Alex Hargreaves is being haunted by the past. But the ghosts that plague him are born of science, not superstition. As a Security Specialist for the ISA, Alex has a memory implant that allows instantaneous access to memories – both good and bad. He can recall facts and figures with unfailing accuracy, but cannot move past the painful sense of death and abandonment made manifest by the tragic loss of his wife and daughter. Those memories, like all the memories within his mind, remain excruciatingly present.
When communication with an isolated Deep Space Observatory is lost, Alex and his synthetic partner, Persephone, are sent to investigate. The Cochrane is a small observatory tucked within a pocket of relative inactivity. A single data analyst runs it on a six-month rotation. Six months in the emptiness of space can feel like an eternity. Depression is a common problem. Suicide and accidental death are not unheard of at stations like Cochrane. Alex and Persephone are sent to learn which of these fates has found Amanda Hayes.
Hephaestus stood on the platform watching the sky, smoking an opium cigarette. The smoke and the smell, married with the brooding intensity of his eyes, kept the other would-be passengers at bay. He hated taking the metro. He hated the inevitable small talk that accompanied rides along the New Detroit-Quebec City corridor. The people were far too friendly for his liking. He missed Paris.
He blew smoke in someone's face, smiled when the stranger said "excuse me," and sucked back on his cigarette.
An attractive older woman said, "That was rude."
Rude, he thought. He turned and looked at the woman. She was tall and slender, with a pale complexion. Her eyes, barely hidden behind a pair of inexpensive transition lenses, remained locked on his. She held her husband's hand. "That depends on your name, doesn't it?" he said.
"Don't bother," the woman said. She led her husband farther down the platform.
Hephaestus smiled. He could smell their fear; it lingered in the space they'd just abandoned. He shrugged and turned his attention back to the empty tube. He could hear the metro approaching, more a rush of displaced air than anything mechanical. The high-speed train linking New Detroit with the Greater Toronto Area still smelled like fresh lemons and new plastic. It hadn't been around long enough to be spoiled by the smell of blood and human urine. He missed New York.
He tossed the last of his cigarette on the tracks, ignored the dirty looks of those nearby, and stepped toward the train before it came to a complete stop. It was crowded, of course. The last remaining empty seat was directly across from the very same woman he'd offended on the platform. God works in mysterious ways, he thought.
She moved when he sat down, shifting into a tighter ball against her husband's arm. Her transition lenses began clearing. Her eyes were dark brown, far deeper and much more interesting than he'd imagined they would be. He turned toward the couple, lowered his voice and whispered, "This train will never reach New Union."
They ignored him, turning instead toward the window and the world beyond. The metro would soon slip beneath that world. It would slide below the sludge-brown waters of the Detroit River, passing through the moldering marshlands of Southwestern Ontario tucked neatly inside a tube of high-pressure air.
On a good day, it took the metro one hour, eighteen minutes, and thirty-two seconds to travel the three hundred and ninety-three kilometer distance between the two cities. In less than an hour and a half, they would see the grey-light world of Upper Canada's densely populated capital.
On a good day, Hephaestus thought. He looked up at the conductor, a synthetic with a smile far too white and breasts far too perky to be real. "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it."
"Excuse me?" the woman sitting across from him asked.
"The gentleman was just quoting from the first chapter of Genesis," the conductor said. Neither smile nor breast sagged as she bent forward to collect their tickets. "The Pennyroyal Caxton edition of the King James Bible, if I am not mistaken."
Hephaestus beamed. "Oh you're not mistaken, love. But did you catch the subtle innuendo?"
"Hardly subtle," the woman said. "Are you so hard up you'd hit on a synthetic?"
|Publisher:||Vagabondage Press LLC|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||1 MB|
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