The Murderer of Immortals, Part 1
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Last time on Nexus:
The Better Man? Part 3

USA, Honolulu, 2132

Hawaii has always been a place praised for its beauty. Its warm temperatures and white beaches draw in thousands of tourists all year over, all of which want to have a good time.
That still applies in the year 2132. Especially to the town district Waikīkī in Honolulu. The rich and the beautiful occupied the Hotels, that had settled here, for the most part to enjoy the sun.
Well, in Chloe's opinion mostly the rich, even though she would have never openly admitted it.
At her home was a really wet November right now, so it was even more amazing for her that she walked around here in her white summer dress and a sun hat.
"I think it is great that you tagged along," Elli said, and took a sip from her cocktail.
Today, she had forgone a shirt and wore a blue bikini top with hotpants. Added to the mix were shades she had pushed up at the moment. Chloe had blushed because of this outfit in the beginning but now she could manage somewhat better. The more so because she had a fellow sufferer with Dean. He had registered Elli's getup with an eye roll. Presumably to counter Elli's light clothing he wore a blue Hawaiian shirt, dotted with palm trees, a blue-white base-cap and white summer pants that went way down over his knees.
"Well, last time was somewhat unlucky", Chloe hand-waved without looking at Elli directly. Her actual reason was that Elli had looked as if she would fall into a depression, had she declined. Additionally, Elli had promised her that she had enacted security measures.
Since their adventure in 19th century Paris, four days had passed. The white part of Chloe's hair had spread a little bit further during this time and suffered from some bruises she had gotten after she fell down some stairs.
She was in a befittingly bad mood when Elli appeared but she wasn't able to say no to this face.
Also, the place wasn't so bad. They sat in front of a gaudy bar with view over the beach and swimmers. Elli eyed them extensively. She had ordered an amber-colored cocktail and Chloe worked her way through some ice-cream. Dean hadn't requested anything and observed his surroundings with suspicion. He probably had taken his failure to protect Chloe to heart to much
"What are those security measures?", Chloe asked. "Please don't tell me that there is an orbital canon or something flying above us."
Elli snickered briefly.
"No, way more elegant. You can't die here."
Chloe starred at her for a short while.
"Excuse me?"
"No, really", Elli confirmed. "Some blithering idiot managed to disable death around here. Nothing dies here anymore, provided it has a brain. Not even the mosquitos."
Chloe was silent for a moment while her brain rattled and then presented her the implications of this circumstance with a metaphorical "Ding!".
"Ho-Ho-Ho-Hold on! There should be a tremendous overpopulation. Not to mention all the insects."
Elli nodded approvingly.
"Correct. But it isn't like that. I am not entirely sure how they did it but apparently a lot of humans and animals could be sterilized before problems arose. Even retroactively, as if the Terminator had been send back in time to abort John Connor. Do you get me?"
"Does that mean people got sterilized in a way so that they had always been sterile?"
Elli nodded.
"But why were they sterilized then, when there was nothing to sterilize? How-"
"That is a causal paradox", Elli interrupted her. "The multiverse has ways and means to go out of the way of such "Bugs" but that is an explanation for another time and place."
Chloe settled for that.
"So, how does this work around here? Do you get healed if you get a knife in your stomach or how does this go on?"
"Entirely wrong", Elli declined with a sad smile. "Everything is as it always was. You need to go to the hospital, you get sick and you age. You only do not die here. Quite practical for us thanks to the Panacea."
Chloe frowned her brow and looked around.
"Shouldn't there a lot of very old people be walking around?"
Elli took a short sip from her cocktail.
"Nah. After people have stopped dying over one-hundred years ago, they became really creative. Some rich dopes for example created a pill that sends you into an eternal coma but it's price is extremely high. A sadly very common thing is the fullbody transplant."
"What's that?"
"Simple, you take the brain out of people and put them into different bodies."
Again, Chloe had to ponder for a bit.
"But if nobody dies anymore, were are the donor bodies coming from? Are they capable of cloning?"
This time, Elli took a bigger sip from her cocktail.
