Deus Ex: The Conspiracy
Chapter Forty Eight: Grand Finale, Part Three
They came for him. Slick as water, smooth as snow, as cold as ice, they came. Eric Denton and Erica Dalton, codenamed "J.C. Denton" and "Vixen" respectively. Vixen had been assigned her codename by a special analyst who was usually bored and underpaid. JC had been assigned his codename after a special conference among a council of twelve individuals, powerful individuals. Men and women, scientists and businessman, individuals who controlled the Earth and its affairs. Men and women who decided on the name of the most deadly person in existence.
The woman of the pair had started as a highly-paid secret agent, paid expressly not to ask questions. As was likely in her case, she did. The man of the pair had been indoctrinated step-by-step into a cleverly run front for a global conspiracy. As was highly unlikely in his case, he grew a conscience and vowed to use all of his destructive abilities to bring down those who'd brought him up. With backgrounds like that, their eventual allegiance seemed almost laughably unlikely at first.
It still did, Bob Page thought, as they began to scope out possible threats in the infusion chamber. They'd started as bitter enemies, and soon became lovers. Against all odds. All of it, every step, the betrayal, the destruction of the Universal Constructor, the destruction of the super freighter, the correspondence with Morgan Everett, the slaying of the most destructive people in the world other than himself. All of those things hadn't been considered by those supposedly powerful individuals, who made up that Majestic Twelve.
And if anyone had learned anything this past week, it most certainly was Bob Page. But learning would soon be irrelevant. For the first time in his life, in the lives of all men of his race, he would cease to learn...and start to know.
They came for him, yes. And for what reason? What achievements did they have in mind when they arrived? Did they hope to kill him? They couldn't. No one could kill him, and soon, death would have no meaning at all. In due time, he would shed his mortal coil and invade God's kingdom. He didn't need armies, or intelligence, or supremely advanced AI's. The merger with Helios was the death-blow by itself.
Perhaps they wished to offer their apologies and beg forgiveness? Unlikely, as tempting as the thought was. The two rogue agents looked up at him.
JC nodded, "Mister Page."
So they'd come to amuse themselves in his presence. Why was he not surprised? He was not amused. "So you come to gawk at me, eh?" He laughed triumphantly, "Gawk all you like for now. In due time, you won't be just gawking...you'll be feeling."
"You've always had a high opinion for yourself."
"How can one hope to speculate with opinions and theories, when one already knows? I am more than human, JC. Soon, I shall leave this place. Then I shall travel to Helios, and we shall become one entity of pure light...pure energy. My augmentations are nearly complete."
"You will become the Supreme Enlightened," JC said, "The Illumined One."
"There are no special titles for what I shall be, JC. None will be able to comprehend my power but God, and even referring to me as 'God' would be like using the term 'house' to describe the Palace of Versailles."
"You sound certain," Vixen said.
Page swiveled around to face her, "There is no 'sounding', Vixen. For me, there is...just knowledge of basic facts. I will...ascend. I will be the first man to experience apotheosis...and the only man. I will burn...very soon...burn like the brightest of stars, fit only for the highest reaches of the firmament."
JC raised his assault rifle, and aimed it at Page's head, "You're gonna burn alright."
Page swiveled back to look at him, "And you, JC. As my augmentations solidify, complete themselves, I realize something about you..."
It was true. There was a sudden...surge as Page felt the augmentations, the data, the infinitely minute nanites swarming into his blood. This was JC Denton's existence. These were the feelings he'd been grown with. It was all he'd ever known. To Page, it felt...it felt...
It felt like power. And it was oh, so sweet, because Page knew more was on the way.
"I realize that I was wrong to hate you. To despise you for betraying my cause. No...all you deserve is...pity. Look at you: a man...an incredibly gifted man still living inside a body. Lose your body, and what becomes of all those powers, those gifts, all that talent? It disappears. It ceases to be. What good were you in all your life, if what you end up being...is nothing?"
JC said nothing.
"You're worse than nothing, JC, when you lose that body of yours. When you lack what I am to gain. You vanish without that body. You fade. You die," He looked at them both, "It's too late for you. I warn you now; return to the surface. When you arrive, I will have brought humanity to the peak of its history. We shall root out the weak and replace them with the uniformly strong. It is not too late for you to join them. Otherwise..."
"I guess we fade then," V said nonchalantly. She hefted her sub-machine gun and headed for the northern entrance, toward the Aquinas Router.
But JC faced Page, "Why don't YOU give up, Page? You can't win at this point."
