Symbiota Sapiens: Dark Legacy
"You need to learn how to talk proper. You walk around here talking like James, and
they'll send you out in the fields with 'im. The Master and his lady want the finer things
in life, and they want to show off for their friends when they visit. So open your mouth
when you talk and pay attention to what your tongue does. And when you walk, you stand
straight, shoulders back, chest out. Tip your chin up, let them look at that pretty face
you got. But keep your eyes low. You got to be a pretty china doll that's worth a lot,
and they'll make much of you, dress you up nice, and make sure no whip ruins your skin.
Any white folks can have darkies serving them, but a sweet-faced half-a-half like
you, with your light skin and your fine hair can make them feel like kings, and they'll
- Milena, housekeeper/cook
"The immortal-beloved child of the mortal dawn
- Digital Prophecies
shall join the powers of the two worlds before
his second birth. With his first joining he will
give eyes to the enemies of a dark father..."
As we walked into the meeting room, Rom met us at the doorway.
"Good morning Jeremey, Julian. Did you enjoy your honeymoon?" He asked, a mischevious
glint in his eye.
"Hey Rom. It was great. Did you enjoy your little time-out?" I shot back.
The day Jeremey had Attached me, Rom had finally gotten laid (for his first time in
decades) with David, another Elder. Immortals aren't supposed to go without sex. If they
do, they start having all sorts of problems. One of those is that after they finally do the
deed, they go into a coma as a punishment. The longer they didn't have sex, the longer the
Rom had been sleeping through at least half of the previous month, while Jeremey and
I were honeymooning.
"Well, of course it's an inconvenience. Fortunately I had someone to entertain me for
the duration. But you know all about that, don't you?" came the riposte.
That was how I'd informed Jeremey I was in love with him. When he was in his first
sex coma. After giving him what he still describes as the most amazing orgasm of his life.
"Always good to have someone there for you. Taking care of your needs when you can't
do it for yourself." Jeremey intoned insinuatingly. I caught a mental smirk from him and
firmly planted an elbow in his gut, resulting in a very satisfying "whoosh" of exhalation.
"I'm glad Rom. It was getting pretty thick what with the come-ons every five
minutes. I don't know how much longer I could have held out around you." I joked.
I caught a stab of jealousy from Jeremey and quickly soothed it. Jeez he's sensitive,
can't a guy make a joke?
::You don't understand how mad I was when he was after you in the hotel, while I was
paralyzed. I think that was when I first realized how possessive I was of you. I wanted to
kill him.:: Jeremey informed me frankly.
I turned and smiled at him warmly, giving him a mental hug. He returned it, with an
impression of a possessive growl.
I blushed. Damn this blushing.
"Okay you two, I know you're flirting. I think it's time we started teaching you
some immortal etiquette." Rom said chidingly.
"Etiquette?" I asked, confused.
"What he's trying to say is that it's considered impolite to obviously exclude others
from a mental conversation in their presence." Elena said, walking up behind Rom to greet
"We can't talk in our heads? That's stupid, what's the point of having the ability
then?" Jeremey asked, rebellion in his eyes.
"Oh, you can. But keep it between yourselves. When you're smiling at each other, or
nudging each other, or blushing, or a dozen other cues, it's obvious that you're talking
to each other. Or when you both go silent for a while." Elena clarified.
"So we can talk privately, as long as we don't give away the fact that we're doing
it?" I asked.
"Well. Anyone can check for the transmissions between you. You just shouldn't be
overtly excluding others. It's common for Guardian and Attachment to keep a running
commentary between them about events and conversations as they happen. But don't keep
withdrawing from those events and conversations to talk about them to each other. You have
to learn to act outwardly and communicate inwardly at the same time." Rom explained.
"Exactly." Elena said. "No one is going to be offended at the two of you being much
closer to each other than anyone else. You're going to talk to each other about everyone
else behind their backs, so to speak. That's all expected, with the Attachment. Especially
one as close as yours. Just don't...throw it in people's faces by being obvious."
"Okay. I've done that a bit with the Kid anyways." Jeremey nodded.
::What's really great is having two completely different but related arguments with
two different people at once.::
The four of us continued into the room. I smiled shyly when I saw Elizabeth sitting
on the couch across from the doorway, and tugged Jeremey with me so I could say hi. I felt
him stiffen as he saw Damion seated cozily next to her.
