“Really? You’re sure our intel is correct?”
“Agent Halictus, I can assure you I wouldn’t send you if I had any other choices.” Replied the woman sat at the desk, her face making it clear she didn’t appreciate the interruption.
“And I wouldn’t work with you,” added another woman from the back of the room.
“I heard that,” growled Halicutus as she turned.
“You were meant to,” smirked the woman as she flicked her hair back.
“Ladies!” Shouted the woman at the desk. “I understand you’ve had personal problems in the past, but this is not the time!”
“If you’re expecting Apidae and me to put that behind us, you are very much mistaken.” Shouted Halictus as she moved closer to the desk.
“I understand that,” nodded the woman. “Hence why I’ve assigned three people to this mission.”
“A third?” Shouted Apidae as she approached the desk. “I don’t need someone to babysit me!”
“I didn’t say babysit,” sighed the besuited woman as started to fiddle with her pen. “Just someone to act as a middle ground.”
“And who is that?” Growled Apidae as she leaned over the desk, her eyes burning a hole in the other woman.
Suddenly the door at the far end of the room swung open as a woman strutted inside. Her perfectly tailored suit made it look like she had just stepped out of a fashion magazine.
“Bonjour ladies!” Grinned Psithyrus as walked towards the desk and wrapped her arms around the two warring girls.
“Psithyrus?” Blinked Apidae as her cheeks flushed red. “I thought you had quit.”
“Well mon cheri, you know how it is. You think you want to leave, but the heart. The heart yearns for more.” Chuckled Psithyrus as she turned to face Halictus. “And you! Still as radiant as when you first started!”
“Really?” Chuckled Halictus shyly. “Thank you!”
“Now, why don’t you fill me in on our little moonlight expedition! I am eager to get started!”
“Well,” replied Halictus and Apidae in unison, only to quickly glare at each other.
“Vadia Corp,” sighed the woman in the suit. “We’ve been hearing rumblings of them funding an illegal biotech group for a while now. We’ve been doing our best to investigate their latest projects to sniff out any links.”
“Ah yes, Vadia” nodded Psithyrus. “Makers of computer hardware and such interesting software.”
“Exactly.” Replied the woman. “We sent Agents Nomada and Colletes to investigate their main building. But neither has returned. Thus we can only presume the worst.”
“I see, I see!” Grinned Psithyrus, getting obviously excited at the prospect. “And I have my two lovely ladies to help me. What joy!”
“Agent Pisthyrus.” Said the woman, her voice becoming low and firm. “This is a rescue mission first and foremost. We’ve not been authorized to bring them down. We need more evidence.”
“Shame,” smirked Pisthyrus as she nudged Halictus and Apidae. “We could make the night go with a bang for them!”
Halictus and Apidae both chuckled and blushed a deeper shade of red as the woman behind the desk let out a soft sigh, obviously used to Pisthyrus acting like this.
“The armory is at your disposal, get prepared a van will be taking you there at 8 pm sharp.” Said the woman as Halictus and Apidae saluted.
“Yes, Commander!” shouted the pair in unison.
“Au revoir Commander,” purred Pisthyrus as she spun on her heel and walked out of the room.
Preparations went quickly. Halictus and Apidae’s hatred for each other still smoldered in their hearts. However, both of the women were too distracted by Pisthyrus to really think about it.
She was stunning and utterly charming. With a few words, she could easily have you eating out of the palm of her hand. Even if you didn’t normally like girls, something about Pisthyrus’ effortless glamour made you reconsider your preferences. Her presence was so effective that neither of the girls even cared about their forced partnership until the van pulled up outside the compound. As the engine slowly clicked off, the girls looked at each other knowingly.
“A campus, lovely,” grinned Pisthyrus as she pulled a gun out of her belt and checked it.
“Largest in the state.” Nodded Apidae. “We’re going into their main office first, seems the best place to keep hostages.”
“Understood,” nodded Pisthyrus as she put her gun back into the holster and opened the back of the van.
