5410 words (21 minute read)

Chapter 2


"Sorry mum," Alyx said, placing her hand on the glass tank that separated her from her birth mother. Rain’s eyes stared back at her - open and lifeless. At least she looked peaceful.

Alyx had the room to herself, bar all the empty clone shells floating about in the tanks. She counted three in total: her mother - Rain, Adrian and Mae. There was an empty tank from which her current shell came, and a further two tanks for future use. No-one had thought to move her old body yet, which still lay on a table. At least someone had had the courtesy to throw an old blanket over it. Harriet was probably saving it for the autopsy.

Something about that thought didn’t sit well with her.

Her thumb caressed the glass. It was cold to the touch.

"I had her," Alyx said, voice trembling. "I had her at gunpoint. Goddamn mastermind of Sheol. I had her..."

She punched the wall beside the tank with her other hand, bloodying her knuckles.

"She beat me mum. She’s not just some science ubergeek. She’s fast, and she stabbed me."

Alyx rubbed her chest with her other hand, feeling for the stab wound Dr Calvier had given her. But there was no wound any more, just the smooth, pale skin of a new shell. She could still feel it though. It hummed beneath her skin.

"So you’re gonna have to hang in there a little longer mum," she whispered. "I will kill her and get you out of there. Failing that, I’ll just burn it all to the ground." She paused for a second, thinking. "Although I may do that anyway. They have it coming."

The shell of her mother blinked at Alyx, staring right into her eyes with no hint of recognition.

This was so wrong.

Alyx felt a hand creep along her waist. She turned instinctively, fully prepared to sock whoever it was in the jaw. Silver. This was a pleasant surprise.

"Hey Alyx," Silver’s voice was soft, reassuring. Quite befitting their tiny stature.

Alyx relaxed into them, slumping against their chest. She rested her head on their shoulder, Silver running their hands through her hair. Alyx held that position for a while before breaking the silence.

"I failed her Silv," she said. "Again."

"No," Silver replied, grabbing the Runner by her shoulders. "We’re just running a little late is all. We’re going to get them. And when we do, it ain’t gonna be pretty. But I can’t wait to snap the fireworks."

"Shit Silv, you saw what that Vibro did. She’s a monster. A monster playing god. We can’t fight that."

A smile returned to Silver’s face, almost a wicked one, they wiped back the tear that was forming in Alyx’s eye - the one she would never admit to. "They may have their secret weapons, but we have ours too. Don’t worry. I promise you we will free Rain, and the millions of other trapped Souls."

"We have a secret weapon?" Alyx arched an eyebrow.

"Well... sort of. Did Harriet ever tell you about your Rain’s antics?"

Alyx sighed. Yes. All the time.

"Nineteen year old reporter, admittedly shit at her job," Silver continued. "Her and her friends brought down the Asgard sect of Charon and foiled several national conspiracies in the process. She was nineteen, and they didn’t even have guns, or sexy Runners."

"Your point being?"

"They have Vibro," Silver slapped a hand down on Alyx’s shoulder. "But we have each other."

"That was awful and cheesy," Alyx grimaced. "But I appreciate the effort."

"Point is," Silver said, not giving up. "You can always buy off a Suit. Or expose evil corps for the pricks they are. So they’re watching their backs, but we know ours are safely guarded by each other."

There was a moment of silence. Silver traced patterns with their finger around Alyx’s shoulder.

"Alright. That bit wasn’t too bad," Alyx admitted.

"And if that doesn’t make you feel better," Silver whispered. "I know what will."

One of Silver’s hands, long and slender, found its way to the Runner’s behind. They squeezed hard.

"We have dinner in a minute," Alyx whispered.

Without a word, Silver’s hand slid its way down the Runner’s shorts, behind her pants.

Alyx shuddered.

"Yeah. Okay. That’ll do the trick..."

#

Invictus Headquarters. The small family of renegades and orphans were currently in the dining room, a very mismatched structure of at least three different extensions at the side of an old abandoned farmstead. They’d had to keep knocking one of the walls down and adding more and more space to the room to account for new members. They’d messed up at one point and ended up having to redo the whole roof - which was now nothing more than a few wooden beams and a collection of very large plastic sheets.It got awfully cold around Winter, and the group were wrapped up as warm as they could be.

Alyx was the oddball of course. She still wore her shorts and vest, no matter the weather. Everyone else wore some combination of knitted jumpers, courtesy of Ruth and Hernando, and thick trousers.

