Illumination

(Cross-post with Winters and Blitzen)

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Rustling sounds. Voices, people talking under their breaths.

Pain. Muted, but still there. Nose feeling like it was gently being crushed in a vice. Breathing causing subdued jolts through her chest.

But… Was this a bed? And a soft one at that? Not hers for sure. Her own mattress, back at the apartment, was so-

The apartment.

Images came flooding back. Logos on her TV. The golden figure. Her nose breaking in a puddle of vomit. The thug sniffing her panties. The flashbang through the window.

Bleeding out on the floor.

They had helped her. The OSEC agents. They'd saved her life. But now she was in a hospital, she had put that much together. If nothing else, it smelled like one. Maybe she could still escape from here.

Sy opened her dark brown eyes and stared into Piper's blue ones.

“Hey, welcome back, Frey.” Piper said in as warm a tone as she could muster. Toxx, who occupied the same space in what could be considered intensive care still slept soundly. “How pare you feeling?”

Sy grimaced. “Like my nose got broke an’ I been shot twice,” she whispered. She had to talk slow, her lung still hurt like a motherfucker. “Thanks fo’ savin’ me. Name’s Syiandra. Sy fo’ short.”

“Sy it is. You’ve got some pretty impressive hardware, Sy.” Piper held up her own left hand for reference.

“Thanks,” Sy sighed. “Made it myself. You… I guess you are impressive ha’dware.” A feeling of defeat sank in, but she hadn’t had much hope that this would not be the end of her decade-long flight from the authorities. There was little sting left to it.

Piper shrugged. “I don’t think anyone’s ever jacked into one of us before. No one that I know anyway. I did get to relay your message to Blue, by the way. She’s the Neo that lost her Alpha, Zulu.”

Sy closed her eyes. “I could hear her screams three blocks down,” she whispered. “That was why I contacted you. It… It haunted me. All day. But…” She sighed again and winced. “Full report later though. Ouchies.”

“Of course,” Piper replied, “we’ll have plenty of time to talk. Last thing - was that the first time you made contact with any of us?”

“First time sendin’,” Sy confessed. “Listened in one time befo’.”

Piper bristled, flicking her eyes momentarily to her Alpha before back to Sy. “You wouldn’t have happened to listen in to any of ‘them,’ did you? The Neos that call themselves Chosen?”

“Not yet,” Sy said, this time out loud despite the pain it caused her. Her eyes burned fiercely with a rage and determination that did not match the condition she was in. “But gimme the fuckin’ chance, and I will dig the fuckers right outta the fuckin’ ground.”

“That’s not really up to me. But if it were, I’d say your best bet is probably to lay low for a bit anyway. That Neo wasn’t firing off warning shots. Did they say anything to you, about what they were after maybe? Why they honed in on you?”

“Heimdall, I guess.” Sy coughed and winced again, then raised her left hand a few inches. “Logos on the telly. Said he wanted t’give me an out from you guys. Know a cult when I see one. I’da been at his doorstep ‘fore I could blink.”

“Logos was there?” It still didn’t explain what she and the other two Neos had seen or experienced - his first message didn’t cause anywhere near that. “Did he say anything else?”

“He knew somethin’ ‘bout my da’,” Sy said, her voice once again sinking back to whispers. “Threatened him. He didn’t like that. Sent in some… I dunno what it was. Some fucked up golden dude with crazy grid power surges.” She cast her eyes to the ceiling and the bright white lights on it. “If tha’s what they worshippin’, least they worshippin’ somethin’ real.”

“Just because something’s real, doesn’t mean it should be worshipped.” Piper sniped. “Especially not with what they’re doing.” The loss of Zulu still smarted, and it’d haunt Blue for likely ever. “That’s probably what Dove, Wren and I saw on the hoverbikes.” She said over her shoulder to Romeo. “Was there anything else?”

Romeo who had stayed silent as a statue that he appeared to be, shrugged. This was mostly an informal interview. This was going to stir up a lot of trouble as far as Romeo was concerned. Either way he remain silent as stoic. Unlike Piper he wasn't out to make friends with what he viewed was a wannabe interloper.

Only now that he’d moved, did Sy notice Romeo behind Piper. “Hey, ‘sup big guy,” she rasped. Her chuckle quickly dissolved into a coughing fit. When it calmed down she turned back to Piper. “Golden fucker did a number on me,” she whispered. “Goons came in to finish the job. Y’know the rest.”

“We were there.” Piper reminded her. “And speaking of rest, we should probably let you get some. I’m sure some of the higher ups are going to want to talk to you later on. Just a head’s up - I took a peek into your hardware while you were out. You’ll probably want to leave that deactivated. The Spire’s shielded from the Grid, no in or out, and chatter in here is much different than anything you can pick up on the outside. We have a great selection of movies though - if you get bored.”

The only reply was a gentle snore. Sy had passed out in exhaustion from the conversation. Her head was tilted back on the pillow, her mouth wide open. The monitor continued its solemn chorus.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

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