"That's what the people are supposed to believe. The truth is far less pretty. They are being stolen. Poor people, nobodies, people missed by no one. All of it far away from any law-abiding but nobody is complaining. Least of all the customers. And how should they, they don't even know where the goods are coming from. That's were the second part of my security measures comes into play. This area here."
"You mean there are less abductions in a rich area?", Chloe asked.
"In rich areas there is less crime altogether.", Dean cut in. "But you don't have to worry anyway, Chloe. You are uninteresting for such robbers because your skull is still to small as to put in the brain of a grown-up. Elli for example should beware, customers like that but no, of course she has all the merchandise on display. Typical…"
"Nothing will happen around here", the scolded one appeased. "me least of all. I have my frying pan. But seriously, there are way better methods to evade this mess. Look at this woman over there for example."
Chloe looked towards the direction Elli nodded at, and saw a young woman that would probably have passed as a supermodel. She had brown skin and yellow highlights in her black hair.
"That, Chloe, is a cyborg", Elli explained. "The brain had been simply implanted into a robot. You can see that in the face. To perfect, to symmetrical."
Chloe furrowed her brow.
"But she looks like a normal human."
"That's how you can see how much work went into this thing. Hey, when you have finished, let us go to the beach. I most certainly have somewhere a bikin-"
Dean loudly harrumphed.
"Bathing suit lying around which I can give to you," Elli corrected herself.
Dean laid his hand on Elli's head. Since it was so big it looked as if Elli was wearing a cap. One, that would crush her skull any minute now…
"And what do you intend on wearing, Elli, given our young escort?", he whispered and in doing that, appeared like a a teacher inquiring for the reason why the homework wasn't done.
"This one I am wearing already, together with the corresponding counterpart," Elli replied without turning her head. "Don't worry, it will hide enough to satisfy even you, really, I am being honest here."
Chloe had to admit that it was quite hot, but she had an inkling that Elli didn't break out in a sweat because of the temperatures alone.

Dean's interjection had been justified, because after a little detour to the Nexus Chloe had realized that Elli had a rather frugal taste in regards to swimwear. Therefore, it took a while until Elli found a modern bathing suit in her myriads of wardrobes that Dean nodded through. It was a simple azure suit for free time water sports but Chloe did not complain after having faced the alternatives.
On the beach, Elli displayed an interesting swimming style, probably influenced by her alcohol levels. It propelled her through the water in erratic serpentines. Weirdly enough, she always managed to remain afloat, even if a wave decided to crush down on her. Chloe didn't dare to go to far because of the high waves and observed the surfers, that seemed to have much fun with them. Dean didn't even enter the water, did therefore not change his clothes and instead guarded their resting place. When Elli and Chloe came back later, an impressive sand castle was situated beside it. At this time, Dean had worked on a bulwark around the beach blanket.
Despite Hawaii being know for its quietness, it was quite noisy there. So Elli advised after an extensive window shopping spree to go for dinner in a small inn at the edge of the city up in the mountains to conclude the day. It was said that the sunset could be admired especially well there.
"Small" in this case meant a four story house at a cliff. It appeared to be relatively modern. The neighboring pool area was especially prominent, because it was only accessible from the house. All other sides were confined by a fence and the cliffs behind them. The white house walls glowed with the orange of the setting sun.
"That is an insider tip among the rich ", Elli explained as they entered the flashy reception hall. White marble and gold leaf was everywhere.
There was a desk in front of the door leading to the rest to the building but wasn't manned by a porter. It didn't have to because an extremely old looking man, whose wrinkled skin put up every effort to get into direct contact with his skeleton, wobbled towards them. He wore a stylish green hotel staff uniform and bowed rudimentarily in front of the trio.
"Good evening, ladies and gentleman. Did you make a reservation?", he asked with an asthmatic sounding voice.
During his lip movements it could be seen that he maintained his dentures in an exemplary manner.
"On the name Hunter, yes", Elli affirmed. "We are here for dinner."
The old man waddled to the porter's desk and briefly browsed a book laying on top of it.
"Ah, Hunter, there. My word, you booked on the grand opening five years ago in advance only a desk for today's evening?"
"Dear Sir, you don't know the patience I can have.", Elli only replied.
"Henry. Call me Henry", the old man requested and gestured them to enter.
Elli did as told and in passing flicked a coin to the man.
