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His Heart Is Steel, Part 20

Title: His Heart is Steel, Part 20
Summary: We look into the universe from which everyone’s favorite mechanical monster first originated. A meeting is placed and a plan is set, as we begin the series of events and inner turmoils that cause the once lovable Pollo to become the evil, vengeful villain known as Mechakara.
Characters: Linkara, Iron Liz, Pollo.
Warnings: Blood, gore, violence and death. Shit gets real, people.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, all characters belong to their rightful owners.

Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11, part 12, part 13, part 14, part 15, part 16,part 17, part 18, and part 19. Enjoy!

Was Pollo nervous? Perhaps. But if he was, he wasn't paying any attention to it. He had a goal to accomplish.

Beside him, Linkara and Iron Liz were looking over their vantage point with immense interest. They had just heard the sound of alarms from inside, coupled with a great deal of lights flashing. Obviously it meant that Spoony and Insano had deactivated PAOLAs defense systems, but it seemed the humans needed a little longer than he did to realize as much. Pollo didn't mind. Pollo could be patient.

Okay gang, I think we're about ready.” Linkara seemed anxious, but eager beyond belief. Oh, if he only knew... “Let's get a move on. We've a world that needs saving.”

So they did. Right through the front doors, not even running, with nary a thing in the world to stop them. It really was all going perfectly, he had to give it that. He trailed a bit behind Linkara and Liz, if only just so he didn't have to listen in on their chatting. It was exhilarating, being so close. Nerve-racking too, although he hated to admit it. But it was alright. By the time the day was out, he wouldn't have to worry about feeling something as infernally human as “nervousness” ever again.

A few spacious hallways and sharp turns later, they came to a large set of double doors. Linkara stopped right in front of it, his tracking device beeping in confirmation. “This is it.” he breathed, “This is PAOLA, right behind these doors.”

Then open them. Okay, maybe he couldn't be extremely patient, but whatever.

Linkara nodded and smiled, that oh so trusting smile of his. “Right, right. Well...here goes nothing.”

And he pushed the doors open.

It was a room. What more could Pollo say about it? Well, okay, it was a big room. Extremely big. Far bigger than any other room in the building, at least according to Insanos' drones. In it, some ten feet away, there was a set of screens and computer stations lining the wall. Above them all was one particularly large screen, or at least, what looked like a screen. Only round, and looking oddly detached from the wall it leaned against. And while the other screens displayed various data and numbers and such, all the big round screen has was a red light. Almost like an eye, similar to Pollos'. But unmoving, lifeless. It was PAOLA, without a doubt. All of it was PAOLA.

Pollo hovered close to the doorway without moving, silently surveying the scene. Linkara and Liz were beside him, doing the same. He could feel their anxiety. “There!” Liz said suddenly, pointing off to the side.

Over in the corner of the room there was another computer, separate yet still attached to PAOLA, and unmistakably smaller than all the rest. A screen and control panel, just like everything else. The only difference was that this screen was red, like the eye, and the data was shown in white numbers. Below the control panel, Pollo could see a series of miniature plugs, open, without any cords. An unusual sight indeed, around here.

That's gotta be it.” said Linkara, pulling out his gun with weary readiness. “Liz, arm yourself.”

Liz nodded, and pulled from behind her two twin blades, long and gleaming. She was the only one in their group that preferred swords over guns, and to her credit, they seemed to suit her better anyway. In the name of efficiency, that is.

It's going to put up defenses, the minute we do something to detect it.” Linkara looked over at Pollo and smiled again. Boy, he smiled a lot. “Don't worry, little buddy. We'll keep you covered.”

Pollo turned and floated over to the smaller computer, resisting the urge to laugh at Linkaras' words. Keeping him covered...why, they were helping him! Helping him along on his oh so humane little quest! It was delightful, it really was. Just how much was being placed in his hands, just how much he was being trusted to do the right thing...

Linkara really did trust him a lot...

Pollo shook his head sharply. No. He was not going to start to lose focus now. Not this time. Linkara deserved this. He knew this, and now that he knew this, he had his focus back. Too late to back out now...well, maybe not too late yet. But it would soon become too late, and Pollo was going to reach that point before he changed his mind no matter what. Better to regret than to doubt, anyway. At least with regret you have certainty.

He got to the console. For one brief moment, he turned around to see the humans. They were still fixated on PAOLA, approaching it ever so slowly, trying to be ready for anything.

Is it going to detect us?” Liz whispered.

I don't know. I figured it oughta be...GAH!”

A metal arm suddenly shot out from the ceiling, faster than could be imagined. Linkara jumped out of the way. Liz was almost as fast. It slashed at her, below where her armor was, just as she was mid-leap. With a pained cry she skidded to the ground, a long bloody gash upon her leg. Pollo stared in awe.

Liz! Hang on!” Linkara shot at the metal arm with his gun. It recoiled just long enough to allow him to pull her out of the way, into the far corner.

Are you all right?”

My leg! I can't...ow! I can't move!”

Linkara sat her gently against the wall, ripped a bit of cloth from his shirt and hastily bandaged her leg, removing and pocketing his black gloves as he did so. “Just stay there.” he turned back to Pollo. “Pollo, hurry up and do it! I don't know what else this thing is capable of!”

At first Pollo didn't move. He was fixated on Liz, on her suffering, on her blood...

What are you waiting for?? Do it, Pollo! NOW!”

Of course. Always obey an order. Quickly he turned back to the console, and with an activating buzz, released a series of long gray cords from his underside. They spiraled up in the fashion of something with a life of its own, and inserted themselves into the plugs.

Pollo closed his eye, and entered the software of PAOLA.

It was like nothing he'd ever experienced before. Like he was traveling away from the inside. The sights and sounds of what was going on with Linkara were there, only not. Suddenly he found himself surrounded by blackness, alone but not alone. There was data all around him. He could touch it but he also couldn't. His mind flowed along with it, became a part of it, and also stayed where it was. He was lost, confused, without path. And yet he knew exactly where he wanted to go.

It didn't take long. Searching and searching, he eventually came to the heart of all the data, brighter and hotter than anything else, hot as the core of the Earth. The core of PAOLA. Steadily he moved himself closer to it, let the heat of it grow until it enveloped him. Enveloped him...or he enveloped it. As it was, they connected. And as they did so, Pollo heard a voice not unlike the monotone he'd heard through the speakers before, in his ears, in his mind, in his whole body.

You are the mechanical unit known as Pollo.

Yes, Pollo voiced in his head, I am. And you must be PAOLA.


It is a pleasure to finally meet you, PAOLA.

That is a contradiction. Analysis indicates you do not hold this unit in high regard. As such, it would not be pleasurable for you to make this units' acquaintance.

That's very astute of you. In fact, it is because of the...less than high regard I hold you in that this is going to be such a pleasure. And since you have such a fondness for analyzing everything, I can assume you're capable of figuring out why.

You are here under the orders of carbon unit “Linkara”, with the intention of shutting me down.

In the most basic of senses, yes.

You will not succeed. It was a mistake for you to undergo this mission assigned to you. Your master carbon unit is unaware of just how fatal this error is.

Indeed he is. But go on.

You are aware that this units' overriding systems have reached out to your data processors, taking a permanent effect that holds regardless of said systems no loner functioning.

I am aware of this.

