Exodus: The Assassin's Path - LightNovelsOnl.com
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"Sorry Commander," Lara Sy was sitting at his desk.
Quinn scowled at his Operative. She had tricked him, but he was willing to overlook things since she had come here to help.
Tal came out of the bathroom, her wet hair was done up in a braid, she wore comfortable jeans and one of Quinn's t-s.h.i.+rts. "Morning hun," she gave him a quick kiss.
"New rule... no one but you comes in the bedroom while I'm logged in or sleeping." Quinn stomped into the bathroom.
Tal nodded, "noted." She glanced at Nightingale. "You must have done something."
"Yep, tricked him into doing something." Lara glanced at the closed bathroom door, "I did say sorry."
"He isn't mad at you. " Tal took a seat on the bed and waited, "tell me all about it."
When Quinn came out of the bathroom a while later, the door was closed and it was empty. "Tricking me, the h.e.l.l..." Quinn mumbled under his breath, "I would have definitely checked the signatures had I not been worried about today."
He took a seat at his desk while getting his socks on, the framed picture of his mom seemed to stare at him. "I was mad at you for a long time, the last day you spoke to me was on my ninth birthday. You didn't even know it was my birthday, you yelled at me and then logged in for three days straight."
Ben Joki had found the boy sitting outside of his door when he came home from work. Nine-year-old Quinn had been alone in his apartment for three days, eating dried cereal out of a box. He knew something was wrong right away, he brought the boy into the apartment and called the police.
Quinn had been sitting on the couch when Ben got off the phone, "she's gone..." Even though he was only nine, he knew that she had died. He used to secretly hold her hand while she was playing, her hands had been ice cold for two days.
Quinn walked out to the railing next to his door. He could hear Naomi and Tal talking downstairs. Leah and Mojo were on the living room couch talking to Lara. The atmosphere seemed a bit icy.
The couch was the only piece of furniture still in the living room. Naomi had all sorts of electronics hooked up, the biggest of which was a Magnetic Resonance Compiler (MRC). To Quinn, it looked exactly like a large coffin. Convenient, since it currently held the avatar of a woman who had been dead for more than a decade.
Em had been sitting at the island listening to Tal and Naomi talk. When she saw her brother she immediately stood up and went to him. "Hey, Quinn."
"You brought the avatar I see," Quinn noted that this was an early version of his mother, it was the avatar Em had used to track Nora Salo in Exodus. This one had light brown hair instead of silver.
Em nodded as she hugged him tightly. "I laid in that thing and then logged out. Naomi has already downloaded the data from the implants and the imprinted memory sh.e.l.l.
Naomi walked over with Tal while they were talking. Her dark eyes didn't seem nervous at all, "I'm ready to start Quinn, this is going to take a long time."
Tal grabbed his hand and pulled him close, she held his face in her hands, kissing him several times. "This will work Quinn, I know it will." Ren, Jinn, Pops, Anna, and Ro-Ro were all sitting at the kitchen Island nodding in agreement. Everyone seemed reluctant to speak further.
Quinn approached Lara, he smiled at her. He wasn't someone who held grudges with his friends, bottom line-he was tricked into kissing a pretty girl, there are worse things. "No matter what, I won't let you come to any harm."
Lara stared at him, "I'll do whatever you need Commander."
"Please excuse me then, I need to talk to her again." Quinn waited as she leaned back and tried to relax. "Mom, I need your help."
There was a collective gasp as Lara's pale blue hair slowly turned silver, and her elfin features became human. "Quinn.."
"I'm going to summon you in a moment, I need you to climb into the device behind me."
The silver-haired time mage nodded, she already knew why she was there. She shared awareness with Lara. The silver hair changed back to blue and Lara sat up on the couch. Leah scooted over and placed an arm around her shoulders.
"Okay... that's my cue to get ready." Quinn headed back up the stairs to log in, Tal followed him.
"We ran the VR mappers after Naomi brought in all her equipment." Tal took her place on the bed when she noticed Quinn was grabbing the VR suit from the bathroom.
"Thanks, Tal, I wish I could be more involved." Quinn had a decent knowledge of electronics, but he wasn't in the same realm as Naomi or even Tal. "I only have the most rudimentary idea of what is actually happening."
"The two of you are in great hands Little Q." Tal watched him walk to the VR chamber. She had secretly told Kora that he would be a teacher a.s.sistant (TA) in the Martial arts Department. Quinn would be close to the same age as many of them, and he had a lot to offer.
