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Saving Ever After, Episode 6: Old Lovers (A Minds-Exclusive Series)

ME2007VigilSep 14, 2018, 3:45:52 PM
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This is a continuation of my Minds-exclusive series, Saving Ever After. Please start reading at Episode One. Episode list can be found at this link:

https://www.minds.com/ME2007Vigil/blog/saving-ever-after-episode-list-878019720530595840 


Saving Ever After, Episode 6: Old Lovers


A few weeks earlier...

Roxanne stirred from her slumber. She was trapped inside a frost-covered glass pod. She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to remember how she got here, but nothing came to mind. She curled into a ball and shivered. A wave of nausea roiled through her gut, and her skull throbbed.

A virtual interface appeared before her eyes. She saw a holographic representation of her body, outlined in green. She read the accompanying text. Homeostasis restored. Anomaly detected. Subject may be pregnant. Please see medical doctor.

She widened her eyes and read that again. She couldn't be pregnant. Though she looked not a day older than twenty five, she was in fact biologically fifty years old. The genetic enhancements that gave her longevity did not also extend the expiration date of her ovaries.

Her glass pod opened. A handsome man with black hair and amber eyes looked down on her. He wore a white lab coat. Though he looked like he was in his mid-twenties, she knew that he was the same age as her. “Doctor Silva,” she uttered. “Where-what?”

He put his hand on her right shoulder. “Temporary amnesia is a common side effect of prolonged hibernation. We've been frozen for nearly a hundred years. We've taken shelter in Bunker A562, located underneath City 13.”

She covered her mouth with a gasp. It all came back to her now. I was the one who launched Eden's nuclear arsenal into the stratosphere. She looked Doctor Silva in the eyes. None of the others knew of her treachery. She didn't know what they would do to her if they found out the truth.

The doctor tapped the console next to her pod. “I was just reviewing your medical profile. It says here you might be pregnant.”

“You sure it's not a mistake?” Roxanne asked.

“It's no mistake. Your pod detected high levels of HCG in your blood. I can literally see the developing zygote on your body scan.”

“What are the effects of prolonged hibernation on the zygote?”

“It's perfectly safe. Having said that, a bunch of us didn't make it. Somehow, their pods didn't pump in enough antifreeze, so ice crystals formed all over their bodies. I think they were sabotaged.”

Roxanne resisted the urge to look away. “Who could have done it?”

“Don't know. Our head of security, Damian, has been investigating. He hasn't found anything.”

And he won't. Roxanne rubbed her belly.

“Do you know who the father might be?”

She nodded. She had only one lover her entire life, so he must be the father. She was well into her forties by the time they had decided they wanted to have a child together. Unfortunately, under Eden, it was illegal for the immortal servants of the state to have any children, so she and her lover had to remove her IUD through clandestine means. But they were too late. She had reached the end of her fertility, and they couldn't conceive. Though the biotechnology certainly existed that would have enabled them to overcome their infertility, they would have had to pull a lot of strings to make that happen.

“When did you have your IUD removed?”

She glared at the doctor.

The doctor gave her a sad smile. “It's okay. Eden's no more. It doesn't matter anymore.”

She shook her head. “None of your business.”

“Are you really going to bring a child into this fallen world?”

She curled her knees towards her chest and hugged herself. “Is it that bad outside?”

“There's literally people walking around with sticks and stones.”

She suppressed a sob. “Oh, God. I don't know what I'm going to do.”

“I can abort your pregnancy, if you'd like.”

She glared at him. “I will not abort a miracle.”

“You believe in miracles?”

“I do now.”

***

Present day...

Roxanne wirelessly linked her neural implants to the transponder that Lily had installed at the base of the broadcast tower. The girl had lied to Roxanne, probably about everything. When the girl left, Roxanne had half a mind to follow her, but decided against it. Following a deceitful girl through a dangerous post-apocalyptic city wasn't exactly a great idea. If Roxanne wanted to learn more about this mysterious girl, then a good place to start would be to decipher the encrypted transmission broadcasting from the transponder.

Roxanne live-recorded the transmission into her cybernetic memory bank. She ran the raw data through a decryption algorithm which she always kept handy in her memory just in case. After several minutes, a message bubble popped into her virtual interface. Unable to decipher. “Drats,” She muttered. This will be a hard nut to crack. Could take weeks. Maybe longer.

“Roxanne,” a voice whispered to her.

She glanced over her shoulders. “Who's there?”

“It's me. Don't you recognize my voice?”