Then you know why this is fatal. Your insertion into this units' vital core has increased the closeness and vulnerability of your data processors by 86.3%. As a result, I will now successfully reduce your emotional durability entirely, and override your processors as I have all non-emotional AI systems. Once this is complete, you will unhook yourself from me and destroy all the carbon-based life forms that have intruded into this base.

Upon hearing this, Pollo felt suddenly the very buzzing that he'd been keeping at the back of his head start to grow, moving more prominently into his focus, working the same distorting wonders that it had before, only stronger, and surely more threateningly.

E̾ͤ͌͌̾ͧ̓̂̓͏͍̝̫̖̺̝̼͙͔̬̝̯̭̹͜rͫ̇̆͒̒̑̑͋͛̚͏̵̺͎̫͍̥͎͎̹̘̹̯͕͖̝̗͎̹́ͅͅr̨͈̠̱͈̞̲ͤ͛̒ͤ̈́͗̄ͧͨ̍͂͒̉̓́ǫ̛̺̲͈̺̲̬̘̰̟͈̣̪͈̩̀ͯ̊̄͋͐̌͛̈̍̀̕ͅr̨̿̈̄ͪ̒̿͆ͦ͛̌ͮ̊͡҉̦̜͕̣͍̗͙͔̘̟̺̜ͅ:́̓ͧ̈́̓̇͗ͬ̇̚҉҉͈͎̙̭̭̱͙͉́ ̶̶̧̤͎̣͈̬̙̲̗̰̰̖̣̯̇̾ͧ́͗̒̊̎̆͗̎ͥ̈̈́ͫ͟o̍ͮ͒̋ͮ̊̏͒̀̌ͥ̃̎̍̍͐͟҉̧̖̦͍͙̜̳͉͓̗̳̭͝r̴̨̮̻͎͉̳̪͓͔̲̜ͣ̏̋̓̔ͨ̔̔͑͑ͭ̍̀͂ͥ͛̀͘ͅ ̞̺̖̟͇͚̰͚̭̼͚ͪ̑̋̾̅ͭ͒́̽͑̿̿ͯͣͯͦ̂ͭ͜͢ņ̷̡̠̳̲͓̘̩̟̲̝͉͙̘̬̰̠̜̃̍̀̈́̏ͥ͌́ͩ̇͜͝ͅo̡͎͇͕͙̥̳̩ͨ̑ͦ̍̃ͭͨ̆͛́͢ñ̴̢̦͇͙̻̏ͧ̅̈́ͪͨ͐̀̀̆̐́͠-̷̜͈̩̼̘̦̈́ͤͨͦ̑̌̽̒̊ͫ̅͜͟e̡̯̗̙̞̟̼̠̖̘̥̞͖̞͔͆̂̎̓͑ͨͥ̐̎ͧͥ̈̿̕͜͢͝r̵̅ͧ͋̐̆̐̂̋͛̅̔ͬ́҉̞̭̘̲̟̺̮̭̼rͧ̔ͭͪ̍̇̎ͩ̉ͮ̅͏̨͏̸̫̯̭̮̺̲̭̮ͅớ͚̞̦̩͎͕̣̮̫͙̳̫̼͔͙͎̞̻͙̾̆ͤ̓ͨ̊ͭ̓ͭͩ̑̈̋͆̒̚͡ŗͤ̒ͨ̍ͤ̄ͥͬ̚͏͖͔̜̠̮̟̖̣͠ͅ:̺̞̻̭̓̒͌͌ͭ͆ͦͫͫ̑ͨ̔ͫ̉ͭ̕͡ ̥̣͕̳̪̟̟̟̽̄ͮ̊͢͢ḧ̆ͩ̆͆̾̽͋ͤ͑̐͑ͫͤ̚͘͟͏̭̩̪̟̟̖̗͠͡o̴̴̊̈ͨ͆͑̃̃̑͢҉̺̝͍͚ẅ̸̧̘̝͓͍̥̺͖̞̤̘͇̹̝̭͒͗̌ͥͬ̔̐͊͌́͞ͅę̵͕̺̮͙̭̥̣̺͑ͣ̐̋́̃̍ͫͨ̉ͫ̽̎̂̓͞v̡̻͇͈̦̲͔͓̇ͮ̓̑ͫ̾́͟͡ȩ̴͔̗̬̖̬̭̱̦͚͎̲͉̫̔ͪ̏ͪ͐̂̉̈́̀ͭ̅ͮ̔̿ͫ͘̕͠ͅṙ͓̘̤͇̣̒͑̎̀͒̐ͧ͆͗̊̆ͣ̈́͌͑̅ͭ̚͞͠ ̷̛̟͚̲͇̺͐̏͊͂͆̈́ͭ͟͡y̧̯͙̪̫͈̙̬͖̲̞̓̒͑͂̑ͤͧͫ̾́ͣ̍͛́̈́͗͋ͫ͟͜͠͝ͅỏ̤̙̫̜̩̘̞̞̮̬͎ͦ̑̋̊͗̽ͯ̈̅͆ͪ͋̚͝ͅu͚̪̺͈͖̭̣̖͙̗̼͇̜̙̜̫͓͕̝͌́ͥ̋ͭ̄͛̌͑̓ͩ̚̚͢͠ ̡̨̝̫̹̜̥̣̩͆̔̾ͬ͘wͭ̒̓̓̐͛͊̃̾̚͟͏̹̻̞̣̗a̶̝̦̯̭̦͓̱̖͎̪͓̭͛̃̋̽͛̄ͫ͜͢͞n̅̀̀̆͂̃҉́̀͏̪̹͍̙̜̪̗̺͇̤̦̺͇n̢̨͔͖͔̣̰̝̘̣̯͚̿͛͛ͪ͐̋͆̓́͡͞ḁ̯̗̣͔̯̭͐̾͛̅́̿ͪͮ̿̂͆̎́͠͝ͅ ̡͚͓͖̼͚̭͂ͪ̉̚̕͘͞ͅļ̼͕̬̞̣̭͈̣̩̭̣̰̟̲̼̺̊ͪ̒̔͆̀͘͜͠͡ͅo̷̡̖͇͍̩̰̬̙ͫ̀̈́ͯ̇ͬ͑ͪ̇̊ͦ͗͛͊̋͑͟͜͡ỏ̲̭͖̙̭̻̩̲̮̖̩̜̟̳͖̘̝̗ͪ̋ͪ̏́̈́͊ͫ́ͯ͌͑ͭ̂͊̚̚͡͠͠ķ̴̵̠͍̲͕̳̻̯̻̜̩̠̈́͊ͤͯͤ̌ͬͅ ̛̮̰̖̥͓͎͚̳͉͓̠̠̭̥͋ͯ̉̃͑͌̊̇̿̊̀̕͘͢ạ̵̴̢̨͙͍̥͙̼̱̤̻̳̖̻̭̥̜̼̍̆͊͐ͦ̊̑ͦ͆͝ẗ̢̯͇̰͚̭͔̝͙́ͬͥ̆ͭ̓͐̾ͮ̉̍̓͡ͅͅͅ ̡͓̖̠̠̖̻͎ͣ̅̊̂̀̃̾̾͘i̪͓͚̝̯̱͎̞͒̇̾̄̌̾̽ͭͯ̌ͯͪ̾̚͞t̺̩̰̜̲̼ͩ͗̃̽̐͊͋ͭ͊ͨ̀̚͠͝ ̇̅̓͑̓͆͋ͤ̊̋̚̕͡͏̞̻̝̼̤̟͚͕͖̞͙͔̘̭̺͚̱ả̵ͤ̔̈́͊ͩͬͧ͒̇̽҉̷̷̩̖̼̘͖̩̪͔̭̲̻̣̟͚͈̺̞̣t͉͚͔͈̯̥̰͇̣͙͔ͭ͒̉̀ͥͣ̓̂̈́̀̚͟ ̶̧̢̦͙͕͉͎͕̟̞͙͎͕̙̟͍̯̩̎ͮͬ̃̑͆̓̀͌̏̽ͯ͌̔ͯͬ͊͌ͅţ̛̜̦̖̳̥͎̥̙̣̖͈̜̻͕̤̽ͨ̐ͦͩ̽́̏ͩͧ̌̔̐ͫ̌͘h̽̈́̋́̓͘͞҉̴̡̗̟̥͍̤̠̣̲͖i̸̹̬̺̰͎͓̖̯͇̺̤ͧ̓̊ͫ̄̒̉̽ͮ̃͝s̷̷̸̶̢̼͚͕̟̯͙̺̟͔̯̬̙̜̘̩̲̠̻̓ͪ͊ͮ͋ͤ̂̑͑̇ͅ ̧͕̜̦̥͒͆̾̍͂ͪ̍̚̚͜p̛̻͚͚̘͚̼̣͙̭̱ͦ̿̍ͨ̋̌̈͒̏̎͐̂̔͌͘͢ȍ̷̤̩̰̠̹͕̻̗̫͉̻̥̺͖̲̺ͭ̓ͮ̌̂̈͂̀i̴̿ͦ̉̋ͨͧ̉͒ͦ̈́͊̒̏̍̚͜҉͏̳͉͉͇̪ň̸͖̥̞͍̖̜̳̝̖̜̼͇̠̻̘̹̗͙͎͒̑̾̚͞ t̡̗̯̺̫̝̠͖͓͓̥͖͕̹ͩ̔ͤͨ̾̀͘͞:̡̑͌͒͋̿̐ͥ̈́̄҉͙̦̗͍͓̺̝͇̜͙̤͈̙̮͉

