Saturday, April 23, 2016

Second Stage of Something Started: Treasure (Part II)

Click here for the first series (Seeing is Becoming).
Click here for the previous installment...
Click here for the entire story.

“Makarion,” Vearden repeated, but not sarcastically.
“Interesting name,” Saga said. “Common in the future?”
“It has its place,” Makarion replied. He snapped his fingers. The scene changed, and they found themselves on a beach. It was unclear whether it was an island, or what. Besides the forest before them, and the ocean behind, there was only a single landmark of note. It was a giant metallic ring, with a ramp leading up to it.
“What is this? Where are we?”
“Not really important where we are. This is your home for the next few days.”
“Where’s the rest of the crew?”
Makarion looked at them funny. “Why would there be anyone else? You’re it.”
“You expect us to build a scale replica of the Colosseum?” Vearden scoffed. It’ll take us years.”
“Decades, at best,” Saga corrected.
Makarion was unfazed. “Is that a problem?”
“I’m joking!” Makarion yelled. “This is the 2070s. Construction will only take a few days. I just need someone moving supplies and monitoring progress for me. I would have robots do it, but since you showed up, I figured it was destiny.”
“What invention would allow such rapid development?” Saga asked with some rare genuine interest in technology.
“Nanofabricators,” Vearden answered instead.
“That’s right. You’re smart. Tiny machines programmed to do nothing but build, and to do so until they’re done.”
“And the ring?” Saga pressed.
“It’s a stargate,” Vearden answered again. “Looks like all that time I spent watching science fiction has paid off.”
“Evidently,” Makarion confirmed. “In the story, stargates are the only thing capable of sending passengers and cargo across space instantaneously. Of course in the real world, we have far more sophisticated ways of doing this. This ring here is just what I’m using to open portals so you can funnel the materials you’ll need. The nanotech will build the structure, but you need to give them stuff to work with.”
“You can apport people and open portals manually. Are you one of the powers that be?” Vearden asked.
Makarion seemed almost angered by this, but was able to keep his cool. “Do not lump me with those benchwarmers. I’m like you, except I choose how to use my power. Nobody controls me.”
“I didn’t know that was possible,” Saga began. “We’ve been looking for a way to step out of our own pattern. Can anyone do what you do? Could you teach us?”
Makarion started to walk up the ramp. As he did so, a portal opened to a second location, one that didn’t utilize the infamous unstable wormhole vortex found in the show. “I’ll think about it. I like games, by the way. The instructions for your work are hidden somewhere on the island. Before you can get to work, you have to find them, savvy?” He stepped through the portal and let it close behind him.
“He is apparently not concerned with time,” Saga pointed out, “if he wants us to spend some only finding instructions.”
“This guy sounds insane. Should we be helping him?”
“Bad things happen when you disobey the powers. All we can do is what we’re told. If they wanted us to stop him from recreating the Colosseum, I feel like that would be obvious to us.”
Vearden sighed out of both fatigue and concession. “Where do we start?”
“Look for a clue, I guess.”
They separated and searched for anything out of the ordinary, besides a giant magical teleporting ring. Vearden thought he saw something shiny peeking out from the ground, so he got down on his knees and pushed the sand away. Upon finding out what it was, he reeled and fell to his back.
“What is it?”
“I think it’s a dead body.”
“That can’t be good.” Saga walked over calmly and looked down to where Vearden was staring. It appeared to be an eye. An eye with a fork stuck in it. There were no other remains. She reached down.
“Don’t touch it!”
“Hold up,” she said, picking it up and examining it. “It’s made of wood. It’s not real.”
“Why is there a forked wooden eye on the beach? Is that our first clue?”
“Does this seem familiar to you?”
“Again, a forked wooden eye. On a beach. No, no it doesn’t. Should it?”
Saga sifted through her memory archives. The last time she watched something on film or television was decades ago, but she was finally able to recall the movie. “Pirates.”
“Pirates did this?”
“As in...of the Caribbean?”
Vearden recognized the name, but it too was a long time for him. They would have seen the movie as children. That was another life. “Okay...”
“Makarion did say he likes games.”
“Movies are not games.”
“I’ve heard it both ways.”
“Okay, well that tells us we’re in a movie, and also which movie. But that doesn’t tell us where the instructions are, unless they’re etched on the eye.”
“They’re not,” Saga replied. “But the handle of the fork was pointing inland, so we should head that way.”
“That’s a bit of a stretch.”
“The reason there’s a fork in it is because it was shot out of a cannon.” She pointed, “the fork came from that way. We should go look for its hypothetical origin.”
Vearden shook his head as another concession. “Very well.”
It was not long before they found their target; an actual cannon. It was dirty and rusting with cobwebs covering up the barrel. Saga agreed to be the one to reach inside since Vearden was afraid of spiders. Her hand returned with the next clue; a leather pouch. She unraveled it to find a rather large and ornate gold coin; triangles and swirls, symbols, and a skull. It was beautiful, and reminiscent of their past in the past when such trinkets held incredible value. In today’s world, it was probably worth almost nothing.
Another clue was written on the inside of the pouch. Blood of the battle, water of womb. // Go to a place where flowers don’t bloom. // Scary and dark, rocky and wet. // You will not need Tears, you will not need Sweat. // The one who jumps forward, but always looks back // is kin to the one who will put you on track.
“We’re obviously looking for a cave,” Vearden said.
The cave took a considerably longer time to find than the cannon, especially since there were multiple rocky structures that a film-obsessed psychopath might consider sufficiently cave-enough. “He’s not necessarily a psychopath.”
“He probably is.” Looking back, the cave they finally found had to be it anyway, because it was deep enough to be scary, dark, and wet. After some further searching, they finally discovered a chest. A small slit, about the size of the coin was cut on the top of the lid. A knife was ominously resting in the slit. “What happens in this part of the movie?”
Saga shrugged. “I don’t remember.”
“You’re the one who figured out this was all a movie recreation.”
“That doesn’t mean I have hyperthymesia.”
“I don’t know what that is.”
“Let’s just read the clue again,” Saga suggested.
They looked it over together. Why are Tears and Sweat capitalized?” Vearden wondered.
“Because they’re names.”
“But we don’t need them.”
“Which means that we need...”
And then they simultaneously realized what the answer was. “Blood.”
“Whose blood?”
“Do we think it matters?”
“The last part suggests it does,” Saga noted.
“Couldn’t we just try one, and then the other if it doesn’t work?”
“How would we get the coin back?”
“Good point.
“So who is the one who jumps forward, but always looks back?”
And then they simultaneously realized what the answer was. “Mateo.”
“You’re Mateo’s grandfather.”
“Sort of,” Vearden clarified.
Saga nodded. “Sort of.”
“But our blood doesn’t match. L wasn’t my daughter until after she had her son...and then died and came back to life. Mateo and I are not related.”
“The chest is fastened with your genetic code. The reference to Mateo was just a way to let us know that, and was probably the easiest rhyme this Makarion guy could come up with.”
“I guess we’ve confirmed that he’s insane.”
Saga took the knife from the chest and waited for Vearden to be ready enough to present his hand, knowing that he would not want to have to cut himself. Ever since he lost the super-healing power he had at one time been imbued with from the Gondilak fight on Orolak, he was squeamish about his own blood. Makarion probably knew that about him. He turned away while she drew a healthy dose of his blood and wrapped his fingers around the coin. After she dropped it down the slit, they could hear it roll back and forth down switchbacks. A series of other mechanisms clinked and clanged, along with a clearly erroneous release of gas, just for effect. The chest opened on its own, at last revealing their packet of instructions.
“And so it begins...” Click here for the next installment...

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