"I trust her, cya in a bit." Quinn stepped inside and closed the door. He slid the neural net over his head and closed his eyes.
Quinn appeared at the TAP gate, it was still a bit early for Exodus to be hopping. "Activate TAP kit, dinner casual."
"I finally realized who you are Q, you are Quinn, the fodder." A feminine voice from behind him spoke softly.
He turned to see a somewhat muscular blond woman, Eraphia from Civil Unrest. She had taken over the reins of Cyrus Blood's game empire. "Phia... you are looking well."
The pretty blond smiled at the nickname, "it took me a while to figure it out. The Avatar differences threw me. There was a familiarity that I couldn't place though."
"Hmm? What gave me away?" Quinn wasn't bothered that she figured it out.
"Gunfight Gala, and the martial art moves you displayed in the arena. I'd only seen one person who was so well rounded."
He had been a second-tier fodder in four different games. "Short and homely Quinn the fodder, that's me," he confessed.
Eraphia returned his smile, "he wasn't homely, I liked his face."
"Then you are the only one to ever say so." Quinn laughed as he brought up his hud, "I have to go Phia."
"Okay Q, cya around."
Quinn activated the bedroom gate and stepped through.
Tal was sitting patiently next to her reclined self on the bed.
"Hmm... twin Tals, I should shut the door." He wiggled his eyebrows at her.
Tal's loud laugh carried throughout the house. "Oh G.o.d..."
They walked down the stairs holding hands, Quinn stopped in front of the MRC and faced Naomi.
The Doctor's dark eyes were focused on the hud in front of her, "we are ready Quinn."
Quinn raised his hand, looking at the ring he wore. "Just one time."
Unique: Bonded Hearts
a spirit companion
to your side.
Bond: Lara Sy
Bond: Silver Princess
Bond: Leah Fintree
Bond: Mora Jol
There was a loud gasp of shock from Lara, she arched her back on the couch, gritting her teeth. It lasted for several seconds before she collapsed in Leah and Mojo's arms, her skin suddenly covered in sweat. The corporeal form of the Silver Princess hovered in front of Quinn.
"Quickly mom, climb inside." Quinn watched as the silver ghost-like form took her place in the MRC. A clear screen activated, instantly sealing the small chamber. Quinn could see that she was separate from the avatar.
"It's fine Quinn, synchronization is a long process." She brought up the MRC hud and displayed the progress, Synchronization .02 percent.
After an hour it had only climbed to 6 percent. Quinn decided he would continue his day. "Heading to Ravenwood."
Leah stood up, "I'll join you."
Everyone else decided to stay. Leah and Quinn took the gate to Ravenwood and walked hand in hand toward the river.
A small stone path followed the winding river, the two lovers strolled in the warm sun of mid-afternoon.
"I'm looking forward to meeting her."
Quinn didn't have to ask who, "I don't want to get my hopes up."
"Hmm... I can see that." Leah watched his profile as they walked. "Are you mad at Lara?"
"No. In the end, no harm was done." Quinn was beginning to see the humor of it, Lara definitely had a roguish personality. "Are you?"
"Not really, the kissing part wouldn't bother me at all. I would have actually signed it had she asked." Leah didn't like being tricked. "Was she a good kisser?"
Quinn gave her a deadpan look, "horrible."
The redhead stopped him on the trail and kissed him, her arms wrapping around his neck as she got on her tiptoes. After a few moments, she released him and lowered her arms to his waist. They stood there holding each other for several minutes, neither one talking.
The trail branched and came to an end at a gra.s.sy bank next to the water. The couple sat in the warm sun talking and holding hands.
Leah leaned her shoulder against him, "think I could attend the Academy for a year?"
"Um... do you want to do that?" Quinn gave her a surprised look, she had never mentioned it before.
Leah nodded, "I'm interested in Pop's department, economics and business. You've got a number of different businesses going, I'm interested in that sort of thing."
"In my world when you marry someone, half of everything they have becomes yours."
Leah gave him a doubtful look, "you're kidding me..."
Quinn shook his head, "nope, half."
Leah pushed him back on the gra.s.s and straddled his waist. "So..." She slowly unb.u.t.toned her s.h.i.+rt. "How are you going to divide this in half?" She left the s.h.i.+rt on, but completely unb.u.t.toned.
