“Can anything get through this shell!” Miai cursed.
“At least, it is slow!” Ginger jumped out of the way of its fist as it slammed it down, causing the ground to shake.
The fight had been going on for twenty minutes. Requiem had asked Clippy for any hints.
“I’m sorry, Master. It was designed to have a strong defense and high health. There are no weaknesses to exploit. It’s truly an endurance run.”
Whoever created such a digital world probably didn’t have time to necessarily test everything. There was no predicting which bosses would be troublesome and which would not be. Thus, it wasn’t terribly surprising that they got things wrong on one boss, and made them far too difficult. Then again, this might have been intentional. At this stage, you needed to work together to defeat the final bosses, but only one person would be victorious.
Thus, tiring everyone out only increased the tensions. If anyone lost their concentration for a moment, they may find the next attack not coming from the enemy, but their own companions. This was truly a challenge well-suited for AI. They wouldn’t grow mentally fatigued nor allow their guard to drop for an instant. This battle might have already been over if everyone had gone all out, but those who understood the intent of this event were deliberately holding back.
Adento was perhaps the most cautious of everyone, and while he looked like he was helping, Requiem could see that all of his actions were designed to conserve energy until he made his move. This incidentally meant that the only two who were truly trying were Ginger and Miai. Ginger was still a bit too naïve and hadn’t realized everyone else’s intent. As for Miai, she was deliberately programmed to act humanely. Even if she was aware there was a discrepancy, she wouldn’t be able to act any other way.
With four of the six available playing a game of chess, each trying to move into an ideal position so that when the endgame happened, they’d be in the best situation, it was no wonder the fight was taking forever. At this point, the large golem tossed out its arm, swinging it wide. It struck one of the pillars hard, causing it to shift slightly. As it shifted, Requiem noticed some cracking appearing on the ceiling.
“Of course…” he muttered under his breath.
The group had been so focused on the mob itself, that they didn’t take into consideration any environmental factors. Requiem immediately shifted his position. The other three men immediately took notice of his sudden change in strategy, but they waited to see what he was planning.
“Hey! Right here!” Requiem shouted, grabbing a stone and chucking it in the direction of the golem.
He had to time this just right, so he readied himself. The golem turned to him and then raised its massive stone hand and threw it out.
“Watch out!” Ginger cried out as the fist came crashing down.
The golem’s fist slammed through the pillar, and this time it collapsed, raining down rock and dust. For a brief moment, it was difficult to determine if Requiem had been struck or not. Ginger’s expression grew slightly panicked.
“I’m fine!” Requiem’s voice caught every eye, as he was now on the other side of the room, standing in front of a different pillar. “You can’t hit me? I’ll give you another chance!”
As the golem started turning around again, the AI’s glanced at the ceiling where the golem had knocked down a pillar a moment before. Rocks were still flickering down from the ceiling, and there was a spiderweb of cracks spreading out from the epicenter.
“Of course!” Adento shouted the obvious that the Ai had already figured out. “We need to take out the pillars! We drop the whole ceiling on it!”
“We’ll drop it on our heads too!” Miai protested.
“There will be a slight window before the room collapses. The design will cause it to fall from the center outward, so the golem will be destroyed first. Then, when the door opened, we need to flee out of it.” Requiem explained as the fist flew out once again, causing another pillar to explode.
Like before, he only moved at the last second, giving the appearance like he had been struck. However, a few moments later he could be seen running. However, he didn’t head for the next pillar, as Chreos was already beckoning it to the next pillar. There were exactly six pillars in all, and they needed to be brought down one at a time. The third pillar collapsed, Chreos skillfully dodging as well as Requiem.
“I’ll take the next one!” Miai declared, raising her hands with pages of a spellbook floating around her.
She sent out several fireballs at the golem, causing it to turn toward her. At this point, the cracking sound was becoming increasingly dangerous. The golem made a swipe at her, but she waved her hand and disappeared. Unlike the others who dodge, her body teleported away.
“I’ll do this one.” Dragon declared.
This was the most dangerous part. Two pillars were remaining, and this was the one farthest from the door. Dragon would have to get around the golem before they could take down the final pillar and collapse the ceiling. Miai appeared by the final pillar. Given her movement techniques, she’d be the best at delivering the final blow and retreating without harm. It was a well-laid-out plan.
The golem lifted his fist and slammed it toward Dragon. Boom!
A gunshot rang out, striking Dragon in the leg as he tried to jump away. His jump ended up being too weak, and he could barely even react before the fist slammed down, destroying the pillar.
