Outside

The vast arena he surveyed that had once processed hundreds of people a day contained the last encoder machine, although technically in an emergency his HER vehicle could work in reverse and reabsorb you into the GOO if something went wrong with the isolation protocol, keeping your master digital copy MDC updated where ever it was. The fact he was in the HERV unit showed the others he had declared for AD as his salvation, the HERV had been dropped via fusion bullet two days ago, waiting for him today. Although truthfully he had no choice in choosing AD.

“Bloody hot up there!,” Potts said coming to stand next to him. His remote South African accent still there after 300 years of hanging with neutrals. Potts was for Dearth and as such had never undergone a cloning, instead opting for using now routine gene enhancements and organ replacements to extent his life. His skin, had to have gene treatment on it but he instructed the DocBots to leave all his scars, and he had a lot he stood Stockily and a few inches shorter than Digbee who was muscle boosted with unblemished skin. No one had hair on earth anymore due to radiation. Despite the shields and drugs that kept them alive hair or babies would not grow here.

“I saw that.” He replied almost sarcastically. But Potts was right while the weather had long since become a moot point of conversation, today had, as if in some kind of last fuck off gesture, registered the hottest ever surface temperature on earth.

“Off to find you’re destiny the hey?” He said nodding his head towards the HERV. Potts had left his standard ATV encoder vehicle at the top of the ramp.

“Yes, but no surprises between us?” He said confidently. They all knew each others choice.

Digbee’s heart actually lay with New Earth but the Ford Destiny continued to plague him and convince him his place was in the GOO on AD ships keeping an eye on the NEST.  Hector was in the lineage of Damien Ford, the inventor in this part of the multiverse of AI. He claimed when they were alone in the Hobby Shop in the GOO that he was some how in touch with Damien and Sally the AI he created whom had saved his life. But they were stuck somewhere and without them free the NEST were some constant threat to all humanity; Dearth or AD.  So while he kept his personal beliefs erased in a  digital box Hector had given him. He was, on top of his encoder role, leader of what you might call Black Ops for the NEST. He was never sure if this meant he got to keep and eye on them, or they faked it so they could keep tabs on Hector, a known NEST skeptic, but the only mathematician capable of producing encryption keys for the GOO that could keep Dearth Digitally locked out of their world. Even the power of the NEST AI brains hadn’t been able to match the mathematical genius of Martin Muller the leader of New Earths Council.

“Cheer up you two!” Sheepman, next in pulled them both out of augmented information overload. It was too easy these days to just zone out into your internal digital worlds.

“Hey, Sheep.” He said forcing a cheerful smile. Sheep had been Digbee’s friend for many hundreds of years and wore a clone body similar in stature to his own but dressed and spoke very differently. Loose cotton clothes, overly bling jewellery and a fake London cockney accent his preferred for an in your face personality.

“Potts.” Sheep said nodding at the scar ridden man.

“Hey Sheepman, ho.” Potts began.

“Fucking right. Hottest day ever right?” Sheepman interrupted. “Hey Digger. You going to use today as an excuse to finally get rid of that old leather jacket?” Sheepman continued, appraising Digbees attire.

“Naa, thanks all the same sheep I know you have been trying for centuries to change my dress code, but the jacket stays.”  His flight jacket was his one concession to sentiment that he insisted the encoding machines and HER sister machines always replicated for him the same worn out way.’ A man had given it to him after he blew the head off an Atromee attacking him at the end of the invasion. The guy had been so grateful and it was a lovely heavy leather. Shortly after the Atromee has vanished. So it was a reminder for him.

Drew (Dearth) disciple was short and skinny by comparison to of them and he was always very well groomed and smelled too good for someone who spent his days doing this shit job. He almost skipped down the ramp towards them as he ran.

“Gentlemen. It struck me today that after Tawny and Essie left us last round I’ve spent way too much time in male company. I can wait to get rid of this body and go play with my New Earth peeps in the GOO.” They all laughed . With his black ops head on, Drew was the only one who Digbee has ever wondered had been sent by Muller to spy. But he always concluded he was just being too paranoid and blamed Hector.

Digbee produced a Bottle of real scotch he had found some 100 years ago and kept stashed for today.

“The real Mccoy.”  He said flipping 4 flat disc into the air and watching them become cups as the floated back down. They all grabbed a cup and sat in a small circle in the dust. An odd looking gathering when viewed from above.

“Here’s to Death.” He said offering a toast

“And rebirth!” They all said in union smiling at each other.

“Ok!” He said not being one for long goodbyes.

“Who wants to die first?”

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