A dull metallic sound nudged Ellowyn from her cold slumber. She opened her eyes and was immediately greeted with...nothing. All around her stood a dark, empty space that expanded into infinity. Am I dead? She looked around and pondered. Then a familiar blue notice appeared.
She ignored the streams of startup code and glanced downward, stretches of lush green grasses began materializing underneath her feet and expanding towards the horizon. She gazed at her own reflection in the familiar lake, letting the playful wind nudge at her hair.I’m back in my soul room, it seems. In her mind settled a sense of calmness as she assessed the situation.
“Welcome back to the land of the living, Ellowyn.”
She turned around and almost jumped back upon seeing someone standing right behind her.
“Ah sorry, I didn’t want to startle you.”
"That's me." He gave an awkward smile. “Before I can answer any more questions, I need to check your condition. Take a deep breath, and tell me if you feel anything out of place.”
She inhaled deeply and closed her eyes. She probed the inside of her mind, sending and bouncing various thoughts around. All she could feel was a slight sense of sleepiness from having woken from a long slumber, and a strange sense of tranquility.
“No, there’s nothing wrong that I know of.” She opened her eyes to see Carl working on a few holo screens, on which were the outlines of her body and various statuses.
“That's good, it seemed there were no complications from the reanimation of your soul and body.”
She grimaced. “How long was I dead?”
“Around 2 hours, the system managed to salvage the last of its energy to keep your brain alive and stop decomposition. Though in general, your body is a wreck.”
“Nothing that a little time can’t heal.”
“Well…” He averted his eyes, “Time is what we don’t have for the moment.”
“I don’t understand. In the first place, why am I still alive?”
"It took me a while, but I managed to convince my superiors to revive you. Well, revive is a bit of a stretch. I only used my limited admin privilege to restore your system’s energy. Officially, the reason is that we’re compensating you for helping to detect and stop the use of a system jamming device.”
“You’re going to be working as our temporary agent. It’s a completely voluntary job of course, and you’re not in anyway forced to do it. The system’s governing council is asking you to investigate John Lyon’s activities.”
Her eyes went wild. “Why?”
“They know of your...unique situation and concluded that you’d be the best person for the task. We found evidence that suggests he is violating our terms of service, though we can’t be sure.”
“I really do have a good incentive for the job.” She nodded. “But why me? I have no experience in espionage whatsoever.”
“None of our agents have a close connection to John Lyon like you do. And they’re already burdened with other tasks. I’ll inform you more after you’re out of your current situation, if you’d still be alive that is.”
“I tapped into your body’s visual and audio sensors, it seemed your body is inside a medical facility to be operated on.” He folded his arms. “And these people aren’t friendlies, based on what I heard.”
“But I thought whatever I did had stopped the invasion.”
“They probably snatched your body before they retreated, who knows.” He shrugged. “I apologize that it took me so long. You’re now probably deep in a hostile establishment.”
“I’d gladly accept your apology if you help me get out of here.”
“Sorry, as of this moment, I am not allowed to provide you with anything else. As a low-level system admin, my authority is limited.” He smiled sadly.
“If I die, I’ll be haunting you for an eternity.” She gave an exaggerated sigh.
“Do whatever you want. Though if you can, gather more information on how these people get their hands on the jamming device and send it to me. I might be able to promote you from your temporary rank.”
“And you guys can’t do this yourselves because?” She raised an eyebrow.
“We’re not omnipotent, Ellowyn. The outside world is only seen through the eyes and ears of our contracted agents, you included. For now though, just focus on staying alive and perhaps this won’t be our last talk.” His body started to fade away from the soul room.
"You know, Carl."
"In case this really is our last talk, I just want you to know that you look adorable." A mischievous smirk lined her lips.
Carl gave a long sigh as the image of his child-like body faded into nothing.
Perhaps it was the fresh memories of the previous battle that gave her a strange calmness, Ellowyn wasn't perturbed at all. She who should have died was able to live again, but her current situation was rather dire. How many more times in this life will I have to 'die', I wonder.
She opened various windows to check on her body's status. No infection or necrosis formed, but her energy reserves were low and in her abdomen lodged a metallic bullet. Before Carl's intervention, the system managed a very weak blood flow throughout her body, but there wasn't nearly enough oxygen that her body desperately needed. Pain assaulted her the moment she reconnected her consciousness to the body. This is going to be tough.