"Elizabeth! Hey how are you? I guess we're the new kids huh?" I said cheerily.
:Be nice, she helped me you know.: I poked Jeremey.
"Elizabeth, I'm happy to be meeting you under ideal circumstances this time. How are
you adjusting?" Jeremey said kindly. Completely ignoring Damion.
"Julian, Jeremey, good morning. I hope the two of you are refreshed? Julian, we
should speak later, about our experiences as new Attachments. It is quite an adjustment,
although I've had the advantage of ample preparation beforehand." Elizabeth sent a soft
glance towards Damion.
"I never did have a chance to thank you properly, Elizabeth." Jeremey interposed.
"You...helped Julian when he, uh, during his ordeal. And I won't forget it. Immortality
couldn't have happened to a more deserving woman. I...I wish you and Rom many centuries of
Elizabeth blushed slightly, even as Damion's arm around her waist clutched her a bit
closer. I felt an odd shifting in Jeremey's mind as he noticed that detail.
"Thank you Jeremey. Although, I'm sure you're aware I am with Damion." Elizabeth
"Oh. Damion, yeah. For the next couple of decades or so, I get it." Jeremey said
dismissively. Damion winced and his face went several shades lighter.
:Holy shit bro. I hope you don't ever get mad at me, that was vicious!: I wasn't
sure whether I should admire or be horrified by the cruelty in the barb.
::He fucking well deserves it.:: Jeremey replied, a savage edge biting through the
words. I momentarily recoiled from the mental contact.
"I...it's nice seeing you Elizabeth. We'll talk later." I stuttered, not sure what to
say. I watched her put a comforting hand on Damion's arm.
I could feel confusion and hurt from Jeremey. He'd felt me recoil slightly and didn't
like it at all. I squeezed his hand and tugged him away from the pair.
:We'll talk about it later.:
"Jeremey, it is time you properly introduced your brother!" A boy about Rom's age,
with long, beautiful black hair spilling down past his shoulders intercepted us.
"David, this is Julian, my brother." Jeremey introduced.
"Oh, you're the one who finally took care of Rom's little problem." I grinned
cheekily. I heard a gasp and turned to find...a female version of David just standing from
I blushed, mortified.
"Oh, he's so cute! Look, he's turning all red!" The girl leaned in to run a quick
finger down my burning cheek. It didn't help matters. Damn this blushing.
"And this, would be Denna, my irrepressible twin." David announced, dryly.
"Oh hush, you wanted to touch him, you just thought Jeremey would react better to a
girl doing it!" Denna giggled, exploring my biceps with her fingers.
Jeremey started as if remembering something, and shot David a glare, then transferred
it to Denna.
"Don't look at me, he is still too young for me!" Denna giggled.
Jeremey pulled me out of her reach and went back to glaring at David.
"I apologize. He is beautiful, but he is yours. I...should have thought better of
it." David said repentantly.
I was staring from one to the other in confusion. Denna saw it and took pity on me.
"David and I were like you two. With a shared AI." She explained.
"So when we merged with our AI...we merged too. We sort of share each other's bodies,
and I don't mean in the way you two share each other's bodies." David said.
"So actually it was you who was...oh."
Jeremey grumbled in discontent.
:She didn't really do anything. He didn't, I mean.: I could feel him relent a bit.
"So um...how does that work out with sex, anyways?" He grinned at Denna.
"Surprisingly boring." David said pointedly. I must have looked disappointed because
Denna cut in.
"Oh, I don't think it will hurt things for you guys when you merge. The problem is
that David likes boys, and I like older men. We're just not each other's type at all. We've
done it, but it's just like masturbating. We try to imagine someone else involved." she
"Oh..." was all I could say.
"If the two of you would ever like to-"
"No." Jeremey and I said the word at the same time. Him with a scowl on his face.
"Leaping before you look again, David?" Elena remarked, from behind us.
David coloured cutely, and Denna pulled him to sit down on the sofa next to her.
"We're just about to get started if you four are done socializing." Elena told us,
then led the way to the other full-length couch across from the one Damion, Elizabeth, and
Rom sat on.
