Saturday, June 11, 2016

Second Stage of Something Started: Overnight (Part IX)


Saga and Vearden held hands, as was tradition, as they walked through the portal created from the threshold to the backrooms of the secret pyramid chambers. Makarion promised them that there would be no more games, no more challenges, and that the job would be over once they finished construction. They spent hours on the island, reading instructions for how the nanotechnology worked. Technology had continued to march on, even since they first landed on the island several years ago. Their little cottage was still standing, but could have used a little maintenance while they were gone. Fortunately, someone had erected another little hut down a ways containing rovers, sky drones, and other automated entities. One of those was able to fix the place right up for them while they studied.
In the corner sat a powered-down android. No reason was given for his presence, so they decided to ask him. Unlike androids in pop culture, real androids didn’t need to be turned on with a switch. They could be woken up just like any other person, but with a little extra force. He looked at them with curiosity, “who are you people?”
“We are Saga and Vearden.”
His eyes darted back and forth as he was gathering as much information about his environment as possible, including everything he could tell by looking at them. “You’re salmon.”
“We are. Let me guess, you’ve met Mateo Matic.”
He nodded. “As well as Leona, Horace Reaver, and my former employer, Ulinthra.”
“Never heard of her,” Vearden said.
“Do you have a name?” Saga asked.
He scoffed. “Of course I do. It’s Harrison.”
“Nice to meet you, Harrison. Are you fully independent?”
“Other than the fact that I can be turned off like a toaster oven, yes.” He looked around the hut. “How much time have I missed?”
“It is the year 2079.”
“Thirty-one years,” he said under his theoretical breath.
“Who did this to you?”
“It was a man named Gilbert Boyce. Mateo, Leona, and I broke him out of prison while we were getting Reaver out. Ulinthra had just relieved me of my duties when he came out of nowhere and shut me down. I don’t know how he found my hibernation sequence, or why he wanted me out of the way. I certainly don’t know what I’m doing here.”
“We don’t know either,” Saga admitted. “A chooser named Makarion has contracted us to construct a replica of the Colosseum to be used for one of Mateo’s tribulations.”
He widened his eyes.
“It’s a long story,” Vearden said, somewhat dismissively. “But the point is that if we don’t do this, things will be bad for both us and him.”
“Just you two are building it?”
“Yes, and we hope all these robots.”
“Nanotech,” he said with a nod. “I can download the specs and handle that on my own. I don’t know why he hired humans for it. I need to find a satellite connection first so I can catch up on what I’ve missed. Plus, my battery is low.”
Harrison went outside and sat down on the sand like he was in deep meditation. It took a few hours for him to charge all the way back up and learn recent history. The human salmon continued to study the instructions, even though Harrison was apparently going to do all the work for them. While they were eating dinner, Harrison approached them and asked where the materials were. After they pointed to the stargate, he attempted to walk through it, but was met with nothing but open air. It would seemingly not work for non-salmon, or maybe just not androids. Maybe that was why Saga and Vearden were there, or maybe they were just there because the powers that be declared it to be done.
They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it almost could have been with this technology. Saga and Vearden hauled raw materials through the stargate from various locations. They were essentially stealing from reputable construction companies. Security guards from one such of these called Regolith caught them in their warehouse. When they called it in, they were told to give Saga and Vearden whatever they needed and send them on their way. It was strange, yes, but Makarion must have had them in their pocket somehow. Each time they pulled the materials through the portal, a rover was waiting for them so that it could drive it all the way to the golf course.
Every once in awhile, the two of them would take a break so they could go up and watch the progress. The robots had started out building a foundation before expanding it to a framework. After that the nanotechnology pretty much just went to work on its own. Drones would fly around, inspecting the work per instructions from Harrison who was monitoring diagnostics and software code. Skyscrapers were being built with this method in a matter of days. Those, however, used a number of different materials that would have to be combined with precision. The Colosseum replica was made of a sort of stone and plastic mix, patented by one company, and licensed out to others. In just over a day, the entire thing was built at its full glory, complete with the pieces and features nowadays missing from the original.
Makarion jumped into the middle of the amphitheatre while drones were completing their final inspections on the backside. “Wow, you guys really did it.”
“You’re surprised?” Vearden asked, both offended but also indifferent to what Makarion thought of them.
“I wasn’t completely certain that you would be able to pull it off. Ya know, I don’t actually control the portals. You open them, and the power that be in charge of you actually decides when and where you go. In fact, I didn’t know when you had arrived. I’ve been coming here once a week to check on your progress, but you’ve never been here. How did you guys get it done so quickly alone?”
“I figured that’s why you put me here,” Harrison began, “so that I could expedite the process.”
Makarion had been admiring their work, and hadn’t actually looked over at them. He was shocked to discover Harrison with them. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“You didn’t bring me?”
“What, no?”
“I was left in the hut, with all the artificials.”
“He’s how we finished overnight,” Saga said.
“Artificials. Hut. What? I didn’t give anybody a hut, and I don’t know what artificials you’re talking about.” It was exciting to see Makarion so distressed and confused.
Vearden jerked his chin up towards one of the drones who had come into view behind them. “There’s one of them.”
Makarion squinted and followed the drone as it glided towards another section. “That is not mine.”
Saga smiled. “Someone else is looking out for us.”
“Or for you,” Vearden said, in reference to Makarion.
Makarion shook his head. “The Cleanser would not have done this. We may have another player in town.” His watch began to beep. “The investigation, however, will have to wait. It’s almost midnight central.
Mateo Matic appeared in the timestream next to them and exhaled. “You weren’t kidding about the Colosseum being to scale.” Click here for the next installment...

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