Kilgor crunched down on the Life Savor, chewed it into bits, swallowed, then popped in another, looping the tip of his dark-splotched tongue in its center while shedding the vibration of Dolomedes and followed Gorrack into an office.
The bald guy with a long sliver of jagged chrome sliced down the right side of his cheek bone swiveled around. And smiled.
“Good to see you again, Kilgor. Please,” he gestured a palm of five servo digits in chrome “sit.”
The walls in the room were blank, save for an abstract painting with four hooded figures riding inside transparent spheres in the sky. On the ground a circle of black figures kneeled, bowed their heads, and reached their arms and hands to the sky. Kilgor recognized the figures from his studies: The Metempsychosis Quartet, aka The Reckoning, aka the gods of the Shift, aka the new gods of the apocalypse.
The chair creaked as Clawdious leaned back and steepled his digits. “How is everything going for you so far, Kilgor?”
“Very well.” Kilgor noticed the snow globe at the edge of Clawdious’ desk animate.
“How’s training going?”
“Good. I’ve not only beaten the Darken clan, I’ve taken out the leader, Rosha Kuulu.” His lips pulled back, revealing his canines.
Clawdious beamed. “This makes me very happy. Your virtual training has progressed quicker than expected. Do you feel you have advanced? Do feel as if it is a…bore?”
“It’s okay to admit it, Kilgor. Gorrack can always write a separate program that will make your fights more difficult. It would help you advance. Gods in spheres know you need it. You need to be trained the very best you can. When the time comes, Kilgor, you will have a very important job to do. Gorrack and I encourage you to improve.”
It wasn’t that Kilgor felt the programs had been less of a challenge. It’s just he wished he could move forward and train hands-on. There was no doubt his neurotransmitters excelled. His brain swallowed knowledge by the buckets. Lately he treated the virtuals as games. He loved them. Hells, he couldn’t have been out of the vat more than two months already and his size had rocketed due to Gorrack’s Rapid Aging program—it also came with his focus as a trained killer.
In the virtuals he had adopted a precognition, knowing his enemies next move. How he knew it, he did not know. Had Gorrack installed new software in his HeadKase? A precog app?
Hard to say.
Would he have the precog when confronted in a real fight?
Still hard to say.
Most of the time he amused himself by allowing the gunslinger to draw first while he dropped to one knee and blasted the guy’s leg off. Or waited for the guard to round the corner where the innocent couple stood and back hand him with a fist, smashing his nose.
“The more you improve, the quicker we’ll place you in your job. You don’t want to stay in the virtual world forever, right?” Clawdious raised a pencil-thin eyebrow that wasn’t there.
Kilgor shook his head.
“Good. The real challenge you’ll face will be in Ozarium,” he pointed a shiny digit, “beyond those walls. When you are ready, when you believe you have done all you can and you feel your skills are ready for use on the next level, please, let me know. We want you to feel confident and more than ready for the job. I truly believe you will be the very best bounty hunter in Westersphere. You will be our savior, Kilgor.”
“Nimbus, if you save us, I’ll spend the extra BodyKredd and update your CPU to eight point oh. I promise.” Kilgor clawed the arm rests and ground his canines as the craft shook.
The bouncer jerked to the side, whipping Kilgor’s head and body in the same direction. Thank the gods for seat belts. “Try harder!”
The shriek from the metal beast returned, this time scraping the outside shell of the craft, forcing it into a spin. Warning lights chimed and red and yellow colors flashed over Kilgor’s dark skinned face.
“Nimbus! Get the situation under control!”
The seat belts squeezed Kilgor against the cushion as the bouncer rumbled and shook. A square piece of metal peeled off the bottom and shot into the air. Cracks carved into the windshield and the view switched from sky to ground as they nosedived.
Warning lights switched from a pleasant ear-friendly chime to an excruciating ear-piercing pain, bouncing off the walls in the cabin. Yellow lights became blurs. Red lights became liquid. Green ones were ooze. All the colors were bleeding together in Kilgor’s vision as the atmosphere inside shimmied, making him see double and then triple.
The turbines screamed as Nimbus tried reversing them.
The creature’s shriek overpowered the craft, shooting multicolored beams, giving it a swift punch in the side, forcing the craft to rocket sideways end over end.
“Nimbus! Get a hold on…this…thing!”
Nimbus’ reply severed in mid-sentence when another replaced the onboard computer in a monotone verbal:
SYSTEM CRASH. PLEASE REBOOT.
Crap! “Nimbus! You still with me?”
A pulse rippled through the craft, shaking it, making the windshield crack more.
SYSTEM CRASH. PLEASE REBOOT.
“How the hells am I supposed to reboot this mess? Nimbus! you still w—”
SYSTEM CRASH. PLEASE REBOOT.
ABORT SEQUENCE INITIATED IN FIVE
The outside world was in multiple pieces, some demented abstraction, while trying to look through the multi-cracked windshield.
Kilgor dug his claws into the fabric of the arm rests.
The seat belts squeezed more, making him gasp.
Kilgor snapped his eyelids shut as the horror inside slowly silenced.
The roof of the craft exploded, sending huge pieces of metal flying.
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