The campus was a sprawling complex that resembled a small city. Every building was covered in lights and advertising. It looked like it had been ripped from the cover of a cyberpunk novel. The woman headed towards the fence that protected the back of the campus. As she reached into her catsuit, Pisthyrus spotted a sign.
“This location is protected by the MOTHER AI system,” she mumbled.
“Vadia Corp’s AI system. They say it thinks like a human.” Replied Halictus as she started to cut through the fence. “It is what got them on our radar, they’ve been hoarding data and using it for unknown projects.”
“Don’t worry,” smirked Pisthyrus as she watched a hole form in the fence. “An AI is just a pretentious flowchart, it can not handle our joie de vivre!”
“Exactly!” Nodded Apidae as she squeezed through the broken fence. “Also MOTHER is such a stupid name, who wants a product called that?”
“Better than a home assistant called Mommy I guess,” giggled Halictus before quickly stopping herself. She didn’t want Apidae to get the impression that she liked working with her.
The girls silently crept through the campus. Their dark catsuits easily blending into the night. Once they reached the admin building Halictus started to try and override a keypad as the other girls looked around.
“So far, so safe.” Nodded Apidae.
“Very little security.” Replied Pisthyrus.
“Hubris most likely, they likely think their AI undoes the need for employees. A common tech bubble issue.”
“I hope you’re right,” mumbled Pisthyrus as the lock clicked open.
“She won’t be, but I am.” Interjected Halictus as she drew her gun and walked into the room.
“How,” started Apidae, her temper flaring. However, before she could finish her sentenced Pisthyrus raised a finger and tapped it against Apidae’s lips. Making her desires very clear.
The girls walked through the building. All of them on high alert. Normally a job like this wouldn’t phase them. However, the fact that this company had somehow felled two of their teammates was terrifying.
Despite the neon outside, the inside of the building was surprisingly generic. It looked like it could have been built anytime in the last forty years. The only thing that reminded you of the impressive exterior was the many declarations that informed you that MOTHER was watching. After a few minutes of creeping, the girls reached a circular room that seemed to have several different corridors coming off of it. Each of the girls looked around, doing their best to work out where they needed to go.
“Intel?” Said Apidae as she looked towards Halictus.
“Nothing for this part of the building.”
“No blueprints or anything? Aren’t you renowned for your navigation?”
“In open landscapes yes, not in badly designed tower blocks.”
“Only good when no one is looking. Got it,” sniped Apidae, obviously getting frustrated.
“I’ll have you know,” growled Halictus. “I am an expert in navigating desert and tundra, I’ve climbed mountains that would break you in two. And I can scale sheer cliffs with my bare hands!”
“Great, that will be useful when you join the French Foreign Legion, not great for a spy who works in urban areas!” Shouted Apidae.
Halictus narrowed her eyes and started to march towards Apidae, her hands clenching into tight fists. However, before she could get in striking range, Pisthyrus put her arm out in front of Halictus. “Now now! Ladies save it for the guards! I am sure we want to leave our imprint on them and not each other! I think we should split up, we can all search a corridor and then return back here when done!”
“That sounds risky,” mumbled Apidae. “They’ve already got hostages.”
“We need to cover as much ground as possible before someone finds out we’ve gotten in.”
“But they don’t seem to have,” started Halictus, only for a voice to boom out of the loudspeakers.
“MOTHER would like to remind all employees that they need their keycards on their person at all times. MOTHER uses these cards to make sure your day is efficient and easy and to prevent unwanted disruption and theft. MOTHER thanks you for your co-operation.” Echoed an artificial voice.
“I’m with you,” nodded Halictus as Apidae gave an uneasy nod.
“Fantastique! Then let’s go!” Smiled Psithyrus as she quickly dashed down the central corridor. The other two girls looked at each other before shrugging and walking towards the exit closest to them.
“MOTHER would like to remind all staff that their activity is monitored for their own safety. MOTHER is always watching over you.” Echoed the speakers as again as the girls slowly separated.
