Chapter 10:


Pyro's Grand Demise

I stare at the blueprints for a solid minute, stuck in a trance of sorts. Throughout this, Joe’s voice is becoming exponentially louder in the earpiece. I’m mindlessly about to turn down my audio sensors when I remember with a jolt where I am. And the fact that I need all my senses at practically their highest setting.

I remove the thumb drive and watch the pdf disappear from the screen. It does little to settle my stomach. I hold the small, innocent-looking rectangle in my hand, turning it over again and again. Should I break it?

At this point I’m going to expect the worst, Joe says, a sense of defeat in his voice. You’ve seen it. Right?

I squeeze the thumb drive. Not enough to crush it, but just enough to feel the plastic give a little. Crushing it would be so easy.

Please, he says, catching me off guard. Don’t destroy it. That thumb drive is my life’s work.

An emotion builds up in my chest and comes out as a snarl. “This is you life’s work?” I whisper-yell at him, at his disaster of an office. “A device which will destroy countless lives?”

Not necessarily, he returns. His voice is calmer now that I’m responding. The information in and of itself is valuable. It doesn’t necessarily have to be used.

“And what? You wanted this blueprint on hand just as a power move? To be able to hold something against us?”

No, that’s not what I’m saying at all! His frustration seeping through the earpiece enrages me. I’m the only one allowed to feel frustrated right now. How dare he.

“I’m destroying it,” is all I say before removing the ear piece. I can hear him shouting through the device up until I crush both it and the thumb drive. Their pieces mix together in my hand, useless.

“Never trust anyone but yourself,” I murmur. I’m the only one who has my back in this despicable world. As soon as I get out of here, I’m hightailing it out of the city. Money or no, I need to find myself in a pleasant, non-discriminating country within the next twenty-four hours.

I throw the broken pieces into the trash can, not that it even matters. There’s trash on the floor. Somehow the sight of it makes me sad, although I know I’m upset for a number of reasons.

Now that I’m inside without intel, I’m going to need to escape the old-fashioned way. Relying on my own abilities has gotten me out of numerous sticky situations. There’s no reason they won’t help me now. I try not to think about how high the stakes are.

I listen at the door and determine there are no security guards outside. However, once I open it, I am faced with a problem.

Fucking orange-types. Of course the security team consists of oranges. What I really want to know is why the hell Joe never mentioned this, even when he was pretending to be on my side.

We lock eyes. The girl is slender but taller than me, her eyes a bright copper color. I barrel toward her and can see the shock on her face moments before making impact. I lock my arm around her waist, but her siren’s call begins a split-second before I can clamp my hand around her mouth. Shit, did anyone hear that?

Oranges are weak, but they have several unique abilities. Particularly annoying ones to be exact. One is their power in projecting a static barrier around themselves, nullifying most of the sounds they make. They’re incredible at going undetected. Another is their siren’s call, which in reality is just an ear-piercing shriek that can be heard for miles. They can either be entirely quiet, or the loudest clunk of metal in the world.

They were originally created to serve as spies, but now plenty of corporations use them for security as well. I should have guessed, even if Joe kept it hidden.

I choose not to feel bad about violently turning her head and breaking her neck. As a cyborg, one of the most dishonorable things is to give in for money and work for a corporation like this. Knowing all the lives GravityTech is responsible for ruining, I feel little to nothing about shoving her into a supply closet.

With my audio sensory set to max, I wearily peak around corners and listen against walls before ambling closer to my destination. The sound of my own footsteps is almost unbearably loud, but I’m far too fearful to change my settings.

My stomach does a small flip when the bedroom door comes into sight. I peek up and down the hallway before approaching it. I wait and listen for a moment before gently turning the doorknob and sliding in.

The same colorless room greets me. I peek around a bit to ensure no orange-types are inside, not that they’d even be allowed in here. I’m just paranoid now.

The closet is the same as I left it. I reach for the seam of the trap door, but am unable to get a good grip on it. Perhaps there is some sort of tool, like a crowbar nearby.

Unfortunately after several minutes of searching around, I come up empty. There’s nothing in the closet, bedroom, or even bathroom which would be able to pry up this door. Which leaves me with only one option.

I cringe at the sound my fist makes when it punches a hole through the door. Someone probably heard that, but I choose not to linger on that thought as I lift the heavy tile. I don’t bother sliding it back into place, seeing as it’s obvious someone has been through here. What with the massive, fist-sized hole in it and all.

The tunnel had been ominous before, but now I feel an overwhelming sense of relief once I’m back inside it. This time I move at a fast pace, not wanting to be anywhere near that bedroom when security discovers there’s been an intruder. If only Joe were here to experience this clusterfuck with me. It’s no wonder he wanted to direct me from afar. Not only is this a stressful mess, but if I’d found out his secret while he was anywhere near me, well, there’d be no more Joe.

I grind my teeth in anger. Just wait until I get out of here. I’d been solely focused on escape previously, but now I have a taste for blood. Spoiled, rich guy blood. The biggest mistake he could have made was letting me into his life. Knowing what I know, I'll track him like a hound.

I pull myself out of the tunnel and am finally in the shed. Everything looks as I left it, which is a good sign. I peer out the window to find it not only dark outside, but foggy. That’ll be helpful when I’m out in the open, climbing the wall.

Seeing no one around, I slip into the night. I stay close to the ground as I sprint towards the wall where I entered. Something stabs me in the thigh and sends a shock through my body. I fall hard, my shoulder eating dirt and grass.

A shock arrow sticks out of my thigh. It didn’t go all the way through thanks to my metal interior, but something looking similar to oil oozes out of the wound. That can’t be good. I'm also jittery thanks to the miniature electrocution I just received. At least it wasn't as strong as that God-forsaken taser Joe uses.

I scramble onto my hands and knees just as another arrow barely missing me. It hits the ground mere inches from my hand.

Fuck, fuck fuck!

I restart my sprint to the wall, oil and other fluids spurting out from the hole in my leg. I unsheathe my knives and hop onto the wall, stabbing them deep. I’m nearly to the top when another arrow hits me in the side.

The funny thing about cyborgs is that no matter how much metal we put into our bodies, a lot of the interior organs are still completely human. Especially the younger cyborgs like me who haven’t experienced organ failure yet. Fake kidneys cost a lot, okay? I hadn’t exactly been planning on making such a large investment until it was absolutely necessary.

I fall in a painful heap. Blood spills out of my stomach and I painfully press a hand to it in an attempt to staunch the flow. Not that it matters anyway. I’m already dead.

Steward McOy