“Nomi.” My newly acquired name in her voice takes on layers of meaning. “I don’t know what to tell you.”
I don’t know what she is not telling me. Is this about her plan to defeat the dream demons?
“Tell me what you like. I probably won’t remember. I don’t remember who I am, or how I got here.”
“They were trying to protect you. But what were they thinking? That you would stay so stoned on all these drugs they left you here that you wouldn’t think to leave? That the disconnected dreams would fade before you could make anything of them? Has my interference now put you at greater risk? You know too little and too much for safety.” These thoughts come to me not from Thistle’s lips, but directly mind to mind. My response is open questioning without content. I don’t know what to ask, but would like to know who I am, what I need protection from. How can I protect myself with so much confusion?
She lays it all out: the Genetic Weapons Initiative, the mercs, the rebellion. “I was of the last batch decanted before GWI was scrapped. When the mercs came to take over, I knew this would become a very bad scene. A few days later, I saw my chance and took off — a thistle in the wind. Since then, I’ve been on my own among the undocumented street folk, on a vast many streets, in a vast many places. I’ve learned to keep my mind shielded while tuning in on those around me, to keep from being found out. I’ve learned what I’ve had to to survive and stay free.”
“You left on your own? Why didn’t any of the others go with you?” it occurs to me to wonder.
“I don’t know. I guess they didn’t see their chance.”
It seems like a lot to take in; but it all makes sense. She tells it so simply, moving me through the memories. So these mercs, the dream demons, are our common enemy.
“I know how to broadcast, or narrowcast, with pinpoint accuracy, ” she assures me. “We have a perfect opportunity here, at Carnival. Tourists and street folk from everywhere are here, soon to return home with their news. I can get the ugly truth about the mercs’ plans for civilians and undocumenteds out into the world-wide rumor mill, by getting it up and running here.”
“But won’t they be alerted, the mercs, to what you are doing? Won’t they be able to retaliate or do damage control?”
“Not if we do this right. I need to coordinate with your people, get a great barrage going against the mercs all at once. They’ll be too busy to be very effective. Especially, we have to get word out to the merc slave freaks just how precarious their position is under their current masters.”
She has made me aware of the others linked in to my mind. Apparently I am an agent of the rebels. Now I get to be a coordinating switchboard for this all out assault, hidden safely in the hole while Thistle goes out to spread our rumors.
Rebel teams have been deployed to take out the new lab facility and prison, built but not yet occupied. All out broadcasts are being sent and relayed of graphic representation of the mercs’ plans to make the most of their slaves’ bodies and minds. A great many of the mercs’ freak corps are now openly rebelling, eager to join our cause.
Of course, the mercs are now aware that the demise of the rebel forces was not as advertised. Lev is immediately suspect. Gray had been maintaining the false memory that had kept him from being found out until now. Now, he reemerges in Lev’s consciousness, warning of what kind of trouble awaits and the necessity to hide. Orders have gone out for Lev to be arrested and tortured to find out what he really knows. Unlike most of the merc freaks, the Central Command Guard are not easily swayed against their masters. They are specifically chosen and trained for loyalty and ambition. They have every reason to believe they will continue to act as the mercs’ elite guard, as long as their loyalty is assured.
It is the last night of Carnival. The streets are overwhelmed with drug-fueled, frenzied crowds of merry-makers who now know the mercs to be their enemy. If Lev can disappear into the crowd, we may be able to bring him in to safety.
I find that I am already running in the direction of that crowd. Our plan has been implemented to the point where my safety is no longer a real concern. I will do what I can for my people, or die trying.
I broadcast as strongly as I can into the crowd the images of what the mercs intend for them, and their location in the Imperial Hotel. There is a mad surge of angry mob. The Guard is much too busy now with immediate concerns to have time to track down Lev. I find him, following the thread from me to Gray, and whisk him away to the safety of the hole.
The rest, of course, is history.