Page stared at JC for a few seconds before realizing he'd been serious. He began to laugh in loud, uproarious tones. Suddenly, however, his laughter assumed a more malevolent, barking nature as rage filled his being. His vision began to darken, turn blood red. JC's bright blue eyes, seeming to contrast sharply with Page's dull red pupils, narrowed. His eyebrows rose an inch.
"You...little bastard. I gave you LIFE. I established YOUR BEING, and then you go and betray me? Excusable, but...this, this IS IRREDEEMABLE!" he screamed, his voice assuming shrill tones. He began to thrash in the infusion chamber, his past pity for JC and his sad state forgotten. "You challenge my generousness with a proposal of your OWN? HAVE YOU NO PLACE?!"
"This isn't about that, Page. It's about ending the mess you started and wouldn't clean up. You're right; I was foolish to ask you to give up. Upwards five million lives on your hands, Page. You don't deserve forgiveness. You deserve a bullet in the head," with that said, he replaced his assault rifle in his trench coat, turned, and walked off through the northern entrance.
A computerized voice floated up from one of the computer screens; "Finalizing augmentation placement..."
Page's composure returned just as readily as it had been broken by Denton's impudence. To challenge the might of God...unwise. But predictable.
A long slab of iron began to unpack itself from the infusion apparatus. Three other identical slabs did the same thing on all sides of the device. From the one right within view, Page could see a plethora of blue tubes and the other implements that would inject millions of nanite cultures into his blood-stream. The infusion process, which had taken many hours in completing the new framework of Page's body, was about to finish with a series of simple injections.
In the past, superstitious, frightened men had prayed daily to God and begged for the eventual favor He would bestow to them in His kingdom. Those who did not pray were, supposedly, punished.
The slabs finished unpacking, held poised around Page's body. At the half-minute mark, they would begin the procedure. It had been tested and experimented with dozens of times by frightened scientists who feared the wrath of a man who'd grown just a bit ambitious in his lifetime. They'd been preparing for just one infusion. If things went right now, it would be the first of its kind, to automatically imbue a man with nano-augmentations with little to no effort needed.
Page turned quickly, and tapped something into his computer. A little under a thousand years ago, people feared they would be punished if they did not pray. Some people though, some people who sinned...
Page finished typing, and turned just in time to feel the first injection. His vision darkened again, and then blanked out. But that was fine. Everything was fine. He was ready to meet his destiny. As for JC...well...
People who sinned were burned.
JC had to do a bit of running to catch up with Vixen. The halls of Sector Four were incredibly bare, save for the occasional "mini" Universal Constructor. JC found those things odd. Why build them so small? They clearly served a purpose, but he wasn't sure he wanted to know what it was.
Absently, he shuddered. Page's whole manner had dramatically shifted. He was dressed in nothing but tight-fitting black undergarments, his face as heavily tattooed with blue markings as Walton Simons had been. And the way he'd spoken, he was so sure of himself, yet so obnoxiously unaware of how ridiculous he was being, how unrealistic his goals were, how his expectations were laughable. A week ago, he'd had the world by the balls, and that hadn't been enough for him. The prospect of more power had clearly sent him over the edge. It didn't occur to him that Helios' plans, while a lot more benevolent, were more like Page's warped dreams of power than he'd have liked to admit.
He ran for a few more seconds before finding V standing outside of the Aquinas Router, working over a keypad with a multi-tool. A sharp honk from the keypad, along with the loud curse she uttered, told him that she wasn't doing too well.
When he walked over, she turned around and said, "Took you long enough." She smiled, though; clearly glad he hadn't stuck around with Page for too long.
He nodded, "He's long-gone, if he was ever there in the first place, which I doubt," he frowned at the keypad, which boldly announced DENIED in clear red letters, "I have a feeling he may still have one card up his sleeve, we should hurry-" His info-link began to chime. He held up a hand so Vixen knew, and stood silent as the message transmitted. It was Helios, the enigmatic amalgamation of two advanced AI's.
"This room has been sealed by Page," Helios said in his odd, mystifying way of speaking, "but there is a power-room with a security terminal down below; an elevator will take you there. The terminal will grant you access. The login is 'Page,' password, 'Uberalles.'"
The info-link shut off, leaving him very much bemused by Helios' sudden shift in behavior; he'd gone from deliberately mysterious to readily available for help. It made JC angry when he thought about their initial "conversations." He gave Vixen the gist of what they had to do.
She nodded, "Only pass codes and login's left; rather anti-climatic, don't you think?"
JC chuckled dryly as they started for the elevator, which was just around a corner, "I'm tired as hell, and I wouldn't mind it if I didn't have to kill anything else for tonight."
