Symbiota Sapiens: Dark Legacy - Chapter 2


Symbiota Sapiens: Dark Legacy



     "I don't wanna hear any more lip from you, boy. You say yes, sir, and you say no,
sir, and the no sirs better be few, far between, and spoken in the direction of your feet
you hear? You gonna have problems if you don't get used to your lot in life. You're a
slave, boy. Hear me? Slave. That means you're property. Master Nathan's property. And when
Master Nathan dies, you'll be Master Teddy's property. So you stay out of Master Nathan's
way, and you give Master Teddy respect. No more of this play-wrestlin'. You bigger and
older than him, not right for you to be showin' him up. You may be Damison now, but it'll
be bad for you later when he's the man, and remembers that you're his slave."

                                                                 - James

Chapter 2


"The immortal-beloved child of the mortal dawn
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...

"...With his second joining, he will frustrate
the enemy within, but still be conquered into


     The cast itched. Horribly. He tried to scratch the skin underneath with a pencil
but...the pressure had caused one shard of bone to rub against another shard of bone
somewhere underneath the skin.


     But still better than the subtle torture of the itching beneath the fibreglass

     He pulled the pencil from inside the cast. Homework. This new, improved kind of
homework that included the filling out of forms upon forms upon forms. At least he didn't
have to research the answers...his hands seemed possessed, filling in the information
without him having to think about it. Something subconscious, obviously.

     The door behind him opened.

     "William, your friends are outside."

     His mom.

     "Hey mom. Um, I'm kind of busy with this." William tapped his gigantic paper-weight
of an arm on the stack of applications stacked neatly on his desk.

     "Don't you think you should be getting some fresh air though?" His mother's anxious
voice came back.

     "I'll be fine. I'll be down for dinner in a bit. Trying to get all these things
finished by then so I can have after dinner to finish my schoolwork." William told her.

     She didn't seem satisfied. She came and sat on the bed on the edge of his peripheral

     "Your father and I are worried about you son. You spend all your time in this little
room poring over books, it's not like you William. What's going on?"

     "Mom! I'm fine! I thought you always wanted me to study!"

     "William. We do. We're very proud that you want to go to university. But...don't you
think you're pushing yourself a bit hard? You're barely 17. Your friends haven't seen you
for days. We've barely seen you for days!"

     William turned in his seat. The remains of his wrist cradled in his lap. This was
going to take more than a casual brush-off. But what to say. He opened his mouth and
waited...would the words come?

     They did.

     "Mom. It's just...ever since this happened..." William guestured at the cast with his
other hand, "I've been thinking about stuff. The police...and the stolen car...I don't
remember all of it but I...I remember that guy looking at me like I was scum, right before
he broke my wrist. And...I don't want to be like that. I want to be somebody. And I know
I haven't done much toward that so far so I'm doing double-time to make up for it."

     His mom's face softened at the earnest explanation that tripped from his mouth. Wow.
That was...she was eating right out of his hand. If only he could do that on purpose.

     "Okay, William. I know you were really shook up by what happened. The trauma
specialist said it might change you. I'm glad it's for the better." She stood up and put
a hand on his shoulder. "With this attitude I think you'll go far. But, don't forget your
friends, okay? Or your family?"

     William turned momentarily towards the contact. Thought a minute.

     "Okay mom. I won't. I'll hang out with the guys this weekend sometime okay?"

     A relieved smile broke across his mothers face and she squeezed his shoulder quickly.

     "Good. Dinner's in half an hour, then."

     William turned back to his applications, not acknowledging the soft click of the door
closing behind her.



     "...finally, based on this evidence, we conclude that the deceased expired as a
result of loss of blood that occurred when the major blood vessels in both legs were
ruptured upon impact by the vehicle. Although the victim was 84 years old he was in good
health, as evidenced by the condition of the cardio and respiratory systems." The head
coroner droned.

     "So. We can certainly establish causation as directly resulting from the impact then?
Not the victim's extreme age?" A man dressed in a suit interjected.

     "Precisely, you could say that."

     "No, I want to know if you're going to say that in court." He snapped.

     "I...well obviously. Essentially yes. The death was caused by the accident. The
deceased was in excellent shape for his age, that was not a factor here. The legs were
mangled by the impact, and most of the blood in his body simply pumped away through the
rupture." The coroner said.


     "Excuse me?"

     "Never mind. Here's your summons, of course, and some of our associates will be by
in a few days to prepare you for your deposition."

     "I...wait, this isn't a murder is it?"

