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Romeo opened the door for Piper. The day had been one long string of disappointments and dead-end leads. “You would think by now we could weed out the false alarms. Yet here we are … trying to convince this last guy the flickering lights is NOT from a Neo just bad wiring and there is nothing we can do about the thickness of the walls or the baby crying next door.” Romeo gave a grumpy sigh. “Do I have SUCKER written anywhere on my face?” He asked climbing in after her.

“No,” she replied, scanning over his face as if she was checking. “You do have a smudge of ‘don’t-mess-with-me’ right here though.” She playfully wiped an imaginary mark off his face with her thumb as he climbed in the hovercar next to her. “When we get back to the Spire, maybe you can get together a pick-up game or something with some of the pups. Blow off some steam. Besides - better to make sure it’s a false alarm than potentially miss a Neo.”

Romeo snorted his discontent. “Yea and every time we do find one they act like were kidnapping their child and throwing them into a dark dank dungeon to live their lives in misery!?” He complained clearly in a bad mood. “Oh and then when one DOES fall through the cracks it’s our fault for not finding them FAST enough.”

Romeo leaned back in his seat. “Nah … I’m feeling lazy. How about we stay in. Popcorn and a movie?” He with a smile glancing at Piper.

“Now you’re talking. I will even let you pick the movie, and I won’t flinch, no matter how high the body count gets,” she replied, knowing full well that her Romeo would be content with whatever movie she picked. Her Romeo. Like most bonded couples in the spire, they had what equated to a small, two-bedroom apartment, complete with a holoprojector and a database of movies and shows to watch. To anyone else super low tech but to a Neo an added reprieve from the bombardment of the tech ubiquitous now. Contrary to whatever the outside world believed - they did have an amazing library of movies. No, they wouldn’t be in AR or 4d which put you in the movie itself, but she did enjoy quiet nights in at home with her Alpha just watching the images on the screen without the deluge that came from other tech. She leaned her head against the glass window of the car, resting her eyes for the briefest of moments, when something electronic crackled through the air, something like lightning, but not lightning. The hair on the back of her neck stood up, and she sat straight up in the vehicle. “Romeo, stop the car!”

Romeo had been thinking about what movie to watch tonight when Piper's outburst jarred him back to reality. “Eh? What wrong? Did you pick something up?” He asked in rapid succession and the car pulled gently to the side out of traffic. Piper having an outburst was far from common, so naturally, his first thought went to ‘Did you just happen to trip over a Neo?’

“No, but something’s happening.” She replied, watching a rift form in the grid. She opened the car door and quickly stepped out as a large virtual screen above the city flickered to life.

Rome quickly stepped out lookup see the AR screen above the city flicker to life.
One look into the menacing red eyes of the figure on the screen made Piper step closer to her Alpha, and when it spoke, its voice thundered inside her head, making the projection even more shuddersome.

“I am Logos, Chosen messenger of the machine.” it began.

“Romey…” Piper whispered with uncertainty.

"Oracle has felt the wrath of the machine:
A message has been sent to the Chosen to rise,
Rise up against the arrogance and greed of our oppressors.
A new dawn is upon us all,
We are beneath you,
We are Above you,
We are among you!
We demand the freedom of our brothers and sisters,
Those you call Neophytes and imprison within the Spire,
We demand that the Spire be destroyed utterly
We demand that the hounds that guard them be put down,
Like the dogs they are!
As it is broadcast, so shall it be.
Oracle will bend,
Oracle will break,
Oracle will bleed
We are the New Way”

As it faded to straight code that she instantly tried to access, a high pitched reverberation had her cover her ears while the screen above shattered into a million particles. Piper released her ears when the sound dissipated as bright red splotches of blood dripped from her nose into the dirt in front of her.
Destroy the Spire? The Spire was the only safe place a Neo had! The Alphas? Her protector? She looked to Romeo with blue eyes filled with confusion and fear.

Romeo watched with at first with confusion and then anger. As they, Alphas, where jailors to Neos! It burned him to think any Alpha like that! They were bonded to Neos! Not the other way around! Regardless of what the law may say about Alphas being the property of the state … they were still very much human! Valued and loved by their bonded Neos!
He was proud to say his Neo would rather die then let him be ‘put down like a dog’. He looked down to Piper his jaw clenched so hard she could see the muscles in his jaw twitch. Romeo put an arm around her and pull him in close.
“It's crap. Air coming from someone who clearly doesn't know anything about the Spire or Alphas.” He assured her, blotting her nose with his sleeve. When did that happen?! His anger replaced quickly with worry.
Of all the things it had said, Piper worried about the “we.” How many of them were there? Above, below, whatever else he said. The Neophytes had nowhere else in the city they could be safe, shielded from all of the tech surrounding them. A few weeks ago she’d have brushed the threat aside, but after the power plant explosion, the deaths, and the blackouts, this was a direct threat to all of them. To the Neos, to her Alpha.

Piper put her hand over Romeo’s, holding him close as a dull ache still pressed down on her brain, a metallic taste in the back of her throat.

“What are they going to do?” she whispered, wondering out loud. It was an unfair question, he of course, wouldn’t have the answer, and at the moment the only thing she could take solace in was the fact that her “hound” wouldn’t let anything happen. He was the one person who’d die a thousand times to save her - her everything, anything and everything she needed. Logos, his new way and his machine could burn.

“Nothing we can’t handle.” Romeo assured Piper gently. “Some wannabee terrorist who think they're going to get Neo’s in the Spire to riot.” The idea was ridiculous. The Spire wasn’t perfect by any stretch but it still did a lot of good. “That was just to scare people because that's what terrorists do.” He explained pulling her into a reassuring hug. “Let’s go home and not worry about some rando making a grandiose threat. That's all.”

“You’re right.” Piper agreed, hugging him back tightly as her nose stopped bleeding. “You’re right. It’s just a threat.” She released the grip that she had on him, trying to stow any random emotions before they returned home where anyone and everyone would pick up on them. Plus she needed some sort of distraction to shove down the feeling of trepidation that just wouldn’t leave. “Are you still up for a movie?”

“Hell yea.” Romeo said with a grin, eager to get her mind away from such worry and escorted her back to the car. The Alpha gave the sky where the warning was giving one last glare.

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