Day 73. 48 pages, 18,996 words.
It was difficult to say what was different about the antechamber, aside from a strange feeling of pressure and a blessed cessation in the moisture that had clung to them since their arrival aboard the platform. That, and the door on the far side of the chamber.
It wasn’t open, and usually when a doorway was sealed on board the Destarion it was indistinguishable from the rest of the wall, but in this case there was a circular patch of wall that appeared to be moving. It would roll upwards, then sideways, then down again. Small contours in the surface would revolve from vertical to horizontal, and the surface would scroll by some more.
It looked like the wall was flush with another section of hull that was shifting position – indeed, Predericon found it hard to believe it could be anything but that, particularly considering the way the platform had described the shielded chambers. A “combination of paradox generation and physical rearrangement,” she’d said. What exactly “paradox generation” was, Predericon didn’t like to guess … but the physical rearrangement part seemed self-evident, and it appeared to be ongoing.
The circle of wall also seemed to shift in luminescence, as though a strong light source was occasionally being obscured then revealed by the moving chambers beyond. As the pallid glow of the door faded and swelled, the feeling of pressure in the antechamber dropped and then intensified anew.
“Well,” Gyden said, “I’m definitely not going near that until she switches it off.”
“The security system will be deactivated as soon as you are ready to proceed,” the Destarion’s voice – Predericon couldn’t tell if it was actually quieter and more subdued, or if she just thought it was because she knew about the segmentation and was expecting a difference – once again came from nowhere in particular.
“Ah. You can hear us, then,” Lelhmak said, a bit huffily.
“Oh, yes,” the Destarion confirmed. “I liked your little story about the boy in the woods.”
“Don’t mention it,” Lelhmak replied.
“Really, don’t,” Predericon added under her breath. Lelhmak gave her a sly sidelong look.
“When you are ready to enter the shielded chambers, please let me know and I will activate the quasi-transperse pulse to incapacitate Odium,” the Destarion reiterated. “Please note that the pulse may create some disorienting or worrying sounds and environmental effects even out here, but they will not harm you. I just wanted to warn you in advance.”
“Wait,” Lelhmak was frowning. “Destarion, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Of course I don’t mind,” the platform replied.
“Your … segment, this part of the platform we are currently in, Segment Eleven,” he said, “is completely separated from Segment Four where we arrived and agreed to this plan. You, and the Destarion in that segment, are essentially two different, uh, Destarions?”
“It is a little more complicated than that,” the Destarion replied indulgently, “but I suppose you could summarise it that way.”
“So how did you know the plan?” Lelhmak asked. “How did you know we’d be coming to carry Odium away, and that you’d need to do this pulse thing and deactivate the security chambers for us?”
There was a long pause after this, so protracted and so silent that Predericon could hear a faint hissing and popping of white noise from the doorway opposite. In fact, she had time to reflect, the very sight of the chambers’ access point was the visual equivalent of white noise.
“Maybe we should stick to easy questions,” Gyden murmured, “like why she killed her crew.”
Lelhmak groaned softly.
“Why, I knew the same way Segment Four knew about the security measures I had instigated in here,” the Destarion said. “In the event of a platform-wide emergency or landing / docking / stowage situation – and this was all of the above – a certain amount of inter-Segment cooperation is only logical.”
“Makes sense,” Predericon said, giving both Lelhmak and Gyden a meaningful stare. Don’t upset the hundred-kilometre-long Dimension-killer with the multiple personality fractures.
“And I didn’t kill my crew,” the platform went on. Her voice was a little cross, which was somehow more alarming than cold fury or thunderous rage would have been. “Segments Two, Three, Four, Five and Seven did. I think you’ll find I have more than enough to worry about without running around-” she vented a strange little snorting huff of laughter, “-murdering a lot of people.”
“I’m sorry,” Gyden said earnestly. “I only mentioned it because Segment Four seemed to think … I’m sorry,” she raised her hands. “It was an unfortunate event and I didn’t mean to imply anything. Perhaps we should just get this Demon sorted out.”
“Excellent idea,” the Destarion said.
The Molren were abruptly plunged into absolute darkness.
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while sitting in the carpark.