Author Topic: Chapter 13  (Read 7117 times)

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Offline Daen

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Chapter 13
« on: June 10, 2022, 04:58:54 AM »
Chapter 13

Dylan shook his head emphatically, trying to maintain his composure. "No, I was the one who decided to fire off the Spyglass. If you'll listen to the call, you'll see that my assistant objected at first. In the end he trusted my judgment and did as I said."

"And in the process, he cost us almost two point seven million dollars in lost revenue!" A voice emanated from the exciter in the van. The noise of traffic outside interfered a little with the transmission, but not enough to give him an excuse to end this conference. "You know—better than most people—just how dependent everyone is on the money generated by the Spyglass, Dylan. And yet you offer precious little justification for taking such a drastic action. A name, from a police report in Philadelphia, which just happens to match one of our enemy's aliases?"

There was a knocking noise from up front, and Dylan grimaced. "Excuse me, Councilors. I may have more news on the situation."

He paused the transmission and moved up to the front of the van to open the divider. When he did, the driver leaned over slightly. "Just got a call from Sine, sir. They have Patsulas and Rossi in custody. The other one is still at large. Sine said he has military training. He anticipated the attack and got out of range just in time."

Dylan growled. "Did any of them get close enough to see the Spyglass?"

"No, sir. They were caught at the main entrance."

"Thank God for small favors. Call Sine back and have him hold them until I can get down there. Let's hope their friend doesn't do anything rash in the meantime."

"Yes, sir."

Dylan closed the divider again and went back to the exciter. "My apologies for the interruption," he said after unpausing it. "I played on a hunch, and it turned out accurate. Two of the three were just captured trying to break into the Spyglass facility. They wouldn't be there if it wasn't related to our enemy."

Despite the fact that this news vindicated him, most of the many faces he could see through the exciter transmission still looked doubtful. "I'm on my way there now. I'll assess the situation and get back to you with more information."

Janice, one of his more outspoken colleagues, leaned in on her transmission. "Don't take too long at this, Dylan. Our reserve funds will cover us for the next twenty days, but you're walking on thin ice here. If they are working for AFI, then we need to begin enacting contingencies. Soon."

He nodded somberly. "Believe me, I know. Still, I'm not sure they are AFI agents. If so, they would have attacked with an overwhelming force, instead of blundering right up to the front door like that. I'll get the truth out of them, one way or another."

Janice exchanged glances with some of the others. "No, you won't. We will interrogate them, with you present. Make sure they weren't followed and then bring them back to the Community, while we discuss what to do with them. When you're ready, signal us." She reached out and cut off his transmission, plunging the van into darkness again.

Dylan took a deep breath, trying to keep his anger in check. He'd saved those people, for God's sake! He'd brought almost all of them back from the brink, and worked with many of them for decades now. Still they questioned him. Still, they didn't trust his judgment. It was... disappointing.

At least they'd finally arrived while he'd been talking. Dylan opened the van, careful to cover the modified exciter with a cloth before doing so. They were lucky this dock was mostly abandoned despite the hour of day. Hopefully Sine had been discreet when capturing the intruders.

He made his way downstairs into the entry room and saw two women in handcuffs, sitting in chairs by the passageway. He recognized both from the pictures earlier, but ignored them for now. He moved past them into the next room, and made sure the door was sealed. Larry was in there as expected, going over the power consumption logs. "Where are we?"

Larry shook his head slowly. "Firing off the Spyglass used over ninety-six percent of our power, sir. We're at least eighteen days from the next cycle. I hope you were persuasive when talking to Janice and the others, because this is a big setback."

"To persuade people, they already need to be in agreement with each other," he reminded Larry. "I don't think that's been the case since we got all this started years ago."

"Fair enough, sir. There's something else you should know. The facial recognition team still can't ID the other guy, but the images we got showed something he was keeping in his pocket. Here, let me show you." He typed in some commands on the console, activating the small exciter in this room and running a preprogrammed image. It showed the escapee, Tin, in a freeze-frame. He was in the hotel they'd stayed at the night before. Larry pressed another few keys, and the image zoomed to his right pants pocket. Ordinarily, the exciter couldn't peer through solid matter, but this particular ID card was easily recognizable, even through the fabric.

His blood ran cold, and something on the line between terror and rage seemed to nestle in his gut. "Pack everything up!" He ordered the people in the control room. "I want this place stripped to the ground in thirty minutes!"

He grabbed Larry's arm as the younger man moved to obey. "I'm taking our intruders to the Community. Stay here and monitor the external cameras. If you catch sight of a strike team moving in here, don't wait for my order. Evacuate the building immediately. It won't matter what they see at that point."

"Yes, sir," Larry said. For once, his voice had more than just duty in it. There was concern now as well.

-.-

From his vantage point across the docks, Tin could make out figures leaving the pumping substation. Or bunker actually, now that he could see how many were coming out. There were at least fifty of them, and two were handcuffed. Margo and Beb. He let out a breath of frustration as he saw them herded into one of the vans that had driven up.

This was all getting out of hand. He should have put a stop to it yesterday. It was none of their concern what the Jansen Paper people were doing with the extra power. It was just a distraction from the real enemy—the real target. Now he and Margo had kicked a real hornet's nest, and Beb was likely to get stung as well.

He could leave, he knew. He'd only narrowly avoided the initial net closing in, and whoever these mercs were, they moved like trained killers. What did he owe to Margo and Beb anyway, really? They were strangers at best, and liabilities at worst.

After another moment he hit the wall with a closed fist. Like it or not, they were his team. He'd never left a man behind back in the service, and he'd be damned if he started now. Trying to stay low, he moved back towards all the commotion. At least he did have one opportunity here. It looked like they were moving equipment out as well as their two prisoners. That meant confusion, and confusion he could use.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2022, 05:11:03 AM by Daen »