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[Fiction] Ashnod: Failure

David 'Dr. Troll' Smith

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Miles and miles away, Ashnod saw him die again. It wasn’t the first time, but this time it was real. It would be the last time. She’d been expecting it, but even so she sighed in disappointment. He’d had a lot of promise. Temporal manipulator, enhanced social skills and intelligence, lots and lots of potential, and she'd even liked him.

Baseline money and power had seduced him, he’d un-aged the old and rich and thought he’d been doing the world a favor. He'd thought he'd been doing himself a favor by putting them in his debt. He’d been wrong.

Given the time he no longer had, he might have evolved similar to herself. Perhaps that was why she’d warned him about his current path. He hadn’t listened. She hadn’t really expected him to, but she’d still made the effort. If he’d joined the Teragen more fully he’d have seen that un-ageing baselines wasn’t good for them, and it wasn’t good for him.

Now, as she’d predicted, a baseline had stepped up behind him and put a bullet in his brain. Over the weeks the expected details had changed a bit. The gender of the attacker could have been male or female. The agent and motivation could have been the Directive preventing political immortality, a COMA fanatic ending one of their betters, or even a potential inheritor acting to ensure his inheritance. It didn’t really matter now. He was still dead, and only a few baby steps down his path.

Ashnod sighed again, allowed herself the luxury of mourning what could have been, and moved on. He’d chosen his path, he’d even known what could lie upon it. She, of course, had let him continue.

The Teragen offered freedom. Unlike those who served the baselines, this meant they had the freedom to succeed. The problem was with that came the freedom to fail.

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