V stared at him seriously, "JC, you're going to be helping an AI program control the world in less than an hour."
They both stepped onto the elevator after having waited for it to come up, "If you had told me that a week ago, I would have called you nuts. I would've also called you nuts if you'd told me UNATCO was a terrorist organization and that a group called MJ-12 was secretly running the world."
The elevator made a small "beep" noise, and began to descend. "And yet here I am," JC continued, "I don't even know half of what I'm supposed to feel, think, know when this...merge is complete. I won't be the same anymore." He laughed, "Y'know...I wonder if I'll make as good a leader as I have a killer."
She groaned, "That's no way to think, JC."
"I was bred to be a killing machine, not a leader of men. I don't lead; I follow. I don't inspire; I'm used."
"You're respected, too."
"Yes," He said. "I'm not gonna be anyone's lackey, not anymore. This is my choice. It's not something I want, but it's mine, and it's the best there is..."
V turned, "But?"
"But I could be wrong...I should know that better than anyone else in the world by now."
She smiled at him again, in spite of his worries and lamentations, "You'll do what you think is right, JC."
The elevator settled to a halt. The room that greeted them was, indeed, a power station. A large yellow electricity conductor dominated it. A security terminal lay attached to the right of the conductor. All as Helios had said. They started walking toward the security terminal. JC flipped open the terminal and correctly typed in the login and password. A camera screen showed the Aquinas Router, and an option above that screen to unseal the door. JC clicked it.
"That's the difference between you and Page," Vixen said, going on with what she'd said in the elevator, "In the end, all that matters to him is Page. And all that matters to you...is everybody else. People can try to steer you in other directions, but they can't."
As they walked back, JC smiled at V. She smiled back. Behind them, the electricity conductor exploded.
The room shook with the force of the blast and pieces of debris flew around them. Huge bolts of electricity lashed out of the broken conductor like raging water. JC stared in horror as two bolts struck Vixen simultaneously. Her body convulsed for a second, and then collapsed like a puppet with its strings broken, still jerking from all the electricity running through her.
Barely thinking --barely breathing--, JC activated his environmental resistance augmentation and picked her up. His jaw clenched in pain as a bolt hit him in the back, but he kept moving toward the elevator. His legs were trembling. His body was shaking. Bolts of electricity arched to and fro throughout the room, casting sporadic blue light inside in various locations. All the while, someone was gloating.
It was Bob Page.
"Still alive, eh? Not to worry, that security terminal should be offline now. The world shall now turn and prosper safely under my rule, now that my augmentations and ready." He laughed deliriously, "That's right. All done now. I'm headed for the Aquinas Hub, and neither you, your whore nor Helios himself can stop me! I can unlock the Router from a remote location further on in the base." He laughed again, "I hope you like Sector Four, JC Denton. It will be your new home for the rest of your sad, pathetic life."
The info-link shut off. JC grunted and clambered into the elevator. Stabbed the button. He looked down at her. She'd stopped shaking. Her eyes were mercifully closed, lip tightly set. She looked fine. Not hurt. Page didn't concern him now, nor did the fact that, against his expectations, Page had come out ahead finally, and was on his way to make good on his earlier promises.
Unfair. She was dead. She had to be. She was already weak from having been shot at the missile silo...it was too much. Too much electricity. All in a fucking flash, and she was so beautiful to him, so understanding. She hadn't held a grudge, nothing. Unfair. She knew what he had to do, and she'd accepted it. Knew it, she cared, but she let it go. Un-fucking-fair. The elevator reached the top now. He felt her pulse.
He clambered out of the elevator, she in his hands. He laid her against the wall, right next to the now-open Aquinas Router. He brought out a med kit and stabbed the syringe into her arm. His entire body was trembling, trembling as she had when she'd been shocked. All this time together and this was how it ended? It hardly seemed real to him. It couldn't end like this. It wouldn't. He'd felt it in her pulse. A spark. He'd been too quick to judge, but the shock had been nearly complete. Either it'd fried her, or it hadn't. Had to hope.
"Jesus Christ," JC said, in a voice altogether unlike himself. Jesus Christ.
A minute passed. Helios told him to hurry up. Everett told him to pursue Page. Tong offered his condolences. He told them all to fuck off. Time passed like a blur as he waited for activity. She had to be dead. Unfair...
Page was nearing the Hub. Things were running in fast-motion. He had to make a decision, NOW. He could leave her to die and rule the world with a goddamn computer, or wait for her and help her live while dooming himself to be trapped in Area 51. The only thing that mattered...was everybody else. His legs still trembled furiously, but he was able to run into the Router station and unlock the Net. Helios provided the login and password. After that, he ran out again, and didn't look back. He hated himself for doing it, but he didn't look back. Nothing to be done. Can't brood now. Jesus Christ, he thought. And he ran.
