Top

Status Quo - Chapter 48

Written by: Paullell

 At Daray’s screaming Lana’s hand tries to get to her body, writing on the floor.  To unplug the thing that was hurting her.  But her injuries made her slow to move and Daray’s writhing made it impossible to get a grip on the cording.  By the time Daray settles again Lana has tears streaming down her face for causing her such suffering.  Her eyes flash to the screen at the first sound and her jaw drops open.  “Daray?  Oh God, Daray!  I’m so sorry….  No, this isn’t acceptable.  Get back in your body right now!”  Her breathing speeds and she nearly hyperventilates as she tries to come to grips with the impossibility of Daray’s consciousness being segmented from her body.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

"Back in my body? Lana, I can't see you. Where are you? I'm sorry Lana, I didn't mean for it to happen."

 

-Lana, can you hear me?- APRIL's voice comes through Lana's earpiece all at once.

 

"This is the most fucked up thing I think I've ever seen." Willhelmina comments, her mouth still agape as she stares at the computer screen. "And if you knew the kind of life I've had, yo would understand the depth of that comment," she adds.

 

-Lana, this is APRIL. I Apologize for the way this is happening, but there is a solution.- Her voice is in ernest.

 

"Lana, are you still there? Why can't I see you? I'm sorry Lana, I didn't mean for that to happen, they tied me up and... I couldn't do anything to stop them. I"m so sorry Lana... So sorry..." Daray's voice is full of anguish as it issues from the speakers in the room. Willhelmina slumps back into the chair and stares at Daray's body, sitting calmly on the floor next to Lana's legs. The ODN cable now lay detached and discarded on the floor at her feet, and her long, strawberry braid coiled around her body on the floor like a cat's tail.

 

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Lana reaches her hand out towards Daray’s body, automatically wanting to comfort her but stops the gesture, realizing the futility of it. She swallows.  “I’m right here Daray….”  She stalls when Aprils voice finally speaks in her earpiece again.  She puts her hand down and listens to April.  “There damn well better be a solution, April.  Daray don’t panic love, there’s been a complication but April is going to help me fix it.  I’m safe, you’re safe.  I love you so much and I know you did everything to protect me.  I just need you to stay calm for a little bit.”  

 

She considers how to explain what is happening without panicking her and abruptly decides to do such editing of the truth that a lie would seem more reasonable. “Your senses might be a little confused right now Daray.  But you can hear and that’s all you need right this minute.  We’ll get the rest working as soon as we can.  April, what should I do now?”  She doesn’t mean to ignore Willhelmina, but she can’t think about much of anything beyond how to fix Daray. 

 

______________________________________________________________________________

 

-I apologize Lana, trauma Daray was suffering, in conjunction with the psionic assault of Turin’s mind was simply too much for her. I was forced to act in order to preserve her sanity, in the only way I could think to do so. I compressed her consciousness and built a firewall around it so that Turin could not do any more harm to her.-

 

Daray’s body turns its head to look into Lana’s eyes then, as if trying to communicate silently. -I had to take control of her body, but I had significant difficulty in learning to process the myriad of different sensory sensations and motor systems. I am still having great difficulty with equilibrium and the complex muscle behaviors required to produce coherent vocalizations.-

 

“Lana. I’m scared. What’s happening?” Daray’s voice sounds truly frightened.

 

“Hey Dare!” Willhelmina chimes in, trying to sound upbeat and conversational. “It’s Kat, from the Tyconderoga. You remember me right? Riana’s sister. Anyway, Lana’s chatting with APRIL about what’s going on. We need a minute to figure this out OK? Just stay calm and we’ll get to the bottom of things…”

 

-I could not spare the processing power to communicate before, as I was trying to handle Daray’s consciousness while still managing her body, and I was forced to prioritize and sacrifice some information in my rush to save her mind and your past. Unfortunately, I am unable to decompress her consciousness while I am still keeping her body operating. We need to see an Artificial Intelligence specialist to handle the transfer. The man who wrote my program is Hakiro Yamato. He should be able to handle the operation if we can locate him.-

 

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Lana listens intently, trying to keep up with everything that APRIL is saying. “APRIL, for future reference; if something this bizarre ever happens again, you have my complete permission to erase my entire life history to protect Daray.  Ok Daray, I’ll try to explain.  To protect you from what was being done, April has segmented your consciousness, kept you from being aware of what was being done since they had no intention of killing.  We’re going to be able to unlock it but we need the help of a specialist, luckily we can now at least communicate even though you can’t control your body yet.  You’re right here next to me, I’m holding your hand and we are both safe back in your apartment on Mars.  Kat, I’ll stay here with Daray, can you see if you can contact a Hakiro Yamato?  April thinks he can help.”

