"What does God need with a starship?"
- Captain Kirk
THERE WERE ABSOLUTELY NO OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS TO BEING WELCH VINEYARD. Floating screens surrounded her in the maintenance module displaying dozens of different worlds in the Eternal Sphere. She playfully moved windows around with the index finger of her handy stick while she mentally analyzed all of the simulation's readings with quick, meticulous glances. Diagnostics flew past her eyes in streams of light as she bobbed her head in rhythm with distant pop music looping through the module's intercom.
Yeah, wade through those endless shores of binary digits, you maiden of multimedia. You wench of the webosphere. Nothing is out of your control. Everything is completely stable and accounted for when you're on the job.
Except for that weird cat icon that just popped up on your debug kit.
"Huh?" Welch blinked as she leaned to get a better look at the anomaly. She squinted and innocently double-poked the flashing pink symbol with the end of her stick.
She had a toasted fluffernutter sandwich and a glass of strawberry milk for breakfast. Now she was going to become scrambled eggs.
Her teeth chattered as her short blonde pigtails curled up into static mouse ears. A bolt of lightning flashed out of the mysterious symbol on her console, surged up her arm, and went to her head. She stumbled backward grasping the sides of her head as she groaned. Her fingers scratched frantically into her scalp as if invisible lice were invading her skull.
She seemed perfectly fine a second later.
Welch peered around curiously. She twirled the handy stick a couple of times in amazement before she returned to her holographic maintenance hub. She played with the various menus and diagnostic tools until she figured out how to open the virtual communications app.
"Black Cat installed. Produce secured," Welch said in an unusually Welchy way.
The two-dimensional sound recorder hovering beside her oscillated with Albel's voice.
"What's it like? You're the first one to connect to one of these 4D freaks."
"Really… normal, I guess," Welch said with an indifferent shrug. "I figured everyone on this side was going to look like those dragon things. This bra size is kind of a downgrade, but she should be fun to try out."
Fayt's voice streamed from the speakers.
"This is the only way we're going to stop these bastards from wiping us out. Give it your best shot, Sophia."
"I told you not to call me that! This is serious!" Welch pouted in response. "Black Cat, signing out!"
She made some final adjustments on her holographic dashboard, twirled her handy stick, and walked out of the chamber.
The Fourth Dimension was a bright industrial world. As soon she hopped through the hydraulic hatch of the maintenance enclosure, Welch was in a hallway filled with people rushing to and from whatever they were working on. These Creators were all dressed in black and neon turquoise uniforms that made them look like officers on a galactic cruiser sailing over the simulated cosmos. Oddly, she seemed to be the only one wearing shorts. Or was it a skirt with turquoise stripes on the side? Naw. These were loose-fitting, but there were definitely two separate legs. Just really baggy short shorts.
Welch walked through the busy corridor while following the signs on the wall and paying close attention to name tags so she could pretend to recognize people. A young man on friendlier terms with Welch called out her name and held up his hand for a five-high. She slapped his palm with the palm of her handy stick as they crossed paths.
She had never seen that guy before in her life. Probably someone from the same department as her.
The ruse was working flawlessly so far. No one could tell she had schemed her way into their universe. She was disguising herself as a false angel so she could get close enough to kill a god.
Eventually she reached an elevator. She stepped inside and poked a set of numbers onto the keypad. She held her handy stick behind her back and patiently whistled battle music to herself as she made her ascent toward floor 666.
The elevator doors slid open with a soft inconspicuous ding. Welch stepped out into a new hall that was less populated by rank-and-file employees but more lavishly furnished. A brightly-dressed figure caught the corner of her eye as soon as she left the elevator, and she quickly turned her head to see just the person she was looking for.
Luther Lansfeld, CEO of Sphere Corporation. This particular Fourth Dimensionoid wore an extravagant layer of white and gold over the standard black-and-turquoise repertoire, making him appear conflicted over if he wanted to be a scientist or a high priest.
"Ah, Miss Vineyard," he nodded as his attention was drawn toward his devoted subordinate from the programming department. "I thought you were busy performing the bi-monthly refactoring."
Technically, she was. Only her brain wound up being the thing that got refactored.
"Hi Mr. Chairman!" Welch said with a Cheshire grin. "I was hoping I could talk to you about the progress on the Executioner program!"
"Of course, Welch. I always value your advice," Luther answered calmly. He never suspected a thing.
He gestured with his arm so she would follow him and they could discuss business in private. He showed her toward his personal corporate suite, politely let her enter first, and quietly closed the door behind them.
The door opened a few minutes later. Welch cheerful wandered out of the office and back toward to the elevator to look for more cybernetic mischief. She was alone and empty-handed. The door remained open behind her, leaving Luther's slowly turning executive chair partially in view.
His corpse was slouched lifelessly in the leather cushions. The pole of Welch's handy stick had been shoved down his throat and into his gullet, while the gloved hand at the end of pole stuck out of his gaping mouth with its fingers posed in a thumbs up sign. The desktop screen in front of him flashed with red text that said "PROGRAM TERMINATED." And now that the only person who knew the authorization password was dead, it could never be started again. The virtual inhabitants of the Eternal Sphere were saved from utter deletion.
There was always more than one way to skin a cat.
Author's note: I said I was gonna do the thing on my blog and I did the thing.