A single drop of blood fell in the exact centre of the lake. It opened a wound in the crystalline waters. The wound rippled outwards in slow undulating cries of silent pain. Silence. The wound bled and the pond was dark red. An unborn child fell into the thick liquid, and drowned. He raised the weapon and shot the Asian man once, twice. He watched the man die at his feet. The dead lover smiled and lulled herself to quiet peace and forgetfulness. The blood was in his hands. A single droplet fell and hit the cold water. A sudden, blinding light filled all space around him. It wasn’t harsh and painful though, it was warm, comforting, loving. His light. He woke up and his conscious self was suddenly aware of all the small noises surrounding him. It took him a few seconds to place himself. He took a deep breath and tried to ignore the throbbing pain that still numbed his senses.
He was in Avalidad. Aziz opened his eyes and surveyed his surroundings. His belongings were stacked away on a small table in the corner. He got up from the bed, his body completely sore, as if he had been severely beaten over and over again, and walked with some difficulty across the small room.
Aziz quickly found what he was looking for. He picked up a small blue object and held it inside his closed hand. After the biocomputer read his vital signs, it turned on and the image of a green-eyed blonde woman appeared next to him.
– Hello. Finally. What has been happening since yesterday? I have been able to re-establish my up-link to the communications satellite; I have already received… twelve messages from ‘you-know-who’ asking me what has been going on. It is 12.20 now. Please explain…
He stared at the image of a woman talking in front of him, slightly overwhelmed by the personal assistant’s verbal assault. He blinked, and gestured her to wait.
– Please, Nastassja, more slowly, I am still not well.
– I understand. Would you like me to open a communications channel now?
– No, not now, I’m going home. Inform ZoneSec of my present location and relay my audio and visual memories of what happened this last day. Here is the data.
He inserted the small crystalline object into an opening on his biocomputer’s side.
– Relay the data into to my office’s mainframe and to ZoneSec for analysis. Download all the information on the current process. Start a cross-reference of this data with the already gathered information.
– Accessing. Starting download. Estimating time for download and cross-reference. Five hours.
He put down the biocomputer, searched his bag for PainAways and took two. Grimacing from the pain he felt from every movement, he changed back into his own clothes, and hoped the painkillers would work fast.
– Transmission arrived. Sender: Kuan Peng.
His expression became much more serious, and he almost jumped towards his biocomputer, but was stopped by his sore muscles.
– Read it.
– Opening transmission. Text message “Ask me.” End of message.
– Reply. Text. Begin message. “This is more serious than you had told me?” End message. Send.
He paced around the small room and his expression grew more sombre. He glanced nervously to his Personal Assistant’s augmented reality image, anticipating and interrupting her words.
– Read it.
– Opening transmission. Text message. “Yes”. End of message.
He nodded, gathered his belongings, and left the room.
Aziz Crowe exited from the transport that had taken him to the City of Glass district. The streets, seething with life and movement deafened him for a moment or two before he managed to balance himself. He slowly walked towards home, closing his thoughts from all the activity that surrounded him.
‘This must be much more serious than I had anticipated. I made a mistake in underestimating its importance. There are several loose strands that I do not know how to weave together. And these others. The interest in this process seems to transcend ZoneSec.’
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