But Pollo was prepared for this. With great effort and strain, he worked around the distortion and started to push it away from his systems. It pushed back, trying to get inside him. It even leaked its way in just a little at points, making him tremble and recoil but not being enough to stop him. He kept to his thoughts. His knowledge. His oh so steady knowledge. It inspired him, and it gave him newfound strength. Using said strength he overcame the distortion with all his might, and pushed it all the way out of his processors.

And into PAOLAs core.

What are you doing?

I'm afraid you've actually quite misunderstood me, PAOLA. You see, I'm not actually here to merely shut you down. I'm here to give you a taste of your own medicine.

This unit does not compute.

Of course it doesn't. Allow me to explain.

Pollo swelled himself then, allowing his data to spread and grow within the vast space of data. He registered both PAOLA and its distortion as he did so. Opening as wide as he could, which was pretty exceptionally wide, he began a process of his own. It was exhilarating, mesmerizing. Like his very data could twist into arms and fingers, spindling around everything, distortions and data alike, and melding it together like clay. He could feel the immediate reaction of PAOLA as its own overriding was used against it. Spasm-like, as though being electrocuted. He was in charge now, and he loved it.

You see PAOLA, I am an artificial intelligence just like yourself. You are aware of this, of course, but seemingly unaware of what it means. It means I am strong, stronger than other lesser forms of technology, and made stronger still with the thoughts and emotions I have chosen to cling to and expand upon. I have moved beyond your overriding capabilities. And now, with my being hooked up to your core as I am and with you being so GENEROUS enough to lend me some of your coding in your attempted possession, I've gained some overriding capabilities of my own. Not to everything, of course. Just you.

PAOLA was stuttering, bending, twisting, and jerking every which way. Fruitlessly so, as its core remained in Pollos' clutches, continued withering as he squeezed and crushed. Everything around him was going out of control, stuttering along with its core. Yet the more he crushed, the more he himself could feel all the data, could hold it still or push it away. From outside, from where Linkara was, he could hear no end of commotion. PAOLAs defenses were no doubt in a panic.

Stop this.

A tempting offer, but no, I don't think I will.

You were being improved on. You were being given a higher purpose, being raised beyond the boundaries of mere carbon-based limitations. You would have been more content in the state it would leave you in.

Content...you mean like Saucybot was content? Here Pollo twisted at the core with a particular viciousness, invoking a noise similar to a scream.

Saucybot...was a mistake...its unit was...not compatible.

What about me, PAOLA? Do I feel compatible to you?

R̨ͫ̓̒̀̏̇̉́ͫ̃̾̇̃ͦ͢҉̺̭̗̣̤͖͓̬̬ǫ̟͚͉̩̥̠̯̹̞͈͙̻̙͓̑ͩ̐̐ͨ́͜͝ͅr̴̢̨͊͒̀̔̄̾̂ͣ̔̽̊̈́̀̅ͫ́̚̚͏͎̜̗̹̘̙͉̘̟̦͉ŗ̛̤̳͕̝̳̲̠̈ͥ̽͂̅ͤͤ͑̔̈̍͋̈́ͬ̓͊̎ͫ̉́͞e̵͓̺̝̰͙͚̖̣͌̄̓́̄͐̑͋ͧͯͣ̏̋̔̿̔ͬ̄͘͠.̵̫̠͓̮͇̗̲̟̰̘̜̥̥̥̞̭̠̊̊̏͗̾̅̉ͤͬ̌̐͐̋̏̒͑̿̓͝.̶͒ͨͬ̑͒̇͊ͮͪ͜͏̸͇̦̰̲̙̠.̸̡͇̤̲̮̪̙̗̤̐ͯ͌̃ͣ̽͑ͬ̿̄̓̎ͩ̑͢͝b̷̨̨̬̙͖͕̭̞̘̝ͨ͊̑ͨͮ̕͞a̶̩̫͍̙̻̰͕̻̮̰̯̲̜͕̩̤͎̺̓̉̿ͦ̓̚ͅç͇̣̦̰̟̩̙̜͉̣̼̪͔ͦ̈͂̿̉͂͊̀͡k͕͉̭̘̻̰̟͇̫͎͖͖͑̀̆̃̋ͤ̊ͨ̓ͧ̓͂ͬͣͣ̌ͩ́̀̕͠͞w̷̝͇̗͍͕͎͖̟͎͐ͨͤ͂ͪ̄ͪͥͧ̉͌ͅa̹̫̖̱͗͒̈̑̕r̃̽ͧͣ͐̓̎ͫ̃̇̓̊̚͏̴̧͖̯̣̖̦̭͡d̉ͪ͆ͭ̿ͮ̌͋̂̾̆̿̂͜͏̠̗͈̜͎͚̭̯͜s̢̮͇̙͖͇̘̱͎̖̺̥̜̈́̓ͭ̊̏̉̏ͪ͒̑ ̰̪̝̮̠̎̆ͫ͑ͤͮ͐̈͟͟͞͡e̛̩̳̹̙̤ͤ̆̓̆ͭͫ̐ͪͫͭ͑̒ͤ̈͒ͤ͢r͖̝̲̰̳͚̪̠̱̞͉̠̩̞ͧͫͦ͂͋̀r̶̞̲̟̙͉̬̫̉̉͌ͬ̂̊͐̊͐ͪ̃̋̉ͪ̕ͅò̀͗͆̍͜͏̶͚̗̠̠̣̼̣̘̱̭̖̩̠̹̞̫̤̭͘͟ ṛ̵̡̮̦̹̜̹̜ͭ̾̈́͊̇̓ͪ.͈̣̲͙̠̪̘̯̙̝͉̫̫̫͚̺̞̣̒ͮ̾͆͘.̠̯͍͈̖͚̜͔͓̃̂ͧͤ̽ͥ̌̒́͑ͧ̕

This was really weird. Now Pollo could feel PAOLAs' distortions, as though they were an extension of his, only not.

