Carol's VR Therapy
A sad Shadowrun story written up on September 1, 2015. Beginning as an OP with the image of a Shadowrun Decker in green VR goggles with lewd implications, a quick anon turned it into feels fairly quickly. Note: the author unintentionally stated it was raining in the middle of the story, and a nice day later. This was then chocked up either to the passage of time in the program or the rain being part of the simulation while day was the reality.
"That was a great run, wasn't it boss? Those pigs never saw us coming. Got any plans for the night? I'm still pretty wired, heh."
"Carol, I didn't make it out on that mission. I died remember."
"It's been 2 years Carol."
"You can't just keep plugging yourself into the VR to talk with a fake version of me that you built."
"It's time to let me go."
Carol blinks a few times behind her bright, glowing green signature goggles.
"Heh, you're just messing with me, boss. You're always messing around, you jokester."
"Carol. This isn't healthy. What you and I had was wonderful, but I'm not real."
She shakes her head. "I... I was thinking maybe we could go catch a holovid, like we did after that one run on--"
"Yes, Carol, I know the one. But I don't remember it because I was there with you. You've told me about it exactly 37 times. We've had this conversation before."
"Boss... I... I know, it's just..."
"I know you miss me, Carol. But I'm just a program. I can't feel the way you do. But I know this isn't good for you. You can't touch me."
"But... It hurts..."
"Carol, you need to let me go. I'm gone. All I am now is a memory, and all this VR does is keep you in the past, reliving the same moments over and over again. Look at me."
She averts her eyes.
"Look at me, Carol."
She finally looks up.
"Would I have wanted you to do this to yourself? Would I have wanted this for you?"
"Carol. I've listened to what you told me I've said and done. That's all I can do. I know that the person you want me to be wouldn't want you to waste your life in here."
"I... I miss you, boss..."
"And I'm gone, Carol. I'm sorry."
She sniffles a bit and holds herself more tightly.
"It's cold tonight."
"I can't make you warm."
"Carol, I want you to do something."
She stares into his eyes.
"If you love me, I want you to delete me."
She shakes her head.
"No, I won't do it, I won't."
"Carol, I'm just a program. But if I loved you as much as you love me, I would want you to get rid of me and move on. Don't just turn the goggles off and cry yourself to sleep. Delete me. Get rid of everything that I am. Because so long as I'm here, all I'm doing is hurting you. And I don't want that, Carol. I don't."
She is quiet, but after a moment, nods.
"Alright... I'll do it..."
She begins to slowly break down.
"Can you just... Can you just do one last thing?"
"Can you... Say, 'I love you, kid?' One last time?"
"Only if you promise that it will be our last moment together."
She nods, bringing her hand over to a nearby console.
She prepares the deletion sequence.
"I love you, boss..."
"I love you too, kid."
She closes her eyes and hits enter. She can't bear to see him slowly fade away, but desperate to get one last look, she opens her eyes. The last thing she sees of him before he is gone is him winking and smiling the same way he would always do, the real version of him. It made her heart melt the way it always had.
And then he was gone, and the goggles went dark. She slowly took them off and set them aside, feeling the terrible emptiness in her heart tear at her from the inside. He was gone. But she was still here, wishing that he was. But now she wasn't going to live in a fantasy anymore. He wouldn't want that... And even in the program's last moments, he wanted what was best for her. And he gave her a wonderful gift in that last smile. She'll treasure it forever.
She gets up and moves to the window, opening it to let some sunlight in. It's a nice day outside... Maybe she should go see it with her own eyes.
This exact scene happened yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before...
Things had gone from bad to worse. The run was supposed to be easy; minimum security, hardly anyone around, old tech that was easy to crack into. You don't know if Hanzer cracked and sold you out or if you just got really, really unlucky, but now it's raining bullets on your position. You look up from your deck, temporarily switching sights in your goggles to see the boss reloading.
He grits his teeth as he holds his arm, it's bleeding.
You move to get up and help him but a bullet flies your way, hitting the wall and keeping your down behind the crate.
He shakes his head. "Get the door open! Focus, Carol!"
