The Aftermath Academy - CH24 (Olivia)

“Wait, why am I hurting so much? Why am I chained up? I really don’t remember to agreeing to any S&M stuff Krieg!” Though maybe if we succeed in our goals I could think about giving it a try. The chains shatter into pieces right as a man comes running into the room. He swears as he sees me break free. I’m a bit hazy on where I am right now, and I hurt all over. A lot. But the name Jarvis pops into my head. I see him make a move with his hand towards me, but he’s too slow. One of Krieg’s spiders has pounced on his head and rapidly claws its way into Jarvis’ mouth. He makes a gurgling sound and collapses.

A minute later, Jarvis stands up, only there’s a faint glow in his eyes. I still think Krieg is just showing off making his nano-cameras glow like that. The spider has jacked into Jarvis’ nervous system and injected billions of nanites into his body, making Jarvis Krieg’s meat puppet. Been a while since I’ve since this trick but it’s damn convenient given present circumstances. Still creepy as all hell that they’re the basis for my V.R. interface.

“Brain damage was more extensive than I would have hoped,” Krieg says through Jarvis. “The neural structure from your pre-mission brain scan has been successfully restored, but they shot you right in the face. It’s good they didn’t use an energy projector or you might not have been salvageable. Any recollection of what you did to get yourself killed?”

“Besides listen to you and go on this stupid suicide mission?” I say, stabbing a finger into the Jarvis puppets chest. Literally into his chest. Now that my Pride is back it sinks through like its melted butter.

“Try not to kill this guy. If Hope’s power resets him then I might lose my control. Once I figure out how to tap into using his abilities, we will exit the city together. Then you can kill him.”

“You really know how to sweet talk a girl,” I say, withdrawing my finger from Jarvis’ chest. I hope Jarvis is in there somewhere and can feel how much it hurts. I’m damn fuzzy on the details, but I have the feeling this asshole was involved in my recent time amongst the deceased.

Let’s see, I remember a puppy. And meeting Mr. Fisher, though I’m vague regarding what we talked about. Before that… the last totally clear memory I have is right before going on the mission when Krieg did the brain scan. Glad he spent so much time inventing shit with Dr. Sedrick or there’s no way that little plan would have worked.

Dammit though, what happened on the mission? Do you guys know? I feel really lacking in imagination when you folks never answer my questions.

“No idea what I did, but I’m sure she deserved it. Besides shoot me in the face and chain me up, what’d she do to me? This really hurts. Are your nanites supposed to hurt this much?” I feel like fire’s been poured onto my joints. I haven’t been in this much pain since I was a kid. This shit is why I don’t ever suppress my powers. How the hell did Krieg talk me into doing this mission with that asshole Void around?

Okay, that question was rhetorical. I didn’t expect you to answer that one. I hypothesized that Void’s total removal of my abilities would leave me in a steady enough emotional state that I wouldn’t have a completely normal, rational freak out at the inability to protect myself with my Pride.

Bit of a gamble based on descriptions of power users who interacted with him, but if the mission lasted more than ten minutes I assume I was right. “The mission lasted more than ten minutes right? It feels like it lasted a while. And answer the damn question about why this hurts so much.”

“Yes,” Jarvis puppet mouths. “And it hurts because the nanites aren’t finished restructuring your body. The pain is at the seams where you had to be put back together.”

“The seams? It fucking hurts everywhere. How many pieces was I in?” I shout.

“A lot of them,” Jarvis puppet says, ruffling my hair. To my satisfaction Jarvis immediately loses three fingers to my Pride, fingers crumpling to pulp under the weight Krieg put behind his action. He smiles. “That hurts a lot less when I’m not the one doing it.”

“Was I still alive when I was ripped into all these pieces?” I ask suspiciously.

“About fifty-fifty,” he says.

“FUCKING BITCH!” I scream. Ok Team Imaginary, how do we get past Void and kill that god damn psychopath right the hell now? This one’s not a rhetorical question, really needing an answer. Nothing? Nothing at all? Are you speaking and I just can’t hear you?

Dammit, I should see a therapist and see if they can tell me why my imaginary audience members never provide useful advice. I think it’s a serious issue. I’ve read stories where they do, it’s not fair mine don’t. Except if I go to a therapist again they’ll be all like ‘You’re an unregistered red classification, how the hell don’t you have a medical history?’ and I’ll be all like ‘Cuz my mother didn’t believe in therapists’ and then they’ll say ‘I’m going to have to contact Blue Skies’ and I’ll have to eat them with Gluttony like I did the last couple.

Maybe if we succeed in our goals we’ll get labeled official Untouchables and I can see a fucking therapist about all you silent assholes. (If you are all trying to provide helpful tips and there’s just some mental mute button going on, I apologize in advance for calling you assholes. Even though you clearly aren’t doing a very good job finding the remote and turning off mute.)

“Ok, was this a reasonably successful mission at least?” I ask Krieg.

“If we get out of here, we can assure there’s no risk of spatial manipulation changes mid-assault instead of relying on them following my defensive algorithms,” Jarvis puppet flatly intones. “But saving you will have shown my hand regarding all the tech I was hoping to have squirreled away here. They’ll have scourged out most of it long before we’re ready for our assault. And your memory being gone leaves us with no sense of Hope’s major power players. We’re going to have to use Abe, which gives us a clock. Trying to avoid that part of the plan was always a long shot anyways though, given how many Gifted are in this city. And I was already toying with a few possibilities for how to properly draw Void out in a manner that gives us some extra time. I’d say…twenty percent successful. But this is why we have contingencies.”

“That is not very successful,” I say. “But let’s get the hell out of here so it doesn’t get worse.”

Jarvis puppet nods and grabs my arm with his undamaged hand, losing a few more fingers in the process. Space begins to warp around us and I feel a sense of relief in leaving this hell hole and whatever horrors happened here.