Bishop stood rigid. He could only tell the body on the table was his son because his nametag from work was still intact.
"Yeah... that's him." His breath shook, he trembled., He would not let himself break down in front of this doctor. He felt somewhere between wanting to crumble into a ball on the floor and beating evertything and everyone until his fists were gone.
"I'm sorry you had to see him like this." the doctor said.
No you're not. He felt harsh stinging bile rise from the back of his throat. He put his hand over his mouth and swallowed it back down. A single tear fell from his left eye.
"Please... cover him up."
The doctor nodded and pulled the tarp back over Yuri's eviscerated body. He jotted a couple notes in his Holo-pad and left the room.
He was alone with his son. He slumped down in a chair and stared at the shape on the table. The tears he tried to hold back poured from his eyes.
Dinner has been on the table for an hour, untouched. There was nothing I could say to my wife, I had alrerady told her hours ago that her son was dead. SHe hasn't spoken a word since. I wonder what's going through her head right now.
She slowly stood up, like every movement hurt her and walked away with dinner in hand. She dumped it in the wastebin and walked up the round stairway. Each stone step levitated to meet her each step.
We lay in bed together, facing opposite from eachother. We both were staring up at the ceiling. The room was pitch black, but I could sense that she was awake. The room was designed to block out the sounds of the metropolis below us, so the only sound was her inhalation and exhalation. Each second was marked by the beat of my heart. Each second stretched into eternity. Shapes swam in the darkness with static in the background. My heart slowly picked up the pace. It began to pound at my ribcage, like it wanted to break free. Warm tears rose and blurred my vision.
I rolled over, facing her back. I reached out and touched her shoulder. She recoiled. Every muscle in her body tensed and her hands balled into fists. I drew my hand away.
I felt a prescence grow in the room.
Please don't let it be him. I thought.
I swiveled my feet off the bed and stood. I then walked to the kitchen.
I looked at my reflection in the mirror above the sink. I hated what I saw. I saw failure. I saw a man not capable of holding a family together.
"I know you're there. What do you want?" I said over my shoulder.
The demon materialized as a man in an ash colored business suit. His shirt was a dark crimson. His body had the texture and color of charcoal.
"I'm just checking in on an old friend." The demon said, in a disarming tone.
His oildrop eyes revealed nothing, but I've known him long enough to know this was not the reason. Demons don't sympathize with organics. They don't have friends, they have clients.
"No, what's the real reason you're here?"
He sighed. "Is it wrong that I'm concerned about you? I heard about what happened... it's tragic."
He paused. Then he chuckled.
"...but theis is hardly the first time you've experienced death. How does it feel now that you're on the recieving end?"
This caught me off guard.
"We ended the experiments years ago, if that's what you're talking about. How dare you even bring it up."
The demon chuckled even harder.
"You never shed a tear over them though. They were just prisoners, right? They were nothing but scum and vermin not fit to be part of your great society, right?"
He propped his elbow against the island in the kitchen.
"I remember I had a host who had been sent to fight in the Vietnam War. This was way before the American Empire, that's how you know I'm old. Anyway the way they got soldier the kill the Vietnamese so easily was because they were taught to forget they were human. You didn't 'slaughter a whole family', you 'zapped a den of gooks.' You didn't 'burn a whole village alive', you 'cooked a gook village'."
"How about a more recent example? I know that one is a little before your time. The sylphs were all killed off when the atmosphere went. Any idea how people let this xenocide happen?"
I decided to go along with his rant. "How?"
"People were starving in the days before the atmosphere went. Millions of people. The sunlight destroyed most of the crops. But the sylphs were doing fine. They didn't need food, all they needed was sunlight. THey could do photosynthesis. This is just a generalization, but the majority of organics hated them for it. This hatred permeated every aspect of their lives. Eventually an organic rose to power and he acted on this hatred. He called the sylphs 'freaks of nature' and 'abominations'. THey were gathered in camps. Some were experimented on, but the majority of them were, secretly, used as a food source. They had a movie that went something like this, but I never thought it'd become a reality. They were not allowed to enter shelters once it became apparent the atmosphere was not going to last much longer. What better way was there to destroy a whole organic species than to let them burn in the sun? You know, it was a human who coined the term 'history repeats itself', but you organics never take your own advice, do you?"
