Symbiota Sapiens: Dark Legacy - Chapter 4
"The first time I saw Damison I knew he was special. Something
in his eyes wouldn't let me stop looking at him. Yes, he was beautiful,
with those dark eyes, and curly hair, and that glowing skin, all slim
hips and long, fluid limbs, of course I noticed that. But there was more
than that. He had some strange creature in those eyes, hiding behind
that beautiful, subservient face, that was royalty. I think the tragedy
was that he was also aware of it.
-- Elena, Guardian.
"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
"...After his bondage is destroyed, his third
joining will reveal the dark legacy..."
"...and his fourth will grant the tool to
-- The Digital Prophets
He still didn't know why he did it. Perhaps it was the flush in
his uncle's neck every time it happened. It made him a bit gleeful. Uncle
Harold was so proper and dignified, and had that way of talking that made
the grownups listen.
A very important man, Uncle Harold. He even knew the President.
But the President had him on some kind of list, a short one, that was
ever so important because it had something to do with being a judge.
Or so Roberto's dad said, with a lot of admiration and just a bit
of resentment for his older brother.
So maybe that was why Roberto kept doing it. It was fun to see a
big grownup, someone even his dad admired, go all red and shaky and stare
at Roberto like he was afraid, and fall over himself to run away from
Yeah. That was why he did this. Because of that haunted, trapped
look in Uncle Harold's eyes when Roberto asked his parens if he could
stay with him for the summer, so he could learn more about the law work
Uncle Harold did.
But no, that didn't make sense. Roberto loved his Uncle, he felt
sorry for that scared look, and for Uncle Harold's new habit of avoiding
being in a room alone with Roberto, and how Uncle Harold would barely even
look at Roberto at the dinner table.
Why? Why did he keep doing it?
Aunt Elise was gone on a shopping trip with her friends, and Uncle
Harold had wanted to go, but she'd laughed and said the boys should have
their time together and run off, leaving Uncle Harold alone with him,
all nervous and jumpy.
Roberto had wanted to see the new Spiderman movie again, now that
it was out on DVD. His uncle had seemed okay with that, but when Roberto
insisted they watch it together he'd been very nervous, and sat alone on
the easychair, and left the couch to Roberto.
Piqued, he sat on the floor.
What was it that possessed him to creep over and sit on the floor,
against Uncle Harold's legs? And what made him crawl up into his lap,
even? He was too old to sit in laps!
Uncle Harold was shaking, gripping the arms of the chair. Roberto
turned on his lap, straddling him on his knees, and put his hand to his
He was boiling with sweat. Roberto was concerned. The pills he'd
been dissolving in his sodas hadn't seemed to be helping his Uncle's
condition as well as he'd hoped. Roberto couldn't remember what the
condition was, or how he knew about it. But that didn't stop him from
remembering to give him the pills. He loved his uncle, he'd never forget
him. Maybe he needed some more pills.
Roberto wiped his uncle's forehead.
"Uncle Harold?" he asked, voice squeaking with the early beginnings
His uncle started, cleared his throat - "Ahem, yes Roberto?"
"You look kind of sick!"
"I...ah...well that is...maybe a headache." the man stuttered.
"OH! I know about those! And you're all sweaty and red too. And
shaky." Roberto touched his uncle's trembling hand.
"Maybe I'm...ah...coming down with a cold." His uncle seized on the
explanation like a lifeline. "Yes! A cold. I think I should turn in
early and get some rest. You enjoy your movie Roberto." He sat up, placed
Roberto firmly on his feet, and then rose to his feet, adjusting his
trousers uncomfortably for a moment.
"You should drink some water! And take some aspirin!" Roberto told
"Yes, yes. I'll make sure to drink lots of water. And we have some
aspirin in the bathroom I think. Thank you Roberto."
"I'll get it! You go get into bed, you're supposed to rest if
you're sick you know." Roberto said bossily.
Uncle Harold smiled weakly, and obeyed.
Roberto hurried to the kitchen to get a glass of water. Two of the
yellow pills he received weekly in the mail dissolved into the water,
leaving no taste. Combined with the pill at dinner that made a triple
dose. Hopefully Uncle Harold would be all better by morning. He headed
off to the bathroom to fetch the aspirin.
"Uncle Harold? Here!" He came into the room and found his uncle
on his side of the big bed, sheets drawn up to his neck. He accepted the
water and aspirin, and Roberto watched carefully to make sure he drank
all of it.