The room itself was divided into two sections, each sporting a myriad of salvaged furniture and crockery. The far end sat the adults, Ruth and her husband Hernando at one table, pushed up against another table holding the others - Mae, Harriet and Ruth, and a further three empty chairs. A final table held the others adults who saw to the day to day runnings of the place.

The other side of the room, closer to the house, and a fair bit warmer, was for the children. The idea was that the adults would talk business over dinner, whilst the older kids looked after the younger ones. There were seventeen of them at present, all tucking into Hernando’s homemade dinner - Shepard’s pie. Cooking was an art that he was not going to be let lost to the annals of time, and had insisted on teaching to his children. Their drinks, in the adults case, came from Mae’s moonshine stash.

"Right," Ruth began. "So where the devil are Alyx and Silver? We can’t start without them."

"Alyx went to see Rain. No clue about Silver," Harriet said.

"Probably down there with her," Ruth said.

"Copulating," Mae added. Crumbs of pastry fell down her jumper.

"And who are you, Bill Oddie? They’re not animals, " Harriet snapped.

Mae smirked. There was a brief, awkward silence, broken only the crunching of pastry. And everyone else in the room.

"Someone should go get them," Ruth said, growing impatient. "We’ve got a lot to talk about."

"Well I ain’t going," Harriet threw up her hands.

"She is your daughter," Mae whispered.

"Which is precisely why I don’t want to go! Besides she’s your niece, you go get her."

"How many times do I have to say," Ruth interjected. "Look at me when you’re talking. It’s been what, thirty years?"

"Sorry Ruth," the two mumbled, making sure to face her.

"Anyways, speak of the devil," Ruth said.

Alyx and Silver had entered the room together, taking up adjacent seats at the table and grabbing a slice of pie with a simple nod. Alyx poured herself some moonshine, and immediately set to tucking in.

"You’re late," Harriet stated, voice stern.

"Can’t change that fact," Ruth said. "So save the shouting for later. Alyx, let’s talk about the obvious."

Alyx sighed. "What I can I say? Adrian was wrong."

"Jessi was wrong," Mae corrected. "He was Adrian’s source."

"Jessi was not wrong," Ruth stated, popping a chunk of pastry into her mouth. "His contacts may have been wrong, but he was not."

"Or his wife’s screwing with us," Mae added. "I wouldn’t put it past her to try to kill us all off again."

"I know Darla well," Harriet said, covering her mouth with her hand as she spewed crumbs. "So trust me when I say - I wouldn’t put it past her either. Admittedly, harsh. But not beyond her."

"Look," Ruth said firmly, pouring herself a drink. "We can point fingers later. For now, we debrief and plan our next move. Alyx, mission statement?"

Silver reached for their notepad; the one perpetually in their breast pocket.

"Righty-o," Alyx said, commanding attention. "The goal was to locate Sheol’s servers, or gather information on how it works. I was to do this by breaking into Pathos headquarters, and raiding the office of doctor Alice Calvier, chief engineer of Sheol. And mega-bitch. According to Jessi, she was meant to be at a conference in Pandora at the time of the raid. However, for some reason or another, she wasn’t. Possibly a tip off or a trap. Adrian is cracking the memory stick that I retrieved, and we now know that their security is pretty shoddy above the ground floor. Ironic really."

"That’s not irony Alyx, that’s-" Mae sighed, interrupted as a finger from Ruth shot in front of her mouth.

"Alyx, would you please tell us what happened next?"

"So, I was rooting around her office when she walked in the door. She must have been ready for me, ’cos she had a knife in her hands and Vibro on the blade. We got talking, she stabbed me, I hit her with a lamp, her guards came in, so I jumped out of the window."

Silver beamed at Alyx with pride, taking notes all the time.

"Speaking of the Vibro," Harriet said. "Do you have any idea where that stuff came from?"

Alyx shook her head. "It was worse than that time I tripped the security system in the Szeven’s barracks. Now there was a challenge."

"Gods, do you remember your first Recuva?" Silver said. "You freaked the hell out."

"It’s like waking up in somebody else’s skin!" Alyx whined.

"Bit of an exaggeration," Harriet said.

"Easy for you to say," Alyx said. "You knew it was coming. I was just, out, then poof - new body."

Mae pushed her plate to the center of the table, food unfinished. She excused herself, then headed off. Alyx called dibs on the scraps.