There was a momentary hush as we all sat down.
"Obviously, Jeremey and his brother Julian are fresh from their honeymoon. I hope
everyone has had a chance to welcome the newest member to our little family." Elena spoke
in even, low tones.
There was general murmer of agreement, except from a lanky, handsome man about our
age who just sneered at us as he took up more than his share of the sofa to our right.
::That's Lance. He's a bit of a prick.:: Jeremey informed me. I shot him a 'look'.
::No, I mean he's an asshole to everyone. I'm not sure what his deal is.:: He
"Good, then maybe we can talk about this mess you say we are in." Boomed a tall,
rangy man who was disturbingly dressed a bit like Thor. Complete with beard. And a sword.
About the length of Rom's whole body. I'm not kidding.
::That's Varek. And Joan there is his attachment.:: Jeremey informed me.
"Rom, you're the Elder overseeing this matter, would you explain?" Elena asked
"Very well. I will be quite succinct. As you all know, I've been tracking the spread
of a particular abuse of Esseren technology over the past century or so. It's essentially
a modification of the Caretaker programming to build implants inside mortals, for the
purpose of controlling them."
A disgusted snort came from Varek.
"Something to say, Varek?" Elena asked.
"It's disgusting. This...this...the Caretakers are supposed to help mortals! How dare
he twist them for such a purpose! Why is he here with us still?" Varek glared openly at
Damion, fingering the handle of his sword. Damion looked uncomfortable but remained silent.
"The violation has been dealt with by the Elders." Rom said sharply.
Varek looked to David and Denna, who nodded their agreement. Varek made a gesture at
Rom to continue.
"Now that the creator of this technology, and default controller of the mortals
affected, has been Unmade, the long-term threat is neutralized. However, that does not
solve the problem. The autonoids are, apparently, active without their former master."
"What does that mean?" Jeremey asked.
"Over the last week we've noticed a sudden flurry of...uncharacteristic activity...by
all of the individuals known as autonoids."
"What kind of activity?" Varek asked grimly.
"Nothing obviously ugly. Just...disturbingly ambitious. There are about 300,000
known autonoids within the territory of this current United States polity, ranging in ages
from 14 to 87 years old. Mostly towards the younger end of that. Every one of those under
the age of thirty have applied for some form of higher education within the space of one
week. Usually quite ambitious selections, as well. The wealthy ones have suddenly started
making strategic investments, donations, trust funds...individually they are innocuous but
if considered together...this is a very well-considered strategic assignment of collective
"The ones we've been able to physically surveil, thanks to Jeremey and Julian there,
have demonstrated an abrupt change in lifestyle as well. They are all suddenly avid
athletes, no doubt in order to increase their lifespan. Also, some highly skillful social
networking is now noticeable. More troubling, nearly half of them have suddenly begun to
involve themselves with politics. In fact, nearly a thousand of these have made moves that
indicate an intention to run for political offices of various levels."
"So...sounds like they're all positioning themselves to be more...influential?"
"Exactly." Rom said.
"Do we know what they might be trying to accomplish?" Elena asked.
"Not a clue. But whatever it is will be further complicated by the need to deal with
the first and second-stage autonoids delicately. It is the third-stage autonoids that are
doing this. The others are victims." Rom pointed out.
"Third stage?" I echoed.
Rom nodded at Damion.
"You are aware of how this works. The Caretakers build implants in stages. The first
allows passive observation of all the sensations the host's nervous system reports. The
second stage implants can induce unconsciousness at any time, and stimulate the nervous
system to operate the body while the host remains unconscious. Or if it is wanted, while
they are conscious. I did this to you at one point."
Damion nodded to me.
"The third stage involves direct interface with the brain itself. This takes a very
long time, but eventually, it causes the host's brain to start handling some of the
software that administrates the simultaneous operating of all the autonoids when necessary.
Such as when group action is required. It...involved a certain level of merging of mental
aspects. Even personalities."
"Wait. So you're saying the third stage autonoids stop living double lives, they
join together to form some kind of collective? A super-computer?" Jeremey asked.
"In a sense. Only the original personalities of the mortals are also there, forming
the base motivational programming of the joined whole." Damion conceeded.
