on the vidscreen was standing in a dramatized recreation of Peters' lab, with another person sitting hunched at the workbench. It took me a moment to realize that this was supposed to be Peters - It looked nothing like him.
"Working late into the night, he is rumored to have built the prototype entirely by himself, and manufactured the first batch of production chips in his own completely automated factory." The fake Peters made a big show of finishing his mockup chip, holding it up, triumphantly. The background faded, replaced by burned out rubble. At the somehow still-recognizeable workbench slumped a skeleton, completely unscorched. Sloppy production values, I thought. "On the night of the explosion, every trace of the Quantron chip, and its flagship product, the XR9660F, appears to have been erased from existence."
There was another fzzt-sound from Bridget's head, louder due to her now gaping Archive compartment. I could see the electrical spark glimmer in the relative darkness. "Please assume the position, Jenni." Jenni froze a moment, then turned to face Bridget, her arms and face still locked in the same position.
Her hand moved only to release the feather duster she had been using to dust the wall, and her mouth moved silently. Her vocal processor had been damaged weeks ago. Not interested in anything she had to say, I hadn't bothered to fix it. It was probably words to the effect of "I've been so bad," or "spank me hard," I couldn't remember exactly how this script usually played out. She strode past Bridget, managing to crush both backup cartridges as the passed, then bent over, flipping her short skirt up over her completely bare ass. Not too hard, I thought to myself. That gluteal bay is a pain to reclose.
"Was the Quantron the revolutionary leap forward that experts claimed it was, or was the "generations ahead of its time" rumor just a form of pre-release publicity? And what of the SecurStandard Labs report, claiming almost magical-sounding properties?" Excerpts from the report were highlighted on the screen. "Able to detect malicious code the instant before it is executed. Able to coordinate software updates for linked devices. Able to decompile destructive software. Able to self-analyze for exploitable defects. Able to self-modify to remedy defects." The narrator reappeared on the screen, his hands clasped in front of him with a serious look on his face. "Bold claims, but SecurStandard's own integrity has since been found to be less than certain."
Bridget seemed to forget Jenni, and had now decided that she was deeply in love with Amber. "We really shouldn't. What if the master finds out?" she said, in theatrically hushed tones. Her voice was meant to sound reluctant, but she was already unzipping the front zipper on her uniform, pulling it open to reveal her voluptuous breasts. Amber, whose uniform consisted of little more than an apron and stockings, seemed oblivious to her sister maid, and continued polishing a lampshade. She bent over in a pinup pose, studied her handiwork for a moment, nodded in satisfaction, turned to walk towards the kitchen, and fell flat on her face as she tripped over the box of newspaper clippings which she had failed to save to her environment map.
Clippings slid across the floor. Knowing I would regret it, I glanced at some of the headlines I had saved:
"ScenariCorp Owner Scales Back Operations 90%" "Defense Forces Erect No-Go Zone Around GySys-Supplied Facilities: Danger Too Great" "CEO Refocuses Search for Missing Wife" "Millions Dead in Global Crisis" "Sought for Questioning in Case"
This last was partially obscured by other clippings on top of it. I felt somewhat relieved by this. I tore my attention away, back to the documentary.
"Kyle Parsons may be the only man with any answers, but since his disappearance last year, it seems those answers aren't forthcoming. We can only speculate what Kyle could have learned in his time at XR Innovations, before leaving for ScenariCorp. Is he the critical key in this baffling chain of events, or was he just a high-ranking executive, climbing the corporate ladder? In the end, it seems, no one knows."
"I know," I whispered, throwing back the rest of the bottle and switching the vidscreen back to the exterior security feed. I sighed, contemplating the empty bottle in my hand. "That virus was the best damn thing to ever happen to me," I said to no one in particular. I tossed the bottle into the pile with the rest, where it shattered, as usual. "Look at me, ma. I'm king of the world."
The maids' full-length dressing mirror caught my eye, reflecting my face back to me. As usual, the alcohol did little to improve my self image. My beard was scraggly, like a hermit's. My once curly, reddish-brown hair was now matted and tangled, greying at the temples. I hadn't bathed in weeks. I glanced back over to Amber.
The fall had dislodged her dermal layer latch. As she sat up, curling her legs under her butt demurely, the top of her forehead flapped down just above her eyeline. She put a hand to her head, as though dazed by the accident. "Oooh," she murmured, "I feel so dizzy." Her voice was breathy and seductive, but only half her face was animated. The other half hung loosely on her head, the control points having been disrupted by the fall. "I'm not sure if I've got all the feeling back in my lower body. Would you mind feeling me to see?" She directed this comment to a space three feet to the left of Bridget's head, holding out her hand for a nonexistent lover to help her to her feet. Really? I thought to myself, I hope whoever wrote that line got fired in the first round of layoffs.
I caught a darting movement out of the corner of my eye on the security feed, and turned back to it, selecting the camera 3 footage for full-screen. I waited, tensed, but the only motion I could see was the ever-present smoke drifting through the wreckage of the city.
A shattered woman's face appeared on the monitor, looking directly at the camera. It stared, expressionless for a moment, then split at odd angles, revealing blades and inhuman, mechanical appendages behind the facade. So, I thought, it came back. I crawled out of my chair towards the vidscreen, my eyes locked with the... thing. The scar in my chest throbbed with the memory of the pain. "You want in here, don't you?" I whispered.
The thing cocked its head, as if listening to me, then pulled back slowly. I thought it might be about to leave, when it suddenly lunged forward, slamming towards the camera. A shuddering thud echoed around the bunker, and dust drifted down from the surface access level above. I looked up. "Keep on knocking, but you can't come in!" I shouted. I looked back over to the girls.
Bridget had apparently remembered Jenni, but seemed to have trouble figuring out where her ass was. "Naughty naughty!" she cried in glee, her bare tits bouncing in a way that I almost wanted to do something about. She swatted at the air, trying to find Jenni's ass, eventually resorting to using both hands. After a few attempts, her software seemed to reach some sort of failure threshold, and she paused, mid-spank, then stood at loose attention. "Awaiting instructions, master," she announced.
I climbed back into my chair, deciding to call it a day. "Best damn thing that ever happened to me," I said again.