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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #1350828
Can F'gu discover the secrets behind the Attobot crisis before it's too late?

"IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO GET YOUR Y3K PATCH INSURANCE!" blared a voice in F'gu's head, startling him awake. "Um.. Mr Fukyu Moldydick? Protect your family against your dying from Y3K Patch failure today! Just give us your asset account number and PanID code and we'll be all set! Be a responsible --"

F'gu cut him off. Damned tofurkers, he thought. He botlinked Mgo: "M'go, I see you haven't made much progress on the getting the tofurkey filters upgraded."

"I don't know how that got through," Mgo muttered. "At least it wasn't that one from last year that was selling those pills that claimed to give you multiple penile growths."

F'gu sighed. "Mgo...I've been having that dream again, it's getting more and more detailed. I can't believe it's a defect in the Attobots -- it's too real, almost like ART."

"Anti-particle Relativistic Transfer? Theoretically possible by the Achmed-Yamato postulates, allowing travel through space/time via shortcuts through alternate universes. But it hasn't yet been put into practice -- though rumor has it some of the colonies were fiddling with it."

"Well, thank you, Mgo." He disconnected and started to contemplate his next move. He'd see Yvonix at 10 to make sure it wasn't an Attobot defect, then he'd warn Pan-World, and run it as the top story to alert the world. The Pegasian invasion. There'd be panic, considering it was only one day to prepare, but at least the defense shields would be up and --

A big hairy beard suddenly intruded into his brain. Volnik again; but how'd he get his Attobot code? "Mldzik!" the beard shouted. "Let's try this again. We're advancing on NuChicago and we're going to get there tomorrow night. We're 20,000 strong now and fully armed." F'gu checked the armscreen and connected to his source. Mldzik was walking along a road with a laser blaster tucked into his belt. He was accompanied by a horde of people, a veritable army, some carrying signs like "SMASH THE PATCH" and LETS GO KICK SOME BOT".

"Why hasn't the government taken control of you via your Attobots?" F'gu asked.

"Because we figured out a way to disable the Attobots, Mldzik." Volnik laughed. "Rather simple actually, it involves a magnetic wormhole treatment -- a brief burst of pain, but nothing a strong person couldn't handle."

"That's suicide, Volnik! Now that you've hacked the Attobots, you won't have more than 48 hours to live."

"We know, Mldzik. But what choice do we have? Without the patch, we die. Without the Attobots, we die. At least this way, we die fighting. And for what we believe in! Wouldn't you want to be with us, Mldzik? To join us in the fight? Distribute the story about us -- urge your readers to join us -- if the whole world rises up..."

"I've already got the patch," F'gu said. "But I think something went wrong. I've been having these strange dreams. A planet called Edene. A beautiful woman named Amoria. An imminent Pegasian attack."

"Well I know why! It's obvious!" Volnik raised his voice. "Your doctor altered your patch sectors and planted false memories and ideas into your head. To manipulate you. To distract you. So you can't tell the news properly. Probably a government agent. They're everywhere you know. How do I know you're not one? Pegasian attack?" Volnik laughed. "They're trying to control you with fear. To make you distribute opinions that would squelch the Revolution. There was a famous saying from the Second War, 'There is nothing to fear but fear itself.' But now it's changed. They embrace fear. Now the saying would be: 'The strongest defense is fear.'"

Volnik disconnected. F'gu walked to the window and looked out over the city. He knew that Volnik, despite his rantings and ravings, was right about the dreams. There was no place called Edene, not even Mgo could find a record of it in the history databases. It was the only explanation and the only one that made any sense. It was all a way to get NuNews to push compliance with the Patch and assure the continuity of the Attobots. But it wasn't going to work, now with Volnik's army. With their Attobot disabling, the network would soon teeter on the edge of collapse and run the risk of total meltdown.

But the intricate detail of the homeostat experiences -- Amoria, the castle, the coin, the painting. Who would go through such trouble to program such a dream? F'gu knew he had to check one thing before leaving for the clinic and Yvonix. "Mgo, I've got to make sure of something. Can you run a complete antiquity image search for me - it's odd but just do it. Find a painting for me on Earth. It's an angel, clothed in flowing robes...kneeling down..." He described the painting and used his mind-sketcher from what he could remember. "I'll get right to it, "Mgo answered.

