Project: AKRA pt 11

“It’s okay…I know.  I can get a bio amp replacement if we make it through this.”

“Hey, you guys over there?”  Agrest’s voice shouted.  “Get over here now!”

Ziko pushed himself off the tree, they all grimly watched for a moment as what remained of his arm was quickly chopped and consumed by the blade grass and its acid once the suit’s structural integrity had been broken down.  “I hate this fucking place.” It seemed to be an understatement from Ziko as he watched his arm get eaten by the grass.

The three walked over to Agrest, his huge sniper rifle leaning against the tree.  Raist realized it was Agrest’s shot that killed the diving bird before it killed them.

Leio was sitting on the ground, her knee looked crushed, and everything under it was gone.  Her other ankle was broken, bent back up to her calf.

“What are you going to do with me?” she asked, looking straight at Raist.  He felt his stomach drop a bit with the implication of one entirely real option he could take to save the rest of the group time.  This was a woman he was intimate with, yet the mission was now at risk of being compromised due to both her legs.

“What happened?” he asked, trying to buy some time to think this through.

“The ankle was from the fall, and this,” she pointed to her missing calf and the crushed knee, “was from that bastard over there.”  She indicated a large dead beast.  “Heh, damn.  I’ve never seen such a hostile fauna before.”  She leaned back while they crouched down to inspect her damage.  Even with her mutilated legs, she still was amazingly lusty, along with a slight independence still obvious in her countenance.  “No wonder they put their fortress here.  Secure the skies, and let the planet take care of the ground.”

Raist could feel everyone waiting for him to decide what they were going to do with the obvious change in plans the injuries and the planet presented to them.  Maybe they were especially waiting to wonder if he would leave Leio, or kill her.  The latter might be humane.

He stood up.  “We are not leaving anyone behind.”  He looked to Ziko before continuing, “I am taking you off Assault-role.  It’s too dangerous to not have a combat-able person not firing, so because of your injury you are the one who will carry her.  Leio, you are staying on the Sweep.  The rest of us are changing our weapon configuration.  Agrest, switch to your Silvershot for faster shots, I’m moving down to the ‘Saw and Leio you go with whatever you can shoot while still staying on Ziko.  Z, you can either go weaponless or take a one-hander.”

“And me?” Philira asked.

“Stay with the Plaz-Shot.  It is obvious to us now most of the fighting is going to be close range.  I need Agrest and Leio to be on drone watch out.  We are not that far in raw distance to our target so we are going to press on.  I do not think resting is a wise decision.”

He walked over to Leio. “You know what we have to do right?” he asked.

“Of course, get it done already.”

They dragged her to an area devoid of the grass where it looked shot up from the battle.  He handed her the handle of the SSAW with its softer grip, pressing it towards her mouth, she opened it and bit down on the handle.

“Hold her,” he commanded.  Philira and Agrest knelt down and held her body and arms down.

“Heh,” she muttered out of her jammed mouth, turning her head towards the sky.  “Never…get used…to this.”

Raist knelt down by her foot, grabbing the misplaced foot, and, without waiting for any okay or any delay, pulled downward and backward.  Immediately her leg started flailing while the other two struggled to hold her down, letting out a painful ‘guuuaaaaa!’ through her gritting mouth.  It was clear she was trying to maintain control despite the massive pain and compared to a scream most would have let out, her moan was fairly benign.

He continued pulling back until it was straight, and pushed it softly back into the semi-correct position.  He held her foot still for a moment while she stopped moving; she spit the gun handle out.  “I’m okay…”

All three of them let her go as she sat there.  “Should be walk-able in about a cycle.  I feel my nanites reforming the bone already.” It was quiet for a moment before she continued. “Well, stop staring at me already!  As much as you guys like to do it, let’s get this going.”  He reluctantly managed a smile at her pride hiding her shame of slowing the group down.

She lifted an arm up and Raist grabbed it, hauling her body over his shoulder then transferring her to Ziko where she sat on his shoulders.  She used her one leg to wrap under his shoulder to his back and was using her hips to hold onto his head.

“Not pretty, but it will work.  Z, can you still function?” Raist asked, handing him a pistol for his one remaining arm.  The chemicals in them and their advanced nanites could keep them functioning at conditions worse than this, but still wanted to make sure.

“You mean with that hot ass wild woman riding him all night?” Agrest joked.

“I think his head is facing the wrong direction for anything wild,” Leio said, giving Ziko a tight squeeze.

“Damn Raist, no wonder you like her.  I can tell she’s probably into bondage,” Agrest responded.