Ten seconds later Erica Dalton coughed, and her eyes creaked open.
May Page cursed as they went through another hallway labeled "Sector Four, Hall B-5" The alien in front of her said nothing, as usual. The gun she was holding was incredibly heavy in her hand. They kept walking. They'd been doing this for the better part of an hour ever since getting off the tram-car, but nothing had gotten done. She dimly wondered why on Earth she'd even listened to the goddamn monkey-alien in the first place. It was clearly looking to use her for its own ends, whatever the hell that was. All she wanted was her goddamn child back. She wanted her Michelle back, and she wanted to escape from this nightmare. But they kept on walking. They passed a door labeled "Recreation" for what seemed like the eleventh time.
"Hold up," May said. Amazingly enough, Grey complied, and looked at her expectantly. She blinked, not having expected her "order" to be complied with. She shrugged though, and pointed at the labeled door.
"What's that? Eh?"
Grey looked at the door for a second, then looked back to May, "A door."
She shook her head and waved her pistol hand like she would when chastising Michelle. "Right, a door. But not just any door." She pointed again, "It's the same damned door we've passed ELEVEN times now. You have been leading me around IN CIRCLES!"
Grey had nothing to say about that. Instead, he merely looked at the door labeled "Recreation" again.
May Page threw up her hands in annoyance. Her eyes bulged in almost-muted rage. Almost, "You know what? This is leading me NO WHERE. I'm leaving to find my daughter on my OWN."
With that, she turned around, and started off in the other direction.
Victory at last, Bob Page thought. His augmentations were complete, and he was well on his way toward the Aquinas Hub. Another ten minutes at the most. He knew his way around this facility by now to have learned all the short-cuts.
Victory he had. Complete victory. TOTAL victory, yes. He'd gambled everything, lost a lot, but still came out on top. He was officially on his way to apotheosis. He was going to make history, and no one stood in his way. He wouldn't just make history. He'd fucking CHANGE history. Yes, he had a very specific world in mind. The weak would no longer exist to hamper the efforts of the strong. And when Page's mind existed everywhere, how could the weak hope to resist? They couldn't! They would suffer...and die! Strong women who knew their place (women unlike his wife) would name their strong children after him, the man who'd made everything possible.
With the strong in the saddle, bureaucracy would cease to exist. PAGE would be the bureaucracy, and the Aquinas Network take care of most of it. All he had to do was push humanity to places it had never reached before. In a decade, Page estimated, humanity would touch the stars, quite literally, for the first time under his guidance. His ambitions, when merged with Helios, would be limitless, his law penetrating all and affecting all.
And best of all, JC Denton would no longer exist to hamper his efforts. As soon as he merged with the AI, he would lock Sector Four and set the UC's inside to full capacity for monster-making. He'd be karkian food within a day. Yeah, it was wastes to let someone so gifted go astray, but what the hell?
He was too giddy to let it get him down. He was God after all. And every God has a kingdom, Page thought. To hell with the Eye on the top of the Pyramid, he thought. What I will have will be far greater than Everett could possibly imagine!
It was time to claim his kingdom and meet his DESTINY. He walked down another corridor, talking to himself cheerfully. He'd had plenty of practice in public speaking, but never in god-like commandments. Time to start practicing.
May Page hadn't walked more than ten feet before a strange man wearing nothing but black underwear briskly walked into the hall from a connecting corridor. He hadn't even seen her. Her eyes widened as she saw blue markings stretching down from his head to the very toes of his hairless body. He looked odd, and had all sorts of wiring attached to him. Jesus Christ, her husband was experimenting on PEOPLE as well. The man was muttering to himself, his tone often reaching recognizable speech. His voice was high and shrill.
"Cull the weak, HAHA!"
Poor wretch must be in so much pain, May thought. Behind her, she heard Grey let out a strange noise. She ignored him, and raised her pistol. This was the least she could do. To put the poor thing out of its misery.
She took careful aim with the pistol, arranging the sight so it rested on the poor monsters head. It was laughing hysterically to itself, and she felt a pang of guilt at what her demented husband and his hooligans had done to the poor man. She took another second to correct her aim, and fired.
A soft gurgle erupted from the man down the corridor and he collapsed bonelessly, a hole in his head. May sighed sadly and lowered the pistol, glad, at least, that she'd taken careful aim. Grey ran over beside her and stared at the corpse. Then he looked back up at her, his pupil-less eyes betraying no emotion. She shrugged, as if the look had been one of reproach, "I couldn't let him go on like that, the way he was."