"In some cases the spouse gets everything." Quinn wiggled his eyebrows at her.
Leah laughed and bent forward, her warm skin pressing against him. A moment later her hud blink, she stuck her tongue out at him and answered.
Mojo's face popped up a moment later, "is Quinn with you? He isn't answering his hud."
Quinn leaned over so that Mojo could see him, she realized right away what they were about to do. "I'm here Mojo."
Her lips curved in a small smile, without a doubt she knew what was going on. "Get back here Quinn, Ninety-six percent."
By the time they'd return to the house, Tal had made everyone but Mojo leave. Ren and Pops brought everyone to the Songbird Tavern, where they closed up and waited for news.
Quinn stood next to the MRC, while Mojo, Tal and Leah sat on the couch holding hands.
Naomi Gajendra looked up from her hud. "Be ready Quinn, some disorientation is to be expected. Just be calm and supportive."
When the synchronization was complete, the screen covering the MRC opened. The hair on the Avatar had turned silver. Quinn watched as her brown eyes opened. The looked around slowly, narrowing slightly as if everything were blurry. When Quinn leaned closer they focused on him.
Quinn felt his eyes watering, tears running down his cheeks as he looked at his moms face. They stared at each other for a long moment. Slowly recognition flowed into her eyes. "Quinn?"
Quinn nodded his head, unable to say anything. For the first time since he was ten years old, he was crying.
"Quinn... I'm sorry." The silver-haired woman slowly sat up, her hand touching the young man's face. He had been so young. Tears welled up in her eyes. "Those things I said... Quinn, I want to take them back."
He struggled to talk, "I-I really missed you."
She held his face in his hands, evidence of 9-year-old Quinn still there. "How much time? What is the date?"
"It's April 11, 2120."
Ella pulled him into her arms, holding him tight against her as she started to cry. She sobbed quietly against his shoulder, while he stroked her silver hair. Quinn felt his remorse and fear fading as he held the small woman. She murmured apologies into his shoulder as she clung to him.
"Mom, it's fine. I'm going to take care of you." Quinn rubbed his eyes with his sleeve and stood up, he lifted her out of the MRC and let her stand on the floor.
Immediately she started crying again, leaning against his chest. "So tall Quinn, I missed all of it."
Quinn nodded, "We'll make up for it mom."
"Wait, what day did you say it was?" Ella leaned back and stared up at the giant her son had become.
"April 11, 2120." Quinn's smile widened as he stared at her face.
Ella matched her son's smile. "That's... it's your birthday, Quinn."
"Yep... best birthday ever."
The stood together hugging each other close. Ella barely came up to her son's chin. The three women on the couch were huddled together, each of them had been crying. None of them wanted to approach the pair.
"Excuse me, Quinn." Dr. Naomi Gajendra had a series of questions to ask, it was necessary to ask them right away for cognitive response. "Could I ask your mom a few questions?"
Quinn stepped away, but Ella grabbed his hand as if afraid he'd go away.
"I'm Dr. Naomi Gajendra, would you mind answering a few questions." The dark eyes were swollen and red, she hadn't been immune to the emotional reunion of mother and son.
Quinn led her to the island and pulled out a chair for her. He sat next to her, holding her hand as Naomi brought up the table hud.
"Do you know your name?"
"Yes, it's Ella Riley."
"What is the last thing you remember in the real world?"
"I remember going to the grocery store to get food for Quinn to eat while I played TAP. I yelled at him for wasting my time, and I said something horrible." Ella put her head on the counter and started sobbing.
Quinn lay a warm hand on her back, rubbing it gently. "It's fine mom... next question."
"No, No... I said you were a big mistake." Her small hands gripped his arm, "I've never believed that you've always been the best thing I've ever done." She hugged his neck tightly her tears soaking his s.h.i.+rt as she started crying again.
"Don't worry, we'll make up the lost time." He hugged her close until she stopped crying, he hadn't realized how small of a woman she was.
"Ella, how old are you?" Naomi continued her questions once she had stopped crying.
"I should be 29, but if Quinn is 21, then I'm actually 41." Ella seemed shocked by the thought, her youth was gone. Her 9-year-old son was 21.
"Ella since you are self-aware, I need to tell you a few things." Naomi looked to the couch and waved the women over.
Tal sat down on the other side of Ella, while Leah and Mojo sat next to Quinn.
Ella looked at Tal when she sat down. "I remember you, Talia Joki, Ben's daughter."
