The city is falling. Sun-warmed fungus mats spread up alloy walls, pitting the metal, leeching and dissolving it back into Planet. The newborn many-mind has many dreams, and some need iron ions. The towers and walls, domes and spires, are empty; the people who lived here are angels now.
On a hill above the city, under the shade of a twisted tree, a girl sits and watches. Her flyaway dandelion hair is as white as her simple dress, born with her from the fungal womb when she asked the world to give her a body again. One finger idly rubs the side of her head, missing something.
Soft footfalls behind her, an ambling pace. She turns. Her eyes widen, but her face is otherwise still, haven forgotten the trick of expression. "Why are you here?" she asks, voice carefully neutral.
The man chuckles. "Oh, you know. The same reason I do everything I do. Curiosity."
She examines him carefully. He has his peculiar spectacles, as always. Planet must have assembled them for him, atom by atom, as it incarnated his new avatar. Stranger, though, is his appearance. Fit, but at least forty. Why not demand youthful perfection? "Explain further."
He cocks his head to the side, peering at her through his colored lenses. "Investigating an anomaly in the experimental data. Results observed do not match the predicted model. Therefore, I was wrong about something; there is something I do not know!" He grins his crooked grin, familiar from a thousand book covers and cid links. "How can I ignore a chance to learn?"
She stares at him cooly. Within, an unfamiliar fluttering sensation. "Am I that anomaly?"
He smiles, and sits beside her with a grunt. "Just so! The maid of machines, the posthuman postergirl, leaves the uploaded supersociety in favor of flesh? Very strange, very interesting! Even your implants are gone!"