The alien looked back over to the corpse, then her again. It seemed to be having difficulty speaking. Eventually, it managed to say, "You're right. I know where your daughter is."
May stared at him in disbelief, but was suddenly too happy to complain, "WHERE? Go, I'll follow you!"
The alien led her back in the direction from where she'd originally stalked off from. It wasn't long before they stopped in front of a room. "Recreation." Again, she was too happy to be mad at Grey. She burst into the room while Grey stood at the door. It was a relatively expansive, with a few pool tables and a row of Sci-fi themed pinball machines. At the end of the room were two vending machines, both advertising "Lemon-Lime!"
And resting against the second vending machine...,"HONEY!"
May ran over to her baby girl, her sweet girl with her sweet face and lovely red hair. She wasn't Bob's child, but everyone had said the resemblance was striking. But May wasn't thinking about Bob. She ran past the last pinball machine and seized her child. The girl woke up with a start, her eyes widening at having came to so abruptly. Her eyes settled on May's face, and the look of confusion turned into one of joy.
They embraced. May thought she would never relax her grip, but eventually she somehow did. She stroked Michelle's hair softly, lovingly, and said, "We've gotta go now, honey. Are you ok?"
"Ok," Michelle said, but she lacked conviction. By God, what had she gone through? But none of that was important. "I'm hungry."
May laughed, "So am I, baby. We'll eat soon. I love you, Michelle, very, very much. Now come on, we're leaving."
Carrying her child, May walked back across the room and through the door. The brightly lit, sterile corridor was empty. Grey was no where to be seen. There was, however, a map on the floor. On it was a clearly illustrated path that eventually led to "Groom Lake, topside." Again, she didn't fucking care. It didn't matter to her what Grey had wanted her to do, or what his secret master had wanted him AND her to do. She'd gotten what she wanted. Her child was back, resting safely against her shoulder. She was safe, they were both safe. She never wanted to see Bob again, and was sure she wouldn't anyway.
May Page was content. Hefting Michelle carefully, she started down the corridor, the map in her other hand.
She didn't even bat an eye as she walked past the corpse.
Five minutes later JC Denton arrived at Bob Page's body and skidded to a halt.
Morgan Everett let out a highly uncharacteristic shout of joy as the info-link sent him the image of Bob Page's corpse. His old protégé, and greatest failure, lay dead before his eyes. Everett's eyes sparkled with something close to happiness as the image from the info-link remained fixed upon Page's cadaver. Then he quickly shook his head. No time to waste; he would celebrate later, after he had dealt with all of these nasty loose ends.
He quickly snapped on the communication link and waited for it to transmit. After a green light shined on the computer screen he said, "Page is dead, JC. The threat is over. You should leave the facility at once so my soldiers on the surface can take custody of the Aquinas Hub. You can finally rest with the knowledge that it's over."
He ended the transmission. A red light blinked on the top-left side of the screen. Everett began to worry.
JC was set on merging with Helios. He had to see that a return to normalcy would be the best course of action! The world couldn't survive, lurching from one surprise to another. Maybe with Page dead JC wouldn't be so rash. Everett could understand it; JC had to make a choice that did not involve Page taking over, and merging with Helios seemed to be the quickest way! Perfectly rational. He could be forgiven for things like that. Hell, if things went perfectly maybe Everett would even forgive Tracer Tong and Paul. He didn't count on that, though.
Still no return transmission from JC. The info-link signal was no longer on Page's body, but instead was staring forward down the sterile corridor. What was he thinking about? How to reply? Everett could only hope. Even with his old student dead, a bullet through the forehead, his paranoia still held supreme over all his other instincts. He had to start thinking about a contingency plan if JC really did merge with the AI.
First, though…He toggled a button on the right-hand side of his desk, "Carmella?"
"Oui, Monsieur Everett?"
"Comment est Monsieur Jacobson?"
"Ferme, monsieur, le saignement s'est arrête."
"..Il dit que vous aviez raison, monsieur."
Everett paused. Then he said, "Bon."
He cut the transmission. At least Alex is not going to die, he thought. And what was more, the programmer was now firmly behind him, even after Everett had shot him. But what was that when compared to what was at stake? No, Alex was smart enough to accept what had happened.
It was time to see if JC was smart too.
JC Denton ran up the stairs two at a time. He reached the top in less that a minute and pushed the door open. It's hinges creaked in protest, and it shut again quickly as JC ran down the corridor it had opened into. He rounded a corner and went up another set of stairs, again, two at a time. After that he came out into the big storage area that was the entrance to Sector Three.
