The Ninth Archive

E号-K004

Emanations of Memory

The jagged shadows in the alley were as black as a [translation unknown] pupil. A shape named [yet to be decrypted sequence of seventeen base-64 digits] moved serpentine through them, ozone burning in its distended spiracles. Its footprints scrambled the ground, the photorealistic asphalt becoming a pseudorandom slurry. [the same number, but backwards] chuckled, a sound like twenty [untranslatable] mating. It was riding a posting high. So many posts, hundreds, and the anger, the righteous anger. They bayed for its head, and it merely chuckled.

[a sequence of bits follows which is nonsensical but when viewed in columns seventeen characters wide it resembles a labyrinth with no solution]

Kali holds the boy’s jaw in one hand, and the top of his head in the other. She’s close enough to smell the water in his eyes, the same cloying salinity as so many others. Most people never took the time to customize their own tears. His mouth moves but it’s like a muted video. She twists, expressionless, and the skull separates cleanly beneath the forehead. His memories bloom and emanate like fragrant [translation unknown]. She lets the bottom half of his body crumple. It’s connected to nothing, now, ownerless data that will, in a few minutes, be ingested by scavengers looking for passwords, addresses, bank keys, personal identifiers, or any high-value morsels this unfortunate carcass probably hadn’t been smart enough to hide. And after that, in the scenario that this [translation unknown] couldn’t get back here in time, highly likely, given how badly Kali saturated his data line, the bare skeleton of his processor-time would end up servicing some bot swarm or [word unclear from context: either “space-filling curve,” “Ursa Minor,” or “chromosome”]. So be it. Strength exists, weakness dies.

Red flames coil downwards from the skullcap in the palm of her hand, warm as a boiling oyster.

  • E号-K004