Chapter 1:

Reid Leach

Amor Fati


Was the mighty sound that roared throughout the wooden frame of the house, not sparing the furniture including the bed I lay in. At exactly this same moment, as if awakened by the splendid bowels of the explosion, my alarm began its deathly bellowing from the nightstand beside me.

“hooooney,” I yelled half-dazed from the bedroom on the second floor. My eyes throbbed with the honeydew light breaking into the room from behind the blinds and my neck ached as I perked it up from the mess of pillows I rested on. Then, almost autonomously, I slapped the circular “off” button the holographic alarm held up so proudly.

“IT’S NOTHING DEAR,” she yelled promptly from the kitchen, with a sweet and radiant voice that was unique to her. Her response seemed like that of a frightened child lurking in the depths of a kitchen for a midnight snack.

From the second floor of the house where I lay in the master bedroom, the distant sounds of her feet slapping the porcelain-tiled floor to and fro reminded me of the urgency but calmness her little body could contain; especially when late. Dishes clattered, and the sound of liquid–most definitely coffee–being poured into a container of sorts went along with the rhythm of her briskness. I giggled with my eyes closed, thinking of her almost five-foot stature and stubby legs prancing about the kitchen frantically, “So much chaos in one little human,” I thought.

“BYEEEEE BABE, have a good day. Oh, and remember the stuff we have to do later,” her voice echoed as she struggled to put on her flats, while the sounds of keys and thermos chimed in loudly banging against each other almost concluding the tunes of her chaotic morning routine.

“BYE,” I replied, with a bit of phlegm perched on my esophagus. The slam of a door followed, keys turning, a lock creaking, and then the soft hum of an electronic engine. It was almost like the final chords of a concerto, the vacant silence after an ecstatic performance.

This silence, however, was much too different, it held a much more dejecting ambiance that lulled me to sleep and made me hope to never awake to it again.

After sleeping in for about two more hours I rose from the bed stretching my limp muscles and yawning, then set my course for the bathroom, to begin my monotonous morning routine. As I made my way to the bathroom, which was just opposite the bed, I thought of the words Laya said as she left.

“What exactly was the stuff she had been referring to,” I thought with the words sitting languidly in my mind and spread some of the toothpaste on the bristles of my electrical toothbrush.

“Could it be our anniversary or perhaps…her birthday, hmm…I’ll check when I go down there,” I said to the reflection in the mirror with the usual muffled and inaudible sounds that come about when simultaneously brushing your teeth and speaking; only that, of course, I myself could understand what I was saying as well as the fellow who mimicked me to a tee.

I spat out some of the accumulating saliva and toothpaste, moving onto my tongue now with a different toothbrush, and glancing at the man in the mirror once more I thought of my adolescent years. The way that my pudgy–still extremely pale–face rounded and ugly had become chiseled but coarse with stubble, the way that my pink and full lips had become small slits of pale flesh, and the way that my beady brown eyes and tiny sharp nose sat complacently on my disheveled face.

I finished brushing my teeth, gargled some minty mouth wash, and headed out to the bedroom once again, this time passing the bed and continuing out of the doorway that was on the left-hand side. Walking to the stairs just outside of the room I stopped midway, between the room and stairs, and gazed down the lonely corridor to my left which contained four empty rooms–two on each side–with their doors shut and the lonely expanse that stretched across the copper hardwood floor and grey walls. Once again the dejecting ambiance crept through me.

I sighed softly, turned to the stairs, and went down to the kitchen.

In the kitchen, I cleaned the mess Laya had left behind: greasy and food-smudged pans, a burnt coffee kettle missing its lid, and two plates with the pans' contents. I groaned and reached for the coffee kettle with no top, and to my surprise, the hinges which would allow for the open-closing mechanism had completely disappeared.

“Wow,” I said with my eyes widening and the decapitated kettle still in hand.

Having taken into full account–for the second time today–the marvels that my wife's miniature stature could house I placed the kettle aside, with intentions of preserving it as a testament to her strength, and returned to washing the other dishes.

After finishing up with the dishes and cleaning some of the spills she had on the island countertop and stovetop, I remembered I had to check whether this elusive “stuff” could be our anniversary or some elaborate birthday celebration she’d planned beforehand; I was never adept for such things. I called out to Zen–a house-wide voice assistant that I created–with a fresh voice and a panging ache in my stomach; hunger.