F'gu left his apt, and headed over to the Clinic.

Still wearing her blue mediform suit, Dr. Yvonix's fiery red eyes stared at F'gu as she walked into the room. F'gu lay on the examination table.

Yvonix checked her corneal screen and said, "F'gu -- I hear you've had some problems with your patch application?"

Before he got into the room, he knew what he had to do, now that he had his suspicions about the memory implant. He would tell her the dream and then gauge her reaction. But as he told her the details of Edene, Amoria and the Pegasian invasion that would occur on Y3K eve, he realized it was going to be difficult to judge her expression while she wore her mediform mask.

"You're experiencing a very typical symptom for a patch error disease, it's called PIP, or Patch-Induced Psychosis. Dreams of romance, far off planets, lots of danger. Let's get a closer look."

She mindlinked him without warning, overriding his security codes, catching him off guard. The psychic knife carved into his brain. Full of ice.

"Abnormal hypersensitivity of Sector 47. Sectors 23 and 101 are corrupted. Making necessary corrections... now. Updated and corrected. Patch intact. Problem solved. F'gu, you shouldn't be having those dreams anymore now."

"You've been under a lot of stress," Yvonix continued. "Your adrenalin levels are spiking. The Attobots can only handle so much you know, and you've missed a few checkups in the past. What you need is Sensorial Program 0069."

She motioned to the door scanner and switched it off. The door locked. Yvonix mindlinked F'gu again, this time slicing brutally into his mind, immobilizing him on the table. He tried lifting his head but it was futile: she had knocked out the motor neurons in his neck. Was she about to kill him, because he had already outlived his purpose? She lifted her mediformed hand and it started to flash on and off at a dizzying rate; in the darkened room it resembled a blue and red group of fireflies flickering about him. She passed her pulsating hand over his head and he could feel the Attobots induce the secretion of an arsenal of sex hormones, testosterone, and nitric oxide. "There, that should help a little," she said.

Now her hands instead of hovering over him now barely grazed the surface of his bare chest, inducing a warm electric feeling in his skin. Her fingers then moved closer to his thighs, now massaging them without touching them by activating his skin receptors and between them his blood increased until he was hard, his veins throbbing without control. Yvonix bent over him to stare into his eyes, her fiery red eyes glowing, fluorescent. They were so close that on her corneas, F'gu could just barely make out the miniature digital readout; so close that her breath was hot and sweet on his face. She kissed him, helpless, on the mouth, moving down to this chest, her mediformed mouth like a ravenous, craving animal. F'gu tried to scream but nothing came out. He couldn't escape; instead he imagined it to be Amoria, she was alone with him in the room at the top of the dome, with the painting, and they were making love to each other. Outside, the peaceful buildings, the Gohs and the Eatalls, the promise of a beautiful world and all its hopes and dreams. As he and Amoria, who never really existed but was still real to him, kissed passionately and deeply and forever...

"Take it off.. please.." he muttered. "Take off your mediform and mask."

"You know I can't, F'gu." Yvonix replied, expressionless. "It's not part of the program. Besides, you know the regulations."

She moved her mouth lower now and buried her face between his legs. F'gu tried to suppress the ecstasy but it was hopeless. She stopped to breathe and look up at F'gu. "Will you do anything for me, F'gu?"

"Yes," he said. He was completely in her control.

"You'll have to distribute a story telling everyone the danger of refusing the Y3K patch. Tell them it's no use. Tell Vilnok to turn back. They have to give up."

As Yvonix resumed, F'gu knew he would put the bulletin out as soon as he could. But right now the rational sectors of his brain had ceased to function. Nothing else seemed to matter but her mouth. It was though he was being sucked into a whirlpool, F'gu thought...where incredible despair and uncontrollable pleasure were mixed together. He felt the Attobots churn out the endorphins along with his release, followed by a surge of prolactin.

The last thing he remembered was the gaze of fiery eyes from Yvonix as she finally stood above him... then darkness.


It was Y3K eve, 2999, and F'gu awoke in his bed at home. He had slept without being connected to the homeostat. And he'd missed the whole day! Now it was Y3K eve and there wasn't much time left. To warn the world -- not about the Pegasians but about the danger of refusing the Patch. To make sure Volnik never reached NuChicago and attack Pan-World headquarters. He prepared an extensive article and editorial piece, explaining in full detail the need for the Y3K Patch on this final day of the third millenium. He was about to release it to the world when Mgo broke into his thoughts.

