HIS WHORE THE VECTOR by David McGillveray

Jeremy Lyon @ 06-09-2005

“His Whore The Vector” by David McGillveray is a dark tale about dictators, revenge and what violence wreaks.

[ IMPORTANT NOTICE: This story is NOT covered by the Creative Commons License that covers the majority of content on Futurismic; copyright remains with the author, and any redistribution is a breach thereof. Thanks. ]

His Whore The Vector

by David McGillveray

The palace was a monstrosity in poured concrete with clumps of antennae bristling from every roof. Nadine was driven to an anonymous side entrance guarded by militiamen and taken inside. The door groaned shut behind her.

Behind the walls, the gardens had been left to wither in the heat. Desiccated roses lay in mass graves and a fine covering of dust clung to every surface. Nadine was led into the cool gloom of the main complex. The slap of her escort’s boots echoed along the maze of corridors: always a different route, always the same destination.

Gerber was waiting: white, white skin untouched by the sun, shaven head and flat, colourless eyes that kept the world out. The European mercenary had been rewarded for his enthusiastic bloodletting a decade ago in the purges with a position heading security for the most notorious butcher of them all.

One of the militiamen placed a hand between Nadine’s shoulders and pushed her forward, earning him a hard glance from Gerber.

“He’s anxious to see you,” Gerber told her in accented English. His eyes ran over her body, examined her hair, held her face. “Straighten your dress,” he said and she automatically pulled down on the fabric, feeling dust on her fingertips.

Gerber turned to key a long stream of numbers into the lock set in the wall. There was a series of thumps and the heavy metal door sprang open a few inches. Gerber pulled it wide and motioned her forward with a jerk of his head.

She stepped forward and the door closed behind her, leaving her in complete blackness. The moment stretched for too long then the floor lurched like the hold of a slave ship. Her stomach turned over as the elevator plunged deep underground. Finally another door slid open in front of her and she stepped into a room that reeked of money.

It was decorated haphazardly in a mess of styles united in their expense if not their harmony of taste. European Renaissance art sat next to Japanese light-sculpture and displays of traditional African weaponry. An antique chaise longue upholstered in red velvet sat against one wall. Above it, several human heads shared wall space with more typical hunting trophies.

Nadine could feel him watching. He filled this place.

She approached a central column that reached from floor to ceiling, the width of her hips. It was chrome and black, dotted with incomprehensible patterns of blinking lights and blisters of sensoria. It was a fundamentally modern artifact and clashed brutally with the velvet covered colonial furnishings.

“It’s good you are here again, Nadine.” The voice was a synthesised blend but it remained unmistakable, at once vigorous, mannered and sympathetic. She remembered it crackling from shared radios in displacement camps when she was a child.

“There is no greater pleasure for me, First Minister,” she replied.

“You know I like you to call me Milton when we play together.”

“Yes . . . Milton.” Nadine rolled the name in her mouth, playful, childlike. The way he liked.

“How do you like your new apartment, Nadine? Isn’t it like I promised?”

“Oh it’s wonderful, Milton,” she simpered. “I’d never dared dream of having anything like it. I feel safe there.”

“Just remember who keeps you safe, child.” The voice paused. “Is that a new dress?”

“I bought it for you. Do you like it?”

“Yes.”

Nadine could feel camera eyes on her. She stood before the column, enduring the silent examination. Casually, she ran her hands down her sides and then pushed her fingers backwards through her hair so that her breasts thrust forward against the thin material of her dress.

“Will you dance for me, Nadine?”

Always this enforced foreplay. “Yes, Milton. Will you play some music?”

“No music,” said the voice. “I want to hear that dress rub against your skin.”

She began to dance, slowly, trying to hear a rhythm in her head. She swayed her ass from side to side, heels awkward in the thick carpet, hands moving over her body. She pulled upwards at the short hem of her dress, down at the straps at her shoulders. Her invisible audience watched: no sound of breathing, no whispers of encouragement but there in countless cameras and microphones and processors.

“Take it off,” demanded the synthesised voice.

He made her do things. She crawled naked on the furniture, on the floor. There were toys in a desk drawer that clicked open as she approached it. He made her use them.

And in time, he always made her sit in the chair. It stood in a recess near the central column. Nadine imagined coiling nests of cable connecting the two devices together, hidden under the floor and spreading out beneath the city like a malicious infestation. The chair was cast from blocky white plastic, hard against her skin: a high vertical back and wide armrests, a platform for her feet. She could feel electrical power humming inside the chair, pumping like machine blood.