     "Of course not! What use would that be? No. Negligent homicide. We're representing
the estate."

     "Oh. Very well."

     "Good day, doctor."

     The lawyer briskly left the room, leaving the doctor to stare at his young intern for
a moment.

     "Lawyers. Damn vultures." He grumbled.

     "Would you like me to finish with the remains doctor?" the intern asked.

     "Might as well. I'll be getting home a bit late as it is. You've done it with me
watching you often enough, might as well do it on your own tonight."

     "Thank you doctor!"

     "Ha. My pleasure." The coronor grunted, and followed the lawyer.

     The intern didn't waste any time making his way into the refrigerated area. The
body lay carefully draped with a white plastic sheet, which he removed.

     "Now...careful..." The intern painstakingly overturned the body so that it laid on
what used to be it's stomach. His hands moved accurately and swiftly, making a small
incision from the base of the neck to the middle of the back of the head.

     Two more incisions, one on each end of the first, perpendicular to it, allowed the
intern to peel back the flaps of skin to expose the skull and vertebrae connection.

     Hammer and chisel. Careful placement. Tap. Tap. Tap. Then...Tap. Tap. Tap. Again...
Tap. Tap. Tap....Tap. Tap. Tap. The square section of skull yielded to forceps, revealing
the brain stem.

     Incisions. A small round metalic disc appeared. Careful digging unearthed the spider
web of leads attached to where the brain-stem and the top vertebrae connected.

     The intern carefully removed both items and placed them gently in a padded container.

     The section of skull was replaced, the flaps of skin sewn shut. The body zipped
neatly into a rubber bag and bundled off to the incinerator.

     Fifteen minutes later, the intern carefully filled out the appropriate form.

     Cadaver # 40295. Nathaniel Herring. Male. 84. Cremated according to instructions in
last will and testament.

     The form completed, the intern placed it in the pigeon hole, washed his hands, and
made his way home, a hand protectively cradling the small container in his left pants



     "What the fuck was that?!" Jeremey growled in my ear.

     "I...I don't know." :Kid?:

     ::I'm not sure, I managed to track the immediate source as coming from your implants,
Julian. But the strange thing is that it was addressed to you, Jeremey. Julian saw the
same scenes you saw, but that was a reflection from you.::

     :So...what...I was some kind of conduit to Jeremey?:

     ::Yes. The footage was definitely addressed to your brother. Oh, I see. Interesting.
It looks like this was another vision from the virus you used to spy on Damion, before.::

     ::Oh great. I thought that died when he was Unmade. So now it's spread through his
whole autonoid network?:: Jeremey asked.

     ::Possibly. I don't think we have evidence of that yet. But it's definitely been
spread to the collective mind that controls it.::

     ::Why the hell is it coming through his implants then?:: Jeremey wanted to know.

     "I can answer that." I said out loud. "Simplest mode of connection. You set up the
virus to find the optimal path to securely transmit to you. Originally through the shadow
network. But it's got an almost direct connection through the implants still left in my

     "I don't like it. What if they start trying to take over you again?" Jeremey said.

     ::They won't be able to do that. I've physically disconnected the leads that allow
that, and the nanites that would build more have all been dismantled by the Esseren.:: The
AI assured us.

     "Jer. I think we should talk to someone about this. At the least, we've got a window
to spy on what the collective is up to."

     "Yeah you're right. That first one was right in line with what Rom told us about
them, yesterday. But the second one..." Jeremey trailed off.

     "Rom was saying this was a shorter-term problem because the autonoids aren't
immortal like Damion was. But if they can remove the implants and then put them into
someone else, this could go on indefinitely." I finished for him.

     "We need to talk to Rom." He agreed.

     :Rom, we have a problem.:

     There was a pause.

     ::What?:: Came the irritated reply.

     ::Remember the visions I had of Damion? Guess what...the virus is apparently alive
and well inside the collective.::


     :We just had a vision Rom. Two visions, actually. One was just a kid filling out
applications to college.:

     ::Actually I think it was the kid whose wrist I broke.:: Jeremey interjected.

     :Maybe, yeah. The other one though...was an autopsy. They surgically removed the
implant from an older autonoid and saved it. I think they're going to try to re-use it
Rom.: I said, and sent him the vision.

     There was a long pause as he digested the footage.