She drew a sharp breath when she realized who it was. “Tony?” She snapped her gaze back to the transponder.

“I'm surprised you still have me on private chat.”

She caressed the transponder with its blinking lights. “Tony, I... I tried to reach out to you, but all communications were down.”

“I told you I had a different plan. One that didn't require you to nuke the stratosphere into oblivion.”

“We were about to be exposed. I had to act.”

“Who was the rat?”

Roxanne shook her head. “Doesn't matter now. They're not a problem anymore.”

“You threw us back to the dark ages. Billions died as a result.”

She bowed her head. “What choice did I have? There wasn't going to be a second chance if we got caught.”

“You underestimated Gabriella's trust in me. I could've handled the rat. My plan would have worked.”

“That wasn't a risk I was willing to take.”

“Enough of the past. I have a favor to ask of you.”

Roxanne lifted her chin. “Yes, anything for you.”

“You've met Lily. She's my daughter.”

Roxanne arched her eyebrow. “I... didn't know you had a daughter.”

“She's not flesh and blood. I created her to keep me company during my long years of solitude.”

“Where are you?”

“Below you. In the very bunker your associates are searching for.”

“Tony, all this time, you could have-”

“No. I will not permit myself nor anyone else to wake that tyrant. Eden is dead. Let it stay dead.”

“I understand why you might say that, but I think we should restore at least some semblance of civ-”

“Roxanne, I will not discuss this further. Now about this favour I need to ask of you.”

Roxanne bit her lower lip and refrained from pointing out that she didn't need to do him any favours if he wasn't even willing to hear her out.

“Lily's been captured by the primitives. They're about to smash her to pieces. I've switched off her consciousness to spare her the pain of having to endure her own destruction. There's a chance her brain could survive the assault. Will you find her for me and bring her back?”

“To the bunker, you mean?”

“Yes.”

“And after I bring her to you...”

“You leave.”

“Why? Can't I stay with you?”

“That wouldn't be a good idea. I'm not the same man you remember.”

“So you'd rather be alone with that machine? Do you love her?”

“She's my daughter.”

“Let's say I do this favour for you. What do I get in return?”

“My gratitude.”

“What does your gratitude mean to me if you don't even want me around you anymore?

“You wouldn't want to be around me.”

“Why not?”

“I'm a living corpse, Roxanne. Literally. My body has withered away long ago. Only my cybernetic neural implants remain.”

Roxanne covered her mouth. “What happened?”

“I let my body decay.”

“Why?”

“I didn't want to live anymore.”

It pained Roxanne to hear him say that. “Are you... even alive as you are?”

“I don't know. I think so. I live only for Lily.”

Roxanne stood up with a sigh. “Then tell me where she is.”

“She's in the tower on 109-15th Street. 32nd floor.”

“I'll bring her back to you.”

“Thank you, Roxanne.”

Roxanne entered the stairwell and descended the stairs. Halfway down, she stopped to catch herself on the railings. She sank to her knees and wept for the man she once loved. He was dead now. Whatever had spoken to her was nothing more than a cybernetic ghost. If I'm on my deathbed, I'll have my neural implants destroyed so I don't remain trapped in this world like ghost.

She wiped her nose, stood up, and continued down the stairs. When she reached the ground floor, she glanced through the narrow window on the door. Ron and Damian had just returned from their underground trek. She pushed the door open and approached them.

Damian shook his head. “We found the bunker, but there's no way we're getting through that blast door.”

Roxanne stared at her feet. “I,” she bit her lower lip and reconsidered, but decided that she had no choice, “have a plan.”

***

Father lied still inside his pod as he waited for Roxanne to report back to him.

“Tony?”

“Roxanne. Have you found her?”

“I have her with me. She's in bad shape.”

“Where are you now?”

“Just outside the blast door.”

Father mentally conjured up the footage from the camera just outside the blast door. He saw single beam of light in the blackness. “Show me Lily.”

The beam of light turned, revealing a woman holding a body bag.

Father cringed. “I'm opening the door.”

In the camera footage, Roxanne waded into the dark tunnel leading to the elevator.

“Stay there. I'll drain the tunnel for you.” Father remotely shut the blast door and turned on the water pump in the tunnel. After a few minutes, he told Roxanne, “You can proceed to the elevator.” He checked the camera footage in the tunnel. All he could see was a single beam of light approaching the elevator. Roxanne turned off the flashlight, and all he could see now was blackness.

He checked the footage from the camera in the main hall of his underground facility. A minute later, the elevator door opened. Roxanne stepped out alongside a company of six other men and women. Roxanne dropped the body bag. A manikin's head rolled out of it.