“Hey Zen,” I started and the familiar chime signifying it was listening, sounded, “anything planned for today?”

“Today is Monday, August seventeenth of the year three thousand and seventy-seven and the current time is thirteen fifteen. There aren’t any outstanding events marked for today, would you like for me to jot some down?” Zen hummed concisely–lacking the awkward monotonous tone that previous versions had and instead with the energetic tone of a female in her mid-twenties. Zen made use of the TV’s surround sound speakers and even the refrigerator's minuscule speaker to converse. It was made to use any audio projecting devices–this version, however, was still not able to make use of the augmentations audio services, hence its use of external objects.

“That's fine. Thanks, Zen.” I replied sincerely and began to pace to and fro in the rather large kitchen, from the refrigerator five paces ahead, then back to the walk-in pantry on the opposite side. “Ughh, what the hell could she be on about!?”


Was the soft humming that made its way throughout my cranium. The feeling both soothed me and sent a mild shock through my body, now remembering that I had put the chip on silent mode and no calls would come through with their usual cheerful chime–this also included notifications but excluded vital checks.

I cleared my throat and spoke with that tired and soft voice common to most in the morning, “Zen pick it up.” I paced faster with the anxiety from before, but now haunting me much more. At each foots rise my steps became lighter and hurried, “it’s only four more hours until she gets home,” I thought to myself, “and if any preparations needed to be done, then they would have to be done within that time frame.” I was drowning in thoughts, forgetting that Zen had connected me and some character was in the line waiting for the courteous “hello” which initiates dialogue.

“Hello!!” Sounded a coarse and semi-irritated voice from the television speakers.

I turned to look at the living room just on my right-hand side as if looking at the owner of the voice, “Y-yes, who is it?”

“It’s Zeke, from the UX (user experience) department down in Domain 6888 (South America),” the voice shot back, now assuming a hint of annoyance with every coming word, “Dude! You told me to remind you about the meeting we were having today at fourteen!”

A blush overcame my cheeks and air was expelled from my packed lungs through my nostrils, “Oooohhh, Zeke. Why didn’t you just say so, man? Sorry dude, it’s been a weird morning for me today.”

He sighed and a dry giggle almost like a wheeze broke out, “ problem dude, what’s up? The chip’s frying your brain?”

“Not yet,” I added with a giggle of my own, “Laya’s telling me about this thing we have later and I have no idea what she’s on about.”

“Is it about the stuff?” Zeke remarked assuredly as if already knowing that I would forget this elusive thing they kept referring to.

“Yeah, how’d you know?” I walked around the kitchen island from where I stood, frozen, to a reclinable couch in the living room parked before a large television.

“Well,” he paused and clearing his throat hesitantly, spoke with a whisper, “it’s about project g.

“Project g?” I flavored the words in my mind a bit, searching through the infinitesimal data sets that composed the human brain. Then it dawned on me what the “stuff” and “project g” actually were, and immediately my face scrunched up, recalling how dangerous it was to mention it so explicitly.

Project g, for most of the “tier 0” population—below average QPA and IQ scoring individuals composed of all laborers—and “tier 1” population—average QPA and IQ scoring individuals composed of non-technical tech jobs—was believed to be a calling cry for the revolts that were being held by the null. Project g itself was regarded as the instruction manual for how to remove the biological augmentation chips without alerting the PCA (Peacekeeper Citadel Army).

“Oh god,” I paused and covered my mouth dramatically, thinking of how dangerous my forgetful mind could be and how something so important could wander off into the abyss of forgetfulness.

“Yep,” said Zeke with his full voice.

I felt myself melting into the recliner with a hot blush dressing the entirety of my face, “Sorry… I didn’t know I could be this stupid!”

“Don’t mention it…bu–” he paused, clicked his tongue, and then resumed, “That is of course the correspondence of the meeting. I wanted to address the tool Lay (Zeke's nickname for Laya) should be getting by today and the file that you had asked me for last week.”

“Yeah, yeah. No problem.” the words escaped me at a thousand miles per hour while continuing to reminisce on the awkwardness that my stupidity could get me into, and the many other instances throughout my life. We conversed–mostly him directing me subtly about what I needed for project g, and also where I could find certain data and frameworks for my job–for most of the afternoon until it was finally time for Laya to come back home, and just as awkwardly as the call had commenced it ended.