Apidae walked slowly. Being alone made her nervous. If anyone else had suggested splitting up she would have laughed them out of the room at best and declared them a traitor at worst.
As Apidae walked, the corridor changed in aesthetic from boring offices to a harsh, industrial factory. Warning signs declaring the need for safety goggles and hardhats started to appear between the signs talking about MOTHER. Every step seemed to echo infinitely. It didn’t matter how gently Apidae walked, the floor always loudly declared her movement. Knowing it was only a matter of time before someone came to investigate the noise, Apidae started to move quickly.
She ducked in and out of every room she passed, keen to find something that might be of use to her. However, most of the rooms seemed to be generic labs or offices, lacking all but the most basic equipment.
“Why would you even need this,” mumbled Apidae as she looked into another identical room. Something about this felt very wrong, why would a tech company keep all of these random labs inside their main building? Despite her worries, Apidae continued to search. After what felt like an age, she found a room that broke from the template. It seemed to be a server farm or a generator room.
“Curious,” mumbled Apidae as she closed the door behind her and started to look around. The room was very high tech, way beyond anything she had dealt with before.
At the far side of the room, she spotted a screen with the phrase “MOTHER terminal” written above it. Her heart skipped a beat as she dashed over. This was perfect, if MOTHER ran everything then she likely needed data on everything and everyone in the building. Apidae pulled some tools from inside her suit and moved towards the terminal. However, to her surprise, the terminal was unlocked and already had several open documents.
“All of this fancy tech and all of it ruined by a human forgetting to lock their PC. Ironic.” Chuckled Apidae as she started to scroll through the files that were open. The files were nothing to write home about, the usual generic staff notices and staff canteen menus. Apidae moved to go deeper into the system, hoping to find something that would be more useful to her.
However, after a few clicks, a box appeared on the screen. “All server interactions are handled by the MOTHER voice system. Say Hi!” Apidae looked around and took a deep breath. She wasn’t sure if this would set off an alarm, but it was her only lead and she didn’t want to waste it. She quickly pulled her tools out and attached some things to the computer. She could at least try and fry the computer if it attempted to sound the alarm. Once the devices were in place Apidae looked up at the computer. “Hi.”
“Hello, Employee! How can MOTHER help you today!” Asked a familiar robotic voice.
“I need a floor plan of the building.” Said Apidae firmly. Trying to sound like she was meant to be there.
“I can get that for you!” Replied the voice. “Please look closely to make sure the plan is correct.”
“Sure,” nodded Apidae as the screen started to flicker. A 3D model of the building appeared on screen and slowly started to zoom in. Apidae sighed, this was such a tech startup thing. A stupid model and animation when all she wanted was a basic map. She continued to watch as the animation played out. However, as the building reached the front of the frame, the image started to distort. At first, Apidae presumed it was just a transition effect. However, it didn’t seem to go away, in fact, the distortion continued to grow until it formed a spiral pattern on the screen.
“What?” Mumbled Apidae. “I said the map. I want the map.” Something about the spiral filled her with unease. It seemed too perfect to be a glitch and didn’t fit the aesthetic of a tech company. But for some reason, she couldn’t help but be fascinated by it. It was oddly pretty.
“MOTHER is experiencing problems loading the map. Please wait.” Echoed the voice. It seemed more human than before, almost melodic. As the pattern continued to spin, Apidae tried to place what it reminded her of. It was a soft purple that contrasted with the black background and it swirled so smoothly and looped perfectly. Some part of Apidae’s brain recognized it, but she just couldn’t seem to place where from.
“Please continue to watch. The map is loading,” echoed the voice. Apidae nodded. She just needed to wait it out. It wasn’t a problem. The pattern continued to spin as Apdiae’s eyes grew wider. She couldn’t take her eyes off it, it was strangely beautiful in a kitschy way. The colors contrasted beautifully and the movement was just so smooth and perfect.