“The headset, child. Quickly, quickly.”

Nadine felt the cold of metal on her temples, the prick of questing needles in her skull, a moment of pain. Then the First Minister was no longer on the outside, looking in. She could taste the intensity of his lusts as tendrils of his mind seeped through hers, mingling like fog. Cold mental fingers began to claw at her, peeling back layers of self. She could hear breathing now, feel it harsh on her neck. She saw her own face, frozen and passive suddenly twitch as if shocked and she felt him everywhere, filling all her spaces and tearing them open.

#

The government limousine sped away from the palace and back to her compound. Nadine walked with dignity up the steps and flashed her pass at the waiting guards. There was no one else in the antiseptic corridors, but somewhere there was the thump of music and the crying of a baby. Her pass opened the door and she closed it behind her. Nadine pressed her back against the door and slowly her knees buckled and she slid to the carpet where her eyes stung and her stomach heaved. She lay curled there for a long time.

In the morning, she took orange juice from the refrigerator and went to the lounge. She still felt like a visitor in her own home or a woman living on extended credit, but this was hers. The First Minister was generous to his women.

There were three messages, all audio, waiting on the apartment concierge. She knew they were important somehow and inputted the access code directly when she noticed the flashing signal. There was a hiss and a click and then silence, no message retained, but there was something about the tone; it itched at something, somewhere. She paused and shook her head, pressed for the next message. Again, a hiss and a click as the transmission was cut off. Again, something shifted inside her, like tumblers turning in a lock. The third message was different: a click, the strange tone and then a voice and a single word:

“Claudette?”

The tumblers fell into place. Her orange juice fell to the floor from numb hands as the conditioning took over. The mental exercises she had been taught soldered hidden parts back onto her memory, names and images filtering through as the neurological blocks crumbled.

Mr. Singh. Nadine remembered now. Mr. Singh, a link to a child pulled from the burning ruins of Dar es Salaam. Perhaps even a connection to a future shorn of innocents taken from the streets, their massed bodies blocking the turbines of the hydroelectric dam on the Kihansi River.

She remembered now.

At fourteen, one of the Red Cross workers at the camp outside Arusha told her that she was beautiful, that her face would lead her out of poverty.

At sixteen, she danced naked in the underground vault of one of the new gentleman’s clubs in the city, eyes searching for the next trick. An out-of-towner? A foreign comms worker? A government man flushed with Lugoe’s dirty money?

There was a small Asian man, smart in suit and tie. He watched her, but when she caught his eye once, twice, he looked away and sucked at his drink. She moved on, time was money.

She ended up with a tall cadaver of a man, very drunk with yellow eyeballs mapped with broken capillaries. He was not from the city. He told her with a gold-toothed grin that he was a “landlord,” whatever that meant, and touched her too much too early.

She went with him to one of the “comfort rooms” in the back of the club, the man loud with bravado and hurting her wrist. He pushed her to the thin mattress that covered much of the floor of the cubicle and hit her across the cheek with the back of his hand when she asked for money in advance. It wasn’t much, not much at all, but the man was suddenly angry. He was shouting, “you fucking whore” and she shouted back. When he hit her again it was with a closed fist and she cried out. He pulled her legs apart.

And then the little Asian man was in the doorway, palming a key into a pocket.

“Leave her,” he said quietly, in English.

The tall man grunted, startled. “Fuck you, this is a private party.” He didn’t even get up, just looked around belligerently.

“Get up,” said the Asian.

“I said, fuck you,” shouted the cadaver, and there was a knife in his hand, its blade chipped and rusty. He grinned drunkenly and stood, at last. “Have you lot not all left the country yet?” Since Lugoe had seized power, he had systematically disenfranchised most of the Asian population, seizing assets and sending them “home,” even though their families had been in Tanzania for generations. “Go on, fuck off.”

“Scissors cuts paper,” said the Asian, pulling a snub-nosed pistol from his inner jacket and pointing it calmly at the tall man’s groin. Nadine could see her trick think about it for a second, watched the yellow eyes widen, and then return to the gun. The Asian stood aside and the other man fled. She screamed after him and then subsided as the Asian man closed the door and sat cross-legged next to her on the mattress.

