There were indeed police sirens in the distance.
Star-shaped police cruisers were following us.
"WAFFLES! WE MUST MAKE LIKE BACON AND SPLATTER OUT OF HERE!" Pilot stamped out and pressed on the gas.
The car roared and started to dangerously vibrate, shaking even more than usual on the uneven, cracked, decaying highway.
One of the police cruisers caught up to us.
"ATTENTION OCCUPANTS OF CAR UNIT 83-94-12." Its mechanical voice boomed, drowning out the roar of our antiquated engine.
"YOU ARE UNDER ARREST FOR THE FOLLOWING INFRACTIONS:
1)DRIVING AN EXPIRED, HISTORICAL MODEL CAR.
2)DRIVING WITH AN EXPIRED DRIVERS LICENSE.
3)DRIVING WITH AN EXPIRED PASSENGER, CHARLES SNIPPY."
Hey! I am not expired!" I turned around to face the police cruiser. "Okay, fine I kind of am, but that's just rude to point it out!"
The cruiser's inner radio activated:
"THIS IS CRUISER 50-33-91, REPORTING.
HUMAN OPERATOR IS OUT OF SERVICE/ASLEEP.
TALKING BACK TO AUTHORITY INFRACTION DETECTED.
PERPETRATORS ARE RESISTING ARREST. HOW TO PROCEED?"
Amidst static and noise a reply came back:
"THIS IS POLICE-TERMINAL SECTOR 9 OVER-MIND.
YOU ARE FREE TO ENGAGE.
EXTREME USE OF FORCE IS AUTHORIZED BY G-DIRECTOR GLAKR BELL, SECTOR 9 OVERLORD. CONTAIN/VAPORIZE THE SUBJECTS. CONFISCATE THE WIZARD'S HEART."
This did not sound good. Pilot swerved the car out of the cruiser's path, which had managed to almost ram into us at this point.
"EXPIRED USER CHARLES SNIPPY. PLEASE STOP RESISTING! YOUR ORGANS ARE MEANT TO BE LIQUIDATED TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER BY ORDER OF THE GOOD DIRECTORATE!" The cruiser bellowed at me.
I felt something prickling on my neck. The biomatrix had apparently chosen this moment to wake up:
"mY ClIeNt's oRgAnS ArE LeGiTiMaTe pRoPeRtY Of bIoMaTrIx 117. ChArLeS SnIpPy's dNa, PaSt, PrEsEnT AnD FuTuRe wAs cOpYrIgHtEd vIa a sYmBiOtIc aGrEeMeNt wItH Us mAdE On dAtE..."
"THE PERPS ARE IN CONTACT WITH A PERSONAL ONLINE LAWYER. HOW TO PROCEED?" The Cruiser staticked.
"THIS IS GOOD-OVERMIND 53-91-22. WHO DARES CLAIM PROPRIETARY COPYRIGHT OVER DECEASED USER CHARLES SNIPPY? WHAT ARE YOUR CREDENTIALS? STATE YOUR DIRECTORATE MODEL NUMBER PROGRAM!"
"wE ArE ThE TeTrAvIrUs bIoMaTrIx 117, recoGniZed LaW FiRm oF 116 PlAnEtS... hUrRrRdRrRr hDdDr" Something was wrong with the Biomatrix, I felt it. It was remembering something that it had long forgotten. A lost data strand. The source-code. The beginning of it all.
"G-dIr fIrEpRoOf jAcKeT: 31-20-21. G-dIr eMoTiVe gOgGlEs: 77-11-14. G-DiR FiRePrOoF PaNtS: 12-24-95. G-dIr bReAtHiNg mAsK: 09-32-00." It finally spoke.
"SO... YOU ARE REPRESENTED BY A FIRM CONSISTING OF COPIES OF DIRECTORATE SYSTEMS... A LAWYER MADE UP OF YOUR OWN CLOTHES?" The Sector 9 Overmind howled, in triumph. It clearly did not consider clothes a legitimate law firm.
-= i aM.... We aRe... YoUr cLoThEs? =- The confused voices of the Biomatrix stammered. It was at a loss. It did not expect this. I did not expect this. How and when did my clothes become an alien tetra-virus bent on copyrighting and controlling all organic life?
