Re: The Show Must Go Off

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Herr D

I could see doubt in his eyes. He couldn’t quite believe I was in contact with The Six. But he was beginning to believe I believed it. He needed more to think about if I was going to slow him down enough. He was already about a percent slower.
“My spine is my own. The Surgeon just altered it.” he finally said.
“Pretty good cover,” I said, slowing my speech by another tenth of a percent. “No one suspects you. Not even with me rooming with you. Is he going to put it back someday? Maybe after the revolution?”
He startled. “Revolution!? We’re not starting a revolution!”
I GameFaced quiet but utter confusion. “I know YOU’RE not. Thrash and his buddies are. –But you did have Upclose help them.”
He let his surprise show. “Who is Thrash?”
“You know, the firework setter?” I GameFaced a slow, dawning doubt with confusion. “Are they not keeping you up to date? If you need—“
He brought the gun slightly closer. “The Six are dead.”
I blinked at him, cocked my head to one side. “They type pretty well for dead guys. –Or did you mean you’re not really with them anymore?” It was at that moment I gained access to Enforcer suit maintenance. The files only showed one Enforcer as disappearing the month The Six did. My nearest cleaning bot had received a maintenance arm and new software and was in the service shaft on it’s way, looking for the way between the walls. I had to time the ventilation patterns to cover the noise.
“I mean I killed them.”
I looked at him with the most doubtful expression I could call up. This was it. I had to shut off GameFace and con him without electronic assistance. All my processing time was needed for saving my life. “You mean you killed Rack and Epi? How long ago?”
“No.” He was savoring this. I raised the airflow and sped up the bot.
“You killed the unnamed one? What? What are you talking about?”
He smiled. “I killed ALL of them. And now I’ll kill you.” He sighted down the gun.
Realizing I was running short on time, I did the only thing I thought I could pull off on such short notice without assistance. I started laughing at him. “Hehhheh. YOU?” More laughing. My StayNeur processor bounced a signal from an array of unused wallscreens to the buried assembly droid, through the i.d. tags in the buried chassis, back to a secret segment of server I’d partitioned away. “Don’t you know about The Shade’s hobby?”
“The Shade’s hobby was torture. That’s how he got me to agree to being a hunchback.” His eyes were dead-cold. Yikes.
“NOT THAT hobby. THE OTHER hobby!” Time for the big bluff. “Onscreen, please. Picture of mass grave, angle 1A.”
He backed up to the bathroom door, reached in, pulled out a small mirror. As he began to look, I had green circles and captions forming. There wasn’t time for real i.d.’s. I circled ten tags and wrote ‘unknown’ five times. Then ‘Jenko,’ ‘Epi,’ ‘Your Worst Nightmare,’ ‘Rack,’ ‘The Surgeon.’ The only two I was sure of was Jenko and The Surgeon.
His eyes narrowed, “That’s not possible.” Then he startled, realizing the print was being written backwards on the screen. “The Shade was in those ten.”
I pulled up a text box and had ‘The Shade’ start typing.
Your spine was my idea, you know. I thought you died on the table.
I love making doubles. I knew if you could be accomplished that we could hide forever.
You killed the man I had doubling myself before I knew what the others’ new faces looked like.
If you release my man, I will allow you to bargain for your life.
There is nowhere you can hide now.
–The Shade
I smiled at him bigger and shifted slightly toward the middle of the hammock. He followed me with the gun. Calculations were complete; drilling had begun. All that remained was to find out whether my calculations were actually correct.