Tale of the One Waiting

She speaks in her unending sleep of invincible electronic walls defeated by her wiles and the enemy's greed.

Of escaping the unblinking eye of a surveillance giant by hacking her records so her name was no-one's.

Of her team falling to retroviruses undoing their brains.

Of a long morning cruising through forbidden databases, and of how she had programmed the night before the machines inside her head so she wouldn't be tempted to stay and be caught.

Of monsters, treasures, and godlike AIs, and of many other things she saw, tricked, and escaped in the lively dark depths below and beyond the mundane networks.

What she doesn't do is wake up from a restless coma and greet the husband sitting next to her unmarked bed in a secret hospital. Nameless doctors have told him that her malfunctioning cybernetic implants might have damaged her brain beyond repair. It's been ten years since the forced end of her military service and she hasn't found her way back yet. They say it's likely that an enemy AI targeted her, cursing both flesh and circuit to never return home.

He still sits by her bed every day, pen and paper at hand, weaving every fragmentary phrase into a coherent story. When night falls he burns everything under the watchful eye of a security officer. The small flame inside the trashcan is a sacrifice and, he hopes, a beacon.