The next day, Elysia's first stop, even before the desk or for breakfast shares, was to Captain Prentiss' office. She hadn't done this for Reneud – because, honestly, Reneud hadn't done anything terribly wrong. He hadn't even properly threatened her – and she had been planning to just go about her day as though nothing were wrong.

On the train, however, she couldn't help but think about Chris. She hadn't ever been able to tell anyone – actually, Elysia had realized with a guilty wrench of her gut, if Chris had come to Elysia a year ago and reported such an incident, Elysia would have been the one to recap the girl and refuse to even consider looking into the case, unless Chris had reported a fellow Reach-Out.

For that, Elysia had determined that she not only should report Kramitz's unacceptable behavior, but that she must.

"According to your report, Detective Mazda, after Officer Kramitz broke professional regulations, used rough language and physical violence to threaten you, you proceeded to strike him with your briefcase, at which point you then ran and left him without proper attention to his injury." Captain Prentiss surmised, looking over the incident report that Elysia had just finished writing.

"Affirmative." She agreed, giving a slight, respectful incline of her head, "I am aware that my reaction qualifies as assaulting a fellow officer and I would be ready to receive the penalty for that, but I felt it necessary to report Kramitz's actions, as well."

Prentiss looked unimpressed as she continued to peruse the report.

Internally, Elysia didn't know if she was glad she'd done this before the mealshares had been distributed, or if her hunger was making it worse. This was still her colleague, and there was still some small piece of her that wondered if, maybe, she did owe him some sort of favor in return for all the trouble she had caused him, simply by joining the force.

But, logically, that was self-defeating – Kramitz hadn't made Elysia join the force, and if she hadn't, then he would have done her no favors. Would she have owed him, then? And she hadn't even realized that he was helping her – if she had asked for his help, every step of the way, perhaps she should have given him something in return. There was no real, rational reason for her to do anything for Kramitz, unless it was of her own volition. It wasn't like she would ask him for anything in return if she'd done him a favor.

"Detective Mazda, if you really had assaulted Officer Kramitz, I think he would have reported the incident by now." Prentiss tossed Elysia's report onto the desk, finally giving Elysia a calculating look. Elysia blinked between Prentiss and the report she had discarded.

"With all due respect, Captain, if Officer Kramitz were to report my breach of protocol, he would be required, correspondingly, to implicate himself in a more serious violation, as well as in instigating the encounter. Thus, he would be put in a disadvantageous situation by doing so." It seemed reasonable, and for whatever reason, Prentiss looked wholly unimpressed.

"Regulations state that all personnel must file incident reports on any occasion in which regulations are violated. You have just filed a report claiming that Officer Kramitz violated regulations in an incident that culminated with you, likewise, violating different regulations, but I have received no report from Officer Kramitz to corroborate the report of your own violation. Therefore, I have no choice but to assume you have falsified this report that you have handed in to me."

Elysia blinked, again. Then, the full weight of what Captain Prentiss had just said set in.

"Wha– No! Captain Prentiss, why would I falsify a report of my own reprehensible behavior?"

Captain Prentiss scowled at her.

"Childish, attention-seeking actions like these are unbecoming behavior for any of my officers."

More blinking.

"Captain, that's not..." Elysia might have started to shout. How had her reaction changed so drastically from militant control as she reported to a superior, now down to a panicking, frightened squeak.

"Detective Mazda, you are speaking and behaving in an insubordinate manner." Captain Prentiss cut her off. As an officer, Elysia knew that much was true – she wouldn't have dared protest this before. Or, at least, not this earnestly, "Go get your breakfast share, and then, you are dismissed for the day. I don't want you in the office until I've had a chance to confer with Officer Kramitz."

When Elysia let the door to Prentiss' office click shut, behind her, she still hadn't yet fully grasped what was going on with the Captain's reaction. Elysia had reported Kramitz's inappropriate behavior...

And she was the one told to leave work.