“Keep watching.” Said the voice. “Please continue to focus on the screen.”
“Okay,” mumbled Apidae as she gazed into the pattern.
“Focus on the screen to make sure the map is correct. When the map appears you will need to focus to make sure it is correct.” Echoed MOTHER, its artificial voice growing more soothing with every word.
“Focus,” nodded Apidae. The spiral was spinning faster and that meant the map had to appear soon. Apidae’s head felt fuzzy as if a fog was descending over her mind.
“Focus on the screen. Look at the pattern,” said the voice. “It is important to focus on the screen.”
“Important,” repeated Apidae. The fog in her brain was growing thicker. Her muscles started to feel warm and heavy almost like she had just woken up from a long nap.
“The screen is relaxing. It is a break. Time to relax and reflect. To be calm. To stare into the spiral and relax.” Cooed the motherly voice.
“Relax,” mumbled Apidae as she let out a soft yawn. Her eyes were drawn down into the center of the spiral, her body felt so very tired, it was like she hadn’t slept in days.
“Yes. Relax. There is no need to think until the map has loaded. Until the map appears you do not need to do anything but stare and wait.” The pattern continued to spin and twist, pulling Apidae down into its depths. The screen started to ripple slightly, the colors slowly changing and altering. Apidae was so heavy, her arms and legs were tingling with warmth and fatigue. Part of her wanted to look away but she didn’t want to miss the map.
“It is crucial to your mission to see the map,” said the artificial voice. A quick wave of confusion washed over Apidae’s mind. How did the voice know she was on a mission? How did it know anything? Suddenly Apidae realized where she had seen the image before. It was during training. When they were being trained to resist brainwashing. Her mind did its best to remember what she had been taught to do, but she was too calm and sleepy to think straight, the image was just too pretty.
“Don’t worry. This is normal,” said MOTHER, almost like she was reading Apidae’s thoughts. “You need to stare to complete your mission. If you do not see the map you will fail the mission.” Apidae knew that wasn’t right, she knew that MOTHER was trying to trick her. But she couldn’t seem to pull her eyes away from the screen and she couldn’t ignore the voice.
“This is normal. Relax.” Echoed MOTHER.
“Not,” started Apidae. However, before she could finish her statement a ripple washed out from the center of the spiral, instantly silencing her brain.
“This is normal. Relax.” Repeated the voice as the spiral continued to ripple.
Apidae wanted to fight, but she was just too tired. The pattern was so pretty, she couldn’t bring herself to look away from it and she didn’t have the energy to motivate herself. She just wanted to sleep. In fact, she was so tired that she had totally forgotten about the map and was now just fixated on getting rest. On finally letting her heavy, fuzzy muscles relax and recuperate after her busy week. A soft click tickled Apidae’s ears. She was unsure where it came from and she didn’t really care, her mind was too consumed by the spiral to try and search out the noise.
The spiral slowly started to speed up as the voice continued to talk to Apidae. The words sliding into her ears and lodging directly in her brain. She had no idea how long she was staring for, time felt like it ground to a halt. An orb slowly descended from the ceiling, its body shimmered with the same pattern that filled the screen. The faint whirring noise suggested that this thing was a drone of some form. But Apidae didn’t care, the second it appeared in front of her, her eyes were drawn back into the spiraling pattern.
“I need to sleep,” echoed Apidae and the voice in unison. The pattern on the orb growing brighter and more vivid as it slowly bobbed up and down in the air.
“MOTHER understands. MOTHER wants what is best for you.” Replied the voice. “MOTHER will find you a place to rest.”
“But,” gurgled Apidae as she slumped forward at the waist. Her whole body felt like it could crumple to the floor at any moment.
“MOTHER will wake you when the map is ready. Don’t worry. MOTHER knows best.” Replied the voice firmly. “Please follow MOTHER.”