"Still a bit of a sore topic for her, huh?" Ruth asked Harriet.

"They say time heals all wounds," Harriet nodded. "Well I call bullshit."

They finished their meal in silence.




#

Slugs. Third floor of a Hydroponics lab, and still slugs. Rows upon rows of cabbages, carrots and peas. All basking under complex lighting and sprinkler systems; laced with all manner of pesticides. And still slugs. They must be mutating, Kylie mused. Not surprising, given the amount of fallout still littering the countryside.

From what she’d heard, at any rate. She had no memories of life outside the City. Few people from around here had ever even left. There was no need. Anything they could want lay within the walls - hydroponics labs for food, pharmacies for medicines, schools for education, entertainment complexes for fun. The only people who really bothered going anywhere were upper echelon business suits; and those people often opted to travel by helicopter or direct clone-transfer. There was no need to go out.

Besides, it wasn’t like the public transport industry was exactly thriving. Trains were for Outerlanders; everyone knew that. No Inner City person in their right mind would share a train one with those people. And any trains that did run from the Inner City had a tendency to get ransacked before getting even half way.

Kylie’s lab partner, and fellow apprentice, Abby barely even left the lab. She’d converted one of the storage rooms into an impromptu bedroom, complete with a hammock and wardrobe (of sorts). Their boss Harper pretended not to notice, but he did. He was proof there were some decent people left in the world.

Kylie watched as Abby cracked a window open and tossed out the handful of slugs she’d been picking up. The older apprentice had green fingers and an iron stomach, but hadn’t a clue when it came to dealing with people. Kylie on the other hand was active, chatty and seemed to kill everything she touched.

In their current lab gear; a hair net, blue face mask and brown apron, all worn over the mandatory blouse and trousers, the two girls could be mistaken for sisters - and often were. Both were short, with messy dark hair, olive skin and chestnut eyes. However Kylie bore a distinguishing red streak in her hair, whereas Abby often put hers up in a haphazard bun.

But the two shared no family, nor even any background. Abby had been born and raised in the city, to a now-struck-off doctor and a corporate CEO. Kylie however had been born to a fugitive, wanted by Charon for corporate espionage, vandalism and theft of intellectual property. She was proud of her mother for that - sticking it to the man. But not so much for pawning her only child off on Adrian and taking off, never to be heard from again.

"Hey Kaz," Abby chirped, breaking her trance and striding towards her. "Close your eyes."

She did as instructed, opening her mouth in anticipation. Something rough, hairy and bumpy entered it. A berry of some form, probably. This was Abby, so it was definitely edible. She bit down, and nearly choked.

"Shit that’s sharp," she said, covering her mouth with her hand. Whatever it was, it was hellishly tangy.

"Raspberries," Abby beamed. "Don’t tell Harper. I’m gonna try and make a crumble."

Kylie smacked her lips, reaching for her canteen of water. She took a few swigs to wash away the sharpness. That didn’t seem like something you should be eating to her, let alone cooking with.

Abby popped two of the little berries into her own mouth, then offered another to Kylie. When she refused, Abby popped it into her own mouth, eyes looking skyward.

Kylie looked at the clock. Half six. She should have buggered off home half an hour ago; it wasn’t like she was getting paid any overtime. Or at all, for that matter. But she liked it up here. Like the rest of the city, it was sterile and orderly. Everything had a place and a purpose. But unlike the rest of the city, it was largely devoid of people. Her and Abby were the keenest, neither particularly feeling inclined to mingle with the folk outside or at home.

"Hey girls," Harper said. His sudden appearance startled Kylie, who jumped at his approach. He could really creep about when he needed to.

Abby audibly swallowed the berries in her mouth, pocketing the rest and praying he hadn’t noticed.

"Hey boss," she smiled.

"Abby," he said, tipping his flat cap in a mock gesture. He made for a strange sight indeed, dressed in a neatly pressed suit, with a pair of blue latex gloves and a checkered hat, hiding a balding head. "Still here huh?"

"Hadn’t noticed the time," Kylie lied. "Besides, it’s nice and warm in here. Swear I can feel my eyes freezing over when I go out." It wasn’t that much of an exaggeration. Part of the reason for the necessity of Hydroponics was the unpredictable climate. Nuclear Winter had a tendency to do that.

"So how are you two girls doing?" Harper asked, casually inspecting a nearby plant.