     ::Fuck. Okay, I think you guys just became our front-men in the war, then. You guys
need to get up to the East Coast where the thick of the action is, and see if you can
catch any more visions. Do some detective work, too.::

     :New York, again?:

     ::No, no. Too risky. There's too many of them there. Boston is good, you've already
got the place blanketed with sensors. And after you personally took out half Damion's army
there, that's where they'll be looking to recruit replacements. And your cadaver from the
second vision is right there too.::

     ::So what exactly are we doing there? Aside from sleeping and dreaming?:: Jeremey

     ::Investigating. I need you to track down the bodies of every autonoid that got
killed kidnapping Julian. Find out how the police handled it, who pulled what strings to
keep things quiet. Track down who worked on the bodies, who could have taken the implants
and find out what has been done with them. I expect that should provide an adequate
starting point?::

     :Uh...yeah. Okay, we'll get up there right away then. Are we going to have a
safehouse this time?:

     ::I will contact the Boston elder and arrange one by the time you arrive there.::

     ::Okay. Thanks Rom.:: Jeremey said.

     ::Good luck.::

     A knock came on the door.

     Jeremey grunted a response.

     "It's Lance. I've got to send you on your way. Be ready to leave in five minutes."

     I raised my eyebrows at Jeremey.
     "Is he kidding?"

     "No I'm not kidding." Lance answered me through the door, giving another pound for
emphasis. "Move."


     Several minutes later we were following Lance as he threaded his way through the
crowds at the airport.

     I looked at Jeremey, suddenly hit with a sense of deja-vu. Sensing my feelings, he
turned and looked at me.

     ::Guess this is how it all began, huh?:: His mental voice was husky, like a whisper
into the back of my neck. I shivered.

     :Not for me. I think I wanted you even before I knew what sex was.:

     ::That doesn't make sense." Jeremey pointed out. ::You can't want something you're
not aware of. You just worshipped me because I was your big brother.::

     :Well yeah. But it was more than that, even then. When you used to hug you
have any idea the world was if you were holding me? It wasn't like when
Mom or Dad used to. Being near you was always...I don't know...intoxicating. And then when
I started thinking always had something to do with you. But I think that was
just a more mature version of what I already felt.:

     Jeremey's arm curled possessively over the back of my neck and he leaned into me as
we walked.

     ::God. I wish you could have told me about these things.::

     :You weren't ready to know them.: I told him simply. :You would have freaked.:

     It was true. If I'd told him then, he would have drawn away from me, afraid of
contributing to my fascination. Forced me to seek other friends. Other boys, in my own
grade, and not related to me.

     Jeremey met my eyes, inches away.

     ::I'm sorry it took me so long to be ready for you Julian. hate to think
of how long you must have been miserable, waiting and never thinking there was any hope.
All the hurtful little things...the girls I kissed in front of you...::

     I touched his arm to stop him.

     :Jer. I wasn't miserable, okay? I still got to be with you all the time. You still
loved me in your way. And hugged me, and comforted me, and took care of me. It wasn't
perfect, because there was more I wished for, but it still made me happy to be near you.:

     He pulled my shoulder harder into his chest with his arm, and leaned down to kiss the
side of my head, like he does.

     "Hey! What are you - oh for heaven's sakes. Can't you at least wait and cuddle on the
plane? You're going to be sitting right next to each other for two hours, after all. If we
can actually get to the plane without stopping for inappropriate displays of affection in
the middle of the airport?!" Lance's caustic voice interrupted the moment.

     I felt Jeremey's glare searing the air just above my head and promptly sent him a
mental representation of the image. I pulled back in time to see the smirk pulling at the
corner of his lip.

     "We're coming." I told Lance, and tugged Jeremey along towards him.

     Lance led us to a metal door, typed a rather long sequence of numbers into a keypad,
and then into a series of hallways that eventually brought us out onto the tarmac. A
sedan sat waiting near the door.

     "This is where we part ways." Lance told us.

     ::The driver and pilot are mortals we use on a regular basis, they think they're
working for a government agency. They won't ask questions, so don't volunteer any
information. In fact, better not to speak aloud at all.:: He told us silently.

     We both nodded at him and stepped into the car.

     In moments we were climbing aboard a small lear jet and readying for takeoff.

     I looked at Jeremey. He was looking back at me with a faraway look in his eyes.

     :What are you thinking about?:

     Jeremey sent me a series of images. Memories. His impressions of the last time we
made this flight. I blushed as I saw myself through his eyes, giddy at experiencing my
first airplane flight.

     Then I blushed harder as I caught the train of thoughts that had passed through my
brother's head as he had watched me. Adorable. He'd thought I was the cutest, most
precious thing in the universe at that moment. I felt like crying as I experienced the
swell of pride and love that had come over him at that moment.