"Holy fuck!" Was all Jeremey could say, and gave Damion a look of disgust. The others
were doing much the same, I noticed.
"That wasn't my intention. I only sought to borrow a small portion of unused
processing capability." Damion defended.
"So you could do a better job of taking over people's bodies while they're asleep,
so they could go out and try to kill people without knowing it!" Jeremey snapped. "You
know, at least the collective is sort of helping them. Making them improve their lot
in life! You just used them as puppets, your little private army of zombies!"
"This is worse!" Damion hissed back at him, annoyed.
"Oh bullshit!" Jeremey fired back.
"It is! You think because they're going to college and running for office they're
better off? They're not even in control anymore! At least when I sent an assassin on a
mission he'd just wake up with bruised knuckles and sore muscles. Confusing, yeah, but he
went on with his life and forgot about it! These are...are...ongoing, lifestyle changes!
They can't have a guy apply for college and then let him wonder how he ended up in a dorm!
This is constant, detailed control of every minute of their lives from now on! The
collective is not just occasionally using their bodies anymore. They are taking over their
We sat back, stunned at that realization. Damion was right. The people Damion had
robbed of hours...their new master had just relegated them to a prison inside their own
heads while the collective operated their bodies full-time.
"Well, shit." I said. Varek nodded slowly.
After the meeting Damion approached Jeremey and I before we could get out the door.
"Could I have a word with the both of you?" He asked solemnly.
I looked at him with some suspicion. This man had been the main feature of my
nightmares as I crossed over into immortality. He was the one responsible for the poison
that made my Attachment such a rushed affair, in fact. I hesitated, intimidated by the
Jeremey's mind swelled with protective emotions and his body moved up behind me,
arms surrounding me comfortingly.
"We have nothing to say to you Damion." He said darkly.
"I know you don't. But, there is something I need to say to you. And also...I have
something to show you." Damion said seriously.
"Go right ahead." Jeremey snarled.
:It's okay Jer. I'm fine, he can't hurt us.:
Damion hesitated, looking at Jeremey.
"I...owe you a serious apology. Both of you."
"Fucking right you do!" Jeremey bristled.
"We were on opposite sides of a struggle and I treated you like a personal enemy. It,
well, I took things much too far. I went beyond strategy...it became malicious on my part
and that's...not acceptable. No, it was wrong, actually. And I'm sorry." Damion said to
"I'm not prepared to forgive you." Jeremey said coldly. "You very nearly killed
Julian, more than once. If you'd succeeded...I can't even think about that possibility
without having to restrain myself from killing you."
:Jeremey, please try. We have to work with him.: I begged him.
"I'll...I can't forgive you but I'll try to place it out of my mind, for the purpose
of working together. I'm afraid that's the most you'll get from me at this point." he
I squeezed his hand, knowing how hard that had been for him.
"I...thank you, that will have to suffice." Damion said, then turned to me. "And
Julian. It is you I did the most direct wrong to. I...my past activities have numbed me to
the...or made me come to regard mortals as less than human. It...given my past that sort
of attitude is inexcusable."
"Your past?" I asked, clueless.
Damion smiled bitterly.
"Look at my skin. Think about how old I must be. I've been treated as less than human
before, I know exactly how it feels."
"That's what Elena meant! When she called you a slave!" Jeremey gasped.
"Yes. I was a slave. And after that, I was a black man living in a white man's world.
So you see how ironic and...especially monstrous my little innovation truly was, for me."
Damion said sadly.
"What possibly...after THAT you turned around and did the same thing to other? To
Julian?!" Jeremey said, disgusted.
"I...didn't plan for it to be that way. I thought I could change things, I started
out with the best of intentions but...no you're right, it's completely disgusting." Damion
"I don't understand at all." I told him. "I really don't see how anyone who went
through anything like that could turn and do the same to someone else. I'm trying to but
I really don't understand."
"I...I can't really explain. I'm not trying to justify my actions, I can never do
that. I just...wanted you to know that I really understand how what I did to you, and the
others, was wrong. And apologize."
"Okay, I'll accept that. I don't think we're going to be friends but I won't hold
a grudge." I offered.
"Thank you." Damion said. "And, also, I wanted to show you something. It's...think
of it as a token gift."
"What is it?"
