Day 68. 33 pages, 10,956 words.
“Okay,” Lelhmak broke the silence, “we would be happy to deal with your Demon problem for you. I trust you still have the autonomy – and the authority – to provide us with some sort of weapons, as you referenced in your communications? Or is it more a matter of signing off on the use of some other Flesh-Eater system that could handle it, according to treaty…? Obviously we can’t handle a Demon with our bare hands.”
When the Destarion replied, her voice had returned to rich warmth … but Predericon found this even more unsettling than the coldness with which the platform had described Odium’s trespass.
“Adherence to my covenants is of course of highest priority,” she said, “but I must admit that I am so accustomed to them by now that I have trouble differentiating between ‘avoiding prohibited actions’ and ‘normal operation’. In either case, I have arrived at a strategy that should prove effective and legally acceptable.
“Odium is currently contained in a series of shielded chambers that I am subjecting to a combination of paradox generation and physical rearrangement,” she went on. “It is something of a structural juggling act, designed to keep the Demon disoriented and prevent it from breaking through my internal structures. It will not work indefinitely. However, I am also unable to insert my own Flesh-Eaters or other manipulators into the chambers.”
“But we can enter?” Lelhmak said. “Safely?”
The platform paused again, the silence broken by Gyden reaching up and removing her helmet. Lelhmak hissed in frustrated worry.
“The sensors say it’s fine,” Gyden said, and unfastened the upper and lower shoulder clips to let the EVA suit unfold around her legs. “And it’s warm. If she’s going to kill us, the suits won’t stop her.”
Predericon shrugged to herself and opened her own suit. The air was indeed warm and fresh against her face, if a little damper than she was accustomed to.
“Of course, the chamber and its security is designed to incapacitate a Demon,” the Destarion said in a strangely cautious tone, “so it would be lethal to a Molran. What I propose, however, is that I deactivate the generators, rendering the chambers safe. Still impossible for my Flesh-Eaters to access, since it is an … inappropriate segment … but that is unimportant. The strategy I have arrived at is quite simple: I will render the Demon temporarily inert using a quasi-transperse pulse, and deactivate the generators, as I said, to allow you to enter. You will do so, whereupon you will carry the Demon to the lower archives, a … part of the substructure to which I will direct you. Once you have deposited the Demon’s body there, it will be consumed. We will then be able to focus on the more important question of what exactly has happened to the Four Realms.”
“It sounds simple enough,” Lelhmak said guardedly. He too had removed the upper segments of his suit, but the hygiene filters over his assorted exposure points were visibly maximised, glowing even in the white light of the chamber. “It sounds like we’ll be providing a lifting and carrying service, rather than actually confronting the Demon ourselves.”
“Precisely,” the Destarion said happily. “Why, you could not be expected to confront a Demon. Odium would certainly kill you.”
“You mentioned a ‘quasi-transperse pulse’,” Gyden said.
“What’s a quasi-transperse pulse?” Predericon murmured while the Destarion once again seemed to ruminate.
“I have no idea,” Gyden whispered back. “It doesn’t sound like anything.”
“It is a momentary intensification of the field with which I am holding Odium here in the first place,” the platform replied after a few more moments. “The field is keeping it from accessing the so-called God-space that Demons use to move about. Intensifying it will render the Demon comatose for between forty minutes and an hour. You will only need five, I think, to carry it to its final rest in the lower archives.”
“Why did you not hit it with this pulse when it first arrived?” Predericon asked.
“Unfortunately, it is something I can do only once,” the Destarion said. “The pulse is uniquely coded to the Demon’s atomic structure and once it is done … it is something like a vaccination. Odium will prove immune to its effects on repeat exposures. The field itself is a relatively simple matter – the pulse, far less so. As it required deep-level atomic scanning and I was … somewhat indisposed when Odium arrived, the preparation took several days. By that time, I had already cornered the Demon in its current location.”
“So we go to these brig chambers of yours,” Lelhmak unclipped and stepped out of his folded suit, “you knock Odium out and switch off the security measures, then we pick the Demon up and carry it to your waste disposal system in the lower archives.”
“Yes,” the Destarion replied. “I would not describe it as anything so prosaic as a waste disposal system, of course – but the result is the same.”
“Alright,” Lelhmak glanced at the other two, who were also stepping out of their suits. “I’m downgrading us from Demon-hunters to Demon disposal consultants.”
“I don’t see how that’s a downgrade,” Predericon objected.
Lelhmak shook his head. “You really don’t, do you,” he said. “Come on, let’s get this over with.”