Michael laid back and tried to ignore the demon's taunts spewing from Gabriella's mouth. He closed his eyes and thought about his AT. It couldn't have just disappeared, the components for it must be in there somewhere, unless some nano device had dismantled it completely. He really needed to get in contact with someone, anyone, and now wasn't the time for this problem to persist. He had to do something and so far all he had was nothing.

Laying back he closed his eyes and began running a systems diagnostic on all of his implants. He'd have done it earlier but with the Crater first, and then the drugging and torture, he'd not had to opportunity. He really wished he'd been quick enough when they'd drugged him and dragged him down to the basement. If he had he'd have been able to activate his implants and disable his pain receptors. The benefit of hindsight was just another mockery now though. Instead, he hoped he could focus on finding out what was wrong with him and he desperately hoped that his At was still intact, but just isolated from his systems.

A message came back from his co-processor.

All systems functional

Huh? List systems

Sleep inhibitor
Chemical tailoring reservoir
Immunity boosters
Stamina enhancers
Diving augmentation

What about the AT?

No AT present

That made no sense, especially since the Diving augmentations required an AT to function, in fact, they couldn't even be installed without one, they were intimately linked. That gave him an idea. Perhaps he could access from the augmentation.

Initiate dive

Diving not possible without external interface

Just do it on loopback

Loopback interface is explicitly disabled for diving

Then bloody enable it!

Are you sure you want to override this setting? Diving into yourself is not supported and can result in death or a permanent vegetative state

Michael thought about that for a moment. Hell, what did he have to lose, he was screwed anyway right now. He had a demon in the back seat, he was lost and had a bunch of demons looking for him. Frankly, things couldn't get much worse.

Just do it.

Safety lock disabled

Now initiate dive

Initiating in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

Michael felt his mind implode. First there was darkness, then, a weird out of body experience. He was above himself, watching Gabriella struggling against Chair's grip and himself laying back catatonic, drool slowly dribbling from his mouth onto his shoulder. Gabriella was laughing.

"So, you decided to just give up and kill yourself. Ha! Pathetic. You stupid bloody Chair your master just killed himself! Let me go! I'm your master now."

Chair didn't budge.

Michael suddenly felt himself pulled back to reality, but it was different, everything seemed brighter, more vibrant. Everything seemed doubled, as if he was looking through a reflection of the world in front of him and seeing both the real and the reflection at once.


Diagnostics offline


Unknown command

List devices

Sleep inhibitor
Chemical tailoring reservoir
Immunity boosters
Stamina enhancers
Diving augmentation
Aetheric Transducer


Michael tried connecting to the Aethernet, but something was wrong. He couldn't connect to anything. Why was the AT working now, what was happening to him? He tried connecting to anything on an open broadcast. Something picked up.

Hello Michael, glad you could make it.

Who is this?

This is Triad. You worked out the little puzzle I left for you I see

Puzzle? So you did do this? Why, do you have any idea what I've been through because of you?

You needed to learn Michael. You needed to develop your skills to the coming storm.

What are you talking about? Actually, I don't care. I'm fed up with your games. I'm trapped out in the middle of nowhere with a girl whose been possessed and a whole bunch more demons are closing in. You need to get me out of here.

I don't need to do anything Michael. You're quite capable of solving your own problems.

DAMN IT! Why do you keep taunting me you malicious freak!

Goodbye Michael, this was obviously a mistake.

Damn you Triad I need help! If I get out of this I'm going to bloody murder you!

I look forward to it. Though quite how you plan in getting here in your little predicament is certainly a conundrum. You humans are really quite amusing when you're pathetic.


Michael raged. he was so angry, so frustrated, so defeated he just couldn't take it any more. He felt a hate so strong it burnt in the pit of his stomach. He just wanted this to be over, to be in Triad's chamber kicking the living crap out of those fleshy mounds until triad was reduced to a mushy stain. He just wanted Gabriella to be safe, he owed her that much. He'd never felt emotion like this, his implants having always kept him dosed with various inhibitors so he could focus on his search but now he was out of control, of everything, his life, his future. He couldn't even save the girl who had to watch the woman she loved die in an attempt to save him. All of this was Triads fault, all of it went back to that manipulating, crazy controlling freak!

Everything came crashing down on him and he felt himself implode again, the world around him collapsing into a singularity of hate and rage and pain in the centre of his brain. Everything went black and time stopped. Somewhere in the darkness he saw a face he didn't recognise and felt a gigantic presence, so huge and malevolent he could barely comprehend it's scale. He saw a smaller presence getting torn from something beyond the blackness and dispersed and then suddenly everything ran in reverse and he felt himself exploding out of his mind and back into the real world.

There was a smell of burning metal in his nostrils and he felt like he'd been hit by a train. It was dark and a sickly smell of rotting flesh filled wafted at him in waves. he felt dizzy, as if he'd been spun in a centrifuge for days and the horror of that huge presence hammered down on him, making him retch. Slowly sight returned to him and he realised that it wasn't just what had happened, making him black out, it was actually dark. It had been daylight when he'd started the diagnostic, had he really been out that long?

He looked around. He was still sat in the car, at least what was left of it. It smouldered around him, large parts missing as if vaporised by an expanding bubble. Panicked he turned around and saw Gabriella laying there unconscious, Chair still holding onto her limply. Both seemed unhurt. He focused on the smell again and realised he'd smelt it before. He stood up, the debris and torn seat belt straps tumbling down him like confetti and looked around. This was Triad's chamber, but how? Pain suddenly lanced through his brain as a Neutral stepped into few and punched him in the face, knocking him nearly unconscious. As the light faded again he heard a soft chuckle emanate from the room.

"My, you are coming along well Michael. Very well indeed."

The End

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