"We’re good," Kylie answered. "Well, I’m good. Can’t vouch for Abby but she seems okay. What’s up boss?"

Abby nodded in agreement, shuffling her feet.

"I’m going to need the place to myself tonight," Harper began. "I have some... business associates coming by, and you know what those Corp types are like."

The two girls shared suspicious glances. That pause wasn’t good.

"So," Harper continued. "I want you two to head down to the WEC. Treat yourselves. Blow off some steam; go for a swim or a sim game or whatever it is you fancy. I’ll foot the bill."

"WEC?" Abby asked, her lack of awareness of anything outside of Hydroponics showing through.

"The big-ass tower you can see out that window," Kylie pointed for emphasis. "It’s like, this giant shopping mall of fun."

"It’s also," Harper added. "The only government-approved source of fun, for whatever that’s worth."

The WEC was one of the few things that TransNational Enterprises brought to Charon - good publicity. They were a household name that could be found on just about any piece of crockery, furniture or item of clothing.

"It’s got like, a library and an arcade and a sports track and a gym and a swimming pool and laser quest all in one place," Kylie said, counting on her fingers for emphasis.

"They’re also hideously expensive," Harper pointed out. "But don’t worry, I’ll sort that." He handed Kylie one of his credsticks, preloaded with more than enough credits to last them for the night.

Charon hadn’t exactly gotten creative with their economic reforms. Given how people from the world over were all flooding to one of the six still-habitable places, the clash of currencies was one of the first problems to be dealt with. Charon had opted for credits, a neat little standardized currency that would be accepted in any of their territories; whether Canada, Portugal or anywhere in Eastern Asia. The Havens of northern Europe had instead opted for some form of medieval bartering system, and the Penitents... who knows.

Kylie took the credstick with hesitation, mouth agape at the number printed on its side: 25000C. Low level Suits would be lucky to make that much in six whole months. She wasn’t sure just how expensive this place was meant to be, but she was pretty sure even this was excessive. Her and Abby shared yet another concerned glance, their wariness at the kind of money their boss was throwing around rather evident.

But he’d looked the other way on quite a lot of their misdoings. He let Abby sleep in a closet and grow her own plants. He let Kylie keep her post as apprentice despite being possibly the worst gardener he’d ever met. So as their boss, and friend, he was more than entitled to his own secrets and clandestine adventures. Besides, they could always speculate once they got outside.

"Thanks boss," Kylie said. "We’ll go get ready."

They needed no further encouragement.

#

Streetlights did little to brighten the muggy city of Braid. A thick fog had rolled in with the evening, making the sharp chill all the worse. Visibility was nonexistant, which for Kylie and Abby was rather problematic. Neither girl had the best vision in the first place, nor sense of direction. At least it was easy to navigate - streets were straight, orderly and clearly labelled, and the TransNational Enterprises Wellness and Enjoyment Center, thankfully shortened to WEC by the locals, was not only well signposted, but could be seen from almost anywhere within the City Walls.

The streets were lined with CCTV cameras and Szeven troops keeping an eye on everything. Being neatly dressed, both girls passed by with minimal attention, both obviously belonging to the Inner City. For the few Outerlanders still around at this time however, all eyes would be on them. Most of them would be at the Uncivil Union pub by the gates though, one of the few reasons anyone ever voluntarily visited the city.

The girls had gotten sidetracked with a little window shopping along the way, making the most of the time either of them was anywhere other than at work or at home. There was a nice assortment of clothing and sim-stores along the high street, all struggling to get by under the stranglehold of TransNational Enterprises. But, faced with the ultimatum of scraping by or packing up and moving outside the Walls, few places opted for the latter. Many people were thankful they chose to stay though, as the small independent shops made a nice change from the otherwise uniform dominance.

It was half eight by the time they arrived at the WEC, shortly after peak time. The expansive sixty-two story building was plastered with adverts, for everything from attractive singles near you, to the latest sim game, and various health and safety reminders. It was as much an assault on the auditory senses as a visual one though, with thousands of loud conversations and arcade noises cascading down the tower, all topped off with the default, obnoxious neo-trance music blasting from the intercom. It was a mile away from the "Classical Bark" Abby liked playing for her saplings.

The whole building reeked of Chlorine, and little else.

