Chapter 25:

Resolution and Judgement


“Why it cannot be a simple one-on-one fight…” Amy complained as she walked around the empty area. “I could do everything automatically if the terminal was still there, but noooo, I have to enter and solve it myself... Such a hassle.”

She wasn't in the mood for another chore like this one, but without the outer terminal, she had to enter one of the VR devices to finish this up.

By the way, the outer terminal was decommissioned because she shot it earlier, so she couldn’t complain that much.

“It is a simple job, they said. Swap the files and enjoy the party, they said. It is not as if a dying man could do something anyway, they said... See what that old man did?! I will bill it doubled for sure.”

As she complained to herself, Amy kept on walking forward in the empty white room without any clear destination.

Just like a few times before, this was a VR lobby, but this one lacked the function to connect to other servers than the local one.

It was just a big local network filled with nothing more than raw data that only existed because it had a user.

In summary, this place was a representation meant to keep the sanity of the consciousness embedded in it.

The fact that she was forced to walk until whenever the target was hiding only showed that he was preparing something though.

“Let me warn you… This now is nothing but mopping up, you see? You have better chances attacking me right away than you have waiting." Amy warned in hopes of having a showdown sooner than later. "Judgment is not the work of an idol, so all I am going to do is reach you...”

The perfect world would have this last fight happen right away since being inside here was a huge risk, but that was only in the right conditions.

As a fact, even if entering the VR was the only way to access the computer on time, it was false exactly what the old man had planned.

She had another way to solve it all if need be, but that one wouldn't be a fair punishment.

A computer was still a physical object and there was no escape from this closed network.

The only reason Amy was doing it in the chore way was that she let herself slip a little too much today and was in dire need of letting “her” calm down.

“While we are at it, old man, can you answer something to me?” The girl asked while still walking towards the empty nothingness. “Aiming at me was pure greed or was it something more spiritual?”

Her voice was just echoing on the white, but Amy knew that someone was hearing from far away.

She was being delayed for a reason, to begin with, so keeping watch on her progress was a given.

“I mean, can you say that you are alive when you just convinced someone else to act like you?” She continued. “It is not as if cramming all your memories inside the brain of another person was the same as exchanging souls or something. The concept of souls is not too far-fetched for you people now, is it?"

There was no answer, but the small delay in the counterattacks coming toward Amy was enough for her to infer an answer.

"Oh! It seems you never thought of it…”

This delay also made some cracks appear on the device’s defenses, so the room was now shrinking while the girl walked forward.

It seemed that the other person had noticed so too since his tactics changed.

“Going for the attack then? Cannot blame you. Storing yourself in a computer or taking me over will not change much, but no one will notice how against the law it is... You could have used all this time to brainwash Zhelya into building a synthetic body though.“

At this point, the scenario finally changed and a door of the same design as the office on the 500th floor appeared in front of the idol.

It was locked up though.

“Almost the same and still against the law, but much less troublesome. And down you go!”

Amy flicked the heavy door and, without any resistance, it was dislodged from its frame.

And, as was expected, inside of it, there was a perfect replica of NorCo’s president’s office with its owner calmly sitting at his chair.

He seemed a few decades younger than his dead body was though.

“Hello, Otto, have you decided to surrender?”

“Not really…”

The dead president of the biggest megacorp was a well-built man with a stern face, sharp eyes, and a more than perfect mustache.

Amy even thought that, if his real being looked like this man right now, then he was once some real sugar daddy material.

That was neither here nor there though.

“Since you do not plan to surrender, can you tell me what is the big plan? I still have some free time.”

“Haha! It’s been so long since someone looked down on me this much, IDOL...” The president gave an amusing grin as he said so, but closed his face soon after. “How it feels to be a monster beyond logic?”

“Quite well, actually,” Amy smirked at the man. “Better than being a sad old man who has to brainwash people to pretend to be alive.”