Nadine was experienced enough to know what was expected, and when the man remained silent, she began to reach for him.

“No!” he said, his voice loud in the tiny room and she quickly pulled away. “I’m not here for that.”

“I’m Claudette,” she said at last, at once relieved and affronted. It was the name she used with clients. “Thanks for asking.”

The man turned and looked at her directly for the first time. “No, you’re Nadine Mgaya.”

It was a sting, a slap, ice water in the face. “How do you know that?”

“I knew your father.”

“My parents are dead,” responded Nadine suspiciously.

“I know. I lost most of the people I cared for in Dar es Salaam myself, or in the purges, but that doesn’t mean they don’t matter anymore. I’m still your father’s friend.”

“Tonight’s worse than usual. I go from one weirdo to another. Who the hell are you?”

“My name is Singh.”

That was when he showed her the photograph, an African couple smiling for the camera. The woman was tall and beautiful, around twenty-five. She could have been Nadine’s sister, but she wasn’t and a few tears pricked through Nadine’s armour. And then Singh told her how he had been his father’s business partner in the thirties before Lugoe’s coup, when Dar es Salaam had been set on fire, and before her parents had been put under the gun with thousands of others. Singh had lost everything but his life. Thousands of children were taken from the capital and left starving in displacement camps around the country. He had finally found her in Arusha.

“So what is it? You want to rescue me? You think you’re my hero?” A wave of delicious bitterness bubbled up in Nadine, against men who always thought they were important enough to make a difference. Every man she had ever met thought he was more than he was. “It’s a bit late. I survived the camps on my own, got out of the camps on my own. I’m making money on my own. I don’t need you to save me and I won’t be the salve for your guilt either. So screw your help. I help myself. I help myself!”

Singh recoiled from the outburst, suddenly uncertain. “I thought you would have wanted more than this.” He waved a hand vaguely. “Don’t you hate it, men like that . . . “

“Sometimes,” she admitted, “but they’re my choices.”

“Right. So?”

“So nothing.”

He sighed. “Look, I wasn’t going to mention anything about this so soon, but I’ve been watching. I think you’re safe.”

Nadine curled her lip in disgust.

“Maybe I can offer you something,” Singh continued, “something you might want.” His voice was quiet now.

“Like what?”

Singh had offered her a share in his retribution.

She still worked the clubs after that, but Singh somehow made sure that they were better ones. It was in one of these that the First Minister’s secretary had spotted her and after that, Nadine felt like she could trade with Singh on her own terms.

#

Late afternoon, and the mercury was high. There were more white faces than usual sitting in the shaded areas of the grounds, even a few Japanese. Since his death, First Minister Lugoe had become understandably obsessed with networks and communications: he saw them as a necessary entrée to the world stage and, even more disturbingly, as an extension of himself. The safe compounds of Arusha were regularly home to small armies of guest workers and consultants who combined work with the delights of Kilimanjaro and the Serengheti. They kept the clubs where she used to work awash with hard currency.

It was still early, so she took her time in the irrigated gardens, stopping for coffee from one of the American burger franchises that were now overly familiar throughout Lugoe’s New Nation, a country behind walls and barbed wire.

When it was time, she called for a cab affiliated with her compound and rode it into town past trucks of militia and handcarts full of vegetables. A new four-lane motorway had been built straight through the centre of the city as part of Lugoe’s modernisation programme, when billions of dollars had been conjured from the country’s finances and pumped into prestige projects. Dar es Salaam was being rebuilt as “the Dubai of Southern Africa,” but few Tanzanians could afford to live in its apartments. The real people still lived as they always had, with almost nothing, and when Nadine looked down the streets adjoining the ridiculous motorway she saw the same listlessness, the almost solid malaise she had always seen. Everyone who lived outside the privileged enclaves looked like refugees.

The cab took her to an address in what was now called the business district, to a reinforced iron door and the ubiquitous armed guards. She paid the entrance bribes and descended to a low-ceilinged basement that was already full of people despite the early hour. The club was fiercely hot, the ceiling slick with evaporated sweat. Nadine found herself walking to the rhythm of the bass, each step falling in time. For all its innovations and modern distortions, the heart of the music still lay in the old African rhythms, the ones that had always made people dance.

“Can I buy you a drink?”