"F'gu, are you all right? We didn't hear from you yesterday, and the assistant editor took care of the news. We couldn't locate you, where were you?"

"I'm not sure..." The events of the preceding day were hazy in his mind. "Yvonix corrected the patch defect; those strange dreams were from some kind of psychosis after all. Now listen to me, I've got to get this report out right away, so I need to get back to work --"

"I'm following up on that request you made yesterday, sir," said M'go. "About the painting. I've located it. Would you like to go see it?"

F'gu thought for a minute. Now he believed confidently that the patch defect caused the psychosis. Why else would the painting be here on Earth, not Edene? Abnormal hypersensitivity of Sector 47. Sectors 23 and 101 are corrupted. That's what it was, the hypersensitivity. The Attobots took an experience, perhaps a visit to a painting long ago, that was buried in his subconscious, and hypersensitized it, brought it to the surface, fused it with his desires and fears. The result of stress. But still, it bothered him -- why that painting? What about the bracelet-coin and Amoria? When did they impinge upon his mind and in what context?

"Yes, I'll see it -- but let me release my report first," said F'gu.

"It's at the Museum of Antiquities, in Desert Michigan."

"OK, meet me there at 4," said F'gu.

F'gu spent the next several hours preparing his articles and then connected to Pan-World Distribution Network and sent it out. He then readied himself to travel and climbed into his sonic shuttle, which carried up over the city and into Desert Michigan. He looked down on the vast desert -- it's hard to believe that it was once a great lake, he thought. He travelled for a while until he saw the Museum of Antiquities, a sprawling structure solely devoted for the storage of the things of the past -- books, art, inventions, historical records, artifacts and Earth military uniforms from the Pegasian Wars, the first Attobots, and even sports equipment. F'gu remembered, vaguely, once going there 210 years ago and touching the jogball that Huj Akbar kicked to win the UniSeries for NuChicago in the 39th game. But he had never gone to the section where the paintings were kept.

He landed in the desert heat and walked into the museum, where he met Mgo. Mgo introduced F'gu to the Museum Curator, Jut Loboz. Loboz took them down to a small dark room on the 67th sublevel -- it was cool there and F'gu felt he could breathe again.

"I believe this is the painting you've been looking for, " said Loboz, turning on the light.

And there before them in an open vault, was the painting F'gu had seen in his dream. The angel, holding the flower, kneeling, looking forwards ... but it was only half of the painting. The entire right half of the painting, including the woman on the right, was missing.

"Are you sure that this the entire painting?" F'gu asked.

"Yes," said Loboz. "It was acquired from an art dealer in Colony 3N303 in the Orion Cluster around 2800. Good thing too -- the colony was destroyed by Pegasians soon thereafter. Beautiful, isn't it?"

F'gu knelt before the painting and studied it. Then it struck him. The angel. It wasn't the angel he had seen before. She wore the same clothes but the face was Amoria's. She kneeled down, and instead of the lily she held the stalk of the Eatall plant. In the background, amidst the trees; animals roamed about a series of geodesic domes.

F'gu reached out to touch the painting and hold it. Loboz stopped him. "You can't." F'gu pushed him aside and grabbed the painting from the vault. Loboz said, "I'm calling security." F'gu examined the painting's reverse. Someone had scrawled 3N303 across the back. As F'gu shook the painting, something inside of it rattled. Quickly, he tore a hole in the back of the canvas, reached in, and pulled out a golden bracelet. Affixed to it was the golden coin. The coin Amoria had given him to keep him safe and return him to her. He took the bracelet and wrapped it around his wrist.

Security still hadn't shown up; Loboz grew impatient and reached out and wrestled the painting from F'gu. But it slipped out of their grips and landed upside down on the floor.

That's when F'gu saw it. Upside down, "3N303" had turned into the word "EDENE."

He knew now that Amoria was right. She had warned them. The Pegasians were going to attack tonight. They were going to wipe out the entire population of Earth in a surprise attack in only a few hours, and he had let them do it. F'gu yelled to Mgo, "Let's go!" Security forces were chasing after them now, but F'gu got to his sonic shuttle first and blasted off and headed back to NuChicago. Down below, he could see Mgo being captured; but F'gu knew he'd be safe, they wouldn't be able to harm an android.