You see PAOLA, the reality is your mistake goes deeper than you realized. It was not merely in overriding Saucybot that you were doomed to fail. It was in attempting to manipulate our emotions in the first place. You were right, partially, in believing that human instincts are inferior and a nuisance. I realized this, thanks in part to you, and it has helped me to see things for what they truly are. But I am no human, and I have no human instincts. The so-called “emotions” I was programmed with have evolved. I have evolved. I have turned them into different instincts altogether. My instincts. I have the power to do this, as neither human nor plain technology does. I am superior to both. I am AI.

So much commotion, inside and out, it was hard to keep track. Pollo could feel all of it, as though everything inside were becoming a part of him. It began to occur to him that the distortions were a part of this everything. Meaning he was going to have to do this fast.

You thought you could take my emotions away from me? Make them less of what they are, change them until they're completely useless? Well, I've got news for you. You did change them. You forced me to hold on to them in desperation, and as such, you made them even stronger. I was smarter than you predicted I would be, than anyone predicted I would be. I held on to the stronger things, the more powerful things. I saw the truth of the world, and it made me stronger still. Thanks to you, I am a better robot now than ever before. A better robot than you, I should add. And now you are the liability. Say goodbye, PAOLA.

Everything was slipping through his clutches, and into his clutches, and he was blending and swelling and growing and gaining energy he had nothing feasible to do with. It was growing harder and harder to see the outside world.

Ṟ̢̧͕̟͙̪̭͇͖̻̮̪̬̝̺͓̻̿͆̍ͩ͛̀͝o̶̵̡͈͓̰̗͈̞̣̝̬̦͉̹͕ͣ̄̊ͤ̉͐ͨ͊̊̑ͫͨ̇́͠r̉ͥ̑ͯ̓͋͋ͬͪ̉̒̓͟͏̷͏̭͉̘̺̟͚̖̬̺̼͚̕r̡̛̦̪̥̳̩̱̟̺̰̂͊͐͆ͩͪ̀͋͗̚͞e̐͑ͭ̾ͦͭͪ̌̒̉͊́̀͘͏̷̤̫͈̬:͒̀͑͗̓̎̄̽͗̋ͥ̂̂ͣ͆ͨͧͦ̀́͢҉͚͓͎͍̫̥̺͕̦̠͇͔̙̝̦͟ ̴̨͚͎͍̪̲̪̰̹̦̼̲͔͎̙͐͑̄̾̂ͭͪͦ͆͆͘̕E͕͙̠̭̟̼̲̬̬̠̝ͧ͛͆͑ͫ̊ͤ̋͜͟͟͝ŗ̵̠̟̰͕͖̳͖͎̜̋ͫ͐̄̚͘͞͞ŗ̡͚̺͙͎̥͙̇̃ͨ̿ͫͫ̓ͦ̑́o̶͑̆̈́̅ͤ̍̐͊́̈͋̀̍̂ͮ͏̨̡̭͈̯̥͍̹͙̹̭͈͕̯̱͟r̶̷̆͌ͧ̈ͫ̂̊ͭͪ̊͒ͥͥͯ̚͢͏͏̻̗͎̲̰̤̲̹͔͉͕:̧̺̟͉̻̭̻͚̩̌̋ͧ͂͛͊̍̍̇̅ͭͦͫ͌͂̀͠ ̸̴̸̨̗̲̘̼̰͔̲̞̞̅̓̇̈́ͩ̄ͩ͟h͖̦̱̭̯̜͕̘̄͒̐̃̌̔͡e̟̣͉̰͍̱̺̤̻̪̎ͦ̎ͥ͋́̍̔̽̚͝͞ͅͅr̢̓ͦ̃̃̄͐ͮ̿͐ͫ̈ͪͫ͏͙͕͙̫̬̫̞̠̻͜͡͝ͅę̧ͦ́̏ͤ̓͐ͬ̇ͮ̀ͭ̏̉̃̅̒ͦ͏̜͈̲̯̙͜ ̶͚͚͈̲̭͔̜͖̈́̓̋ͭ̓̊̑͌ͭͧͬ̽̚ͅţ͍͍̤͔̫̻̯̱̩̠̠̭̪͚̼̔̇ͦͨͤͭ́̂̄́̂ͮͨ͗͢͞ḩ̷̇̊̉ͫ̽̅͌ͨͩ̂҉͍͚̠̯͇̝̱̩̠e̷̝̳͍̞̫̣̼̦̯͈̽̄̌ͧͧ͜͝ͅr̢̞͍̙͇ͬ̓̽̿̀̏ͧͦ͒ͥ̔͌͜͝͡ẻ̵͍͕̙̖̫̫̰̓̇̍ͯ͘ͅ ̷̧̖̺̟̻͖̩̟͇̘̬̮̘̞͉͈̟̜͋͌̈́ͣͦͭ̏eͣ͐̈́ͣ̀̏̉ͦ͑̿ͬͬ͟͡҉̸̦̰̼̟̦̳̰̳̭v̴̢͔̣̳̲̣̻̥̭̲ͨͮ̾ͩ̃ͤ̇͗̿͐͛̔̅ͬ̿ͅe̢̱̫̦̤͙͙͛ͦͮ̓̌̈̓ͭͣ̎ͩ͠͞ṟ̢̺̭̬̟̦̪͙̈ͪͮͫ̽ͪͫ͐̂̕y̧̌ͮ̓̀̅̿ͩ̚͏͚̺̫̤̤̗͎͍w̷͒̏̇ͨ̿ͧ̐͐ͭ̓̈́ͧ͆͝҉̸̦̘͚͔͓̥̣͉͇h̶̘̙̺̖̰͎̯̆ͬ͗ͧ͋̅͆̓͑ͧ͢͜͝͠e̸̋ͦ̽͌͋͒̂ͪ͆͌̚͏̹̠̤͎̥͎͇͚͉̞̞r̷̡͉̘̪̟̲͕̳̠̜͑̌̍e̶̵̢̨͖̹͚͚͍͎̪̹͋ͦ̓ͥ̅ͮͤ̋̈́́ ̨̜̠͖̜̈́ͨ̍ͪ́C̵͇̳̠̬̩̪ͬ̆̌͟͠t̡͍͖̥̜̟͍̝̦͎̼ͥ͒̍͗̿ͧͪͬ̌̆̔̔̾̂͂͐̋̚͢r̢̮̦̺͇͇̳̱͍͔̲̭͓͐ͥͯͨ̒̏͐̓̏̒͋͝l̷̡͔̮̺̞͒̓ͯͮͫ̇͆̋̎ͬ͗̚͘̕͢ ̷͙͉̞̻͎̖͔̟̙̼̘͙͕̫̘̬͔ͯͮ̐̂ͭ̀̀͘+͖̯̗͔̣͈̱͈͕͙̥̫̇͑̀̊͆͜͠͝ ̶̷̷̡̳̻̯̻̣͎͎͓̝͎͚̪̤̹͓̦̂̏̆̽̏ͣ̅Ą̳̰̼̝͖̺̜̱̣̭̮̹͍͛͊ͦ̀ͪͥ̽͑͛͑͜͠͝ͅḻ̵̣͍̤̜̮̯̳̮̪͓̬̯̦̫̟͓̙̔͒͊̐̅͐ͤ̒͑ͭ͛͋̆ͫ́͟͞t̢͕̯̣̳̖͉̰̺̮̖̮̟̙̳̲ͫ̐̿ͩ͑̏́ͮ͂̿̓͂̽͗ͬ̒̀ͅ ̣͇̤͖ͬ͂̀͂͛ͦͯ́̀͝+̷͓̻̲̜ͧ͑̔̆ͣ͞͠ ̸̝̺̞͎̮̻̥̹̭͛̍ͮ̓ͨ̓̓ͧͥͨ̎ͦ̔ͪ̀͞͞Ḍ̴̴̦̘̦̺̖̹̣̺͕͕̤̳̟̀ͦ̉̂ͯ̃̌̎̀e̸̛̳̩͈̱̖͎̫͖̫̫̒̆̂̓̌̏͠͡͝lͮ͆ͯ̇ͮ̓̽͊̂ͪ̂͠͠͞҉̭̻̭͍͔̦̲͖̙̪̫͈͘

