The artist lurched down the catwalk outside the entry to the sewers. She had wiped her knife and hands clean on the bodies of the people who had died outside the cabin. They had had a few supplies that she had taken.
Unfortunately that left a very big “I am here” sign for the Arcernment. But that was unimportant. She had to find Lian, see if she still lived. If she did not then she would find, and kill, the sniper, his Director, and everyone who was related to them. She would have revenge for the death of her friend.
These thoughts spun through her head as she lurched into the railstation and used credits she had stolen from the bodies to purchase a ticket going to Poletown. She needed to visit the chop shop, have her augments fixed.
She sat down in the seat and leaned her head back slowly, luxuriating in the feeling of just relaxing the stiffening augments. Seeing that nobody else was really watching she popped the charging cover on her arm, and pulling the cable out, plugged it into the wall socket. Hopefully she would be able to just recharge the augments and have the problems solved that way.
As the railcar hummed into motion and slid off down the rails she closed her eyes and drifted off into dreams of the fear in the woman’s eyes right before the knife cut them out of her face.
Lian hurried Iris past the crowds leaving the railstation, and bundled her into the car. She kept moving until she found an empty cabin, and chivvied the girl inside.
She closed the door behind them and looked around. The cover on the power plug was open, but other than that it looked normal.
She was about to sit down when she noticed blood on the seat next to the power plug, and something clicked in her mind. The meeting with Iris, the aborted search for Sho, the increasing speed of events, the day, exactly one year after she had started this search, it all came together at that moment. It could have been something entirely different from what she was thinking but…
“Stay right here”
She waited for Iris’ nod then rushed out the door. She pushed her way through the crowd now trying to flow onto the car and earned many more dirty looks as she reached the door.
She moved to the side and looked out, wishing for once that she was taller. She hopped, and even thought about climbing the side of the railcar, but she did not want to appear conspicuous. Shouting Sho’s name would be even more so.
But she doubted that it had been Sho. She had not seen any sign of her for a year. There was no reason that she would come back now, no way that it would happen that way. The odds were infinitesimally small.
She turned and made her way back inside, dropping into the seat across from Iris.
“What was that about”
“I thought that Sho might have been in this car. She has implants, and so could have been charging them, and there was blood on the seat”
“That was what made you go haring out of here? I’m sure that half the people coming to Poletown are bleeding, and it is just as likely that they were charging a portscreen or a taser. Really, Its unlikely that this would just happen to be the exact cabin of the exact car that your psychotic friend rode in”
“I guess that you may be right about that”
“Of course I’m right. These things don’t happen”
“For someone who doesn’t like those who tell them what to do you are very pushy. You do a lot of telling what to do yourself you know”
“What! What do you mean?”
Lian smiled “Nevermind. I’ve got to contact Jor”
“You mean Jor Mallar?”
“Yes, that Jor. Will you let me work in peace?”
“Fine” Iris seemed a bit disappointed. Maybe being on the run, trying to get her father deposed or worse was not what she had thought it would turn out to be. But Lian did not have time to worry about that right now. As she had said she needed to contact Jor.
She turned on her portscreen and began to pull up the Arcernment’s official communications network when a security news bulletin caught her eye.
Heart in her throat, she opened the file.
Pictures rushed by her, images of paintings of fields and beauty. Interspersed were images that Lian recognized, and some that she did not yet she knew what they were.
Bodies. Bodies on the floor, riddled with bullet holes. Each one killed so precisely, so beautifully. It was horrendous. It was, she knew, to some people’s mind art. Lian knew the style.
There were the pictures that made tears run down her face, the paintings of the party on Reclamation, the fires, the death, the bodies of her parents and of Sho’s mother. The ruins of two lives and the end of so many more. Rathum, kneeling there with the look of shock on his face and the hilt of the knife buried in his guts. Lian knew the style of these too.
How long Lian looked at those she did not know, but she finally snapped out of it when Iris made a small questioning noise at the tears streaming down her face. Lian blinked the tears away from her eyes and waved off Iris’ question. She needed to see the rest of the file.
Finally she came to the pictures of the paintings. Paintings of Sho’s kills, her murders, butchery from the past. They were gory, but beautiful in their renditioning. She could see what it would have been like to be there. She could almost see the beauty that Sho had so often told her about.
And she saw the woman sitting slumped against the wall. The tears of dried blood from empty eye sockets staring accusingly out at her from the screen.
“This is your fault” they seemed to say “This is your fault. You should have found her. Should have made her better. Should have stopped her. Should have turned her over to the authorities or killed her yourself. This, all this, all the brutality, all the death, all these murders are your fault”
Lian looked up at Iris.
“She was here. She sat in this seat. She sat here and came here after killing a dozen people, innocent technicians. People who had no faults. She butchered them, tortured the last woman. I was wrong. There is no hope left for her”And Lian began to cry.