“Do you resent your purpose?” Zorina asked, tugging one of their discarded gloves over her left hand. She flexed her fingers experimentally, watching as the black organics molded to her skin. The faceted ley lines in the smart fabric remained dark.

“No more than you resent yours, I imagine,” Aeron replied. They touched Zorina’s wrist, and the ley lines glowed white, electrifying the skin beneath the glove with a delicious shiver. When they slowly drew away, the thrill of energy receded with the dying light. Zorina shucked the glove one finger at a time and dropped it into Aeron’s lap.

“But no one’s forcing me to do what I do.”

“We all function within parameters, little Infiltrator,” Aeron said, giving a hank of Zorina’s damp red hair a yank. “You, me, we’re both programmed. That I’m a fragment of a quantum algorithm is inconsequential. When I split from the cluster, a wave function collapsed—all other universes were instantaneously closed to me. Though I’m coded for the resurrection imperative, I also am solely the product of my collected experiences.”

“Then why—”

“Your insecurity bores me. I know what I like, same as you. In fact, I’d say I know your body better than you do. I can feel the quiver of blood in your heart, see the silver stretch of tissue that protects it. I can visualize the precise angles at which you’ll break and map the interstitial matrices of desire.” The soul healer’s inky pupils met her mismatched eyes.

Zorina sneered and kicked a mirrored helmet into the corner.

“Show me,” she demanded.


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