Lights and Shadows Update #4

Good news in that I managed to break through my block and get to the end of Chapter 9. Now, things should pick up speed, I hope. This excerpt picks up from where the last update leaves off and go straight to the end of the chapter. Enjoy.

“I’ll take that under advisement.” A sliver of fear peeked out through her voice and then hid itself away behind her usual professional demeanor. Killing one’s partner was certainly frowned upon by the AIS, but the rules were somewhat murky where it came to AI infections. The majority of the population believed that once infected, a person was not quite human anymore and therefore not given the same considerations. The status brought the word “zombie” back into fashion briefly, but protests by AI Virus victims’ families put a quick and brutal stop to the craze, making any usage of the term a hate crime punishable by prison time.

She kept a wary eye on Moreau as she retook her seat. To his credit, once the crisis had abated, Moreau returned to his file reading, his eyes not leaving his screen. His ability to turn his emotions on and off both terrified and intrigued her, a combination that disturbed her on more than one level. Disturbed and frightened, though she took great pains to keep that hidden inside herself. “May I ask you a personal question?”

Moreau didn’t look up. “Go ahead.”

“How did you learn how to control your emotions the way you do?”

Moreau tapped his right temple with a finger. “I have an implant connected to my cerebral cortex.”

“Really?”

Moreau sighed. “Of course not. I’ve learned through experience not to let my emotions get away from me. There’s a time and place for everything.” His eyes darted through the text and stopped as a name caught his eye. He went back over his reading. “Gemina Burke.”

“What’s a Gemina Burke?”

“Not a what. A who.” He pushed his seat back. “She’s listed in the records as having visited here about a week before the recorders stopped logging.” He gestured toward her console. “Have you made any headway over there?”

Finch focused her attention back to her work and to her surprise, the infesting code no longer seemed to block her efforts. Within minutes, she managed to access the system permissions and change them to only allow herself and Moreau to control the facility. Her triumphant smile turned to a frown when she accessed the backup outpost records to find them horribly corrupted. “I have bad news, Zack.”

“Bad News seems to be the flavor of the day,” Moreau said. “Let me have it.”

“Most of the backup files are corrupted beyond my ability to repair from here, but I did manage to find one status file that indicates that an experiment was in progress down in the outpost’s main research laboratory. I’ve managed to deactivate the holographic projectors from here to there.”

Moreau stood. “That’s it, then. We head to the lower levels and maybe, just maybe, we finally get some answers to what happened here.”

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