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“And by doing it after a crime was committed, you avoided getting in trouble for working with the ‘local underground,’ ” said Alaric, with grudging respect. “Slick. Stupid, but slick. Why bother screwing around? Why not just stop them from getting inside in the first place?”

For once, I had the answer the Newsie didn’t. “Because a few break-ins keep everybody believing the CDC is at risk, and we never look too hard at the budget for security upgrades and growing new people in big tanks. All of which loops us back around to the thing we’re not talking about here. Why did you clone Georgia? There are way cheaper ways to convince us that you’re the good guys. And yeah, I know, I said ‘leverage’ earlier, and I meant it, only again, way cheaper ways to do it. You could have threatened my parents, my team…”

“But we couldn’t get to your team if we couldn’t get to you, and we knew that was a risk as far back as the campaign trail,” said the doctor calmly. President Ryman looked away. “She wasn’t the only one we were prepared to resurrect, although her death meant she was the best candidate. We were able to extract her brain almost immediately, and get to work while the Kellis-Amberlee virus was still working in her system. It’s a fascinating behavior, considering how little of the brain the virus actually requires—” He must have seen the storm warnings in our faces, because he changed topics in the middle of the stream, saying, “She was to be leverage, as you’ve indicated, but she was also going to help us be sure you were getting the information we needed you to have.”

“Manipulate the old media during the Rising, manipulate the new media to keep the world from finding out how much of this you engineered,” said Becks. “How did you get the rest of the world to go along with it?”

“I’m not Tate,” said the doctor acidly. “I don’t need to convince you that I’m in the right. I’m here to present you with a choice. Work for us. Help us to shape the next twenty years. Or never leave this building again. It’s up to you.”

I looked at Becks and Alaric. They looked back at me. None of us said anything. I don’t think any of us knew what to say.

Finally, Alaric asked, “You promise the mosquitoes are going to die on their own?”

“You have my word as a scientist.”

I somehow managed not to snort.

Alaric continued. “And none of us are being charged with any crimes?”

“The reverse. Once we’ve worked things out to our mutual satisfaction, we’ll announce that you’ve been added to the list of bloggers with White House press access. The only reason you weren’t added before was out of respect for your loss.” The doctor smiled. The expression seemed alien on his face. “I think you’ll find that we can be very reasonable when you follow the rules and behave like rational people.”

“And George?” I asked.

“You can keep her, if you can keep her in line and out of sight.”

“My sister?” asked Alaric.

“Will be returned to your custody as soon as possible. She was fortunate to escape Florida.”

Becks didn’t say anything. Her family was more likely to be supporting the CDC than at risk from their actions.

“Well?” asked the doctor.

I opened my mouth, not quite sure what was going to come out of it.

“We’ll do it,” I said.

“Good,” said the doctor. “I hoped you’d see sense. Welcome to the CDC.”

You know what? Fuck it. Just f**k it. The Rising didn’t manage to wipe out the human race, it just made us turn into even bigger ass**les than we were before. Hear that, mad science? You failed. You were supposed to kill us all, and instead you turned us into monsters.

Fuck it.

—From Adaptive Immunities, the blog of Shaun Mason, August 7, 2041. Unpublished.

Testing. This is a test post to check formatting and be sure the files are uploading correctly. Test test test.

Is this thing on?

—From Living Dead Girl, the blog of Georgia Mason II, August 7, 2041. Unpublished.

GEORGIA: Thirty-seven

Steve was a constant, silent presence behind us as Rick steered me down the hall. It was weirdly like being back on the campaign trail, only I wasn’t carrying a gun, Rick wasn’t carrying a cat, and I was no longer sure who the good guys were.

On second thought, it was nothing at all like being back on the campaign trail.

The hall ended at a door that looked like real oak. Rick let go of me to press his palm flat against the testing panel next to the door. A small red light clicked on above it, oscillating rapidly between red and green before settling on green. It remained lit for less than five seconds. Then it clicked off, and the door clicked open.

“I’m going to be waiting for you on the other side,” said Rick. “Do you trust Steve?”

It was an interesting question. If Ryman was no longer one of the good guys, I wasn’t sure I trusted anyone. But of the people I didn’t trust, Steve was one of the ones I distrusted the least. “We’ll be fine,” I said.

“I’ll see you in a moment,” said Rick, and opened the door. Part of me wondered what kind of awesome security procedures they’d have in place to prevent people from following each other through—always a risk, no matter how much the people who design the airlock systems try to keep it from happening. Some airlocks will gas you if you try to go through without getting a blood test. Somehow I doubted they’d use something that crude on a door that might be opened by the President of the United States. The rest of me understood that playing with the security system was something too stupid for Shaun to do, and that meant it was absolutely too dumb for me.


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