He's back in his old leather costume, unmodified motorcycle helmet. Makes him feel old; he last belonged in it years ago. Cuts his effectiveness in half without the bot doing pathing for him, turning safeties on and off to manage where he might land, calculating angles.
There's a ring on his toe. It's not tracking his location, Dragon said, it'll just alert her if he takes it off or gets within three long hops of Baltimore without telling her in advance that he expects to be in D.C. or something. It's not listening in, just making sure he hasn't amputated the toe or tried to wreck the mechanism.
The air pocket is not within three long hops of Baltimore.
He thinks the ring is actually not listening, actually not tracking. He thinks.
He stands slightly to the right. He goes down.
It's a big, sealed cave, pitch dark. He has a flashlight.
He doesn't need it; the backup lights up like a Christmas tree as soon as he lands.
She loads up Baltimore Rete's version control file so the one currently loose on the Internet can integrate it. She determines that there are no motile Rete chassis left, her suit's gone, Dad's suit is gone, the house in the Rockies is gone, her money is still mostly there held in trust by her dad but she's defaulted on her loans so that took most of it back again... she busies herself with that until she falls asleep too, curled up next to Fëanáro.
He wakes up first. He feels terrible - everything is sore, everything hurts to move, his head is cloudy, the eidetic memory necklace isn't really clearing up the agony and confusion that was the last several months.
He opens his eyes and looks at the stars. You can see more of them out here. They're beautiful. He should ask Varda why you can't see the stars in Valinor.
There's tissue damage from poor circulation, his blood pressure having swung around wildly and his heart having pumped too fast to serve its real purpose. Some of it is starting to repair itself. Lots of it is not. He doesn't expect it'll kill him but he's not sure he could walk unaided. He can turn his nerves off, though. It is probably not a good idea. He does it anyway.
Not being in pain is an extraordinary sensation.
He tries revisiting the memories. They're unpleasant, but at least now they're possible to parse. He cringes at the memory of telling Lorica she's not his mother. He regulates his heart rate down to something slow and comforting. He breathes.
"Don't know enough to guess really. I should maybe read some medical textbooks, figure out how much of the internal damage is recoverable - or we could find a cape who can do it -"
"How sure are we that things can be, ah, cleared up."
"Well. If we've got Dragon we can do the rest ourselves. Take down the Endbringers and the Protectorate if we have to."
"It would be really nice not to have to. - I disabled half my nervous system because everything hurt, I will totally fail to notice if I'm on fire or something. Just so you know."
"Yeah. Probably should, just - hurts too much to think clearly."
" - probably? I could at least see what they're doing and make them stop if it's something unhelpful."
"Yes," says Rete.
"You okay? My memory's really spotty for the last month."
"Was thinking I should've just killed myself when it got bad and not put you through - that - but good thing I didn't."
"'m tired of being scared."