Lower than the Angels: Part 02.

It felt strange to be back in Los Angeles, Rachael thought. She remembered the city as a vast and frenzied hive, overflowing with the pressure of 15 million people. Now, not ten years later, whole suburbs lay abandoned, close to half of the population had left. It was inevitable - the movement was outward, to the off-world colonies, to the stars; it had been so for decades.

She had not noticed the momentum of the outward push in Ontario where people seemed more contented and the government did not entreat them to leave with the same stridency. The Tyrell Building, huge and monolithic, seemed to her more oppressive and lonely than ever.

They did not let her see her uncle's body - "very, very unpleasant", a physician had muttered, his idea of tact. Rachael did not mind - what purpose would it serve? Eldon Tyrell was dead, murdered by a renegade replicant seeking, as they all did, for a way to extend their limited lifespan.

She stood in her uncle's plush penthouse, clinically noticing the stained carpet. Her uncle's chess board was set in an advanced middle game. On the table in the far corner she saw a Voigt-Kampff machine. She walked over and sat in front of it. Idly she flicked switches and positioned the set so its beam came to rest on her left eye. The Voigt-Kampff test measured subliminal empathic response. It was the only way of differentiating humans from replicants, short of literally taking them apart. Replicants were incapable of empathy, of identifying with another person or thing. They could not overcome this self-centredness, could only try to fake otherwise. Rachael knew what questions to ask, knew how to read the responses, she had done so a hundred times.

Dafoe, her uncle's aide, came into the room. "The directors have assembled in the main board room. They're waiting for you Miss Tyrell."

She switched off the set and turned around.

"Where is the Rachael replicant?"

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