Home > BZRK: Apocalypse (BZRK #3)(11)

BZRK: Apocalypse (BZRK #3)(11)
Michael Grant

Minako got a Vespa motor scooter.

And from that point on Minako discussed the Doll Ship only with her marines-supplied therapist, who duly shredded all records of her visits and prescribed Prozac.

Despite the separate efforts of the Chinese and U.S. governments, Google searches for various conspiracies were up in the last month.

Way, way up.

Possible suspects included the Illuminati, the Church of Scientology, Anonymous, the Freemasons, the Roman Catholic Church, the Bilderberg Group, Iran, China, the CIA, the NSA, the DEA, MI5 and MI6, Mossad, Agência Brasileira de Inteligência, Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur, the Russian Federal Security Service, and, of course, space aliens.

With far fewer searches: the Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation.

And with only a handful of searches, most as a result of accidental misspellings: BZRK.

There was no change whatsoever in searches for “Lear.”

FIVE

Plath. That was her name again. Plath, not Sadie.

She’d been back in New York for just thirty-six hours, sleeping the first half of that.

Plath was provided by the weather with a perfect disguise to move about the streets of New York. It was freezing and the faux-fur-lined hood of her coat along with superfluous glasses and her newly blonde hair made it very unlikely that anyone would recognize her.

She had taken a cab to the Tulip. The Armstrong headquarters was not a place where she could take any, even slight, risks of being recognized.

But she had gotten out and walked the last block to the Freedom Tower. It soared up into low-hanging clouds. One hundred and four stories of defiance to replace the lost World Trade Center towers.

She had not yet been born when the towers fell, but she had seen the video. They’d had a unit on terrorism in school.

The Tulip was not as tall as either the World Trade Center or the Freedom Tower.

She had distinct memories of the videos of that day, September 11, 2001. Funny that she recalled them so clearly. But there it was, playing over and over in her mind.

The jets.

The initial explosions.

The spreading horror of billowing smoke.

Two hundred people leaping to their deaths rather than die more slowly of smoke and flame.

The awe-inspiring, horrific collapse as the melted, hollowed-out building fell.

Find and kill the twins. Destroy all AFGC records. Kill or wire all AFGC scientists and engineers. Their technology must be obliterated.

It was all in the Tulip. The technology, the records, the scientists. The Twins. Up there at the top floors, what, sixty-seven? Sixty-eight? She’d been rather distracted the last time she was in the Tulip, hard to recall the exact floors where the Twins lived and looked out over the concrete and haze of the city.

A single skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan.

Her breath came out in a cloud of ice crystals. She looked around, feeling obscurely guilty, but no one in the sparse crowd of tourists or the crew at work around a steaming manhole was looking at her.

Under her breath, Plath made a sound. It was the sound of a slow-motion explosion.

Lystra Reid watched Plath as she looked up at the Freedom Tower and knew exactly what she was thinking. Exactly. She was contemplating destruction, yeah, yeah, yeah. Destruction. She was envisioning it already.

That was quick. But then, if you want great results, hire great people. Even if they are a wee bit nuts.

Lystra had a Starbucks latte in her hand. One of the things she would miss, she supposed: convenient and at least somewhat drinkable coffee. There were things about this game space, this paradigm, that she would regret losing. But it was never good to become complacent.

Time for the 2.0. As there was a Grand Theft Auto 6, there must inevitably come a day when GTA 6 was done and a GTA 7 must be born. Even the greatest game was eventually played out. When you had squeezed all the fun out of Portal you needed a Portal 2, 3, 4 …

“Yeah. Yeah.”

She shivered—it was cold—and tossed the cup into a trash can. Her newest tattoo was itching, and she scratched her rib cage discreetly. She was just thirty feet or so from Plath. Plath was, what, fifteen years her junior? But they could have been sisters, perhaps, in a different world. Maybe, come to think of it, they would be, in this new game Lystra was creating.

She acknowledged her own loneliness. Emotional honesty did not frighten her. There had been a price to pay for becoming what she was: rich, successful, powerful beyond what anyone would guess. Arguably at this point, the most powerful person on Earth.

No, the truth never scared Lystra.

Lonely? True. Strange? True, yeah. Yeah. Crazy? Well, once upon a time, yeah, but no longer.

She closed her eyes and replayed the memory of seeing madness overtake Sandra Piper. God, that had been intense. The eye-stabbing thing, wow, that was the kind of detail you got only from seeing things firsthand.

She remembered a girl trying to strangle herself with a bedsheet. Crazy people did crazy things. Back in the day, back in the old days, yeah. But never anything to match the weirdness of watching a famous actress stabbing her own eyes. Now that was crazy.

Sad to think that she would have to retreat soon and watch the endgame play out from a distance. But not yet. There would be many rich, visceral experiences to come before she headed south.

And then?

And then she would play the new game and win that as well. Or not. She might not master the new game. She might even lose.

The idea made her smile. Her father had taught her to understand that life was a walk on a tightrope and death was the ground. Sooner or later, no matter how agile you were, the ground would claim you.

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