"I am immune to the broadcasting signal."
Snippy said and it suddenly dawned on me.
The weak broadcasting signal that was coming from the Undead... it reactivated my own neural receivers!
It meant that I could potentially access some sort of useful information via the G-Directorate subnet drive in my backpack.
Information that I presumed lost. Information about ANNET's new army of spam-bots, their positions, their weaknesses.
Anything that could help me survive this mess.
"R:/login admin control... launch grid browser protocol... private browsing, full control" I whispered.
The broadcasting signal responded! A little G appeared in my right eye, with signal strength signage.
It showed one and a half signal bars. Good enough!
Glowing letters formed in my right eye.
YOUR NEURAL GRID BROWSER IS NOW LOADING...
PLEASE ATTEMPT RIGHT CLICKING A RANDOM OBJECT FOR INTERFACE SYNCHRONIZATION
I blinked with my right eye on Snippy.
Terrifyingly enough, it actually worked! A little menu popped up in my right eye, highlighting Snippy.
ATTEMPTING NEURAL CONNECTION WITH SUBJECT.
NO NEURAL RESPONSE RECEIVED FROM SUBJECT'S MIND.
WARNING! FAILURE TO DETECT NEURAL WAVE ON ALL KNOWN BANDS.
SUBJECT'S MENTAL NEURAL PATTERN DEEMED... UNSCANNABLE.
SUBJECT IS CONFIRMED TO BE BRAIN-DEAD.
"Wait... you are... UNSCANNABLE?!" I cried out in surprise.
What did Snippy just ramble back? He's the last one? What?
Does he not even realize that he's theoretically brain dead?
Has nobody ever told him that?
Perfect un-scannability while still breathing is biologically impossible!
The menu in my right eye was expanding:
VISUAL SCAN OF SUBJECT COMPLETED.
PERSONAL ID 04477645 HOLOGRAPHIC TAG LOCATED ON JACKET.
HUMAN SUBJECT -- CHARLES SNIPPY --
DEAD ZONE TOUR GUIDE EMPLOYEE
TRANSFERRED FROM EUREKA, G-CUBE 15.
IF FOUND DECEASED, PLEASE CONTACT D.Z.R.&T. OFFICE 24-12.
WARNING: TRACKER-IMPLANT NOT FOUND/DEACTIVATED!
WARNING: MASSIVE VIOLATION OF AUTHORIZED TOURIST ROUTE!
NOTICE: IF THIS IS YOUR TOUR GUIDE, YOU ARE NOW CONSIDERED LOST.
WARNING: DO NOT HIRE. CREDIT SCORE IS MINUS INFINITY.
I quickly began to digest this information.
Cube 15... Dead Zone Research and Tourism Department? ... Charles... is Unscannable?
What does that even mean? How can someone's mind be completely unscannable? That would mean what... That he has no readable brain-wave?!
I've never met my employees face to face, and I simply assumed that he was simply a bothersome fellow on disability status that kept filing complaints and then got transferred to DZRT.
I assumed he perished with the others when the Dead Zone "Godcatchers" experiment went horribly wrong.
When Captain introduced me to him, I was shocked, but my current shock doesn't even compare to this.
I didn't realize he was "unscannable", such is simply improbable!
I mean come on! I saw him eating beans this morning!. He's not brain-dead!
There were those who could not use the Neural Interface, but fully Unscannable? What the hell?!
I have to calm myself. Unscannability is impossible. The Grid must be broken. It is giving me illogical answers.
Oh.. and... Minus infinity credits? How is that even mathematically possible? I've heard of bad credit scores, but this is ridiculous!
This scan and information is simply full of errors. That's it. Stupid errors. Ha ha Har.
As I speculated wildly, the neural signal had decided to respond to my rabidly circular thought patterns:
CUBE 15. EMPLOYMENT RECORDS OF DECEASED CHARLES SNIPPY:
FORMER CLERK, LEVEL 24.
SCAN CONFIRMS HEAT SIGNATURE/HEARTBEAT.
"DECEASED" STATUS HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY UPDATED TO "LIVING".
GREETINGS ANNET USER!
