Lower than the Angels: Part 06.

Fifty years, and neither had aged perceptibly. Deckard's hair was longer, that was all; Rachael looked no older than the last time she saw her.

"Are those real?" she asked, gesturing at the chickens.

"They're real," Deckard said. "Those too." He waved at a field behind the house where two cows and a small flock of sheep grazed quietly.

She was astonished. Animals of that size had been extinct on earth for nearly a hundred years.

"Not from here," Rachael explained, "from the colonies."

"How…" she began, then decided it didn't matter.

There was a pause, not quite uncomfortable.

"Come on in," Rachael said. "Come inside."

Their home was rough, but warm and bright. She thought of the Tyrell Building, its austere ostentatiousness. "It was only a matter of time," Deckard said, passing her a mug of tea. "Time which no other replicant had had… but after ten years…"

"We passed the test," Rachael said, and smiled. A genuine smile. When was the last time she had seen an expression like it in the mirror? She couldn't remember.

She tasted her tea. It was strong, and there were bits of leaves in the water, settling slowly to the bottom.

"How many like us are there?" Rachael asked her. "We've met some people who we thought might have been… but we weren't sure."

Deckard said, "They wouldn't have known. They wouldn't have known if they were really human or not."

She smiled bitterly. "That's right… they wouldn't know. And does it really matter?"

She looked at them, Rachael and Deckard, sitting opposite her, not touching but in easy, long-accustomed rapport. Replicants. Humans. What difference is there after all, she thought, and remembered the night after Rachael left, forty five years ago, when she tested herself on the new Voigt-Kampff set, and found she had failed.

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