If you haven't read the Previous Chapter, please do so before starting this new installment. If you'd like to read this installment on your favorite e-reader or would like to print it out, in order to save your eyes from strain, see the directions under "Read First" for an offline copy of this installment (and others). Happy reading! —G. Michael Rapp
Note. 1.1.10 will be a ten-part installment, featured over the span of two or three weeks, depending on what comes up on my end. Those installments will be featured on RoyalRoad, on Substack, on Wattpad, and on this Website.
Hoshi stripped naked.
Her sexless body, a byproduct of the Founder’s cloning experiments, felt cold in the endless cavern that housed what the Collaborative’s neut called conveyance. Conveyance, it said, was the way she could communicate with the Collaborative’s membership most effectively. Although the neut had long since waded and dived into the still black liquid of conveyance, its presence could be felt. The feeling unnerved Hoshi, who’d been unaccustomed to the whole process. She waded into the black liquid until it reached her chin. She kept herself afloat in the cold, gritty liquid. Then, as if guided by an invisible hand, Hoshi dunked her head below the surface.
Hoshi heard a million voices, a million sighs, a million noises, coming together in a confluence of cacophonous sound. She felt something pulling her deep within the black water. She tried struggling against it, but it was no use. She tried screaming, but nothing escaped, even her mouth felt as if it had been sown shut. Her eyes were not seeing a black liquid, as she would’ve expected. Instead, she saw spectral shapes, gathering around her, floating, swimming, standing still.
Hoshi tried keeping calm, but her flight or fight responses kept kicking in. A pinch and then she felt a calming relief. She heard a disembodied voice speak:
[You are the genetic prodigy of our Founder.]
Hoshi didn’t say anything.
[That makes you very special to us, Hoshi. You will find that our organization has many means at its disposal. We can even end your exile from Las Ochentas, if you want.]
Hoshi felt something reaching into her mind. She tried waving it off, but it pushed aside her resistance. [Yes, Xonfluence will enjoy the information you possess and can collect for our organization. We suggest a mutual trade: Your exile ended for information we seek. Does that sound fair, Hoshi?]