Suppressing pain receptors
Garbled voices entered her ears, becoming clearer by the second.
"... do we need to cauterize it? It's a dead body, not a person. There’s no need to waste time on the safety procedures."
A shiver ran up her spine.
"Let's start already!" The women continued impatiently.
"Please tone down your excitement, this is our first hero specimen ever. If you mess up just once, we won't be able to keep our heads. And also Randall isn't here yet."
"Did someone mention my name?" A gruff voice entered the room.
Ellowyn scanned further and found various medical sensors connected to her body. She immediately probed them and accessed the medical mainframe monitoring her presumed dead body. She froze the sensor's output to hide her body's increased metabolism rate and then advanced further up the connection into the main servers.
"Is that frail little thing really the so called hero?" The booming voice sounded in mockery.
"She is without a doubt, according to the bots recorded footage. She was the one slipping through our entire front lines and disabled the system jammer. It is still unclear how the little bugger did it though."
After a little probing, Ellowyn concluded that the security servers are too protected for her to brute force through with so little time. With limited employee access, she scanned through all the unclassified work emails of everyone. There has to be something I can use. It didn't take long to retrieve a minor maintenance update passkey. Then she gained access to some minor utility functions. Just look a little deeper and this baby is mine.
In less than 3 minutes gained access to the surveillance system of the facility. Looking through the cameras of the operating room, she could see the situation from every angle.
"Are you sure it is dead?" A burly man stood towered over Ellowyn. The white lab coat covering his bulky muscles along with the surgical mask that covered most of his face made the scene rather surreal.
“Even heroes die you know. I’ve made sure to check three times, not even the faintest heartbeat. And with those injuries, I doubt she can do much even if she wakes up.”
“Haha, for the most dangerous entity in this entire facility, you sure are being unguarded.”
“Are you saying she’s stronger than our hero? I’m sure Chase would love to correct that statement.”
“I never said she was stronger.” He smirked.
“If you guys don’t start now, I’ll do it myself.” The other impatient girl interrupted.
“Before we begin, let’s make sure we all know what we’re doing. Our main goal is to find out why the subject is immune to system jamming, but it is also important to figure out how the system makes its connection to the main body. We’ll start by…”
Ellowyn was never idle, in the past minute she had been working on ways to create distractions and to ensure no attention would be focused on her.
The room’s intercom beeped.
“Is the operating procedure in progress?”
“No, sir. We are still starting the preparations.”
“Then pause what you’re doing. There is a problem in the adjacent room M-23, the malfunctioning maintenance robots are not responding to commands and their erratic behaviors might jeopardize your operation. They do not pose a threat, however. You can wait until the technician crew arrives or disable them yourselves.”
“We’ll do it ourselves.” The man gestured to the others. “You two stay here to guard the girl, keep your comms open just in case.” He left with the impatient woman.
With two out of four hostiles gone, Ellowyn proceeded to the next part of her plan. Each side of the room stood imposing metallic turrets, designed to fire electrically charged slugs that release 2 million volts on impact. She watched as the turrets quietly turned.
“Hey, I thought those turrets are supposed to be off.” The guard standing near the door asked.
“That's odd, usually they only respond to emergency protocols or breakout alar-” Two million volts interrupted the woman as she convulsed on the ground and flailing about. The same fate awaited the guard.
Screams filled the room, echoing through the comm microphones on their shirts, but Ellowyn already intercepted all signals coming from the room, including the camera feed. The two went limp after a few seconds.
She gave the medical terminal the command to release her restraints, and it worked. The moment she tried to sit up, however, the muscles on her arms and back decided to twitch and spasms just like the two unconscious hostiles. It seemed the lack of oxygen had brought all her muscle cells into disarray, making them unable to respond properly to nervous signals.
It took a good minute for the system to finally stabilize her muscle tissues. By then the other two were already halfway through disabling the malfunctioned robots. She decided to make the distraction robots act even more erratically and harder to catch to buy more time.
It took great effort, but Ellowyn managed to stand up feebly, her body still shaking and she had to use the IV stand as a clutch. Her hijacked connection to the facility’s server was still strong thanks to the wireless medical sensors attached to her body. Let’s see if I can get out of here.