Gookin’s Journal

In-character Subject: Phobia
Submitted: 2007-3-8 13.39

Gookin had been slowly recovering from his ordeal.

It had been a hard few days of people constantly checking on him and worrying about him. It had started to get annoying. He decided to go and see the one person who would not visibly worry.

"Alright Bittype?"
"Hey there Gook!"
"What ya up to?"
"Just checking the ship. You know what I’m like."

Gookin chuckled. The Singularity Pilot was one of the worst for making sure the Hovercraft was exactly how she wanted it. It was either that, or somebody would be strung up to the hull of the craft and left there for a day or two.

"What can I do for you then Gookin? Need a few more slaps or dya wanna go for the whole boxing match this time?"
"I think I’ll pass on that actually. I just needed to get away for a while."
"Ah. I went through the same thing when I returned to duty."
"That’s why I came here. I needed to get of the craft and spend some time away from the crew. As bad as that sounds."
"Why don’t you just jack in and go beat up on some Merv operatives, or EPN of course."

Fear flashed in Gookin’s eyes and he fell to his knee breathing heavily.

"Gook!"

Bittype picked the First Mate up and sat him down. She waited till he had calmed down and then slapped him, hard, across his left cheek.

"I swear I told you not to fucking do that ever again!"
"S-Sorry. I just… I-I’m afraid."
"Afraid of what. You killed the son of a bitch!"
"I don’t know that for certain yet."
"So jack in and make sure."
"But if he is alive then I can’t fight him again. I don’t think i’m up to it."
"Gookin. Here’s some advice. Grow up and get on with it."
"You what?"

Gookin was angry now. He didn’t know why. Maybe he had expected sympathy. He certainly hadn’t expected that.

"Don’t get pissed at me. You need to face your fear. Control it, don’t let it control you."
"I’ll tell you what I don’t need. I don’t need some self righteous bitch telling me what I need to do with my life"

With that, Gookin stormed off back to the Aggregator. Bittype looked after him and smiled, knowing exactly what he would do.

"So easy." She muttered to herself.
"It worked then."

A voice from behind Bittype made her jump and she turned around to look at her husband, d4sh.

"Bastard. I hate it when you do that. Yes, it worked. He’ll go and jack in now. I guarantee it."
"You better hope he doesn’t fall apart."
"He won’t. He’s stronger than that. He’s already proved it, to all of us."

*

Gookin was furious. But he knew Bittype was right, and he realised that getting angry about it was just being childish. He boarded the Aggregator and went straight to the jack-in bay.

"Flare, get my seat ready. I’m going in."

Flare jumped where she had been dozing at the console.

"Come on. I haven’t got all day. Hurry up!"
"Y-yes sir!"
"Less of the Sir crap."

Flare looked at Gookin and then smiled. He seemed almost back to his normal self. But then she looked at his eyes and knew that he was afraid. The attitude was just an illusion to hide his true feelings.

"You sure about this?"
"Don’t bother with the questions. Just do it because if I don’t do this here and now, it will never happen."

Flare set up the chair, set the console as it needed to be and then walked over to where Gookin was now laying, waiting for the moment. She laid a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"I’ll have the EJP prepped and ready if you find him."
"No. Leave it off. If I find him, I have to finsih it. I don’t know if I just destroyed the part that kept him regenrating. He may have one life left."

Flare looked at the First Mate. She had no medical knowledge, but she was sure that any more trauma to Gookins brain could be fatal. He didn’t need any more surprises, not for a long time.

"Do it." Gookin demanded, and the operator pushed the jack firmly into the port at the base of his skull. As she did, she saw his eyes go wide with anxiety and then, they closed.

"What’s going on here?"
"Proc! Sir! Erm… "
"What is he doing? I thought I told you not to let him jack in until I gave the go ahead."
"I-I-He-He said he had to. For the sake of his sanity."
"God damnit Flare. If anything happens to him because of this I’ll have your bloody head!"

*

Gookin stepped out of the Hardline into Tabor West, gun already drawn and ready. The other people around turned to look at him, surprised by the sudden sight of a gun. His heart was thundering in his chest but he closed his eyes, took a deep breath and then jumped onto the roof of the Machine Building just behind the Hardline.

"Mr Isbell."

Gookin swung around to aim his gun at the voice and almost fired. He paused and dropped the gun. In front of him stood Agent Brown.

"Shit." Gookin exclaimed. He had almost shot at the very beings that employed him. Why? His fear was getting the better of him. He needed to focus and control himself.

"Are you functioning efficiently, operative?"
"I-erm-yeah. Sorry. You took me by surprise."
"Interesting. It seems your ordeal has had some lasting… effects."
"How do you know about that?"
"We were monitoring the system at the time. It seems you were able to enter a very old construct that we had thought was lost. It was hidden in the code and it seems the exile you encountered had taken residence there."
"So, you’re saying I was in a construct? But I wasn’t jacked in."
"The human mind still manages to achieve more than we could ever calculate, under times of stress."
"Ok, so if you knew what was happening; do you know what has become of the Lupine?"
"The exile’s shotgun contained an enhancement code which had been adapted from the emergency jack out procedures. It allowed the exile to recompile its code after supposed death. You managed to confuse the code by using the weapon to kill its own subject. This caused a fatal error within the construct, deleting the exile, the weapon and the construct itself."
"I deleted a construct? Bloody hell."
"Yes. We must commend you on your efforts. That exile was highly dangerous and was believed to be deleted. However, Mr Isbell. I would like to know how you have altered your own code."
"What do you mean?"
"Have you not seen yourself?"

Gookin frowned and fear began to creep into his mind. What had happened to him in the construct? it was then that he noticed his reflection in the nearby window. His hair! It had changed dramatically. The spikes were gone and in their place, was a very modern, buisnessman-like hair style. The length had not changed, but it had become considerably lighter in colour.

"What the fuck?"
"It is not uncommon for an operative to change his or her appearance within the system after time of stress. The human mind adapts to changes. it seems yours has adapted to whatever state of mind you are currently in."

Gookin then realised that his hair had changed because he, himself had changed. He had began to find jokes less funny, and had become far more serious. The hair was how his brain was portraying the change within the Matrix. Gookin ran his har through it and smiled. It reached his eyes. He thought through all that he and the Agent had discussed. He had no reason to be afraid anymore. His hair may never go back to the way it was, but Gookin didn’t mind the change. In fact, he quite liked it. The lupine was officially dead and Gookin could finally relax.

"We do have a new assignment for you, Mr Isbell."

Gookin turned around. Maybe he wouldn’t relax quite so much then.

"What is it?"
"Follow me Operative, a certain someone would like to discuss your assignment with you in person"

… TO BE CONTINUED…

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