Thus ends NaNoWriMo 2015. The story’s not done yet, but the month’s contest has been “won.” There are five or six chapters left, but I know how it ends, which is curiously refreshing.
I’ll get the remaining chapters written and posted here “soon,” followed by some post-mortem discussions. Be patient with the term “soon” — remember, I just started a new job today (***happy dance***! ***happy dance***! ***happy dance***!), plus it’s the holiday season with lights, tree, cards, presents, and so on. But I promise, those last five or six chapters will show up. While this is the second time I’ve “won” NaNoWriMo, I want it to be the first time that I’ve ever actually finished the freakin’ story.
Thanks to all of you who have been reading along, especially those of you who aren’t related to me and didn’t have to read in order to keep me from crying!
While I normally put in a lot of internal links to previous, related posts here, I won’t be doing that for what I hope will be this year’s thirty NaNoWriMo posts. If you have jumped into or stumbled onto this story in mid-adventure, there are plenty of other ways to navigate around the site to find previous installments. Actually doing so is left as an exercise to the student.
Stover paced impatiently in the dim, flickering light. Suni watched him silently, waiting until she either had news or an update to give to him or he had something to say to her.
A chime sounded softly in her ear. She held her hand up to her head and touched the earpiece there, opening the connection. She listened for a moment, before whispering, “Stand by.”
Suni rose and walked over to Stover, gently putting her hand on his arm to get his attention. He looked up at her, startled, apparently having forgotten that she was in the room with him.
“Jordin, they’ve just reached the first ship. The pilots report that the ship appears to be intact and safe and they have seen members of the crew on deck. There is still no radio communication with the ship, even when they’re overhead, so they will be dropping the first rescue team immediately, then going to check on the second ship. We should have a connection with the first ship in just a few minutes.”
“Thank you, please put their call through to here when it comes in. Do you have any further updates on Doctor Russell or Mister Winston?”
“No, the last contact we had with them was when the FBI office transferred them to their secure facility. Their system still shows them to be there, although it is clear from our access to their internal security video system that they are not. Our contacts there are attempting to trace their movements and recover them, but there are unexplained discrepancies between what their system is showing us and what our independent sources are showing. It is difficult to resolve that issue remotely, although our best team is working on it.”
“Are they capable of simply taking over the system at that FBI office?” Stover asked.
“Yes, I suppose they are, but that would set off numerous alerts throughout both the FBI and other government agencies. For a violation of their system integrity and security of that degree, we would be hard pressed to keep our operations and capabilities hidden, even with our resources.”
“Tell them to do it. I do not care what it takes. It will take the government weeks to investigate and begin taking actions against us, while we will be launching our attacks against them within days. We will destroy them long before they can express their outrage against us.”
Suni stopped, weighing her words carefully.
“Jordin, are you sure that this is a wise course of action? We are so close to your goals, but we have not yet achieved them. If we make a mistake, there is still an opportunity for our enemies to discover us and attempt to stop us.”
“They can not stop us, the gods have decreed it to be so. We can not be defeated in our sacred quest.”
“Our sacred quest is not preordained. It is still possible that our enemies can defeat us. A key element of our strategy is surprise. Now they are blind and lazy, so we move among them with impunity. However, they are sleeping dragons which can destroy us if aroused. We can not hope to take on the world’s military organization with our private forces.”
“We can if we are fighting against rocks and arrows. You know that we have the ability to collapse the fundamental backbone of their society with a word. When that word is given, they will be naked, hungry, and helpless before us. We need only stand by and watch as they destroy each other, fighting over the crumbs that remain.”
“Jordin, I know that we have gone over your plans in detail, but…”
“They are not my plans!” Stover roared. “They have been handed down to us from the gods themselves. I have been but an unworthy conduit since the beginning, honored to have been chosen and to reap the benefits of their mercy, yet humbled by the glorious extent of their overarching view. They will bring about a new age, a new beginning, and we will sit at their right hand when that day comes.”
“Yes, Jordin, I accept this absolutely. I only wish to assist you, in this case by playing the Devil’s advocate and searching for any oversights or errors that might have been committed. I do not believe the plan to be at fault, I only wish to make sure that our execution of their plans to be precise and correct.”
“We have done as they have said. Every stone has been overturned in our search for any weakness, any way in which we could be defeated. We are now invincible. Please tell your team to do whatever is necessary to get the information we need in order to find Mister Winston and Doctor Russell.”