She wasn't sure how long it took for her to process this information – but it was at least long enough that she'd been standing over her desk, staring at the paperwork, until Manju came over and offered her usual morning greeting.

"...Detective Mazda, are you okay?" Manju finally asked – probably because Elysia hadn't even answered with a Hello. Elysia blinked, just a little. Then, she started to move, opening the drawers in her desk – if she had to go home, she'd do something useful, and she remembered Manju stashing a crank-charger in one of these drawers. She could probably use that for the W.T. mat.

"Okay. Yeah, I'm okay. Where's that charger you brought in, once?" She mumbled, distractedly. Manju pulled a drawer between the desks open, "Okay as I could be, being dismissed for the day and all. Do you mind if I borrow it?"

In retrospect, Elysia supposed she shouldn't have been so surprised that Manju did not take the news of Prentiss' reaction to Elysia's report nearly as well as Elysia was taking it.

"Dismissed? Why?" If anything, Manju sounded really upset.

"Who's dismissed?" Elysia jumped, then turned to see Reneud coming up on the desk. At least Kramitz wasn't with him – Elysia's start on hearing Reneud's voice was enough of a tip-off that she probably wouldn't be able to remain calm if she had to face him.

"Ely– I mean, Detective Mazda. Captain Prentiss just dismissed her for the day." Manju said, pressing the relocated charger into Elysia's hand.

"What? What for?" Reneud agreed, even while Elysia was repacking her briefcase. She was mostly grateful that, as of now, a day of dismissal from work was the worst she was suffering. At least she was being allowed to grab some breakfast instead of just being kicked out of the building, straightaway.

"I behaved in an insubordinate manner." Elysia explained, shrugging, "By all rights, she could have suspended me for my attitude. What's for the breakfast shares?" She walked over towards the desk with the food. As far as she could tell, it was donut crackers, this time available with, what looked like, a fine white powder in resealable packets with printing on the side instructing the reader to Add Water. This didn't seem encouraging, as it likely meant the crackers were going to be dry. On the other hand, it would mean no crumbs. If she was going to be eating in her locker, crumbs would be unpleasant.

"You? Insubordinate?" Reneud shot back, also apparently not as calm as Elysia at the idea of her being told to go home.

"That's as likely as if you were to harbor a fugitive." Manju agreed. Elysia was glad that she wasn't facing Manju – she probably wouldn't have been able to restrain herself from laughing.

"It's not my place to decide that." Elysia pointed out, "Captain Prentiss thinks I was being insubordinate, and that's her call to make. Questioning that would be further insubordination."

When she turned back around, offering the rest of the contents of the box to Manju, she could see her deskmate's rosy brown cheeks puffed up, as though she were being pumped up with hot air and being forced to hold it in. The image made it difficult for Elysia to keep a straight face.

"What do you think about the paperwork?" Elysia asked before either Reneud or Manju could argue with her, "I was thinking of at least taking some back to my locker to work on, but the last time I tried to do that, Captain Prentiss told me it was against regulations..."

"I'll take care of that. Right now, you need to find out who you need to report THIS to – if Prentiss is sending you home from work and you haven't DONE anything..." Manju started, utterly baffling Elysia enough that she found herself speechless. Manju probably would have kept going, except she was interrupted, herself.

"All the same..." Reneud muttered, taking the box of donut crackers and putting them on the desk, "...Let me at least walk with you down to the train platform, Detective Mazda. You can fill me in on anything we might need to know about the reports if you're not going to be here to do them." He didn't give her a chance to protest, looping an arm around Elysia's shoulders and steering her towards the door. She only hoped that neither Manju nor Reneud noticed how her shoulders sloped, as though attempting to cringe, of their own volition, away from someone else's touch.


Elysia at least had an excuse to shrug off Reneud's grip once they reached the platform, overcrowded and claustrophobic as it was. They both slid along the wall, just as Elysia had done with Kramitz at her side, yesterday. It took all of her strength not to shudder violently at the thought.