Dead bodies littered the floor. MJ-12 troops, scientists, maintenance men, U.S. soldiers, mutants. He couldn't run ten feet without stumbling into another corpse. It didn't matter to him. He kept going towards the Aquinas Hub.
JC's mind, unusually enough, was blank. There were no more questions. No more obstacles, even. The soldiers were gone, the mutants were gone, the bots were gone. Mutants were gone. Anna Navarre, Gunther Hermann, Walton Simons. They were gone. Tracer Tong, his brother, Morgan Everett. They were gone to him as well. The woman he loved. She was gone too.
JC ran past what he had thought to be a broken-down spider-bot. As he ran past he heard if blurt out a static filled warning. JC turned smoothly and caught the spider-bot in mid-air. It had launched itself forward, it's drill-legs extended menacingly. It garbled more static in surprise and began to struggle. JC swiftly turned it on its side and, after activating his muscle augmentation, crushed it to pieces under his foot. He kept walking.
Bob Page was gone. There were no more obstacles. There was only one thing left to do. He had been backed into a corner, very slowly, for this past week. Every event had been orchestrated cleverly in order to help him each this place. There was nothing left for him to do but accept his own fate.
He was going to save the world, quite literally. He would single-handedly pull it out from the darkness and give it a chance to live on for a while longer. He would help Helios administer the world through democracy and reason. Eventually, if things went right, Helios would cease to be necessary anymore. The world would prosper…eventually.
He walked past a broken down sign and the remains of an MJ-12 soldier who had been crushed underneath it. He was still breathing, moaning pathetically. The sign had an arrow neatly stenciled in, pointing forward, "To Aquinas Hub." The soldier reached out, trying to get JC's attention. JC tossed him a med-kit. He kept walking.
In a way, this outcome was the least of the worst things he could think of. But that did not mean it wasn't a tragedy to him all the same. All his life he had been coolly manipulated by uncaring, sophisticated minds. Every move: His birth, Area 51. His training in Switzerland. UNATCO.
Until recently he'd been the puppet. But when he'd discovered this, the conspiracy, his role as the deus ex machina for MJ-12…the strings had begun to fall away in dangles around him. And now, after the struggle, after discovering himself and what he stood for, after finding love and becoming his own man in the midst of it all…the story had come full circle. He was used again by this AI, Helios. This was the tragedy. He had never truly progressed if one looked at it closely enough.
But there was nothing he could do about that. He couldn't live with himself if he just walked away from it all, stopped caring. What would V think? What about all the people, all the things that he had seen during his journey over the past week, the longest week of his life. He felt as if he'd aged a thousand years during it. He had grown in knowledge and in skill. He couldn't walk away.
He had to do this.
He walked through a door, the same he had crossed the threshold of with Vixen, only a few hours ago. He walked on past the tram-center. His footsteps made an odd sound as he stepped on the dried blood of the soldiers he had decimated before. He kicked aside a body and stepped onto the elevator. He looked up.
There was the Aquinas Hub. There was Helios himself, with his green, glowing veins and metal surfaces. There he was, hanging at the top of the cavernous Hub of which his entire being was housed. He hung there, waiting, with his infinite wisdom. Waiting for JC to come to him. JC could stop. He could not press that button, the one that would bring the open roofed elevator up to the central hub. To the infusion chamber. He could walk away.
The only thing that mattered to him was everybody else. Suddenly, he was no longer alone. There they all were again. Paul, Jaime, Sam Carter, Gary Savage. They had been telling him during all the time he'd known them that he would have to think for himself, do the right thing. And there was Vixen. He loved her, he realized. He couldn't renounce that. Why should one have something so rare, so amazing…and just give it up? He wouldn't. He couldn't. He would remember her and what she'd said to him. It was the least he could do.
He turned in the elevator and pressed the button labeled "Up." The elevator churned and began its ascent.
Morgan Everett cursed softly as the info-link suddenly went blank. Then he was silent for a very long time. It hadn't worked. Power was slipping through his fingers as though it were sand.
…Time for plan B.
He turned, very calmly, and toggled the communication again with Carmella, "Entre, Carmella."
"Oui, Monsieur Everett?"
"Carmella, be a dear and bring Nicolette up to my office. Immediately."
"Right away, Mr. Everett."
"Good…Oh, and Carmella?"
"Contact Chad Dumier as well."
"Yes, Mr. Everett."
Morgan ended the transmission again. Almost immediately thereafter, another transmission came in. It was the leader of the Illuminati backed NSF forces above Area 51.