Uncle Harold sighed, his eyes going a bit glazed for a moment, then
slumped down a bit in the bed.
Roberto watched him for a moment. Walked over to the dresser and
picked up his uncle's video camera, set it up pointed at the bed and
turned it on to record. Wouldn't do to have something happen while his
uncle was sick, and Roberto not know about it, would it?
Roberto shrugged, standing between the camera and his uncle,
undecided. He really wanted to go back and watch the rest of Spiderman.
He'd been looking forward to it for so long...but Uncle Harold was so
sick...but the camera should be enough, wouldn't it?
His feet decided for him, moving towards the bed. For some reason,
Roberto pulled his shirt and shorts off before he slipped beneath the
covers on his aunts side of the bed, scooting closer to his uncle who
watched him with lustful...terrified...eyes.
Danny sat in the front seat of the sedan, chattering excitedly to
the driver as they neared the intersection. A buzzing. The phone. Danny
quieted down as the driver picked it up and listened to the passenger
in the backseat.
"Yes sir, of course I know an excellent venue. Yes sir, it is very
safe, the ladies there are all get extensive background checks. Yes, I
know, can never be too careful, your Honor. All right, we'll be there
in just a few minutes then. Shall I call ahead and let them know? Yes
sir. Very good."
The driver hung up and turned to Danny.
"Well, I guess you're plenty old enough to know the ways of the
world, aren't you?" He asked.
"Duh, I've only been having sex since I was like fifteen!" Danny
replied, mildly insulted.
"All of four years, and you're an expert aren't you?" The driver
"Well...I don't want to brag...at least I don't have to pay for
it!" Danny smirked. "So are we going to a whorehouse then?"
"Escort service, Danny. Whores are for men with no class."
"Right, escort service. Cool. Can I make the call?"
"C'mon, they won't care who calls, I'll bet they have an account
all set up and know what type each of them is into and everything,
right?" Danny grinned disarmingly.
"Well, yes. And the account is even keyed to this phone number."
The driver said reluctantly.
"So let me do it! You're supposed to be training me, aren't you?"
"Fine. But, Danny, one thing you're going to have to be cured of.
You're a big chatterbox, which is cute when you're talking to your
clients, they like to feel like the hired help actually likes them. But
what's more important than that is discretion. You don't talk about your
clients, you don't talk about the escort service, you don't talk about
anything that goes on while you're on the job, get it?"
"Yeah. I know. You don't hear me talking about that stuff, do you?"
"Hmm. No, actually. You're obsessed with girls, and sports."
"Cool. What's the number?"
"Dial star, and then type in 69."
"Oh. Very cute." Danny leaned into the console, reaching for the
Instead he slammed his hand down on the drivers knee, causing him
to stomp the brake, and at the same time, grabbed hold of the wheel,
wrenching it upwards and sending the car spinning into oncoming traffic.
The car spun all the way around, presenting the drivers side to the
oncoming semi, which slammed into it like a bulldozer.
The driver, and the Supreme Court Justice in the back were killed
instantly. The judge's brother, sitting on the passenger's side, would
be in the hospital for months, and Danny would take nearly a year to
"Fuck!" Jeremey whispered.
"Those ones were a lot worse." I said, shaken. "Oh my god Jer, that
"What about the man? I think he's a lot more terrified than the kid
is!" Jeremey retorted.
"But at least he has some idea of what's going on, and that it's
wrong! I wonder what they drugged him with. But Roberto...Jeremy, he's
just a kid, maybe 14, barely old enough to be an autonoid and they have
him doing things like THIS? Oh god, I hope they let him be unconscious
during...when he...he could be scarred for life thinking it's his fault,
"Yeah. And his uncle will be very easy to control, knowing that.
You can see he was consumed by guilt just from having the thoughts, after
this...my god...he'll be a broken man." Jeremey thought out loud.
"We have to do something!" I insisted.
"Do what? By now they're probably about finished. By the time one
of our people could get there Uncle Harold would be in a drugged sleep,
Roberto would be cleaning up the evidence, and a copy of the tape would
likely have already changed hands."
"But we can stop it from happening again. Roberto should be moved
from there, at least it can only be the one time!" I pleaded.