 

______________________________________________________________________________

 

“I’m on it. I’ll use the comm downstairs so you three can chat.” Willhelmina nods, then jumps out of the chair and dashes out of the room.

 

“Segmented my consciousness? What does that mean?”

 

-Hakiro maintains an apartment in Tranquility, in the Indra Towers. I can operate Daray’s body well enough to get it there, and you should now be able to transfer Daray to a portable computer for transport, and still be able to interact with her. There are wrist computers of sufficient power in the house armory, through the back wall of the closet in this room. Also, I think you should be aware of something that was said after the conflict in Turin’s home Lana. The leader of the strike team claimed to be working for your father.-

 

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Lana thinks for a moment as she tries to answer Daray’s question.  “Well.  Its sort of like she put you in a quiet spot in your mind and cut the connections to your senses so you could no longer, see, hear, or feel what was being done to you.  If you disagree with her choice you will have to discuss it with her once we get you fixed.” Lana climbs to her feet as she talks, and moving stiffly she also tries to listen to April’s instructions.  She walks across the room to the closet April has mentioned.  With only a few moments of running her fingers along the wall of the closet she finds a recessed button that she pushes.  The wall slides open nearly silently and she groans softly as she bends over to rummage through the shelves.  Her industrious search stalls at April’s last comment.  She remains bending over, gaping like a fish out of water as her mind tries to process what she is being told.  “My… My father?”  Lana shakes herself and starts to deny the possibility.  “You must be mistaken.  My father sent my mother away before I was born. He doesn’t want me.”

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

Once in the secret compartment, Lana is able to quickly locate a small container with two small wrist computers in it. They are extremely sophisticated units despite their small size.

 

-I apologize Lana. I am merely relating the information I was given. Before we left, the last of them said they were there to retrieve you from Turin on behalf of your father. He mentioned to his comrades that your father contracted Turin to find you, then sent the mercenaries to get you out of his custody since he suspected that Turin would not willingly turn you over.-

 

Daray’s body follows Lana into the closet and points out one of the wrist computers, as well as a stun gun that is very similar to the one Lana had before.

 

-I feel I must also apologize for my behavior while in control of Daray’s body. I have never had to process sensations like these before. I must admit that I was not prepared for the level of intensity involved in some activities a human body can engage.-

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

Lana dries to push her muddled thoughts past the shock of learning that her father may be looking for her.  She remembers the enthralled women and the soldier pointing the gun at Daray; also the explosion that threatened her life and the slow methodical destruction of her history and records.  “I always knew he must have been rich and powerful.  He had to be to have been since he was able to keep my mother as a companion.  But if he works with Turin, even if he expected to be double crossed; I don’t think I want anything to do with him.  The only thing I can assume is he is the one behind the explosion.  He must want to erase me, perhaps because he is embarrassed or ashamed of my existence.  I want nothing to do with such a man.”  She finally comes to a decision that she has been wresting with for several days.   “April.  How would I go about getting a new identity and do we have time to stop so that I can have my appearance altered?  I want to have my hair and tail dyed.”

 

Lana pauses in her thought process as April launches into her second apology.  “You mean that was you the whole time?”  She remembers the screen when she entered the holding cell when Daray was molesting the other woman and then the methodical destruction of all the bugs and cameras in the room, and her inability to just behave herself when Lana was trying to deal with Turin.  “I appreciate the apology April, you did make things a little more difficult than they needed to be.  If the compound hadn’t been attacked we would have been in a very dangerous position.  Daray, do you have any memory of the past 24 hours after you were captured?”  Lana finds herself hoping that she down, she has a feeling Daray won’t like to learn that she turned herself in, and she’ll be even less happy to learn that Lana had been hurt in the escape.”

 

______________________________________________________________________________

 

-We have time for whatever you want to do Lana. For the time being, both Daray and I are stabilized. We can sustain this mode of being indefinitely. Although I fear that Daray may suffer for it, if it lasts overly long.- She hands the small computer to Lana, then reaches into another bin and retrieves a small, blocky object that looks like it will plug nicely into one of the IO ports on the computer.