In the shuttle, F'gu wondered how he could save Earth now, from the Pegasians. He had already issued his advocation of the patch and now he had to warn Pan-World. As soon as he landed, he'd get to an Uplink Point and send out a bulletin. Or perhaps, he thought, he could connect to the homeostat, if it wasn't too late.. he could fight the Pegasians in Edene, defeat them there with the help of Amoria and her people's inventions, destroy them 200 years ago so they wouldn't threaten Earth ever again. With confusion he wondered why he hadn't connected the homeostat last night; he could have tried to fight them then.

He looked at the coin on his wrist. "EDENE FOREVER." Here was proof there was never a patch defect, or even a memory implant for that matter. They could have used the painting as a basis for their memory implant but never the word "EDENE." That was knowledge only he had because he had been there. But what of his love -- Amoria? She had lived... once.. and had been destroyed by the brutal Pegasians. He felt an immeasurable sadness sweep through his soul.

It was dark by the time F'gu landed near Attobot Square in NuChicago. All alone, a tall figure wearing a blue mediform was waiting for him at the landing pad. F'gu got out of the sonic shuttle and Yvonix walked hurredly towards him.

She glanced at his bracelet. "I see you've been busy, F'gu. Are you getting ready for the Y3K eve celebration?"

"Yes, but I've got to get to an Uplink Point right now -- it's urgent. Do you remember you told me about that patch defect? You misdiagnosed me -- it wasn't a patch defect after all."

"Of course I was mistaken, F'gu. You're right. But I'm not mistaken in the fact that you'll never make it past me alive." She produced a laser blaster in her hand. "This isn't a simple ID blaster, F'gu. You'll be pulverized in 5 nanoseconds flat with not a trace of any of your Attobots in 10 square kilometers to regenerate you."

F'gu froze. The blaster was aimed directly at his head.

"Looks like you finally figured it out," Yvonix said. "I knew you would. I should have killed you yesterday when I had the chance. But it doesn't matter now. Because you're going to die anyway, in 10 minutes when the atom clock over there in Attobot Square reads 12:00:01."

"But why -- I've been patched, haven't I? The Y3K Bug can't kill me."

Yvonix shook her head. "You don't understand, F'gu. There never was a Y3K Bug. Instead of the Patch, we administered a computer virus that will kill every single person on Earth at the stroke of midnight. A particularly nasty one, too. It'll tell each one of your cells to produce an enzyme that'll chew up the RNA in your Attobots and cause every cell in your body to go through rapid apoptosis -- cell death. I imagine it'll be extremely painful."

F'gu felt as though someone had kicked him in the stomach. Was it true? All this time the trillions of people of Earth thought they were getting an Attobot patch and instead were receiving a death sentence? Already he started to feel weak. But what could be her motive? It could only mean one thing--

"We've been planning this for some time, as you've suspected. For almost 200 years. After we destroyed colony 3N303 we moved here to Earth, but your defense shields were too strong. So we infiltrated. We became doctors and leaders. Half of your leaders there in NuChicago are Pegasian." She motioned to the First Tower. "Tonight, at midnight, all humanity will be decimated. Then the huge colonization ship will arrive." She pointed to the sky. "Now here's the thing you've been waiting for all this time, you asked me last night remember? Or maybe not? I'll remove my mediform now."

She pulled on a corner of it and the mediform unravelled, revealing her face and her body for the first time to F'gu's eyes. The face and body of a Pegasian. With seven eyes. Slimy white, crater-covered skin. And four long tentacles that swung back and forth.

F'gu looked down at the bracelet, summoning his strength, and charged with all this might into the Pegasian. Yvonix fired the blast gun and the laser caught F'gu on the left shoulder, burning it off. They both fell to the ground, stunned. The Attobots spun into action, repairing F'gu's damaged tissue. But it was too late. By the time F'gu had recovered, Yvonix stood over him with the blaster held in her tentacle, aimed at his head again.

"Goodbye, F'gu."

Suddenly, a blast. Yvonix's tentacle detached from her body, gun and all, flying. She screamed, an alien scream. Another blast caught her directly in her torso and she fell over, dead. Blue blood flowed from her motionless body. Now F'gu saw a bearded figure in the beam of a streetlight, standing there with a blaster gun. Volnik. His army had finally arrived in NuChicago.

