Erroneus Heart

Kali could see the file, now. When she decoded the final defensive layer, the room suddenly seemed very hot. She couldn’t tell if it was coming from her neural interface or from the room where her body was sprawled motionless in her Shanghai bedroom. This last protection had taken her two weeks to break, not including the time spent rewiring the circuits on her hashing cluster. She also had place an order with parts supplier, a well-connected entity she knew only as Monocle, for a faster N-ary logic coprocessor. But she had done it. Her mind’s eye beheld the sphere of brackly steel, like a sea urchin made of tarnished chrome, falling away, disintegrating into light and bits.

What remained was a knot of red heat. Its geometry read as a pentachoron, but visually it looked like a glitch in her interface. Actual 4-D solids usually rendered fine for her, but this was all wrong. It bulged in all the wrong directions, screaming like nails on the chalkboard of her retinas. Something flickered nauseatingly in the apparent center of the floating paradox that her eyes couldn’t focus on. There was a metallic hissing that she hadn’t noticed before, but was getting louder.

She took a deep breath–though on her bed, her breathing remained shallow and regular–and clapped the file into an encrypted drawer of her own design, then put that drawer into seven hundred more drawers, and put that into a strongbox painted red, which she tucked into the eyehole of a skull she wore around her neck. It jangled in the winds of the wastes as she moved on.

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