THE VOID TRILOGY REREAD: THE EVOLUTIONARY VOID, PART SIX

15 August 2016

By Mark Chitty

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Welcome to the sixth part in our The Evolutionary Void re-read! This week we're tackling Inigo's 29th Dream and Chapter Six

 

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Inigo's 29th Dream

 

We re-join Edeard as the Lady’s Light catches sight of land following their four years of sailing the oceans. After their voyage around the world and discovering no other people, Edeard knows that they are alone on Querencia. After his last reset Edeard had seen events continue as they had before, and he was desperate to get away from it all, barely lasting until the first Skylord came for Finitan’s soul. And he never wants to go that far back again.

So with the exception of preventing several murders he recalled, he restrained himself admirably. That was why he was so desperate to build the ships and sail away on a voyage that would last for years. As well as satisfying his curiosity about the unknown continents and islands of Querencia, he would be doing something different, something new and fresh.

Many things are different now, with Edeard’s children having different partners, and having different children of their own, much to Edeard’s joy. With arrival at Makkathran only weeks away now everyone is looking forward to getting back:

Edeard sighed and grinned at the horizon. “Not long now. And Lady, we’re going to have the reunion party of all time.”

 

As they arrive back in Makkathran Edeard feels the jubilant thoughts of those around him, but notices that not every thought is happy. Thousands of people are camped outside of Makkathran’s walls, with militia guarding the gates to stop them from entering. Edeard is hard on himself, as always, knowing that he will have to step up to help solve the situation.

 

By the Lady, we’d given up on you at least a couple of years back,” Macsen’s directed longtalk declared. “Did you walk around the world instead? It’s taken you forever.”

Macsen and Dinlay, along with a group of people, including the Mayor, welcome them back. Kiranan, Edeard’s grandson, is amazed by the city – having been born on the voyage he’s not know anything quite as big and busy! They all catch up with events – his grandson Burlal no longer around this time, Macsen and Kanseen no longer together, Dinlay with a different wife – and Macsen’s anger at those outside the North Gate comes to the fore, but Dinlay quickly calms him in order to hear everything from Edeard about the voyage…

 

After a couple of days at home settling back in – and the birth of more grandchildren from his twins – Edeard finally meets with his friends to catch up on events in Makkathran. Macsen tells him of his split with Kanseen before giving the details on Dinlay’s new wife, also Nanitte’s daughter! When Dinlay arrives they finally move on to the Our City movement, telling Edeard of how it started – a temporary family moving into somewhere that newlyweds were supposed to live, though they hadn’t registered their intent. From there it escalated, with members of the movement registering every empty property and room in Makkathran so there was nowhere for the transients to live until the elderly could be guided. I they couldn’t afford a tavern, they weren’t allowed through the gates of the city.

It’s a one-cause movement, which means they simply can’t be moderate,” Dinlay said. “There will never be any kind of compromise with them, so if you’re going to take them on, it will have to be a direct election and you change the law after you’re Mayor.”

Sounds drastic.” Edeard sucked in his cheeks. “I’d better go take a look for myself, then.”

 

As Edeard thinks over the situation he remembers those that he will never see again because of the reset, and that if he were to do it again there would be more change and loss for him. As he talks to Vintico about the Our City movement it’s clear that he does not want to listen to what Edeard has to say, and that determination behind Our City will not be moved. It is then Edeard discovers from Vintico that there are three militia’s from the provinces marching on the city because of its treatment of those seeking guidance from the Skylords.

Three provinces seek to attack Makkathran. You will have to decide which side you’re on, Waterwalker. Ours or theirs, which is it to be?”

It is here that Edeard begins to crack, frustrated and angry at having another obstacle thrown up for him to deal with, and another group willing to work together against him if need be.

Yeah,” Edeard barked. “Don’t I fucking know it.” With a final snarl of anguish he reached back for a memory—

to land on the ground at the foot of the Eyrie tower. The crowd exclaimed in admiration; several people applauded. More cheered at the resurgence of the Waterwalker.

Back at this point in his life Edeard knows how much he has to do to help guide the future, to avoid the mistakes he has seen already.

Lady, please understand, I cannot take much more sacrifice in my life. Truly, I cannot.

 

***

 

Chapter Six

 

The Delivery Man and Gore are on their way to the Anomine home system, with the Delivery Man accessing information on the alien race, discovering what they did to the Dyson Pair. However, he can’t find anything on the Anomine’s elevation mechanism, though Gore tells him they were classified:

But you’ve got the files, right?”

I’ve accessed the summaries.” The Delivery Man gave Gore a suspicious look. “I thought you had this all planned out.”

I do, sonny, so stop with the panicking.”

Have you got those summaries?”

Not actually with us here today, no, but I remember most of the critical stuff.”

But … You do know how to get it working again, don’t you? You said that.”

I said that we think it’s intact.”

Suffice to say that the Delivery Man isn’t impressed with Gore’s thinking! Gore is pretty blunt with him though, and tells him that this is what needs to be done – helping Gore – to help the whole situation, despite him not liking it. Gore also drops information about the Anomine borderguards not letting everyone through to the homeworld, to stop contamination, which does nothing for the Delivery Man’s mood. As they arrive in the system a borderguard contacts them, asking why they are there, and after discussion they are allowed through:

You may have access to those items left behind by the final Anomine. You may examine them with any means except physical alteration or destruction. You may not remove any item from our ancestral world. All items must be left in place when you leave.”

We thank you for the generosity you show us.”

