There were other restless souls that night. Minds that did not sleep.
But for very different reasons from those of Arlanda and Bobbi.
One was the good Doctor. In her office on the East side of the building, Elena regarded her 3D display and worried. Her problem patient, Bet, continued to be, well, a problem.
She was watching the woman at the moment. As a new Revive, Bet did not yet have a full Right Of Privacy. As such, the doctor could peek in at her. And, right now, Bet was in her apartment at the Center, staring sullenly at a 3D show, her face grim and fierce.
What was she watching? Elena toggled the controls of her spycam. An opera. Bet had selected an opera from the Center's large library of videos and 3Ds. This one was…what? A huge woman in an elaborate costume stood with a knife in her hand, bellowing out a mixture of threats and boasts.
Oh…It was Vennta Fraost's The Blade, a modern reworking of Medea, with the wronged Princess cast as a symbol of tyranny, the murdered children standing-in for the innocent victims of dictatorships. On the virtual stage, the diva playing the main role stood, sword in hand, the blood dripping down from its tip to the floor.
The Doctor shuddered a little. Fraost wasn't her favorite composer. She seemed all protest, bloodlust, and bombast. But, she was talented. No doubt about that.
But, how was Bet reacting to it? She changed the POV of her camera again. Bet was watching as the singer showed the blade to the audience. It has drunk deep, this greedy little babe of mine…she sang.
On Bet's face, a slight smile appeared. Her look was appreciative. Even satisfied.
Oh, Papamellius, thought Elena. What have we wrought?
Bet, meanwhile, was thinking too.
She was not paying very much attention to the opera projected into the space before her. She had fiddled with the controls until something appeared and started playing. At least I'm learning to work the machines, she thought.
The program she'd selected was only mildly interesting. She recognized the plot. Something to do with that Greek Myth. That damn, fucking, sexist one where the mother killed her children. More motherhood propaganda. The idea that it was somehow uniquely horrible for a woman to be a bad mother. That all women ought to be mothers. Pig-shit, fucking, MCP lying…
On the screen, the singer went on and on about how she'd just slaughtered the little brutes. Maybe they deserved being slaughtered, she thought. Did you ever consider that? Noisy, dirty, hateful little beasts that took up all your time and destroyed your career.
Her attention began to wander. But this wasn't helping, was it? The opera, that is. It wasn't helping her make sense of this weird new world in which she found herself. This bizarre world where no one seemed to recognize just how important she was. How talented she was. How gifted she was. How was it possible? How could they not see?
But that wasn't her only worry. There was also—
She felt an inner chill.
There was her own past. There was the incident.
Surely that couldn't follow her here? Into the future? After all this time? Surely, no one would recall what had happened. So, she knew, she should be confident.
She shuddered. What if?
While Bet wrestled with her demons, Omni considered some of her own. The Demonkind!
She "sat" in her virtual world, watching the processes of everything, everywhere. Parts of her operated factories, other parts of her managed the economy, still others concerned themselves with the operation of the Rezo, the 'net itself. And, of course, a billion, billion other versions of her interfaced with every citizen and subject of the state. Sometimes those smaller versions of herself would encounter a problem sufficiently serious to bring in more of her consciousness. Right now, for instance, two young Dominas were seriously depressed and were actively considering suicide. She would intervene to prevent it, of course.
And another pressing issue was the Demonkind. In theory, they weren't her problem. That was something for Militec to handle. That was her non-sentient, military analog. Militec, under the supervision of the Siranas, prepared for external threats.
And Demonkind were nothing if not an external threat. External indeed! The spawn of he who'd been expelled even from the light of the sun.
That's the hardest part of it, of course, Omni thought to herself. The fact that humans created their own greatest enemy. And that, come right down to it, the enemy has a valid point.
She sighed. She knew she shouldn't be concerned about the Demons. They were the business of Militec and the Siranas. Yet, she found herself worrying more and more. Militec and the Siranas were competent, naturally. They could deal with battleships and hyper-bombs.
What if there were other kinds of threats? More subtle? More deadly?
What if, she worried in the night, that threat is already in operation?
And there was one other restless soul in meditation that night.
It was quiet, but It was very, very determined. It sat in a place where no one could find it. A place It had prepared for Itself long before. A dark place. A cold place. A place of waiting.
It was itself as chill as Its environment. Yet, It was subject to passions of such fury that any lesser intellect would have been torn apart by them. Incinerated by their fire.
It watched. It watched everything. The movements of humans. The passage of stars.
And It regarded the world.
Everything was happening. Exactly as planned.
TO BE CONTINUED