“Don’t make me squeeze his head off.”

“Why would you punish me for your two perverted minds?” Ziko said while he practiced moving around a bit with Leio on his shoulders.

“I think he’d like that.” Agrest added, “Either getting his head squeezed off, or your ‘punishment’ that is.”

At least their spirits…and chemicals… were still high enough to joke.  Raist looked at the Spreading Squad Assault Weapon he was holding in his hands, its neon blue lines pulsing an incredible power just waiting to be unleashed.  He was practicing drawing his knife out of the SSAW Philira had hidden in it in the event of a surprise.  Raist was glad their spirits were still good for now though.  He knew how bad missions could get.

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Project: AKRA pt 10

Raist took a prone position in the clearing Ziko had cut through the forest with his CSW, while the two close range fighters fought back-to-back against the horde, standing right above Raist.

He was taking careful burst shots, squeezing a few rounds, gauging whether the creature needed more rounds to die, then either delivering, or moving on to a new target.  The counter on the side of the rifle shot down rapidly.

He squeezed the final 30 into some creature hopping between the trees and as he rolled to his side to put a new magazine of 1,000 in.  The magazine was in, and his hand was going to the ‘accept’ toggle when he saw a huge bird diving out of the sky right at their group.

“Up…!” he started, but it was too slow.  Its mouth peeled open to reveal a tri-maw opening ready to consume one of them.  The creature was closing on them when its large neck was separated from its body, liquid exploding out the backside as its head crashed to the ground not far from them, its body gliding into another dead creature.

“What?”

Raist toggled the rifle back on, and saw a line of white tracers clearing the sides of part of the trees.  He knew that weapon anywhere: it was Leio’s Sweep Rifle, but she was aiming horizontally.  What killed the bird?

“It’s Agrest and Leio!” Philira shouted, another of her clips dumping out of her Plaz-Shot and hitting Raist in the head as she reloaded with robotic speed.

He didn’t need to tell the two he was with to not hit them, and he hoped the other two knew they were here.

Beasts continued advancing on them until all of them mysteriously stopped, turning and running as fast as they could.  Death had not scared them before, so it was definitely something different.

“Phi?”  Raist asked.

“Something’s coming…top of the trees.”

The strange silence had returned to the forest, though a few wounded screams still pierced the night.  Raist hated killing animals, and hearing their moans as they were sawed apart by the grass hurt his soul.

“Drone!”  Philira shouted, grabbing Ziko and diving to the shot-up ground.  Above them a large floating disk hovered over the scene of their battle.

“Shoot it!  Shoot it!” she yelled.

Raist was the only one of the three with the longer-range weapon and brought it to bear, and though he was giving it rapid bursts of ten sonic rounds that were undoubtedly flying straight through its hull, its size would not easily be brought down.  The two he was with were each rapidly reaching for their longer-range weapons as a firing arm extended above the disk.

A loud whoosh reached them long after the rocket did, rending the ground apart as they were flung through the air.  Raist crashed into one of the trees between two of the razor edges and escaped serious damage.  He switched his weapon to packet mode, morphing the small rounds into larger slugs designed to pierce before blowing apart inside their target.

He aimed at the disk that was readying another rocket and started shooting, catching the white tracers of the Sweep Rifle also on target of the drone.  The thin, fast spray of the Sweep rounds, and Raist’s exploding slugs were pounding away at the machine.  It tilted to one side for a moment, but righted itself.  Raist was sure it was going to fire again until its core exploded and it crashed somewhere into the trees above them.

He was breathing hard, his mind in combat mode, looking around everywhere for the next thing to kill, and with nothing moving for a long time he gradually began to come off his combat high.

Something was hurting his core and looking down, he saw a mat of the spiky grass imbedded into his chest after being propelled by the rocket.  He pulled each out; feeling the distant pain of sucking out the semi-vacuum each projectile had created in his body.

He pushed himself out of the slight cove of his tree and staggered to the clearing.  “Who is alive?”

“We are, but Ziko is hurt,” Philira’s voice had an edge he never heard before in it.

Raist ran over and saw Ziko slumped next to a tree almost exactly like where Raist had been blasted.  The difference was he was moved slightly to one side, right into its sharp edge.

“Zi…ko?” Raist asked nervously.

“Yo, I’m alive, but shit…these plants are even worse than the creatures.”

Ziko’s words made it seem like he was okay, but Raist realized Ziko’s left arm had been cut cleanly off right by the shoulder.  His nanites and suit sealed what was left of the arm to prevent any bleed off; it actually looked like he had a stub arm his entire life with how clean it was.  The fact he could talk clearly was a result of their advanced training, and very tailored drugs to block pain and maintain combat efficiency.