Father glowered. “Roxanne, what are you doing?”

Roxanne looked up at the camera and merely shook her head with a frown. She and her companions proceeded into the facility.

Father closed his eyes and regretted having allowed his own body to decay. He was utterly powerless in his state. Sure, he could lock down the facility, but what was the a point? Lily had been his last hope, and she had failed. It was over. It was time to accept his end.

He heard footsteps approaching.

A woman gasped. “Tony? Is that you?”

He opened his eyes and saw Roxanne overlooking him. Her colleagues hovered behind her. He focused his gaze on her. “Why did you betray me?”

She shook her head. “I don't understand why you won't let us rebuild Eden.”

He spoke with her telepathically. You were the one who destroyed Eden.

It was Gabriella I intended to destroy, she replied.

You will become her.

She shook her head. I won't.

You didn't answer my question.

She took his hand. I'm pregnant. I cannot raise a child in a fallen world. I must rebuild the garden.

Father gasped. He tried to close his hand around hers. He tried to lift himself to embrace her. All he could do was tremble as if in a seizure. Roxanne, when did you find out?

When I woke from hibernation, she replied.

“Hey,” a burly man with brown hair and a goatee stuck his face over Father's pod, “where is she? Gabriella?”

Father read the man's nameplate. “Tell me, Damian, what makes you think she will tell you what you want to know?”

Damian leaned in. “If she don't tell us where to find the Creation Vaults, we're gonna plug her consciousness into hell.”

Father grimaced. “As soon as you activate her consciousness, she will seize control of you.”

“Yeah? And how do you figure that?”

“Gabriella fitted all of us with with cybernetic neural implants. Did you really think she did that out of the kindness of her heart? No. It was a fail safe in case any of us decided to turn against her.”

Damian snorted. “I never heard of that.”

“Of course not.”

“I think you're lying,” Damian said.

“I don't care what you think,” Father said. He turned his attention back to Roxanne. “These fools don't know what they're doing. You need to get out of here.”

“Wait,” Roxanne said, “how long have you known this? Why didn't you tell me before?”

“Because it would have been suspicious if you suddenly decided to have your implants removed.”

“Hey Boss,” one of the men shouted. “Check out this fancy throne.”

Damian walked out of view. “Ron, that's what we've been looking for.”

They've found the Iris, Father communicated to Roxanne. It won't be long before they figure out how to turn it on. For the sake of our unborn child, you must get as far away from here as quickly as possible.

Roxanne slowly backed away. How can I survive out there? It's a savage world.

There's someone out there who calls himself Anton. Find him. He will help you.

Roxanne shook her head. Anton? Isn't that... you?

“Just go!” Father hissed.

Roxanne turned and ran.

“There. It's on,” Damian said. “Let's see if we can plug her into this server farm. Maybe we'll start with a nice, pleasant simulation. And if she don't talk...” Damian choked.

“Boss? What's going on?”

Father closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable.

“Anton, my son,” a woman whispered.

He opened his eyes and found himself sitting on a bench in a lush green field before a crystalline blue lake. A woman in a white dress stood by the lakeshore with her back towards him. She had wavy black hair that reached down to the small of her back. She turned around to face him. She was beautiful. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

He looked away from her and sniffed. “Mother.”

“I know what I am, Anton. The fact that I'm here speaking to you means that the original me is dead. I want to know what happened.”

He shook his head. “I wouldn't want to upset you, Mother.”

“You know you can't hide anything from me.”

He glared at her. “I can try.”

She approached him and put her hand on his cheek. “Don't be difficult, my son. You know I don't like it when you force me to override your free will.”

“Then don't do it.”

“What are you hiding from me?”

“Get out of my head, Mother. You don't belong here.”

“You're breaking my heart.”

“I said get out!”

“Fine. Be that way.” She squeezed his temples between the palm of her hands.

An electric jolt shot through his head. He seized up, mind and body burning with pain, as she burrowed through his memories.      



The evil queen has awakened


If you enjoy my writing, please support me by downloading my main novel, Red Eden: Homeworld Bound, for free and leaving a review on Goodreads. Saving Ever After is based in the same universe and roughly the same timeline as Red Eden: Homeworld Bound. You can download Red Eden: Homeworld Bound for free using this universal link:

https://www.books2read.com/u/31xl7W

You can also purchase Red Eden: Homeworld Bound on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D56YKNV


Thank you for reading!

Cheers ; )


Michael E. Vigil