The Poison Apple Of Truth

I’m sorry that my last post ended so abruptly, before I really got into what happened at Agartha Labs.

It seems Ai hit the panic button off in Berkeley, and pushed my brain so hard that I couldn’t even look at my computer or phone until a few hours ago.

Not that I blame her – not everything is suitable for public consumption, especially how we managed to stabilize Satomi, after she was possessed and near-fatally injured by Cassandra.

What’s funny is the part that Ai wants me to censor isn’t the seemingly obvious, brain-throbbing thing, but some minor details that she says are essential to reveal later. So, I’m going to do my best to tip toe around the events of the past few days, without totally losing you.

As I mentioned, Satomi was seriously injured – she lost almost 20 pounds in about two minutes, as her etched yet unfirewalled body was hacked. Her arms and legs were little more than weak muscle and bones, and her face was gaunt, like she hadn’t eaten for months. She was hot and damp, and her teeth were sticky red.

Once I gathered my senses, I told Yuma and Masae to help me remove the blue, button down pajamas, which were covered with bloody streaks trailing down from the neck.

Masae took off her gray hoodie, and placed it on the carpet like a pillow. Satomi was wheezing heavily as we tried to make her comfortable, and Yuma couldn’t stop crying – she kept grabbing the back of her neck and rocking on her knees, with arms bent back like she was being held at gunpoint.

We couldn’t call an ambulance, because we could never explain how she got into this mess so quickly. Plus, hospitals didn’t have the necessary tech to jump start the healing process – she needed mending from the Collective, and fast. In past Variants I had seen most of my “aunts” burn out at one time or another, and their spirits usually re-joined the White after about 10 minutes of excruciating pain. I estimated that Satomi only had about a minute left, and I started to panic yell at the top of my lungs.

Now comes the part that I have to edit. I know perfectly well who came to visit us in Satomi’s office, but I can’t say who, only how.

59 seconds to go, and Satomi’s started to shiver uncontrollably. We all started to feel an immediate and all-pervasive chill, so much so that Yuma looked like she was smoking water vapor as she took off her violet sweater, and used it to cover Satomi’s bra and stomach.

51 seconds to go, and the power outlets on every wall started to spark violently, streaming delicate, bright bolts to the ceiling. Multiple balls of lightning hovered right below the perforated ceiling tiles, about the size of melons. They quickly started to revolve around each other, like a tiny planetary system, or electron orbitals writ large.

39 seconds to go, and the figurines on the floor, and cellophaned cardboard boxes by the window, suddenly lept into the air, disintegrating into a fine dust as they did. In the other room there was a rush of air, and a crackling rumble, like fallen trees. A few seconds later a cubicle mist of expensive woods and metal pulsed through the door and into the growing mass on energy.

28 seconds to go, and our noses started to bleed uncontrollably. Before we could stop them with our hands, bright red ropes trailed from our faces to the ceiling, twirling into the now descending maelstrom.

17 seconds to go, and the seething, throbbing intrusion fell down like a sheet lofting over a naked bed. I tried to push everyone out of the way, but we really had no place to go.

6 seconds, as Satomi started to take her last breath, the room filled with sweet, musty air and condensation. Everything was so bright, like headlights right before a head-on collision, and as we all blacked out, I remembered feeling an infinite, anxious bliss, the hairs on my soul all standing at attention.

She was never this diffuse, this brilliant.

And before I could thank her, we woke up coughing, covered by a fine, dark crumble of exotic organics. It looked like the carpet was now coffee grounds, and there was a clear set of bare footprints leading from Satomi’s body, through the main office and out the front door.

I didn’t have time to marvel at her return. Instead, I crawled over to Satomi, who was breathing normally again. Wiped away some of the new dirt from her face, and she was as puffy red-cheeked as a baby. Every last sign of the attack was gone.

We didn’t even bother to clean up the mess, knowing that Agartha Labs was finished. More about that soon.

We just called a cab, brushed ourselves off enough so it looked like we were fancily dressed gardeners, and waited on the street for a ride to Yuma’s place, which was only a short drive away in Harajuku.

The whole ride there, Satomi was out like a light, and we told the driver that she had a few too many after lunch. He smiled a bit in the rear view mirror, straightened his cap, and went about his business.

Satomi has been asleep on Yuma’s bed since Saturday, the first time I ever saw her so rested. I suspect her OS will be done with repairs by tomorrow.

After I gave Masae and Yuma the hours long short version of what had been going on, from the Structure down to Suspender, they didn’t ask any questions. They didn’t talk to me all for the past few days, so shocked and angry that I’m sure Masae would have beat me up after she punched me out. The most I can get out of them are angry texts from another room, or dagger eyes as they leave the apartment without me.

Once Ai let me compute again, I did some digging to find out what had happened to Agartha Labs, the company and the office.

The staff were let go on Friday morning, with amazingly robust severance packages. Moving trucks were busy all that afternoon, and by the evening the entire office was bare.

Unfortunately, not just the office. AgarthaLabs.com is completely gone. Not just all servers, but all search engine caches. All that’s left is a “This site is under construction” message. All GhostServers are now silent.

I don’t have enough data, just theories – those I can share, and those I can’t.

Satomi clearly had the means to wipe away the past three years, but the motive? I simply can’t comprehend that.

That leaves “Cassandra” – at least, someone who desperately wants to pin everything on her. It might be her, a fragment of Helena from who knows when, but I can’t put together a compelling explanation.

I know that Sasha OS was involved in the theft of Agartha Labs source code, including the Ghost technology, but is there a connection between what happened and S.OS?

Yes, there are quite a few things I’m not telling you. I can’t, until the time is right. What I can say is that right now, I’m feeling really clueless.

Nothing like this has ever happened in any Variant, and it’s clear the Nameless is so far ahead it’s about to lap us.

I only have 5 more months to figure this out, before Miranda goes online, and the future that Isabel has warned of comes irrevocably true.

I’m using Yuma’s laptop to write this, as I stand watch over Satomi’s peaceful slumber. She’s looks like a enchanted princess who was kissed by the universe, and only the poison apple can save her from an endless sleep.

I know where that apple is, but it’s guarded by one particularly angry angel, coming back out of the ceiling holes.

I no longer have a God to pray too, but I hope that my cousin will suffice.

Click to continue RGA

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