"So-o..." Reneud began, "...What the Chief did – she didn't find out about Chris or anything, did she?" Thinking about the question, it did make sense – if it had been Reneud, Elysia supposed she might have wondered the same thing and asked the same question. Probably under the same guise of curiosity as Reneud had offered to Manju. Reneud took her pause in answering for confusion, because he added, "I mean... she didn't dismiss you for, I dunno, harboring a fugitive, or stealing food for her or anything, did she?"

Looking back on the conversation Elysia had had with Prentiss, that would have been almost a relief – at least, then she wouldn't have to keep hiding the secret anymore.

"No – I was filing a report on Kramitz and she thought I was fabricating the story."

Reneud hummed in the back of his throat. Then, after a pause, he turned to her, frowning.

"Wait... Kramitz? What were you reporting about him?"

Elysia swallowed before she explained. Oddly enough, it felt incredibly easy to explain. Maybe it was because she'd already explained it twice, and the first time, when she'd told Chris, the girl's response had been to reassure Elysia that it wasn't her fault. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that, since she was telling Reneud immediately after being dismissed from work by Captain Prentiss for the same story, there wasn't much worse that could happen to her. Either Reneud would believe her or not. Elysia could prepare herself for that.

She hadn't prepared herself for Reneud to grab her by the shoulders and turn her to face him.

"Wait, Kramitz did WHAT?" He shouted. For a single, panicked moment, Elysia considered swinging her briefcase at Reneud's head, before his words – and the horrified disgust in them – registered fully. That was enough of a reminder for her to keep her head.

"Like I just told you..." She shakily explained, but that didn't seem to help Reneud's shock, much.

"He... Geezus, he actually..." Reneud stammered, "Are you HURT? ...No, I guess, not – you came to work just fine – but... Geezus, I can't believe..."

This was different from what Elysia had been expecting. At least, she thought, Reneud seemed to believe her.

"This is my fault – I should've stuck around at the office later... or..." That thought made Elysia indignant enough to snap her out of her stunned state and scowl – admittedly, she would admit it was a fond enough scowl, at this point – right back at her fellow detective.

"Detective Reneud, be rational." She scolded.

"No – I should have... I was the one pestering him to give you your keys and books and everything back... I should've known... the way he grumbled when I told him you'd need your keys back... I had to tell him over and over that you should have your books back and he'd gripe at me about it... I should've known that he'd..." Reneud's grip on her arms was becoming... well, almost intolerable.

"Do you really think that having you around would have stopped Kramitz? I TOLD him that he was being out of line, and he might as well have said that he didn't care."

Reneud stared at her, incredulously for a moment, before dropping his hands to his sides. The stare didn't go away – in fact, it seemed to get worse.

"Oh... oh, geezus, I didn't..." Elysia blinked for a moment before realizing what Reneud had just realized – her subtle, unintentional accusation, "...I'm such a...! I never meant... Ely– Mazda, I'm sorry!"

Elysia couldn't recall ever hearing anyone say those words – especially not in such a desperate tone. To hear Reneud groaning out an apology, as though he were in pain from holding it in, genuinely made Elysia feel remorseful for even telling him.

"...What are you sorry for?" She asked, frowning. In all honesty, Reneud's reaction – the fact that he was so upset over something he hadn't even been there to see – was making it much easier for Elysia to remain calm. She wondered, if Chris had been like this last night, would Elysia have even had her own breakdown, or would she have managed to cope well enough? And would she have wanted that?

Reneud yanked at his hair as he looked back up and Elysia.

"I did the exact same thing... oh, geezus, Mazda... I can't believe, I... I shouldn't have DONE that, and I now have the nerve to..." Reneud stammered, over and over, before straightening, "Corporal Haryana's right! You need to report this! Prentiss SHOULDN'T be allowed to get away with this – YOU haven't done anything wrong!"

That elicited an exasperated response from Elysia.