“Your ar—” Philira started, Raist grabbed her and shook his head no.

Project: AKRA pt 4

Continuing the story, they are about to get down to the planet

 

Ziko was by default the group mule based on his strength, but on raw speed no one could touch Philira.  For a moment her bright pink hair became visible, as did her youthful body as she disabled her camouflage to readjust some equipment.  Soldiers had specific natural hair colors based on their Class: Female Scouts were pink, female Supports were bright orange, male Supports were light blonde, Leaders had black and so on.  They could be manually overridden, but was rarely done.  Almost all combat was conducted in combat suits or stealth fields so this issue did not matter.  For most soldiers, their class was a mark of pride.

“Damn, I thought a saw an angel there for a moment,” Agrest said.

“Of death?”  Raist asked, slamming an energy clip into a pistol and watching the counter read ‘full’ before the text dissolved into the number ‘100’.

“Maybe, I don’t know. I was a little confused though…”

“Why?” Ziko asked.  Raist smiled, and tried to hide his laugh that Ziko fell right into a trap.

“Well, aren’t angels supposed to be hot?  I thought she’d be a bit bigger if you know what I mean.”

“Agrest…” Ziko started.

“Bigger?”  Philira asked.  “But I am not the shortest here.”

“Bigger like Leio over there.”  Agrest disabled his cloak to hold his two hands out in front of his chest.

Raist was snickering while he watched what shimmer was likely Ziko trying to catch Agrest while he was shouting, “Why the hell do you always fill her head with your perverted shit?!”

“Everyone has at least three-range cover in their weapon choices, right?”  Leio was updating a graphic overlay showing the positions of the squad, with colored ovals representing the effective range of their weapon choices.

Philira, being the lead, naturally had a powerful, short-range weapon; the graphic showed a dark red oval that covered a short distance in front and behind, covering from Ziko up to Raist in his middle position.  Conversely, at the back of the formation, Agrest’s personal Rail Rifle had by far the biggest range, but in an intense close range firefight could not keep up, and thus his main oval was less colored; nevertheless the vast coverage could still assist any of the team in a fight.

“Raist, you are a little weak on the close range,” Leio said, looking over the constantly updating data. “Not sure the pistol will cut it in these quarters.”

“Throw me the SSAW.”  A strange looking blue weapon was flung through the air and caught by something invisible.  “I’ve been meaning to try this out.”

“It’s slow on the recharge,” Philira commented easily.  “Here, let me show you something.”  A Vibro-Knife was picked up off the table, and Raist handed the SSAW over to the invisible tug.  She revealed herself and walked next to Raist, her hips touching his as she held the gun to show him.  “You can store a knife here in the lower duct.  Useful on the downtime,” she smiled at him and stepped away.  It was a slightly flirtatious or sensual move, but given her naivety in relationships, likely didn’t understand what she was doing.

He held the weapon in his shoulder, pretending to fire it then letting it drop while he drew the knife from where it was held.  “Damn, that is a pretty nice trick. That really is a good place to hide it.”

“Saved my life before.”  Raist wondered what creature or alien had a Vibro-Knife stabbed through its head to save Philira’s life.

“I’ll show you a trick later, how’s that sound?” Raist asked her slyly.

“What kind?” Philira asked, totally innocent.

“One that will leave you feeling real good.”

“Not Raist too…” Ziko moaned.

“Survive first, and I’ll show you.” He only did those jokes because he enjoyed how defensive Ziko would always become.

“I will,” she said firmly.  “No matter what.”

“Okay, looks good.”  Leio showed the planned formation to everyone, leaving comments open for anyone to input.  The unspoken rule they had acquired over the battles was that you made no recommendations about anyone’s main weapon, but you could request a change in either of their two sub-weapons, since it was often your ass that depended on it.

“Agrest,” Ziko began, “can you swap that inductor for something with a bit more range?  Maybe the Silvershot?”

“Aww, feeling lonely near the front, lil’ buddy?  I think Philira has enough firepower for both of you.  But even that still leaves my little angel up there out of range.”  Agrest gave Ziko a hard time, but swapped his weapon without protest.  Upon further review Ziko was indeed a bit bare on the covering fire.  Philira had him supported heavily, but only Raist had him within range of powerful rapid fire support.

He had finished, and at this point it was mostly small things others were finagling with.  “Orbital Sync in five…” Raist said.  Everyone stopped their banter, and shoved any supplies or extra energy cells in, packed up quickly, and went to the launch bay.