“Yes, Jordin.” With that she walked over to the far side of the room and made her call, while Stover again began to pace.
Outside of the giant window a few flashes of grey became visible, resolving themselves into dolphins, swimming and feeding near the shore. Two of them began to hover near the wall. Suni recognized Pahi and Pohaku.
Another chime sounded in her ear as another message was received. She gave an order and walked back to Stover. As she approached, a video window opened on the glass wall. In it she could see the bridge of one of their medium sized cutters, with several of its crew as well as two of the rescue crewmen.
“Mister Lewis, what happened?” asked Stover, turning toward the screen.
“We do not have any exact information, sir. We are speculating that our data and control systems were attacked, probably through our communications system. We saw only a brief interruption, the systems seemed to go berserk, and then everything went dead. We lost all engines, steering, navigation, radio, everything.”
“Was anyone injured?”
“No, sir, we were running hard in pursuit of the target when everything went dead. We slowed quickly without power and that threw us around a bit, but nothing too serious.”
“What is your status now?”
“Pretty much the same as it was when we were attacked. We have been working to try to get some systems back online, but all that we have been able to deploy are the solar powered emergency systems. We have tried to connect that to the other systems, but with no success. We’re afloat, we have emergency supplies, but nothing is working aside from a few lights. We’re adrift, probably in need of a tow.”
“Were you able to capture or kill Kolohe before you were attacked?”
“No, sir,” Lewis said, “we were pulling within a mile of him, close enough to have him on the short-range sonar. He was slowing and we were gaining fast, then we were dead in the water. We have been hoping that the other ship was able to complete the mission.”
“You have not been in contact with them?”
“No, sir, we haven’t been in contact with anyone by any means. We’ve just been stuck out here until our rescue team arrived.”
“Anything else to add, Mister Lewis?”
“No, sir, that’s all we know. Everything was going well until, blam! Suddenly everything was dead.”
“Suni, take care of them,” Stover said as he turned and walked away, over to the giant window again.
“Mister Lewis,” said Suni, “there is a rescue ship on the way. They should be there in approximately thirty hours. Use the new radio equipment that you’ve been given to contact them and coordinate your rendezvous. If anything else important comes up, please let us know immediately.”
“Yes, ma’am. Lewis out.” The transmission was cut and the screen closed.
“Pei, please have someone else talk to the crew on the second ship when contact with them is restored,” said Stover. “If they have any additional information to share, relay it to me immediately. Otherwise, have them coordinate their rendezvous the same as the first ship.”
“Yes, sir,” said the soft woman’s voice from the air above his head.
Outside the window, Pahi and Pohaku darted by, rose to the surface to breathe, then descended once again to hover and swim just outside of the structure. Faintly through the glass, their clicks and whistles could be heard.
“Sir, Pahi says that he and his people have answered your call. He hopes that it is an indication that you have either Kolohe, Doctor Aoki, or both to turn over to them, as you have promised many times.”
“Tell Pahi that I regret deeply that neither Kolohe nor Doctor Aoki is here and I understand how this might be upsetting to him and Pokaku. However, the time has come for the fulfillment of all of our plans, the execution of which will destroy the human’s world in its entirety and bring about the new age in which he and his people will be masters of the world.”
The two dolphins became agitated and swam off into the gloom, before swimming back again, bumping each other and slapping at each other with their tails. They rose once again to the surface and seemed to wrestle there, surrounded by an aura of froth and bubbles churned up by their efforts. Finally one of the dolphins broke free and swam off, while the other dove back down to the window.
“Sir, Pahi asks for you to instruct him if he truly is to be able to assist in destroying the human world. He warns that when the blow has been struck, if we do not deliver Kolohe and Doctor Aoki to him and he is forced to hunt them down himself, he will come here to first destroy you for your failure to keep your word to him, as so many humans have done before.”
“Tell Pahi that I understand, that it would be only fair for it to be so. Ask if his troops are in place as we have arranged at the many points where our attacks are to take place.”
“Sir, Pahi says that his troops are ready as he has promised. He needs only to use your magic tools to speak to them so they may hear the orders from him directly.”
“Thank Pahi for me and ask him to be here when the sun rises in the morning. That will be when we strike our blow.”
“Sir, Pahi says that he will be here when the sun appears above the waters and above the sky.”
With that, Pahi and the other dolphins disappeared out to sea.
Stover turned to his wife and stared at her, his face expressionless.
“What is troubling you, Jordin?” Suni asked.
“You have always had a keenly analytical mind. What do you make of the situation with the ships pursuing Kolohe?”
“It is obvious that they were attacked. We know of no natural phenomenon which could come close to disabling both ships simultaneously in the fashion seen, but it is within the realm of believability to see it as some sort of electronic attack. The only question would be finding out who is responsible.”
“It will be critical to not only discover who was behind this attack, but also how it was carried out. Our ships were travelling in near radio silence, without any normal methods of tracking. Our security and systems are the best in the world, rivaling most government, intelligence, and military agencies. We were told that our security protocols were unbreakable. Yet despite all of that, someone was able to not only locate our ships, but to also find a method to break in and disable our ships.”
“The speed and complexity of the attack would indicate an extremely sophisticated computer system, to say the least. There will be a limited number of companies which…”
She stopped as Stover had suddenly gone stumbled and jerked around to face the window before standing as tall as he could and becoming rigid. He was staring out into the depths, again speaking to someone only he could see and hear.
“Yes…that’s correct…it must have been…but how could that be…isn’t that impossible? If you say it is so, then it must be true…I will find it and destroy it.”
Stover shifted his head to the side, as if listening. His face began to contort with agony, his eyes squeezing shut as tears began to flow. A choked gasp escaped from his throat, followed by the howl of a wounded animal.”
“What? That can not possibly be true! Never! No, no, I do, but…there is no way…I can not believe that. Yes, yes I am but…of course, we have come so far…yes, we must see this through to its end at any cost, but…far be it from me to doubt, but you surely must be mistaken! Yes, yes he was…yes, I did see that…But I thought…I would not have…I see…I did not know. Thank you for sharing your wisdom…yes, I am your instrument, your sword of destruction…yes, we will cleanse…yes, it will be as you desire…yes, we will be ready.”
With that, Stover went limp and slumped to the floor. Suni had moved close to him while he was having his vision, so she was prepared to catch him. She checked him, ready to call for medical assistance immediately given the anguish that seemed to have consumed him at the end, but was surprised to find that he was quickly recovering. In less than a minute, he pulled away from her and stood.
“We were attacked by something never before seen of this Earth, a creature most assuredly of Satan himself, a creature without a soul. It was not human, or of human creation, but a creature of energy and light alone, of consciousness with neither a corporeal presence nor the ability to talk to our Creator and ask for his forgiveness and grace. A creature of silicon and photons now exists among us.”
“Jordin, do you believe that we were hunted and attacked by some sort of intelligent computer, a machine consciousness? That’s impossible.”
“Nothing in this world is impossible, given the abominations that we have brought upon ourselves. It is the only explanation that fits the facts. There could be no clearer sign that the time is now for us to remove the cancer that has consumed this world and bring about a new and better world.”
A chime sounded, loud and insistent.
“Yes, Pei,” said Stover. “What is it?”
“I have an urgent call from the head of security. He says it is regarding the attack on our ships.”
“Put him through.”
An image appeared on the window, showing the harried and nervous security chief.
“Sir, we’ve gotten the first data back from the ships’ computers and begun to analyze what was done to them. Most of it would be unbelievable if we didn’t de facto know it had actually been done, but the most important part is that it wasn’t only an attack. Before the ships’ systems were ordered to self-destruct, they were also ordered to upload all of their data.”
“Do you see and believe now?” Stover asked, turning to Suni before turning back to the comm feed. “Is there any good news to deliver?”
“Yes, we’ve looked at where the stolen data was sent. It’s a convoluted trail and whoever did it was very, very good. But they weren’t perfect. We have strong evidence that the data ultimately ended up in a series of highly protected and encrypted data vaults at Homolacrum.”
“Thank you. Let me know if you have anything further to report.” The feed went dark.
“Homolacrum would be one of the companies that would have the capabilities needed to create such a creature,” Stover said.
“Yes, they could have, but it is difficult to believe that they did,” said Suni. “If they were doing any research which could have led to this development we would have known about it, even before we installed our monitoring software in their system. Now we are monitoring them closely, yet there is no indication that they are aware of any such creature.”
“How could it be a coincidence that Homolacrum is also where Doctor Aoki worked and was somehow mysteriously able to evade us entirely when we tried to visit her? The same Doctor Aoki who is our best link to Kolohe? It is not possible. Our attacker must be somehow tied to Homolacrum.”