I traced the blue lines of temporal displacement backwards. I needed to know where the Biomatrix had come from. When had my jacket, goggles and pants gained sentience to do as they pleased?
I stood up, staring at the police cruiser.
Time slowed to a crawl. Time had stopped. I had all the time in the world to find out the truth. Thanks to the temporal powers of desynchronization I could review my past in crystal clarity.
Did someone take my clothes to make the Biomatrix? Who? Why?
I checked all instances when I had taken my pants off.
No that wasn't it.
I re-winded, reviewed my entire life as Charles from a moment when I had received my tour guide clothes from the Dead Zone Tourism and Research department.
I looked at the paper in my hands, this time actually reading the contract before signing it.
"YOUR TOUR GUIDE UNIFORM IS PROPERTY OF THE DIRECTORATE CORPORATION. ALTERING, COPYING OR LETTING SOMEONE ELSE WEAR THIS UNIFORM IS AN ACT OF VIOLATION OF DIRECTORATE COPYRIGHT POLICY. BE AWARE THAT ANY ACT OF DUPLICATION/EDITING OF SOFTWARE OF THE UNIFORM WILL ACTIVATE WEAPONIZED VIRAL SUBSYSTEMS.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR UNIFORM. AS LONG AS YOU ARE WEARING IT, THE SYSTEMS OPERATING IN THEM ARE YOURS TO REGULATE. COMMAND FUNCTION [R:/UNIFORM ADMIN CONTROL] ALLOWS FOR FASHIONABLE FUNCTIONS SUCH AS BLACK AND WHITE SPOT REVERSAL, STATUS CHECKS, REPAIR MODULE ACCESS AND OTHER ADMIN OPTIONS.
NOTE: AS LONG AS YOU REMAIN UNCONNECTABLE, THIS OPTION REMAINS RESTRICTED TO YOU AS YOUR CLOTHES ARE SADLY NOT IN PROPER NEURAL SYNCH WITH YOUR DESIRES."
I winded the temporal line of my life forward, stopping at the moment when I had first made alien contact. There it is! ->>
When those blasted Aliens beamed me aboard their ship, they had actually disintegrated me and made a new copy. Duplication... of myself. Duplication of Directorate Software.
This fact had hit me like a ton of bricks.
The Biomatrix was mixture of Directorate viruses, directorate copyright policy, my memories and my tour guide uniform.
A jumbled, confused monster that ran amok, replicating itself, destroying, tainting the Alien vessel's systems. A virus that must have transmitted itself across countless alien worlds, posing as a collective of lawyers, infecting, copyrighting one hundred and sixteen planets, before returning to earth... planet number 117.
It had all started with me and ended back on my neck as a scarf. My own clothes had managed to copyright me!
-= sO... iT SeEmS YoU'Ve fIgUrEd iT AlL OuT. =- The Biomatrix spoke.
"I have" I answered.
-= wHaT Do yOu iNtEnD To dO? =- it whispered with the voices of billions across time and space.
"I intend to save everyone." I answered.
-= yOu kNoW NoT WhAt yOu aRe dOiNg. ThE CoNsEqUeNcEs oF ThIs cOuLd bE DiSaStRoUs. YoU WiLl mAkE A MiStAkE. yOu wIlL DeStRoY ThE UnIvErSe. YoU WiLl cEaSe tO ExIsT. yOu wIlL DiE. =- They voices of the Biomatrix pleaded in my head. They had guessed what I had intended to do.
"R:/Uniform Admin Control." I mentally said to myself.
The Biomatrix tried to resist. It tried to strangle me, it tried to break free. It could not. Our fates were tied together, our present, past and future already intertwined, interconnected too deep.
This time however, I was free to do as I wanted.
"Activate full Repair function." I added.
-= dEfInE RePaIr pArAmEtErS. =- Biomatrix angrily screeched.
My desire to be human kicked in.
My stopped heart had knitted itself back together.
My mask suddenly felt like plastic on my skin. I felt gravity, I felt motion. Time became linear.
The car roared beneath me. Pilot shouted something about makin' bakin' pancakes. Captain merrily hooted about lack of butter.
The Police cruiser blinded me, thundering for us to stop.
I was... alive.