I had no words. I only felt disgust. Disgust at myself. Disgust at all of creation. I have never wanted to vomit more than I did at that moment. Without intyending to, I threw a punch at the demon. He dissapeared and my fist hit the glass wall, shattering it. I stood ther, staring at the broken glass on the floor. I held up my left hand. Between my middle and index finger was a shard of glass that cut at least a half inch deep. My hand was littered with small scratches and splinters. I was jittering, I breathed heavily. I saw a piece of my reflection in each piece of glass on the floor. My blood dripped slowly along the piece stuck in my hand and pooled on the beige carpet.
"You're wrong. But it was only the first few times that I hated it. I think I see what you are trying to say. I didn't care about the prisoners we, no, I was killing in the name of science after a while."
I turned around and looked the demon in the eyes.
"But what the fuck are you trying to say about my son. He did absolutely nothing."
"What goes around comes around, that's all I've got to say. But we both know there is a way you can fix this."
I didn't know what he was talking about for a second. Then I did.
"No. Absolutely not."
"Fine. BUt in three days, they will start the deanimation ritual. You have until then to change your mind."
The demon reached into a cabinet above the fridge and pulled out a long slenderr bottle. In it was a liquid so dark a shade of purple, it was almost black.
"You still have this? I would not be surprised if this were the last genuine wine in existence. Why don't you sell it? Or drink it?"
I shrugged. "My father gave it to me on my thirty first birthday. His father handed it down to him. I guess it's been a tradition to hand this down."
"It's a shame your son will never know what it tastes like."
The demon cackled as he walked away. The glass crunched underneath his feet. The dark of the livingroom intensified as he walked through it. All light seemed to recoil from him. A portal appeared. It looked like a hole being burnt into a curtain. He stepped through and the portal began to close. But the demon put his hand on the edge of the portal, holding it open and he said
"I doubt you will, but if you do change your mind, retrieve your son's body amd then contact me. I will tell you what to do to have him back among the living, where he belongs."
He pulled his hand out of the way and the portal closed. The look on the demon's face was that of a salesman who finished a sale.
BIshop found himself in front of the morgue. The only entrance was a large access bay where a tram could offload bodies. Two guards stood at either side of the door. They didn't look like they were armed, which means they must be pretty confident in their combat magic. Their body armor is not standard issue, so they might be mercenaries. Makes sense, the peacekeepers must be stretched pretty thin dealing with all the riots.
There is no acess point from the roof. There is none. The morgue also doubles as a pillar holding up the roof of the world.This also gives them more room to store bodies.
I stood at the corner of the walled entrance. There was a sign next to me that said 'DO NOT ENTER- Tresspassers within 50 feet of this establishment will be executed. No further warnings will be given.'
Guess that menas I've only got one shot at this. I thought.
I looked down at the device in my right palm. Four prongs joined together in the middle of a disk. A red button sat in the middle.
I took a couple deep breaths and walked away, out of sight of the guards. I sent a silent prayer to whatever entity ran the universe and pressed the button.
The day before:
Bishop had known this place was suspicious, probably gang activity. But he figured he could probably use them later. it was just a feeling. Now in desperation, he was going to see if he was right.
The place looked reminiscent of an old warehouse. Tall dark buildings reached high into the sky. From the cramped alley he walked through, he could hear a light breeze whistling through the abandoned, derelict structures. Ahead of him was a large, rusted shutter. He timidly approached the shutter and knocked. there was no response, so he lifted the shutter and walked in. He heard the sound of a revolver being cocked.
"You look a little lost. Now what's a white collar prick like you doing in this part of town?"
"He doesn't look like a peacekeeper." said a man as he slowly appeared. As the cloaking spell faded he said "There are no bugs or auras attached to him." He had long brown hair that draped down to his shoulders. He also looked like he was wearing mascara and eyeliner. "No spells either. Are you trying to get mugged?"
I composed myself. See if these people are legitimate first, I thought to myself.
"I came to see if you guys were selling any magic enhancements."