“What do you wish to do, Jordin?”
“Since we already have a way to get in and do whatever we wish in their system, let us use it. Have our people use that advantage to get in, find this creature, and destroy it. I do not care if it is to be done elegantly or by brute force, but it must be done immediately. Then, when this abomination has been destroyed, we will use our access to make Homolacrum the initial point of infection for the collapse of the world’s evil infrastructure. They have earned this opportunity, should any survive with the knowledge.”
“I will make it happen as you wish,” Suni said, turning to leave.
“Pei can carry out those orders. Pei, have you been listening as I’ve asked?”
“Yes, sir, I have.”
“Pei, please pass my instructions to our security personnel for immediate execution. Please let me know if there are any new developments.”
“Yes, sir,” said Pei.
Suni had stopped halfway to the door as Stover gave Pei his orders, and was now looking back at him across the room.
“I will be back,” she said. “I have other pressing business to attend to so that we will be ready for when you give the order to begin.”
“A moment, please, before you go.”
“You have been with me from the beginning, Suni. You were there when I first was visited, and when I was given the knowledge that led to such tremendous opportunities for us. You have been by my side as we laid our plans, made our alliances, and built our power. When all others have failed me, you have stayed faithful and loyal to me.”
“Of course I have, Jordin. How could I have possibly done anything else? Not only are you my husband, but you are the chosen one who will bring us into the new age.”
“Yes. But it was also you who so wished to bring Doctor Russell here, despite my doubts. Why was that?”
“He is a noted surgeon and possesses a keen mind. He has many highly influential friends and contacts in many areas of society which we could make use of. He has also been a secret follower of yours for many years. It was my belief that allowing him to have personal contact with you would be of great benefit to us. We have discussed this at length in the past.”
“Yes, we discussed it many times, and I objected many times, yet you kept insisting. So when I relented and allowed you to have this boon, my grace is repaid by his desertion and betrayal.”
“Jordin, I’ve already admitted openly to my mistake and apologized repeatedly. I made an error in judgement, but our backup capabilities, our infiltration and influence in the government systems, served us well and contained the problem.”
“Is that truly the only reason you wished to bring the good Doctor Russell here?”
“Yes, of course, whatever else could it have been?” asked Suni, growing exasperated.
“How is it that Mister Winston suddenly turned traitor?” Stover asked, abruptly changing the subject.
“We have discussed this as well. I do not have any other information. I am as confused and surprised as you are about his actions.”
“So close to His goals, His destiny, and Jesus was betrayed by one of those closest to him, and denied three times by another.” The door to the office opened and several security guards entered. “Now, in my most trying hour, I have been betrayed by two of those closest to me. Those who were chosen to stand at my right hand and at my left in the coming glory have instead decided that they should try to bring me to ruin.”
“Jordin, don’t be ridiculous, you can’t possibly think that I have ever done anything to harm you or betray you. I have been nothing but loyal and faithful to you with my every breath.”
The security crew came and stood behind and on either side of Suni.
“Pei,” said Stover, “please check Suni’s timeline for the last forty-eight hours so see if she in any way assisted Doctor Russell and Mister Winston in their unauthorized trip to Los Angeles.”
“I’m sorry, sir, my privacy protocols do not allow me to give you that information without Mrs. Stover’s express permission.”
“Ah, yes. Perhaps I should have remembered that. Suni, please give Pei your express permission to allow me access to your timeline for the last forty-eight hours.”
Suni was frozen, her mind racing, searching for a suitable answer, a way to resolve this without it becoming a disaster. The moment and her silence stretched on.
“Suni? Please give Pei permission to do what she needs to do.”
Suni looked sadly at Stover, defeated.
“You don’t understand, and you never will,” she said. “You have done such amazing things for the entire world, you had such gifts and abilities, yet you have allowed it to all slip away into madness. You have to stop now or it will all be lost.”
Stover also looked as if he had been pummeled, sorrowful that his vision had been proven correct.
“We are at the moment of triumph, of seeing the success of all that we have worked for yet you have chosen death over life. It is you who have succumbed to madness.”
“Jordin, you can not destroy the world. Even if you had the means, you could not be allowed to kill ten billion people in order to achieve this insane goal.”
“Ah, but I do have the means,” said Jordin. “Being in your special position in my life, you have been told much. But you have not been told everything.”
He nodded to the security team and turned away, not daring to watch while they lead Suni away.