Ch. IV, p.2

“Time to make my mother proud,” he muttered. Slinging his rifle across his back, he pressed his hands into the cracked base of the platform and looked up—a long span of earthen colored concrete climbed high overhead, dark against azure patches of sky. ‘Grip,’ he thought. Millions of miniscule claws protruded from the fingers and palms of his gloves, digging into the wall. He dragged down with his hand to test, and it held fast.

“Okay, I’m going up.”

‘Strength,’ he commanded. Immediately, his arms and body felt powerful, almost weightless with the aid of an extra-muscular support system. Reaching one hand towards the sky and then the next, he made steady progress, jamming the thin soles of his shoes into the wall and pressing himself higher . Below, the others followed suit.

Hand clinging to the edge of the platform, he lifted himself over a waist high lip and rolled forward off the wall. Picking himself up from the ground, he peered back out into the valley. In the distance, evergreens were tinted darkly with the waning light; there couldn’t be more than an hour until dusk.

Behind him, a slender hand reached overtop the wall. He gripped the doctor’s forearm and pulled her up; she nodded in acknowledgement. Silently, she walked past him, her face bearing a mixed expression of wonder and apprehension.

“Been a long time, huh?” he asked.

“Nearly six years now. Almost hard to believe it’s still here.”

Dominic hauled himself up over the edge of the wall, landing heavily with his feet on the ground. Together, they climbed up a thin metal staircase built into the rock, until they came to another platform platform, much larger than the first. Beneath their feet, a latticed emblem of glass and marble bore the word “Genesys” in an elaborate font.

“So this is it huh… ‘Genesys: Where the modern world is dreamed and built.’ ” He spoke with mock-reverence. “Or, ‘was,’ I guess I should say. Seems nice.”

Set beneath a solid rock overhang was a gleaming wreck of collapsed glass and once-great architecture; they had walked on the dead remnants of civilization and human achievement before and, glass crunching beneath their feet, this was no different.

They passed through the ravaged entrance, dodging scattered pieces of debris. Her eyes darted back and forth, dark hair swishing side to side as she surveyed the damage: Steel slats had fallen from the ceiling and lay twisted amongst broken glass, shattered and scattered across the metal floor, and a dark air hung thickly over the room. Her chest heaved steadily and her eyes twitched with a heightened sense of awareness.

She seems… agitated… like there’s something she’s not telling us.

“What’s wrong?”

She tapped on the side of her leg nervously. “Things went on here. Experiments… that most people don’t know about,” she said. “Nothing bad, but… we’ve been away for awhile. Humans, I mean.”

“So? Doesn’t that mean it should be empty?”

“No. That means there was no one to watch over her…” Her voice was quiet; distant.

I almost couldn’t hear what she said. “Her? Who is ‘her’?”

“What? Why didn’t you tell us about this earlier?” Dominic demanded. “If there’s some psycho bitch in here who—”

“No, that’s not what I said. Animals could have taken refuge here, or more of those crawlers. Maybe something we haven’t seen yet. Look,” she said brusquely, turning to face the two men, “don’t argue with me. Let’s just get in, get this guy, and get out. Keep it simple.

“Alright… Tell us what to do.”

“Good,” she said, motioning to them to put their masks on. Flattening her hair against her neck, she laid her fingers against the back of her jaw; dark strands climbed up her face and around her skull, ensconcing her in black. “Follow me.”

A high ceiling glistening faintly with sunlight arched overhead. The main Genesys lobby… not much of a tourist attraction anymore. In the center of the great room, a dismal fountain formed of rocky spires was surrounded by a moat of stagnating water, cloudy with particulates from rubbled ceiling, and all around it, once-lustrous metal flooring had grown scratched and dull from wear.

“Okay, I’m going to access the systems and see what I can find,” she said, walking towards the back of the room. “He should be on sub level three in room E-42 if he hasn’t woken up yet.”

“All clear,” growled Dom.

“All clear,” he affirmed, eyes scouting carefully.

She crouched, scanning the area through the use of a neural network integrated into her own bodily systems.

He watched her, waiting, his mind drifting back to obsession. The way she kneels, her body curved over delicately… Like a goddess.

“Hey!” snapped Dom. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Adjusting some settings. Your heart rate wasn’t appearing on my heads up display.” A watertight bluff… He’s got a pulse of sixty-eight beats per minute right now.

“Well quit standin’ around. We gotta’ keep the good doctor safe, you know? And there’s some crazy bitch who might be out for blood. Gotta’ watch out for her too.”

“I told you,” she said, “Animals.”

“Where’s your guy at?” Dom asked.

“I’m not sure. He should still be in the building, but it’s difficult to tell.”

“Oh that’s just fu—”

“Just tell us what you know,” he cut in.

“Power has been shut down. Systems access is almost nonexistent… But a signal was sent out. Two, in fact,” she paused, checking to make sure. “One from E-42, six hours ago… and another from the same floor, room… M-12. A medical distress call from a reconstructor.”

“Do you think that’s our guy?”

She stalled again. “Yes, it has to be. The call was sent out thirty six minutes after the signal from E-42. It’s definitely him… And there hasn’t been a discharge follow-up.”

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