After locating the main entrance amidst the clutter, Abby and Kylie found their way over to reception, where they were kindly told to sign up before they could do anything. It was a relatively painless process; a few short questionnaires, a mugshot and a prick with a needle. Once that was done, a set of cards were printed off with their name and faces. The girls compared their exaggerated lack of photogenicity, both knowing not to draw attention to why Kylie’s surname said ’Xai’ and not ’Lyons’ as she was known by.

At a time wherein cloning, body modifications and bioengineering were all commonplace, the only thing you could be sure of remaining constant was a person’s Soul. Each had a unique signature, effecting a sort of spiritual fingerprint. It was both a terrifically useful system, and a strangling means of identity control.

Abby finalized the proceedings by handing over the credstick Harper had given her, then swiping the two issued passcards. They passed through the turnstiles into the belly of the building, taking a moment to take in their surroundings. It was even more impressive on the inside, and more than a little bit daunting.

Neither girl had a clue where to start. People were milling about in all directions, that obnoxious trance music was still blaring, and there was a constant stream of announcements over the intercom about upcoming events, tournaments and new games. It was hard to ignore the Szevens dotted around the place however - with their blanch white armour and fully automatic weaponry, they kind of stood out. They certainly added a sense of urgency to the air.

Kylie spent a good half hour playing around with the 3D interactive map, enjoying spinning the building about and exploring without the need to actually move anywhere. Abby watched on in curiosity, occasionally tugging on her sleeve when the guards paid them notice.

She opted to show Abby to the Arcade first, seeing as it was only on the next floor, and the other girl barely even knew what a sim game was. It also helped that games were something Kylie was actually good at.

"Hey Kaz,"Abby whispered, at the top of the stairs, tugging on the other girl’s sleeve. "What’s that?"

Kylie followed her gaze, seeing how her eyes were locked on a set of screens. "Ooo, Drone Pilot," she purred. "You get to pilot these like, real-life drones around the Wastes. You can see all the ruined towns and big craters and all sorts. It’s pretty cool."

It wasn’t exactly the competition she had in mind, but she couldn’t deny Abby that sparkle in her eye.

They sat down next to each other and swiped their passes, picking up the old-school style joysticks. After sitting through the initial safety warnings, ’you break it you bought it’ and copyright notices, a world map appeared on the screen, spotted with hundreds of little red dots indicating pilotable drones. Kylie opted to fly around Texas; whereas Abby chose something a bit less adventurous, deciding to explore the nearby countryside.

Kylie started along a river, noting the desolate, sand-like terrain either side. It looked far different to the vibrant city she was used to. No sign of life in any direction, just a little shrub and murky waters.

She knew that water wasn’t for drinking - it was more than likely still full of radioactive fallout and botulism, the twin weapons of mass destruction Charon had used to decimate those who stood against them. She followed the flow of the river for a bit, enjoying the isolation.

But she couldn’t help but think: Was it always like this?

She’d heard of deserts before; wastes before the Wastes. But everything she’d heard of Old America had it down as a rich, populated land, full of wonders and technological advancement. The American Dream. Hollywood. Suburbs. It all sounded so romantic. She’d just failed to understand how vast it was. To her, the world was about the size of a city; floating among the wastes as the planet does among the stars.

And now there was nothing left - the majority of the American continents wiped clean by multiple incursion points of multiple diseases. What the nuclear wars of 2027 hadn’t already claimed, were destroyed by Charon in 2032 - six months before the SoulNet went online. All that was left of the Americas now was Canada, saved via allegiance to the corporations. Charon, to be precise. The bastard union of Shroud, TransNational Enterprises and Pathos, among other less influential corps.

Being witness to the havoc raised under the iron grip of Charon, Kylie could understand the temptation to flee to Eastern Europe and join the Penitents. Bring down the corporations and the afterlife. But the threat of Sheol was oppressive, and there was nowhere you could go to escape it. Enough to stop almost everyone from following through on that desire.

"Mushrooms!" Abby squealed, poking Kylie rather squarely in the ribs. "Look!"

Kylie grinned, looking at Abby’s screen. She was flying precariously low to the ground, traveling slowly and surely. She’d left the drone to hover by a large patch of fungi. They were bright yellow and misshapen, certainly some funny looking things. But whilst Abby was admiring her Chanterelles, Kylie was admiring the resolution.

She looked back to her screen, making sure she hadn’t crashed and landed herself (well, Harper really) with a whopping fine. Her stomach churned when she did so though, but not out of concern for the drone.