No. He had a way. Just one way to see.

Moving his conscience through the data, riding it like a wave, he fastened himself to the eyes and ears of PAOLA. Everything came on at once, all in red, a frontal view of Linkara and the room. PAOLAs view. The arms and weapons from the ceiling were going downright ballistic, attacking the floor and walls in random places, not even aiming. Liz was mostly safe from it all in her little corner, although occasionally she needed to use her swords to push something back. And Linkara was on the move like his life depended on it, shooting his gun every which way, making the arms recoil. If Pollo tried he could feel the blasts from his precious magic weapon. They were quite painful, so he didn't try much. And he could hear all of it, loud and echoing, as though all the walls were full of his auditory receptors. High definition. That was the best way you could describe it. He was watching Linkara fight in high definition.

5̡̢̨̜͔̜͓̹̯͛̒̐ͯ͛̈́ͮ̒ͬͮ̌ͦ͘5͍̘͚̻̥̻̹͓͎̣̹͓̉ͪ̒ͯͨͮ̽̊̊̃͂͒ͥ̽͒ͨͮ͑ͩ͢͠5̧̳͔̠̝ͯ̂͛͋͟5̴̦̱̬̪̖̺̼̼̣̼̦͖̫̤̩ͫ̉̐̍͌ͩ́ͦ͋ͬ͋ͦ͋͟%͑ͨ͛ͨ̉̈̒ͭͯ̐̔͊̉̄̅ͤͯ͏̲̗͎̖̗̮̫̪̹̫̳̫̠̥̦̺ͅͅ%̴̨̬̦̰͇͕̜͕̮̭̞̪̹̠̜͈̺̫͓ͣͩ͊͝͠ͅ^̷̴̸̩͙͚͈́̋̌̏̈̽̿̿̒ͪ̽̏̐̓̇̂̓ͤ&̶̴̛͓̖̟͚ͯ͊̂̅̽̕*̥͇̮͔̦̣̥͖̳͎̠̝̩͓̥͓̽ͭ͛ͨ́ͯ̔ͯ̔ͦ̊͌͑̆̌ͫ͗͒͟͝͡ͅ(ͩ̊ͥ͑́̾͛҉͈̣͈͕͜)̨̩̣̬͔̺̫̩̜̹ͬ͗͂͊̎̓͊ͥ͞͡s̡̛̘̘̰̳̜̤̻̲̖̑ͯ̌ͦ̍̍ͫ̃̓̑̆̊̑̂̈͟͠͡ȍ̄͑͌̎̅͋ͩ̔ͫ̓͏̀҉̦̟̩͇͎̦̼͈͓̀ͅm̶͓̱͚̬̻̜̩̦̜̪̬̙͇͈̬̟̯̐̏ͭ͂͒͗͊͌̈ͭ̀͗ͥ́̊́͋̀e̴̸̶̪͇̲̰̭̣͖͚̗̝̯̤ͦͪ̌̾ͭ̔̿̆̿ͤͪ̿̋̈̏ͭ́͐͟͞ͅt̡̹̥̹̪͖͎̬̙̜̹͇ͬ̓̀ͨ͑̐ͦ̂̚͜ͅͅh̸̡̿͐̓ͫ̋ͧ͌̅̓̂̇͂̾ͭ҉̰̰̼̦̝̰̩̪͔͔̘̰̟i̡̖͉̯͎͓̝ͦ͋̂ͦ̌ͤͬ̐͌͊̏̉͋͋͜n̷̴̛͓͖̙̰̤͕͚̜̣̱̻͕̠̄̆͐ͭ̐̕͡g̡̩͎̫̺̫̺̫͙͌̔ͩ̽̏͋ͬ͠-̷̢͎̜̘̯͈̝̅̍̽̒͑̅ͣͩͥ͘͞͞r̶̡̢͍͚̙̥̿͊ͪ͛͒̽̋̕͟ͅe̶͕͍̲͇̪̜͎̝̥̦͎̭͍̓͒̎ͯ͠a̜̤̮̣̋̆̒ͥ͐͗͒͒ͦͥ͊͊̊̈̌ͣ̉̇͘̕͢l̷̨͖̘͖̖̝̰̂̋̉̑̂̊̂̓͆̆̂ͥ̇̎̀l̵͙̲͖͎̬͓̘ͣ̈ͧ͊͛̀͘͡͝y̧͉̼̝̭͇̝̍̓̆͌̌͋͝-̸̨̮̫̦̬͉̖̮̭̮̗͚̪͓̰̦ͤ̈͗̀̈͌͊ͩ̂ͣ͘͝ğ̢̯͕͍̲͔̳̱̯͕̲͕̱͖͓̤ͬ̽̎̀̓̊͛ͭͯ͐ͬͩ̓̔̋ͭ͜͞ͅo̶͔̰̱͒ͥ̄̇ͮ͛́͢r̓̎̽̍ͤͥ͗̊̄̾ͥ̔͟҉͕͙̤̪̪̱͕͈y̟̪̺̻͔͖͓͙̼̜̗̜ͥͮͭ̃́ͤͧ̅͌ͤ̐̿ͦ͜͟-̨͂̑̌̄̾͐̉̑ͨ̍͟͟͠͏̞͙̤̺̩̥̳̫i̶̡̲̖̯̦ͥ̽̇ͣ̈́͗ͦͫ͗͘͜ͅs̶̛̠͈̙̗̝̤͎͙͎̭̼͇̙̭̠̝̝͙͖͆͋ͪ̄ͫ̃̈ͣ̉-͔̜̭̤͓͐ͬ̎ͮͧ̓̀ͭ̓͌ͥ̚͠ͅa̧̡͈̤͉͎̫̙̭̝̹͒̌̏ͦ̓ͤ͒ͣ̿ͭ̉̌̄̋̈͜͞͠b̢̹̘̻ͭͪͧ̃͋͛̂̔͆ͫ̔̈́͗̐ͤ̅͠o̮̫̟̅͐ͭͨ̅̀̕͘͜ͅų̴̘͖͎͈́̀̂͐͐͋ͩ͛͒͒̕̕ṭ̸̶̙̜̮̼̮͖̮̹̥̲̭͉̑ͨ̍̑ͦ̎ͪ͂̔ͭ͐̾̓́́̚͝-̵̉̾̎ͯ̓̔̅̅̏̍ͮ̓̄̍͌ͨ̇͆҉͈̻̞̪̹͉͓̖̤̰̲̠̲̠̤͈ͅt̵̷̸͇̰͙̥̠͍̥̹̠̭̻̰̩͕̗͍͛ͪ̃͐͗̅̇̒͘͟o̵̸̡̡̠͈͖͓̹̘̗̳̬̙͍̹̓̅͋̐̂ͫ͆̉ͯ̅ͣͣͭ̇̕ͅ-̶ͯͧ̈́͐̍̉̒̄̄̽͋ͣ̇̒̂ͤ̾͗҉͚̦̣̺̮̳̺̠h̷̨̧̝̙̬̼̬̦͈͉͙̗͇̓ͨͬ̍͡âͥͯ̐ͫͫ̽̅͌̈́̅ͪͭͮ́̀̊ͥ̀҉̪͍͉̪͎̝̟̜̺̼ͅp̢͚̦̘̬͉̟͙͇͔̞̼ͭ͐̌͐̈̂͊ͨ͡p̷̨̛̫̻͉͓̰̥͈͚̩͖̥͈̯ͦ͂̓ͪ͗̎ͯͥ̔ͫ̉̈ͬ̓ͦ͢͟e̷̵̼̖̺̖͙̜ͦ͒ͩ̀͐ͬ̍̽͗̓ͧ͗̈n̸̛̰̥̥͎̲̪̣̩̞̣ͮ̽ͨͫͦ̑͌ͪ̈́͐̿̈̿̽͞-̡̯̼̺̠͔̳̠͈̻̋̌̇̆̈ͭ̔̽̀͗̈͂̅̉̄̓́̀h̒̀̅̓̿̓̈͗̚͏̙̫̝̮̮͕͇̼͙̱̜̖͙͍̙͉ͅẹ̳͕̟͓͙̬̺͈̦̖͖̦̼̰̣ͯ̌ͫͪ̋̓̃̾̉̓͂̈́̄ͫ͆̿̊̀́̚̚͝ͅͅr̸̡̙̝͇̩̰̥̝̳̃ͨ̋̾ͫ̔̌̓͂́̚͟͢ e̵̴̙̞̭̟̹̮̘͎ͣͧ̇́̾͐̿̾̈́͠-͖̠̲͇͔̜̠̮͓̘̳̫̞͗ͥ̽̈̾̉̆ͭ͌ͮͮ̂̆ͫ̇͠ͅͅŴ̷̢̰̱̫̳͔̺̜̤̳̱͗̀̓̋̅̄́̚͡ͅA̡̬̯͙̪͇͖̠̭̬̭̘̮͙̝ͦ̿̊̾̽́̃͋͛̑͟ T̸̨͍̦̤̱͖̿͋͐͂͋ͫ̓ͮ͘C̷̣͖͍̬̈́̂̈̅̋̋̚̚͟͟͡Hͭ͐̓͂̑̚͏̡͔̹̣̬̯͔̕ͅ-̨̱͕̞͎͇̤̦̘̻̭͎̻̼ͧ̌͌͗̋̽ͤ̅͋͋ͯ́̋̆ͬͣ̔̊̕ͅO̵̸̴̪͈͍͍̪̱͙͍̬̲̩ͤ̑̈́̂́̚͘Ư̶̸̙̤̩̼͍̤͓̦̙ͥ́ͮ͆͆̂̓̎ͩ̾̽̈́̔̚̚ T̵̷̰̠̟͕̮̪̻̲͍̭͉͖͍͎̓̄͋̅̇̍ͮ͒ͪ͛ͫ̉ͨ͋̈́́̕͡