"Jules. It will probably only be the one time. They just wanted to
get it on film. I think they probably didn't have Roberto conscious for
it, it would ruin his usefulness as a tool later. Look, it seems like
they're not imprisoning the autonoids, they're just letting them think
the things they do are their own ideas. I guess people are willing to
stretch explanations pretty far to explain the unexplainable, right?"
Jeremey said logically.
"Yeah, I guess you're right. But Jer, are you sure? Maybe there's
some way we could get Roberto's parents to bring him home?"
"I think Uncle Harold will probably do that. Especially when he's
tapped to become the next new Justice. Or when he gets the blackmail
"Yeah. He didn't seem the type to be able to look his guilt in the
face every day." I agreed reluctantly.
"You okay?" Jeremey slipped an arm around my shoulder and carressed
my back lovingly.
"Yeah. I will be in a second."
::You want to upload everything to Rom?:: The AI asked us.
"Oh. Yeah we better." Jeremey said.
A minute later Rom was assuring us that a team would be keeping a
close eye on both young Roberto and his soon-to-be-nominated uncle.
::We'll take a good look at the crash site. Honestly, your dreams
are the best source of information we've got at this point. We can watch
all these people rise into prominence but the most important gaps are the
normal people they pull into their net without us noticing how. If there
were a way for you to have more of them, I'd be all for it.:: Rom told
:I don't think I want any more of these than I have to deal with.:
I snapped back.
::I understand your feelings Julian. But these are real people, and
real lives at stake. Not to mention, we still don't have a clue what the
collective is actually hoping to achieve with all this. Obviously
something big. But we need to know what they actually want in order to
::Julian isn't a Guardian, he's an Attachment. You can't order him
to do anything he doesn't want to do.:: Jeremey cut in, protectively.
Rom's sigh was almost palpable over the mental connection.
::Look. I know that. I wouldn't do that. But I may ask it of him.::
:I...I really don't want to see more things like...like what
happened with Roberto. It was really...horrible to sit through.: I told
::I understand.:: Rom said. ::It may be possible to control the
connection in some way. Have your AI try to analyze the connection more
closely, there may be something you can work with. We need options. But
for now, concentrate your physical efforts on completing the sensor
coverage in Boston, and also try to get a closer sense of your Rose
Taskforce friends and what they're doing.::
::You mean, without them getting a closer sense of us, and what
we're doing?:: Jeremey asked sarcastically.
::Exactly.:: Rom said cheerily. ::Good luck guys.::
:Um. What are our priorities with the Rose Taskforce?: I asked.
::How do you mean?::
:Is keeping secret from them more important than finding out what
they're up to? Is it more important than dealing with the autonoid problem?:
::Oh. Yes, and a qualified no. Don't expose yourself to get a closer
look at them. Keeping secrets isn't as important as dealing with this threat,
but it's still important. We should be able to deal with this threat without
compromising our ability to manage events effectively in the future. And that
would be compromised if our existence and operations were confirmed,
understand?:: Rom said.
::I thought you told me before that societies like that live to keep
secrets?:: Jeremey said. ::Don't you think we could trust them if we needed
::Yes, yes, they would keep the secret. To a point. There would be some
people who would be told, though. And everyone who knew would become empowered
by that knowledge to observe and counter our efforts if they chose too. And
there would then be records to be discovered decades or centuries in the
future. The answer is that if it came down to it, a useful alliance could be
made. But it would be a very costly one. It would be something the Elders and
Guardians would have to agree was absolutely necessary.:: Rom explained.
::Fine, I get it.:: Jeremey said. I could tell he wasn't quite satisfied.
::I mean that, Jeremey.:: Rom warned.
:We won't go making friends with the mortals behind your back, Rom.: I
assured him, putting a hand on Jer's arm inquisitively. He hesitated but nodded
his agreement to me.
::We won't.:: He added.
::Good. I'm going to upload all the latest data we have on your local
Rose Taskforce operatives. The scanning equipment they were using at the airport
should not be able to detect your sensors if they're stealth-shielded, it's well
beyond mortal technology for now. See if you can establish some quality
surveillance into their operating center.::
The warm buzz of the information transfer filled the back of my head
for a moment and the conversation was over.
"So. What do we do?" I asked Jeremey.
He climbed out of bed, stretched, then turned and gave me his deadliest
"Let's go check on our government friends."
Rhianna Jebson had been sitting in the small, non-descript car for the last
three hours without a break.