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“Ughhh, I hate that HS (hypersonic) commute. I hope they transfer me over here to Domain 0954 (North America). That way, I’m just a walk away from home, hell, even down in Domain 6888 would be better.” Her little loud self ranted as she walked in through the door. I still sat melting into the recliner, however, unlike before I now sat with a plate of chicken tenders and some reruns of an old show titled “Jonothans Outlandish Adventure” to distract me.

“Hey, babe!” She said with a squeak, trying to discern that she was talking to me. Promptly, she returned to her rant and made her way from the entryway behind the couch to the kitchen–which lay on the left coming from the entry–where her rant progressed into some banging on the large copper-colored wooden island and bewildered facial expression. Behind her, Zen made it its duty to close and lock the door as well as to turn on all the lights, vanquishing that complete darkness only lit by the large sixty-inch OLED television beaming its vivid colors before me.

“Hey Honey!” I said with a gleeful whisper that betrayed my current pose and glanced over at her face as she reached the kitchen and began to pace to and fro, with agitation, just as I had done some hours ago. I couldn’t help but fix my eyes on her whole being, the soft mocha-colored skin and slim figure that curved gently here and there to form and give breath to her beauty. The scarlet-red hair that bounced in a ponytail as she moved frivolously, some strands getting in the way of her pretty and large blue eyes, while her soft and filled pink lips–which she held up in different ways to accentuate her current mood–did not at any moment betray her beauty and their tenderness. Even her nose lay perfectly, rounded and small only making her pretty large eyes glint even in the faintest light. Regardless of the length of time, I stared at her, she always allured the fragility and tenderness of my whole being. Even in the most distraught moments of my life and even now, as she ranted angrily talking with someone over her bio chip not giving me her attention. I wished, as always, that I could stare at her for the rest of our brief lives.

After some more ranting, banging, and craze-filled verbal lashing she ended the call she had been on and assumed her usual cheerful and satisfied face. Her lips drew a smile as she rubbed her temple, the right side, where the chip was surgically inserted for everyone–this was the way most people turned the chip's AR (augmented reality) features on or off, which made use of all the senses.

“What have you been up to mister…and oh my god, did you see the freaking kettle?” She said with the intonations of her pretty and soft voice dancing in high tones.

“Saw it? I heard it!” I said with a smile and lifted myself from the couch, desperately running over to the kitchen.

“Oh shoot, I’m so sorry about that!” She cried sincerely, and with her tender and big blue eyes, she followed the path my clumsy six-foot-two stature held as I ran from the living room–ahead of her–to the kitchen where she stood.

Her eyes widened, even more, and her confused but sorrowful expression claimed more of her face as I approached energetically, “A-are you mad?” She winced and received no reply.

I placed the plate littered with crumbs and smears of ketchup on the countertop of the island and grabbed her chin delicately, drawing my face to hers and hers to mine.

I placed a kiss on her soft pink lips and then released her face to take in the full scope of her emotions and beauty. “Of course, I’d be mad,” I whispered placing another kiss on her lips before smiling victoriously.

Her head shot down to the floor with her eyes following, and a thick red blush ran across her face, one could almost see the steam rolling from the top of her head, “O-oh! I’ll make sure to be louder next time if this is the result.”

I chuckled and grabbed the plate from the countertop and brought it over to the sink where I began to wash it, “Of course of course, how was work?”

“Mm…it was fine, just annoyed with the commute as always.” She said softly with her head and eyes lifting from the place they stared at. Her dainty fingers began to twirl a hair tie as she turned to face my back with the countertop supporting her leaning posture and short figure. Suddenly she remembered something which caused her to exclaim loudly, “OH YEAH,” she continued with more gusto “I got everything we need for the stuff and also for our TWENTY-FREAKING-SEVENTH birthday.”

The plate nearly fell out of my hand when I heard her say birthday along with the already known “stuff.” I looked over my shoulder at her brilliant and expecting eyes that shone brightly as she shuffled for something in her back pocket and stared at me.

“TADAAAA!” the roar of her tiny voice echoed throughout the house, much like the explosion this morning. In the palm of her open hand rested a flip phone. It was all black and rectangular, with a small cover screen in the center and a small camera perched above it.

“Oh my god! Where did you find one!!!” I lunged at her, grabbing the phone and her waist for a huge embrace.

“OWW,” she howled jokingly but returned the attack with a bombardment of kisses on my chin and jawline.

