There were only four left and after days locked in a cargo hold it smelled like a waste pit. Too traumatized to care, each prisoner sat leaning against the cold steel of the unforgiving metal walls. Hanna was trying to forget, and at the same time not imagine her captors’ intentions. However, the sobbing, the cries of anger, and the pleadings for mercy faded and memories of the journey crept into her mind.
The fires in the nearby forests caused a never ending haze covering the village with months, then years of ash. Most people left, heading north in hopes of finding clean air and food. The south was worse, hotter and violent. The east and west were the same, barren and mostly vacant.
Hanna was of one the last to leave after bandits pillaged the scant supplies that remained. She was miles away looking for dead animals with her brothers when it happened.
Her oldest brother hid her in a dusty gully, flies surrounded her. When they returned from the search of the smoldering ruins she cried. Tears had smeared the grime on their faces and they had better machetes with traces of blood on the blades. This was the day they started migrating north.
The charred tree offered little cover. The engine stopped returning the silence of the dead landscape. Doors slammed and an unknown language barked orders. Footsteps and shouts brought primal urges. Then gun shots tore away her brother’s memories like a cannibals’ desperate feast. They did not violate her, no, she was added company to similar unwilling survivors.
The man inspected her like the old women looked at vegetables in the market; when there were such things. He did not stink and his clothes were clean. The smell of rotten eggs blew in from the sea and he nodded at her. She joined ten unbound only to be refettered at the waist to another. The new chain of humans was transported to the ship.
Out of the steel cage and herded off the ship where the decaying organic matter assaulted her nostrils the dock fog split and the half masked wealthy examined the terrified. Hanna cringed at the pointing index finger, the exhaustion bested her resilience and she collapsed.
They were expensive. Only the elite could afford these things, though not all who could possessed the amoral capacity. Artificial Intelligence blanks captured the memories, DNA, and souls of loved ones; or themselves. Electrical circuitry of these entities called Nexi synthesized with the brain of another until replacement occurred. Humans had achieved a costly immortality.
Sedated Hanna was paralyzed as the Nexi was placed on the back of her shaven head. Fiber optics bore through her skull syncing with axons and neurons while releasing opiated endorphins into her mind. A new consciousness began dominating while the Nexi pulsed hertz through its electrical circuitry like a heart pumping blood.
“Mrs. Jackson.” She woke looking at a man she did not know.
“Nisha, can you hear me?” said another voice, followed by “Do you know who I am?”
She was weak and her mouth was dry. She saw a young man she did not recognize. Reflected in the lab window a disc was on the back of his head. The center of its circular casing had a large J in the middle triggering a rush of memories. The Nexi protector looked just like the custom made smoke detector security cameras from their first mansion.
“You are the greatest boxer ever.” Hanna said in a language she somehow knew. “The men that brought me here killed my brothers. I want them…dead!”
“A good guest host relation requires it ma’am. Consider it done Mrs. Jackson.”