"There's another one heading towards you. Coming up Exeter on your left,
it'll be around the corner in three, two, one...now." Her assistant's voice over
Rhianna readied the camera and took a series of snapshots as the man rounded
"Got him. Uploading the shots." Rhianna said.
"I see him. Hmmm...face structure is getting a match. Passport photo. Mr.
John Hertson. Tagged and sorted." The other voice told her.
"Alright, any more?"
"Not in the vicinity. Wait a minute there's a...oh SHIT!"
"Big ones, two of them!"
"Right on your six o'clock. I think they're watching you boss."
"They're probably listening in on our conversation right now." Rhianna said
"What? No way, not on this equipment!"
"Think about that for a minute Jake, okay?" Rhianna told him, annoyed.
"What are they doing?"
"They're just standing there, leaned up against the building behind you."
Rhianna turned around and snapped off several shots with the camera.
"They didn't even bother with a disguise. Ballsy. They must already know
we can detect their technology." She muttered.
"Same two guys from Logan?" Jake asked.
"Hey, we're actually getting matches on these faces. Jeremy and Julian
Barrows. Hmm, actually they're both recently missing persons." The third
voice broke in.
"Yeah. Orphans of four years. Jeremey's been taking care of Julian
while he put himself through university. They're both kind of geniuses,
"They're using their real faces." Rhianna said suddenly.
"Why? That makes no sense?" Jake said.
"They want us to see them. It's some kind of message." She decided.
"Great. Why can't they just leave an email?"
"They're Brotherhood. They do things differently."
"They were carrying backpacks around and going to rock concerts not
two months ago. They didn't change that much in- whoa, what was that?"
"I'm not sure. Something on the sensors, shot out from them to your
car. Or...no...I think one of them moved up to your car and then back, only
really fast. Equipment barely even caught it."
"Oh. OH. Hang on guys, I'll be right back."
"Hang on? Wait, come back. Rhianna!"
Rhianna stepped quickly out of the car and into the brick-lined alley
the arrow drawn in fog on her windshield seemed to indicate.
Drawn in block letters, a single word chalked onto each brick, was
the terse query.
"ENEMY OF MY ENEMY ?"
Rhianna looked at the impromptu graffiti and thought for a moment.
With a finger she rubbed the question mark out. A look around and
she found the bit of chalk left for her at the base of the wall.
"IS MY FRIEND?"
She looked at her message for a minute before giving a short nod and
walking back to the car.
"Where the fuck did you go!" Jake demanded.
"Had to answer an email." She said lightly.
"Rhiana?" The other voice asked.
"I'll explain later. I think we might have taken a big step today."
"I take it you're coming in then?"
"I think what just happened needs to be discussed, yes." Rhianna said.
"Wait a minute. I just found...What is...oh! Oh my god!"
"Dammit, stop making noises and talk Rhianna!" Jake demanded.
"I...think they just gave us something. Papers. Printed really small.
I think it's a list."
"A list of what?"
"Names. Ages. Addresses. Social Securities. Some with a short note
next to them. There's...hell...there's so many of them!"
"Get back to the office with that."
"If all those names are autonoids...my god. This is really bad, isn't
"Just get it back here. We'll figure out what it's a list of. If it's
an accurate list...someone's just done most of the work for us. If we can
know who they are at this early stage..."
"Bob, you don't understand just how many there are on this list.
There's got to be hundreds of thousands of them here! It might be too late to
just fix this with a few frame-ups and a bit of media spin."
"Rhianna. Stop panicking! We'll figure out what the list means and what
to do with it here, not out in the field. Get your ass back here so we can do
something about whatever it is!" Bob told her sharply.
"Fine. Fine. I'm on my way." Rhianna said, starting the car.
A few feet away...
"Rom is going to be pissed." I told him.
"I don't see why." Jeremey said mildly.
"Um. Maybe because we just did exactly what he said not to do?" :I thought
we promised not to make friends with the mortals?:
"I didn't make friends. I just suggested the possibility of a friendship,
someday." Jeremey smirked.
"Yeah...well you can try to sell that line to Rom. Especially the part
about giving them a copy of the list like that." :If that's not making friends
with the mortals I don't know what is.:
::Look. The Taskforce already knows we exist. They're not investigating
some obscure myth, they actually know. They've built machines so they can
identify us. I didn't give them any information about us except that we consider
the autonoids a bad thing. And I gave them information on the autonoids, which
they were collecting anyways, only a LOT slower. So now they'll be one more
obstacle blocking the autonoids, and a lot less focused on us now too.:: Jeremey
"Damn. That sounded pretty good. Maybe we'll actually get away with this."