You nod and go back to your work, but you're under a lot of pressure. You never used to be very good with pressure, your hands get sweaty and you get distracted by your own heavy breathing. Your fingers desperately fly across your deck as you try to get the door open. You feel the injections take their toll as they try to keep you calm and focused but you're too worried.
Not about jail, not about death, but about the boss.
Nearby, Mad Jak opens up with his shotgun, which makes you jump. The damned door won't open and you're about to give up and quit.
Suddenly, you feel a hand on your shoulder, a familiar warmth that steadies you. "It's okay, kid," he whispers in your ear. "You can do it. I know you can. Just like we planned and practiced."
You let out a steadying breath and feel him squeeze your shoulder, encouraging you. You find the node you need and enter the codes you stole from upstairs, lifting the door. After plugging out, you turn and lift your goggles to look at the boss. He's been hurt worse; two bullet holes in his chest, his white shirt stained red. Your eyes go wide as Mad Jack provides covering fire. You gently grab his collar and prepare to drag him through the door, but he grabs your wrist and stops you.
"I got this, kid," he says. "Get out of here." You immediately refuse and yank him up a bit, but he stops you again. "I said go!" he shouts, choking up some blood. "I'm biting the dust already. But I can make sure they don't get you."
You protest more but he won't have any of it; he shakes his head and pulls you in close. "I'm dead weight. You'll never get out. Nothing matters now but you getting out of here," he says.
Before you can say anything, he presses his forehead against yours. "We always knew it could end like this."
You feel your eyes grow wet as you try to pull him closer, but he takes out a grenade and gets ready to pull the pin. "They won't get you," he says. You fall against him and cry, refusing to let him go. "Hey... Hey... It'll be alright..."
He lifts up your head and looks you in the eye. "I love you, kid."
"I... I love you too, boss..."
You kiss him one last time before Mad Jak pulls you off and gets you through the door. The last thing you see is boss looking at you, smiling and winking, the same look that always made your heart melt. The door begins to close as the pigs move in. Further down the hall, you hear an explosion from behind that rattles you to your core and causes you to break down and sob.
Later on, you split up from Mad Jak; he got his share. You never call him again, nor accept his calls for future jobs. He was just another runner, anyway, but he reminded you of boss. They were best friends, and having him around only made it hurt worse.
So instead you shut everything out. And work. You and boss spent a lot of time in the VR; fragments of his mannerisms are preserved in its matrix. Not his memories, but his face, his voice...
You'll tweak it over time, make him remember who you are, make him remember the moments you spent with him. It'll take a lot of time, but it will be worth it. You'll be with him again. You'll bring him back.
It'll be like he never left...
And he didn't...
He's just asleep...
Double Bad End
"Run it again."
"Sir, neither of them are responding."
"Are you deaf? Run, it, again!"
"We can't roll it back so precisely, sir. With all due respect, they've both been through a lot."
The executive sighed as he glanced through the walls at the emaciated bodies, hardwired into the VR simulation. The female twitching slightly, tears running down past where the fiberoptics had been wired into her nervous system. The male had a faint smile on his face, as if at peace.
"Shit! This isn't good enough, people. It's a good tearjerker, but we can make it better. When did things start getting resolved?"
"It's a core problem, Sir. His virtual self after he dies in the run keeps reverting back to trying to make her happy, and he convinces her each time about the 36, 37 replay. More reruns won't increase the heartbreak."
"Fine. Fine! Wipe it. Go back to the run. -And let's make a few more changes, shall we?" He brushed his hair back, the artificial auto-styling hairdo coiffuring instantly. "Instead of him dying in the run, have... her get captured. Tortured to death. And then when he's drinking out his sorrows, the virtual copy of her gets sent to him, thinking he betrayed her. He'll have to delete each copy sent, alive and cursing him and thinking he betrayed her."
"What are you waiting for? Wipe them!"
He nods slowly as the two ex-runners go slack-jawed, only to start screaming soundlessly - her in a rictus of absolute agony, him begging, pleading. Watching the virtual memories form to make the show better, even more tragic.
The executive stalked out of the room. If the new tragedy show ran well, he might be able to spend all night up with his beloved daughter...