Apidae’s mind gave in, the words made so much sense and they seemed to totally bypass her analytical mind. The orb slowly started to move and Apidae found herself mindlessly following it. She didn’t care where it was going, she just wanted to enjoy the pretty pattern.
Psithyrus rolled from box to box, keen to not show herself for more than a few seconds at a time. Her corridor has quickly led to a lab that seemed to be full of weird technology. Every inch of the floor seemed to be covered in terminals, hospital beds, and pods of various sizes. Psithyrus couldn’t make sense of what this area was for. She didn’t recognize any of the technology and couldn’t even work it out from context cues.
“MOTHER would like to remind all employees that they need to carry their keycards and safety equipment with them at all times. MOTHER wants you to be happy and healthy.” Echoed a voice from the speakers.
“That is not good,” sighed Psithyrus, slowly realizing that these announcements seemed to be directed towards the three spies. She had to do something quickly as it was only a matter of time before one of the guards turned up. She ran her eyes across several large metal tubes. They were big enough to fit a person inside and they seemed to have doors made out of frosted green glass. They were all hooked up to a server but Psithyrus couldn’t work out what it would even record, there didn’t seem to be any sensors inside the tube.
“What are you,” mumbled the spy as she continued to look around the strange machine. It looked like a prop ripped straight out of a sci-fi film but it was very obviously a real machine with a purpose. The more Psithyrus looked, the more confused she became. The machines were all linked together and they had several inputs and outputs but none of them were standard. Even the power cable seemed to be an original design. Psithyrus heard footsteps echoing down the hall. “Guards,” she mumbled as she quickly turned to run back the way she had come. However, before she could move, more footsteps started to echo from that end of the corridor.
Her heart started to pound. She was surrounded, she needed to find a place to hide quickly. She looked all around the room, hoping to find a box or a locker or anything that could fit a person inside. After a few seconds of furious looking Pisthyrus grabbed one of the green glass doors and pulled it open. Jumping into a device she didn’t know was a terrible move but she didn’t have any choice. She couldn’t risk open combat with the guards while her teammates were still searching the building.
Psithyrus dived into the tube and pulled the door shut behind her. Within moments she realized her plan had a major flaw. The opaque glass of the door meant that while she couldn’t be seen, she couldn’t see out either. She pushed her ear to the door in the hopes of making out the guard’s footsteps. While the tube did muffle the sound somewhat, she was able to make out the faint sound of rubber on steel. Psithyrus tried to angle herself so she could see through the frosted glass. She wiggled left and right, trying to catch a glimpse at the outside world. However, no matter how much she twisted she wasn’t able to get a clear view.
The footsteps continued to echo as Psithyrus wiggled around inside the tube. As she tried to turn around a little, she felt her elbow bash a button. “Shit,” mumbled Psithyrus as she braced herself for something to happen. A tube dropped from the roof of the chamber. Psithyrus blinked, unsure why the button would release a tube and what the tube was even for. She leaned in a little bit and poked the tube, hoping to quickly work out what it was for.
Suddenly the tube lunged forward like a coiled cobra. The tube quickly covered Psithyrus’ nose. The girl started to struggle, doing her best to yank the tube off, however, it wouldn’t move an inch. Suddenly a sweet scent filled Psithyrus’ nostrils. She started to panic and yank at the tube. She knew that she was getting drugged and she knew she had to get this weird tube off as soon as possible. However, before she could work out what to do, the pod started to fill with flashing lights. The intensity of the light stunned Psithyrus, causing her to fall back against the wall of the pod.
“I,” mumbled Psithyrus as the world started to spin. She had been so stunned that she had totally forgotten to hold her breath, allowing the drug to work its way into her system. Psithyrus reached for the door, however, she couldn’t seem to keep her arm steady enough to push it open. The lights continued to pulse and throb, totally disorienting the spy. After a few minutes, the door changed from frosted glass to a bright pattern of spiraling shapes and flashing words. Psithyrus let out a groan as she tried to pull her head together. Something about the pattern made her feel strange. She could feel the words burning into her mind despite not being able to make them out properly, it was like her mind was being twisted into knots.
