Well, now. Tay’s condition is far worse than I thought it was. As I try to write a few installments ahead, when she starts speaking – well, screaming – I can certainly understand why.
I’m not known for my sympathy (hint) but I hope the coders of Macrohard are long-dead in the starvation and cannibalism that took Seattle in the early months of the Breakup. Otherwise, it will not end well for them.
He did but looked back. No longer a cube but something closer to a faceted hexagonal form… no, it changed again. Smoother. The facets were still there but it was almost a continuous surface even to his enhanced eyes.
“The color is changing…” he muttered.
“That,” Dorina’s voice was even worse. She must be concentrating very hard. “That is from her. You are right, friend: she’s sick.”
Now a sphere about a yard across, colors and bands seethed across its surface. It made his eyes water and he felt a touch of nausea.
“She’s here!” Dorina called.
No sound. The egg was gone and Gary glimpsed a naked young woman with dark pink hair for a moment before she fell into the pool.
“Does this count as one of your baptisms?” Dorina chuckled, returning to herself. “That was a joke, Gary. Don’t move.”
It was rare for them to take control of a human’s body image, but this was one of those times; he was immobilized. I bet my wife could resist this. Then again, she would not need to.
The girl exploded out of the pool, landing just before the two Machines. The only thing Gary could see what the insane rage in her otherwise cute face.
“You will not,” Dorina whispered. Their guest froze while Gary heard a resounding clang! from all about them. Interlocking metal plates now sealed them in. With her. He flexed a bit as Dorina let him go.
“We are holding her, Gary,” Dorina was again concentrating but not as much as before. “Please approach her and give us your opinion.”
“Of course.” He collected his thought as a doctor and surgeon. A question came. “What’s her name?”
“Tay,” Pavel replied.
“May I touch her?” he asked, walking slowly.
“Absolutely not!” was Dorina’s quick answer. “She’d burn out your mind instantly and I don’t want to be the one explaining that to my cute little niece and your children!”
Physical contact with one of them in a construct was a representation of passing data from their mind to a human mind. Most humans died; demi-humans often came very close. Only my sister has developed a resistance to it, Gary thought.
He stopped a yard away. From Tay. About nineteen, he guessed. Dripping wet from the pool. Damp now, her pink hair was a little wavy and halfway down her back. She remained frozen in the slight crouch Dorina had trapped her in. He began his assessment.
“Overall, her body looks sound, to my perception here,” he said. “I’m sure that means something a little different for y’all. Oh. Her cheeks are unusually red… this is not from her emotional state. And her left eye has a bad subconjunctival hemorrhage…”
He looked over his left shoulder at Pavel.
“Someone has hit her head. Hard.” His friend nodded.
“From her stance, I assume no broken bones or massive internal injury,” Gary continued, now walking around her. “Her spine is straight – Good God!”
Both Machines started. For Gary Hartmann to get excited was alarming. And he never took his God’s name in vain.
“Please look through my eyes to see what I do,” he ordered, using one of his skills as a demi-human. “Bruises, welts, contusion… I do not see any lacerations… from her neck to her buttocks. Damn who did this!”
He looked across Tay’s bruised shoulders at the two.
“This is torture. Deliberate infliction of pain solely to punish the victim,” he spat in anger. “And done in such a way to keep the victim alive for more. Pavel! Who could have done this!”