Ch. IX, p.2

. . .

“Nanomachines?”

“Yes.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t see how I can make this work… from a business standpoint. It simply isn’t worth the risk.”

“Scan the one’s he’s carrying,” Dom said, nodding at the boy. “These were worth killing over, to someone.”

“But it doesn’t matter what they are. Ain’t worth getting mixed up with Apex over. Ain’t worth dying for.”

“Scan them then. Just tell us what they are, and I’ll find a buyer somewhere.”

Dr. Edwards rubbed the bridge of his nose, eyes closed. Then he said reluctantly, “Alright. I suppose I owe you that much. Come with me.”

Dominic patted the boy on the shoulder, and nodded down the hallway for him to follow.

Sherrad was barely able to hold himself up, burdened with spiking pains all over his body. Dominic had insisted on finding a way for him to keep his arm, which meant that amputation would have to wait until they were sure that a synthetic construct was the way to go, rather than through the development of an antidote.

He felt hands guiding him along, watching in a daze as dismal potted plants and grimy unkempt wall passed. Flashes of an old world—maintained by skittering maintenance animals, shining with perfection—passed through his mind. He would have trusted those impeccably maintained corridors and glowing doctors far more than this gruff, disagreeable man and his ailing facility.

But what other choice was there?

“In here,” said the doctor.

A matte white door slid open, guiding them inside. Dom stopped upon the threshold, saying, “Tell me what you find. I’ll be back later.”

“What should I do with him?” Edwards said, indignantly.

“Keep him comfortable. I won’t be long… And I’ll make it worth your while.”

*

Dominic stepped out the front door of the clinic, a small building located on the eastern-most side of the city. It was a strange place for a hospital, but much Idest of had been destroyed by earthquakes, fighting, chemical spillage... three quarters of the city was closed off to residence and even travel, causing any businesses and homesteads to be bunched unceremoniously together in what was once a section dedicated to warehouses, factories, and A.I. storage and repair facilities.

But the area had, of late, attained an undeniably human aesthetic—ramshackle huts sat atop ancient storage units, painted mud brown by dirt and thick, choking rain. And since commerce and goods were tightly controlled in a three way standoff between the government, Apex, and local smuggling operations, decorations and new constructions generally had a very primitive feel to them; at the same time, they struck Dom as ragged banners of a burgeoning artistic movement that maybe didn’t even know it was occurring.

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