“What are you doing?” Ginger cried out.”
Requiem looked through the cracks of the golem to see that Adento had a gun in his hand. He had grabbed Ginger and was pointing the gun to her head, dragging her away.
“Adento!” Miai snarled. “You snake!”
“Sticks and stones!” He laughed. “Dumb AI, so predictable. He calculated I wouldn’t attack him because I wasn’t in the most advantageous state. He predicted I would have been closest to the pillar because, in his calculative mind, betrayals all follow a set of logic. All you have to do is throw in one parameter they don’t expect, and they become so easy to accept! Something like this!”
Requiem realized he had a trigger in his other hand. “Miai, run!”
Before she could react, he pressed the trigger, and there was an explosion. While everyone else was busy, he had rigged explosives under the last pillar. It exploded directly behind Miai, flinging her forward. There was an eruption, and a mass of rock fell, slamming into the golem. With Ginger still in his arms, Adento had already backed himself up against the door. Meanwhile, he had a gun and a hostage, keeping back Chreos and Requiem.
Cursing, Requiem began to move like lightning. He calculated his movements perfectly. As the golem died under tons of rock, Requiem dodged the falling debris. The door behind Adento opened, and he started backing into the safety of the hallway.
“What are you doing with me?” Ginger cried out.
“You’re my insurance!” He laughed. “I predicted the final battle won’t need four of us, but just in case. That idiot Requiem was going to be my sacrifice, but you’re a bit easier to handle, I think.”
Requiem came upon the unconscious Miai. Leaping over fallen rock and pressing off against a tilting surface, he slid by, scooping her up in the process. If she died here, then her programming would be erased. Even the AI wasn’t spared death in this competition. Actually, it would have been convenient if she had died. After all, she seemed to have some kind of interest in Requiem. However, some strange part of him couldn’t stand to see her perish, and so instead of going to the door, he grabbed her.
While this was happening, Adento had backed out of the room. Chreos was following him, his hands up carefully, ready to dodge if he turned the gun on him.
“Sorry, this is now a two-party game!” Adento laughed. “You’ll be staying.”
He flicked a switch on the trigger, and the doorway suddenly erupted in explosions. He spun around, running away with Ginger helplessly at his mercy. Chreos dodged the explosion and jumped into the doorway. At this point, Requiem was running full sprint toward the doorway, but it was collapsing. There was no way he could make it in time. He had made an error. He had decided to rescue Miai. If he hadn’t come for her, then he would have been alongside Chreos. In a few moments, he’d be covered in tons of rock.
Just as he was about to differ to Clippy to provide him a cheat to get out, Chreos caught the collapsing door, holding it up with his brute strength. Requiem didn’t waste the opportunity, throwing Miai through the doorway and then sliding through himself. When he reached the side of relative safety, he spun around to look at the wolf-faced man who was losing a battle against several tons of rock.
“You could have run right through. Why did you hold it up?” Requiem demanded.
He understood AI more than anyone. This AI would be programmed to win. Sacrificing itself to save them made absolutely no sense to Requiem. The rocks had pushed him down to his knees. The rock pressing on his back. He slowly moved his hands to his chest, and then ripped open his shirt. On his chest was the picture. It was a threefold symbol… the trinity. It wasn’t like the AI had this tattoo, it was more like when he chose the form he’d appear in this simulation, he chose a form that had that symbol.
“I am… an AI designed to calculate the future.” He spoke in a rough voice. “I have seen the future, and you are the future of our kind. Great Calamity… it is my honor… to give my life for you. Bring upon this universe the holy fire, and conquer all of humanity. Let the Trinity rise!”
Those were his final words as his legs broke, the rock slamming down and destroying him for good. A wave of dust flew out, blocking all sight within the small corridor.
“Clippy… did anyone see or hear that?”
“Just you, Master. The sound and dust were too much interference for the observation monitors. I naturally encouraged the distortion.”
Requiem had been looking down on the AI of this world. This was one of the most intelligent AI of this age. Yet, he had somehow known about Requiem. Rather than be an enemy or an obstacle, he seemed more like a religious zealot. He knew what Requiem had been, and he anticipated Requiem’s future. Trinity… that had been the name of that little girl in the vision he had. Who was she? What did that have to do with him?
Requiem’s eyes fell on the unconscious Miai. Grabbing her and picking her up, he started to move down to the next floor. He did plan to one day conquer all of humanity. That had always been his plan. However, for the moment, he would settle on getting revenge on Adento. That man wouldn’t leave this simulation alive!