I stepped back with the flip phone in hand, still inspecting and flipping it open, and suddenly felt the guilt settling in the trenches of my stomach. “I’m so sorry, babe,” I paused and turned my head upwards to meet her diamond eyes, with my sincere and a heavy frown and lackluster eyes, “I forgot it was your birthday and even about the stuff. I’m really really sorry.”

Her small body drew closer and she rested her chin atop the flip phone in my hand. “You’ve given me everything I’ve ever wanted, nothing short of love and fidelity. I told Zen to delete anything and everything about today so I could be the one to finally award you for something.” Just then tears welled up on the hem of her eyelids, and clear droplets like the rain danced jauntily in their descent to the earth. “I love you so much,” her voice cracked and just then I drew her to my chest and held her tightly. I myself began to cry for a bit into her small frame, “You’ll forever be my eternity,” I added shakily with sniffles, and we both began to wail; the cries, lathered in the purity of love.

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An hour before midnight, after the heart-throbbing scene in the kitchen, Laya and I talked a bit about how our day went and thought up plans for the next year and the possibility of tonight being a success, asked Zen to order take out, and then finally decided it was time to commit to the stuff; to try and use the instructions and EMP scrambler that she had obtained from work that day. Still in the same clothes–I in a tee and some shorts, and she dressed in a white long-sleeve button-down under a beige midi plaid dress which sat just above the knee–we headed down to the basement where my workstation sat in disarray. Here is where Zen was created by me and also where a large sum of my remote work was carried out–I did work as a web page developer and some data analysis for Laya’s department, a UX department in Domain 4066 (Europe)–on the only three days that I worked which were Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. This allotted me a lot of free time, enough, of course, to make a working voice assistant that made use of machine learning and spoke in an almost human voice.

“Oh yeah, I forgot I was supposed to update Zen to the latest software,” I said with a loud belch and reached for an office chair tucked under a workbench then rolled it over to where Laya stood holding the dated chip scanner that she had acquired that day from her job.

The BACS (biological augmentation chip scanners) were shaped rectangularly and hosted the exact appearance of a touchscreen smartphone, they were initially used around the globe at all job sites in the years during the tech boom to check employees who had the augmentation chips–this was of course so nobody could slack on the job–and somewhat jam most if not all of the augmentation chip’s services, save for the clock which included the countdown feature that was unknown at the time, and all geographic services. The BACS would make use of a slight electromagnetic impulse that would leave no pain or issues on the person receiving them save for an itchy sensation that ran throughout their scalp and lasted for about five seconds. However, a year prior to the mass shutdowns in 3071, all of these BACS were recalled or just thrown away, nobody made notice of it since it meant they could finally slack off at work.

The way that Laya had gotten her hands on one of the BACS was simply because I was so intrigued by it and at the time was heavily into Copper man’s appearance, especially those EMP repulsors he had and so I thought that I would make myself one. Then just in the year that they had been called back or destroyed she got her hands on one for me, since they weren’t made for commercial use, and had kept it safe at work where it was much too difficult to transport at the time. Phones at that point–after the mass shutdown–had become so obsolete and foreign that they stood out like a sore thumb.

Laya held the BACS in her hand and touched a small power button on the back part of the device, and suddenly it came to life, still with a black screen but with words that read “Welcome to BACS” in bold white text, then it turned to a bright blue screen with a round button filling up the center of it and the word “SCAN,” in a large white font sitting inside of the large circle appeared.

“Really? What’s she going to have now?” She hummed with downcast eyes staring at the blue screen. She always tended to refer to Zen with the “she” pronoun, saying it was more comfortable for her, but I could never do such a thing; a distant feeling of unfaithfulness would choke me.

“Yep,” I paused and rolled the chair to her, bumping her knees as an indication for her to sit, and so she did but still staring into the bright blue of the screen.

“Well,” I paused and reached for the flip phone in my right-side pocket then took a quick snapshot of her focused posture and face; naturally she didn’t even realize anything in her vicinity at these moments.

“Well…?” she added and looked up at me with two pearly blue spheres encasing life itself.

I couldn’t even reply and took another picture, her beautiful big blue eyes shining in the artificial light of the basement. The mocha skin that encased her face bathed in the fluorescent blue of the screen.

“Even Monet wouldn’t be able to recreate this scene and all the colors you bring to life,” I said proudly, then a thick blush formed on both of our faces.