Dean walked to him with raised eyebrows.
"You let her in in this outfit?", he asked and pointed at Elli, who had donned her bikini-top-hotpants-combo again after their visit to the beach.
The old man waved his hand with a dirty grin.
"We have a relatively small party today. All of them new customers. I think your companion could animate them to visit here again, if you know what I mean."
"A true PR genius", Dean commented dryly. "Now, in all seriousness, how old are you that you are still getting such ideas?"
"I am one hundred and forty-six", Henry answered while leading Dean and Chloe into a big and festively decorated restaurant. In the front part were a few couches with marble tables, the back part sported the usual chair-table arrangements.
"Are you still original?" Dean inquired further. "I apologize if you take offense but people that were once mortal are a fascination of mine. I myself came onto this world only twenty-eight years ago."
"Oh, no problem, it's good if the next generation has an interest in history. I am still in my old body but I am saving for a new one. Not a full-body transplant, an robot body, you know what I mean?"
Dean nodded while he seated himself ad the table designated for their group. Lots of cutlery and silk cloths were draped on it. The furniture item was situated in front of an panorama window with a view upon Honolulu and the sea behind it.
"Indeed", Dean affirmed. "Does that have any particular reasons? Those protheses supposedly have a few drawbacks."
Henry shrugged.
"None I could arrange myself with. Normal bodies might be somewhat cheaper but you always need a new one. If you would excuse me now, I will get you your menu cards."
The servant left with small, dribbling steps.
"What drawbacks should such a machine body have?", Chloe asked. "Are they not able to feel?"
"As far as I know they have a problem with dopamine", Elli explained. "Messes up the connection between brain and body. Basically, those affected have to avoid everything that might be fun. Design error, if you ask me."
"Allow me to correct you", said a voice behind Elli.
It belonged to the woman Elli had shown to Chloe a few hours prior, the one with the yellow highlights in the black hair. She wore a yellow, sleeve-less top and pale jeans with sandals. And smiled a radiating smile.
"Please excuse me, I just couldn't overhear your conversation. You can in fact still have fun with exoskeletons. Just not as much as with a body made of flesh and blood. I know what I am talking about."
Elli turned around, interested.
"No problem. My name is Elli, bay the way, that are Chloe and Dean. We are the Hunters. How does this work? Does a fun brake engage if you are enjoying yourself too much?"
"Hope Macintosh, much obliged. And no, we just become sluggish and emotionally numb. Sure sign for too much dopamine."
"That means no more extreme sports. Or chocolate. Or sex", a second person at the neighboring table intervened.
It was a man with combed back and obviously black dyed hair as well as a goatee sporting a similar coloration. His clothing consisted of an expensive looking grey shirt, similar colored jeans, which probably weren't cheap either. The man had a general aura around him that told everybody that he had more money than was good for him.
"Robert, my brother," Ms Macintosh explained eyes rolling.
"Hi there," the one mentioned greeted.
"He has a rather dark humor," Ms Macintosh whispered to Elli.
"I had an inkling," she whispered back. "He does not really seem to approve of your choice, doesn't he? "
"Probably, but still better than this transplant, if you ask me. That's his fourth body already. His complaints get worse every time."
The implications let Chloe's hair stand on end.
"Ooh, there is something developing between us," Elli said excitedly, apparently entirely unfazed by these facts. "Let's go to the bar later."
"Sure but I can't get that much into it, I'm afra- Dr. Allison!"
Everybody looked up to examine the somewhat chubby man with the grey hair, white shirt and the brown corduroy trousers as he walked by the table. He adjusted his big glasses to view the one who had addressed him. He adjusted his large glasses to see who had spoken to him. It took a moment before he spoke.
"Ah, Ms Macintosh, I'm sorry, I didn't recognize you immediately with your hair. Is everything okay?"
Chloe gained the impression that everybody knew everybody on Hawaii…
"Well, we were just talking about the dopamine limit, but nothing is perfect, is it?" Ms Macintosh replied. "Are you here alone?"
Dr. Allison shook his head, smiling.
"Oh no, I was offered a voyage to watch over a patient here. Still has to get used to his exoskeleton, you understand?"