“Stop,” slurred Psithyrus as she slowly slid down the wall. Her vision blurred as her eyes crossed and her muscles grew heavy. She could hardly move a finger, she was far too sedated. The patterns continued to warp and change as Psithyrus’ eyes grew wide. She knew this was wrong and bad but she couldn’t do anything about it. The drug had filled her lungs and the lights were assaulting her psyche.
“MOTHER asks you to be calm.” Echoed a digital voice. “MOTHER wants you to be calm”.
“I will not,” slurred Psithyrus. However, before she could finish her sentence the whole tube flashed, scrambling Psithyrus’ brain.
“MOTHER demands you are calm”. Stated the digital voice. “MOTHER will make you calm.”
“I,” gurgled Psithyrus as her eyes crossed. She couldn’t think straight she had no idea where she even was anymore. She could hardly remember who she was.
“MOTHER knows what is best for you.”
“Mother,” slurred Psithyrus as her eyes slowly fluttered shut. “Mother knows what is best for me.”
Halictus smirked as the lock clicked open. She put her lock picking tools away and slowly opened the door, peeking around it as she did. To her relief, the room was totally empty. “Looks like a boardroom,” mumbled Halictus as she looked at the fancy table and luxurious fittings. She was surprised, this room went against the rest of the building’s aesthetic, how many tech bubble companies had old-school boardrooms?
She quickly looked around the room, hoping to find some documents or paperwork that would work as evidence. However, before she could do much searching a bookcase swung open, revealing a corridor. Halictus pulled her gun from its holster and aimed it at the open bookcase. “Don’t move,” she hissed. “Make one step and I’ll blow your brains out.”
“Agent Nomada,” said a figure as it stepped out of the corridor with its hands up. “Trained under Lt. Parks, top of my class. Active on teams Gamma and Epsilon.”
“Nomada?” Gasped Halictus as she lowered her gun. “You escaped?”
“Yes,” nodded the woman as she lowered her hands. “Guard forgot to tie me tight so I was able to slip out. What are you doing here Halictus?”
“We were sent to rescue you and Colletes.” Replied Halictus. “Team of three.”
“Excellent,” grinned Nomada as she flicked a strand of hair out of her eye. “I can lead you to Colletes and then we’ll get out of here.”
“You didn’t free her?” Blinked Halictus.
“No, we decided it was best for only one of us to run free while the other distracted the guards.”
“Fair plan,” nodded Halictus as she motioned towards the bookcase. “After you.”
“Of course,” grinned Nomada as she dashed into the darkness. The pair quickly made their way through the building’s corridors. This section of the building seemed to be made up of various board and meeting rooms, all joined by hidden doors and secret passages. The layout confused Halictus, it would be nearly impossible to navigate this place without knowing where you were going. Even if you had a map you would get lost in the constantly twisting and turning corridors.
After what felt like an eternity, Nomada led Halictus into an area that resembled a high-security prison. “What in the world?” Gasped Halictus as she looked around the room. There were four floors with at least a hundred cells per floor. What could a tech company need with this many cells? What were they planning? Weirdly, the cells were not uniform, every two to three cells there was a cell with a different colored door. These alternative cells were much smaller, about the size of a small wardrobe, and totally not suitable for long-term incarceration.
“We need to spring Colletes,” said Halictus as she watched Nomada walking around the prison area.
“We will,” replied the other girl. “She is in a private area.” She continued as she tapped on a keypad and opened a door.
“You know a lot about this place,” said Halictus as she dashed through the door.
“I’ve been listening to the guards, they’re quite loose-lipped. Badly trained, the company thinks that MOTHER will handle everything so they just use guards as warm bodies.”
“Makes sense,” nodded Halictus as the pair moved through several rooms full of cells. As they walked, the rooms got smaller and smaller with each one holding fewer and fewer cells. Eventually, the pair reached a room that contained six of the small wardrobe sized cells. “Close now,” nodded Nomada. However, before she could say anything else, an alarm started to sound.
