Disclaimer: I don't own VOR-Tech, it belongs to somebody else

Disclaimer: I don't own VOR-Tech, it belongs to somebody else. This short is rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America. The passage quoted herein comes from TS Eliot's "The Waste Land."

The Hollow Man

The sun was going down again. He made another notch in the tree that stood outside the cave that was his home now. There were so many notches now... so many days spent in this place. Counting them, he realized it had been almost a month since he had started the calendar. He had to have the calendar; otherwise he wouldn't know how long it had been. Days got jumbled up in his memory, just like everything else. He didn't know why he wanted to know how long it had been... maybe it was just human nature.

Human. He laughed bitterly, pushing shaggy brown hair out of his eyes. He couldn't remember much, but he knew that whatever he was, it didn't qualify as human. Once, he'd been human... he thought, anyway. When he tried to remember, the voices whispered louder in the back of his head, the voices he didn't dare listen to. Somewhere inside, deeper than the cloudy memories that floated around his brain, he knew that to listen closely to the whispers would be to sacrifice what little remained of his humanity.

God, he wished he could remember more, understand more. But everything got mixed up with the whispers in his head, and he kept getting lost. It was so much easier to concentrate on the day-to-day business of living. With his enhanced speed and strength, it was easy for him to run down the deer that lived in the forest, and he knew enough about plants to be able to supplement his diet. Besides, he didn't need nearly as much food as he used to...

The fragment of memory danced away again, leaving him frustrated. He hated this! There was somewhere he was supposed to be, something he was supposed to be doing. He could feel it, an empty place in his soul. But his instincts told him he was safe here, far away from-- from what?

Every time it seemed as if he had found a path through the confusion in his brain, it all collapsed into nothing.

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, and the dead tree gives no shelter. He didn't know where the words came from, although he knew they weren't his own. He was used to such intrusions now, words popping into his mind without bidding. They were comfortable, like messages from an old friend.

Sighing, he headed into his cave. The light was fading, and it was time for him to turn in for the night. Maybe he'd dream, one of the good dreams this time. There were so many, although he couldn't hold onto them completely. There were people in them, though, friends. My friends, he thought, although he had no evidence that he had any claim to them. Their faces were seared in his memory, though he couldn't fit a name or history to any of them. A dark-haired, laughing man, only a few years older than he, leaning lazily against a fancy sports car, trading barbs with another man. The other was older, with white hair and sharp blue eyes. A tall, muscular black man with calm eyes and a wrench in one hand. A fourth man, auburn-haired, with eyes far older than his face. And last, a woman, beautiful, with black hair and lively, snapping eyes. A surge of warmth filled him as he thought of her.

Who were these people? Had he known them somewhere before? Were they merely fragments of his shattered mind? He'd give anything if he could only remember.

Of course, if he remembered, he'd have to face the other dream. In that vision, he stood atop a cliff in a strange, angular landscape. Behind him came the whispering, the voices that haunted his every waking minute. They spoke of harmony, of peace and the end of solitude, but he didn't trust them. He wanted to block them out, but he couldn't move, and they came closer, and closer... and then he woke up. Maybe it was better this way. Here, he was safe... and others were safe from him.

Settling down, he closed his eyes and began to drift. As the temperature dropped, he shifted almost unconsciously to his other form. Skin became metal, as armor formed around his body. He shivered slightly, not from the cold he could no longer feel, but from apprehension. He wished he could just stay in his human form indefinitely. It felt... cleaner, somehow.

That was his last coherent thought. Although this new body didn't technically need to sleep, his higher functions tended to shut down when he was in this form. It was the only way to avoid the strengthening whispers. Lying on the stone floor of the cave, he stared out at the rising moon with empty eyes. Curled up in a ball, whimpering slightly, Brad Logan cried for a loss he could not remember.

Author's Note: The nine of you out there who actually watched VOR-Tech can skip this part. For anyone else that's decided to read this story anyway, here's the background you'll need. Two scientist brothers, Hudson and Damien Rourke (what were their parents

THINKING?) own and operate a company known as Rourke Enterprises. They are, of course, major techs and experimenters, and Damien's pet project is nanotechnology. He gets a bit eager, and experiments on himself, which as anyone who has seen "The Fly" knows is a Bad Idea. Something goes Hideously Wrong (TM), and Damien is transformed into Lord Matrix, a biomechanical being with the usual desire to Take Over The World. He intends to do this by infecting everybody with his particular nanotech strain, known as "The Matrix." No relation to the Transformers and movie concepts of the same name. It's not exactly a hive mind, but it does make some substantial alterations in your personality. At least, it seems to. See, all we really know about Damien pre-transformation comes from Hudson, and he's... not perhaps the most reliable source. Anyway, Hudson forms a strike force to stop his brother, and this force (VOR-Tech, of course,) uses "wetwire" helmets to achieve interface with their vehicles. Unfortunately, wearing the helmet too long makes the wearer mentally and physically suceptible to the Matrix nanotech. This happened to Brad Logan, aka Snake Oil, in the last episode of the series.