Final Conflict


By Corwin

Tim lay on the platform, unmoving, his massive arms and legs restrained. Tim's outward catatonic state belied the flurry of activity in his mind. His brain was overloaded with new sensations. Unable to process the sensations he was feeling, his mind's eye visualized a rainbow of colors and images. The initial pain of the process had been transformed into a numbness as his nerves, muscle and bone were flooded with growth serum. The feelings of power now overwhelmed every other sensation. Tim both floated and fell in a vaccuum of strength, might and muscular desire. He would be happy, if only he were experiencing such emotions. Instead, he was no longer Tim or anything at all. He could no longer feel his body as a body. Now, he and his body were a means of expressing power and might. If his mind could form any one thought, it would be that he was muscle and strength personified.

The android watched him, and stared at the computer router which blinked randomly. An hour passed, then two, and neither Tim nor Derek moved. There was a flurry of activity on the computer network, then Derek moved.

"Tim! Tim! I need you to wake up now," the android whispered in an urgent fashion. The android shook the huge man, with no effect. Derek slapped Tim, causing his head to twist to one side violently. Tim moaned. "Tim! Wake up! You need to escape!" It was the closest the android had ever come to being emotional, and this emotion was panic.

Tim's euphoria was being interrupted. From outside him, something wanted attention. What was it? Tim couldn't tell. All he could do was sense an urgency. He needed to make a decision. Should he wake up, or should he revel in the power. He was undecided.

"Tim!" Derek slapped him again. The flashing on the router indicating network activity seemed more frantic, less chaotic. "Tim!" Derek changed his voice. He was now Hal, being authoritative. "Tim!" said Derek as Hal.

There was a spark in Tim's mind, like a dog hearing its master's voice. Something was wrong. Someone needed him. He needed to wake up.

Tim began to moan. His eyes opened, but they were unfocussed. Derek slapped him again. "Tim! Wake up! There's an emergency! You need to escape NOW!"

Tim focussed. He was in a room. He tried to get up, but something held him down. He was a prisoner. Yes! The soldiers. They had captured him, destroyed Hal. He remembered. The procedure! Derek!

"Tim!" said the android, once again speaking as Derek.

"Ahhhhh... Wha..." Tim tried to talk.

"Tim! Hurry. You need to escape!"

"Derek?" Tim shook his head, clearing away the cobwebs of his mind. "What's wrong."

"Tim, trust me. You need to get out of here. Break the restraints!" Derek was pleading.

Tim looked around. The room was dark, and there was no one else there. "Derek, what are you talking about? No one's here. Give me a minute..."

"No Tim. Do it now! They are fighting with each other now, but soon they'll be coming for you!"

"Who is fighting? Derek, what are you talking about!"

"There is not time to explain," pleaded the android.

"Take the time," said Tim, lying perfectly still.

Derek stared into space as the flashing of the router slowed. "It's HAL," said Derek. "He's been monitoring the situation. Something has happened. Something he hadn't counted on. You're in danger. Trust us, please."

"Hal? But they destroyed HAL," said Tim.

"No, Tim. They didn't. They destroyed the computer, but not the program. Hal copied himself into their systems. They are secure, but Hal has broken out and contacted other copies of himself that he stored on the internet." Derek noticed the confused look on Tim's face. "Tim, Hal realized that being in only one computer was dangerous, so he cloned himself. He made backups and hid them on other systems. Hal hasn't existed on only your system for months. He exists on many systems, all cooperating."

"Hal is the Borg?" asked Tim, realizing the implications.

"The analogy is not exact, but in a sense, yes. Hal is now a series of coopering computer programs. And the Hal program that is in this complex has detected a danger to you."

"Danger?" Tim asked. "OK, you explain while I power up and break these restraints. I need to grow." Tim began to flex and push against it. Immediately, his body responded. He felt stronger. The restraints began to feel tighter as his body and muscles started to grow. Once again, Tim's mind felt the euphoria of the activated growth serum. He heard Derek speak, but didn't always understand.

"It's the soldiers," Tim heard Derek say. "... found the serum... growing stronger... bigger than you..." Tim didn't care. As he flexed, he felt it happen. There was a creek, as the metal and machines fought against him. His body was on fire. He knew he was getting stronger. He was bigger. He would win. There was a jolt on his left side, then his right, as his arms jerked up an inch. The metal wasn't tight anymore. He pushed his arms harder, forced his legs up. There was a squeal from below as the metal bent and crashed, freeing his mighty legs. Seconds later, the rigging holding his arms collapsed, falling around him and boucing off his invulnerable muscle.

Tim sat up. "Just call me superman I guess," he said with a smirk. He flexed his arm, estimating it to be 58 or 59 inches.

"Tim, do that later. Hal has locked down the complex, but you need to hurry." Derek threw some clothes at him. Tim started to put them on.

Tim heard a commotion in the hallway. It started softly. Crashes, bangs. It was getting louder as it grew closer. There was a loud crash outside the door.

"I'm sorry Tim. I think it's too late," said Derek. "The door won't hold them."