Tal nodded, "it's nice to see you again Ella."
Naomi closed her hud and smiled at Ella. "Stop me anytime to ask questions. Some of this will be hard to hear. You died 11 years ago, because of the implants and imprinted memory sh.e.l.l from HYLO we were able to revive you into an Avatar."
Ella let go of Quinn for the first time since she woke up, her hands touching her own face. "I'm virtual?"
"Yes, your consciousness remained in place long enough for Quinn to store it when he arrived at the Infinity Well. It was the missing piece we needed." Naomi glanced at the young man, no doubt he was someone special.
"This is my actual home mom, but with the technology we have today, we've mapped it virtually and what you are looking at is my Avatar."
"Me, Quinn and Doctor Gajendra are all Avatars, Leah and Mojo are NPCs from TAP."
"Wait... where's my mom?" Ella looked around the room, no one else was present.
"She pa.s.sed away when I was 15," Quinn had only known his grandma for six years, but in that short time, he had loved her dearly.
Ella's face was a mask of guilt and pain. "My mom is dead? Then I left you alone... with no one for five years. I didn't even tell you who your father was." Tears started streaming down her face again.
"He wasn't alone Ella, he became part of our family." Tal couldn't take seeing Quinn and his mom look so heartbroken.
"Ben took him in?" Ella looked at her son who was shaking his head.
"No, I lived on my own, but they opened up their hearts and home to me. We became a family."
Ella tried to smile through the tears, "thank you, Talia. G.o.d bless you."
Talia smiled, "I'm the one who is thankful. Quinn and I are getting married. We are four months pregnant with a little boy."
"Pregnant?" Ella's eye's dropped to Talia's stomach, she wasn't showing yet.
"And I have met my dad. My sister Em lives with us." Quinn was suddenly sorry that Em had left with everyone else.
"Gus got married?"
Quinn detected the smallest bit of disappointment in her eyes. "He did, although his wife pa.s.sed away quite some time ago."
Ella leaned again her son's shoulder. "This is all so much."
"It does take some getting used to." Quinn kissed the top of her head.
Ella looked at the other two women at the table, " I'm Ella."
"I'm Leah." The redhead stood up and walked around the island to her. She pulled a reluctant Mojo with her. "This is Mora Jol, we are also marrying Quinn."
"Pardon?" Ella looked at Talia, then at Quinn and finally back at Leah and Mojo.
Talia stood up, surprise on her face. "Wait... Quinn, it's your birthday?"
An hour later Quinn escorted Ella to the Songbird, they had been told that the procedure had worked. Naomi's face was excited, but she put that aside for the evening to help her new friends celebrate. Pops ordered a cake from Bizzaro's as soon as he heard that it was Quinn's birthday.
"Ben! Thank you so much." Ella had hugged Pops the moment she saw him.
"Well, no need for that. He saved my family you know?" Pop's sat down with her and began telling the entire Ren story.
Ren came over during the story and gave Quinn a hug. "I hid your present under your bed, Quinn."
"You remembered my birthday?"
Ren smiled sweetly at him. "Yep, I love Quinn best."
Ella sat with her son's friends, listening to all the things he had done. Everyone had a story about him. A movement on the stairs drew her attention, a pretty girl with light blue hair walked down. She stopped when she saw Ella.
Ella got up quickly and walked toward her. "You are Lara?"
Lara nodded and accepted a hug from her. "It's nice to meet you."
The two women stared at each other. Ella had felt many of the things Lara felt, she knew that this girl was madly in love with her son. She grabbed Lara by the hand and pulled her back to their table.
Two more weeks had pa.s.sed. TAP calmed quite a bit. When the Ma.s.s Quest for the Land Rush had been completed, there were 33,455 two hundred acre plots awarded, Quinn shot up to level Eighty as a result. M & Q fishery was up and running, and the opening of the Academy loomed closer.
Quinn hugged the surface of the river closely as he flapped his wings lazily, occasionally a wingtip would brush the water. He pulled up and hovered about ten feet off the surface. "Well... time for payback."
Quinn activated the record feature on his hud.
He watched as the companion he summoned appeared in front of him. Lara's smile flashed for a moment before it froze in place. She plunged ten feet into the water below. Quinn flapped his wings nonchalantly as he hovered in place, after a second she surfaced. When she did, he flew away laughing. The scowling rogue shook her fist at him as he retreated.