Even now, in the darkness, I hear her speak. My sister, my angel, who I knew but slightly; who I should know more about, but now she is gone. She and so many others.
“Focus, V.” echoes a voice , different, in the darkness of my mind, disturbing the nervous meditation that is waiting for everyone else to leave the archive library—though the term stretches the normal definition here. As does everywhere else here.
I love the Academy for all the wrong reasons, but you might as well say that drinking water is wrong, killing innocent micro-organisms. Everything that is the Academy is also me.
The last on has left, locking the door behind—a sweet but lethal guy, Atmospheric Winds, who hails from the last tribe of Eskimos when we lost the entire West Coast to the dreaming insanity. He is eagle-eyed—and that’s no exaggeration; extreme body modification is run of the mill here.
But eagle eyes won’t penetrate the camoflauge that enfolds me. That is a shape of wrongness on this world. But I made a bargain.
And that’s why I’m leaving as soon as possible.
I riffle through the computer files while another part of me (no; a part of brain tissue that he resides in) traces and disables, using interfaces meant only for the fleet of thought by the true Artificial Intelligences. He cuts through defences and encyption like butter, but leaves no trace behind. Cutting water, as Mushishi once said.
He isn’t one of them—I mean, not a true AI. I’ll tell you later when we get out the hell out of here.
He nods at one point (his temporary visual imprint on my brain. I must remember that he is not I. What did my sister do, when she was in my position? I don’t know, and her legacy keeps his own secrets, liked and barred… somewhere).
As we make our escape into the flooded backstreets of New York—too easy, a mere climb through a window, so there must be a mole in the so-called tight ship that the Iron Driller runs… I wonder what side of the current Academy schism we’ll approach next. More like a dodecahedron at this point, after the final and quite confusing collapse of the Westomythos war.
Actually, I don’t care that much. I want to see my sister again.
I’m not sure what he wants, but during our relatively uncomfortable days-long journey to some location only he knows, there are times when our thoughts touch, in sync, over memories and impressions. In those moments I gain purpose, but unfocused (can it even be called purpose? Enthusiasm?); what he feels during those moments he does not say.
One night, I stand on a cliff overlooking the academy grounds. There is something beyond their single-minded purpose. Which did not include my sister.
His plans do. And I am tired of losing connections, over and over and over…
Perhaps one will pay for all.
I turned my back and went back to the embering campfire with a single roll and a single meal cooking.
It wasn’t always this way.