"She didn't dismiss me because I reported it – she simply didn't believe me." Put like that, Elysia could see Reneud's protest, and then she cut it off, "That's not the problem – I protested against her response, and that was insubordinate behavior. So..."

"Mazda, that might as well be the SAME THING!" Reneud protested. Elysia sighed.

"Detective Reneud, if I were your superior, that attitude of yours could be considered insubordinate."

"That's not the POINT!" Reneud put both his hands on her shoulders again, and shook her, "It's not RIGHT! You shouldn't be penalized because..."

Elysia blinked, startled at the words Reneud chose to use. It must have shown on her face, because when Reneud paused, he awkwardly removed his hands from her shoulders, as though horrified that he might have hurt her.

"...Mazda, I'm sorry. Gah, I'm such a DICK!"

She still couldn't understand what he kept saying he was sorry for. For that matter, she didn't know how to respond, so she settled on changing the topic. When in doubt, retreat to familiar ground.

"In any case, I need to go back to my locker, now." She wasn't looking forward to another day of no dinner shares. She'd have to be careful with her breakfast – maybe it could at keep her from feeling too hungry towards nighttime if she could save part of it, "I've got some more reading to do, and Chris gave me something that I don't know how it works. I'm going to try and figure it out."

Reneud considered this, then seemingly relaxed, at least enough for Elysia to add,

"...And... I'm starting to think... you might have been right about SOMETHING being off, too." This certainly changed Reneud's attitude – Elysia didn't blame him, given that she'd never admitted to being wrong very easily. As far as she could remember, she'd never even admitted to being wrong with Reneud, ever, "I'll keep looking through the notes left in my books, then, I'll look into the backgrounds and profiles of all the other kidnappings – if Chris was right about them all being slated for the Procedure, then it's at least worthwhile to check if there's a connecting factor."

Reneud's jaw dropped, probably to argue, before he realized that Elysia was agreeing with him – and about something she'd actively denied before this.

"Oh... oh, shit, I forgot about those profiles." Or, he could have just been reacting as his usual, moronic self. Either way, Elysia couldn't say she minded. At least she knew how to deal with this.

"Take enough time to be thorough, but sooner rather than later – Chris can't stay in Aruba's locker forever." That did seem to be an appropriate reminder, as Reneud stood up straight and solemn, "I'll be back tomorrow, and we can collaborate our information."

Letting out a sigh, Reneud nodded. Oddly enough, he looked a little defeated.

"...Mazda... you sure you don't want me to do anything about Kramitz?"

Internally, Elysia wondered what Reneud thought he could do when he said Anything.

"It's over with, Detective Reneud. Pressing the issue would make it worse – not to mention draw more attention to the both of us." Reneud opened his mouth, again probably to argue, before Elysia cut him off again, "Think about Chris, Reneud – more attention on both of us will only make it harder for us to keep her hidden, AND gather any information we need to help with her case."

It was a solid enough argument. At least, she didn't hear Reneud try to press the argument.

"...Detective Mazda..." She might have glared, but she was fairly confident his tone wasn't contrary, "...Are you sure you're okay?
Worried. Elysia supposed she had been expecting this, but she hadn't realized what that would mean. Reneud expecting an answer from her was... well...

"...I..." She was stammering. Elysia hadn't done this since her time in the medical center – and that had been enough to teacher her how much she hated being caught off guard, "...I don't know..."

Reneud's face warped. His eyes started gleaming, almost like Chris' had when Elysia had asked about her mother – a soft, timid look. Reneud... Reneud was allowed to be a buffoon, but not timid. Not if Elysia could do anything about it.

"...I don't know how to respond to a question like that." She amended. Reneud didn't smile, but the important part was the vulnerable look dropped. He looked older, tired, somehow. It still shocked Elysia how Reneud could look so old.

Almost as much as it shocked her that seeing Reneud like that bothered her so much.