 

Handing the object over she adds, -This is a micro sub-space transceiver. Plugging it into the wrist computer will allow Daray to communicate with us both, you via your earpiece, and me via her normal sub-space transceiver implant. That computer is powerful enough to support her in a conscious state, but she will likely be confused and disoriented quite a lot due to the unfamiliar architecture.-

 

Loping back out of the closet and into the room, she perches herself next to the media center, waiting for Lana. -I am sorry for my behavior Lana. As I have said, I have had difficulty adjusting to this body and its sensations. Also, having to maintain your and Daray’s information made concentration and focus extremely difficult. I am uncertain if Daray actually had some effect on my actions or if I was merely trying to act in a similar manner to which I believe she would under the circumstances.-

 

“I don’t remember anything after that man… On the bench… They had me tied down and he… Lana? Did he… did I… Oh god Lana… I think I… Oh I’m so sorry Lana…” She sounds like she’s in tears as she speaks through the computer system, panic edging into her voice.

 

“Is this a bad time?” Willhelmina chimes in from the doorway. She’s standing there with a try full of food and a serious look on her face. “he food arrived, and unfortunately I can’t get ahold of Hakiro, although Solidarity records indicate that he is still on their payroll and still residing in his Indra Towers apartment. If we get you to Tranquility, we should be able to track him down pretty easily. Especially since he’s probably just out somewhere.”

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

Lana takes the devices and listens to April as attentively as a student, the special high tech devices being things she has never needed to use before.  She follows Daray’s body, now inhabited by April it seems, over to the terminal and plugs the devices in as she had been instructed.  “Shh, Daray.”  She says soothingly.  “I know what happened and you have nothing you need to apologize for.  You may be happy to know that the man who did that to you is dead now.  Torn apart by another of Turin’s caged pets; and it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving man.”  Lana again omits the full version of the truth, saving it for another time, and she begins to understand why Alina may have made the decision she had.  When you love someone you want to do anything you can to protect them.

 

She plugs the last of the devices into each other just as Kat walks back into the room.  “It’s fine Kat.  There we go. April should be able to talk to you again now Daray, and I can hear both of you.  Daray.  I’m so proud of you, and I love you.  You’re an amazing woman; the only reason they got anything at all out of you was because Turin is a psychic.  Oh and Daray.  While we are fixing the little problem with you, it might amuse you to know that April is attempting to control your body until she can turn it over to you again. And even though she is a super intelligent AI, she seems utterly incapable of balance.”  Lana smiles as she teases the AI, hoping that the jovial banter will help improve the moral of everyone involved.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

Plugging in the wrist computer sees a similar flow of machine code across the screen for several minutes, and causes Daray’s voice to create a sort of surprised gasp that starts on the media center speakers, and finishes in Lana’s earpiece.

 

“They killed him for what he did to me?” Her voice rings out in Lana’s ear.

 

APRIL grabs the wrist computer, disconnecting the device from the media center and offering it to Lana. -Keep this safe Lana. This is the only copy of Daray we have now. If it is lost or damaged…- She lets the statement hang in the air between them, then lopes over to inspect the tray of food Willhelmina is setting down. -I can not get used to this constant craving for sustenance that Daray’s body has.-

 

She promptly starts shoveling more food in, conveniently ignoring Lana’s quip about balance as Daray’s voice rings over the earpiece. “She can’t balance? Really APRIL? You better not be wearing rough spots in my knuckles, girl! Jeeze, this is bizarre. I can’t really see anything, or hear anything other than you two. There’s no smells, or sensations of touch or taste, but there’s something, just on the edge of my perception…”

 

-Be careful Daray, that is the net. It is easy to loose track of where you are when you connect to external networks. We do not want you getting lost out there somewhere.-

 

“Is there anything I can do for you guys?” Willhelmina asks as she sits down and begins serving up some of the chinese food she’d had delivered. 

 

APRIL is already halfway through a container of pan-fried noodles, which is when the group realizes that she has been eating and talking at the same time. A nice trick caused by her inability to formulate words with Daray’s equipment.

