|Those Keeper Kids Grow So Darn Fast
||[Nov. 17th, 2005|09:41 pm]
I listen to the click of the door as it closed behind me. A doorknob. One of the most advanced mechanical devices humans could use. The vent room I had just left contained only two devices of any real note: running water, which traveled through a system under total Machine control, and the vent itself, which led straight to the Machine's Organic Recycling Systems, also under no human control. The little doorknob seemed to represent what little was left of Mankind's pride.
"You are done, correct? Or does your contemplation of that door offer anything useful to our investigation?"
There was Synthia, arms akimbo. I coughed and nodded, following her back outside. "Briefing complete. I know all I need to know for our job, and those blasted little things have left. Now, where's the last place you had 00's trail?"
"Specimen 00 is about forty minutes of light jogging away, in that direction." She pointed away from the Dome center and towards the Edge, where technology we used to control now protects us from the Exterior; a.k.a. the polluted low-air-pressure hellhole most of the planet is now.
"And you know this how?"
"Trust me." And she set off, not bothering to look at me. Why bother, she hadn't when she was speaking to me. Her reputation was built on two things: her fascination with the Machines and her bizzare intuition which allowed her to track subjects over long periods of time and somehow never need a briefing. Weirdest broad in OIS.
Sighing, I followed her, only giving a passing thought to an oddly familiar head of hair about ten yards to the right.
Then I had another passing thought about how, when I had last seen that head of hair, the body it was attached to was five years old. Then I thought, shit.
"Careful. Very slowly, take a look at that guy across the street." I had caught up with Synthia and was trying to use her as a visual shield.
"He resembles you. Relative of yours?" Typical disdain.
"Yeah, exactly the problem."
She seemed thoughtful for a second, then she showed a new facial expression - realization. Such progress! "Oh yes, you had a falling out with your family seven years ago."
"That's putting it lightly," I responded. She at least had the decency to turn her body to an angle that made her block his view of me more. I lowered my stance, trying to make myself shorter. I couldn't help but wince when he turned his gaze over this area. It was just a quick look, he wouldn't get more than a slight glance –
Then I felt it.
There was only one way I could experience that sensation, and it tied directly into being the only way he'd be able to identify me with a moment's look.
Matthias Zagy, son of my cousin, was a Keeper.
"Great. He saw me. Don't look back, keep walking."
Synthia kept deadpan. My only sign of nervousness was my increase in stride, which she matched. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I can feel it. He's a Keeper. Not a bad one, either. He won't attack me in public, but I should keep eyes in the back of my head for the next few moons." I felt that it wasn't totally necessary to let her know that Matthias was forcibly restraining himself to keep from lashing at me. I was familiar with the spirits he was bonded with and that would give me some protection, but precious little.
"An ex-Keeper who has strongly slighted the family may be marked for death..." she mused. Obviously not from a family big enough to have Keepers. "I do know the Zagys hold the strongest presence in Dome 6. Out of concern for your performance, what are the odds that he is not here by accident, and has been sent by your elders to hunt you down?"
I did not want to think about what the implications of the vendetta might be if that were the case. They had not followed me out of Dome before, and I had let the OIS Authority Mainframe know that I would be seriously compromised if assigned to Dome 6, so the goal of avoidance had been pretty much reached.
"Let's just focus on Specimen 00, okay?"
Not even a nod, just an increase in her walk speed to a march. Life was not good.