The Duality Bridge (Singularity #2)By: Susan Kaye Quinn
for stretching my cognition
“My name is Elijah Brighton, and I’m part of the Human Resistance Movement.”
The words leave my mouth and float into the blue holographic matrix that surrounds me. My chair is rigged with tech that authenticates every word so my audience will know the broadcast is real, not a sim or virtual. That’s key to winning the hearts and minds of the ascenders—the god-like human/machine hybrids who run the world—as well as the legacy humans they keep for pets. But it’s the half dozen Resistance members standing and pacing outside the holo matrix, their faces washed in blue light, that concern me. They’re watching me read the script, but that’s not what’s making them dart nervous glances at the open door of the transmission room.
They’re worried we’ll get caught.
So am I—but not because it will stop our covert operation to hack in our message. I’m worried the one ascender who knows there’s something different about me, something that shouldn’t be possible, will find me. I escaped Marcus once, but the next time he has me strapped in a chair, he won’t waste time telling me I was never supposed to be born. He’ll simply kill me. Or inject nanites in my brain and turn me into an ascender.
At this point, I’m not sure which would be worse.
I clear my throat and lean closer to the holo grid. “The Resistance is fighting for equal access to ascendance for all humans, no more, no less. Ascendance isn’t something to be doled out to the few, the worthy, by whatever measure the ascenders choose. The choice to ascend is a fundamental right every human should have.”
Delphina wrote the script—she’s an Olympic gold medalist in storia, so words are her talent. More importantly, she’s the spiritual leader of the Resistance. Everyone looks to her for inspiration. For courage. Sometimes, I think Kamali—a girl I once kissed and then forever lost with a mistake—is looking for even more. I’m sure Delphina’s preference for girls would include a tall, gorgeous ballerina like her. They’re both watching me from outside the holo matrix, exchanging words I can’t hear and smiles I don’t want to see.
I pull my gaze back to the script floating just beyond the cameras. “Four days ago, the world watched as Kamali LeClair, Delphina Astoria, and I took the gold and won the right to ascend. When our connection to the Resistance was discovered, the ascenders stripped us of our medals to keep us from the winner’s stage. They even went so far as to falsely accuse me of murder.” I don’t have to fake the fire rising in my voice. Thompson was a jerk, but he didn’t deserve to die. “Aaron Thompson was a kid from my own hometown of Seattle. He performed for the ascenders like the good pet he was supposed to be, and they killed him when he got in their way. Just one more victim in the Games the ascenders like to play. When we refused to play their games, they held us prisoner. They tried to silence our message. But they have failed.”
This is why we’re transmitting from an authentication chair, rather than taping our script from a more secure location. Which would be any location other than the middle of an ascender city teeming with police bots and mechanized military sentries. To prove we’re still very much alive. That we were judged worthy of ascendance and denied it because we stood for ascendance for all. Delphina, Kamali, and I are now the Resistance’s most powerful PR weapons.
Kamali is up next in the holo chair, then Delphina. Outside the holo matrix, she gestures to Kamali to turn her graceful dancer body around so she can adjust her black body armor. Delphina’s hands seem to be lingering too long. It stirs up jealousy I have no right to have.
Kamali twists back to look at me and frowns. I’m not doing my job.
My attention whips back to the script. “During the Olympics, I was doing everything I could to win the gold. But only so I could throw the medal back in their faces. I was never going to accept their supposed gift of ascendance. Until every human has the right to ascend, no legacy should take the tiny scraps of hope the ascenders offer us each year.”
All of that is lies—I would have taken it in a heartbeat. I was trying to save my mom, which meant I had to win the gold and an immortal life for us both.