"He is the surgeon who gave me my body," Ms Macintosh explained to Elli and her companions, that had followed the events with moderate confusion until now. They confirmed this clarification with a look of understanding.
"Maybe you can talk to my customer?" the doctor asked. "I am sure he would appreciate a progress report. AARON?"
From the other side of the restaurant, steps became audible and four people came to the table. Two of them were women in their thirties with brown hair, bound into a ponytail. The faces were similar, like those of sisters. Both wore skin-tight jeans, one a pink blouse, the other a wide gray shirt. Chloe was horrified when she spotted a faint scar beneath the hairline, stemming from a surgery. The third one was a white-haired, elderly man with sideburns, supported by a walking cane. His outfit resembled Dean's, wide white pants and a yellow Hawaii-shirt, both with palm tree patterns. He gave Dean an amused look, which was answered with a smile and a shrug.
The fourth one was Aaron, as Chloe presumed, because he looked too perfect. He looked forty, with dark-brown hair and wrinkles in his face, which looked more like decorations then of natural origin. He wore a green polo-shirt and short, grey-green pants. He also wore white socks to bright-brown sandals.
"The Haydens and the Wards", Doctor Allison introduced them.
Then he addressed Aaron directly.
"This is Hope Macintosh", ehe explained. "She also has an exoskeleton. I thought a progress report could speed up your accustoming. That over there is her brother, by the way."
"Much obliged," the patient replied with a hinted bow. "If I may make a quick introduction, this here is Sabrina, my wife."
He pointed to the woman in the grey shirt.
"And we are George and Jennifer Ward," the elderly man concluded the introductions.
He quizzically looked at Dean.
"And you are?"
Dean opened his mouth to answer the question but Elli was faster than him.
"We are the Hunters, Chloe, Elli, Dean. Howdy-do."
Dean rolled his eyes.
"Are you traveling together with the Macintoshs?", Mr Hayden asked.
"No, we just got to know each other", Elli replied with a smile.
"Shall I put a few desks together?" came a helpful inquiry from behind the Wards.
Immediately afterwards Henry rounded the standing people to deliver the cards to Elli, Chloe and Dean.
"It is no problem for us. On todays evening, you are the only ones here", he assured while he distributed his load.
"Actually, why not?", Mrs Hayden said.
She had a high-pitched, squeaky voice that rasped on Chloe's brain like sand paper.
"The more, the merrier. "
The other ones present nodded approvingly and subsequently, a lot of furniture got moved until a big round table was formed. Henry distributed further menu cards to the remaining attendees.
Chloe on her part was amazed about how fast the people here got on a friendly basis. After some thought, she attributed this fact to the American mentality and things rich people did… Apropos rich, the ensuing table talk appeared to Chloe far to normal for the financial weight of those talking.
"What's your profession?", Mr Ward asked Ms Macintosh in this Moment.
Both cyborgs sat besides each other, following Dr. Allison's advice to have an easier time talking to each other.
"Machine parts" was Ms Macintosh's brief answer. "Me and my brother run a company supplying the entire west coast. And what do you do?"
"I am a Banker, Bank of America. Nice office in Los Angeles. If you want to expand somewhen, I could…"
Chloe classified this conversation as boring and shifted her attention to Elli, who talked with the other women.
"Regarding your bodies, are you related with each other?"
The ladies chuckled briefly.
"Indeed, we are sisters, although born at different times", Mrs Hayden affirmed afterwards. "So, we are very glad that there were a few bodies with which we could still show that. Why do you ask?"
"Pure curiosity", Elli replied. "How did you get the idea with this hotel?"
"With Dr. Allison. He said he has got this tip from one of his former patients who is now working here as a chef. And I think one from the security personnel also went under his knife."
Elli raised an eyebrow.
"That man has a lot of customers here on Hawaii, despite being a tourist."
"There is no lab here on Hawaii where one could let himself be converted", Mrs Ward explained. "If you want to get one here, you have to go to San Francisco."
"I see," said Elli. "But back to the chef, isn't that, uh, deadly? I've heard that exoskeletons can already overload when you intake delicious food."
The sisters shrugged synchronous.
"There is probably less joy if you aren't allowed to eat it." Mrs Ward speculated.
