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Infinity Blade: Redemption (Page 3)

Siris rounded the chamber, keeping his distance. He picked out a chunk of metal, one of their shields, battered and broken, cracked down the middle. He tossed it aside.

“Nothing to say?” Raidriar asked.

“Fifty-one,” Siris said. His voice sounded ragged to his ears.

“What?”

“Sixteen hundred and fifty-one,” Siris said. “That’s how many times you’ve bested me. Not fifty-two, as you said earlier.”

“And of the two of us, you’d trust your own memory above mine?” Raidriar sounded amused. “I thought you knew me better than that.”

Siris grunted. He found his sword, but Raidriar had beaten it against the Worker’s throne over and over, rendering the weapon a mangled mess, broken halfway down. Siris sensed anger in those marks on the rock throne. They were mirrored by marks along the back, where Siris himself had pounded with his shield in a frenzied tempest, frustrated, powerless.

The Dark Self was powerful, but it was also wild, temperamental.

Siris picked up the broken sword.

“How long,” Raidriar asked, “do you suppose he was playing us?”

“I don’t know,” Siris said. “I doubt he originally wanted me to trap him in here.”

“Are you certain?”

Siris hesitated. “No.” He didn’t know anything, not any longer.

“Perhaps you are right, though,” the God King said idly. “What kind of creature could put himself in such a helpless state? Powerless, no control—uncertain if he’d ever be freed? It reviles the senses and the mind alike.”

Warily, Siris walked over near the God King. He passed a portion of the wall that was scraped and bloodied. At one point, the God King had apparently tried to claw his way through the rock—for all the good it did.

Still, in a way he envied his enemy. Siris had been bound here by his soul, same as the Worker had been. Raidriar, however, had simply been dropped in—he was a casualty of location. The prison would keep him as surely as it kept anyone, but if he could get through those rocks, he could find freedom.

Not Siris. He would never be able to escape, not unless he found a way to make someone else take his place.

Convenient, he thought, stepping toward Raidriar, that I have another Deathless here to force into that role.

But how? He’d have to be outside to set up the swap.

“We have to escape,” Siris said to the man he once knew as the God King. “Together.”

“If there were a chance for escape, do you not think that the Worker would have taken it during all those centuries? No. There is no escape.”

“Then what? Continue to kill one another?”

“A little boring, wouldn’t you say?”

Siris reached Raidriar. He hesitated.

And the Dark Self took over.

Siris attacked without planning to. He fell upon the God King, butchering him even as the other man reached up to try to strangle Siris.

When he was done, Siris stood over the dead body, and let himself feel horror.

It’s starting to rule me, he realized.

Once, he worried that these thoughts would return him to being the man he had once been, the callous Deathless tyrant. This was worse, though. Far worse. He had all of that man’s rage, frustration, and skill—but none of that man’s control.

He sank down beside the corpse and sighed, resting his head back against the stone.

DEVIATION

THE THIRD

“IN CONCLUSION, we have a decision to make regarding the product,” Jarred said, standing at the head of the small room. “By far the largest of our potential markets are companies that do a lot of shipping. They can use Omega to cut their costs incredibly. Because of this, I suggest delaying the home user product to focus on an expensive, high-end commercial product.”

Uriel sat in the select crowd watching the presentations. The seats were supposed to be comfortable, but he couldn’t use either of his armrests, as others had taken them. How did people know when to use an armrest and when not to? Was there some rule of sharing the space that nobody had thought to teach him?

The elbows of large executives crowded him on either side, making him feel scrunched in his seat. He glanced over his shoulder. Mr. Galath sat at the top back of the tiered room, in a row all to himself. He seemed . . . profound, with that short, greying beard and those deep, unfathomable eyes. Quite possibly the greatest inventor who had ever lived, and certainly the greatest mind of their time. He sat and watched, and did not say anything.

“Well, that’s really interesting,” Adram said from his seat. “Because I think the opposite.” The lanky man sprang to his feet, edging Jarred off the stage. He swiped Jarred’s presentation from the wallscreen.

“See, the problem with going for a few corporate clients,” Adram said, “is that it just doesn’t capture the imagination of the public. We have something new here, something incredible!”

He swiped something up onto the wallscreen, a splashy graphic with two metal bands at the center. “I call it InstaBe.”

“InstaBe?” one of the executives asked with a flat voice.

“Instant-being,” Adram exclaimed. “Personal teleportation.”

“It doesn’t work on living things,” another executive said. “Inorganic transmission only.”

“I’m sure Mr. Galath will figure out that little limitation eventually,” Adram said. The smile he gave was so transparent that Uriel rolled his eyes. “And even if he doesn’t, InstaBe will still be a smash hit. Look, most companies, they never have a real chance to grip the public. They release their products into a tempest of a marketplace, and have to scream just to get the smallest bit of attention.

