Day 12

It turned out that there were reality lines that the hunted had developed technology that wouldn’t allowed Perdita Prime to see inside. Amara called them Dark Lines and she liked going in those the most. Perdita Prime did not like it at all, but Amara had reasoned with her that there was no use in skipping those. Get the hardest ones first, Amara had said.

She slipped into one of these Dark Lines and was greeted with a massive super city that covered hundreds of miles. Machines walked with eight limbs that moved across the ground. Their massive bodies were round at the bottom and flattened at the top where there were metal cargo containers painted yellow and white. They moved from what she could only see is red wasteland behind her. But the machines kept coming, following the trenches created by those that had come before them.

Above them, in the sky, were flying machines that she imagined carried people to massive buildings that were layered with a floor of humanity, and then a floor of plant life. Vines trailed down the sides while massive trees leaned out and upward toward the bright red sun.

Just like always, Amara didn’t have to look for this woman, she could feel her coming. The air around her grew thick with static and there was a black and blue portal appeared in front of her. She raised her gun waiting for the woman to appear, but she didn’t. The portal stood open, the machines walked past her, and the cars continued to go where they wanted.

“Well goddamn,” Amara sighed.

She lowered her gun and walked into the portal. It wasn’t like what she thought. She had expected a cold sensation and then she would be in another place, just like the jump. But this was different. Her entire body felt like it was going to catch fire, and then something hooked around her spine and yanked her up and forward. The world blurred white around her as she was pulled and yanked between the buildings. She flinched as she was yanked through a wall. She landed on her knees in black tiled room.

When she raises her head, she comes face to face with twelve men and women dressed in cybernetic looking armor with complicated looking guns pointing at her. At least, she thought they looked like people. She couldn’t see any skin and the visors were golden; the same gold that she had taken from all those women before.

“Go ahead,” Amara said. “Finish it.”

“And activate the bomb in your eye,” sixteen different voices said.

“Then we’re at a standstill,” Amara said. “You kill me, or I kill you.”

“No,” the voices said as they lowered their weapons.

Amara did the same. She holstered her gun and followed the tallest of the guards as it motioned for her to follow. So she followed along down a black tile hallway into a massive metal room where there was a circular machine mounted at the ceiling with cables running into the ceiling. Hanging from the machine were sixteen female bodies, naked, atrophied, and covered in sores. Their heads were capped by metal domes.

All Amara could see is a blinding golden light coming from the middle of the machine. It was the largest light she had ever seen in her life.

“We are a version of Perdita Prime,” the sixteen said.

“And what do you want me to do,” Amara asked.

“Usually, one of you shows up and we shoot them down right after the teleport,” the sixteen said.

“Why is this different,” Amara asked.

“You’ve killed more than any other, and you don’t seem like you’re going to be stopped,” the sixteen said.

“Then why not kill me?” Amara asked.

“Because we want to make a truce,” they said.

“How?”

“We want to create the golden bullet that will shoot through time and space and kill this Perdita Prime,” they said. “Though she is not the real Prime.”

“Then what is she,” Amara asked.

“Obsessed with finding her daughter,” they said. “Unlike her, we have ours with us.”

Amara glanced at the machine and realized that there were eight older women and eight younger women. That made her want to raise her gun and put a bullet in each of the skulls to stop whatever they were doing. Because she imagined, outside this building, there were a lot of things wrong. She had killed one woman who was eating her daughter alive, and this was going to be no different.

“Why do you need me,” Amara asked.

“Because we need to borrow your eye for one hour,” they said.

Amara raised her gun and the machine shifted and bristled. She could feel the cold metal barrel of the guard press against her head.

“It won’t hurt,” they said. “We just need data.”

“Do it,” Amara said. “But I can’t leave without something. Or she’ll know.”

“When we’re done,” they said. “You’re going to be invisible to her. Then you must find the real Perdita. The first and smartest of all of us.”

“How am I going to do that,” Amara asked.

“By following the broken lines, the split lines, and the Great Devourer,” they said. “But do not ever look into it’s eyes.”

Amara nodded.

“Get me out of this,” Amara said.

The pain she endured was a lot, but afterward they placed her in a deep sleep where she lived six different lifetimes in four hours. Each one of them she started from birth to death, but it wasn’t until she woke up that she remembered every single one of them and all those people that she had loved were gone from her and she felt a great sorrow.

“Is this what you do for people,” Amara asked. “For people in your reality.”

“No one dies,” they said. “They live forever in cycles that we make for them.”

“And if they wake up,” Amara asked.

“Then they get to decided what they want to do,” they said. “Go back in or live in a place we have built for them in the only green place left in this world.”

“As fucked up as you are,” Amara said. “That’s really nice.”

“We searched your mind as you lived,” they said.

“Okay,” Amara said. “I take it back. You’re fucked up.”

“We’re not sorry,” they said. “We had to know.”

Amara was thinking about the loves she had in those lives, of all the memories and dreams. All the sadness and happiness. It wasn’t bad, none of it was bad. It was worth every moment plugged into whatever these things were.

“Either way,” they said. “You woke up and you have two options.”

“Leave and find the real Perdita,” she said. “Or go the promised land.”

“We will not lie,” they said. “Those that you miss will be waiting there.”

“Until Perdita Prime sends another and succeeds,” Amara said.

“You’re invisible to her,” they said. “Dead.”

“Good,” Amara said. “I’ll be back with this person.”

The sixteen watched her go and if they could smile, they would have smiled. It would have been a very cold and calculated.

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