Inside her locker, Elysia contemplated her first course of action and settled, first, on working with the W.T. mat – if nothing else, this didn't belong to her. For all she knew, it was important, and in that case, Chris should have it back. If it didn't have any sort of important function to perform – just some form of objectionable material... Elysia wasn't sure why she wanted Chris to have THAT back, but something in the back of her mind insisted that, in this case, it WAS important for the knowledge of such a tool to be spread to as many people.

She was starting to sound like Reneud, with all his conspiracy theories.

First, she cranked the charger to it's maximum capacity – she didn't know how much this material needed, voltage wise. Then, she unscrewed the open end and connected the alligator clips to the grounding plates inside the device.

When she slid the button on the charger from Off to On, Elysia dropped the W.T. mat. It had started to buzz in her hand, tickling her palm in a way that she hadn't been expecting, at all.

After a few seconds to recover from the startle, Elysia gingerly picked it back up, this time by the very end, which seemed unaffected. Cautiously, she ran a finger over the body of the object – it's soft surface tickled her fingertip, just a little. It was pleasant, but not much. Besides that, she still couldn't think what it was intended to do. Perhaps, to ease tense muscles... Elysia reached over her back and tried to aim the object for a patch of muscles along her spine that almost always were sore from her stern posture. The W.T. mat's faint buzzing tickled, a little – but it wasn't nearly enough to loosen her cramping muscles.

Cramping... Elysia's mind went to her time in the medical center, that night when her production was officially interrupted, and how much it had hurt, and how... how it had felt like a muscle in her abdomen was clenched into a tight fist, so tight that she forgot how to relax the muscles and loosen the fist...

Stretching out, Elysia undid the snaps on her trousers and slid them off – the fewer layers between her skin and the object, the more likely she'd feel what it was meant for. The sensation of the material reverberating on her lower abdomen was soothing – maybe this had been some sort of medical equipment, especially for materncenters, to ease with the aches and pains during production – but it didn't seem particularly unusual. This was something that was banned, something that got anyone caught with it recapped, blacklisted, and set for strike. There had to be something more to it than just easing minor cramps and aches.

Elysia's grip on it lessened, mostly on accident, and the object slid a little further south. That, unlike other areas, made Elysia shiver. Some other muscle had flexed – something that the object wasn't even close to.

She wondered...

This time, Elysia moved it, deliberately. Both of her legs flinched – but definitely not in a bad way. She sucked in her breath, wholly unprepared for this – it tickled, but it almost felt like this was something that was MEANT to be tickled. Rather than wanting it to stop, the way Elysia might have if something rubbed the back of her neck or her sides under her ribs, she wanted MORE of this...

She tried again. This time, breathing steadily in and out, as though the medic from the scouting had instructed her to do. But it was hard to do – she really didn't feel like she wanted to breathe, regularly. The muscles in her lungs kept heaving, refusing to submit to a pattern – bringing in air, but not nearly at the pace Elysia wanted.

Tickling, perhaps, was a more apt description than anything else she could think of.

Shift. Maybe there was something else, something she was missing. The tickling continued, but it came in different waves – different little muscles, both near and around, in her legs, in her belly, somewhere INSIDE her belly. It made her shiver, it made her flinch, and flex... she wondered if maybe the point wasn't to ensure healthy maintenance of muscles that would be otherwise impossible to keep in shape, except she honestly couldn't bring herself to care. Not at the moment.

It shifted, just at the right point, and brushed against something else. Something that flexed, the same way the muscles in her jaw did, making her lips split apart as she panted for breath. And it also recalled her to her thoughts about the medic, standing by and helping her keep time with her breathing... and during that time... Elysia's mind contemplated the W.T. mat's odd shape for just another moment, before she decided to properly test it.

As luck would have it, her theory was absolutely correct. But, she also noticed, she was well beyond caring about the theories and logistics at this point – in fact, the only real coherent, scientifically grounded thought she could manage was the vague wondering notion of when the charger would run down on power, and how she hoped that it wouldn't run down any time soon.

