Kelly had gone away for the day. The connection to the server had been established, the VR Immersion device rested on Bec's desk, waiting, tempting her. Rebecca stared for ten minutes before picking the device up, then laid on the couch and activated the device. She closed her eyes, and slowly she began to float through an empty void.

The "loading screen" had changed yet again, the massive chamber transformed from dull grey stone to a myriad of crystals, glittering green and blue as the light beneath her feet shifted with every cautious step, pulsing away over the crystalline walls. Rebecca walked and walked, seeing lines of code once again drifting through the air like ghosts.

Then she shivered. Frost clung to her hair and cheeks and her breath clouded under her nose as snow drifted over a forest basked in sunset, and beams of light painted the frozen trees with a fiery glow. She saw her first glitch, the faintest flicker of reality where the code was revealed then buried again behind the illusion. She walked through the forest, the snow crunching beneath her feet, following the light of the setting sun until it escaped her and the forest eased into a shadowy blue.

The snow fell lighter and the trees became scarcer. Frost collected on rocks and other solid things and appeared to take a life of its own, growing into clusters of large needle-like shapes. A few more steps and Rebecca looked upon a vast snowy plane riddled with glitches and ice-clusters, until the landscape suddenly deconstructed and in a sweeping wave the plane was eradicated and nothing but fog and an endless chasm remained.

Rebecca looked down. Splatters of deep red were soaked into the snow. Only one person alive in this reality could have left that mark. Bec walked towards the edge of the chasm and, as she approached, a bridge began to form, one piece at a time, zigzagging off into the grey nothingness.

Bec followed the bridge to a street corner in the city. Snow melted on the roads and sidewalks that shined with reflections of dazzling neon city lights. She looked behind her and the bridge was gone, as was the forest. But the city was serene. Bec walked down an empty road and looked around. Searching.

Across the road a bus hummed, its breaks shrieking as it stopped for a moment and then drifted away. Behind the bus, Hiroshi Inoue sat on a bench at the stop. Tired bloodshot eyes, smears of blood from his nose, his hair pale with frost. Rebecca stood, hands in her pockets, looking down at him, and he glared at her.

'So now what?' he spat. 'Are you going to kill me? Is that it?'

'No,' she said. 'I'd have to find you in order to kill you and even if I did, murder isn't my thing.'

'What then?'

Rebecca paced back and forth.

'You've done a lot of work with VR. You're fully aware that the number one danger of an unstable server is an overload of sensory data.' She activated an interface and prepared a virus for upload. 'You know that when this happens, in worst case scenarios, your brain will fry, like an electrical wire.' She paused before taking the final step, and looked at him. 'You're an evil man, Hiroshi Inoue. I think I finally know what you were going to do. The virus spread was a distraction. I know its capabilities. The specs weren't different to what I helped write. It was a targeted attack. You were trying to break the alliance.'

His lip twitched with anger. Rebecca savoured this moment, maybe because she hated him, maybe because she had come so far just to reach this point, even before she knew where she was going.

'Unify and subdue. The world doesn't belong to them,' said Hiroshi.

Rebecca activated the virus.

'Yes,' she said, 'it does.'

Hiroshi jolted as if he'd been shot, his eyes stared at nothing, and his mouth drooped as one pixel at a time he was deleted, left to rot in the dark recesses of his own twisted mind.

And no one would ever know.