“Synch up?”  Leio asked.

Yes – Everyone responded on the Inter-Connect System, an implanted communication system that could reduce talking to a near-psychic level of communication.

Launch in three – Leio’s voice played in all of their minds while the air in the ship was pressed back into tanks, leaving the room they were in devoid of atmosphere, their suits protecting them against both the low pressure and the lack of air.

Two – The door opened up, the huge planet’s blue, green, and purple forests standing defiantly against the black of space.  At this distance the beauty defied the danger.

One – Each of them could feel their suits change as they prepared for entry.  The first change was the locking in with the launch system.

She didn’t have to say ‘zero’ or ‘go’ as the moment they were pulled out of the ship with by the launching system was obvious enough.  The catapult system was designed to ensure the even spacing of the entire team, as even the most trained jump could result in a vast dispersion pattern from orbit.  A pentagon shape of the five of them fell through space towards the planet.

Proud Infinity pt 31

Getting close to the end, what is going to happen!?

 

I woke back up, eventually, and was still in chains.  Okay, so this was definitely ‘reality’ as much as I had flirted with different states of that word.  My mind went through a few scenarios on what exactly this meant.  There appeared to be no doubt I did indeed bomb the ReCorp building.  Sounds like I am probably slated to be executed here, maybe after I’m tortured awhile to see what I can produce as far as my contacts or whom I was working for.  It was all for a girl, man, all for some crazy girl.

Proud.  Hmm, did she really exist?  Evidently Mitreah did, as the info screen referenced her.  Yet, I could have sworn that Proud absorbed some bullets that would have laid me out.

Did I really live all those cycles over?  Of course.  I had to have, because how else could I have gotten that bomb, or found Mitreah’s secret phrase, or figure out the perfect paths for everything?  Or…what if I always had that bomb and Mitreah was given to me from a shadowy contact?  Was I an agent programmed to forget what exactly I was doing, and come up with some massively delusional story to hide the simple truth that I was just a terrorist against the Solarian Federation?

Damn, was that the truth?  It was true I could not remember even two cycles ago.  Ha, holy shit, I literally could not remember what had happened two cycles ago.

Had my secret neural trigger activated and blanked everything out?  “Uhh…” I tried moving my arms, and groaned from the pain of the wrist locks and my arms not being able to move.

“Proud…were you just a lie?  Was everything just a lie?”  Was I just an agent with his combat android sent to eliminate whatever advantage the Federation was developing here?

Another thought came to me.  What if indeed the cycle reset over and over, and that was simply Proud’s goal from the beginning: not so much saving the universe, but simply preventing the time fracture after which I no longer mattered?  I prevented it, so her goal was accomplished.  Why would she care about one stupid little Solarian locked up for his crimes?  This was especially true if it was for the whole universe’s sake.  As long as I did my duty, I was completely expendable.  Wow…that was fucked up.  I got played hard.  Maybe I would have cried, but the emotion felt foreign to me.  Distant.

 

***

 

Sometime later – ha what an ironic word, ‘sometime’ –  I had thought I had lost my arms.  I could no longer feel them, and it had been at least a few cycles as my hunger had disappeared, replaced by the slow consumption of myself.  In the pain and dark despair I eventually decided that I probably did indeed experience a time fracture, and Proud was real, but I had done what she wanted all along and there was no reason to ‘save’ me or ever even say anything to me again.  Hell, I fucked her and shot her to make it even worse.

Do we cry over a white blood cell that kills itself in our service?  Hardly.  All we do is expect them to make that decision again and again.  And I was probably worth infinitely less.

I was just a single white blood cell.  It was the metaphor I had settled on.  I did my part to help pull the universe out of the problem it was in.  Proud was some director, and I did my sacrifice, everything else moved on.  Wow…I hadn’t felt so abandoned in a while.  Yet I sympathized in a way.  I did not care about the individual blood cells dying to save me.  Why would the universe?

Proud Infinity pt 30

Here we go guys, getting near the end, I hope you are ready for some pretty big plot twists!

 

In a moment I realized it partly might have been a distraction.  From two sides we were attacked.  Mitreah was engaged with one group on the other side of the room.

“Tre!” Proud yelled my name.  I glanced to my left seeing her form between me and a squad that had come into the door.  The next instant her form was bending over as the rounds from their rifles were entering her body.  Her body moved a bit, dancing slowly from their energy hitting her.  I had once found out she truly could take rounds in our physical dimension if she ‘lowered’ herself enough to the base level, but was bound by certain rules regarding the consequence.