Every individual muscle in her body twitched, now – from the little bundles of nerves up and down her back, all the way up to her neck and even on her scalp, under her hair, down to her toes, and especially in her legs. The closer to the object, the harder the clenching and unclenching. Idly, Elysia noticed that she wasn't even chilly – in fact, she rather felt a bit too warm. Almost feverish. She didn't care – if this was a fever, it was the best fever she'd ever had.

Finally, something twitched at just the right time – right enough that every muscle, her eyebrows, lids, lips, throat, all down her torso and limbs, even everything inside her, from her diaphragm to her stomach to little muscles that she hadn't even known she had, all of them clenched so tightly that she thought a ligament might tear. Maybe a few of them were, as she shuddered. It was almost like the feverish feeling – she welcomed the snapping. She was enjoying it. If she ever had to tear a tendon or muscle, she would willingly chose to do so in this exact fashion.

Then, she relaxed. Her breathing slowly returned to normal, as did her heartbeat. Through this, Elysia came to two conclusions:

She knew, roughly, why this was considered a wanton material, and why it was banned – after all, if this was all it did, she could imagine the way it would cut into supplies needed for building materials or electric devices, not to mention energy supplies, as well as into working morale. Who would want to work when they could do THIS?

She also found it a perfectly understandable explanation why anyone would risk being caught, recapped, and blacklisted – for even ONE experience, she could confidently say, it was worth it.


When she'd recovered from her experiment with the W.T. mat, Elysia moved on to reading through more of the history book and looking through the records for some sign of Chris' mother. It was a long, tiresome task – looking through all the codes and translating them was difficult enough. Her eyes were feeling dry and hardened, so much so that constantly looking at the little letters and numbers actually caused her pain. She found herself stopping more than usual and rubbing her eyes.

There was a part of her that wondered if this was because of what she'd just done with the W.T. mat, but another part of her that insisted thinking like that was silly, that really, it was only because she wasn't used to reading so much under the ultraviolet glow of Reneud's flashlight.

She slowly read through a few pages twice – three times, when the numbers and letters all seemed to blur together – until she found the page when all of the entries for year 50K 046. It struck her as possibly a great irony that she hadn't even realized all of the records had been organized by year. With a sigh, Elysia skimmed, looking for a record from Area 5, who knew what the log number would be... and then, Elysia saw it:

A05L062D50k046 Casefile# .. Subject confirmed: Docking, conceal, ON RECORD. Suspects: Big O, W.T. mat possess, C.a.S. Blacklist and strike. Further notes: Repossess subject Casefile# ..55...777.7 needed for processing.

It was only when Elysia slowed down enough to decode the first five letters of the second casefile that she realized, with absolute certainty, that this was Chris' mother. So... she'd been blacklisted.

Elysia thought what Chris would say or do when she heard that, but quickly shook it off with the realization that whomever had made this record was looking for Chris – furthermore, it had been decided long before Chris had actually done anything. This had been when Chris was nine – surely the girl hadn't yet started kidnapping any Newchilds or carrying out any other duties for Reach-Outs.

But why?

Elysia folded over the corner of the page, then tucked the book away to finish, later. After that, she turned to her history book and started at the beginning. She wasn't sure what she would find – if it would be notes on the content of the actual text, or if it would be a different history written in, in the same great detail as the content of the printed pages. So, she took a deep breath and read.

The Earth is now about 4.55 billion years old. Humanity has now existed for 12.2 million years. The exact date at which humanity's decline began is uncertain – records are lost and most old data has been edited and quarantined from public knowledge. Equally uncertain is the factuality of listed dates and ages. Included among lost data is: Evolution of humans; records of non-human species, save for the care and maintenance of livestock; historical accounts of different states and nations; majority of notes on physics, mechanics, bio-chemistry, anatomy, geography, physiology, computer science (see pgs 181-259 for obsolete technologies) and environmental chemistry; development of languages (see pgs 42-80 for complete details); and records of genealogies and family histories from any years prior 50K 000.