They then head for the homeworld, the Delivery Man getting increasingly frustrated at Gore’s logic without solid answers. He watches some shows via the TD link to the unisphere and discovers that Qatux and they High Angel were not able to break though the Sol barrier.

After switching through several ill-informed news shows, the Delivery Man fell into a troubled sleep.

 

***

 

Corrie-Lyn awakens on the Lindau to Aaron’s nightmares coming through the gaiafield, and not quite believing anyone could stand them for long and remain sane. She hears cries and whimpering from Aaron’s room, and wonders if they are more than just dreams.

What in Honious did they do to you?” she murmured into the gloomy cabin.

The following morning Corrie-Lyn tries to talk to Aaron to see if she can help him, as does Inigo, but Aaron is not for that in any way. They also talk of solving the Void issue, the season for going to meet Ozzie, with Inigo saying:

It can’t be stopped,” Inigo said. “It simply is. This I know. I have observed it from Centurion Station, and I have personally felt the thoughts emanating within. Out of all of humanity, I know this. So believe me when I tell you that if you want to exist in the same universe, you have to find a way around it. Our best bet would be to turn around and ask the High Angel to take us to another galaxy.”

As they get closer to the Spike they start to feel its effects, and Aaron doesn’t take too well to them, bursting in on Inigo and Corrie-Lyn a telling them to turn it off:

The mindfuck,” Aaron yelled. “Turn it off or I swear I’ll kill her in front of you.”

I’m not doing anything,” Inigo yelled back. “What’s happening? What is this?”

Aaron sagged against the side of the ruined door. “Get them out of my head!”

Deactivate your gaiamotes; that’ll kill the attack.”

They are off!”

Inigo’s skin turned numb with shock—his own emotion rather than the chaotic barrage coming from Aaron. “They can’t be. I can feel your mind.”

After many threats they realise that what Aaron is feeling is the effects of Ozzie’s galactic dream that he left the commonwealth to build – and they’re still nearly 300 light years away. They realise that Ozzie has created a genuine telepathy, but that it is causing Aaron too many problems, to the point where Aaron is prepared to destroy Inigo, his memory cell, and Corrie-Lyn in case of mission failure. However, Aaron’s sponsor musty have seen this possibility and Aaron falls back to a bare-bones mode, essentially turning him into a robot that will follow his mission instructions…

 

Inigo and Corrie-Lyn experiment with the ability that Ozzie’s galactic dream has given them while they continue on their way to the Spike. They arrive and dock, trying to establish Ozzie’s location through various means, with the Spike AI not even knowing.

So what now?” Corrie-Lyn asked.

We will visit the largest human settlement and ask them for Isaacs’s location.”

And if they don’t know?” Inigo asked.

He is renowned. Someone will know.”

They leave the ship and head to the chamber known as Octoron via the Spike internal travel mechanisms, and when they arrive it’s clear that some humans know who Inigo is, and their anger and resentment tinges their emotions.

 

It is here that our point of view switches to Aaron, and we follow the events through his machine-like eyes, each task coming through bit by bit as he completes various ones, with no humanity and thought given to his reactions:

Preliminary assessment: secure environment. No threat to subject alpha. Subject alpha restrained by physical grip; maintain restraint condition.

Primary mission commencement: Determine location of Oswald Fernandez Isaacs.

It’s from here that Aaron methodically executes his commands, firing his weapons on people who shown aggression to him and going further by firing into buildings in order to neutralise any threats. Inigo tries to talk Aaron down, but it doesn’t work against his basic functioning, Aaron simply rejecting any arguments. It’s then that the Chikoya appear and want to take Inigo with them to make him stop the Void devourement phase. Events do not go well, with Aaron taking on the Chikoya present to once again neutralise the threat. However, as they are tracking Inigo through his emotions Aaron wants to put him unconscious in order to escape, but not without much devestation…

Armed> Disrupter pulse. Maximum power rating. Sequential fire. U-shadow update: landing exit capsule behind Building D.

Armed> Neutron lasers. Maximum power rating. Sequential fire. U-shadow update: decoy capsules on collision vector. Mach eight. Accelerating.

Armed> Microkinetics. Enhanced explosive warheads. Free fire authority.

Armed> Ariel smartseeker stealth mines. Chikoya profile loaded. Dispense.

Alert> New targets.

Fire.

Fire.

Fire.

 

***

 

The Delivery Man and Gore are examining old Anomine equipment in the hopes that they can identify the elevation mechanism, but so far are not having any luck. They both discuss the situation, and the fact that the old Anomine AI’s that are still around simply won’t allow any information to be accessed in order to protect those that stayed behind. The Delivery Man knows that Gore is worried about Justine in the Void, and they’re both aware that Marius has followed them to the planet too, not that Gore is particularly bothered about that.

Ha. That dick. We can take him whenever we want.”

We don’t know that.”

It takes smarter and tougher than him to catch me with my ass hanging out.”

Gore talks of Ozzie and how he was part of two of history’s greatest thefts, but…

Well, sonny, you and I are going to steal the knowledge of an entire species. If that’s what it takes to find this goddamn mechanism, then that’s what we’re going to do. Nobody will remember Ozzie’s legend then, so screw him.”

I didn’t know it anyway, the Delivery Man complained silently. He had no idea how Gore was planning to circumvent the Anomine AIs, but he suspected it wouldn’t be a quiet method.

 

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Another Dream and Chapter down, so join me here next time where we'll go through Inigo's 33rd Dream and Chapter Seven.