"Why don't we just take all his money, Drag? You said yourself that he was unarmed. I bet he has a lot on him."
The man in front of me, who I guess is named Drag, shook his head like this was the dumbest thing he ever heard. "Because he's a customer. And by the look of him, it'll cost more to clean up the mess than we could get off him. So let's let him in."
The man behind me put the gun down. Lights turned on, illuminating the hallway.
"Follow me." said Drag.
He led me to the fifth door down the hallway. As rusted as the door was, I was expecting a loud screech.But the door glided open silently. Inside, the walls had metal frames that holding small silver suitcases. In the middle of he room was a folding plastic table with two seats. The room was lit by two long white lights.
"On the left is potions and poisons, in the middle are magic enhancements. On the right are black market firearms and weapons. We also do body mods, but that's in a different room."
I lookedup and down the mddle wall. "Do you have anything that grants invisibility?"
Drag nodded. "I also have something to hide you from heat and infrared sensors."
"Just invisibility for now."
Drag reached to a suitcase above my head and set it on the table. He put a small key card into a slot in the clasp. The clasps snapped up and the case opened.
Inside was a four pronged disc with a red button in the middle.
"I know that's not all you came in here for."
"What do you mean?"
Drag tapped his right temple with his right index finger. "You need to keep a better eye on what you are passing through the psychic veins."
He pulled a notepad out of his pocket, tore out a piece of paper and started writing something down.
"You're going to need help for what you're planning to do. Go to this location. Don't knock like you did to get in here. You'll be killed. I wrote the knock and code on here."
He slid the paper across the table to me.
"Oh, and the 'cloak' is going to cost you 200,000 credits."
The boy in the chair was at most twelve. But it was clear by the way everyone around him acted that he was in charge. If Bishop had ever seen a Tim Burton movie, the kid would have reminded him of his animation. His cobalt colored eyes sat in sunken eye sockets. His skin was pale and long black hair draped over his face. He muttered something unintelligible.
"He asks what you came here for."said the man next to him. He had the lower half of his face replaced with see through flesh. The muscles were replaced with transparent fiber optics so you could see his teeth. But while he interpreted for the childhe wore a cover over it.
"I came here to hire a couple hackers."
Meat-face leaned his ear toward the little boy and then turned his attention to Bishop.
"Boss asks what you need them for"
"I would prefer to keep that between me and the people I intend to hire."
'Boss already read it off you before you even walked in here, but it's just courtesy to ask. You can have two of our best guys for 500,000 each. If you end up being an informan..."
"...your son won't be the only one who kicked the bucket."
"You will get caught if you only take your son, you would automatically be a suspect. Snag a few bodies. Untainted bodies go for a lot on the market. Consider them a tip for a job well done."
Maybe this isn't the first time they've recieved this kind of request. Bishop thought.
"The hackers will contact you through an untraceable channel to your neuro-link in two hours."
"I'm a little insulted that of all the shit jobs we could get, we got this."
'I hear you. I was hoping we could put down some riots. But this isn't too bad."
"Are you kidding? We've been standing here for four hours."
"And your bitching isn't making it go by any faster. Just shut up and we'll switch off in about fifteen minutes."
"I thought we were doing six hour shifts?"
"Maybe commander took pity on us and shortened them."
"Taking pity on us? That doen't sound like commander at all."
The other guard shrugged. "I'm not questioning it. Nobody's going to be dumb enought to break in here."
"I wish there was someone dumb enough" the guard chuckled.
This response sent a chill through me. I was maybe ten feet away from the gat and where the guards stood. It looks like the hackers were successful. But I don't know how long my cloak is going to last. They warned me it was probably going to put strain on my mana.
I could pull back to where I was standing before. it would give my mana system a rest. But I couldn't run fifty feet and not be heard. Or I would have to wait another four hours for an opening.
I could wait here, but that's a gamble. What would happen if the cloak stopped working? It is powered by my mana, it won't last much longer. You son won't be the only one who kicked the bucket...
I don't really have much of a choice. There is a chance that the hackers lose control of the facility and the guards' equipment. The heat sensors and mana tracers will come back online and I will be spotted. Time is of the essence.