Damion reached to his collar and pulled a necklace out of his shirt. There was a
large pendant there, a silver lion wrapping it's body around a massive gemstone.
Damion pressed something and the lion's limbs opened to show off the gemstone.
The jewel was...incredible. It clearly wasn't a natural stone, each facet seemed to glow
with a different color of inner light. The cut was also unfamiliar, each "side" was not
actually flat but either convex or concave, but quite reflective, and the stone was
generally shaped in an odd swirling arrangement that tapered off to a sharp point
sticking out of the center of the gem.
"This is what is left of what I once was." Damion said in a hushed voice. "This is
"The jewel?" Jeremey hooked his chin over my shoulder to look.
"Yes. When I was Unmade, my AI...could not simply be destroyed according to the laws.
So Rom extracted all the software of my symbiotic net and placed it in this solid-state
receptacle." Damion said.
"Can he...does it still function in there?" I asked quietly.
"Oh, he's alive and well. He doesn't have quite the processing speed he had inside
me, but is still quite able to function. Normally when an immortal dies their AI is
transferred to one of these and added to the others..."
"But for now he's with you."
"Yes. There are sensors embedded in the silver of the pendant. And he can communicate
directly with me through this one implant they left me." He tapped his jaw next to his
ear and my enhanced vision caught the outline of a very simple resonating device set into
"So why are you showing me this?" I asked.
"Not the pendant. I want you to meet the AI." Damion said.
"Meet him? But how..." My voice trailed off as I looked at the sharp point to the
:Do you think it's like your manual?:
::Probably. Can't think of any other reason for it to have a sharp point...::Jeremey
:You think I should...:
::I think he knows if you got hurt I'd tear him into little pieces.:: Jeremey grinned
savagely at Damion.
I reached out to the jewel in Damion's hand and carefully pressed the pad of a finger
to the sharp end.
"What the hell do you think YOU'RE doin'!" A massive man towered over me, bare to the
waist, his dark chest gleaming with sweat.
I slowly rose to my feet from where I'd stumbled. I was standing in a small dirt
lot bordered on one side by a field of cotton, and on the other by a dense hedge of thorny
bushes, and a densely wooded area beyond them. The ground was hard-packed like a road, and
in the center stood a wooden scaffold in the shape of an 'X', with heavy iron rings inset
at the four ends of the beams.
"Is this a...is that for-" I couldn't get the words out somehow.
"It's the whipping post. What you doin' here white boy?" I spun back around to face
the owner of the booming voice.
"I'm Julian. Damion wanted me to...meet you I guess."
"You guess? Well I s'pose you guessed right. I'm James. You're that boy Damison was
"Uh. Yeah. We kind of have to work together now. But I thought his name was Damion?
You just called him-"
"I called him by the name he got when he got born. Stupid nigger likes to put on
airs and shit, no his name ain't no 'Damion', he's Damison after his momma Dami. Get it?"
"Um. Okay." I said, feeling a bit unnerved. "So...I guess you're sort of stuck here
since Damion, uh, Damison was Unmade?"
"Unmade. Shit. That boy, I don't know what to do with him. I tried to train him all
proper but I guess sometimes a dumb nigger is just a dumb ni-"
"Do you think you could sort of...not say that?" I cut in.
"You know, that word. I wish you wouldn't use it, it's...it's not a good...it bothers
"You know." I gritted my teeth.
James gave me a long considering look. I stubbornly met his eyes, but flinched when
he suddenly started laughing.
"Ha! You modern white boys are so guilt-ridden, you know that? I swear, you're
afraid to even say it out loud to tell me not to say it!" He wheezed, slapping his massive
thigh with his massive paw.
"Look, it's an ugly word and I don't want to get in the habit of letting it just
roll out of my mouth, like some people!" I glared at him. He just grinned at me and spread
a hand over his big black chest like a display.
"Look at me boy, think I'm a racist cuz I say a little naughty word?"
"Maybe. You sure seem comfortable with it." I shrugged at him.
He just gaped at me.
"Look, I know you're not some stupid overseer from the antebellum days. Even if
that's your persona. You've had access to the human internet, I'm sure you know all about
internalized stigma and self-hatred. I don't think Damion brought me here to talk circles
with you about the n-word."
