"That which is overdesigned, too highly specific, anticipates outcome; the anticipation of outcome guarantees, if not failure, the absence of grace."
-- William Gibson, All Tomorrow's Parties
Above, under the dome.

Lightning flashes through the hole in the dome. Creeper vines cover most of the ancient crystal, diffusing the crisp white tear into a mottled static. The heavy upper atmosphere gives the lightning a good five or six second lifespan. Its tendrils flash and dig through dense cloud.

Dim light filters through the creepers, the second moon something half-seen through clouds, hovering over the hole itself. That particular damage to the
City had been caused by some form of bombardment; its origin, reasoning, lost
to time and media corruption. Chunks of the dome litter the City, along with
hundreds of years of other debris.

Carter ducks and rolls as the ground around him is lit, moving as quickly away from the exposed position as possible. Lots of folk might tend to freeze, let anyone trailing them get a scope on them, even in the sudden glare and burn. He'd done it. Didn't see why anyone else couldn't.

No shots rang out, but he honestly hadn't expected any too. His quarry was known to be more hands on. More personal.

The breather mask covering his face obscured his vision; sound already tends to slow, distort. His thermal and microwave rigs have both already been destroyed or discarded during the long hunt. Against the android's senses, Carter is at a definite disadvantage.

Given the choice, he might give up. Crawl back down into the tunnels under the City, tell his employer he lost the android at the edge of the dome. It got out into the World, and while Carter is known to play it fast and loose, he followed some rules. No one went outside.

Given the choice.

Something that felt older and angrier, something cold and reptilian, something deeper and stronger than even the most basic of survival instincts, had taken Carter in its grip. Had sharpened him. The android had thrown Davis into a vantree; Carter had been half a mile away, but Davis' screams had carried, warbling and horrible in the heavy air.

Until the tree's slow mind noticed its gift, and Davis was silent.

They'd split up at Carter's suggestion, figuring the skinjob would be focused on escape. Instead it had doubled back, rallied against its hunters. Carter's fault Davis was slowly melting away in the trunk of some damn plauge-twisted tree.

So revenge kept him up here, trying to track the runner. Oxy tank low, resources minimal. He tried not to think about the damage to his leg. The suit's drugs were taking care of most of the pain, and the armor had stiffened and frozen into a kind of brace. He could get along. Wouldn't give himself much in the way of odds if he did manage to catch up to the bastard again, though.

After Davis went down, Carter had lost his cool. He'd tried to tank the
skinjob; it must have thought Davis had been the only tracker. Carter had a
piece of the dome thrown into him for his trouble. He's almost got out of the
way, but not quite. He'd been limping since, and through the drugs, he was
starting to feel bones grating together, somewhere deep in his leg. Somewhere
close to an artery, the way his luck was going.


Good word to describe this job from the start.

December 11, 2008 1:03 AM