Author Topic: Epilogue  (Read 6030 times)

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Offline Daen

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« on: July 19, 2022, 06:29:57 AM »

Away from the city, speeding low to the ground, the shuttle remained steady under Diana's careful guidance. Behind her, everyone on the plane was still in shocked silence. Not at the explosion itself, but at what had caused it.

Finally, she looked back. "We're far enough away now. The dust should have given us enough cover." She checked the jamming device mounted behind the cockpit and nodded. "And we're invisible to their radar. As far as they're concerned, we're all dead back there."

"I can't believe they tried to kill us!" Bez exclaimed, his voice sounding hollow.

Making sure the autopilot was stable, Diana looked back at him. "Believe it," she said darkly. "Jules was more than willing to put a bullet in my head to keep me from escaping, and these are the people who gave him his marching orders."

Naomi gently pushed her way forward, maneuvering past the bulky Cain servers. "You're sure they won't figure out we're gone when they examine the wreckage in the hangar bay?"

Bez shook his head. "I marked up the other reactor by a large margin. The explosion would be so massive it wouldn't leave much left to find. They'll assume we were incinerated. Unless you didn't loop the cameras right," he looked at Simon.

"I did," he said quietly. "The feeds wouldn't show anyone going near the other shuttle. With the cameras destroyed, there's no evidence I altered them, either."

"Then we're in the clear," Diana concluded. "For now at least. Obviously we can't go to our original destination." She looked around at the plane. "Anyone got any bright ideas?"

"I might," Simon said after a moment. "I downloaded a ton of information from Cain's database before they made me shut him off and wipe his memory. There were maps in there, including some of his larger manufacturing facilities. They were underground so he could hide them from us, which means they could be a good place for us to set up shop. All we'd have to do is seal the entrance, and if the area's close enough to a waterway, we can use electrolysis to get enough oxygen. It would take some time, but this plane's got several days of air, and those facilities have O2 storage themselves, for their refining process."

Naomi leaned in. "You're sure no one knows about these places?"

"Positive. I deleted the data myself, and the only copy is right here," he hefted his tablet. "I doubt I can hack Noah's systems, but with the jamming device, I think eventually I could sneak back over to where he stores the cell samples. Some day we can start stealing, uh, reclaiming, the human cells we had to leave behind. It wouldn't be the first time I've stolen from Noah," he said with a surprised tone in his voice. "That would take months, though, even if we had some place to store them. We should just focus on basic necessities for now."

"Agreed," Diana put in from the cockpit, though she'd had to strain to listen in. "All in all, we're lucky to be alive. It's a good thing you noticed the damage to the other shuttle's reactor in time to get us all in here."

There was a silence behind her, and Diana felt a moment of concern. "What's wrong?"

Simon was slow in answering. "That's the thing, Di. I didn't find it on my own. I had some help."

There was a stumbling noise behind her, and Simon pushed his way up into the copilot's seat. He looked a bit queasy at the ground rushing past under them, but maybe it was also at their collective brush with death. Simon hesitated, and then pulled something out of his pocket. It was that translucent spike she'd seen before—the pin made out of beeswax.

She was about to ask, but he seemed so troubled, that she just let him speak on his own. "The message inside the wax is E148, remember? I ran through the database for that combo of letters and numbers, and came up dry. Then I tried the Bible, because we were all raised with it. If ‘E’ is for the name of a book, and ‘148’ is chapter and verse, then only two options are Ezekiel 14:8 and Exodus 14:8.”

He pulled up a line of text on his tablet. “Ezekiel says, ‘And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.’” He paused. “Not exactly uplifting, is it? But the Exodus version was a bit more enlightening. Here: ‘And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with a high hand.’”

Diana and the others sat in silence for a bit, or as much as the engines would let them be quiet. “You mean it was a warning? Whoever sent that spike was telling you Adam wouldn’t just let us go, the same way the Pharoah wouldn’t let the Jews go? That he’d rather see us dead than gone?”

Simon nodded. “As for the wax pin itself, remember that Greek myth I loved so much when we were little? The one about Pelops?"

Diana had to search her memory. "Vaguely. Yeah, you read it to me through our primitive phone, didn't you?"

He nodded. "I read it to one other person, too. A classmate of mine told me there was another myth about another guy named Pelops. He read it to me, and I memorized both. In the first one, Pelops was a victim. Killed by his dad and then eventually resurrected. In the second one, he was the culprit. He sabotaged a chariot to win a race. He did it by replacing the chariot axle with a wax pin. The chariot was fine for a few minutes, but then the was pin was destroyed and the chariot fell apart. The rider was killed."

Now that he was retelling it, she could remember his stories more clearly. "You think whoever sent you that pin was warning you about sabotage?"

"I'm sure of it. If I hadn't gotten this warning—a warning only I would understand because I loved those stories so much as a kid—we'd all be dead by now. We would have flown for maybe a minute or two, but then the reactor would have gone up, and..." He mimicked an explosion with his hands.

Bez and Naomi pushed in, and Diana was aware of others pushing forward, too. Naomi was the first to ask the most important question. "Who would have known about that myth? Who sent that pin to you?"

"Aside from Diana, there was only one person who could have known," he said softly. "The same guy who read me that myth in the first place. It was Torth. Now, he goes by Argent."

They sped onward in silence for a moment, digesting that. "Why would he warn you of anything? For all we know, he was the one who marked up the reactor and tried to kill us!"

"We don't know anything for sure," Bez said steadily, holding his hand against the fuselage. "If he did send that message, then he wanted us to escape, or at least to survive. Whatever his reasons, I'll just be grateful for now."

"Me too," Diana said fervently. She beckoned for the tablet, and Simon placed it in her hands. After a moment, she began altering their heading to take the plane to the general vicinity.

"Argent always likes to plan ahead. Years, even decades," Simon mused. "We probably have enough time to set down somewhere secret, and get a decent settlement going. With our reprogrammed friend," he gestured back at Cain's drives, "we can do it pretty fast, too. Argent won't know exactly where we are, and if he wants to search, he'll have to do it in secret. Still, he probably knows we made it. Eventually he'll come looking for us."

"Let him come," Bez said, "or better yet, don't. Once we get things going, and get the cell samples we need to really get our society off the ground, you should reach out to him. Make the first move, and ask him, in secret, why he warned you."

"Maybe," Simon said quietly. He still looked troubled.

It was that same feeling Diana remembered after first moving in with him. Freedom from responsibilities she'd never wanted, and freedom to pursue the path she loved! Only this time it didn't just apply to her and Simon, but to over a hundred others as well! She didn't care why Argent had warned them, or even why Adam and the others had tried to kill her and all her friends. For the first time in their lives, their future was truly their own.

They sped onward to the northwest, leaving most of their cares behind. What uncertain future they faced, or what dangers they may have to handle, didn't matter. The risk was theirs to take, and so was the future.

« Last Edit: July 21, 2022, 03:30:30 AM by Daen »