PLEASE CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING IF YOU ARE TO ATTEMPT COMMUNICATION WITH THIS PARTICULAR INDIVIDUAL.
INDIVIDUAL KNOWN AS CHARLES SNIPPY IS IN FACT NOT BRAIN-DEAD,
AS IT MIGHT SEEM AT FIRST, BUT HAS THE STATUS OF A MENTALLY DISABLED USER.
THIS MEANS THAT HE CANNOT INSTANTLY READ YOUR MIND-TEXTS, NOR TEXT BACK TO YOU!
IF YOU WISH TO COMMUNICATE WITH CHARLES, PLEASE FORWARD YOUR TEXTS TO WATCHER DRONE 17-94-15, HOVERING ABOVE SNIPPY.
THE DRONE WILL AUDIBLY TELL CHARLES WHAT IT IS YOU WANT FROM HIM.
ERROR: WE ARE SORRY. ASSIGNED DRONE # 17-94-15 IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE.
A REPORT HAS BEEN FILED TO ANNET.
PLEASE REMAIN CALM!
CONSIDER USING YOUR MOUTH MUSCLES OR DRAWING SOMETHING ON PAPER TO COMMUNICATE WITH THE DISABLED INDIVIDUAL.
BE AWARE THAT BY AGREEMENT OF USAGE OF SUCH COPYRIGHTED FORMS OF DIRECT COMMUNICATION, YOU WILL BE CHARGED 173 CREDITS PER LETTER.
MAINTAIN A RELAXED STATE OF POSTERIOR!
BE AWARE THAT WHEN CONFUSED OR THREATENED BY YOUR SUPERIOR METHODS OF NEURAL PROXY COMMUNICATION,
THIS INDIVIDUAL MAY VIOLENTLY VIOLATE YOUR PERSONAL SPACE."
There was much more informative gibberish to read in my right eye about Charles Snippy, but Snippy suddenly smacked me right in the head, breaking my concentration.
He told me to go downstairs (obviously) and when I begged him to join me, he simply forcibly shoved me down the stairs and ran off into the smoke.
I descended into the building's basement, tripping on rubbish and quickly left the burning skyscraper, avoiding the Zombie-bots by constantly looking at the neural signal bars.
If I had more time I'd put together a program that would track their movements in a 3D space, but alas, I was far too busy escaping and gasping for air.
As I jogged across the ruined street I pondered about Snippy's fate...
Reckless idiot! He will definitely get himself killed!
Thank Good he didn't notice that I yelled his first name out loud.
I have to watch myself... I can't afford another slip-up like that.
Slip-ups is what gets you killed by insane (potentially brain-dead) ex-subordinates that probably blame you for their miserable past life and the end of the world.
Maybe he'll just assume Captain told me his name. That's it. Push it all on Captain's randomness. Perfect.
...Where is Captain anyway?
Why is that that incompetent super... always so hard to find when needed most?
Perhaps I could just ask the grid?
It is far too dangerous to initiate a search. What if private browsing fails and the search is traced backwards directly to the user?
What if ANNIE is just waiting for someone to ask "Find the..."
Then what? My backpack subnet's nuclear batteries spontaneously combust from some sort of hideous virus... turning me into a little mushroom cloud?
Or another Directorate weapon system from the sky... that pancakes the area, microwaving all living targets?
No thanks. I like my brain not scrambled. I refuse to be a part of her nutritious breakfast.
I must not give into the temptation of the search!
Long ago... back when I still ruled the world it was so easy to find Captain with ANNIE's help.
ANNIE could see all the things via Neural Interface users own eyes, recollect any and all information instantly, find anyone through anyone.
It was the perfect backdoor to unlimited information and the Directorate approved its design.
I held the information of the entire planet in my hands and I have squandered it so recklessly.
How I wish that my search engine goddess didn't have a vendetta against humanity and me in general.
How I wish I could turn back the tide of time and never ask the one question that has led me to Captain.
Model/episode contributor: Tara Wells
(Thank you for your delicious support!)
First frame, story & touchups by:
All other frames painted by delicious:
22nd June 2013
Tagged in Engie ANNET