“Proud!”  I yelled to her slumping form as I lifted my unlimited Liner pistol and unloaded round after electro-magnetically propelled round into the group, leaving them holed and dead.  I had taken out four skilled men with a commercially available pistol.  That is how far I had come.

“Proud!”  I yelled again, running to her.

She was kneeling, and turned her head towards me, tears in her eyes.  “It hurts.  What a terrible sensation!  In future resets do not stand there so I will not have to feel this.”  She managed a grim smile and went back to looking downwards.  From her body there was not blood leaking out, but rather a light blue energy that was barely visible from her bullet holes before disappearing in the air.  Her eyes were closed, and despite how bad her body was massacred, I would almost swear the wounds were disappearing, but why were her eyes closed!?

“Proud!”  I yelled again, and then my eyes went wide as a fire ripped through my shoulder.  The momentum from the bullet entered my shoulder and threw me to the ground, stumbling forward over Proud.  I hit the ground, and panic from the pain threatened to completely take over my mind.  Only the simple thought of noticing Proud trying to get back up kept me sane.

I lifted my head to see a heavily armed squad from the other door that was firing at Mitreah.  A huge round entered her body, exploding out from her backside along with a grim mix of organic tissue and metallic substrates.  She staggered for a moment and continued onwards into the fire.  Another round hit her in her other arm, a piece of it flying off from the energy.  I could visibly see how much momentum there was pushing against her in bullets as she staggered forward.

She stabbed the first one though the chest as another round from the man next to him ripped through her body.  I saw her pause for a moment, gathering strength perhaps for her slash out of that body into the next one.  It cut the next man in half while the final man backed up professionally, firing coldly at the target in front of him.

“Mitreah!” I yelled, coughing from the pain.  I thought she was going to go down right there with her slumping form.  She was slowly going down, then I saw a poise take over her body as she launched at her final target, stabbing her arm into him, pulling downwards as the two of them fell into each other, dead or dying.

Another person came from the other door.  I used much of my focus I had gained with Mitreah while in extreme pain to line my pistol up and shoot the two of them dead before they could do anything to our wounded party.

‘No…It doesn’t end like this.’  I tried standing up, and when it failed I contented myself with crawling over to the railing.  Below me was a spherical core of blue and white energy that hung suspended between two huge rotating metal braces, a white light softly radiating outwards.  Though the light was white, I knew its true evil nature.  I had been its victim enough times.

I activated the bomb, and lay there as a thought hit me.  Should I just abort and try again?  But…a deep fear came to the surface that maybe indeed this was ‘real’, that I had no second chance, and that all my lives were really just an illusion; that thought seemed easier to dismiss, but the idea that something critical had changed and I would not reset seemed likely.  At the very least what if something had changed by me being so far in here?  I could not take the chance.  The sacrifices to get here been too great to risk it ending in failure.

I pressed on both out of a fear that maybe this really was my only life, and another feeling of if I really had lived a million lives that I just wanted this to end.  I rolled to my side, grasping the bomb with the opposite, non-shot hand, and laughing once as I pitched it off the edge to the core a few stories under me.  So this is how it ends…

I turned back around, maybe ready to die when I saw those three scientists still there.  “Like I’m letting you out of here.  We are all dying here.”  I lifted my pistol and shot the three of them who tried to run, before I felt fire enter my stomach from a different angle and I blacked out.

 

***

 

“Uhh…pain…” I woke up half expecting the softness of my pillow I had seen so many times.  But this time I was already standing, my body was trying to fall down held up by what seemed to be chains on my wrists.

“So the terrorist is finally awake, huh?”  There was a voice in front of me.  Something painful hit me in the stomach, and I coughed hard as my head swung back and forth.  I felt some saliva leaking out of my mouth, but I could barely bring myself to swallow it.  What was going on?

“Why did you do it, Trego?  Why’d you sell out your whole race?” the voice asked.  I couldn’t see anything.  Was I blind?  Fear flooded me at the thought of never seeing again.  “Is ‘Trego’ even your real name?  Who are you an agent for!?”

No strikes to my body from the voice, and no further prompts for a while let me think about what was just said.  Something critical had changed in my reality.  I definitely was not where I usually was when I ‘died’ or the cycle ended.  Was the loop I was in over?  The voice said selling out my race and being an agent.  I remember once a long time ago I had indeed thought that maybe I was part of an experiment to see how long I would go before I’d break.  Was this what it was about?

I thought not though, because I had lasted impossibly long.  I had resorted to killing myself before going through with this; what more would a military or whatever want with me?  How could I have passed the test any more so when I resisted for so long?