     :You were right, after all. This is where it all started.: I told him silently. He
reached out to my face and pushed a tear off my cheek with his thumb.

     ::What do you mean? Didn't you love me before this?::

     :I did. And wanted you - I wanted you so bad! But...this...when you decided to run
away, so we wouldn't be separated. And then...when you were looking at me like that. And
then all the rest. This was when I ever had anything more than an impossible dream. When
you chose me over everything they offered you instead - that is when everything changed,
when this became possible.: I turned my head to kiss his palm.

     ::You think we'd have missed it all if I hadn't been inducted like that?:: He gave
me a look.

     :I don't know. Would we have?: I looked back at him. Jeremey paused for a minute,
a troubled expression making lines on this forehead as his brow crunched together.

     He closed his eyes before answering.

     ::I...guess I don't know either. I'd like to think eventually I would have realized
what...what I could really have, sitting right under my nose. But I was always so damn
busy being normal. I'm afraid I might never have...that we might never have ever had...what
we have now.::

     His eyes opened again, big and frightened and troubled.

     :Hey. It happened. It was always going to happen. They watched us for years, waiting
for the right time, remember? We don't have to dwell on what-ifs. What if we'd been split
up at birth? What if we'd been born to separate parents? What if you'd been with Mom and
Dad when they-:

     Jeremey cut me off with a squeeze to my knee. He never liked to be reminded about
the accident that made us orphans.

     ::Okay. You're right. I'm glad we have each other now. And I won't ever, ever let
that change, and you don't either. Okay?::

     :Deal.: I smiled at him. He smiled back. No, this was too good to ever let go.


     Two hours later we were strolling down the concourse in Logan Airport when we hit the
first problem.

     ::They've found us.:: The AI reported.

     I checked the feed coming in from the sensor I'd placed in the airport a month
ago. Six autonoids in our immediate vicinity, four of them had broken off from what they
were doing to keep us in sight as we walked along the concourse.

     ::Damn. That was pretty quick. We'll need to lose them before we even think about
going to the safehouse.:: Jeremey replied.

     :We could at least divide them up.: I suggested.

     ::No splitting up.:: Jeremey retorted, seizing my wrist as if I was about to bolt.

     ::I agree. For more logical reasons. The more ground we cover, the more autonoids
we will pass by which will become involved in the surveillance. We need too slide out
of their sight, quickly, and in a direction they can't predict.:: The AI said.

     :Back out to the tarmac?:

     ::Possibly. Or if we can use the security passageways here. Let me link up with
Rom and get some information.:: The AI said.

     "Let's get some food." Jeremey steered me into one of the less busy restaurants.

     :What are you doing? We can't eat here, people will notice the quantities!:

     "We'll have two hamburgers." Jeremey announced, and paid with one of the hacked
credit cards we kept in our wallets.

     ::Let's just sit here and see how many autonoids show up to watch us. Want them
all together so we don't have to keep meeting new ones when we make our run for it.:: He
told me silently.

     We got our hamburgers and planned, silently, as we ate them.

     :You know, if we go through the side corridors they'll see us going in there. They
probably know where they come out and they'll just wait on the other end to start
following us again.:

     ::Well there must be some way we can lose them.:: Jeremey countered.

     :Maybe we should wait until after we leave the airport. Do something like what
you and Rom did to fool the government people last month.:

     ::I guess. I don't have all the contacts and experience Rom has, though.::

     :So you'd rather try to shake them now. Fine. How?:

     ::I dunno. We could steal a plane, maybe. Or just hack the computers so we can get
on another flight somewhere, and drive here.::

     :That takes too much time. Rom was in an awful hurry to get us up here so we could
start figuring out what's wrong.:

     ::I have an idea.:: The Kid broke in.

     :Yeah? Tell us.:

     ::We need to gather their resources together in a concerted chase, and then
disappear in a direction they aren't expecting.:: The Kid told us.

     ::Yeah, we figured that out already. But they probably know the side corridors in
this airport already. And they might have seen us use those already in Atlanta so they'll
be anticipating that.:: Jeremey said, irritated.

     ::Not the side corridors. The underground access tunnels.:: The AI said.


     ::Well, I'm talking about the maintenance tunnels. They do connect to the sewer
lines though, yeah.::

     ::Great. How do we get to them?:: Jeremey asked.

