“Looks like they are waking,” said Marsh.
“About time,” Drick snarled impatiently. “We are on a tight schedule here.”
“Give them a break, Drick, I did hit them with about fifty shots.” Marsh tried to sound calm, “they are bound to be a bit sluggish coming round is what I meant.”
“The neutraliser would have taken the toxin all out of their system. So this is them. They are faking it. Wake up.” Drick kicked the form on the floor. The figure leapt out of the way before the kick landed spinning in the air to stop in an upright position on their feet. They had a smile on their face and their eyes were wide open and staring at Drick.
Marsh stepped back in shock. Drick hadn’t moved. “So you know that you’re in a construct,” Drick’s voice dripped venom. “Hardly surprising really.”
“Naturally I know,” the figure was dressed in a very similar, featureless, grey tunic to the one their organic form wore in the breathing world. “Aside from the fact that it is the most obvious tactical approach, allowing you full control of all conditions including some manipulation of the passage of time, it is the only manner in which we could communicate without me performing some deception that you could not have planned against. So, moving me into a virtual world was the most likely situation where you could have a modicum of control over events. I, also, have implants that remote detect such matters. Even inside a construct as sophisticated as this they are overlaying information for my perusal that is beyond your ability to control. But I suspect you knew a good deal of that already.”
Drick stared into the cool grey of the avatar’s eyes. “Good, nice to see that you are so loquacious.” Drick snarled, “I hope we can dispense with any niceties, similarly we can avoid unpleasantness, and just talk.”
“You may talk as much as you wish,” the figure smiled and moved over to a chair that had just appeared in the centre of the grey space they stood in. “But, as you can see I will remain in control as well. My implants allow for me to create micro-conditions inside any virtual environment. So I do hope you weren’t going to attempt anything tedious. You would be unable to give me any unpleasantness, as you desire to call it, in this place.”
“You’re pretty confident. Are you sure you can affect the conditions that much? There is also your organic body outside of this construct.”
“No. I am well prepared. To the casual observer the one state might be confused for the other. Honestly I expected more from you than this. We have underestimated you significantly over the last few cycles. But it appears that in a one to one situation, you have your fallibilities. I have not forgotten anything.”
“Really?” Drick mocked a laugh. “Why don’t you fill me in on my apparent failings.”
“Well you had not anticipated everything about me. Right now I imagine whatever ground forces had started to attack will have encountered our armoured response unit. We have a full military-grade combat mech, I know it deployed as that information came through before your little interruption rendered me silent to internal comms. The armoured unit is almost invulnerable, and can easily hold off a small army. I hope you brought one of your own. Though i suspect you didn’t. I will have to learn how you managed to penetrate the buildings defences though. I was surprised you got to this floor so expediently. I was also surprised you had gotten an attack force past our perimeter tracking systems.” A smile appeared and was quickly dismissed.
“You want me to tell you how we got to you. Easy. You’re over-confident. You rely too much on systems and don’t think like people.”
“I have to admit, it was a surprise you got this far. I hardly think that it was as simple as relying on machines and confidence that was the hole in our systems. But, I have already noted, your penchant for pulling an astonishing response is extraordinary. Though I feel it is all one off flairs without serious planning of the full consequences of your actions. How long do you imagine you have before I am released?”
“You’re very confident that we will release you.”
“Of course I am. It serves no purpose for you not to. I have a significant amount of influence. Naturally I have a clone of my current mental state taken just two days ago. There is enough information recorded and stored by my implants to make up any other important data that is not in that ghost. I also have a new organic shell. I chose it some months ago for slow growth. I change flesh form with the season. I do like to keep abreast of the latest trends. So I have no real fear of losing this current state of corporeality. I understand it is not the same for either of you. It is you who are taking the real risks.”