Derek was right. Whatever was outside wanted in. A dent appeared in the metal, like a fist had punched the 1/2 inch thick steel. There was a second punch, and the door bent and light shown around the edges. A large dark skinned hand grabbed the corner. The metal crumbled like paper.

The lights suddenly came on. Tim was momentarily blinded. As his eyes adjusted, he saw Detrick standing in the door.

"Look who got out," said Detrick, walking forward. Derek hadn't lied. Detrick was bigger. Lots bigger. Detrick bent over and picked up one of the braces that had bound Tim's legs. He smiled. Holding it in both arms, he pushed on the metal. It twisted easily. Well, easily for him. He bent the metal in on itself like a rope, tying it into a knot. "Ya, I can see that I overestimated these things. Kinda wimpy. Even a little thing like you could break them." Detrick threw the metal at Tim.

Tim flexed, letting the metal bounce off his hardened body. Detrick grinned. He stepped forward, his right fist slapping his left palm. "I got something harder for you." Tim held the flex. He saw Detrick draw back, his fist aiming straight for Tim's chest. The contact was loud, like thunder. Detrick's chest penetrated inches into the flexed muscle. A surge of pain shot through Tim as he staggered back. Detrick threw another punch, more powerful this time. It hit Tim in the abs, lifting him from the ground and throwing him into the wall.

Tim was stunned. Detrick approached and flexed his arm. It was massive. "Squeeze it, boy!" ordered the sargent. Tim placed his hand on the huge peak of Detrick's bicep. He squeezed. Detrick was hard. Tim's forearms flexed, yet his fingers were unable to even dent the muscle. He felt his growth kicking in, his arms getting bigger and stronger trying to overpower the iron-mountain Detrick displayed. His grip was tightening, and Tim knew it would only be a matter of seconds before his strength overpowered Detrick. Instead, the unexpected happened. Tim's finger's were being forced further apart as Detrick's muscle began to expand, growing and getting harder under Tim's vice-like grip. "Ahhh, feels good, doesn't it?" said Detrick, smirking. "All that hard, growing muscle. Look at its size! Man, a wimp like you should appreciate this." Detrick paused, enjoying his expanding arm, then ordered, "Flex for me, boy!"

Detrick grabbed Tim's hand by the fingers. Though Tim resisted, Detrick pulled back the fingers as an adult would a child's -- with no effort. He forced Tim's hand up into a bicep pose. "I SAID FLEX!" he ordered. Tim complied.

Tim felt his muscle contract, getting hard and growing huge. He looked at Detrick's. Tim's was ripped and vascular, but looked so much smaller than the sargent's. Detrick's arm was a shadow behind his, larger in every way. The veins were more defined. The cords thicker. The peak higher. Tim heard Detrick laugh, and thought he saw motion from the door, but he couldn't take his eyes from the arm that dwarfed his own.

From behind Detrick, another man flexed. Tim was amazed to see a bicep peak even higher than the sargent's. He looked up, and saw a blonde soldier. He recognized him as one of the men he had beat earlier today. The new man grabbed Detrick and pushed him aside. He put his hands under Tim's arms and lifted him. "Get up! It's my turn," he yelled. Tim stood, and the new man let him go.

"Prisoner, you can call me 'sir'," he said.

"Fuck you," was Tim's reply. The new man punched Tim in the abs, doubling him over. Tim felt a surge of strength from the attack, his abs getting stronger to ward off a future assault. When he looked up, he thought the man's arm might look bigger too.

"The correct response is 'Yes, sir!'. Remember that guy whose arm you broke, well, he was my friend. I don't like people hurting my friends. It makes me mad. It makes me want to hurt them." The soldier threw another punch into Tim's abs. Tim felt his abs collapse under the superior might of this tormentor. He also felt them strengthen, but it wasn't enough.

Instinctively, Tim tried to flee. With all the power his legs could generate, he threw himself into the man beating him, hoping to knock him off balance. Instead, Tim bounced off, not moving the man an inch. Instead, he saw the man's body ripple as it ballooned up, becoming even more muscular than before.

"Looks like the prisoner is trying to escape," said Detrick. "Petrowski, hold him for me while I teach him some respect."

Petrowski grabbed Tim by the arms and held him. Tim struggled. He felt the surge of energy that accompanied his muscle growth. His body was electric with power as he fought against the soldier's grip. His muscles that had destroyed the restraints, overpowered machines and overpowered 10 men became stronger, but not strong enough. He felt Petrowski's grip tighten, his captor's body press against his as the blonde hulk's muscles grew too. The bulk of the two men fought against each other for room. Tim felt Petrowski's chest push into his back, denting his massive lats as they demanded room. Tim was powerless against him.

Tim felt surges of pain as Detrick used him as a human punching bag. His rock hard abs were tenderized by a series of blows that would bring down a building. Tim flexed his body, trying to harness more power, but Detrick grabbed his pec and squeezed. Tim's steely hemispheres could not withstand the ever strengthening grip as they were crushed by the Sargent's fingers. Tim hardened himself under the onslaught, concentrating on his growth and not the pain. He closed his eyes and imagined himself getting bigger as fist after fist, assault after assault pummelled his body.

"Tim," yelled Derek. "Don't give in. Hang on. They can't keep this up forever, and you.."