"Well, I guess you're right and you're wrong. Yeah, I've had this whole debate
before, sure. Maybe I've read all the same stuff you have, maybe a bit more since I'm
a hell of a lot older and smarter. Doesn't mean I have to agree with you. And you might
want to think if maybe Damion did bring you here to talk circles with me about the n-word,
as you so delicately call it."
"Huh? But...oh fuck. I guess you're right, I bet he did. Manipulative bastard."
"Just because he's out of the game doesn't me he can't still play, boy. That boy has
always been a player, and he ain't gonna quit just because now he's on your side of this
thing and he's got a shorter time limit."
"So you're saying I can't trust him? Why would you tell me that, aren't you supposed
to be loyal to him?"
"Don't you get fresh with me white boy! Of course I'm loyal to him!" James snapped,
gigantic muscles suddenly bowing up as he towered over me.
I refused to cower, just stood there waiting.
"I didn't say you can't trust him. I'm just saying there's a certain way of trusting
him that is the only way to trust him. He's mortal now, fine. And he's trying to change,
maybe that Elizabeth will make a decent man out of him yet. But that doesn't mean he's
gonna sit on the sidelines and let everyone make their moves around him."
"So...what? I can trust him a little but not much?" I asked, frustrated.
"You can trust him to do what's smart for him. You can expect him to play by the
rules. Not your rules. That's insulting. Damison will play by Damison's rules. Whatever
those are now. That's your job to figure out. The more of Damison's rules you know, the
more you can trust Damison. Cuz then you'll know how to play by his rules when you're
playing with him."
"I guess that sort of makes sense."
"Figure it out." James sneered.
I looked at him consideringly.
"Do you normally meet with him in this setting?"
"What? Of course, this is where I'm at. Where he knows me."
"This is the setting where...what? You 'trained' him? Where you kept 'training' him
in his head after he became immortal?"
"This is where I did everything I could to keep that damned boy straight!" James
bellowed. "I know what's going through your little 'twenty-first century' brain, boy!"
"Oh, really. You modern snob, don't you even look down on me. That boy needed
every lick he got. You want it in your fancy little psycho babble? He had an authority
problem a mile wide, he had control issues, he had fucking delusions of grandeur and a
full-blown case of megalomania and an inferiority complex! I tried to beat it all out of
him, and don't you think some wheedling little white guy with a three-piece suit would have
done better laying him on the sofa for a 'special talk' would have done any better!"
"Maybe you forgot one thing, though." I said quietly.
"You're a figment of his imagination, aren't you? Maybe you should have thought a bit
harder about the fact that when Damion had to come up with someone to be his guide and
support through the strangeness of immortality, he thought so little of himself that all he
could come up with was...someone who used to beat him, as a slave."
"You fucking little snot - I...I'll" James' mouth opened and closed in rage, his
biceps were bulging ominously as he staggered towards me.
:You can pull me out anytime now.:
I found myself standing back in Elena's parlour, my finger just rising from the point
of the crystal.
I looked up at Damion in shock.
"My god! You lived with him in your head all these years?" Jeremey spoke for me.
Damion pulled the crystal back hesitantly, closing the limbs so that the sharp point
was protected, and tenderly placed it back inside his shirt, patting it through the
"James is...a shock to anyone who doesn't know him." Damion said carefully. "You
don't...I'm sure he tried to scare you, but he really is a very good friend. I do not
think I would have survived, without him. Especially now, as I am now." He smiled sadly.
"But he...your own AI...you can't possibly" Jeremey stuttered, staring balefully
at where Damion still cradled the lump under the fabric of his shirt.
:Leave it.: I told him, seeing a protective flash of anger in Damion's face.
"I think we both have some...disagreement with your AI's methods." I told him
"Yes. I...thought you might." He said, his face completely closed. "You will need to
work with him too, you know."
Jeremey was getting antsy behind me.
::Come on, let's go back to bed. Damion has to deal with his own demon.::
"I think I've seen a bit more than the monster in my nightmares today." I told
Damion. "Thank you for that. It...I think it will make it easier for me. To work with you."
I pushed backwards gently into Jeremey, and his arms came around me familiarly for
a moment as we both turned towards the door.
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