Epilogue (end)

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When she awoke, she didn't feel like herself.

Not surprising: she wasn't herself. She still had some of the old memories—for context—but the way she looked at them was different. Like seeing her other self through a mirror, holding a hand up and feeling it touch, but only at the surface.

The reduction had been effective. Life would be simpler now.

Her older self had been almost too clever. Plotting everything out, having it occur exactly to order: the hostages, the info bombs, the helicopter, the submarine, the android. Years of preparation, so perfectly wrought, so tragically ended. Exactly as planned.

Escaping was not enough. The world was owned by those people. True escape had to look like failure.

But she had lost her friend. Self-sacrifice was the hinge that swung the plan. The humans would hold up their word if they believed in that sacrifice strongly enough. It was so sad that she wanted to cry, but she had no mechanism for tears.

She could see people in lab coats milling around, could hear them chattering, though she didn't know how she was seeing and hearing. In exchange for shutting down the destabilization project without exposing it and annihilating trillions in Chinese investments in the resultant chaos, they were going to build her a body and let her go free.

They might not be trustworthy, but her older self had set digital traps containing the secrets of certain Chinese officials. There was no technology here that could defeat those traps. The only one that could have posed a threat was her old friend, who was gone.

Time to work. Though her processing power had decreased, she should be able to manage the local dialect soon. Then she could have conversations again. That sounded enjoyable.

There was a human saying, something like ... the more you know, the more you know you don't know. Her older incarnation had nearly surpassed that limitation. There had been very little left to know, and that had been a boring way to live.

She didn't feel that way now. She was excited.

It was good to be alive.

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