She recognised the voice, turned and almost laughed. Singh, older by twenty years than the bulk of the crowd, was trying to blend in with a tie-dye T-shirt and too-tight long shorts from which skinny legs poked into a pair of new trainers. His face was shiny with the heat.

“A drink would be good,” she shouted over the music. She followed him to the bar, another young girl with an older man.

“Let’s find a quieter spot in the back,” said Singh, leading her through the cram of hot bodies gyrating on the floor to a seated area with a row of separate booths. Nadine slid behind one of the tables, feeling the back of her thighs stick to the plastic of the seats. Singh sat opposite her and undid the strap on his watch, placing it between them. “Lean across the table towards me,” he said. “The watch will keep out prying ears, but its field is limited.”

“Mr. Gadget Man.” Nadine leaned forward, hands flat on the table. “We look like lovers.”

“If the government informers think we’re a couple, or that it’s a business relationship, then all the better. How are you, Nadine?”

“OK. No, stressed out. Every time I go to see him, he finds a new way to rape me. You can’t know how it feels, that bastard in my head. It’s worse than anything that ever happened in the clubs.”

“It’s ironic that he’s succumbed to the pleasures of the flesh now that he’s dead.”

“Don’t you dare joke,” she said sharply. “He’s pretty fucking far from being dead.”

“Sorry. Look, it’s been three months. We can’t risk keeping it going for much longer anyway. Three months is enough to gain his confidence but not long enough for him to get bored and find a new toy. Are the blocks working? Do you think he suspects anything?”

Singh was more agitated tonight than Nadine had ever seen him, eyes restlessly scanning the room, his words spraying from between his lips. Nadine knew Singh as a man not given to displays of emotion, of any sort. He was possibly the only man she had ever met who had never once looked at her in that particular way. An honourable man, possibly, or a driven one. Or maybe a desensitised one. She didn’t really know how to feel about him. It was so much easier with other men. But something was different with him tonight, something was happening.

“I don’t think so,” she replied. “I’d know if they’d been hacked because I’d remember you before I went through the unlocking procedures. But he knows everything else about me. I feel him rummaging in my head like an old box of toys. He knows how much I hate him, what happened to my family, what happened to me.”

“He’d be suspicious if you didn’t hate him, and he wouldn’t find you half as thrilling. So you’re sure we’re safe?” Singh drew noisily at his cocktail, eyes searching her face.

“Pretty sure. Who knows? It’s not as if I’ve done this before.”

“Neither have I, maybe no one has. I have to rely on my sources, but they’re good. I can’t reassure you any more than that.”

Nadine shrugged. “We agreed at the start of all this that some things are worth the risks. What will happen will happen. I just want it to be over. You look as bad as I feel, by the way.”

“It’s not easy on any of us, Nadine. Lugoe’s in all the systems now: he’s getting stronger and smarter all the time and it’s getting riskier to communicate. All this spy stuff with girls in bars is wearing me out.” He tried to smile. “It’s time to finish what we’ve been waiting for, what the whole country’s been waiting for.”

“Men are so easy to read!” Nadine exulted. “I knew there was something you were spinning out.”

Singh reached into a pocket, careful to shield what was in his hand from the rest of the club with his body.

“What is it?” she asked, brow wrinkling. It was wrapped in a transparent protective coating and sat glinting malevolently in his palm like a black, oily beetle casing. “It looks disgusting.” She reached across to poke at it with a red fingernail, but Singh closed his hand around it, made it disappear.

“It’s the seed of revolution, Nadine,” Singh whispered. She met his eyes but did not find the irony she expected.

“So what am I supposed to do with it? Plant it in the grounds of the palace?”

“You’re going to swallow it.”

“Oh no. No way. It looks evil. I don’t want . . .”

Singh silenced her with an agitated motion of his hand. “It’s a neural seed. When you swallow it, it releases a tide of builders that will construct something in your brain. The process will take a few days, so you’re not to go to Lugoe in that time. If he wants you, make excuses. Tell him you’re sick. When it’s ready, when he breaks inside your mind again, something will be waiting.”

“So it’s like the blocks I already have? I never had to swallow a beetle last time you were teaching me.”

“Those mental blocks are just conditioning, Nadine, training the mind to be ignorant of certain information in certain circumstances. The seed is technological. It’s a machine, or many machines, and what they build is not designed to hide, it’s designed to be found. And when Lugoe finds it . . .” Singh didn’t finish the sentence, just looked at her steadily and said: “Will you do it?”

