In this moment of time, I am at the apex of the world, looking down from the Gate installation onto the surface of the world we’ve lost.
Even from this height, through my optics, I can make out formations. Machines. Things building, things moving, things doing. The enemy.
A soft tremor runs through the morphic cable musculature of my powered armour. Anticipation. Amon wants to be down there; Amon wants to fight. The intent with which the suit is donned is carried through in the cerebral control mechanism. Not content with haptic response, the brain itself is a mechanism for control; subconsciously at times, very conscious at others.
I flex my own muscles. The flight surfaces all over the suit ripple and shift, the wings sighing softly as they disengage their locks. Atmospheric conditions are fed through to my optics, and I plot the route down to the selected drop zone, seeking clear weather for a clean fall.
Liu is down there somewhere. Liu and the Plough.
And worse. What Harden’s barked orders and casual shrugs can’t ignore, what the sneering tone of the detractors slide around, the elephant in the room. It is down there. The legendary foe, the exhuman. Janus. Some whisper his name with terror, others spit it like a curse.
For a heartbeat, I am afraid. I have seen what Janus is capable of. Terrible things, massive acts of destruction. The horror instilled by tiny acts; the little things he leaves behind because he knows that human beings, and human psyches, will be disturbed and upset by them. I’ve seen the pictures. I’ve found one myself.
I swallow, and clench my fists.
I am not afraid any more. I have seen Janus. Janus stands on the ground as anyone else does. However potent the destruction he has wrought, however complete his pyschosis, however deranged his whims, he stands – and he obeys the same laws as everyone else does. Not the laws of the Tylers or the Conglomerate, or even the laws of logic.
The laws of physics.
A physical object can be unmade. A string of data can be deleted.
Janus is not a ghost, he is not a phantom, he is not the very spirit of vengeance. Janus is a thing, a physical object, a string of data. Not only Janus, but the vast army below – metal, plastic, ceramic, electronic pulses of information. Physical objects and strings of data.
I may not win. But at least, at the very least – I can fight. Maybe that is enough.
I look down and contemplate the laws of physics: specifically, gravity.
I take a breath.
I check my left and right shoulder plates, my wings flexing in time. I slap my chest plate to register the shock absorbers, then my helm to ensure it is fast. I punch one fist into the other, all the flight surfaces of the Amon armour flexing at once; then I throw my arms out to the side and fall forwards, and down.
Jiāojiè rushes up to meet me like a lover I haven’t seen in a decade.