“Brainwashing those rats was the best they could hope to be! A greedy bastard that’s barely loyal, a female doctor that won’t hear the man in charge, a scientist that’s a deviant, and... And even my pupil ended up being a failure who can’t do what’s needed for the company.”

“It seems that the problem is you and not your lieutenants.”

“Oh, don’t get me wrong, they have the perfect set of skills, you know? All I had to do was tweak their personalities a little… Scare the lawyer, quiet the doctor down and take over my pupil. He was to be my replacement anyway.”

A glass of wine had appeared on the man’s hand at some point during the talk and he was now sipping on it while reminiscing.

“I couldn’t do much with that cat scientist though... I would have to straighten her a little later, but my problems came first. Just copying a few of her already took me more time than I had.”

“You should have used this time for something more productive, you see? Like being a decent human being.”

“Says the thing pretending to be one to sing in a pub while killing real humans in its free time. In fact, if half those books are true, then your kill count is many times higher than whatever I could achieve...” He snarked back, getting a displeased reaction from the idol.

“Such an infuriating ghost...”

“Very sensitive to an old computer, aren’t you? If I knew it was like this, then I wouldn’t even need to call that useless granddaughter of mine...”

“Could you please avoid badmouthing Lily, please?”

“Got attached to your protection target, eh? I have to tell you, if my daughter wasn’t such an incredible person, I would’ve thrown those two out a long time ago." He remarked with an angry tone. "One is a retard who lives inside a videogame and the other gave up on following the family business due to some stupid sense of justice... Absolute failures them both.” “Will you throw your last shot or should I end you already?” An annoyed voice cut the man’s words.

In one answer, this man was boring.

And as he had nothing Amy could possibly want, she focused on rushing his speech.

“Ow? I expected more from you… Getting angry changed this much? Very unexpected…”

“What are you talkin… Huh?”

As if answering her question, several warning screens popped in front of her eyes as most of her defenses started to fail or be attacked.

The once closed server started to be swarmed with connections and their combined might was focused on the device Amy was in.

“Ow, the memory transfer is online again… That is unexpected. I can see many new rules around the lobby too…”

“They’re to make sure your mind won’t conflict when you’re rewritten.” Otto started to explain while taking something from inside his desk. “I’m not sure if it’s needed, but making someone believe they’re dead makes the whole implantation process much easier. Learned this one by experience, IDOL.”

“I see. The overly realistic rules from the party, right? Very interesting…”

He then took a replica of the big revolver his grandson had been brainwashed to use and aimed it at the idol.

The patterns on this one weapon were weirdly similar to the ones in Amy's version for some reason.

Her reaction to this detail was seemed differently by the man.

“Are your façade finally breaking?" The president mocked. "I don’t feel any meaningful break on my new system and we fought some times already, so I’m sure you don’t have the time to counter me now…”

“In some metrics, you are right indeed.”

"Accepting, are you? I can't fault you. Fighting against an army of pseudo-geniuses is more than anyone could manage..." He continued with his confidence on the rise. “I have to thank you for entering my domain like a fool though. Forcing an outside backup right now would be a hassle, to say the least.”

“You are welcome.”

Her answer weirded the man out a little, but it was irrelevant at this point.

It was a finished battle now that she had the girl locked in place and unable to move, so the old Norcraff only pulled the trigger of his gun.

Instead of a shot though, all he watched was the hammer slowly moving with no sound…

And only then did the president notice that all around him was moving in slow motion.

A multitude of questions passed through his mind while seconds passed and nothing seemed to change.

There was only a single thing in the whole room that still had the right timing, and this thing was approaching his desk.

“As I said… I do not have the time indeed, but only in some metrics.”

She was walking and talking as if the whole slow motion was nothing but an illusion, and it technically was.

“Slowing or speeding a consciousness is one of the wonders of VR, you see? You should have researched it more, old man.” A sharp smile unfitting the girl’s clothes was plastered on her face as she said so. “You can only do so when you have a computer more powerful than the other side though... Which is an easy feat when you leave yours ripe for sabotage.”

