Zack sat silently listening to the med tech as he jabbered on and on about the numerous incidents surrounding the breach in the NB operational system.
“I can’t believe someone would mess with those beacons,” the tech said, as he threaded the new tube through the holder on Zack’s servo-chair. “I mean, what kind of asshole would hack something that important to every living being in the verse?”
Zack had experienced a true epiphany the day Daniel triggered the cascade in the beacons. On that day one of the ships that locked onto an infected NB was a tour ship with a load of teenagers coming home from an interstellar field trip. The ship had no weapons to activate. Instead it just took over the controls from the adult crew and flew the ship into the nearest star. It was a long enough trip to the star for all the kids to call home and say goodbye to their family, not long enough for anyone to launch and save them. All twenty-one died on impact.
Zack woke up to reality as he listened to their final words broadcast to anyone who would listen by the INC Network. Tear filled messages, brave messages, heartfelt messages. Zackary tried to intercede at that point. He tried to stop the virus. He hadn’t anticipated this. He hadn’t really thought of anything but getting back at Daniel. Now he was no better than the men of the corporation that had put him in this chair. He was the asshole the tech was talking about. He was the idiot who did this - if he only knew how to stop it.
“I don’t think I have ever been here when your console was off,” the tech commented as he finished up and started to pack his stuff back up. “Course, the news is pretty miserable right now with all the shipping lanes backed up and supplies running low. You know, I know you don’t get out, but you should place a grocery order soon. They are starting to run low on a lot of stuff. When I was in there this morning there wasn’t any fresh produce at all. They say it’s only going to get worse.”
The tech closed up his duffle and turned back toward Zack.
“You okay, Zack?” he asked. “You been really quiet.” The tech knelt down beside Zack’s chair. “If your system is down I could call someone to drop by and get it back up for you.” He knew Zack depended on his console for more than entertainment. It was his lifeline to the outside world.
“No, thanks Emery,” Zack said. His eyes finally meeting the techs. “It’s just too depressing to watch.”
“Maybe you could find someone to game with, just ignore the news,” Emery suggested. He had played his share of games with Zack over the years. His Matt Milestone was a great avatar. “I’d stay and play, but I got a couple more folks to see today. Marcus’ oxygen is low and I got to get him over a shipment. Hope another tanker comes in before we run out.”
Marcus was another survivor of the chemical fire Zackary managed to live through. In fact, all of the patients Emery took care of were survivors of that incident.
“Thanks, Bud, you go ahead. I’ll be fine. Just a bit down today,” he told Emery. “Tell Marcus hi for me.”
Zack just wanted Emery to go. He didn’t want to chat. He didn’t want to game. He wanted to take it all back. He wanted to die so he wouldn’t have to think of what he had done and who he had hurt.