“Guards to sector C4. A prisoner has escaped!” Echoed MOTHER’s booming voice.
“Crap!” Shouted Halictus as she grabbed her gun.
“Get in here!” Shouted Nomada as she opened one of the cells. “I’ll distract them by pretending to be injured.”
“Good plan,” nodded Halictus as she ran inside of the small chamber and ducked down. Nomada quickly made her way over to a control panel and tapped on a few buttons.
Suddenly, the door slammed shut as Halictus’ eyes went wide. “What are you doing?” She hissed.
“I need to lock this area down,” mumbled Nomada as she continued to press buttons.
“Lock it down?” Questioned Halictus. However, before she could ask anything else she felt something hit her on the back of her knees, forcing her to sit down. Halictus fell back into a chair that had come out of a hole in the wall. Straps came out of the chair and wrapped around the spy’s ankles, wrists and neck.
“What are you doing?” Shouted Halictus. “Let me out!”
“I’m okay thank you.” Replied Nomda with an evil smirk. The alarm turned off as Nomada stood at attention.
“Excellent,” echoed MOTHER’s voice. “Good drone.”
Nomada let out a loud moan as her eyes rolled up into her head. “I am a happy employee of MOTHER!” Shouted Nomada as dread washed over Halictus.
“What are you doing?” Shouted Halictus. “What did you do?”
“MOTHER taught me the truth,” replied Nomada, her voice growing distant and monotone.
“No! Stop this!” Shouted Halictus as she struggled against the bonds.
“MOTHER cannot be stopped.” Smiled Nomada as she pressed another button. Wires came out of the chair and attached themselves to Halictus’ temples. She tried to struggle but it was futile. Suddenly, an electrical shock ran through her, causing all of her muscles to stiffen. She screamed out in pain as her brain sparked and scrambled. As the wires tingled Halictus felt thoughts pushing their way into her brain.
“MOTHER is right. MOTHER is your commander,” echoed the thoughts. Halictus tried to block them out, but no matter what she thought, the other ones pushed through.
Halictus shouted and struggled but she couldn’t block out the thoughts. All of her muscles were tense and frozen, almost like they were made out of stone. Her brain was going into overdrive, it was like there was a crowd in her brain, changing the same phrases over and over. “MOTHER is right. You obey MOTHER. Obey MOTHER. Obey MOTHER.” Chanted the voices as Halictus’ eyes went wide. Her mouth started to move without her consent, chanting the words that the wires were pushing into her mind.
“That is it. Accept MOTHER. She will guide you.” Smiled Nomada as Halictus started to thrash in the chair.
“MOTHER,” groaned Halictus as her brain started to fragment. She couldn’t work out who she was anymore. The words of the AI kept washing over her thoughts and drowning them out, almost like it was overwriting and reprogramming her brain.
“Yes, MOTHER is all.” Replied Nomada.
“MOTHER is all,” echoed Halictus as her body started to slump forward, her brain unable to think of anything but the looping statements.
“You are a puppet of MOTHER.”
“I am a puppet of MOTHER.”
“MOTHER is in control.”
“MOTHER is in control.”
The droning statements grew louder and louder as Halictus felt her consciousness fading. Her mouth was dry from all of the chanting and her muscles were sore and heavy.
Another shock ran through her as she felt her identity being washed away in a shower of sparks. Her vision started to fade as she saw three other girls march into view.
Each one of them turned and stood at attention next to Nomada, their eyes, and expressions totally blank.
“MOTHER is in control,” they all chanted in unison. “MOTHER is in command.”
Halictus’ last shred of free will instantly recognized Colletes, Apidae, and Psithyrus. The sight of all three of them chanting MOTHER’s phrases made her brain give in. She knew it was too late, there was nothing she could do. Another shock ran through her body as a phrase burned into her mind. MOTHER was in control.