I snapped one last picture, at her now blushing face, before sliding the flip phone back into the right side pocket of my shorts. “I’m assuming Monet had nothing to do with Zen huh?” she remarked jokingly.

“No, no, honey. The additions for Zen’s update are that I added the ability for her to be integrated into the chip,” I paused and went to the backside of the office chair then began again, “It’s seamless of course, and I also made her more comedic and added a voice pack!”

She tilted her head upwards to look at me then spoke with her sweet and soft voice, “Oh wow, a voice pack?”

I took the BACS from her as she held it towards me, “Yep, its thousands of isolated clips of your beautiful voice.” She quickly lifted her head to face the stairs from which we descended and with her ears reddening chuckled.

“Let’s begin dear,” she said shyly.

I nodded, adjusted the power of the BACS electromagnetic pulse to just shy of its maximum capacity, and held it close to her temple. Just then the reality of it all kicked in, how simple the plans actually seemed and how little we believed it would work. We treated the matter of “project g” so lightheartedly as if it were nothing more than drawing air for a deep breath. In just the blink of an eye, we were about to become null, fugitives of far-off powers which we knew nothing of. It frightened me and made me shudder, I would never in an eternity stick my neck out like this, even if I wanted to, even if I had to, but if it was for Laya I would do it. I would do anything for my world. Just as I was about to press the large blue button which read “SCAN,” I thought back to the whole life we spent together, from birth as the bestest of friends to the death of our parents, then to the ecstatic smile, she wore the day of our wedding with no observers.

I pressed the button and a slight tingle in the same hand I held the BACS caused me to drop the phone, it fell on its face and the sound of a crack could be heard, just then Laya sunk into the chair seemingly unconscious. I hurried over from behind her to the place between her knees in front of her and leaned in tapping her cheek and calling her name.

“LAYA…LAYA…COME ON HONEY WAKE UP,” I said with tears streaming down my eyes and profuse heaves.

Then suddenly, the fluttering of her pupils could be seen behind her eyelids and then, her eyelids lifted softly. In the black of her big blue eyes, a small digital screen could be seen signifying her one of the chip's features had been enabled.

“I-it’s off. Babe, the counter is frozen, and everything else besides the camera, time, and location are off.” She said hastily with a confused whisper, her voice breaking and tears welling at the base of her eyelids.

“IT’S FREAKING OFF BABE,” she said jumping from the chair and wrapping her tiny arms around my neck and dancing around, “YOU DID IT, BABE, YOU DID IT!” She exclaimed passionately.

I smiled and tears broke out as she shared the timer–much like screen sharing on a video call–and an image of bolded large foreboding numbers appeared on my side of the chips interface, “02:11:25:00:00:07 until shutdown,” the countdown which included years, months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds read.

“It really is baby, it really is,” I said so joyously that my cheeks ached from my smile, and my chest hurt from our profuse embraces.

She looked up from my chest and met my teary eyes with her, “next up is you, mister!”

And just then a loud crash sounded throughout the house, with darkness trailing the strange noise. Metallic footsteps creaked the wood of the house above us and dust fell to the floor. We grew silent and followed the sounds of the footsteps above us.

“NO NO NO NO NO,” I screamed and held her tightly, “BABY IT’S THEM ITS THE DAMN PCA” I screamed regretfully, with ecstasy having coursed through my veins, all I could feel was the weight of my body causing my legs to shake. I could feel her bosom heaving and hear her jaw chattering with an ominous click.

Horror ran through us as we stood in the darkness of the basement. Then another loud thud made us jump, this time the loud thud was just at the top of the stairs leading to the basement, and the sound of metallic feet shook the weak stairs as they announced, “THIS IS THE PCA, FUGITIVES STAY WHERE YOU ARE IF NOT, YOU WILL BE MET WITH DEADLY FORCE!”

The glint of dark blue metal was all I saw before a numbing feeling shook my lower jaw and a crack hummed inside of me. Then, all that I felt was the rocky unstable footing of the basement floor holding the entirety of my body and no longer the warmth of my small beautiful wife. I couldn’t hear screams or anything after that, silence befell the adrenaline-induced mass that composed me.