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

Lana replies to Daray.  “For what he did to you, and I’m sure for what he has done to others before you.”  Lana winces at April’s comment about the net, she hopes Daray doesn’t pick up on what her access to the net means.  That in actuality her consciousness is no longer stored within her body at all is something she is not certain Daray will be able to handle at this exact moment.  She cradles the computer to her, insanely worried about harming or damaging it in any way

 

Lana moves over to the food and grabs a bowl before Dar…April can ingest it all.  She smiles, noting that Daray’s body remains constant no matter who is controlling it.  “So what do you think, Daray.  Since my coloring is part of what is making us so easy to find. Will you mind if I change it?  I was thinking a nice dark black would be very different.  It will make my skunk streak more traditional anyways.  My hair is a little longer than the last time you saw it.  It's about half the length of yours now.  I had a few extra credits during the time we were spending apart and I thought you might like the additional length, I know I do.”

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

"I wish I could see it Lana, I'm sure it's amazing, whatever length it is, and whatever color for that matter. I don't mind what you do with it as long as you like it."

 

-You can see it Daray, you simply need to connect to an external monitoring source, such as a camera or sensor in the surrounding area.- Lana chimes in as she continues to devour food from the tray. - I simply can not understand how you continue to function with this constant feeling of emptiness in your stomach.- She adds.

 

"You just learn to live with it I guess... How do I connect to a camera? I really want to see you guys. This is so weird..."

 

-You must route your sensory sub-routines through the net to the closest available systems. However, there may be security software in place that you will need to deal with before you can take control. It is usually very simple software.-

 

"So, you're talking to them both right now?" Willhelmina chimes in over her noodles. "You have two different voices in your head or what? I can't hear a damn thing that is going on at the moment...." She looks expectantly at Lana, having already discovered how useless it is to try and communicate with Daray's body the last few days.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

Lana looks around in surprise at Kat’s comment.  The transition to April and Daray speaking through her earpiece had been so smooth she hadn’t even noticed when Daray stopped using the main speaker from the terminal.  It made sense, she had just been too involved in the conversation to take note of the change.  “Yes, Kat. It is rather odd.”  Lana shrugs, she supposes to some extent this is just another version of her compartmentalizing in a crisis, what’s important, and what isn’t.  Whatever isn’t important can be tucked away to be dealt with emotionally later.

 

Lana has a sudden realization that if Daray connects to a camera she will probably see how injured Lana is and she will want a full accounting of what happened.  Lana winces and decides to distract this avenue of the conversation until she is fully dressed and the bandages are no longer as visible through the thin robe.  “I don’t recommend taking time for that right now.  Let’s get started on arranging transport and getting on our way.  I want to get this fixed as soon as possible.”  Lana puts down her bowl, the noodles only having been half eaten and she makes her way over to the dresser to try and find something to wear that won’t put a lot of pressure on her back.

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

“I bet it is…” Willhelmina comments, finishing off her noodles and raising an eyebrow at Daray’s body as it reaches out and picks up Lana’s half-eaten bowl of the same. “You know, I don’t remember Dare eating this much when we were hanging out. Is she going to be OK?”

 

Lana finds both the closet and dressers filled to capacity with all manner of garments in every imaginable cut, style, and material, as if the place was designed to accommodate any conceivable social situation. Everything is in Daray’s size, which is a little bit small for Lana, but there is more than a little that is able to stretch to accommodate her, or is designed to fit loose anyway, and so is not really a problem.

 

As she starts dressing, APRIL watches her for a few moments, then a sort of blank expression washes over her face for a minuet, then her skinsuit begins to morph and change slightly. THis time it turns black and several straps and belts appear, buckles forming all over to make it seem as if she is wearing some sort of skin tight fetish outfit, complete with a thick collar sporting a heavy D-Ring on the front. When the skinsuit stops shifting and changing, APRIL’s face clears again and she resumes eating Lana’s food.

 

“Well there’s something you don’t see every day.” Willhelmina arches an eyebrow at the new appearance of Daray’s body.

 

-It seemed the best appearance considering my inability to master the subtleties of making this body balance on its feet. There should be a leash in the closet somewhere Lana.- Her words are matter-of-fact, as if there is nothing strange being suggested at all.


Leave a Comment

Submit your own story and score points! Your submission must be an original, not subject to copyright violations, and not found anywhere else on the web. Short stories count for 25 points and Novellas count for 100 points. A short story consists of 500 to 700 words while a Novella comprises 2,000 words or more.

Submit your story

Bottom