Title: OS (Operating System)
Word Count: 887
Comments: Written for spook_me fic-a-thon.
Everything was a dull ache to Noa. Vaguely, she wondered just how much she had last night when everyone went out drinking during the annual Section vacation.
A vague feeling tickled her memory. She could remember the first drink. But nothing after that. There was blackness and pain and disconnection.
Noa tried to move but found that her body wouldn't respond. She tried to open her eyes but found that they wouldn't open. She tried to make a noise, any noise but found her voice wouldn't respond.
Anxiety and panic hit consumed her and she descended back into darkness.
Pain lanced through the embracing darkness. It dragged her her to consciousness. She tried to open her eyes. This time, they responded. But the world did not look right. It was like looking at the world only through a computer screen. The colors were beautiful and the resolution perfect but it seemed unreal. The sight was super-real.
Noa tried to move, to look elsewhere but could not move. She felt like she was seeing people moving around just out of her sight. Once, she thought she saw a head move just in her peripheral vision. But that was all.
She tried to hear what was going on around her but there were utter silence. Not the sound of her heartbeat. Not the sound of her breathing.
The now heard silence began to press down on her. It felt like it was squeezing the life out of her but it squeezed her into darkness again.
Noa slowly became aware that she was hearing something. The sound reminded her of when she walked under high voltage power lines. It was particular buzzing sound that nothing else sounded like. Then the pitch changed and twisted into voices.
She could hear voices. They were twisted together, words a jumble. She latched on to the most soothing voice, the most familiar one to her.
Slowly, the jumble of words began to straighten out and become understandable. Asuma was pissed. No, beyond pissed. He was raging. She knew his rages were rare but terrible. But it was Asuma. He was her partner. He watched out for her and she for him.
The storm of her mind settled as she let the familiar voice sink deep into it, to the level of trust she had built with no one else.
His voice cut off.
It sounded like something hit the floor. There was silence a moment before one of the other voices spoke up.
No. What he said could be right. Asuma couldn't be dead. His body didn't need to be disposed of.
The voices started up in earnest, jumbling together in her hearing again. Her denial and the suggestions of disposal compressed her mind and she welcomed the darkness this time.
Connection! Noa was suddenly aware of a hundred, no a thousand things. She knew the temperature, the humidity, the air pressure. She knew how many people there were in the room, their exact locations, even the genders! She knew the chemicals in the air. She knew that the Labor was running on exterior power and that it was running through a basic test program. She knew more than she ever knew before.
She felt chilled.
There was no way, absolutely no reason she should know all this information.
She felt/listened for Asuma. He'd been there before. He had to be in the room somewhere. She couldn't believe what she heard before.
The amount of information coursed through her. She knew that it was too much. She tried to fight off the darkness. Tried to cut off some of the sensory flow. But the darkness wrapped around her again.
Noa felt the power flow through her. All her senses began to clarify, to become sharper, to connect.
Through her super-real vision, she could see a Labor facility. Many men in suits stood behind a glass walled viewing room, technicians scurried around on the floor.
Through the radio she could hear the pilot communicating with some men in the viewing room.
They were discussing the upcoming tests to see how the new OS performed.
No no no no no no! she said, again and again, trying to deny the truth as pieces began to fall into place.
She felt the arms move as they were controlled by the pilot. Her arms. Her head, with its more sophisticated sensors, turned, taking in the room.
Finally, able to scream, she let out a heart rendering cry and welcomed the darkness, hoping she would never leave it.
"Dammit!" cursed the technician as the new OS for the Labor crashed again. "We've invested too much for this to keep happening. Why does it keep crashing?"
"Given the best skilled pilot, you'd think that it would work.
"We've put too many resources into the project for it to fail. As it is, there is already far too much scrutiny. If we fail, there will be an investigation as to the reasons and you know it will be fall more than the end of ours careers."
The men began to talk, discussing what might be the problem and how to work around it, never considering the human part of the new system, the life they had stolen in the pursuit of money and technology.