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The Manus Acts -a part-Welcome to Center's Outer Ring, [Laura Andersen]. Pins cringed inside at the mechanical verbalization of her name. It is necessary that you fulfill a quarantine period here before entering the city. Please use this opportunity to disinfect all objects intended for transport inside. A laundromat is located
Pins pulled her card from the slot before the machine could continue. She had heard the message enough to know the Ring's full layout by now, though she rarely explored much of it. It was an old message anywaythe laundromats had been moved some time ago. She climbed back into her deteriorating truck and continued into the ring, leaving the old scanner behind.
As she drove, Pins idly fingered her ID. An almost classically bad mugshot of her, underlined with a bar code for the scanner. Dual languages, for man and machine; all the information imparted by the bar code, printed neatly underneath for human eyes. [Legal] name, date of birth, expiration dat
Sisyphus in the WatersSan stepped lightly from platform to platform, concentrated on the water beneath them. Liquid opaqueness blocked the depths from sight, but it was well litprobably storage. He looked up again. His classmates were platforms ahead, more eager to find their destination than to investigate such mundanities as storage units.
Come on, San, his wife, Balta, called back. San's eyes turned away from the still waters to see her, hair in little pigtails, arms crossed, waiting at the edge of a platform yards away from his. He smiled at her, but she only frowned in return. Looking back down at the water, he quickly jumped across the last couple platforms between himself and her, coming to a stop just before her.
Where are we going? he asked her, reaching to finger the bright ring of plastic shaping one of her pigtails. He expected to hear her sigh, and was fulfilled in that expectation. Balta was always trying to act older than her agequestions with answers that
In all the complications
Of any crime scene on TV
I guess it's unexpected
To find simplicity
Anywhere at all.
As rain rolls down the windows
And cats are let inside
I'm reminded of the days before
When, waiting at the bedside
Books did not stack up.
Perhaps because I lack the time
Most inspiration I obtain
Merely in the presence of
Books, less for the inner stain
But for company
To find an animal and call
It by a name, without respect
Of a title, as demanded
By any man, from any sect
Is just being rude
Across the line upon the ground
To walk across, to feel that split
Of walking between two worlds
A sense of guilt, so quickly lit
By the one false move
Only as an ironic joke
Do ever I discuss that ink
Of needles, pressed into my skin
A tattoo to cause one to think
A thing about me
No sooner could I try to stop
Creating the plotlines in mind
Of those many worlds within me
Than I could ever consider
Future Cayenne Kyrienne studied the keyboard through her eyelashes, artificially lengthened into gracefully curving fingertips spreading from bright, color-corrected eyes. Her fingers rested delicately on the heat-keys, waiting to dance across, but she was dismayed by the loss of the satisfying click of an outmoded Qwerty. Though she was alone, she complained aloud, Dont they have anything older? She longed for her own office back Underside, where the computers did not sense her presence, and even if they could, would be too far ahead of the other systems to be of any use. When she had been younger, she would have killed to be on the leading edge of technology; something had changed, though, that made her tired of it all, and though she was not much older and things had not changed so radically, she still yearned more for the familiar than the new and untested.
But there was no going backward with th
Handwriting His hand eclipsed her dainty fingers, guiding them in looping curves from one edge to the other.
Two consonants, a vowel, he counted softly in her ear. Change direction here. A base line of swooping black caressed the page, ending finally with a tapered tail. Good, he grinned verbally. His hand lifted hers back to the start, this time forming vines to hang and curl off of the valleyed line. Underneath his, her muscles twitched, unfamiliar with his organic swirls.
Suddenly, her hand was bare, exposed and abandoned, clutching the ink-trailing instrument so lightly. The line changed abruptlypeaceful hills and valleys became jagged mountains, boulders threatening to cascade down. She saw her own handwriting, ashamed, marring the artistry of his foreign hand.
Canyon Selia studied intently through the crosshairs. A little to the left, a little to the left... A clear shot. She felt good as she pulled the trigger, downing an enemy below, between the canyon walls. After all, they would want to do the same thing to her; Do unto others and all that. They had been foolish to come into Arlan territory... her territory.
She lowered her weapon for a moment to watch the caravan scatter. There was little point to taking the rest out from above. More likely than not she would miss, and the ground team would be rounding them up any moment. Instead, she tried to picture what was waiting in the wagons, the size of her share of it. Dalam shoes were supposed to be very study, and her own had become worn from all the climbing. Hopefully they had brought shoes for themselves. If not, one or two was probably wearing some, anyway. Not a hard acquisition.
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