[Present Day — Baltimore, UCAS — 2075]
Duchess sat on her couch in her Baltimore apartment that looks over the harbor. Night has come and she hasnt moved since she picked up the BTLs from Dr. Feelgood. She held one of the chips in her fingers, staring at it … pondering on whether or not to slot it. She picked up a new commlink with an illegal hot sim module that will allow her to get the full experience of the BTL through her datajack. Memories of past events flow through her mind. The violent death of Bowjack … eventhough Walker tried to shield her from most of it. The insect shaman and his … bugs, shuttering at the thought of crawling through those tunnels. The toxic mage and his turning her Raccoon spirit against her. Her continued relationship with Acorn. The disappointment in the face of Star Flower when she got her datajack. The face of the Yakuza that she killed … All of it was too much. She needed to flee … she needed to run away … she needed an escape and the BTL she held in her hand was the ticket out. All she had to do was slot it. Then she remembered her first run in Baltimore and the extraction from the BTL den. All of those trippers there. Most of them have forgotten about the world. They forgot they needed to eat and to sleep. They forgot to remember simple things like brushing their teeths or exercising. They forgot to … live. They forgot to detach from the ride. She didnt want this to happen to her. All she wanted was just to escape for awhile. She slotted the chip and booted it up.
The feeling started out simple enough. She found herself walking along a tropical beach on a warm sunny day. The warm breeze and sun enveloped her. Her skin tingled in the rays of sunshine. It tingled in the salt spray of the waves. It tingled as the warm sand pushes between her toes. She sat in the sand as the warm water started to reach her. How long has she been sitting here, she wondered, as the tide came in. Nobody else was around and she realized she was naked. The salty ocean water sprayed across her body. She could feel, smell and even taste the individual drops of water. The next wave came upon her. Time slowed to a crawl as she watched the water crash into her. The drops of water seemed to crystalize into shining diamonds. The sound of the ocean rush her ears, the smell of the saltwater invaded her nose, the salty taste of the ocean on her lips and the wet feeling of the water enveloped her entire body. The feeling was … indescribable, intense and strangely erotic. Another wave crashed into her naked body, but this time she was waiting for it. She wanted it. She craved it. The intense ecstasy she felt as the water rushed over her topped anything she has ever felt before. She imagined herself with Acorn and even this was better than the time spent with her. She readied herself for the next wave … but it never came.
Duchess found herself in back in the apartment, her body still throbbing from the experience, so much so, she had to go change her clothes. Then it hit her. The extreme loneliness, the despair, the misery of living in this world came crashing down on her. It literally brought her to her knees as she curled up in a fetal position in the bathroom. Her body went cold and chills ran up and down her spine as the crash continued. She screamed out as the excruciating headache came. She thought of things that made her happy. Raccoon, Acorn, Magic, the campout she had with Walker … none of it helped. Magic has betrayed her. Raccoon was turned against her. Acorn and Walker were disappointed, even mad, at her. Everyone was against her. She thought of her parents, of Frank, of Star Flower. They were all disappointed in her. She let them all down. Then there was the Yak. His face returned to her. She grabbed the katana and swung at the image, but nothing was there. “NOOOOO!” She yelled as his face appeared again. She swung down with the sword as in drove into the face of Acorn. She dropped to her knees again, her eyes filled with tears.
“I thought these were supposed to take these away. I thought that these were supposed to stop.” She said out loud to the empty apartment. She then noticed the pile of chips that she purchased sitting on the nightstand. This must be why the people in the BTL den kept slotting these. She picked up another chip and stared at it. Pondered on slotting it to take the pain away. “I just want to escape for awhile.” she said softly …