"Nothing to get away with. They're all just scared because they're old."
::Exactly. Because we're old enough to have lived through the Holy
Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials and the paranoia of the Cold War. Mortals
don't change nearly as much as they like to think they have.:: Rom interjected,
his mental voice coming across as decidedly cold.
::Rom! Oh yeah, guess you saw all that on the sensor grid.:: Jeremey said,
looking like he'd been caught with a hand in the cookie jar.
::Care to explain what I think I just saw?:: Rom asked steadily.
::Well I was just telling Julian. We need the Taskforce to be in this fight,
even if they're not working with us.::
::So you decided to give them a bit of help?::
::Yeah. And let them know the autonoids are our enemies.:: Jeremey said
::Come on, they have to be thinking the autonoids are our tools. We're the
only ones on Earth with that kind of technology! You don't think they'd start
coming after us once they noticed how many of them there are? So, now they have
a good idea we're not in control of them, at least. And they'll focus on them
instead of us now.::
::You've thought this all through haven't you?:: Rom asked.
Rom was silent for a moment.
::This was not something you had a right to decide for all of us. It was
risky and increased our exposure dramatically. Did you perhaps stop to think of
the fact that we actually ARE the ones behind the autonoid phenomenon?
::Now that they know just how huge it is, that taskforce is going to have
money, equipment, and people in quantities they've never dreamed of. They're
going to hunt down every autonoid and hopefully be somewhat subtle about
neutralizing them all.
::Do you think they'll just stop then? They'll have to figure out they were OUR
science experiment gone wrong. A department that bloated isn't just going to
disband. They'll look for their next big crusade, and that will be us.:: Rom
explained all this almost in a monotone, no inflection or emotion in his voice
:Oh my god.: I said quietly.
::No. You're wrong.:: Jeremey said stubbornly. ::This is an opportunity for
us. I know you think the best thing would be to deal with this quietly, and clean
up the mess before the mortals even half know what's going on. But they'll know.
And then we'll be double bad guys - once for creating the problem and then there
will always be people with a problem with how we solved it.
::So instead, we'll sit in the shadows and let them solve it. And do a bit of work
ourselves, but they'll take the credit and the blame for how it's handled. And
we'll just be the same mysterious organization with all the technology, who might
have been connected to the start of it but were instrumental in helping them
solve the problem. Same as we've always been with every major development, and
every major mess, in human history since the Fall.::
Again, Rom was quiet for a long time.
::Your ideas aren't without merit. But they are also not something you can
fairly decide on and force on the rest of us like you've just done. You are
reckless, and you've yet to learn to play as a member of a team. I've decided
you need supervision.::
::I'm sending Damion to work with you. He knows the autonoid phenomenon
better than anyone else.::
:But he's a mortal.: I objected.
::He fucking tried to kill Julian!:: Jeremey added hotly.
::You'll have to learn to work with him. And he still has his AI. Together
they are still quite capable.::
::His AI is a fucking bigoted asshole.:: Jeremey grumbled.
::Then you'll have to work to learn to work with him too.:: Rom said.
::Fuck. We were supposed to be together. The two of us! I would never
have come back to the Brotherhood if-::
::Stop. I'm not separating you. You worked with me just fine. You'll learn
to work with Damion.
::Fuck.:: Jeremey said again.
::I'll send him to your hotel. No sense giving the autonoids another chance
to track the two of you. You should stay there until he arrives. I don't want to
be suprised by any more sweeping, far-reaching decisions you two cook up.::
:We're under house arrest?: I asked incredulously.
::Well, no. Considering I have no way to enforce it. But I'm going to ask
you nicely to stay in your hotel room until a more experienced operative comes
to supervise. This has gotten quite a bit more complicated with your last move.
So please, just stay there? I'm sure you guys can find something to occupy
::Well. Duh.:: Jeremey said, looking at me. I felt my groin swelling
suddenly and greedily grabbed the front of his shirt to let him know my opinion
on the subject.
:We'll be fine.: I told Rom quickly, and shut off the connection.
"Now?" I asked, pulling Jeremey towards me by the shirt.
He leaned towards me, looking down at me for a long moment. I stepped into
him and nipped his lower lip. He grunted and his arms came around me strongly.
"Now. Let's get back."
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