Ergo Sum: A Neuro-Noir Novel

Epilogue: Landing

By the time we arrived back in the League, Graves had already been separated for his own protection. I visited Frank in the local clinic, with Gamma and Lan standing next to me.

"Did you get the bad guy?" he asked, clapping his hammy hands together.

"Yes, we did," I replied. "Thanks for all your help, Frank. We couldn't have done it without you."

We did, but it would've been a lot harder without him. The Sleepwalker estimated Frank's munitions might've done quite a number on that Guardian bot.

"What happens now?" Gamma asked. "Going home?"

"I am," I said. "But Frank, you've said you want to stay here, right?"

"Yup!" he perked up, shoving an oatmeal cookie into his mouth. "I like it here! Free cookies and they let me play with cool stuff!"

I would've said something, but I realized it was better off this way. My disgusting basement was too cramped for him, anyway. He was still growing mentally, so perhaps he could find a place here. With all the casualties from the war, they'd need everyone they could.

"You have requested that this unit undergo personality restructuring," Lan said to me. "That is the current operative parameter."

"Be sure to make backups in case it fails," I reminded her. "I don't want to lose you again."

"Significant pre-installation memories of this unit remain," Lan said. "If reconstruction fails, personality emulation can be attempted from them."

If that succeeded, what would left would be a piece of software attempting to emulate my best friend. Then again, Lan always did like software. The Sleepwalker reminded me that I, too, was software with some pretty shoddy programming. I let the Sleepwalker make that call.

"Do it, but only if reconstruction fails," my better half answered.

"Affirmative," Lan continued. "This unit will be moved to the cybernetics clinic."

Lan left the room, leaving Gamma, Frank, and I alone. Frank was busy doodling weapons on construction paper, while Gamma stared off into space. My ghoulish companion was having some unexpected self-reflection.

"Worried about something?" I asked him.

"What to do now," he muttered. "No idea."

"Why don't you try learning something?" I suggested. "Something other than killing people, that is."

I had the mental image of Gamma trying to open a business, a combination deli and daycare.

"Know that best," Gamma said. "But want to find out about the dead."

"Yours or others?" I inquired.

"Both," he leaned against the wall. "Want to make peace. Find something."

"So does everyone," I added.

"And you?" Gamma asked.

"Still working on that," I replied. "Probably lay low and relax. I've had enough action to last me for a while. If you ever need somewhere to live, you know how to find me."

Gamma nodded in agreement, and headed for the door. Before he left, Gamma muttered something that sounded like, "Thank you."

"You're welcome," I replied, but he was gone.

With that, I headed for home myself. Outside, I noticed for the first time, there was no gunfire, screaming, or explosions in the distance. The sky was blue, and it was a good day to be alive. I noticed a group of League guards talking with surprised civilians, and I realized something. Many of the people from the nearby Commonwealth enclave were being given shelter here. Given what had just happened, I wouldn't be surprised if more Commonwealth citizens began looking for new homes.

For now, I was content to head back to my own. No longer just a safe house, my library basement was now a home. Few convoys traveled over the next month, so I didn't get any guests. Even the old Opticorp propaganda station had been disabled, so I only got news from online. Most of it was confused and often contradictory. The remaining Commonwealth elites fought for what remained of their power, while the Cause continued to strike their enclosed places. I'm sure Eric was busy making more bogus videos to try to bring them back under control.

It was almost a month later when I got a call from Wong.

"Good morning, Vincent," he said. "Gamma says you'd been feeling down."

"You've talked with Gamma?" I asked.

"Yes, he passed by your place a few times, and said you're not coming out," Wong replied. "Come up and get out! You're a goddamn hero!"

"Got a job for me?" I asked. "Found some Cause remnants or corporate labs for me to infiltrate?"

"No, something better," he said. "I'd like to formally invite you to join the League. We've got a house with your name on it."

A picture came up showing a construction site. A lot had been cleared of rubble, and concrete-laying robotic print-head was setting down the foundation of the house layer by layer, building a structure a bit more with each pass.

"I've got a house," I gestured around the place. The library basement wasn't just lonelier than I remembered it, but it seemed even darker and danker. "Why would I need another?"

"Vin, you remember Tabula Rasa, right?" Marvin Wong asked.

"Yeah, how could I not?" I stood up. "What happened to Graves, anyway?"

"The slimy bastard knows how to make a deal," Wong replied. "He's stopped all human experimentation as a sign of goodwill. He's turning over his old corporate assets to League control."

"I'm sure this last month's been hectic for you," I added. "Finding housing for those refugees, rebuilding, and all that stuff."

"Graves is a loathsome human being, but he's smart enough to realize times are changing," Wong continued. "But many of the old elites are jumping ship. It's early to say, but we have enough issues to deal with now."

"You were mentioning something about Tabula Rasa?" I reminded him.

"Yes," he explained. "Trasker took a batch of the initial subjects and tried training them as special forces and bodyguards, as I'm sure you recall."

That shoulder wound I got still smarted. "Yeah."

"We found a bunch of them, struggling to survive outside," he continued. "We need someone to teach them how to live."

"Still working on that myself," I mused. "Why would you care?"

"You're too young to remember it," Wong recalled. "But back after the coup, everything was a mess. But believe it or not, most people didn't panic. We helped each other."

"Yeah, but a lot of people still died," I recalled. All those empty towns showed many of those people lacked the required skills to survive and adapt.

"That's why we need you," Wong replied. "You can still help people. You helped Frank, Gamma, and Lan when no one else would. You had the willpower to resist killing Graves when you had the chance. That's something even I barely have."

"Frank and Gamma had nowhere else to turn, but Lan was my friend," I replied. "Why would I give a damn about these people?"

"They've turned to us, Vincent, since they've got no one else to turn to," Wong explained. "We need your expertise. So, what do you say? Want to stop living in the gutter and join us? If you want, we'll send a crew to move all your crap with you."

"I need some time to think," I said.

The Sleepwalker had already made our decision. Maybe I liked helping people before, but hadn't realized it until now. We were going to try to help other people for once. The Sleepwalker and I had given Gamma a soul, so why not keep doing what we could for others? The Sleepwalker had already decided what it wanted to be. Sleepwalker or not, I'll be whoever or whatever I'll be. Ergo sum. Therefore, I am.