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Secret Society Part Four

The beige concrete block of elite condos looked like nothing grown, something that landed here, whole and finished, anchoring the surrounding buildings and the warm mid-afternoon street in a present that would only ever welcome the past. A blind watchtower overseeing the construction of an irrefutable history.
In the car parked opposite, Brae, in a dark suit and tie, and Simon, combat pants and a 'Home' logo shirt, his head shaved, finished assembling the components of what Simon conceptualized as the latest in demolition technology. The digital camera linked to the laptop, remote access to the net. Brae, on the driver's side, began shooting the irregular stream of people entering and exiting the building. Simon uploaded the images to the website where specialist artists and researchers they had never met - or perhaps they had - would make the modifications, add commentary and revelations, before casting them out into the ocean of data. A slow-motion global explosion, erosion.
"Hey, did you hear the latest from Infoborous?" Simon asked, finger tapping keys and tickling the mousepad.
Brae lowered the camera. "What's that?"
"They're launching a new online immersive game. 'Century King'."
"Ah, the patriarchy."
"No, no. You're after the King, to take him out. Hunt him through his disinformation and expose him."
Brae shifted in the seat, turning to Simon. "Really?"
"Yeah," Simon smiled, eyes on the screen.
"Which century?"
"The last."
Brae smiled. "That's cool. We don't have anybody in Infoborous, do we?"
"That's right." Simon relaxed back in the seat, stretched. "So it's an indirect contamination. And Info's going to market the shit out of it. Forecasts say it'll be bigger than 'Operation: Savior'."
"Good. That was a terrible game." Brae snapped a quick shot of a woman entering the condo lobby. "So... Wow. Thousands of teenagers coming onside. Plus the other projects. Maybe this is really it. Maybe we'll see it happen."
Simon prepped the shot of the woman, sent a copy. "Yeah, did you ever doubt it?"
"I've been in this... three years now. It's been five since he left. No one's sure how long he was at it before then. I like uncertainty and all..."
"'I find your lack of faith disturbing'," Simon quoted and they both laughed. "It's okay to be hungry, Brae. God knows there's nights when I just want to fuck or fight or blow things up."
"So what do you do?"
Simon ran a hand over his scalp. "I go to clubs, get drunk. Try and pick up girls or start fights. Once I started a fire."
"I end up going home alone, my pretty face unmarred but unappreciated." Brae laughed. "It's like the weaker species knows instinctively to avoid me."
A couple walked by the car carrying shopping bags. In sweats and sports-brand jackets.
"Look at them," Simon sneered. "Bloody bricks. The norms."
"Your disdain is so charming."
Simon grinned. "It's why I was recruited, I'm sure. I'm going for juice. You want?" Brae nodded and Simon unfolded himself from the car, leaving the computer on the seat. The image of the woman still onscreen. Her short blond hair, office-cut skirt and designer sunglasses.
Brae started to imagine in a precise way, one of Perdieux's methods passed on via Kimberly. The woman on the elevator, he paused and let a name come to him, Cassandra. The doors slide apart, floor seven, the bland blue-grey of the hallway. Swiping her card-key and pushing open the heavy, featureless door to her apartment. Brae controlled his vision away from the inertia of seeing the interior as a formal, delicately decorated, waiting-room aesthetic. He opened the scene up to fantasy. The walls patchworked with movie posters, photocopies of venue announcements for the latest DJs, ads torn from fashion magazines. CDs stacked on the coffee-table. He was touching on some drawings from a comic book he read, the home of a superhero's secret identity. A bookshelf displaying texts on the new physics, sci-fi novels, biographies and poetry. A videogame console, yes, plugged into the tv, resting on and end-table near the couch, because she used it often.
Cassandra began removing her clothes immediately, disregarding the pressed lines of her skirt and top, dropping them to the floor. Graceful, in her underwear, tossing the sunglasses onto the couch. Snatching a bottle of Japanese herbal smart-drink from a shelf, gulping the last of it and expertly lobbing the plastic container into the bin in the corner for recyclables. Moving into the bedroom.
Where an altar was set up opposite the bed. Syncretic, cut-up iconography, a microcosm, condensed, of the apartment's chaotic decor. Lighting a candle and kneeling. And making a silent prayer of thanks to some new and surprising goddess, maybe an entire pantheon, for the fortitude to withstand the barren world outside and the perseverance to see it changed.
"We're coming, Cassandra," Brae whispered, imagining she could hear him. He leaned over and sent a brief text message to the specialists asking them to exclude her photo from the operation.