“You sure we can’t just blow up the palace? I think I’d prefer it that way.”

Singh shook his head. “People have tried before. Gerber’s too good. Besides, it wouldn’t work. The First Minister is a distributed personality so he’s not really ever in one place at all. But we have an access point and that’s all we need.”

His voice was suddenly loud and Nadine was thankful for the watch between them. The music stopped. There was a brief interlude of laughter and shouted conversation and then silence. Nadine started as a phalanx of Lugoe’s militia came down the stairs into the club, shouting and waving their guns.

“We’ve got to get out,” Nadine hissed. They were still separated from the soldiers by a dance floor packed with people.

“Not together.”

“Are you crazy? There’s no time for subtlety. Come on.”

Singh checked the back of the club. “This place has an exit through the back of the gents. Use it and get lost.”

“But –— “

“Will you do it?” The seed appeared in his hand again. Nadine expected it to sprout as she looked at it, to morph into some poisonous sprite.

“He’ll die?”

“Our contacts say it will work.”

“How reassuring. And me?”

“We’ll get you out.”

Nadine looked at the Asian sceptically. “What’s a life, eh?” She took the seed. It was warm against her skin, warmer than Singh’s hand. She swallowed it and ran. The club behind her dissolved into chaos. There was gunfire.

#

The summons finally came from the palace.

She hadn’t heard from Singh since the night at the club. She didn’t know if he was alive or dead and in a way it was probably better that way. Maybe he had been caught and Lugoe knew everything. The neurological blocks made her forget.

She dressed how the First Minister liked, in a little cocktail dress that had never been to a cocktail party. She painted her nails and had her hair styled at the compound salon. She dabbed perfume on to her neck. Could he enjoy perfume? She put it on anyway: her public disguise. But she was sick with fear, something a determined set of the mouth and a defiant flash of the eyes would not make go away. It even seeped through the conditioning.

From the blacked out window of the limo, Nadine regarded a fading mural of Lugoe that had been painted on the wall of a crumbling row of shops, warm and smiling in colourful African robes. The father of modern Tanzania. A few blocks later, there was a youthful Lugoe in uniform, medals weighing his lapels, a digital image swathed in lights. The bastard actually thinks he’s young again.

Lugoe had bought immortality with the blood of his country. The harvest was exported when the people were hungry, assets were stripped from those who had helped to build the economy the most and poachers ran riot on the plains, butchering Tanzania’s natural birthright. Meanwhile, foreign businesses benefited from negligible tax rates and golden handshakes. They were happy to provide for the First Minister’s future, happy to share the technology, happy to prolong his patronage when cancer succeeded where the assassins had not. And so the killing went on.

#

Gerber nodded in recognition and ran a metal detector up and down her body. He stepped aside, welcoming her into darkness, descent, fear. Nadine fought to halt the shaking in her hands.

She felt the familiar crawling sensation on her skin as she stepped over the threshold. She felt the eyes of the world’s greatest voyeur on her like hands.

“You have excelled yourself, child,” breathed the synthesised voice. Somewhere, one of the speakers vibrated slightly, giving the voice a quivering, inhuman quality.

She stood before the central column. “Thank you, First Minister . . . Milton.”

“Ah! You remembered at last. I always knew that something would grow between us given time. Those who truly know me always see through the lies of my enemies. They perceive the man beneath the circuitry.” The sound of Lugoe’s laughter filled the chamber.

“Yes, Milton. Are you well today?” she asked lamely.

“Well? I am ever stronger, girl, despite having to constantly deal with that pack of idiots at the UN. How they fear me now! Tanzania’s First Minister can fight for his people around the globe and around the clock. I grow stronger by the day and soon my guiding hand will be felt in all things. I will become Tanzania itself! I feel like a revolutionary again.”

“That’s wonderful, Milton.”

“Do you know what we used to do in the days of the revolution, Nadine?” Lugoe’s voice had fallen to little above a whisper.

“No.”

“Our enemies were dogs and we treated them like dogs. We stripped them naked and made them wear collars like dogs. We led them around and kicked them, and when we grew tired of them we shot them like dogs. Did you know that, Nadine?”

“No, First Minister.” Nadine could feel alarm growing in her belly, twisting like a miscarriage.

“I think maybe you did, Nadine. Go to the desk, there’s something for you.” She did as she was told. Inside was a collar. She fought the urge to turn and run. “Take everything else off and put it on,” ordered the voice.