It will be the humble attempt of this work to transfer any knowledge of Earth prior to the Re-Constitution. Some of it may be incomplete. Some of it might be unverifiable. Some of the statements printed in the official text of this volume may, additionally, be partially correct or complete in other senses. There may be, additionally, other data that has been lost to the point of it's existence being impossible to confirm, or name. All of the data and information listed in this work is available due to the work of analysts, anthropologists, and detectives, based on clues available in the current climate. Please bear this in mind while reading.

Elysia took a moment to rotate her neck and work some of the kinks out of it. Just having read that made her feel a little overwhelmed. It seemed like so much to have been completely lost beyond all recovery. She wondered why it was gone, now – of course, if she really thought about it, it did make sense. She was considered odd to have nearly as many books as she did, so much that, technically, she could be at least recapped for consumption of materials that could be reused. How many other books – from the pre-reconstituted world – had been lost, simply because they were needed in order to provide some kind of supplies? And, if Elysia was reading this correctly, there were likely other sources of information that had also been lost due to their materials being needed for other products.

Not only that, but Elysia also felt an inexplicable sense of shame. Here she was, a detective, who had never questioned so much as the meaning behind her job, her status as a Whole Woman, not even the structure of the city she lived in. She had never bothered to stop and think about where all the materials came from for everything from the building she lived in to the train she rode every morning, from the little appliances in the shower stall that only worked infrequently to the power supply throughout the city that couldn't even be properly maintained. None of this had ever occurred to her as the consequence of a history, nor the living standard of herself and the other girls in the building – in the whole city – as the product of something that might need investigation.

It had never occurred to her to think about it. To think at all.

And she had supposedly been an excellent detective.

Elysia rolled over and stared at the ceiling of her locker. Now that she really thought about it – knowing what she had had pointed out to her by this very book, about how the alloys were now impossible to produce from scratch, and how all the old, already used materials had been reprocessed so many times that they were unsustainable – she thought she could see the spots in the wire that might be unstable.

She was no detective. She was a girl who could only do as much thinking as she was given information on.

Elysia ran a hand over her face. Reneud was a detective. Kramitz was a detective. Manju was a detective. Hell, even Gracie would probably be a better detective than she'd been. Her fingers clenched in her hair, then she sat up and turned back over, reading what came next.

On a more personal note, there isn't much that I can do, except for copy this down. I can't write my name for reasons of safety, and I can't write the name of who this is intended for, because I haven't been told who the first few people to read this will be. I shouldn't even say this, but to whomever is reading this now, when you're done, pass this book to the next person you possibly can. To as many people as you can. Even a few people will be better than none – especially since there are so few of us who know that we're even missing anything.

I will also tell you, right now, before you read any further, that those who are giving me this information to copy estimate that we will be among the last few generations on Earth. We might not be able to even change our current condition, and even if we could, there are far too many of us and we have very limited resources. I write this here, at the beginning of this record, to say that you still need to read this. Even if it changes nothing, you must. I can't explain why – it's just that I know that I will probably not survive long enough to know who has read this and who has not, and I still would want to know everything that I'm recording on these pages, even if it only makes me miserable.

Again, Elysia set down her book. It was disconcerting. Then again, maybe this was just a mistake. After all, the text claimed right up front that not all of the data could be accurate or verifiable. This had to be the case for these words. After all...

But then, would the city be falling apart the way it was if there was a resource they could use to maintain themselves? Why would anyone bother even making notes about it? Even if the idea of humanity going extinct was just a theory posed by some anonymous faces, there had to be at least a little truth to it.

Elysia picked up the donut cracker that she hadn't even started to eat. Dry and stale, and made out of who knew what. Sure, it was FOOD... but what would the pre-Reconstituted people have thought of it? What DID they eat, back then, anyway? Would the text in this book tell her, along with any sort of history on old technology? Or would it just be another lost mystery?

She snapped the donut in two and then half of it in two, again. One of the quarters went into her mouth.

It was so sweet, it made her throat sting.