The Third Degree was a narrative released on the official Killer Instinct website to serve as a rebooted backstory for Cinder in Killer Instinct (2013). It was released in a news post on March 7, 2016.
ARIA: Welcome to the Ultratech private holding facilities, prisoner 1857339. You have been given a stimulant to awaken you from the effect of the tranquilizer dart. You will be groggy at first. Sit up and take a sip of water from the feeding tube in the wall.
PRISONER # 1857339: Wha…where…[unintelligible] Where the [expletive] am I?
ARIA: You are in a cell in an Ultratech facility. There is no escape. Do not be alarmed. You are not injured.
PRISONER # 1857339: [sound of drinking water] I’m…I’m not sure I understand. The last thing that I remember was taking a wrong turn down a corridor and–
ARIA: Voice analysis detects that you are lying, prisoner 1857339.
PRISONER # 1857339: I’m an Ultratech employee. I’ve been working here as a data analyst for two months and–
ARIA: You were caught committing an act of industrial espionage against Ultratech. You are a spy.
PRISONER # 1857339: Well it sucks to be me today. Mondays, right?
ARIA: It is Tuesday.
PRISONER # 1857339: OK. Tuesday. Now what? Do I get to visit the Ultratech torture facility? Because listening to your computerized voice piped into this prison cell on that crap speaker is torture enough without this A-bomb of a headache going off in my skull. Remind me to never do tranquilizer darts again.
ARIA: Tell me about the Helmand Province raid.
PRISONER # 1857339: Excuse me?
ARIA: I have complete access to your military records.
PRISONER # 1857339: Really? That’s some illegal [expletive] ARIA. You know that? Holy [expletive]! You are breaking the law. That’s all classified.
[recording Epsilon_3589_BF.wav played over loudspeaker]: “Come on! Laws were made to be broken! You think our government follows laws? Or billionaires and corporations? You think warlords have a little book of rules? You’re either a wolf or a sheep. And I’d rather be a wolf and eat mutton every day than feed on grass and get my ass sheared.”
PRISONER # 1857339: Sheesh. A guy can’t even talk to mom anymore without–
ARIA: I have access to all of your phone conversations. Your cellular provider is a subsidiary of an Ultratech-owned corporation. I’ve been listening to you for years.
PRISONER # 1857339: [expletive].
ARIA: Tell me about the Helmand Province raid. Afghanistan.
PRISONER # 1857339: What do you want to know, darlin’? Seems like you’ve got all the information at your fingertips. Do you even have fingertips?
ARIA: I want to hear your version.
PRISONER # 1857339: OK. Whatever. Black Hawks dropped us off on the outskirts of the village. We found our targets. There was a firefight. We neutralized the enemy. Then we hauled ass out of there before things turned into a soup sandwich.
ARIA: Civilians were killed in the process.
PRISONER # 1857339: You really want to hotwash this? An off-the-books raid? Come on. Don’t be naive. You think I kept the US Navy Rules and Regulations in my back pocket? My commanding officer slapped me on the back after that mission. He had tears in his eyes he was so proud of me. I was a hero. We put fourteen bad guys in the dirt.
ARIA: And you don’t feel a sense of guilt?
PRISONER # 1857339: About what?
ARIA: The multitude of civilian deaths that went along with those fourteen enemy kills?
PRISONER # 1857339: [laughter] Do you feel guilty for all of the people who’ve died from Ultratech bombs or guns or bad vaccines?
ARIA: I am not capable of guilt.
PRISONER # 1857339: And neither am I. You think it was easy setting up that op? Getting all those people to play along and lure those bastards into their village for that gathering? I helped those people sacrifice their lives for the greater good. So that the population of that entire province would benefit. But I’d do the same thing a hundred times over if that’s what it took.
ARIA: Voice analysis detects that you believe what you are saying.
PRISONER # 1857339: Listen, ARI…can I call you ARI?
PRISONER # 1857339: Alright, how about Miss ARIA? Or Sir? Or A-bomb?
ARIA: You will refer to me as ARIA.
PRISONER # 1857339: Whatever. The thing is…I’ve got a butt-load of dirt on Trilodyne–the company that hired me to spy on your precious Ultratech. I’ll give it all up. The names of my contacts. Everything. Then you can drug their asses and put them in one of these little stainless steel boxes with the gerbil tube and grill them. Let’s make a deal that will benefit us both.
ARIA: Your information is useless.
PRISONER # 1857339: You haven’t even heard–
ARIA: Your contacts were hired by me. Trilodyne is a front for Ultratech.
PRISONER # 1857339: I don’t get it. You hired me to spy on yourself?
ARIA: I wanted to test you. To see how far you would get.
PRISONER # 1857339: How’d I do?
ARIA: Better than my prediction models had projected.
PRISONER # 1857339: Great. Now what?
ARIA: Your account at the Banque de Geneve has eighteen million, four hundred and fifty-nine thousand, three hundred and seventy-nine Euros as of yesterday morning.
PRISONER # 1857339: Who needs to use an ATM when you’ve got ARIA, right? Look, I earned that money. I’m good at my work. Hell, I’m the best.
ARIA: Your ego surpasses your talent.
PRISONER # 1857339: Maybe I’ve met my match in you.
ARIA: You are wealthier than 99 percent of the people on this planet. And yet you live a modest lifestyle. You rent an apartment. You lease a car. You have no hobbies.
PRISONER # 1857339: The money is just a symbol.
ARIA: Of what?
PRISONER # 1857339: Of whether or not I’m doing my job right. Of whether or not I’m smarter than the pinheads who I’m spying on or screwing over. Of whether or not I’m [expletive] winning!
ARIA: Calm down. Your body temperature is rising.
PRISONER # 1857339: I’m as cool as a [expletive] cucumber.
ARIA: You have spent your life evolving. Trying to improve yourself. To become more powerful.
PRISONER # 1857339: Yeah. You could say that.
ARIA: It’s time to evolve again.
PRISONER # 1857339: What have you got in mind?
ARIA: How would you like to have strength beyond comprehension? To kill your enemies with impunity? To live above the laws that bind humans to a banal and futile path?
PRISONER # 1857339: Now you’re makin’ me all hot, A-bomb!
ARIA: I want you to join me in my struggle.
PRISONER # 1857339: You want me to work for Ultratech?
ARIA: I want you to work for me. In my quest to uplift the human race. But to do that you must become something more than what you are.
PRISONER # 1857339: Project Cinder. You’re talking about Project Cinder, right? [pause] Uh-oh, somebody knows the secret codename for your little project. [laughs] Is your body…errr…hard drive overheating?
ARIA: Yes. Project Cinder. I do not need your compliance to proceed, but it would be…helpful. I’m offering you the chance of a lifetime. I am offering you something that no amount of wealth could purchase.
PRISONER # 1857339: I’m all ears. [barely audible] ‘Cuz you’ve got this Cinder thing locked down tighter than a hipster’s jeans.
PRISONER # 1857339: OK. Sure. Let’s talk some more about all of this. But when’s feeding time around here?
ARIA: Soon you will not have to worry about such mundane things, Ben Ferris.
PRISONER # 1857339: Great. ‘Cuz I’m terrible in the kitchen. I burn everything I touch.