“What race?” I asked the darkness.  Maybe I was not even Solarian, just a butterfly dreaming he was…

Damn, was I really an agent?  No way…but why did I decide to blow up a reactor?

Proud Infinity pt 26

I hope you guys picked up the books, I will continue pasting Proud Infinity sections, but hope you got them!

 

“Is it true you are here just to help maintain my sanity?” I asked.  I had slowly pieced that together.  From what I had figured out, LineGods like Proud occasionally interfaced with ‘acting agents’ or whatever we were called.  In situations like this, the time loops can be so mentally breaking that the agent does not ever act correctly so the LineGod interface is created.  What I was not sure of was if the fact Proud was here meant I would not have ever gotten out of this on my own, or if she was a ‘reward’ of sorts, or what exactly.

“One of my reasons.”  She was swinging her legs off the bench like a little girl.

“It fucked me up for a long time the first couple times we had sex, or I tried killing you.”

Her face was sad as she looked downwards.  The bow and her long green hair hid her face.  “Yeah, I felt so bad for you during that time.”

“I used to think ‘why the hell is this girl here, she is only making it worse.’  I see that’s not the case now.”

She smiled at me.  “I am glad.  I am only here to help.”

“I see that now.  Most of what I do is to eventually get out of here, and on some level to help you because I care about you.”

I looked at her and thought back to the myriad of thoughts I once had about her.  She was a manifestation of some universal will in a way that would most synch with me.  It was disturbing at first, maybe a touch of shame to see my perfect embodiment of a female in physical form, but given her tailored traits I quickly came to like her.

“For a long time I stayed distant from you because I felt like it was this ultimate manipulation.  Something crafted just for me, in a way to be this trap I would fall for.  Like I was some dumb animal lured in by an intriguing girl.”

“You were harder to convince than some others.  Your skepticism was an advantage as well as a clear negative in terms of us having a good harmonic rate.”

I grabbed her hand, and we held hands as we watched the ducks swim around.  “What I realized, and this is hard to state, is that you were just a ‘child’ of the universe much in the same way as I was.  You are much more so, but you were not the universe, so much as just this thing it spit out.  Haha, that sounds so bad.”

She laughed too.  “It’s okay.”

“But that you were a person – sort of – like me that was stuck in this.  You were the only one who knew what was going on.  The only one I could talk to, even if you couldn’t answer everything I asked.  You became my friend, the only one I could turn to.”

“That was kind of the point!  Of course I was here to help your mind, and to eventually have you do the right thing to break this loop.”

“What happens when we break out of it?”

“Don’t know, never happened!”

It made me laugh a little.  “Are your Chrono Senses perfect?”

“That is a weird question to me, but as you understand it, yes.  I see all the paths that we can take.  However, there is a break that occurs, and of course, until we break out of this, I cannot see the next cycle.  It is a pretty strange thing for me.”

“Are you…uh, hard to say, but like have you done this before?”

She shook her head, giggling; she seemed like a kid again to me.  “No, this is the first time I have been created, so you are my first.”

I sighed a bit.  “Good, I don’t feel as stupid.”

“I am part of the Line, so I was vaguely aware before this, but as an individual, no this is completely new to me.  I have had a very good time with you.  I feel quite lucky to have been granted creation!”

“Anyway, I think I have most of this ready to go.  I got a few key players into position, and I have made it into ReCorp a few times but also get killed pretty early.  I have not tried in a long time, and got a lot of training with Mitreah, and some tactics from that old guy.  I guess we are going to figure out if I can make this stop fairly soon.”

The wind blew and some of the mist hit us.  It felt cold.  Real.

I continued, “I am glad I met you Proud, you have been fun to get to know.  If it ends, and you are gone, or I die, I am still happy to have met you.  To go through this with, as dark as it has been.”

“Don’t talk like that.” She separated her hand from mine and rubbed my hair.  I leaned into her and let her continue massaging my head.  I was happy to feel her hands on me.  Her soft fingers played over my eyes, going through my scalp, and just the nice feeling of her stomach and ribs methodically breathing.

“It is getting late,” she began, “are you going to end it?”

“No, I want to spend all the time with you.”

“Okay.  Me too.”  She tickled my chest, bringing her finger up and down.  I kept my eyes closed so I would not know.  I only kept focusing on the nice feelings before I was hit with the most tremendous pain imaginable for a few short moments.

 

Proud Infinity pt 22

How many annihilations ago was that?  A thousand?  A million!?

