Title: Legacy of Seconds
Author: Edge O. Erin
Genre: Science Fiction
"Crux of a whipscrew!" A chip of red coral found a gap between Claire's shield and work-shirt, and it stung like a bee. But that discomfort paled in comparison to the invisible sliver that steadily wormed its way into her mind.
Her very own family and the Ghan elite were using her dearly departed sister as a vehicle to achieve global rule and facilitate a colonisation mission to a distant world. It pained her even more than her prosthesis.
That her sister Mariot might still be alive fuelled her desire to use her affiliation with a resistance movement as a vehicle to redeem – if not rescue – her and bring down the reigning plutocracy.
But the Ghans’ and Graces' power, combined with the vicious clone Riot they animated, and some of the inhuman men they lorded over, represented a force that might only, at best, be circumvented.
He saw Claire smile at the PEDE chief, an angry, hateful smile yet with a countenance suggestive of understanding, of “knowing”. She should know smiling at a torturer would only make said persecutor more resolute, creative, and determined in their efforts. She might understand that it didn’t matter, that she could well die in the room, and the smile said, “I will forever have one over on you.”
Riot backed up a little, and she ran her fingers roughly through her hair. She was vexed. He saw Claire laugh a bloody laugh and mouth the words, “I know you. I know from where you come.”
Then some words he didn’t comprehend. “Fake,” he understood. He was quite good at lip-reading, a skill he had acquired in his spying and stealing days. Whatever was said, it caused Riot to move the palms of her hands down her face, clearly a sign of concern and frustration, if not deep thought.
Riot had the guards move away from the captive. He had seen this before and knew what was coming. She delivered a powerful sweeping leg kick, such that her shin collided with Claire’s head. Typically, this rendered the captor unconscious, but not Claire. She shook it off, even as a hematoma was developing. Good chance it had broken an orbital bone. He had to stop this! If Riot killed Claire, his life was probably forfeit. He coolly asked his attendant to get him some sparkling water, which he knew they didn’t have in this wing and would take about ten minutes to acquire.
After the attendant left, he left the room, went to the interrogation room door, and looked inside. Riot glanced at the window and saw him, then abruptly turned away.
So, it’s like that, is it? He stepped to the retinal scan to gain entry, but it blinked red. He tried again. No luck. So, she had done that too. He would have to use the manual override. He keyed in his nine-digit passcode; still, red. He tried it two more times. Nothing. Cruxing bitch!
He looked through the window again. Riot looked right at him as she grabbed Claire by the hair and slammed her face into the table, over and over. Claire barely moved, but when she did, he could see her nose was smashed, and her face was a mask of blood. Some of her skin seemed to have remained stuck to the table. This was Riot being best at her worst.
Unquestionably, at least three things were at play here. One, Mariot would not be constrained by him. Second, she was going to get information out of her prisoner, or the prisoner would die resisting. Third, Claire had got under her skin, and Riot’s demeanour would remain sour long after she left that room.
He saw Claire mouth the word “Fake” again.
Mariot lost it. She grabbed a chair and flung it across the table. The end of one leg hit Claire in the eye and crushed it. He almost gagged; enough was enough.
He pounded his fist on the window. As before, Riot just looked at him.
He said out loud, louder than he wanted, “Let me in! Stop this right now!”
Riot looked at him and pulled a large, clear evidence bag out of her pocket. She slipped the bag over Claire’s head and, with both hands, held it over her throat as Claire thrashed violently. Riot never took her eyes off Wezer. He smashed his fist into the glass again, then stopped, and raised his hands in a pleading gesture and said, “No, no. Not like this.” Riot kept with it, squeezing and smiling until Claire went limp.
He walked away, disgusted, furious, and yet oddly aroused. Only then did Riot come to the door, press the intercom and say, “Yes, Mr Smik, can I help you?”
Riot opened the door, and they locked eyes, hers unblinking for too long before she stepped aside slightly to allow him in. He looked at Claire slumped over the table and the blood pooling and then dripping off the table and onto the floor. The soft “plop, plop” of the drops was all too familiar to him.
Cooper, or some other nameless dude, would kill him for this, which only hastened the need to get in the Biodome as soon as possible.
Riot ordered the guards out of the room.
He felt like admonishing her, but he had already made his feelings known by pounding on the door. No point in pissing her off to where she would gouge out his eyes or veto his going to the Biodome or Prometer for that matter.
“Did she provide any information?”
Riot shook her head, anger tugging at her nostrils and lips.
Suddenly a sound from the table startled them. They looked over to see that Claire had removed the bag from her head and sat looking at them, or at least as well as she could with one eye destroyed and the other eye mostly swollen over.
“What in pink?” Mariot said.
Claire tried to speak but couldn’t. Instead, she pointed towards them and slowly, painfully curled the fingers of her one hand in and out to beckon them closer.
Stunned, they idled up to the table.
Now Claire used the fingers of that same hand to jam into her remaining good eye socket and plucked the eye right out of her head! She smiled a shattered smile and rolled the eye across the table to Riot.
“What on Earth?” Wezer uttered.
Then Claire twitched a couple of times and pitched face forward on to the table.
Wezer looked at the eye Riot held in her hand. It appeared to have some tiny fibres coming from it, non-biologic fibres. It was a synthetic eye, a programmed, synthetic eye just like Cheriot had. Claire really surprised.
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Legacy of Seconds provides a unique glimpse at Earth thousands of years into the future yet facing the perils of climate change and a global plutocracy. Civilization is on the brink of collapse, women rule without compunction, and men are second-class citizens. The book examines gender and race inequalities, pulls back the veil on the human condition, and illuminates the present.
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Edge O. Erin grew up in British Columbia and now resides on the island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Canada. A passionate outdoorsman, the natural world is imprinted on his psyche. His surveying and remote sensing experience in disparate parts of the globe has informed his opinion on land use, the human condition, and the importance of biodiversity and environmental stewardship. His second novel, Terraform Charlie, will be released in June 2022, and he is at work on his next books, Time Sneak: Emergence and Odin’s Tillit.
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