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What he was saying couldn’t be true. I had no memory of my life before the accident. Therapists and neurologists had searched for years for signs that Sally was still with me, and they hadn’t found anything, while Ronnie provided strong evidence that the implants carried memories of their own, however paper-thin and faded. I wasn’t Sally Mitchell. Sally Mitchell was dead. I was my own person. I was Sal. I was—

I was doing exactly what he wanted me to do. I took a deep breath, bared my teeth in a smile that any chimera would have recognized as an outright threat, and asked, for the second time, “Is Tansy really alive?”

“I think we’re getting off the topic here, don’t you?”

“Since the topic I came here to discuss with you was Tansy, no, we’re not. We’re getting back on the topic, and I’m not going to let you distract me again.” I glared at him, trying to look fierce and confident and like the kind of person who couldn’t be thrown off balance by accusations of surviving memory buried deep in my brain. It wasn’t easy. For someone who wanders through life pretending to belong to a species that isn’t hers, I’m a surprisingly bad actress. “Is she alive? Yes or no.”

“Surrey has been a very bad influence on you, hasn’t she? I really do wish you’d chosen to stay with me, Sally. We could have been an incredible team, you and I. Brains and beauty and a compliant little display model to convince the government to go along with the next stage of human evolution.”

“Yes or no, Dr. Banks.”

He paused, tilting his head to the side and frowning. Then he sighed, and nodded. “Yes, she’s alive. Sedated and pretty beat up, but breathing, and both parts of her are there. My Anna girl is the result of transplanting some fairly mature proglottid segments. We had to remove a lot of material to get to them, since the proglottid segments near the tail of the strobila were basically just sacks of eggs. Useful for some applications. Not for this one.”

Hearing him talk about Tansy’s anatomy—and hence my own—in such coldly clinical terms made me uncomfortable in a way I couldn’t quite define, only squirm away from, that horrible hot/cold slush still rocking in my belly until I felt like I was going to throw up at any moment. I forced myself to hold my ground, and demanded, “Where is she?”

He smiled again. This time he didn’t show his teeth, but somehow, that didn’t make things any better. Not when his words contained all the teeth his smile was missing.

“Haven’t you figured that out by now?” he asked. “She’s back at my office, waiting to die. And if you don’t tell me how to save Anna, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”

That was it: that was where my ability to cope came to an end. I almost felt it snap. I didn’t say another word. I just turned and fled the room, leaving Dr. Banks shouting after me, unanswered.

Nathan pushed away from the wall when I came barreling into the hall, flinging myself into his arms and sobbing. He answered by closing his arms around me and holding me close, waiting for me to cry myself out. He didn’t say a word. Sometimes, words weren’t a good thing; they got in the way.

Maybe the sleepwalkers had the right of it. All their communication was pheromonal. There was no room for confusion or misunderstanding, because there were no words. Sadly, Nathan was human, and I was close enough to human, and we couldn’t communicate unless I opened my mouth. I pushed myself away from him, wiping my eyes with the side of my hand, and said, “Tansy’s still Tansy.”


“Anna was made using her genetic material, but he didn’t kill the original host, and I don’t think he extracted the entire implant from her brain tissue. Tansy’s Tansy. If we can get her back to your mom, she might be able to save her. She might be able to… to put her together again.”

“Did he say where she was?”

This was the bad part. I hesitated, and his face fell as he realized that whatever I was going to say next, it wasn’t going to make him happy. My next words only confirmed that: “She’s at SymboGen.”

“Sal… SymboGen is in San Francisco. There’s a bridge and a bay between us and them, not to mention the quarantine. We had to stop supply runs weeks ago, because it’s too locked down. He was only able to get here because USAMRIID was helping him. There’s no way we’ll be able to get all the way into the city, evade the gangs of sleepwalkers in the streets, get into the building, find her, get her out, and get back here. There’s just no way.”

“I know,” I said miserably. Then I took a deep breath, and continued: “But I still want to tell your mother. I think she should be the one who gets to decide whether or not this is a thing we’re going to do.”

“You know what she’s going to say. She’s going to say it’s too dangerous.”

Maybe that was what she would have done if it had been me in San Francisco. But if it had been me, it would have been Nathan advocating for action, saying that they could find a way to cross the Bay if that was the only thing keeping them from bringing me home. “Impossible” had a way of changing shapes depending on what was at stake. Dr. Cale had cried when she thought that Tansy was genuinely lost to us. Real tears, not the sort of thing that a person did for show.

“Tansy is her daughter. She should have a say, and I want to tell her anyway,” I said. “I’m going to tell her anyway.”