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The Shooting Gallery - part two

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Cockroach Boy

Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 7143
Location: Dancing with the Mara

PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 12:12 pm    Post subject: The Shooting Gallery - part two Reply with quote

Here's the Conclusion!!
The Shooting Gallery

Part Two
The surface of the planet Teal was dominated by towers. Each one had its own specialized function - residential, administrative, strategic, recreational, manufacturing or medical. Generally speaking, the closer to the top you were, the more important you were likely to be. The cities of Vandor on the other hand, were composed entirely of interconnected domes. It was held by some that this basic architectural difference pointed to the key psychological factors that lay at the root of the two empires intermittent conflicts.

Professor Benson had never been interested in group psychology. He considered it a hazy and undisciplined field compared to the solid, unrelenting principles of cyber psychology. Watching the man from Teal prepare himself for the duel, Benson was not concerned with what socio-cultural forces motivated him.

All he cared about was that someone who bore an uncomfortable resemblance to the man who had murdered his most precise and exquisite creation was now preparing to do the same to its replacement.

He ran the fingers of his right hand along the pattern of bruises on his left arm. The broken bone had set at a strange angle. If he got out of this alive, he would need to have it broken and re-set. The effects of the other… damage that Deaal had inflicted on him might last longer. He had coughed up blood again this morning.

Deaal stood at the centre of the cluttered laboratory. He kept on striking poses, pointing his gun at the hollow mannequin-like android shells that stood sentry all around the room. He mimed pulling the trigger and smiled.

It was the smile that did it. Deaal modelled himself on Deeta Tarrant, but when he smiled all Benson could see was Del. It made him want to pick up a heavy instrument and crack the his skull open. He might have tried it, at least when Deaal had first arrived. Benson was big, burly man. A lifetime of mostly research based work had not robbed him of physical strength.

After the first beating, it had been a different matter. He didn’t want to be hit like that again.

‘Is the shooting gallery ready?’ asked Deaal.

Why the hell are you asking me, thought Benson. You know the answer already.

‘Yes’ he answered dully.

‘Good. And Vinni?’

‘He’s ready too’

It had been hard work remaking Vinni, especially when his body hurt so much. The original had taken two years to build and that was with covert Federation help. The replacement had been completed in three months. Many neural safeguards that had been built into the first Vinni had been bypassed in the second version. Benson doubted that the prognosis for its long term sanity was very optimistic.

Not that that was a problem. Deaal claimed that he wanted the android to satisfy an urge to experience the same death as Deeta Tarrant‘s. Benson did not believe him. The man must be a glory hunter come to Vandor to prove his ability against the enemy. Perhaps he wanted to be the next champion of Teal.

Benson looked at the mechanised body parts that half filled the laboratory. Most of them had been toys, if he was honest. Advanced, intricate, sometimes deadly, but toys all the same. Vinni had been different. He had been an object of beauty and his death had been a crime. It was unbearable to think that it was going to happen again.

Deaal moved towards the door that lead to the shooting gallery. It was silver, a black circle stencilled onto the middle. He had insisted on that detail, standing over Benson threateningly until he was happy that it was perfectly placed.

The door slid open.

Deaal turned to look at Benson and smiled that infuriating smile again.

‘Goodbye Benson. Thank you for your help’

He forced himself to mutter an incoherent reply.

‘The death watch is never easy Benson. You did well’

He turned and walked through the doorway. It slid shut behind him.

A few seconds, thought Benson. A minute perhaps. Then he would hear a shot, the thud as his creation hit the floor. At least there might be something left behind this time, even if was only wreckage.

Download memory.
Memory downloaded.
Orientation begins.
I am…
Sight. Light. Shadows.
Feeling. Skin feeling the air currents.
Mouth. Wet. Fluids.
I am…
Posture. Movement. Arm raised. Arm lowered.
Comfort. Discomfort.
I am…
Object. Cold. Hard.
Identified - metal. Gun.
I am…
I am…

The shooting gallery was long and narrow. The walls were an antiseptic white, broken up by a series of green hatches that covered viewing ports. A low metal rail ran down the centre of the room. This gallery had originally been designed as a place where crude machines could shoot at other crude machines.