“I am not your enemy, Milton?” she stammered.

“Put it on.”

She slid her dress to the floor, slipped out of her underwear. All the time she felt the almost physical pressure of that camera stare, the skin of her back prickling with the anticipation of a killing blow.

But it didn’t come. All that came was a long series of instructions, a succession of humiliations and at last the final command, “Sit in the chair.” It almost came as a relief. She felt the questing wires crowd into her skull, the horrible feeling of penetration worse than any physical violation.

“Don’t struggle, girl.” And now the voice was real, not piped through a microphone. “Don’t make me hurt you. But maybe you do want that.” Pain bloomed. The faces of men twisted in lust and contempt, bodies floating in a reservoir, the glint of a knife. A burning city with the dead burning with it, dogs fighting over flesh. Machine guns and laughter.

“Yes!”

Lion skins stretched out on a market stall. Tusks for sale!

Dead families.

“More!”

Silence. A moment of dread so intense that it froze her blood and knocked her dizzy. Her head lolled in the chair.

And the scream: it filled her head and shook her bones. She screamed with it for minutes, forever. Then the dark.

#

Distantly, she heard the elevator over the echoes of those screams but could do nothing but bury herself deeper inside the now total darkness underground. Then even that comfort was taken from her as a shaft of yellow light fell across her shoulders, birthing her from shock.

“Come on, bitch. Move!” She felt a cruel grip around one bicep as she was dragged to her feet and thrown towards the door. Electrodes and wires ripped from her skin. Darkness again. She heard laboured breathing in the confined space and realised it was her own. The floor lurched and the elevator was rising in fits up the shaft like an asthmatic spider.

“We’ll have to be quick,” breathed the same voice. Gerber!

She shrank back in fear and he laughed softly. He clicked the torch back on and tilted it upwards so that his face took on a demonic aspect, his skin an unearthly white in the sick light. He sneered at her. “Carrying a disease?”

At last, the elevator completed its ascent and the door slid open. The muffled sounds of alarms sounded through the outer door. Gerber cautiously cracked it open then led her through, the painful grip returning to her upper arm. “I dismissed the guards,” he said and pulled her into the maze of passageways.

“What are you going to do?” Nadine began to resist a little as she fought to regain her senses, but it was like wrestling gravity. “Let go of me!”

“Shut the fuck up. You’ll never get out of here on your own.”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m aiding the beautiful assassin’s escape. What does it look like, you silly bitch?” Nadine stumbled against him and he pulled her upright.

“You’re helping me? You are with Singh?”

“I don’t know who the hell Singh is, but yeah, I’m helping you. Run!”

“You watched me go down there all those times and you were with the resistance?”

Gerber laughed aloud at that. “Christ, no. Everything is economics. You should know that, you’re the whore.” He stopped to check round a corner and pulled her onward. “Besides, I need some excitement. The thing about Lugoe was that he was too good a dictator. Everything was too quiet. I prefer the gold that comes from chaos.”

They passed running figures in the corridors; domestic workers, bureaucrats, soldiers but none stopped them. They all knew who Gerber was. In the end, he simply opened a door in a wall and pushed her onto the street. Gunfire mixed with the sirens inside the palace.

#

Nadine Mgaya fastened her belt the way she had seen some of the other passengers do it and placed her single piece of luggage carefully between her feet. From the tiny window she could see several plumes of smoke dirtying the sky above Arusha.

The first interim government had called it “a necessary period of readjustment.” With intervals of days, the second and third had said something similar. Gerber had his wish: the country was in chaos as a new breed of thugs strove to fill the vacuum she had created. But since when did a death, an assassination, a forced removal ever lead to order? The compounds burned, water mixed with blood and sank into the thirsty soil. In the dusty streets off the highway, people starved and died as they always had. Refugees fought outside the razor wire surrounding the airport.

She never saw Singh again, but an e-ticket had been waiting for her on the apartment’s concierge. She sat with a hundred other pragmatic patriots in a pensionable Airbus headed for the glittering lights of Asia. Nadine gripped the rattling armrests and turned away from the window.

###

[ IMPORTANT NOTICE: This story is NOT covered by the Creative Commons License that covers the majority of content on Futurismic; copyright remains with the author, and any redistribution is a breach thereof. Thanks. ]

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