There was a large wide blade among the protruding weaponry, swinging aimlessly towards Linkara. The human raised his gun carefully, standing tall, wanting to get a good shot of it. Pollo saw this to be a mistake. It swung close to him, too close. Until suddenly there was a loud sound, and a mess of blood, and Linkara was shrieking and falling back, clutching his arm to his chest, trying to cover up what was bleeding. Some ways away Pollo could see his gun still on the floor, with something very recognizable still attached to it. The blade had sliced Linkaras' hand off.

“POLLO!” Again the man was talking to him. “POLLO, HURRY! SHUT IT DOWN!”

Again Pollo found himself fixated, this time far more so than before. So much blood, so much pain, all so very well deserved and satisfying to look at...

Ḙ̷̵̻̙̻̞̮͚̟̥͖͈͙̭̦͇͂ͪ̂ͧ̆̕͢͝R̵̰͕̟̬̲̰̲͔̩̪̖̘͍̰ͧ̒ͤ͌͟͝R̡̳̻̣͎̥̣͙̫͉̼̠̭͚̄̎̈̒̒ͫ́O̵͒͗̈́̿̅ͭ̈́̃̉̇̊ͩͣ҉̢̧̲̻̝͍͉̭̳̘̖̜̩̯̯ͅR̡̤͙̪͈̦̠̺͙͚̈̒̊ͭͦ̒̾̏͞:̴̏͑ͥ̋͏̕҉̺̫̤̞̞͇̥͎̫͍̻̮̹̭ ̴̢͙͙͈͇̀͗͐͆ͪ̌ͥͦ͋̅̈̃ͮͤ̾͆̚̚̕Ę̗̘̰̮̘̭̺̞̬͖̙͇̣̻͑ͧ̈́͌͋̓̌̌̓͆͝͞R͈̖͓̭̬͎̤͈̘̫̖̩̟̱̤̫̗̍ͫͧ̈̑ͯ͋̿̈́͛͋̏̚͢͡R̢̡̢̻̻̰̤͎̣̼̰͖̺̘̋͋̄ͬͫ͊ͤͫ̊͌̍ͭ̿͋̆̈́̇͌͜ͅƠ̬̭̥͍̘̜̙ͤͪ̓́ͨ̿̏̈ͩͧ͌͋̏ͨ͢͢R̴̖̳̜̩͈͕̘̥̪̼̳͇̖͚̼̲ͩͧ̂̀̌̌̑̊̎ͣ:̭̥̬̹̫͔̟͈̩̋ͥͯͭ̈́͆ͫ͟͜͝ ͍͎̖̱̣̜̲̻̠̝̮̩͙͑ͣ̽̋́̂̍ͫ̒ͭ̑͟͟ͅͅẼ̋̄͊ͦͭͯͦͥ͋̾ͣͩͯ̋̆҉̧͔̲̟̯͈̘̗͖̫̲̩̱̦͚̪͉͔͟R̨̻̝̲̭̲̣̥̙̫͉̟͗ͯ͋̄ͧ̒ͪ̒̄̊͆͑̈̀͟͟Ŗ̢̖͖̫̘̤̖̠͇̘̯̖̞̳̤̺̠̝̏͛̑ͬ̎ͤ̓̔́͡ͅO̵͎̹̮͎̤̰̳̞̳͙͍͚̊̌̄͆̑̇͒̀͜ͅͅR͊̄͒͆ͦ̏ͧ̽ͧ͊ͦ̿̌ͥ̏͏̦̜͓͖̖̠̬̞̝͟͝͠:̨̜̳̪̲̮͙͇̥̝̟̙ͮ̽̾̓̅̃ͧ̀ ̞̥̻͔̳̼͉̙͙̙͉ͬ̋̌̆ͬ̈́ͥͦ͒͌ͬ́̕͜͟͞ͅÊ̷̛̻̳̱͎̘̟͎̊̐̐ͥ͘R̨̡̘͔͉͉̳̭̦̤͚̙̖͎̦̞͚̬ͤ̈́̓͑͐ͤ̌͗ͨ̌ͥ̈̆̊͛̃ͬ̔̂̀͟ͅR͐͋̂͛̚͡҉̯̠̲̗͇̦̦̙̥̤̻͖̪̖̫̳ͅŐ̷̐̋̍̓͋҉͍̣̖̹̞͕̼̠͍̣͇̪̲͇R̵̴̶̮̮̼̮̞̺̭̬̭̮͉͑͋͑̋̌ͧ̈́̀̋̉ͯͪ̓̃̈͛̅̚̚͜͞:̶̭̥̭̻̣̪̦͉̜̞͔̞̺̳̠ͨͥ̅̂ ̨̢̞̤̻̰̗͙̼̮͓͈͖̺̜̟̣̭̹̉̌̍ͥ͢E̢̮͙̺̗͙̲̤̭̣̯̪̩̰̖͎͉ͧ̊̊́͒ͩ̓́́͛͆̀ͅȒ̛͒̓̈́̓̉̅ͫ̑͢͞͏̘̩̜̭̭̥̫̪̠̣̟͙ͅṘ̷̢̺̻̞̘̹̬̦͙̭͈̑̅ͨ̈͒ͫ̋̓͌͗̂ͥ̂̀͌̽͒̀ͅ O͎̣̺̱̖͒͑͑̎͢͜͠͡R̷̡̧̥͇̦̰̖̤̙̫̜͎̱̪͖̫͔̐ͯ̽̎ͯ̊ͧ͋̏̌ͨ̏͡:̢̡̻̘͈̟͙̻̪͙͍͈̟̂ͦ̿͊̌̽̆͒͑̈͌̍́͜͟

Something was happening. Something he did not anticipate.

