IV: The Sun

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Chapter IV

‘Message from Eve:
This is not a dream. It is a Farwall transmission, encrypted using your DNA. If you have left Genesys, I apologize, but you must come back immediately. It is imperative that you make contact with me in security room A on level I; I will recognize you there. Everything depends on what you do now.’

Sky… Blue sky… and… His eyes opened groggily. Where am I?

Hazy memories assembled at the back of his mind. Dark hallways. Fighting. Blood. He gingerly pressed on his left arm, the memory of pain flashing at his touch. But it was only an illusion; his shoulder was numb, unfeeling, its damaged muscles and missing flesh replaced by a mushy compound and wrapped in a soft, black fiber.

He leaned forward, pressing a hand against the dark glass of the reconstructor. Shapes undulated in the black; it looked as if the shadows themselves had taken form, writhing in chaotic discontent. Then his ears chimed in, conveying crowing and snapping noises, and he realized what he was seeing.

Eyes… Beaks… More of those creatures, tails whipping through the air, huddled around something on the floor, tearing, shredding. Was this his chance to escape? While they were distracted? No, no, no, no, no, his brain said. And then for emphasis, No.

He reclined against the hard enclosure, hands over his knees, wondering what in the world he was going to do.

. . .


It’s cool up here in the mountains. The air is fresh, too. Not like the cities. A black mass still hangs over Idest… I don’t think it will ever move. But up here it’s trees and blue sky, and the clouds are light and free…

I’ve been getting the feeling that I don’t have long to live. I don’t know why… but I’m making this recording just in case. So that I have some kind of legacy if it comes to that.

He reached out, her body sliding back into his hands on the pebbly trail. Motes of dirt swirled between their feet.

“Thanks,” she said, casting him a grateful glance.

Her eyes are the most beautiful green. And her body, in my hands…

He let go, helping her stand.

If only it were for me.

“Hey,” a voice growled from behind. “How close are we?”

“Close,” said the woman. “Not much farther now.”

“This better be worth it lady. I can’t believe people do this shit for fun.”

“Trust me Dominic, it will be.”

“Sure,” he grunted.

They climbed on in silence. Though they were aided by muscular support systems, seven hours of clambering up rocky slopes dried into dusty slides had worn on their bodies and minds, and no one felt particularly talkative.

I wouldn’t be up here if it wasn’t for her. Maybe once we finish this, I’ll talk to her about us… what’ve I got to lose, anyways? He put a hand to his chest, trying to feel his heart, wrapped in black. There’s nothing I can do.

A gleam of sunlight from the west shimmered in the east, glinting off a glass wall.

“I think I see it.” She climbed higher, coming over the top of a steep ridge. “There’s the entrance…” she paused, surveying the crescent shaped valley curving down below. “That glass wall there, beneath the red rock. That’s our way in.”

Dominic lumbered up and over the ridge, peering into the distance. “Good. I’m sick of all this walking.”

“Don’t get too excited, Dom,” he said, “We’ve still got the hike back.”

“Hrmm… How ‘bout I just ride you instead?”

“I don’t think my back could handle that. You’d end up having to carry me, my spine all hunched and twisted.”

“Yeah, that’d be a shame, you bein’ prettier’n most women. Wouldn’t want to ruin that for you.”

“Yeah, I know, I’m a pretty schoolgirl with pigtails. But that just makes it that much more humiliating every time I save your ass.” He looked at the young doctor, searching for a laugh or a smile, but she didn’t seem interested in their banter. “Hey Arcelli, you alright?” he asked. “You seem kinda’ tired.”

“I’m fine, but we have to hurry, he’s going to be waking up soon… I think we can save some time if we drop straight down to that grassy area, with that stump,” she said, pointing. “It looks like there’s a path we can use.”

One by one, they sat and slid down the rough terrain covering the side of the mountain, their light tactical clothing hardening to absorb the force of the descent. Coarse weeds and desiccated shrubs passed in a dirty haze, and rocky scrambles of dust billowed down the mountainside in heavy plumes. They each slowed to a stop near the gnarled tree stump and gathered themselves, looking around.

She was right. The ground leveled off just below, leading into the distance. Half an hour more of hiking across featureless mountainside brought them to a manmade stone dais, raised high overhead, jutting out of the mountainside.

“This is an observation platform,” she said, wiping at her brow. “It should lead us to the main building. You go first, Sherrad.”

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