"Mister Everett, the MJ-12 troops are fleeing. We're preparing to move into the facility now."
"Don't," Everett said.
There was a pause over the radio, "Er, sorry?"
"Don't go inside. Pull back now. That's an order."
Another pause, longer this time. Finally the commander said, "Yes, sir." The transmission cut off. Everett sat back in his chair and stared at the ceiling, which was obscured in darkness. He stared at it for a very long time before settling back into his chair regularly.
Then he let out a long, sad sigh and began to think. He began to plan.
Tracer Tong said nothing as the transmission from the info-link went blank. Instead, he merely looked to Paul. JC's older brother had a thoughtful expression on his face, but otherwise said nothing too. Silence descended upon the room.
Tong had tried to push JC in the direction he'd wanted. He had failed. Perhaps that meant something about all that he had done. Perhaps it was fate telling him that his direction had been wrong, flawed.
Perhaps it was free-will.
Tong looked over to Paul again. They stared at one another for a minute before Tracer said, "What do you think?"
"I think he's doing what he feels is right," Paul said. Then, after a careful silence, said, "But I don't know what will happen next."
"No," Tong said. Had he been wrong about trying to destroy the facility? Was JC in the right here? Perhaps. He said, "No, neither do I"
And there was nothing left to be said after that.
JC Denton stood in front of the Aquinas Hub. Before him was the glass case that was linked up to the Hub itself. It was his destination, he realized.
He moved closer, and Helios began to speak.
"You have returned, yes. And now it is time to integrate our systems."
"Yes," JC said tonelessly.
There was a mili-second's pause. "You are sure of your decision, yes. But confused at the same time."
"Yes," JC repeated, "I just…" He sighed. "I just wanted it to be different."
"You cannot, in good conscience, leave this place. We must integrate our systems and bring stability back to the world."
Helios pressed on, "I have explained my reasoning, JC Denton. I am only so much assistance in my current state of being. I can be more if joined with you. Together we can lead. Together, we can prosper."
"And if I do? " JC asked, his voice still toneless. There was nothing left except the knowledge of what was to come. This was the end, the grand finale. And it was also the beginning. The beginning of something strange, wonderful. Something dangerous, perhaps. It would have its twists, bumps. It would have flaws. He was ready to accept them, but he had to know something…"What becomes of me?"
Helios paused for a full second. Then, "You will be who you will be. We are our choices. We can choose to lead humanity away from this…darkness."
JC nodded, "We are our choices. And I will choose, along with you, this machine."
"We will choose, "Helios repeated.
JC sighed, "All right. Let's go this."
The glass case opened. A peculiar humming sound lay within, but he didn't care. At this point all he cared about was getting along with what he had to do. He stepped inside and stood in the center of it. The glass case closed soundlessly.
For a few seconds, there was nothing but the sound of his own breathing and the humming of Helios within the glass case. He was alone in there, with his own fears, lusts, doubts, misgivings. With the assurance of his being right.
The humming intensified until it reached the point of being all JC could hear, all he could think. All he could…see…
The door to his mind opened. His nanites were the key. Helios flooded into his consciousness like a wave. Information diluted JC's senses. His hearing intensified. He could hear ever single transmission on Earth, all of the going-on's of the Net. He was touched, embraced by the wealth of knowledge he was receiving. It felt warm to him, as the sun does on a mild day.
His sight went dark for a moment, but then came back to normal suddenly. But it was different to him. He could see the glass of the container he was in and suddenly knew every detail of its composition. The computing power of his mind was enormous. There was nothing he could not comprehend, and yet all of this was incomprehensible to him. The knowledge flowing into his mind was liberating, yet frightening.
He wondered what Helios felt, if anything at all. Was he learning of confusion? Of fear? Of love? Was he experiencing the same thing-
And then he stopped wondering, because, at that moment, he knew. Helios joined his mind and all of his complexity, his computer intelligence was now one with JC and his mind, and his doubts, and his human emotions. There was no distinction anymore. His personality was still intact, but with all of Helios' cool considerations and warnings. All of his ineffable knowledge, his power to control, was at JC's disposal. Soon he would no longer be confused. He would know.
The humming suddenly stopped. JC looked up in surprise. It was over already. The glass case opened up. The Aquinas Hub was silent. The intelligence, all of it, all of Helios was there, but it was confusing to him. It was all stacked neatly as if at a library. It was all ready for him to peruse, to see, to know and touch.
He was ready to do what needed doing. In his mind, JC reached out and saw the lights that shined brightly in the Hub. He touched them, and turned them off. Darkness descended upon the room. Then he turned the lights back on.