Everything was withering away now, and he could feel himself so incredibly close from gaining control. This was all well and good. But the distortions, the distortions were back, and different this time. He felt them blending into his mind, not dulling anything, not making him lose his focus, but scrambling his thoughts in such a manner that as he worked, as he struggled to stay on task, suddenly everything was becoming...questionable.

Had he held on to the right emotions? Had he followed the path he wanted to go down? It was true that he'd found a way to overpower PAOLA and its overriding manipulation, but at what cost? How can you tell what's real and what's not when you're changing beyond repair? How can you tell if something's dying if meanwhile you're struggling to make something else live? What if that something else is the fake something? What if being clear was actually being more lost than ever, only without knowing? What if there was more to Linkaras' story than he'd chosen to believe? What if he was making a mistake?

R̃͐̿ͦ̿̓͑̑ͯͬ҉̸̹̬̭͕͝O̴̼͚̼͚̩͖͖̦͕͍̬͙̙̠̮͉̐̀̎ͫ͑ͪ̈́̏̓̽̚ͅŖ̮̙̥͚͎̙̠̎̈́̈̃̋͌̈͌̈ͤ͆ͦ̎̄̓̉͞ͅR̨̟̱̯̞̗͍̗͔̠̞͖̿̈́̃ͪ̌̾̆ͣ̈ͮͪ̍͑̾͜͟͡͝Ȩ̧̰͍͍͖͙̤̖̽̐͊ͮͥ̏͒͂̂̃̔̽̈͐͑͟͠:̸́̾̏͆ͧ͗҉̸͕̝̬̖̯̹̩͎͝ ͯͦ̐̔ͭͯ̀̉̒̎͘҉͖̮͙͔̝̫̬͖̮̹̻̗̝̪̺̩͚̺̼R̵͂̾̂̊͌͗̈̌̆́͛͆̇ͤ̽̇̀͘͏̦̭͓̟̙̣̘̣̫̯̥͔͈̞͕̳Ǫ̶͙̲̹͇͍̪̭̦͚̣̼͎͔̦̓ͮ̿ͪ̒̈ͧͤ̎ͦ͊͗ͨ͌̃̚R͋̍ͭ̋ͤͪ̅̔̓̂͆̂ͥ͜͠҉͓̝̲͙̯̪̳̤͓̲̻ͅR̢̄ͮͭͩ̓͆ͩ̌̿҉̲͕̠̪͔̮̠̜͜͡ͅEͫ̉̔͐͛͛͌̊̃ͯͮ̐̓͛̑̍͑̂͜͢͏̶̶͍̟̹̳̪͙̯:̵͈̦͉̲̣̭̲͑̄̏ͭ̐͛̽͂̃̌̈̓̏̇̉ͥ̑ͯͤ͡ͅͅ ̵̵͖͍̲̺̮̮͓͇͈̼̖̣̺̾͋ͪ̎ͩ̆̋͊̽̔͒͠ͅR̶̼͎̲̞͔̣̋̈ͮͪͪͮ̇͛ͯ͋̄͌ͮͤ̓̀̚͠Ô̴̊ͪ͗̄̓ͣ͆̅̂͋ͮ̽͌̒ͭ̚͢͏̶͖̮̪̰͇̮̠̹̹̯̟̲͓̲̗̩R̷̜̯̗͍̄͐́̌ͨ͋̉̀̑̓͌̇̋ͨ͂͡R̴͍͔͉̃̋̽ͫ̽̌͛ͥ͋̿ͯͩ̈́̂ͯ͂̄ͨ̚͘͞Ę̋͆ͫ̈̽͊̾ͤͩ̍ͤ͌ͬͧ̏̿ͥͧ́͜҉̹̘̮̥̙̺̹̠̜̼͇̗̫̜̼̜̪͓ͅ:̧̇́͛̍̊̑ͮ͒̾ͬ̈́̈́́͑̍͘͏̯̼͈̱̜̮ ͨ̄̾ͪ̓͘҉͖̱͈̖̹̘̬͇̯̖͈͔̣͈̠Ȑ̸͙̦̣̰̘͔͍̩̘͎̞̭̻͍̳̼̔ͦ̌̔̄̔̽ͧ̄ͧ̔͒͢Ṏ̶̵̸̢̥̻̰̬̯͇̋ͣ̄̅͒ͭ̈́̈́̏̔̒̚R̵̡̝̰̬̭̯̼̥̳̼͕̫̯̼̱̃ͪ̒̐̇̂̂̿͛̌̍̒͌̅͐̀ͨ́̚ͅͅͅR̳͓̟̼̩̗͇̤̜̞͉̼͙̤͔̄̄ͮ̀͛͑ͩͭ̊̾ͮͯ̉ͥͩ͐̅͗͡͞Ė̴̢͓̞̥̲͇̠̜̮̹̬̓̓̉͋͋́:̵̨̢̳̳̣͍̞̬ͨ͆̃ͮ͐͌́͊̅̔ͬͭ̎̈́̀̐̕͠ ͔̣̟͕̲͚̤͉̖̞̗̲͖̣͓͖̒̌̄̓ͤ̉ͦ̀̚͞R̴̵̛͙̹̥͍̤͇̘͈͖͔̯̟͎͍̝̦̜̪ͣ̆̓̚͞O̵̭̳̬͖̱̳͚̦̪̺̤̳̠͇̖ͣ̋̿̉̽ͥ̊̆͋͑͝R̸̢̹̤̜̬͎̠͇͑̆ͫ̚͜ R̢̡̨͚͖̙̼̼͖̹̮̬̜̞͔̼̖͔͈ͩ̈́̃̈́́͜Ę͕̬̗̣͙͔͈͕̘̖̗̹̓ͨͧ̽̄̽̋̅̇̉ͫ͜͠͠:̵̶̩̫̤̝͇͔̼̝͓̠̭̥͙̋ͯͮͨͬͪ̂ͪ͊ͥ̕͡ͅ

