Home > BZRK: Apocalypse (BZRK #3)(7)

BZRK: Apocalypse (BZRK #3)(7)
Michael Grant

So the Gulfstream flew on, took on fuel in Kenya, and made the long haul to Madeira to prepare for the final leg to New York’s Teterboro.

At Madeira the security men let them off the plane. Plath and Keats took a taxi into the whitewashed city of Funchal, where they ate voraciously at a café that smelled of garlic, red wine, and cedar, and served cod and prawns and good, doughy bread in a sky-blue stucco dining room. The Gulfstream had left in too great a hurry to take on food, and despite their picnic lunch hours earlier, they were starving.

“So what do we do now?” Keats asked. He had the sense that this might be the last time they could speak freely. There was a single weary McLure security guy outside on the street, gun out of view but not out of reach, but no one was watching or listening in the restaurant and the clatter of cutlery on pottery and china would have obscured their words in any case.

“Back to New York,” she said with a shrug.

“And then?”

“Then we do whatever Lear tells us to do.” It sounded bitter. It was.

Keats tore at a piece of bread then used it to sop up some gravy. “That’s not proper, is it? Proper table manners, I mean.”

“Yeah, that’s what I care about,” Plath said. “Table manners.” She offered him a smile and put her hand on his.

“It doesn’t make sense, that’s the thing,” Keats said.


“Blowing up the boat.”

One of Plath’s continuing joys in her relationship with Keats came from the fact that in just about every case where she wondered if he was understanding things, he was. He might look a bit like the naïve dreamboat guy, but those too-blue eyes and sensuous mouth were deceptive. There was a sharp, observant brain there as well.

When am I going to stop underestimating you, Noah? She asked herself this silently, and in her mind he was firmly Noah still, not Keats. Keats was work. Noah was … well, what? Love?

He loved her. Did she love him?

Was it a class thing? The fact that she came from money and his family had never risen to middle class? Was she really that shallow? She wouldn’t have thought so, would have angrily denied it. But at the same time, coming into her inheritance had without doubt added just a bit of swagger to her worldview.

She was rich. Very rich. He was very much not. Was that why she still held something back from him? That would be shameful. Or was it simply that she had seen him in ways no young woman is meant to see a young man? She knew too much and had memories that were far too vivid and intrusive. She knew what his lips looked like in the micro-subjective.

She knew that down there, where distances were measured in microns, those full lips were crusted parchment. She knew that his fingertips looked like arid, plowed fields. She knew that his tongue was serried ranks of pink hoods, and that trapped between the rows were bright false-color bacteria.

She knew that living things crawled in his eyelashes, tiny things, unless you were down in the meat and saw them m-sub. Then they didn’t look so small. M-sub fleas looked like spiky, punk versions of the armored oliphaunts from the Lord of the Rings movies, except that they could jump a thousand times their own height.

She knew, above all, that all the intelligence and charm and wit, all of his readiness to commit, all the love he was so ready to express, was nothing but minute electrical charges firing along neurons in the wet folds of his brain.

She had not just seen these things on an image captured from a scanning electron microscope. She had been there in her biots. She had seen them all with biot eyes that were as real to her as her own.

Even now she knew that Noah was seeing the same with her. One of his biots was in her brain right now. All three of hers—P1, P2, P3—were in the vial she wore on a chain around her neck for safekeeping, but she was still seeing through their eyes, seeing a long, rainbow-hued glass wall. Three distinct windows were open inside her visual field. And if they ever began to go dark … then would come the madness she defied by taking the name Plath.

Down in the meat.

Once you had gone down in the meat, the images could not simply be set aside and ignored. And after memories came imagination, so that she would picture things she had not seen through biot eyes as they would look at m-sub.

She would see the micro detail of his lips and her own; she would see the rough furrows of his fingertips as they brushed her nipples; and she could imagine the billion tail-whipping sperm cells as he ejaculated.

It was all, at the very least, distracting. Though somehow it never seemed to distract him—

Keats waved his hand up and down in front of her face.

“Sorry,” Plath said, and snapped back to reality. “I was considering. The boat. Yeah, it was both crude and ineffectual.”

“Armstrong wouldn’t come at us that way,” he said. “If they knew where we were, they’d deploy nanobots. There have been servants in and out of the house, we had a doctor in when I got food poisoning; there were opportunities for infestation.”

“Or they could have targeted some of Stern’s people and bounced the nanobots to us from them. I mean, if you know where two members of BZRK are, you try to wire them, you don’t try to kill them.” She glanced over her shoulder upon saying the word BZRK, pronounced with vowels intact: “Berserk.”

Keats nodded, tore off another piece of bread, sopped up more gravy, and popped it in his mouth. Plath could imagine the scene down at the m-sub. The teeth would be impossibly huge, scaly not smooth, massive mountainous gray boulders dropping from the sky and rising from below to crush and—

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