There’s more research to be done. I’m happily immersed in technical minutia, but Reilly’s vitals are running in the back of my mind like a news ticker. Nanomachine function, blood alcohol level (currently above the legal limit for operating vehicles)—
His heart rate spikes, and adrenaline dumps into his system.
I’d spent most of Reilly’s time off developing a defense algorithm for his ‘machines—but that didn’t mean I hadn’t worked on a little something for myself as well. Now is as good a time as any to test out my newest mental upgrade.
I shift my focus back to him, and then…I tell my ‘machines to sync with his, to give me what he’s feeling.
It hits me—first the delirious rush of Reilly’s altered chemistry, the alcohol and amphetamines in his blood; then the white hot urgency animal instinct, the ache of muscles tensed and ready, burning for release.
The Sanctum is still there, hovering like a radiant white halo around the periphery of my vision, but I’m seeing through Reilly’s eyes now. I watch, I feel, as he closes on his target, whips the larger man around like a ragdoll. The next few seconds are a blur of action. It moves too fast for me, it moves almost too fast for him. The man is on the ground now, Reilly has him pinned—we have him pinned, thankful for a chance to slow our breathing.
His voice is a growl inside my head, but I know the words before I hear them. I feel my lips move in sync. “I’m going to go ahead and break your arm—”
There is a sound like no other, the sound bone snapping. There is no analogy for it.
We’re done. Running. I start to feel sick, so I normalize my systems, shutting down the new process. I go back to being Bright—my superiority in no way called into question by my occasional acts of voyeurism.
There’s a method to the madness of it; becoming an incorporeal data stream isn’t a perfect plan, no matter how ideal it seems. Even near-omniscience has its drawbacks. There will be times that I will need a human body, or at least human senses, so I’m working on the problem. A meat emulator, so to speak. A way for the cutting edge to interface with the obsolete.
Reilly knows I log everything when he’s working for me, but he still likes to give me status reports, as thought his input will somehow further clarify things. Yet even though his heart rate is coming back down, the last traces of adrenaline flushing out of his system, there’s silence. Not even a stray thought.
His response comes after a disgusting mucous-y cough. “Hang on, Bright. In the middle of horrible biological processes here.” The wording strikes me as odd for Reilly, and I’m suddenly amused to realize it’s a phrase he’d picked up from me.
“Why is it that every time I send you into the lower city, you end up throwing up? Wait, don’t answer that.” I’m glad I shut down my emulation of his systems when I did. I wait, scanning the police bands for any activity in the vicinity of Fee’s.
“Okay. So, these bullets are coming from a guy named Dan Black. Ever heard of him?”
I have—and I’m having difficulty processing the concept of Dan Black being the mastermind behind anything so innovative as a nanotech-disrupting bullet. He’s a painfully average programmer and an all around sleaze-bag. “Yes. I can take it from here. I’ll let you know when you’re needed.”
He starts to respond, but I close his link and open another.
I deliberately minimize my presence on the neural and hardware networks—it ensures that when I want something, I can expect a quick response to my queries. I know full well the weight my name carries with the tech-heads and robophiles; their opinions on me run the gamut from lunatic to messiah, but they all react the same way when they get a chance to assist me. I don’t care if they furnish answers out of morbid curiosity or fanatical devotion, as long as they get me the information I need.
“I. Bright: All users: Advise Dan Black to initiate contact immediately RE: recent advances in high velocity…communication.” Cryptic requests always garner more interest, and the bullets had certainly sent a message.
There is nothing to do now but wait. I let my eyes shut, the exertion of my time as Reilly catching up to me. My mind drifts through the tide of shared memory, the by-product of a lingering dissociation I had not expected as a side effect. I try to focus on the Sanctum and my own body, and I notice the rancid stench of my own sweat. I get up from the console and head for the decontamination chamber.