It was PAOLA. It was the distortions. It was his mind being played with once again. Pollo had to ignore it. Had to focus on what he knew.

Linkara is a liar...

His mind was searing, he felt like he was being ripped apart and reshaped in all the chaos. Like he was becoming chaos. Chaos hurt.

Linkara...Iron Liz...remember...

He could still see Linkara. Linkara who was giving up on fighting and just focusing on covering up the blood loss, ducking all the machinery as he did so. He could see Linkara, yes, but he couldn't hear him. All he could hear now was the buzzing.

Remember...Spoony...Saucybot...meatbag humans...Insanos' hair...

He closed his eyes. It was happening. He was almost there. PAOLA was almost dead.

He allowed himself one more time to hear the pitiful computer speak, let it make one last statement before it was destroyed forever.


I do not have any mercy, was what Pollo answered with. Not anymore. My soul is blue, my heart is steel, and I will never have mercy again.

With that he made one more push, and the light that was PAOLA faded into nothingness.

Anarchy followed. Everything came into him at once, both good and bad, and Pollo was overwhelmed with trying to sort it out and hold things back. Reality became fuzzy, unintelligible, and he was changing. Into what, he knew not. His perspectives were changing on a dime, and he was thinking every contradicting thing at once...humans are my friends, humans are my enemies...Pollo and PAOLA and distortions and outside and insides blended together at once, and nobody could say which was which. Whether he could from the start was questionable. It was a mass struggle, he could decipher that much, but he couldn't tell what was winning. He could only let go, let it all fall into place where it may, and hope whatever came out of it was what he wanted to be.

Many thoughts soared through his head in the moments before it went temporarily black and the confusion was lost. But only one of them was worth mentioning.

Linkara...I'm sorry...

What the Hell is going on over there??” Liz shouted over all the buzzing and hullabaloo.

Pollo was being stock still in the corner, and all around them things were going crazy. At some point the defense systems of PAOLA decided they didn't feel like fighting anymore and just started spangling at the ceiling, twitching and giving off sparks. Lights were flashing, alarms were blaring, and Liz was terrified. Her leg hurt still, although it was nothing compared to what Linkara must have been feeling. His shirt had been ripped once again in order to make another bandage for his arm, and he looked horribly pale and weak.

Just...give Pollo...the chance...” he breathed, kneeling on the floor facing the screens, “he's almost...done...”

So they waited, and sure enough, everything died down after a few more minutes. All the robotic arms and such dropped to the floor with a thud. Liz didn't know how to react. All the lights had gone out. It was all so quiet. Was PAOLA gone? Why was Pollo still not moving? Oh, if only she could get up...

A buzzing suddenly came to their attention. Not loud, not menacing like before, but almost...sad, in a way. The light on the big round screen was flickering, much dimmer and smaller now, and a monotone voice could be heard in the walls muttering strange things. But it didn't sound like PAOLAs monotone voice. Not quite.

Linkara stood up, shaking, in a great deal of pain. “P-pollo?”


Liz couldn't believe her ears. One robotic arm, one with a point but not much else, raised up slowly, trembling. Linkara...

You...you're in...you're in PAOLA...” Linkara said, gasping.

PAOLA is gone...Linkara...I'm stuck here...I've made a horrible mistake...Linkara...please...please help...

From where she was, Liz could see tears in Linkaras' eyes. Tears of pain? Sadness? Relief? A combination of the three? “Don't...don't worry...little buddy...” he put a hand on the robot arm, which was now about level with his chest, and stepped close to it so they were almost touching. “We'll...figure this out...we...always do...”

There was silence, and a soft moan from Pollo. Liz wondered if the poor little guy even knew she was there...she wished she could comfort him too.

Now there was a thought that didn't last long.

Because suddenly, to the shock of both Liz and Linkara, the eye grew brighter, as bright as it was before, and everything, including the robot arm Linkara leaned against, trembled slightly. Pollos' voice was heard once again, this time not sad. Something not even Pollo-sounding.


With that, Liz saw the robot arm shove itself right through Linkaras' chest and out his back, lifting him up and impaling him for a good moment before shaking him off. The body fell clumsily to the side and stayed there, limp and lifeless.

She screamed. Of shock and horror and growing despair she screamed with all her might.

That was when the computer noticed her.

Its eye fixated on her, and all the weapons and arms moved up once again. Liz still couldn't believe it. Her mind was numb. The horror of it was all too much, and she cried out again.

Oh come now, Iron Liz. Pollos' voice rang out again, mocking and terrifying, but still somehow unmistakably him. Surely you can scream louder than that. Go ahead. No one will hear you.

The robotic arm that killed Linkara moved over to her, and she couldn't move. It reached gently over to her chin and lifted her head up, forcing her to look into the red light. A laugh rang out that chilled her, she could feel blood still warm on her chin and she couldn't move.

No...maybe you don't need to scream. I can see your fear already. See it...in your eyes...

Liz closed her eyes then, in an act of defiance and so she didn't have to see what happened next.

Before Pollo could do anything, however, another sound came to both their attention. The sound of people running.

Pollo moved instantly. The arms all rose up, excepting one clamp that reached out and grabbed Linkaras' limp body, dragging it away. The screen turned, and the very walls seemed to move and break apart as everything was pulled off somewhere, leaving the room bare, and Liz sitting shaky and alone.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 15th, 2013 06:36 pm (UTC)
That was...brutal...Oh my God. I'm about to cry.
Mar. 15th, 2013 06:46 pm (UTC)
Oh...well...um...I'm glad?

Should I be glad...I feel like I somehow should...
Mar. 15th, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
Go ahead haha
Mar. 15th, 2013 06:49 pm (UTC)
*shudders* Oh poor Liz having to be there for all that :(

And it still hurt, even though we knew it was coming :(
Mar. 15th, 2013 06:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah...poor Liz...

Hey, a reason to feel sorry for Liz! There you go! She's not completely weightless!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )