Davis, Elix and Abishua are continuing their trek through the sewers. They’ve maintained a determined silence about them since they had talked about the new Intelliguises they were going to make.
“You’ll have to excuse me for breaking this productive quietness; I need to ask you, what your move is once we have made enough Intelliguises?” Dr Abishua enquires.
Davis understands Abishua’s predicament; he’s been away from conversation for some time, it’s natural for him to want to talk, about anything.
“We’ll need to massively and aggressively expand all our Clusters, we’ll replenish all the ranks we’ve lost so far and then we’ll double them at minimum”
The Doctor nods in agreeance.
“And then what will you do?”
Davis turns his eyes away from the conical view ahead to Abishua’s face.
“We follow through with Artemis’ plan, the plan he’d have no doubt told you about if it weren’t for…”
Davis stops, he’d tell you he stopped in fear of cutting into Elix’s emotions and opening a fresh wound but in that moment, Davis felt the most Human he had in a long time, he missed his friend, his peer. It took him a little longer than the rest but the woe had set in. He coughed to disguise his break in composure.
“…We make our move on the Encephalon”
“The brain?” Abishua quickly asks.
“You want to attack the brain? Tell me have you heard the story of Hercules and the hydra?”
Davis looks blankly into Abishua’s eyes.
“I do…” Elix answers.
“…Any time Hercules cut off one head, two more would take its place”
“Yes exactly. The Encephalon would just divide and spread like a cancer”
Davis’ eyes squint with disagreement
“But the Encephalon isn’t a hydra, and this isn’t a fairy tale”
“No, you are right, we’re not fighting a Hydra with nine heads, we’re fighting a puppeteer with many hands, only its hands don’t grow back like the hydra’s, well not as quick as they did for Hercules” He chuckles.
“What are you getting at old man?” Davis asks
“I propose we cut off the hands”
Davis doesn’t quite catch on, Elix does though.
“The satellite arrays, of course, it’s what’s holding everyone in place and the signals they emit are the strings”
“Okay can we stop using these analogies and talk straight” Davis is becoming more and more confused.
Abishua sighs at his brain’s inability to catch on.
“If we shut down the right satellite we can stop the signals from transmitting to the Intelliguises within one hundred seventy million squared kilometres”
Elix’s eyes squint with disagreement at Abishua’s math.
“That’s one third of the planet, I thought there were nine emission arrays on Earth, how will shutting just one down knock out two others?”
Abishua smirks in a fashion suggesting he’s been waiting for this exact question to pop up.
“There is a satellite, on the last island, that is built into a power station. This power station, has been wired to two other emission arrays on the island, all we would need to do is shutdown the power station”
“Hmm, the emissions array?” Davis asks himself as he paces ahead of the other two.
He turns and faces them walking backwards now.
“If we disable the array we can free an entire army…” He smiles.
“…Imagine how pissed they’d all be when they wake to find out what the government has been doing to them this whole time. Wait, you said the last Island?”
The group stops walking and form a rough triangle of conversation.
“Yes, the last Island, it used to be known as Tasmania before the Ocean Crust was built; now it’s home to the Encephalon and all who maintain the Assimilated”
“Isn’t that going to be just as hard to infiltrate as the Encephalon itself?” Elix asks.
Abishua smirks once again and raises his index finger to about head height.
“Unless. Unless we attack the Encephalon” His grin stretches wide.
“Oh, OH” Elix says, realising the reason behind the smile.
“Hang on, what? What do you mean? That was my plan from the start”
Elix shakes her head, blinking slowly.
“No, Davis, it’s subterfuge, we do exactly what the Encephalon want us to do…”
“…Only we don’t do it” Abishua finishes.
“So, are we attacking the Encephalon or not? Give it to me straight Doctor”
“Yes and no” He replies.
Davis sighs at the answer he almost knew was going to come.
“We assemble an army…”
“…Then we have them attack the Encephalon…”
“Okay, so far this is still my idea”
“…And then we use the attack as a distraction to infiltrate the power station”
Davis joins the other two with a gleeful smile reaching for his ears.
“Now we’re on the same page” He says.
Elix can see Davis’ mind wander off as he visualises the possible scenarios in his head.
“Abishua, what do you know of the bridges that link Tasmania to the rest of the world?”
“There are several bridges that link to Tasmania, they are used to transfer waste materials from Tasmania to the processing plants on the main land and send clean water back, they also sometimes transport personnel. But you’d be mad to try and cross those, it’s one hundred kilometres long and plagued with The Assimilated”
“That’s perfect, it’ll buy us plenty of time” Says Davis.
“Time for what exactly?” Elix asks.
“To go for a swim of course”
Elix’s eyes light up with an excitement reminiscent of the day she received her new arm.
“You know what’s in those waters, don’t you?” Abishua dissuasively asks.
Davis laces his smug words with chuckling:
“Hey this was your idea Doc”
“I, I thought we’d go by boat or plane or something”
“No, way too visible, we’ll use the cover of the ocean depths to sneak in…”
Davis pats Abishua on the back; he cringes.
“…My mind is brimming with ideas thanks to you, and by the time we get back I’ll have a plan better than just swimming the hundred kilometres”
“Swimming?!” Keyon gulps.
“Ooh I’ve never been swimming before, I read that swimming is the closest a Hûm can get to flying. We better try it before they catch us, what do you say Keyon?”
Davis and Elix can tell Abishua has some kind of fear of the ocean, but anything they say is likely to make his fear worse.
“If Artemis taught me one thing in the many years that I knew him, it’s that a scientist should never be afraid of a new experience, you never know what lesson you might learn”
Davis shoots a single laugh into the sewers ahead.
“That’s the way, now let’s get going, I’m sure you could think up something to ward off the sharks by the time we get home”
Abishua hesitantly starts walking and mumbles:
“That’s not the only thing in the euphotic zone I’m worried about”
“Malcom Shh.” Blister whispers.
“But I didn’t…”
“SHH” Trace and Blister unanimously hiss.
“We’re approaching home base. I’ll climb out first, then you Malcom, Trace, you get our backs”
Blister unlatches the trap door from his perch on the ladder, he raises it as quietly as possible and peers out for any Assims.
“It’s clear, let’s go”
Blister springs up and out of the doorway into the freshly rained on alleyway behind the Raven’s Tongue.
“C’mon, c’mon quick” He says.
Trace and Malcom climb out and swiftly survey the area.
“Move” Snaps Blister.
The three Hûms race up the external staircase to the elevator shaft and climb down the ladder to the bottom, where Malcom feels the wall behind the ladder for the keyhole that’s placed just out of sight. He inserts the key and turns it; a panel pops out on the other side of the wall. Trace is ready; she opens it and enters the nine-digit code.
“Hey Blister what did the Patient say to the dentist?”
Blister tries his hardest not to laugh, Malcom looks at them bewildered, Trace presses enter on the key pad, Malcom’s voice echoes on the steel walled chute
The group slides safely, albeit uncomfortably for Malcom, to the bottom into the white room with the mirror.
“Not funny” Malcom states.
Trace pulls from her pocket a garage door opener with a keypad on it and presses in an entirely different nine-digit code. The door skids open and Malcom and Blister enter, pistols drawn scanning diligently with all their focus. Trace follows behind and the three split up to search the base in a well-rehearsed fashion; Davis would be proud.
“All Clear” They sound off in the order they entered.
The team then converge on the sewer entrance. Blister pulls out his short-wave radio and switches to the appropriate channel.
“The fox is in the hole”
He waits a moment for a response
“The eagle is waiting” Davis replies.
“That’s not what we practiced” Blister retorts.
“Damn it Blister the Eagle is hungry, open the nest already!”
“You think its them?” Blister asks Malcom and Trace.
Trace sighs and pushes him out of the way to let their fellow Hûms inside.