"How comes your husband can afford such an exoskeleton?", Elli inquired with a side glance towards Mr Hayden. "Those are not really cheap."
"He is a banker. My husband is employed in the pharmaceutical industry, by the way. Nowadays, there is more demand for it then ever." Mrs Ward explained.
Chloe listened away just long enough to hear Dean and Mr Ward discuss different cheats for poker. Then she decided to rather listen to them.

The next two hours were uneventful. Food and drinks were ordered and served, Dr. Allison vanished to the toilet, Ms Macintosh received a call and alter left the table together with Mrs Hayden in the direction of the toilet, her brother followed shortly afterwards. Elli meanwhile got acquainted with the outside of conversations rather quiet Mr Ward and later went together with him to the bar, later joined by Ms Macintosh. Elli then started something Chloe could only call a binge in retrospect.
"It's certainly boring as the only kid," Mrs Ward remarked dryly from the side.
Chloe flinched briefly.
"Sorry, but you look so excluded. Your mother should probably have chosen a better establishment."
For a moment, Chloe inhaled to correct the woman but then overthought her plan. The truth would prompt a few questions from outsiders and Chloe wasn't sure that she could come up with a fitting lie. She shrugged as an reply.
"Who knows, could be worse."
"Definitely. By the way, what's up with your dad? He has neither drunk nor eaten anything this entire evening.
"He lost a bet," Chloe lied hastily, although she also started to ask herself why she had never seen Dean drink or eat anything.
"Weird wager. Say, have you seen my sister somewhere recently? Mrs Hayden, I mean?"
Chloe shook her head.
Mrs Ward reached with frowned brows for her glass, estimated the distance wrong and topped over her wine with the back-hand. The beverage immediately headed towards Chloe's dress and reached its destination mostly…
"Oh, I am so sorry," the woman exclaimed apologetically.
She wanted to reach for a napkin, before realizing it was a lost cause.
"No biggie," Chloe tried to calm her down. "Nothing has happened."
"Nothing has happened?", Mrs Ward echoed. "Child, I ruined your dress!"
"I'll get this clean again, don't worry", Chloe kept on trying. "I'll go to the bathroom and see what can be done."
Mrs Hayden Gave her skeptical glances as she rose up to make her announcement a reality. While still en route to the door, she noted how a big shadow fell on her. Dean walked behind her and looked kind of grumpy.
"Red wine stains… If I recall correctly, you won't get them out never again in your time."
"But you can in another one?", Chloe asked full of hope.
Dean pulled a tiny black bottle with an unknown label out of his pocket. Her translation sticker translated it as "Udul".
"Exactly", Dean affirmed her question. "This is Udul1, one of the best stain removers in the multiverse for fabric, metal and almost all other materials. I always have a bottle on me for good measure since Elli managed to puke over the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom."
"She did what?", Chloe asked with disbelief.
"She had gotten wasted together with Victoria I. Was in an universe where red as a hair color hadn't prevailed."
Chloe pondered for a while how Elli had gotten into this situation in the first place until they reached the bathrooms. Dean positioned himself meaningfully on the wall opposite of the door to the woman's bathroom besides a door reading "Employees Only".
"I will wait here. A few drops and the stain and then scrub it with water. That should suffice."
Chloe nodded and took the Udul bottle to the sanitary installations. The stuff indeed worked like an ink eradicator for red wine stains and Chloes dress was clean again in a jiffy. While she gazed at this marvel in the mirror, her peripheral vision noted something else, that was red. Her brain, of course, concluded at first that it had to be red wine before correcting itself after the fraction of a second. The red wasn't visible on Chloe's dress but on the floor behind her. And then Chloe realized with a pale face that the red flowed.
From a toilet cabin a read stream emerged that slowly but steadily made its way over the tiles.
Chloe noted a pair of legs, indicating that somebody sat on the toilet. The door was closed but not locked…
"He-hello?", Chloe asked.
No reply.
Slowly she approached the door. She was so tense that it seemed like half an eternity to her until she gave the door an a little bit too enthusiastic push. Silently creaking the door swung open and crashed into the cabin wall.
And Chloe started to scream in shock.

Next time on Nexus:
The Murderer of Immortals, Part 2

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