The Deathmatch is the most brutal game in history. Rapid cloning, advanced weaponry, and a host of extraterrestrial species have paved the way for gladiatorial combat the likes of which the world has never seen. And that’s the way the DaemonS (Demoness) and Apocalypz Cowgirlz like it! But when the Deathmatch takes a dark turn and the fate of the world is at stake, The Apocalypz Cowgirlz might just be the only ones who can set things right.
Chez Guevara, the grounders’ Ritz. That fine establishment of real beer and questionable meat. Once again DaemonS found herself the object of lonely stares as she let the door slam closed behind her, stepping over to rest her back against the dimly-lit bar. This was her second time in a week, she was becoming a regular. Not an inspiring thought.
“Homca,” she said to the barkeep before sweeping the room with a casual gaze.
A few moments later, a brown drink in a browner glass was dropped before her as she spotted the dark trenchcoat and dirty blonde rat-tail of Figment. He sat, back to the door, hunched over a steaming bowl.
DaemonS swiped her card across a slot in the bartop with a casual, practiced motion before picking up her drink and striding to the booth.
“Not smart; back to the door,” she said, sliding in to the seat across from him and setting her glass on the table.
Figment looked up, clearly unsurprised by her sudden appearance. “You see that?” he asked, nodding toward the wall. She turned, following his gaze to the mirror, set halfway up.
“My usual seat was taken,” he said, glancing to the corner booth, “so I had to make do. You’re ten minutes late,” he continued, before returning to his stew.
“You’re lucky I came at all,” she answered. She was still uncertain how much he could be trusted.
“It’s your teammate.”
“It’s your job.”
He looked at her a moment and then chuckled. “Fair enough, we both have something to lose. Before we start, can I get you anything? The stew is quite good. Maybe a beer?”
“I’m fine,” she said, motioning to her homca. “It’s surprisingly filling.”
“I’ll bet,” he answered. The look on his face suggested he wasn’t interested in learning the truth of her statement.
“Perhaps we can get down to business? I don’t think you called me here to discuss the cuisine,” DaemonS said.
“Indeed not.” He paused several seconds before continuing, “Am I to understand from our recent communication that you have had a... ‘setback’... in dealing with your ‘disruption’?”
The pain had almost worn her out and she was already numb to the recent memories. It was that and the fact that she had known this topic would be on the agenda that had steeled her to the question.
“In a manner of speaking,” she answered, when she was sure of her voice. “We had an accident with a clone tank during the Lockdown match. We’ve lost Bodybag.”
“You have my condolences.”
She glanced up quickly but something in his eyes assured her that he was sincere this time.
“There was nothing you could do?” he asked. “It might be possible to initiate a new clone, transfer her P-....”
“We tried that already. Rerouting the zone monitor, P-matrix shunt, everything... it didn’t work. She’s permadead.”
“I’m impressed. And sorry,” Figment said, before falling silent.
DaemonS swirled her homca a few times and gulped down the pale sludge.
“I’m guessing that your attempt failed because your teammate’s....”
“Bodybag’s P-matrix was too corrupted. From your story, I’m guessing the corruption occurred upon receipt of the zone transfer. Such failures usually result in a continually degraded matrix. If you left it for several days....”
“We had no choice.” She shoved the image of the squirming, metallic squid that was once her friend, from her head.
“... then it was almost certainly degraded beyond a state that could be recompiled by the system.”
“Yeah, whatever, it’s not important now,” DaemonS said, staring at her cold homca. “She’s gone and we have to live with it.”
“Well, actually... I may be able to help you recover your teammate... if you are willing to do something for me.”
DaemonS’s head snapped up, staring hard at Figment. “This better not be a joke!”
“I assure you, I almost never joke.”
She stared at him hard before challenging him. “Alright, what can you do for us?”
“It’s not common knowledge, but Halandri keeps a backup of every Matcher’s P-matrix as it uploads to and downloads from the zone. It’s part of their contract with Genilon. Clearly, privacy concerns mean this is not information the company shares easily.”
“So? The matrix was corrupted, remember?”
“Corrupted at the clone tank, from what you’ve told me. The transfer from the zone and hence, the archived version, is most likely in perfect condition.”
She just stared at him for several moments. If what he said was true...
“Let’s say I believe you. I don’t think we can just walk into Halandri headquarters and politely request a P-matrix upload.”
Figment gave her a wide smile. “My employer has... vast resources at his disposal and has certain good reasons for wishing to help you.”
“Such as procuring your aid in infiltrating Genilon.”
Of course. Figment was a very single-minded individual.
“I can’t speak for the others, but if you can do what you say, you have me.”
“That’s a start, but we’ll need your entire team,” he said. “The P-matrices are stored indefinitely. However, given the nature of our problem, we are on a rather tight schedule. I’ll give you until tomorrow, noon, to dialog with your team.”
DaemonS stood, offering her hand. Figment took it, shaking it firmly.
“You’ll be hearing from me soon,” she said, turning to leave.
“I’ll be waiting,” he answered, returning to his seat to finish his meal
I’ve had my head in space ever since I saw the original Star Wars in the cinema as an impressionable eight-year-old. For a while, I thought I might like to build giant robots, or travel into outer space, or unravel the secrets of life. But I’ve found that writing science fiction allows me to do all three.
When not writing, I can be found online battling opponents in the harsh realities of vast, digital wastelands.