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I awoke the next day, with papers and glass littering the basement around me. I was still at home and thought that all that occurred was a distant nightmare, or that we had gotten drunk and I somehow got too rowdy. But just as I awoke, a gray screen appeared abruptly in my peripheral with the numbers I had so happily stared at yesterday. Not only did hers appear but also mine, they read the same exact frozen number as well. Still drunk on my hopelessness I couldn’t understand how my countdown had been frozen when I had clearly dropped the BACS and may have even broken it; somehow without the use of the BACS, I had become a null.

But it all lost its significance in the face of sorrow, I drew myself to my knees and looking around meekly cried out barely enunciating the words properly, “Laya…baby? Where are you?” The flesh at my lower jaw pounded and my mouth felt dry with the taste of copper.

“B-baby…” I wept haggardly into the solitude of the basement, the numbers still in that same bold font and grey backdrop. Seeing the numbers, I felt an emptiness like nothing before well up within me and thought of everything and nothing.


Sounded a high-pitched ring in my cranium from the chip, then suddenly a voice spoke, briefly and distantly. I jolted from my cries and began to look around in confused desperation while tears streamed.

“Fret not child of Yggdrasil, to seek what has now been lost you must find that holy redeemer. Upon it, the mortal eyes will see that repentance is the key. From there the light which composeth your day and vanquisheth night will bless again the cowardice it conceals. In the humanity of the null, we confide!”

After the cryptic message had played out the loud ring shook my cranium once again and then silence followed by the image of the world map appeared–it was in the place where the countdown had just been. On the map, a red pulsating dot lay at the center of Domain 6888 (South America).

I sniffled and raised myself in confusion. “What the hell do you want me to do? WHAT THE HELL IS THIS,” the words spilling from my being as I arose from my knees and walked up the stairs of the basement and through the smashed door. “What the hell is all..” before I could continue, a sob overcame me and my legs grew weak sending me to my knees again.

The energy spilled from me through my tears, the hole in my chest panged as I thought of her bright smile being taken from me, and I fell onto my side and curled into a fetal position just in the corridor of the entryway. Outside of the door, the chill of dawn swept through the world and into the house, a chill that ran up my spine and reminded me of the naked fragility our world succumbed to.

I sobbed uncontrollably in the same position and repeated with angst, “What do I do baby…what do I do?”

Dawn had turned to day and day into night, but still, I lay there. I figured the only thing I could do was to go to where the elusive null–who I assumed to be the progenitors of the message–or to die here in self-reproach. But all I could think of was the fear and uncertainty that lay down that road, a road where she wasn’t there to push me on through the loneliness, no longer unique to the house but the world.

“For you…I only look at you. For you.” I said weakly and submitted to the peaceful lucidity of sleep. That night, I dreamt of nothing. Not the “nothing” in the sense of dreams being absent, but the state of nothing, the world between your eyelids, where darkness is prevalent and consumes the you that exists in far beyond human comprehension; taking from you the sweetness of a bountiful world. It frightened me so profoundly; a fright seared into my very being.

I awoke that day, fearing that stagnant nothingness and the possibility of my beloved Laya being there. My head and jaw ached and throbbed, not allowing me to think, but still, I rose from my spot and dragged myself to the bathroom upstairs in the master bedroom.

As I cleaned the dirt and blood from myself I thought of the cryptic words that the voice echoed, “to seek what has now been lost you must find that holy redeemer.” The words resounded through my mind and merged rhythmically with the thumping of the water against my agitated flesh, and just then the ominous image of the red pulsating dot hanging over Domain 5483 returned with a swipe to my temple.

“Even as the coward I am,” I winced when speaking “I have to go to Laya. I have to go for you.”

Once I was done taking a shower and tending to the wounds and pain, as best I could with a first aid kit, I grabbed some clothes and threw them into a duffle bag that was later slugged across my shoulder. Now clad in some black jeans and a black windbreaker, I headed down to the basement again and began Zen’s update. The update would now change Zen’s name to Laya and make full use of her voice in most instances, it was freakishly accurate, but still, in some intonations, Zen’s voice could be heard. I felt as though I had betrayed some unspoken moral bond between us, I felt like an infidel and coward, but I knew that journeying into this world without her would spell my disaster. I knew that as well as the moon knew night and the sun day. But still, I headed through the shattered doorway of the house and into the world before me.

“For her, I would do anything and everything,” I repeated and clutched the flip phone in my right side pocket. Thus began my travel as a null to Domain 6888 from Domain 0945.

I had lost my shackles to certain death, but along with it, I lost something much more tender and dearer, eternity.