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Here I suppose a quick word about Isis and me could be necessary.

It is strange, you know, to meet your ideal of beauty. Strange and unsettling. This ideal was not determined by any description I ever gave, wrote or spoke, you understand? It was plucked straight out of my head by the machines back at peri-Central. That way, there was no possibility to hide anything. No dissemblance.

As a result, the “social” man in me still think Isis too thin, too elf-like, not womanly enough in appearance. But I was warned there it was only because of that small part of my mind that desired to show off, to have her admired, that wanted her to be more in accordance with the ideals of beauty of our time-line. I have learned since to shut it off, and the rest of myself has given itself to her altogether.

It was always an idea of me (at least I think it was) that true beauty never bores you, always surprises you. And so it is with Isis. We may be lying in the semi-darkness of the control-room – as we are most of the time – her body just a shadow next to mine, but if she moves! The dim glow of the monitors re-arranges itself differently over her slight form, a sliver of light exposes a new plane, a new curve and my breath catches in my throat and, again, I have to look away for a while.

It is rather distracting. Thank God most of the work is done by machines.

As for myself? I am not bad looking, thank you. In fact, I wonder if they will let me keep this form once the mission is over.



I must have liked intelligent, smart women (did I not tell you? They remodel our minds, or at least parts of our minds as well as our body), women who can hold their own, disagree, discuss. That’s good. It means that, maybe, I wasn’t a total arsehole, back then.

Isis, then, is like that. She likes a good words fight. She talks to you. Well, often she talks at you, but that’s only to be expected.

Her interests are numerous and varied but, curiously, not deep. Which makes me suspect that this… thing is a recent change. (I must not call it an improvement; that would be too judgemental!)

Don’t look at me like that! It is a game we both play, I am sure of it, inside our heads, without telling the other. Trying to peek under the ideal, to guess, to find out the flawed reality from which perfection was carved.

Myself – it is always difficult, you understand, to form a remotely adequate of yourself, but if anybody can do it, it is us, the Guardians – I would describe as practical, non-nonsense, duty-minded and, let’s be frank, rather shallow.

You would think, wouldn’t you, that our previous ideals would conflict with what we have become, but somehow they seem to survive intact in our altered personalities.

They dig deep, the machines at peri-Central!