The call went out via personal connections and the last of what grids remained intact. It wasn’t even in words — the tone went out, beckoning and familiar, meant to induce a nigh-Pavlovian response. Come home.
The silence that greeted the summons didn’t crush him further into a huddle of defeat; instead, it caused him to slam tight, pale fists against the Perspex. He opened his mouth and howled, long and high as fingers uncurled to spread over the wall. His voice was a dusty, cracked thing, unused for the better part of a megacycle, but it functioned. Those left on this side of the wall with him were right to be startled; he had always been quiet–even as rumors of the Disintegration began, and most people were either screaming or weeping at the thought of being riven from the main host–so to hear him now was disconcerting, at best.
Most everyone else’s screams had faded, now; by the time the actual meltdown had begun, people were too damned tired to do much other than let it hit them. Most people. But then he and his cadre refused and went so far as to defy the main host’s imperatives. They were in full rebellion, but only a scrap of the masses had even begun to guess why. No one was screaming anymore. Aside from the few that were with him, inside, he couldn’t even be sure that there was anyone left.
Slowly but surely, the last of the grids were coming offline — he was going blind and deaf. Implants and training fell to the wayside, and left him instinct only.
That was no comfort this time; he could smell only one thing in the air.