“We won’t have that problem. Everyone is going to want an InstaBe. They’ll want five or six! Park your car and go for a hike? You can teleport it to your location when you’re done. Always losing your wallet? Stick a ring on it, teleport it to yourself when you need it.” He grinned even wider. “We’re gonna change the world, folks!”

“It’s not safe,” Uriel said.

Adram stilled, his smile cracking. He forced it back on immediately, not showing his annoyance.

“It’s perfectly safe,” one of the executives said. “Thousands of teleportations made, no mishaps.”

“The technology itself is safe,” Uriel said. “But it is not safe to give to people. They will kill with it.”

“Come on, Uriel,” Adram said. “Give us the bright side, remember?”

“There is none,” Uriel said. “People will teleport bombs into secure locations. Criminals will be armed, no matter where they go. Those are just the minor applications. Militaries will be able to move supplies and equipment instantly. Imagine assault teams who can summon tanks and artillery at the snap of their fingers. This will embolden the governments who have it. They will strike. I have run the numbers, the statistics. What we have developed is a weapon. It will be treated like one.”

“Guesses,” Adram said.

“I don’t guess,” Uriel said. “I project. And I am rarely wrong.” He turned in his seat, looking up at Mr. Galath. “I have a son, sir. I don’t want him to live in a world that isn’t safe . . . Well, a world that is less safe than it is now. If we release this, the result will be war.”

Mr. Galath nodded slowly. He understood. He got it. Uriel relaxed.

This was what he was waiting for, Uriel thought. Someone who would speak out against the technology. It seems I am the only one bold enough.

“He is right,” Mr. Galath said. “We must sell it to governments first, as they will pay the most.” He looked at Adram. “Your name . . . Adram, is it?”

“Yes, sir!” Adram said, walking down off the stage and toward the audience.

“I would speak with you after the meeting. You show great initiative. I have a special project I may wish you to be part of.”

Uriel gaped. He found himself standing. “But . . . No. Sir, not him. Not—”

Adram slapped Uriel on the shoulder, drawing close. “Hey, Spunky. Thanks for the help. You’re a real . . . pal.”

The meeting broke up, leaving Uriel standing on the front row, stunned.

What had just happened?

CHAPTER FOUR

SIRIS LOUNGED on the stone chair, one leg up over the broken and ruined side, the bloody corpse of Raidriar at his feet.

The God King’s body held Siris’s broken sword, rammed through the back, hilt pointing upward. That wouldn’t stop Raidriar from returning to life, but it was a convenient place to hold the weapon.

“In a way,” Siris said to the empty room, putting his feet up on the back of the dead man, “this is perfect! I was raised to hunt you down and kill you, don’t you see? That was my purpose. To be the Sacrifice, to face you. Now I get to live it, over and over! It’s the only thing in the world!”

Siris laughed, cackling, unable to control himself. How long had it been? Years? He’d killed Raidriar well over two thousand times now. He didn’t remember how many, exactly. He’d have to ask, next time his footstool started moving.

What a state he was in! If he controlled the Dark Self, Raidriar won their contest, and Siris was driven deeper and deeper into madness by repeated death. So he let the Dark Self rule, and this happened! This primitive version of himself that moved by instinct. It was madness too!

He threw back his head and laughed again, tears rolling down his cheeks.

Light split the sky.

Siris laughed at it. A fine hallucination. He often dreamed of escaping, of the roof of this chamber splitting to reveal the top of the pillar, lowering down. The promise of freedom . . .

He looked closer. It was real.

Siris started, leaping to his feet, his laughter dying. That was no hallucination. The entrance to his prison was a large triangular pillar that lowered down from above. Light—real light—outlined the prismlike column of stone. Beautiful. Perfect.

He wiped his eyes, then stepped over Raidriar’s body, which was beginning to twitch. Siris pulled his mangled sword free of his enemy’s back and held it forward, his hand trembling. He could barely see for the light. Those shadows on the platform . . . figures?

The Dark Self responded instantly. The Worker had returned! Siris screamed and ran forward, sword raised—

“Siris?” Isa said, pulling back her hood as she stood on the pillar. “Is that really you?”

Siris stumbled to a stop.

“It is you,” she said in her lightly accented voice. She cursed in her own tongue, leaping off the platform and rushing to him. Behind, on the pillar, several bound figures fought against the ropes holding them.

“Siris . . .” Isa said. She hesitated, reaching toward him, then withdrawing her hand.

He looked down at himself. Clothing that was little more than rags, most of it bloodstained. A full beard and scraggly hair—he’d shorn it at one point, using the dull sword, but it was still a matted mess. He clung to that broken, half-bladed sword as if it were the Infinity Blade itself.

He looked up. Seeing Isa . . . reminded him.

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