     ::There are access shafts that come up out on the tarmac. That's what I meant by
making them gather their resources together for a chase. We'll let them think we're
making a run for it by car, or on our way to another plane. As long as they think they
know what we're doing, they won't spread the net wider than they have to.::

     ::Let's see a map.:: Jeremey demanded.

     I paused in the act of taking a bite, suddenly in an altered state. Jeremey was
also still, and in fact, the pedestrians along the concourse had frozen mid-step. My
perspective shifted as the world around me twisted upwards into an external view of a
three dimensional model of the restaurant, the concourse, the structure of the airport,
the tarmac, the tunnels running beneath and connecting into sewer lines...

     ::We're on Concourse B right now. The optimal access for the tunnels, for a route
into the sewer lines, we can get to by car from Concourse E. So let's make this a
double-feint. We'll enter the side-corridors, and they will think we're using them to
get to the outside of the airport undetected. They'll probably catch on quickly when we
come out on the tarmac by Concourse E though.::

     :Oh, but they'll think we're going for a plane though. Or for a rush to the fence
to get away that way.:


     ::I like it.:: Jeremey said, ending the moment and stuffing the last bit of
hamburger into his mouth.

     "Let's go, bro."

     Following suit, I stood up and we walked quickly down the concourse, finding the
alcove with three doors...mens room...womens room...authorized personnel only. There.

     Jeremey did the honors on the keypad, using data the AI supplied, straight from
Rom, obviously. The door popped open and we slipped inside.

     "Let's move!" Jeremey grunted, and set the pace at a sprint most mortals would not
be able to keep up for very long. Just slow enough that anyone who saw us wouldn't think
we were anything other than human. As long as they didn't observe us keeping up that
speed for a long time.

     Sprinting through corridors, pushing off walls to cut the sharp turns, we quickly
arrived at the steel barrier door that would lead us out to the tarmac.



     Jeremey pushed the bar down and put his weight into the door, both of us bursting
out into the sunlight and immediately sprinting towards the nearest vehicle. A utility
van, excellent.

     There was no one inside the van, Jeremey had it running in seconds, and we were off
down the tarmac, tires squealing.

     "Where are we going?" Jeremey asked tensely.

     The AI did his little altered-state thing again, showing us where we were on the
map and our destination.

     ::Make it a roundabout route. Let them think we're going for a plane first. And we
need to make a careful collision to damage the motor so we'll have some smoke as cover.::

     Time "sped up" again, and I checked out the window with my enhanced vision for the

     :Make sure you get close enough for a pass, bro.:

     ::Don't worry, I'll get it.::

     The pothole cover was secured by two bolts, one on either side. I rummaged through
the messy rear of the van until I found a steel rod about two feet long, with the end
tapering off into a wedge.

     :Hey Jer, try and go over a curb really hard, something to justify a window just
suddenly shattering, okay?:

     ::Gotcha something better than that, this'll give us cloud cover too.::

     I looked up at his smug tone and saw what he was looking at, a baggage train was
just visible in the x-ray spectrum, about to come around a corner ahead of us.

     "Hang on, this is gonna be rough!" Jeremey called.

     Jeremey gunned the engine. Almost avoiding collision. Almost.

     I saw a shocked face in the drivers seat as the other vehicle clipped our van
towards the back, sending us into a spin.

     Jeremey twisted the wheel, expertly accelerating the spin so that the front of the
van slammed hard into the juncture between the first and second cars of the baggage
     ALL the windows shattered.

     ::Nicely done, Jeremey.:: the AI said approvingly. Thick black smoke was now
pouring from both the hood and tailpipe of the van.

     "Showoff." I grunted, peeling my body off the far wall of the van.

     ::Get ready for the first run at that pothole.:: Jeremey warned me, gaining back
complete control of the van and curving around towards a lear that sat on the tarmac a
fair distance away.

     I crept up to the rear windows and crouched below eye level, the steel rod ready
in my hands. I pulled the handle and the other door swung out on its hinges.

     The AI helpfully provided a wireframe map of the tarmac outside the van as an
overlay across my vision. The rapidly approaching manhole cover glowed like a beacon.

     I tensed.

     ::Don't worry. I'll accelerate your brain processes when we get close. It will be
boring.:: The AI promised.


     The glow indicating the manhole suddenly slowed down as the van rolled over it. I
watched as it seemed to decelerate as it made its way from the ground under the front of
the van to that in back.

     When it sat just under me I sprang into action. "Sprang" being a relative term.

     My muscles strained against inertia, moving my limbs sluggishly, pushing the bar
forward - in real time it was moving almost impossibly fast.

