Jeran knew that what he was doing was stupid and that it ran counter to all of the training that he received. Going back to save the bait after they had been compromised was foolish and suicidal. He had lost men before after they had performed something like he was attempting to do right now. But, he felt like Silvia did, he couldn’t just leave Null back there, he couldn’t just abandon her. That wasn’t about completing the mission anymore, now it was about making sure that all three of them came out alive from this, nothing else mattered.
He ran as fast as he could down the tunnels toward the cavern that Null had waited in. He wasn’t too late, he couldn’t be too late. When he rounded the bend and saw into the cavern he knew that he was wrong, it was already too late. He didn’t know if there was anything that he could still do, but… he was going to try.
Not long before that Null had been waiting in the cavern alone. Her creation was slowly beginning to gather the necessary power. It was taking a little longer then anticipated because it had been a long time since she had done anything this large with her nano-machines. However that was fine because her plans involved more time then was necessary to create what she was intending. She suspected that Zolurious would take a while to respond and wouldn’t arrive until he realized the danger that was involved in not stopping her. Of course her plan would be ruined in Zolurious didn’t come and that could result in a lot of unnecessary destruction.
She waited and waited as the force continued to built. Then, almost right on schedule Zolurious burst into the cavern. There was a glow coming from him which lit the cavern. Null turned around as he entered, and said “Hello Zolurious, it is good to see you again. I’m glad you have joined me for my little party. I do hope that you will enjoy yourself.”
Zolurious looked up at the writhing mass of nano-machines that was starting to get large and then back at Null, “What are you planning #5638, you would gain nothing from completing what you are about to do. Can you even image what would happen if I didn’t come here to stop you?” He sounded furious, which was just what Null wanted.
However she glared at him with her own anger. “I do not liking being called that. I would prefer to be called by Null because that is the name that I have chosen.”
Zolurious laughed, “Null? You complain as being called your prisoner number but you choose a name which means nothing? Surely the irony does not escape you?”
Null continued to look at him with cold eyes, “At least it is a better name then one which is given to you. Do you never resent having to bare the name Zolurious? Would you not rather have a name of your own, something which can truly be called yours?” It was a piercing question.
Zolurious only shook his head, “I am proud to bare this name that has been given to me, but you tarnish that name by escaping and fleeing from capture. I will not allow this sinister plot that you are doing complete.”
“Sinister? Really, you ANGEL’s are all the same. The rules are all that matter to you. Do you think I do this because I hate you or because I am evil? Is that really what you think?” Null shook her head as she spoke, “No, I am really just like you. A person, one who wants to live their life. There might have been terrible things that I have done but I am sure you are no more innocent then myself. Surely you have had to harm others to follow your rules or protect those who were important to you.”
Zolurious pointing toward the mass of nano-machines in the cavern, “Your words say one thing but your actions are entirely different. That… thing could scour the life from half of this planet. Do you really think I could just forgive you or let you live your life when you are doing something like that.”
“Your wrong. I was never planning on using this on the planet. I am planning on using it on you. An ANGEL can not be taken out by any normal means. Even I am worried that I would not be able to defeat you normally. But this, this could surely defeat you.” Null smiled slightly, “But don’t worry, the nano-machine are set to disassemble once they have reached a certain range. You and me are the only ones that are going to be harmed by them when they are released.”
“Then… you are crazy. You are planning to take both of us out with that thing. And nano-machines are notoriously unstable, do you really think that none of these nano-machines will break from your instructions. With that many up there it would be a miracle if that happened.”
“Of course everything is going to be fine… because there is an ANGEL here who is going to cause a miracle.” Said Null, she plan was going smoothly so far now she just had to make sure that Zolurious acted like she excepted him to, “Now you just need to sacrifice yourself to protect all the innocent people on the planet. They are counting on you Zolurious, you don’t want to disappoint them.”
“You bastard,” Growled Zolurious. He was angry at the criminal, almost to the snapping point. She was using the lives of all the people on the planet as a hostage to defeat him. It shooting a bullet at an innocent to kill the police officer who jumped into the way. It was a despicable action and he couldn’t let her get away with it. He had to stop her and capture her.