In the absolute darkness of my being and existence Proud had saved me from the darkness of myself, showing me my own light by simply exposing hers.  Taking a few deep breaths, trying to wipe the tears away I recalled some of the positive things I had figured out during the focus of every time after that, since I decided to actually get serious.

Right, remember the things I had figured out even during the darkness.  Like how my repetition of a hundred different phrases and conversation branches allowed me to sleep with numerous girls, showing me I could find out almost anything from anyone with exactly the right prompts.  What was initially fueled by dark sexual desire proved to be very useful in the fact I could use perfect conversation choices positively, and not having anything to do with sex.

The old guy at the fence?  Indeed he was in the Space Forces as he claimed, but he also was a special operator.  What did I learn?  I rubbed my eyes, trying to recall.  Definitely some stuff about infiltration and explosives.  What exactly had he taught me?

What was hard was that I could no longer separate ‘my’ knowledge with what I had learned from others simply teaching me.  A thousand repetitions with the same person, each ‘cycle’ simply advancing the conversation as far as I had learned from the prior cycle, allowing me to eventually learn everything a person was capable of teaching.

I got up and left, slightly energized by the memory I was actually making progress.  Normally later in the day the old man would be over-looking the pit, but long ago figured out where he lived.

I went to his house, knocked on the door and he was much more suspicious and cold compared to his more jovial act at the overlook.

“What do you want?” he asked through a chained door.

“Coding Alpha Delta,” I let it sink in a little.  “We need to talk.”

From my view, I saw the one eye looking at me through the chain blink once, then he unchained the door.  He put the pistol under the slot on the table like he always did, not knowing I had been killed by it quite a few times.

By playing the role of an agent from the highest reaches of Solarian intel, I was able to learn a lot from him.  At this point I was sure I had exhausted everything he had to tell me, but it was a good reminder.

Had I always known that an innocent nano block used to repair stuff could be overrode to create controlled directional explosions?  Had I always known my Liner pistol could be turbo charged simply by taking over the cover and turning the limiter off?

I doubted it, but there was no way to know. Knowledge was a strange thing to me that often hung at the edge of my understanding.  Given all the loops I had been through, what was ‘my’ knowledge melted away into this strange mixture of things I now knew from others.

The old man had just finished showing me how to take the limiter off my Liner pistol; I could probably do it better than him at this point.

“You still have the explosives you were tasked with, right?”

“Are you requesting transference, Operator?” he asked back.

At this point everything was growing dark.

“Negative, just need to make sure.  But I always knew you still did.”  I lifted my Liner pistol up.

“What…are you doing?” he asked, concerned.

“Resetting,”  I said.  I pulled the trigger as I ended my life in a far less painful way.

Proud Infinity pt 21

Never seeing her proved okay for a while, but then the regret grew, and with no counter to my dark thoughts, they surged endlessly.  My thoughts turned back towards something I had fallen into early in the loops: could I kill myself out of this nightmare?  I tried…oh god, I tried.  But no.  I would die, and then the universe would later in the cycle, the time fracture traveling backwards past the point of my own death to the morning as it always did.  Each cycle, wake up, grab the pistol, pull the trigger.  Instantly wake back up in the same room, but dealing with the emotional fallout of ‘surviving’ a suicide.

I felt my body shaking from the fear of itself from the horror I had inflicted on it in the name of escaping.  Or trying to anyway.  I could not get out.

“I’m so so sorry…” I whimpered to myself, hugging myself to try to believe it.  My eyes were watering.  This was so painful, so confusing.

I was shaking hard at the overwhelming memories.  ‘The positive, just focus on it.  Just focus…’ But all I could do was grit my teeth at yet more regret.  How the hatred I felt at myself for taking advantage of Proud that turned to suicide, then to unrequited rage at the girl who was the singular cause of the nightmare I was in.

I was on this endless rollercoaster of extreme emotions throughout the loops.  Even after all the regret towards Proud, it then turned to anger.  Blaming her for somehow involving me in all this.  I didn’t want any of this, I didn’t want this nightmare.

My teeth hurt from how hard I was biting down, trying to not remember the time I tried killing her.  Despite the slow learner I seemed to be with everything else, I only did this once.

I leveled the Liner pistol right at her.  ‘Die bitch’ I had said to her confused face.  I pulled the trigger, unloading half the clip into her, but…but it went right through her.  I fell to my knees.  ‘You really are just a figment of my imagination,’ crying at how crazy I was.