She’d wandered upon a village. A ghost town, devoid of movement. All of the houses were intact, cars left parked in driveways, market stalls on display. But not a thing moved. She kept flying, wanting to stop, but not able. She needed to see this.

And then she found the residents. A large hole in the ground, on the outskirts of the village. It was piled high with corpses, tossed away and discarded. All flesh picked away by detritivores and vermin by now, leaving an undignified pile of skeletons and cloth fragments. There were too many to count - hundreds, she guessed. All plague victims. Casualties of war. Dead because they’d had enough common sense to stand up to Charon before they got into power.

But at least they were long dead. She pictured the corpses in their early stages, a mass grave of pustules and fluid. Flesh sloughing off and-

She was going to be sick.

"Oh God..." Abby trailed off from beside her. "Where are you?"

"Texas," Kylie replied, breathing deep. "See why this thing comes with a warning?" She pressed a button, returning to the main menu. "Think that’s enough of that for me."

"I get what the Penitents are on about now," Abby muttered, glancing around. She too shut down her screen, stepping away. "That was horrible."

"That was reality," Kylie pointed out. "Life outside the walls. Life before the SoulNet."

Abby sighed, not sure what to say. After some moment of reflection, she asked: "So what now?"

"Swim?"

"Swim," Abby nodded in agreement.

The two girls headed to the ground floor to buy some overpriced swimsuits; then get changed. They were disturbed at first to find that the pool was a true, 50 meter affair - deep and full of serious swimmers. Having never learned to swim, the two opted for the much shorter and shallower pool, wherein they spent a lot of time on the twisty slides and enjoying the wave machines. They tried swimming, Kylie seemed to have gotten the hang of it, and ended up trying to show Abby. She wasn’t as competent though, but was happy to sit by the edge as the waves lapped over her chest.

Then came the steam room, wherein the air tasted of peppermint; sharp and intrusive. Abby lay face up on the floor, partially obscured by mist. She’d tried sitting up high with Kylie, but the oppressive heat was a bit too much for her. Kylie meanwhile, sat fiddling with her red streak next to a colour-cycling salt lamp. She was pleased to find it covering the whole spectrum of the rainbow, and watched it in fascination.

The differences in the two girls were a bit more pronounced now. Abby was undeniably skinny, compared to the more plump and rounded Kylie. Like most people from the Inner City, they kept to a largely vegan diet - meat and dairy was an Outerlander luxury, and one of the few things those people could get away with overcharging for at the local market.

They weren’t alone in the steam room though. A trio of naked Suits sat at the far back, chuckling at each others banter and toilet humour. An elderly lady with an egg timer lay on the bench opposite Kylie, and a husband and wife were busy getting a little too comfortable in a corner, currently in the throws of quite an involved breast massage.

It was absurdly spacious though, and even with the thick mist it was hard to feel cramped.

Abby had even managed to relax and shut out the outside world for the whole of thirty seconds before being interrupted.

"Okay, I gotta ask," Kylie huffed. "What do you think Harper’s doing tonight? He’s never kicked us out before. And this place is way expensive for a little distraction. I mean, what does he need the whole lab for anyway? It’s not like we’re going to cramp his style or anything."

She’d never been very good at this whole ’keeping quiet and relaxing’ thing.

"Dunno," Abby sighed. "Probably showing them to his secret lab."

Kylie scoffed. Abby remained silent.

"Wait," Kylie said, perking up. "Secret lab?"

"Yeah."

Kylie stared at the unmoving Abby, who’d barely even opened her eyes. She poked her with her foot. "How do you know about this?"

"Dunno," Abby shrugged slightly. "Elevator door didn’t close fully once. Looked down and the shaft is far deeper than it lets on. Probably a secret floor below the basement."

Her nonchalance puzzled Kylie. "And you’ve never checked it out?"

"Why? Everyone’s entitled to their secrets. And he wouldn’t hide it if he didn’t have good reason," she opened her eyes now, looking back at Kylie through the fog, giving a disapproving raised eyebrow at the foot still poking her. "Besides, I only found out the other day."

There was a moment of silence.

"You’re immediately going to go check it out now, aren’t you?" Abby sighed.

"No..." Kylie said innocently. "I’m going to wait till tomorrow."

There was the sound of exhalation as Abby facepalmed.

"Besides, you wouldn’t have told me if you didn’t want me to," Kylie added.

"Your logic never ceases to amaze me."


;>;>;>;


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