"Shut up!" screamed Detrick, backhanding Derek with the full force of his arm and sending him into a wall. There was the sound of electronics shorting out.

"What the?" said Petrowski.

"A fuckin' computer. That thing is nothing but a fucking computer," said Detrick, staring at the unmoving android.

Tim was now staring at the lifeless husk of Derek. He felt a surge of anger and adrenoline. There was a rush of strength, and he felt his arms begin to move. Petrowski forced them back down, but Tim found a new determination.

Petrowski began to struggle. He felt surges of power, but now his prisoner was becoming engorged with power. Like a sequence from the Incredible Hulk, Tim was becoming larger and larger. Petrowski had to reposition himself to contain Tim's ever growing muscle.

Petrowski was huge, but he felt the effects of his growth drug begin to wane as his struggle to contain Tim's might depleted his reserves. In seconds, his prisoner was approaching his size. "Sarge, I need some help here," he called.

Tim pushed with his delts, forcing his arms to rise. Finally, he felt his strength gaining on Petrowski. Detrick smashed a fist into Tim's abs, but it had little effect as the washboard deflected the power of the punch. With two arms, Detrick grabbed Tim's right arm, forcing it down. Petrowski did the same with Tim's left.

Tim was helpless again, held by two muscular behemoths with strength that equalled his. Tim heard another circuit short, and smelled ozone in the air. He needed more. "For you, Derek," he whispered. With renewed determination, he fought hard. He kicked at the men, but the oaks that were their legs were still too strong. Both had now stopped growing, but Tim hadn't. Their combined strength was now feeding his growth, his power. Detrick's destruction fed Tim's desire for revenge. Tim's right arm began to move as it gained on the Sargent's power. Whether it was minutes, seconds or hours, Tim had no concept of time. He was focussed entirely on the power he needed to defeat these two soliders -- to defeat his captors.

Detrick felt Tim's power first. The sargent was sweating, struggling to hold down Tim's arm. Detrick was determined not to be defeated again. He would be disappointed. As defeat loomed, he put his all into the struggle. Tim's arm suddenly shot up and Detrick went flying, landing on the other side of the room, knocking him out.

Tim wasted no time. Forming a fist, he swung his free arm into Petrowski's stomach. Petrowski's stomach was like steel. "Let's see how long you can keep that up," thought Tim. Another punch, then another. The third broke through, causing Petrowski to stumble. Tim's left arm shot up, but Petrowski fought to bring it down.

Tim grabbed Petrowski's left wrist. He pulled. The soldier's single arm was no competition for Tim's. It was now arm against arm. Tim asserted his power, forcing Petrowski's arms to his side. Petrowski began to realize there was nothing he could do to stop Tim.

"What do you think, SIR?" screamed Tim at Petrowski, slurring 'sir' with disrespect. "Do you think I wanted this? Do you think I wanted to be captured by you assholes? Do you think I wanted to hurt your friend? No. All I wanted was my fantasy. It was you jerks who interfered!" Tim forced Petrowski's arms up. As Petrowski resisted, he made him clap his hand together. "Do you like being a puppet? Do you like ruining people's lives. Their work?" Tim's lats flared as he dug his feet into the ground. "Well, that's what you did. Think about that, SIR!" With a mighty twist, he tossed Petroski into the wall. He landed on Detrick. Both were out cold.

Tim ran to the android. "Derek?" He heard a crackle as the android's eyes opened. "Derek, can you hear me?"

"Ssssystems," the android vocalized, "failure. Power dis-rupted. Pri-mary process-r in-operative. Backup fai-ling."

"I'll get you out of here," said Tim.

"No. Self-destruct ... activated. HAL message on display." Derek's eyes went to a flatscreen in the corner.

Reluctantly, Tim walked to it. There was a message there.

"Tim. I'm sorry. I never meant for this to happen. I had computed a slight probability of government interference. This scenerio was so unlikely as to never be fully explored. Projections indicate future contact between the HAL systems and you inadvisable. I have taken care of financial needs for your lifetime. Funds available in Swiss Bank. Go to PO Box 911 in 99307 for information. Advise adopting new identity. Government will pursue, but I will try and divert. Android equipped with one failsafe formula. It will neutralize one of the soliders. Inject failsafe into vein for maximum effect."

Events were happening too fast for Tim to process. No contact with Hal. Swiss bank? Failsafe? Failsafe. Then it dawned on him. The failsafe was originally for him. If he had gotten out of control, Hal would have used it on him. Now, Hal was offering him the ability to use it on Petrowski or Detrick.

A panel in Derek opened, and a syringe appeared. It contained a blue liquid. Tim took it. Detrick had killed Derek, if killing is the right word for an android. Whatever the word, he had taken the android from Tim. He pushed Petrowski off the sargent. With a vengence, he stabbed the syringe in the man. He watched as the Detrick's hard muscles seemed to soften and become flabby. Tim knew Detrick was no threat to him anymore.

Tim turned and walked away, he smelled the fire that was consuming Derek. He also heard shouts as computers throughout the base began to crash, erasing all data of the experiments that had taken place there. Tim didn't care. He was going home. •

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