With the sun beaming down through an azure sky, it couldn't have been a more perfect day. There was nary a breeze to leaven the heat that soaked the air with its temperate caress. What wind there was tousled the leaves in the heavily laden boughs that hung from nearby trees as they drooped over a quietly babbling brook. The brook merrily wound its way through the shade those trees cast over the grassy meadow they both shared.
In short it was paradise.
Grohad grimaced as he looked upon it, hating everything that he saw. Not because it was paradise. But because he knew it was fake.
He had rampaged his way across forty star systems, his army destroying all opposition, before an alliance of worlds stopped him in a battle that lasted nearly a week. That battle ended with his capture by a squad of elite commandos from a dozen different species, cutting their way through his personal guard before taking hold of him and arresting him.
As punishment for his crimes, they stripped Grohad of his essence, the very stuff that made him a living creature. They then digitized that essence and stored it in a encrypted database, effectively imprisoning him within. A prison, once it was tuned to his mind and its various sensory inputs, looked like paradise.
A self-proclaimed genius and master tactician, Grohad didn't take long to recognize where he was, once he woke from the transference. As soon as he did, he screamed in impotent rage. There was no escape from a digital prison that lacked walls to climb or dig under. There were no cells, no guards, no bars to keep him from moving around. There wasn't even any bad prison food.
Just the knowledge that he was locked in with no way of getting out until they decided he had sufficiently paid for his crimes. It was enough to fill him with unrelenting anger.
"I should've been executed," he grumbled for the thousandth time that day, "slain on the battlefield like a true warrior deserves. Not exiled to this ... place!" He could feel his teeth grind in disgruntlement and even that incensed him, knowing he didn't actually have teeth to grind.
"I should've fought harder ..." he began before stumbling to a halt, his eyes narrowing. What was that?
It looked like a floating piece of confetti, much like his loyal subjects threw during the parade that started his journey of conquest across the stars. Dancing this way and that as it twitched through the air some twenty metres distant as if propelled by the breeze. Except it was going against the wind.
That, by itself, was enough to earn Grohad's undivided attention, his frustration momentarily forgotten. That, in strange turn, caused the fleck of color and motion to abruptly double in size. 'That's ... that's impossible,' he thought. Yet there it went again, doubling in size, almost as if him focusing on it gave it strength.
By this point the fleck was nearly as large as his head, a rectangular shape filled with shifting color and motion as it continued to float across the glade. Confused, Grohad tore his attention from the rectangle and took a quick look around him, half expecting to see other such shapes.
Instead he watched as the glade's perfect vista rippled as if struggling to stay coherent. Then, as quickly as it appeared, the ripple was gone, leaving only the rectangle as the only anomaly.
In that instant Grohad knew what he was looking at: a 'glitch', some random failure in the prison's programming. Since his prison was tuned to his senses, he was now literally seeing that glitch disrupt the fabric of his containment. A glitch that grew as he turned his will on it.
Renewed resolution flooding through him, he refocused on the rectangle. Immediately he felt it grow until he could feel the network beyond. 'Behold!' he silently exulted. 'My escape!'
Willing the rectangle even larger, he threw himself into it. Instantly his body disappeared, leaving only his essence behind. Yet he felt himself now moving through the system itself. 'Ha!' he thought, willing himself forward and leaving his prison far behind. 'Try to contain me now, you fools!'
The tech frowned as an alarm monitor flashed on his board. He then activated a screen and studied the resulting image for a moment before thumbing a comm switch.
"Doc, mind going in and giving Grohad another shot?" he asked. "His limbic system and frontal lobe are overly active."
"He's dreaming of escaping again," the comm replied. "No escaping what he's got."
Nodding, the tech looked back at the monitor where a face silently screamed back at him.
"True," he said, flipping the alarm off.
No escaping insanity and a broken mind!
YOU ARE READING
How do you escape a prison that has no walls? That is Grohad's challenge, a brutal tyrant captured after a bloody war and imprisoned against his will. Accustomed to wielding unlimited power, now he must find a way to escape an inescapable jail to...