This was a different type of contest

Deaal stood at one end of the room, the gun held out before him.

At last, he thought. A last he would know. He would experience death as Deeta had known it.

Benson had not understood, of course. He had asked why, if Deaal wanted to die in a duel, he did not simply challenge someone and then not draw his gun at the critical moment? An absurd suggestion. If the chance of victory did not exist, then how could the defeat have any meaning?

The door facing him slid open and Vinni stepped through.

The Professor had done a good job. This model was of a slighter build than its predecessor and had longer hair, but other than it was identical. He was wearing a red and silver combat suit, the shoulder pads reduced a little for greater upper body mobility.

Deaal had been disappointed when Benson told him that Vinni had been killed by Deeta’s brother not long after the contest. But by then he had learnt that Vinni had been a machine all along and he had soon realised that what had been destroyed could always be rebuilt by the designer. With the right persuasion.

All he had to do now was speak the key phrase and it would begin.

‘Alright. Lets see if you’re as fast with your gun as you are with your mouth’

The android blinked and responded as programmed.

‘After you, Tarrant’

Deaal reached for his gun.

Orientation complete.

Vinni knew exactly who he was. He was a gunfighter and a good one. There were other matters, other aspects of his personae but they were less important for the time being.

A tall, thin man with black hair was facing him across a long ,narrow room and aiming a gun at him. It was necessary for Vinni to fire his weapon first and kill the opponent. Simple enough. He wasn’t sure why he had to do this. but presumably he would find out later.

He raised his gun, enjoying the noise the air made as the metal cut through it. He aimed for a point on the other man’s chest, just over his heart.

He would win this contest. Probably.

The door behind his opponent slid open and a man staggered through. He was a large man, moving awkwardly as though he were injured. In his hand he held a small metal object. As the door closed again, Vinni’s opponent swung round to face the intruder and the big man lunged forward with the object. There was a whirring, whining sound. Some part of Vinni’s mind told him that it was the noise made by a bio-mesh drill, a device used for precision work in the building of androids.

The two men grappled. The thin man was trying without success to bring his gun to bear. Vinni considered whether he should intervene but there seemed little point. Presumably he would have to fight whoever won anyway so he may as well wait.

The noise of the drill changed and a fountain of blood erupted out of the thin man‘s chest. He staggered back, gurgling. He still held the gun.

The large man suddenly looked at Vinni. He was crying, tears pouring down his red streaked face.

‘Go’ he shouted ‘Go now!’

There was the noise of a gunshot and the big man was slammed back against the door. It slid open and he toppled lifeless into the room beyond.

The thin man had sunk to his knees. He had dropped the gun and his hands were catching feebly at the stubby handle that protruded from his chest. Now he too looked at Vinni. His tone when he managed to speak was pleading.


Vinni understood then why he was here. Or at least he thought he did.

He fired the gun into the bloody mess of the man’s chest. The recoil of the weapon felt familiar and comfortable. The man collapsed with a sigh.

It may have been his imagination, but Vinni when looked at the body afterwards, he thought he saw a smile on the corpse’s face.

A few hours later, Vinni left the laboratory. He was carrying a bag over one shoulder, containing a few spare sets of clothes. They were the wrong size but they would do until he could find some more. There was food in the laboratory, but he had not taken any. He wasn’t hungry. He had the impression the he was never hungry, which was odd but doubtless he would find the reason.

The roadways between the domes were heavily congested with traffic and pedestrians. There were a lot of people on this world. A few passers-by stopped to stare at his silver suit as he walked past, but other than that no-one paid him any attention.

He was alone but he was sure that would soon change. He did not where he had come from or why he was here. But he knew enough. He had skills and he would find someone who could make the proper use of them.
Everything in life is only for now.
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I enjoyed both stories, CB, well done.
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Cockroach Boy

Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 7143
Location: Dancing with the Mara

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Inge.
Everything in life is only for now.
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