Seven secret closed bunkers were rehearsing the end of the world. It was delicate work to build an stable synthetic ecosociosystem, one made no easier by patrons who had made their power and wealth by destroying them. Hence the isolated parallel experiments and the not exceptional deaths through ignorance, selfishness, and bad design.
The latest death in Bunker Four, however, was a clever murder that went unrecognized as such. The killer was an engineer familiar with the intertwined biological and surveillance systems, the victim one of the unofficially expendable support personnel drafted from the endless labor supplies of the prison meta-economy.
Unrecognized in Bunker Four. The company hired by the oligarchs to beta-test their survival had subcontracted it recursively, and at the bottom of the pyramid many independent contractors hired cheap providers from the same pool. So supposedly isolated systems sometimes weren’t and software was kept routinely updated with the latest bugs. Six people in the other six bunkers, bored or vigilant or simply used to it, had learned of the death, assumed foul play, and hacked enough systems to figure out who had done it and why. Along their way they found each other – for symmetry’s sake and local access they recruited a seventh from Four.
They had enough proof to go public at the risk of bringing down the project they loved and hated as everybody hates and loves their own postapocalyptic world. Or they could keep silent: it wasn’t their business. They were dry-running survival, not better worlds.
The seven didn’t vote and didn’t argue. Their consensus was silent and swift, and if they thought they would have chosen differently in their previous lives they didn’t talk about it then or after. The discussion was short and technical. The murderer had been smart and knowledgeable. So were they and they were seven.
There was another death in Bunker Four.