She Who Wrote the World, a novella by Hannah Brewster-Stein
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Part Eight: The Creator’s Baby
He needed to calm down and to think. Flailing his arms against the choke-hold around his neck was fruitless; the bartender was twice his size. Strangely, that was what brought a sense of peace and certainty into his mind. If the bartender wanted him dead, he could have just broken his neck. No need to drag him anywhere, no need to slowly squeeze his breath away. He was not going to die. Not yet, anyhow.
That clarity of mind set off a chain reaction of thoughts, conscious, and subconscious, both of which fired up the circuitry in his brainchip, making him hyper-aware. His tech was everywhere: from the transport discs, to the atmospheric nanobots to the brainchips and the intermind connection. There were probably a billion nanobots circulating this guy’s system, right now. What if he could harness that in the same way he could manipulate the weather? Outside, a clamber of thunder boomed like an answer to his question. Yes, he could. Just think.
The bartender dragged him along the hallway about forty meters before releasing him violently outside a door. Gasping for air became more important and he lost his previous train of thought. The bartender knocked on the door, grunted at him and walked away, just as the pressure of the door he was leaning against gave way and he fell backwards, looked up and saw the face of a man that could be no other than the Operator.
This was a face that had been forced to live a life of criminality. No decent member of the West’s Oasis would tolerate such a face. Had he tried to live a normal life, he would have become a meme for east-enders, or even for the Far East, or used as a Public Service Announcement for getting regular nano-upgrades or to stay off sugar. He would become ‘intermind famous’ for all the wrong reasons and probably terminate himself, the way a few others had.
“Get him up.” The Operator said. He was hoisted to his feet by a thug on either side and faced the Operator with both of his arms still restrained. They were in an office that looked like it also served as a bachelor suite with a rusted steel desk, a speckled couch with an unfolded sheet and a bar fridge in the corner. Along the side wall hung a knitted blanket, featuring the Author’s face, but with artistic embellishments, including a mustache and devil horns and behind the couch, a window showing the dark of the night broken with streams of lightening.
“What a fortuitous meeting, Creator,” the Operator said, moving to the other side of the table, “What brings you here?”
“I need something. Old school tech. Heard you might have it.”
“Oh ya? What does the Creator need with old tech?” The Operator spat the words at him.
“I need to stop the Author.” Might as well be honest, he figured. They hated the Author, maybe more than they hated him.
The Operator made a face, which may have been surprise, followed by skepticism, but the facial distortions made it harder to discern.
“What exactly do you need?”
“I need drugs: procarbazine, lomustine and vincristine, or otherwise known as PCV,” he answered.
The Operator was quiet for a moment. “I may have something like that. But I require payment.”
“I have payment in my pocket,” the Creator responded, “a tube of nanobots powerful enough to tack on another fifty years. It’s worth a lot more than what I’m asking for.”
The Operator nodded at the thugs and they reluctantly released his arms. Slowly, he reached into his hoody pocket and pulled out a small metallic tube. Taking a step forward, he placed it on the desk. The Operator held it up to his eye, examining the contents, although the Creator doubted he had the brainchip software to analyse it accurately.
“I accept this, but I need more.” The Operator did not wait for a reply, but turned toward the blanket, moved it aside, and walked through a door that had been hidden. The thugs held the Creator’s arms once more and prompted him to follow. He just had to think; his nanobots are everywhere, think.
On the other side of the blanket was another room, smaller, cleaner with tiny children’s furniture and old toys. The décor was still antiqued, but there had been thought into its arrangement and a certain old-class charm. It was like visiting a showcase room in a museum: displayed neatly in an unlivable way. The Operator was looking down into a metallic case, the size of a shoebox, overlaid in glass with hoses attached to humming pumps and machinery.
The creator was nudged forward and gasped. A tiny, sickly baby was inside, receiving the most outdated medical treatment he had ever seen.
“Fix her.” The Operator said.
“What’s wrong with her?”
“The doctors say it’s because she’s my daughter, that she didn’t have a chance coming from someone so ugly. But I know it’s the brainchip. It’s defective. I got a scanner and I’ve seen it. It’s not right. I’ve been given so many doses of nanobots as a child to fix this,” he gestured to his face, “that it must have deformed her chip. I can’t get the brainchip out without killing her.”
That explained the bodies. “I’ll need to examine her.”
Again, the Operator gestured slightly to the thugs and they released him. His brainchip was rapidly calculating and making connections. He was almost ready.
He clicked the glass lid off the metal holder and could feel the tension from the Operator beside him. This baby was important to him. She was sleeping and did not wake when he turned her head to examine the part of the brain where the chip should be located. At first he thought this was strange, then realized the infant was comatose; she was more dead than alive. He connected to the infant via the intermind and began downloading her brainchip software, an ability only his brainchip was capable of.
The Creator had never seen anything like this.
An alert activated in his chip, telling him the nanobots were aligned to his command.
“You will give me the PCV,” he commanded, “and I will also be taking her.” He lifted and tucked the infant into his arms just as the nanobots began to work. He could not let her medieval medical care kill her. She was too valuable, especially if she lived.
“What’s happening?” the operator screamed. They were all screaming and falling to their knees. Blood ran from their noses and ears.
“The nanobots inside you, the ones that have strengthened your immune system are now working against you, poisoning your organs and they will kill you, if you do not give me what I want.”
“Please, not my daughter,” the Operator begged, squirming painfully on the floor, “please, I don’t have, I, I don’t have what you want. I’ve never even heard of it. But, but, please I do have a virus, that’ll stop anyone, even the Author. In the desk.”
The Creator stepped over the wriggling men, transferred the baby into one arm, and riffled through desk drawers. He found a vial denoted with a skeleton. A virus was not what he planned, but it could prove useful. This baby may change his plans anyway. He stuck the vial into his pocket, along with the nanobots he had brought as payment.
He opened the window and slipped out into the night, leaving behind the men to scream. They might be alright, but he was not really sure. He had never done that before and it was exhilarating. The smell of rain was in the air, but he still had time before it would fall. The Creator’s hood was low, baby in the crook of his arm, as he walked back toward the tower.
PART 9 TOMORROW
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