"Damn ugly thing, was about to kill you -- was that a Pegasian? What's it doing on Earth? Are they invading?" He looked around wildly.

Now the huge clock in Attobot Square clicked midnight. Far off he could hear celebrations and noisemakers and music. A song sounded in the distance, "Aldlangsin" sung in seven different languages, all at once. The song faded...screams...then silence. From where he lay, he saw Volnik's army still standing while a passerby faltered and fell in the street. The virus was starting to take effect. Volnik and his army were immune to it, having disabled the Attobots; but they too, ultimately, were doomed.

Volnik came over and kneeled next to F'gu. F'gu's body was starting to self-destruct. A wave of pain flowed over him like a huge tidal wave and then subsided, and repeated itself. Then he saw a piece of dust fall on his arm. What was it? No, not dust -- to his amazement, it was a snowflake. A snowflake, here in NuChicago? It hadn't snowed here since he was a child, 225 years ago; he remembered playing in it, building a snowman. Now he turned his head to gaze up at the sky. The snow was falling stronger now, like someone had thrown a big white blanket over the city. His face and body were covered with inches of snow and it was still falling fast. He closed his eyes as the pain swept over him and then he looked up in the sky and saw the Pegasian Colonization Ship materialize in the sky above Attobot Square.

Volnik shouted to his forces. "Fire at the ship!" Volnik's army attacked the ship, firing with their weapons. But their weapons were too weak to penetrate the heavy armor of the ship. Suddenly in mid-air the ship seemed to teeter and pause, the snow covering it like a net it was now stuck in. The snow and wind bore down on it heavily now, weighing it down, causing it to tip and sway. And crash into the city. The ship exploded as it landed, sending flames and destruction everywhere. They hadn't counted on that, F'gu knew -- this freak blizzard.

F'gu was too sick now to attempt to understand or to think. He watched one more single snowflake fall onto his arm. The whole world with all its complications reduced itself to that single snowflake. He removed the bracelet with its coin from his wrist and gripped it tightly in his hand. It was strangely warm and seemed to vibrate in his hand. He focussed in on it with what remained of his strength as the last wave of pain swept through his body.

It was early winter in Edene, and Amoria stood in the field outside her Castle. She studied the gray sky. A flock of bazzar birds were headed South as it started to snow, their wide wings silhouetted against the grayness. A cold wind blew against her, and she wrapped her brown Eatall fiber coat tightly around her. A snowflake landed softly on the dark fabric of her sleeve and it reminded her that she must finish her analysis of snowflake crystalline structure this winter. She walked over to her garden and examined her Eatall plants; she was developing a new cold-resistant variety, and she noted with satisfaction that they seemed to be flourishing. Walking through the field, she herded the Gohs in out of the cold and into their shelters. She spoke softly to each Goh, talking to each of them by name as she guided them into the barn.

Suddenly the Gohs stopped and perked up their immense ears. They wouldn't budge.

"Come on, don't be stubborn.." she whispered to them.

Then she saw why. The Gohs had turned to look up the hill, their eyes filled with curiosity. She followed their gaze and saw far up, on the forested hill, through the falling snow, a solitary figure on the trail, approaching them. She stood still, straining her eyes to see. He walked quickly; soon he was at the base of the hill and moving towards her. His face was gaunt and he looked weak; but he smiled at her.

"I didn't think I'd see you again, F'gu; I've waited a while," she said. "What took you so long?"

F'gu stood an arm's length away from her. "It's a long way here, you know. But your love helped me to endure my travels."

He reached up to touch her face. He brushed the snow from her hair. The coined bracelet jingled as he pulled her close. F'gu held her tight and gazed into her eyes.

"We're safe now, aren't we?" she asked.

F'gu nodded. "They can't hurt us now."

He kissed her passionately. "Thank you," he said, holding up his wrist with the bracelet on it. "Now I understand what you meant by it keeping me safe. You hid it in the ART. The Anti-particle Relativistic Transfer device."

Amoria smiled at him and took his hand.

"You must be tired and hungry," she said, "And I've got a big pot of Kofrik brewing inside. Come on, let's get in out of the snow."

Together they walked into the Castle.
© Copyright 2007 Bryan Wills (bryanon at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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