Jeran stared in a sort of mute horror at what was in front of him. The walls, floor, and ceiling were covered in writhing darkness. Floating in the center of the room, lit with a dim light was Zolurious. While he still seemed to be alive he was covered in blood and he seemed to be unconscious. Jeran had never seen an ANGEL in show a state. When he looked around he couldn’t see Null anywhere. He knew she must be there somewhere.
Eventually his gaze drifted to a lump of pulsating nano-machines. It was larger then anything near it and Jeran didn’t remember anything like that being in the room when he was there earlier. Dispite his rational judgement he began wading through the pool of nano-machines toward her. As he did so his skin began to feel like it was burning. It was more painful then he could ever have imagined. However he gritted his teeth and finally arrived at the pile. He reached down into the pile and began searching around. He hands and arms began to scream in pain just like his legs. Soon he felt something in the mass and began to pull it out.
He drew out Null from the pile. She felt cold to his touch, at least he thought she did because it was hard to feel anything other then pain. She was limp and looked pale. She had to still be live though, Jeran knew it. Even with his hands out of the nano-machines he could still feel the pain. He tried to avoid looking at his arm in fear of what he would see. He began to walk back to the entry when he heard a voice from above him.
“Stop,” Said Zolurious. He sounded pained. Jeran glanced over his shoulder as he walked at Zolurious. The ANGEL was reaching out toward them with one hand, grasping at the air. The light surrounding him was fading in and out. There was a desperate look on Zolurious’ face, “Leave her here.”
Jeran stared coldly at him, “No.” He said and then looked back toward the entrance. Jeran didn’t care what happened, but after doing this to Null he didn’t care what that man wanted. Jeran was going to carry Null out of here no matter what Zoluriuos wanted. Zolurious gasped at him, “If you take her then you put other people at risk. If she leaves then this might happen again or there might be another city of glass. I don’t know what she might have told you but it is lies, you can’t trust her, she is evil.” Zolurious was trying to appeal with Jeran’s conscious. Zolurious knew this man still had some shred of justice left in him.
Jeran reached the edge of the cavern and set Null down outside of the nano-machine swarm. He turned back around to face Zolurious. “Everybody is the same to you aren’t they. You have nobody important to you, do you?” There were tears slowly falling down Jeran’s cheeks. “I pity you. However I am different, I have people I care about. Even if it means going against the country I care about or risking my life, I’m going to do everything that I can to protect them.” Jeran lifted up one of his arms to show Zolurious. It was raw and bleeding, there were parts where most of the skin seemed to be gone. Jeran could only guess how bad his legs must be. “You have so much power but you have no one to protect. I think that is the reason that even though you are more powerful then me I am going to leave and escape and you are going to be unable to stop me.”
Jeran turned again and picked up Null again. As he left the cavern he left Zolurious with one last line, “Maybe next time we meet you will have a reason to win.” And with that Jeran was gone. Zolurious continued to hand there in the air, his light still flickering. As he stayed there the masses of nano-machines began to slow down and then eventually stopped moving altogether.
Zolurious spoke aloud, almost like he was trying to speak to the long gone Jeran, “Why…. Why are you so adamant at protecting her. She is dangerous, why can you no see that.” He paused, “Maybe you do see that and yet you continue to want to protect her anyways. That… is too much of a risk. A risk, you don’t care about that do you. Is it because you trust her, because you trust yourself. How can you do something like that?” Zolurious seemed to wait for an answer, yet nobody spoke to him.
“How can I not do something like that…” Answered Zolurious to his own question, “Is there a time when I stopped understanding. Even criminal #56… Null seemed to understand, she spoke the same way. They both seemed so very… human.” Human, what a strange word. Even if they were doing the wrong thing they were both much more human then he was. Was there a point when he stopping being human and was only ANGEL. He wasn’t certain. Maybe that is why he lost, because he was no longer human.
Jeran had asked him who he was protecting, Zolurious wasn’t certain. Once upon a time he was protecting all people, maybe he still was but that seemed less real. Had he been distant from humans for so long that he no longer remember what it was like to be one. He had been human once, he had had a human name. Now however he couldn’t remember what it was for the life of him, maybe he had forgotten when he had become Zolurious.
The man, not the ANGEL, looked up at the ceiling of the cavern. “I wonder if the stars are out now. What was the last time I looked at the stars and thought how beautiful they were… I don’t remember.”