Lower than the Angels: Part 05.

She felt old.

She signed the last of the documents, then waved Dafoe away. It was only after he had left that she allowed herself to slump in the chair and close her eyes.

She was seventy four years old. Youth treatments had assured she looked forty at the most. She felt much, much older than either of those ages.

It had taken forty five years, but Tyrell Corporation's replicant division was now completely dissolved. It had not been easy to close down Tyrell's most profitable subsidiary, but she had planned for the long term, and in the long term she could only win. The demand for replicants had decreased steadily as stellar exploration consolidated and colonisation ground to a halt. As people moved to the colonies they took their prejudices with them. They wanted no replicants on their home worlds.

She forced the company to diversify into robotics, prosthetics, genetic crop research - areas where the expertise gained from replicant development would be advantageous. But she halted development on the Nexus series itself. When her contracts expired she did not renew them. When her competitors' business increased she took them over, or destroyed them until TyrellCorp exerted a monopoly over an ever shrinking market.

The last Nexus-6 had been sold four years ago. With its death the replicant division could be formally, permanently dissolved.

She was tired.

She thought of the replicants - Rachael, Deckard - for the first time in years. No. There hadn't been a day in the last forty five years when she hadn't thought of them. But suddenly the flavour of the thoughts was different.

There had been only one, short message thirty five? forty? years ago. Come when you're able. She had ignored it then.

She took the lift to her private carport. Her chauffeur was waiting for her, she waved him aside. He bowed deferentially but she knew he didn't care the slightest whether he had to drive her or not. It didn't matter to her either.

Los Angeles had died sometime in the last fifty years. The skies and roads were nearly empty, most buildings had collapsed for want of maintenance. The city was being reconquered by the wilderness, suddenly sprung to life again after generations of dormancy. The only people left on earth were the fanatics, the specials, the idle and people like her - those who stayed for no reason they could explain. Or perhaps she belonged to the first group, she mused as she took the spinner out over the city.

She knew where they were, had known all this time. They made no secret of their existence, and despite that fact, or because of it, no one bothered them. Or perhaps no one except for her knew.

She landed the spinner eight hours and two thousand kilometres later, and drove the rest of the way at ground level. The land here was greener and more alive than any she had ever seen. Purer. She stopped once and got out to feel the moistness of the grass. How many people have escaped to other worlds searching for sights like this, she thought. She noticed an insect - a bug or spider - crawling up her leg. In a flash of revulsion she killed it with her arm, careful not to touch it with her skin.

Eventually she reached a wood and wire fence. She guided the spinner over it, towards the house in the distance. She passed a field of crops and vegetables tended by robotic warders.

She saw her in a yard outside the house. She was carrying a sack under one arm, dipping into it and scattering handfuls of seed to a gathering of chickens with the other. When the spinner pulled up outside the house she stopped. The door of the house opened and Deckard stepped out, walked to Rachael who put down the sack, and put his arms around her. They waited as she got out of the car.

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