Aftereffect – Chapter 2 Sampler

THERE ARE MANY SECRETS IN THIS WORLD–some are smothered before they ever have a chance to come to light. It’s the same here as in the stars. Human nature is the excuse some people use, but it is so much bigger than that. Organic thinking is almost impossible to replicate. The brain is more complex than many of us will ever know.

I walk slowly, careful not to set off any of the traps hidden around the area. If even one goes off then it would begin a chain reaction and this is an inconvenience I would rather not have to deal with. It’s Monday and I’d prefer to start the week off with something simple.

I adjust my back pack and step over an obvious tripwire while ducking under a laser motion sensor. It’s invisible to the naked eye, but believe me it’s there.

I scoot past several pressure plates until I make my way to the courtyard of an old abandoned precinct. This planet used to rely heavily on law enforcement, but I haven’t seen anyone walking around with a badge in a long time. The most powerful institutions are often the first to crumble in the wake of unpredictable disaster.

Humans call this country Iceland–we call it our interim base.

I step inside and lower my hood as I continue towards the main elevator. Behind me the door opens and then closes as another pair of footsteps approach. I don’t need to see who it is. He’s right on time just like always.

“Good morning, Oren.”

He stops next to me and presses a gloved finger to the elevator button. “Danica.”

“Did you find anything useful out there?”

He sighs. “Not in the slightest. That last run was a waste of time.”

I nod. “Oh come now. I’m sure you have something interesting in that little bag of yours.”

A low ding echoes as the doors to the elevator slide open; neither of us hesitate to step inside. I lean against the near-pristine lacquered panelling as Oren pushes the button marked ‘basement’ three consecutive times. When he finishes, the button marked ‘L3’ sinks back into the wall and is instantly replaced with one marked ‘Sub’. The mechanism is one of Lex’s inventions and, along with all the traps, has done well to keep intruders out.

“You’re not wearing your suit.” His voice is calm. “Radiation levels have been spiking in the surrounding areas.”

“I know, but I can move faster and hold more without the weight of the gear.” I sigh. “Besides, it’s not like we need them anyway.”

He shrugs. “Irrelevant. The point of all this is to remain anonymous. You should know better than any of us that humans are too curious for their own good.”

I smile. “No one ever sees me, Oren. You have your specialties and I have mine.”

“I wish you took this more seriously. Don’t you want to return home?”

I nod. “I’ve embraced the possibility that this may end up being a one-way trip. It always could be. Our cybernetics will eventually wear out. Nothing is forever.”

He shakes his head. “You’re exhausting.”

“And you are acting like a human who needs their coffee.”

The elevator jerks into place and the doors open to a familiar hallway.