By Peter Watts
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We pulled the plug just in time. " "Just in time," Murphy echoed. Not for everyone, his eyes added. "But it had already spread the meme by then. " Rowan translated: So it could immolate people without restraint. She was still vaguely amazed that the Consortium had ever agreed to give that kind of power to a head cheese. Granted there was no such thing as a human without bias. Granted no one was going to trust anyone else to decide what cities should burn for the greater good, even in the face of a microbe that could end the world.
I checked the ancillaries: no detectable toxins, proteins, nothing. " "Oh, sure. They figured it out almost immediately. " Desjardins eyed the schematic. Pinpoints continued to blossom at the periphery. "Alarms are still going off, far as I can see," he said. " They could always short-circuit the quarantine through a media broadcast— they could even phone around if they had to—but that would take hours; dozens, hundreds of facilities would be paralyzed in the meantime. Cinci had already sent out counteragents to call off the alarms.
By the time she felt the tug of the surf, the bottom was completely covered in bodies. They, too, seemed to span generations. Some were little more than symmetrical patches of algae. Others were fresh enough to bloat, obscenely buoyant, straining against the detritus holding them down. But it wasn't the bodies that really bothered her. What bothered her was the light. Even filtered through centuries of suspended effluvium, there seemed far too much of it. The ocean pushed her up, pulled her down, with a rhythm both heard and felt.