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A feeling of pain in my chest, and then I woke up gasping for air. I reached out and grabbed at my chest. It hurt, and each breath was painful. However, I was breathing. My hand ended up touching the armor that was over my chest. My fingers worked over it, and I felt some kind of metal embedded at the center. I pulled, and some shrapnel ended up in my fingers. Looking around, I realized I was on the ground. I started trying to sit up.

“He’s awake!”

“Shit, that armor works too good, I guess.”

“Maybe he’s just heartier than you thought.”

Before I could orientate myself, someone grabbed me and I was dragged over to the side of the room. We weren’t in the security room anymore. This looked to be an operating room if I had to guess. Most of it had been ransacked, but there was a large table with a clear plastic tub that sat over it, kind of like I’d imagine a hibernation chamber to look.

The next thing my eyes focused on was the blurry shapes standing around me. As soon as I saw Jacques, I took a swing with my fist, he avoided the punch easier and then stood up.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

As soon as he said those words, a piercing pain shot through me, emanating from my neck. It felt like I was being jabbed with needles all over. When I grabbed my neck, it doesn’t some kind of large, mechanical collar.

“Do you know what that is?” Jacques asked. “It’s a slave collar. You will be a slave from now on. That Perco 7000 is just too valuable to toss away.”

“K-Katarina…” I grimaced as the pain started to subside.

He nodded to the side. I followed to see Katarina lying on the ground, a pool of blood forming under her. There was also Kiera who appeared to be unconscious lying next to her. I tried to get up, but he struck me in the chest with the back of his rifle, right where I had been shot, and the pain caused me to fall back on my ass.

“We don’t like making it a point of killing women, so I’ll just let nature take its course with these two.” He responded. “As for you, you should be worrying about yourself now. The Syndicate may desire your Perco 7000, but they probably already have a few, so if you cause them too much trouble, they might take your head.”

“Th-the syndicate?” I touched my head, still feeling a bit woozy.

“That will be enough, Perry.” A familiar voice sounded from the door.

My eyes focused on a casually dressed man. He was the same guy I had met from the Rink only yesterday.

“Y-you…”

“Yes, it’s a shame Mr. Daniel that you wouldn’t take my generous offer. Instead, you sought to undermine our control in Argos city. Thankfully, Perry here was willing to work with us.”

“It’s Jacques. Perry is the name of our Merc Group. It’s named after the capital of France.”

“The capital of France is Paris.”

“Hmph… maybe to some American!” He snorted.

“Your money, Jacques?” The other man ignored him and held out a bag full of crystals, some of them large.

“You… betrayed the Rink? Me?” I accused as I started to regain focus.

My words struck a nerve with some of the other mercs, who looked around awkwardly for just a moment. Jacques seemed unaffected though.

“I’ll have you know that the Perry Merc Group doesn’t betray the ones who hire us! It would be foolish to bite the hand that feeds you for a quick buck!” He responded, his expression turning slightly ugly. “It just so happens that the syndicate contacted us first. We were paid to infiltrate and undermine the Rink. The only mistake you made was betting on the wrong horse. That mayor will be overthrown eventually anyway, it’s just a matter of time.”

“You bastard… I trusted you!” I cursed.

“That was your mistake. This is the wasteland. You can’t trust anyone.” He shrugged. “It’s the way it is.”

Another man who had a full black uniform on walked into the room, looking a bit like a swat member. The syndicate man turned to him with a raised eyebrow.

“We’ve managed to push back the mutants. The hospital is now owned by the syndicate. We’ve begun a thorough search of the building, but there are still some areas the security isn’t working with us.”

“Ugh, do I have to do everything myself?” Punk complained.

Jacques made eye contact with the syndicate man, who nodded his head slightly. Jacques sighed.

“Fine… show us your security problem. This is the last one though. Afterward, our business with the syndicate is complete.”

“For the moment.” The other man said, causing Jacques’s smile to falter slightly. “Come… let’s get this over with.”

He walked to the door, but then stopped and glanced back. “I can trigger that collar on your neck whenever I want. If you flee, you won’t get far. As long as you act proper, open all the vaults and safes we ask, then I will allow your slave to live.”

He gestured and one of the security droids, a floating scout kind, entered the room.

“Watch him. If he tries to escape. Take out his legs.”

With a nod to himself, he walked out of the room. Like that, they had left me alone in the room with only the droid to watch me.

“Droid, who is your Master?”

“You are.”

“You’re damned straight!”

I got to my feet and walked to Katarina. As soon as I touched her, Kiera jerked awake, hit aimlessly at the air frantically before she came to her senses.

“Help.”

That was all I said, but Kiera immediately helped me lift Katarina. We put onto the surgery table. I immediately pulled out my connector and plugged it in. I clicked Master Control, and then clicked unlock all protocols. The first item on the list was check vitals. A moment later, a holographic display of her body appeared above her body on the table. I could see and hear her heart beating extremely weakly.

“She’s still alive!” I cried out.

The next button I clicked was Diagnose. This time, the plastic sleeve closed, putting her in the chamber. A metal bar with green laser lines worked it’s way up and down her body. A list of ailments appeared on the list. Next to each symptom was a button that said, repair. At the very top of the list was something that said repair all. I clicked the repair all. Doors opened at the foot and head of the device, and various arms and syringes appeared out.

Within moments, Katarina’s clothing was removed, an oxygen mask was on her face, and she had an IV injecting her with god knew what. Her stomach had numerous blood wounds, but a device was spraying liquid over it and washing the wound quickly. My eyes ended up landing on other parts of her, and I looked away. At that moment, the door burst open and a guard stepped in. He must have seen me on the camera.  

He looked to be a scientist type, with a lab coat on and goggles. He didn’t have a gun on him, but he had some kind of device in his hand which he held in my direction menacingly.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m saving her life,” I responded honestly.

“Y-you’re just a slave!” He shouted.

“Oh, this?” I had been in such a hurry, that I hadn’t even considered the collar.

I immediately plugged in the dongle and touched the Master code. As he saw me do that, he pulled out some kind of device which I assumed was linked to the slave collar. He pressed a button extremely deliberately, yet nothing happened.

I touched the unlock button on the slave collar. There was a click, and it untightened from my neck. I pulled it off and dropped it on the floor with a clank.

“Wh-wh-what?” He cried out, turning to the robot.

“Kill him!”

The robot spun to me, and then spun back. Other than the machine still working on Katarina, the room was silent.

“I said… kill him, now! Why are you not following my command?”

“Master code cannot be overridden. Harming Master is not allowed.” A robotic voice answered.

“I am your owner!” He shrieked.

“Kill the owner,” I responded angrily.

“Affirmative.” A gun came out of a panel on the front of the scout as it turned back to the guy in the lab coat.

“Y-you can’t do this! I own you!”

“There are many owners… only one Master.” The robotic voice said, causing the man to stare in stunned silence.

There was a blast of energy, and he slammed against the wall. It shot two more times, and he slid down the wall dead.

I took a deep breath. I hadn’t been certain If it would work out that way. I had hoped that the Master code had that kind of ability, but until I saw it in action, it had only been a hope.

“Can you communicate with the rest of the security?” I asked the scout.

“Yes… all turrets and droids are attached to the centralized security hub.”

“Then… send out my order.” I responded, my voice sounding dry and harsh coming from my mouth, but I didn’t care. “Kill everyone in this hospital except the three of us.”

“As Master commands.”

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