She was to the point now where she assumed everything was a Jump. Her hand tingled all the time and her vision blurred often with random data, either real or imagined. There were times when she disappeared entirely into her own landscape and couldn't see any of the others who came in with her. There were times when she couldn't help but notice them as if they were right next to her, chasing their metaphorical tails through the ever-growing landscape. She was fairly certain that they hadn't built the city this large, needing only a small area in which to test their product. It stood to reason that it would replicate on its own as-needed, but she wasn't sure of the reason for the current explosion.
That was what she was attempting now to hunt down. It made no sense for the system to expand capacity when it didn't need to. Trieste felt the tingle of electricity chasing itself down her spine. Her pale skin had taken on a silvery tone, as had her eyes. If she hadn't started avoiding mirrors by this point, she would probably be concerned that she practically glowed in the dark. But the arc of her thoughts was directed toward the dozens of millions of empty homes and cars, all lined up next to one another, with no one inside of them. No one to use them. There were miles of track laid under the ground, and high-speed trains rocketing along those tracks, but no one inside of them. Trieste rode them, to see if they would bring her anywhere, but no matter how many transfers she made or how many lines she took, she ended up back at the beginning, in the middle of the city. The ghost city - the population of which was slowly dwindling. It was a frightening thought.
She found herself staring into nothingness. It wasn't that there was nothingness in front of her, but the city blurred. Every room blurred. She was having a hard time concentrating. This was a mistake.
The thought bounced around her skull a few times before sliding down the fiberoptics of her spine and settling somewhere near her core. She felt it in the very deepest part of herself, and the world around her began to tilt. It whirled like a mad thing, and Trieste closed her eyes to try to block out the dizziness. For a moment, her perception flipped. Instead of feeling firmly rooted on the ground, she felt like she was standing on the edge of a great void of air. Up was down and she thought she could feel the slow turn of the Earth below her booted feet. At any moment, it was going to stop turning, and she would be unable to hold onto it. At any moment, she felt, she could go tumbling into the void of the sky, unable to ever find the ground again. It made her feel ill.
Coming up from VR this time was different. She felt as if she had to tear herself out of it, rip her mind out of the clutching tendrils of the simulation. She vaguely remembered the awe that she felt the first time she dropped in, the feeling of rebirth. This was the darker side of rebirth, perhaps. The one that probably should have been some sort of digital Cesarean section. Sitting up from her pod, gasping, she ran her palms over her face. Was she still there? She was still there. Sarena, though, was not, apparently. Trieste felt a stab of regret and pinched the bridge of her nose.
"Well, that's just great. Fantastic." Massaging her temples, she hopped down from the side of her pod, shaking her head tiredly. When was the last time she had slept? She heard the gears in her hand chirr softly as she ran her fingers through her hair. "She suspected Sasha
. Clearly she was getting close to something." Trieste scowled across the room at the woman she had named, the corners of her mouth turned down disapprovingly.