The president wanted to shout about how absurd it was or show any surprise with the situation, but he could only do so in his mind right now.

And the girl walking forward could notice without much trouble.

“I wonder what expression would you be doing now… Is it utter despair already?”

She approached the man and put her hand over the firing gun, crumbling the whole thing like a ball of paper, but stopping to look at her arm right after.

“This…? Oh, right. I always forget about this… I can play freely, right?”

The smiling girl suddenly got silent while asking so but started to move around again just as suddenly without receiving any answer.

“Good. Let us go for a more fitting location…”

And so, she snapped her fingers, and the whole space cracked into more pieces than what one could count.

In the next moment, Otto was fallen on what seemed to be a podium in a room full of what seemed to be desks.

All was unsure due to how bad the condition of the simulation was though.

The room was full of broken textures and pixeled images, so it was quite hard to comprehend what the place was.

“Well, my memory is worse than I thought. I know that I barely remember this place anymore, but still…”

The girl’s voice broke the confusion in which Otto was and he turned his eyes to her, failing to say anything the moment he did so.

And his wide-eyed silence triggered another answer from what should be the girl.

“Well, I cannot do much with what I do not remember, you see? You will have to deal with it.”

It wasn’t obvious if the girl was talking about the room or about herself by this point, but the faceless figure with grey hair and a mismatched uniform didn’t care much.

“You…? What did…?!”

“No, no, no. We lack the time for questions, so let us judge you already, understood?” She said while sitting down on a throne that had just appeared in the middle of the room.

“How could you judge someone like… Huh. Huh? Huh?! HUH?!!!”

“I do not care what you have to say, so stay quiet please.”

The man who couldn’t open his mouth kept on trying to say anything while his ‘judge’ started to fiddle around her clothes.

Ignoring his silent complaining, an object was thrown at the president.

“Here is your judgment, old man…”

Both pairs of eyes went to the good-looking patterned revolver thrown on the podium, one with expectation and the other with confusion.

“Your crimes are proved already, so your guilt is assured. The death penalty is too little for a person who took so many lives though...” She started to recite in a more regal tone than whatever the man had heard during the whole day. “I believe in second chances though, so you may choose... End your own life in penance or try to flee judgment and pay for your crimes if you fail.”

Her words brought more confusion to the eyes of the now armed man and they both stood in silence for a while until she was finally bothered enough to explain.

“This gun has a single bullet and you can either eat it or fire at me, you see? Your rules are still here, so if you hit me, you win. I will warn you that this weapon is…”

Before she could finish the explanation, the gun was fired and blood started to ooze from the newly opened hole on the glitching girl’s shoulder.

It was an unusually big and very painful hole, but it wasn't deadly no matter how you looked at it.

“...old and quite inaccurate. That was very fast, old man… Using it just because it was similar to your own is not a smart choice, you see?" She reproached the man while smiling in satisfaction. "I prefer your choice better though.”

The girl with a wounded shoulder rose from her chair and advanced on the man who had risen in defiance too.

"Any last words?"

While being finally unmuted, NorCo's late president glared at the person in front of him in a dignified display of anger.

"I hope we meet in whatever hell they send people like you."

"That is a classic one for sure... Anything more?"

"Mark off in this brain of yours how you took down the greatest businessman this world saw, and be sure to do so before I take what is mine below with me."

"It is not my job to deal with your little last present, but it shall fail too in the end. Now I have some questions for you..."

With the final words said, the scenario broke into pieces once more as this old room was unfit for the retribution that was to be applied.

And as such, the dead man was put to rest, eventually, and the idol went back with a small curse in the form of a melting reactor and several explosive charges.

There was a collapsing building around her and a good number of people to carry around, but that much was expected.

As Amy had said before, this was nothing but mopping up either way.

Dalion Alteri
Steward McOy