     Agonizingly slowly...pushing it outside the door....point it...down...both hands
now holding it out there...the lower hand pulling back in to tip of the rod
going under...the van...onto the first bolt...firm pressure as the impact tries to jar
the rod from my hands...the first bolt is sheared off...rod scrapes slooowly over the
top of the strikes the second bolt...that one's sheared off...and now the
cover is directly visible coming out behind the van...and the rod is catching in the
groove next to the cover...tipping up back to vertical in my hands...then tilting
outward...and with one hard twist, and a lunge downward...and a LIFT...and the manhole
cover is flipping in the air until it lands next to the hole.

     And then time is normal again, and the now-open manhole cover is speeding away
into the distance.

     "Here's our bid for the plane. Hang on to something." Jeremey called over his
shoulder. He had aimed the van for the stairwell leading up to the open airhatch, and we
sped towards it.

     "Please tell me you're not going to-" I objected,

     ::Yup. Hold on bro.:: Jeremey flashed a grin over his shoulder at me and I grabbed
hold of a convenient handrail.

     The van SLAMMED into the flimsy staircase at an angle, sending it flying sideways,
the van rocking hard with the impact as Jeremey spun the vehicle, turning almost on a
dime as he circled close around the landing gear. Looping us back in the direction of the
nearby fence...and the manhole.

     "Asshole!" I groaned, annoyed at having been bodyslammed once again.

     ::This is your stop coming up!:: He replied, unrepentant.

     :Wait! I need to set the sensor!:

     ::Then do it quick!::

     I quickly regurgitated the sensor into my hand and wrapped it a handkerchief, and
tossed it out the window. It would melt into a pile of slag if anyone discovered it.

     ::I hope you're done, because we're there.:: Jeremey warned.

     Once again, time slowed, though not as much, as the gaping manhole rushed towards
us. Timing myself to keep pace with it as it traveled under me, I sprinted the length of
the back of the van and launched myself outwards through the swinging door.

     Swan dive.

     I entered the hole headfirst and immediately put my hands and feet out to put
friction on the walls of the tunnel, bringing my free-fall descent to a skidding halt.

     I watched the events aboveground play out through the link to my brother and the
sensor. Jeremey raced the van until it collided hard with the fence. One of the poles
gave way and the fence sagged, not-quite defeated. I'm sure he'd calculated the speed
to do that ahead of time.

     The van backed up, coming to a stop bare feet from the hole, gusts of black smoke
filling the area. Jeremey jumped quickly from the rear of the van into the hole, just as
the jury-rigged van began to accelerate towards the weakened fence.

     "Okay bro?" He asked.

     "Yeah. I'm...sort of stuck upside down, though." I said, embarrassed. Jeremey
quickly climbed down the ladder, his feet putting dust in my face.

     He turned around on the ladder to face me. Or my groin.

     "Hmm. I know this view. I don't think we've ever done this vertical, in a manhole,
yet." His smirk sent a rush of blood - (upwards) - towards my groin.

     "Jer, we don't have time for playing around, we've only bought ourselves a few
minutes with that trick!" I complained.

     "Fine." Jeremey turned back to face the ladder again.

     "Wrap your legs around me and I'll carry you down."

     I complied and he did, helping me reverse my position when the vertical tunnel
had widened.

     Above, through the sensor, I saw the van crash through the remains of the fence
and dump itself unceremoniously into the harbor.

     "Let's go." We wound our way through the access tunnel, following the directions
of the AI, and were just about to enter the city sewage catacombs when the first cars
approached the spot where the van had disappeared. Three people got out and looked over
the edge.

     ::Autonoids, all of them.:: The AI commented.

     "I've used underwater getaways before, and autonoids were there to see it. They'll
expect us to swim away across the Harbor without breaking the surface." Jeremey said,
and set our quasi-sprint pace through the sewer system.

     Another car was approaching the wrecked stairwell by the plane and a woman got out.
She took a good look at the stairwell, and then seemed to focus in on the rubber marks
from the tires, swirling in black ribbons around the landing gear.

     She got back into the car, which moved towards the manhole cover. Jeremey had
replaced it after he jumped in, but she immediately picked up on the broken bolts.

     "Fuck." I said aloud.

     ::There's good news and bad news, and they're the same exact bit of news.:: The
AI announced.


     ::She's not an autonoid at all.::

     The mortal woman looked up, towards where two autonoids were carefully watching
the water for signs of escapees as the third prepared to dive in. A smirk crossed her
face, and she looked down at the manhole cover at her feet...and very deliberately,

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