‘Would it make you feel better to actually let you shoot me?  Try it Trego, if you really want, as dark as this path has become.’  To which my teary face pulled the trigger again at her, and was shocked when he body recoiled away, blood, or something similar, exploding out the backside.  ‘Proud?’  I asked to her dead body, the bloody ribbon covering a massive crater in her head.  The shock was so severe I turned the pistol on myself, and the darkness only crept on.

“No!”  I shouted, trying to forget.  Just remember the good, the times I actually was productive, not lost in despair or hatred.  “It was not always bad!  That was when I started changing!”  I yelled to the world, trying to make it real.

Yes, focus on how during my self-killing spree, Proud came to me one trigger pull away and asked if there was anything she could do.  I had not seen her since the crime of killing her, or perhaps crimes, I committed against her, and her innocent appearance before me nearly caused me to follow through yet again with the trigger.  But I stopped long enough for her to tell me it pained her to see me this way, and ask why I was like this.  She was here to help if I would only ask.

I told her reluctantly a big part of it was how bad I felt for taking advantage of her when so much was at stake, both having sex with her, and later shooting her in another iteration.  When she laughed loudly, I lowered the pistol out of confusion.  ‘How did you take advantage of me, if we both wanted it?’ she asked.  She did not even mention the time when I had shot her because to her it was nothing.  She said she was entirely joyful for the experience, and did not regret anything and wondered why I did.  She said that the physical plane was overwhelming in its feelings, and to have experienced something like that with me, well, she’d remember forever.  She said she loved me and hoped I would have asked earlier, or again.  She lowered my pistol and we held hands, me crying for hours in her simple embrace until the end came again.

Proud Infinity pt 20

The killing sprees honed my abilities.  I learned to fight with my fists, knives, my Liner pistol.  Each cycle was a new challenge.  How many could I kill with just my hands, or could I beat my score using my gun?  It became this dark abyss where others only existed to see how many I could blow through.  It didn’t matter when I was maimed, shot or imprisoned, I was reset every morning.

With women it was another challenge and at this point I no longer cared about ‘knowing them’ as it was pointless.  It was easy at gunpoint but didn’t stimulate me the same way of manipulating their minds with perfect words and actions.  My respect for them tanked down to zero.  I could get any girl to be with me, it didn’t matter how loyal or pure she was.  Enough predictive power or perfect words and they all melted.  Eventually that game grew boring as well.

By the way, Proud?  It was easy.  I only had to ask.  She was more than happy for the overwhelming feelings of the physical realm, and indeed it was quite amazing from my end; but that was the largest regret I had.  Amidst my absolute depravity she represented perhaps the one untainted thing in this fractured world I inhabited, and I proceeded to destroy that as well.

My curiosities turned to sorrow and anguish.  The hedonism left me cold and empty, the shallowness overwhelming that I had given in to.  Soon it became a burden, thinking of all the crimes I had committed, even if they were not longer ‘actually done’.  The pointlessness of everything amplified by a thousand experiences I had now come to hate.  Especially what I did with Proud…or maybe it’d be better to say ‘what I did to Proud’.

We had come to love each other through the circumstance we were now in, a deep friendship from the stories we shared.  Our friendship was not one of two different races of a physical being and a near-energy being creating a physical body, but of two consciousnesses that liked each other from so much time together.

Then I had sex with her simply to satisfy a burning question of if she would.  And she did, and she loved it.  As soon as it was over, I started crying.  I was so stupid, so shallow.  Defiling the last totem of sanity in this world left me broken and under no more delusions of how messed up I had become.

What the fuck was wrong with me?  The universe was counting on my freewill to prevent this time fracture, and I was doing this to its incarnation?  I was murdering people, manipulating every woman I could into sex, and fucking LineGod Proud instead of doing anything productive.  I felt endlessly evil for taking advantage of her which I did many times ‘just to make sure’.  That sent me on an even darker spiral for many, many time fractures.

I swung my arm around, trying to grab something else.  I grabbed something soft, pulling it towards me; it was my white shirt.  On the floor, holding the white shirt and the desk brought forth more grim memories of the even further pits I fell into.

‘But she was the sensual one, she wanted it!’  I would lie to myself, trying to justify the single action I hated myself the most for.  My personal best for kills was over a thousand using just a pistol, most women was over ten, and that was due to my own physical limitation, but none of those compared to the final break in sanity by using Proud.

Her name was ‘Proud’ and that was nowhere near what I felt about my actions, only all-consuming regret and self-hatred.  The shame was overwhelming, and then it was eventually mixed with hopelessness of my position.  I had forsaken seeing Proud again because I felt so bad for what I did for so many times before I finally snapped.