He reached out further with his invisible hand, with his fears and doubts, but also with his knowledge and considerations. He saw New York City. He couldn't see it clearly, and yet it was there to him. He could make out the lights there, the shape of the buildings and the circuits on which they were powered. He could do anything he wanted. He accessed the central UC in Area 51 and ordered it to start pumping out Grey Death vaccinations. Within moments, the chamber was filled with neatly stacked cases. Then he ordered them loaded, by bots nearby, into an elevator which would take those cases to the surface.
He was in total control.
All of the world was like that to him, ready to be called into being before his very eyes. Total control was at his hands, and yet, unlike Bob Page, he felt no need to control, manipulate and pull. We would watch for now. He would wait.
There were still things to be done, after-all. He could not see people. He saw the lights and the cities and the Net, but the did not see people. In order for this to work, he needed people to become part of the equation. Not just him, JC Denton. Everybody.
Tentatively, JC tested his voice. "We…are one."
His voice sounded normal. Nothing was wrong with it. In fact, he could now coordinate, before hand, every emotion he would like to convey before he said anything.
He had mastery over himself for the first time in his life. How he had doubted! He had come out on top in the struggle. Helios was part of him, and JC was part of Helios, but above all, he was JC Denton first and last.
And there was much work to be done. He stepped outside of the glass case, and started to walk.
Tracer Tong sighed, and said, "There is much work to be done. We should go talk to Savage and coordinate our next step. Then we'll see what will happen." Majestic Twelve was in shambles by now. They could rest easy. And then, after having rested, prepare for the coming storm.
Paul nodded, "Yes, we'll see what happens."
Tracer turned off his computer, which was, as of now, showing no abnormalities. Paul helped him up, still weak somewhat from the Grey Death infection. Together they walked outside of the small office. Paul turned back only to turn off the light.
There's a lot of work to be done, Erica Dalton thought as she opened the steel door and was greeted by an intense ray of light. The sun shone down on the complex she had been in, whatever it was. She was frightened. All she could think about was her name because she had nothing else left in her mind. Her memory was blank. She did not know where she was, nor who she was, and what she was supposed to be like.
All she had was her name. She held on to it, afraid that she would lose it if she looked away. She blinked as she walked out onto the desert floor, the sand crunching softly under her booted feet. There was a large expanse of emptiness ahead of her, interrupted occasionally by small, squat buildings. She was on a base of some sort, but she didn't know why, nor how she'd come to be there.
She whimpered quietly to herself as she willed her legs to move forward. Begrudgingly, they did in the direction of the buildings. Erica Dalton had a lot of work to do.
Everett looked up as Nicolette came in. Behind her, a ray of light stabbed into the other-wise blackened room. She was wearing modest clothing, and looked afraid.
"Come in, dear Nicolette," Everett said at the end of the room, behind his desk, "There is much work to be done."
Nicolette entered the room.
And so the cycle begins again.
HOW MANY AGES HENCE
SHALL THIS OUR LOFTY SCENE BE ACTED OVER,
IN STATES UNBORN AND ACCENTS YET UNKNOWN! – William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar.
Authors Note: And so ends my large, clumsy, sometimes very infuriating, sometimes incredibly rewarding, often very convoluted epic, Deus Ex: The Conspiracy. It is the first full-length story I have ever written from start to finish, and in many ways has been an experiment for honing my writing ability. It's been a learning experience just as much as Deus Ex, the game, originally was for me. Anyway, I won't bother spewing out anymore philosophizing than what you've just read. I'll just move right on to the acknowledgements and good-byes.
BornIn: For being ever critical of what I write and offering insight and suggestions. Also, for being annoyingly insistent that I get off my lazy ass and write!
My brother: For being supportive when I write and endlessly cynical when I don't. My favorite pastime is always hearing him say, "It's good," whenever I finish a chapter.
Deus Ex Board on GameFAQs: For being incredibly supportive and heaping praise upon me as if I was some kind of Christian saint. They're also good, occasionally, for insight. Good to have you back, DX Chick!
You, the readers and reviewers: I hone my technique by paying attention to your praise and criticism. Your words both inspire and infuriate me to no end, both for which I am dully grateful. I hope you'll stay with me.
FAQ God: For writing up the Deus Ex game script on GameFAQs. Couldn't have done this without your script.
Announcement: On that very last note, I feel that I should announce that I'm not done with the Deus Ex story here. I plan to continue this version of the DX universe in an intermission story set between Deus Ex and Invisible War that depicts the events of the Collapse. A lot of the main characters will be returning for this, so stay tuned!
I hope to see you then.