Simple Choices: Part 10

Kals talked with Julie in a low voice, using words that were a mixture of English and Ascendancy. The Ascendancy was straight jargon transliterated or translated into English. Even the Xiniti implants couldn’t translate it very well, turning most of the words into sound waveforms—which I could maybe figure out her strategy given time, but not in the moment. I still needed more context.

The words themselves still didn’t make it clearer. An example? Kals said, “I’ll need you to do eight high mind squirts in a row in the low mind zug pattern I taught you earlier.”

Julie meanwhile, furrowed her brow at first, but then smiled and said, “Got it!”

It’s enough to make me sympathize when people have a hard time listening to me talk with Chris.

Soon afterward, Julie and Kals started talking to Adam at the same time, their voices blending and pulsing with the same rhythms. I couldn’t call it singing, but that was the closest word I had.

Even the Xiniti implant didn’t have context for what I was seeing. The Human Ascendancy’s motivators had managed to keep some secrets despite the Xiniti’s efforts to collect and classify them.

I couldn’t think of a time that I’d seen motivators work in concert even while I’d been in space.

It lasted for at least thirty minutes during which our buzzers worked continuously—to the point that I suggested we back up further because I’d never expected the buzzers to need to run that long without a break.

I’d have to do some more testing and maybe reassess the design if that were a possibility. 

Chris and I wandered off to my lab to set that up while they worked. Everyone else scattered into groups of their own. Haley and Kayla talked near Kayla’s cubicle. Everyone else moved over the break room, kitchen, and locker room area. 

At least that’s where I next saw them. Haley stepped into the doorway saying, “They’re done.”

Chris and I followed her out and sat with everyone else at the tables there. Adam sat at the next the locker room, slumping on the table itself, pushing himself up as I walked over.

Kals grinned at me as I walked up, “It was one of the easiest I’ve done in a while.”

Julie sat at a table with Camille, Sydney, Marcus, and Vaughn. She was leaning on the table with her head on her arms as if they were a pillow. I only knew that she was awake by seeing that her eyes were open and that she was watching.

Shaking her head, Julie said, “Easy?”

Kals laughed, “I’ve done it for hours for two days, taking breaks to sleep and eat. This time I had help,” she squeezed Julie’s shoulder, “and he wasn’t the main target. The motivator who did it was skilled, but not amazing. I’m better.”

“I’m glad,” Adam glanced at Kals and then at me. “That was my worst nightmare—becoming the Nine’s tool without knowing it.”

Kals shook her head, “You weren’t yet, but there was enough for them to pull you in and load you up with commands if they noticed, but they didn’t.”

Leaning on the table as if he wasn’t sure he could trust himself not to fall asleep, Adam’s grin came off less devil-may-care than he intended, but he said, “Then if we’re going to work together now, let’s start talking. What are you plans for what’s next?”

“Plans?” I shook my head. “We don’t have plans. We’ve got goals, but we don’t know exactly how we’re going to fulfill them.”

Adam laughed, “Then what are your goals?”

Even though I wasn’t sure I should say it, I still answered, “Survive whatever’s going to happen with Major Justice and then somehow take out Magnus. We know he’s after or he’s got some kind of ancient alien device. If he learns how to use it, he’ll become the master of the planet and maybe other planets as well.”

Adam blinked, “Is that what he’s doing? We knew he was looking for something. Are you sure it’s alien? If it is, it’s old. The Nine have been infiltrating museums across the globe for years now. I’d been assuming it was magic.”

Marcus shook his head, “It’s alien.”

Looking around the group, Adam asked, “What kind of alien? Abominator?”

We all looked at each other then. Everyone in the group was thinking the same thing I was. The moment we told Adam about Lee and the Artificers and how they’d been waging a civil war and destroying new races whenever they learned about them, we’d never be able to take that back.

Daniel spoke up, “That’s a big secret. It’s the kind of secret that won’t ever let you see the world the same after you learn it and worse, you’ll suddenly have the ability to destroy the world by accident if you make the right mistake. If you give us a little time, we’ll be able to trust you with it, but let us wait on that, okay?”

“Oh,” Adam let out a breath. “I think I can give you a second with something like that. Let’s start on the Nine then.”

Kayla’s communicator began to ring. From the fact that mine began to buzz as well, I knew it wasn’t a coincidence. Someone was ringing the main Heroes’ League line.

Half the group pulled out their personal phones, all of which were connected to the League’s system.

Kayla took the call. Though I couldn’t hear any clear words, I could hear a voice shouting. At the end of it, she said, “Oh, I’ll tell him.”

She looked at me, “Major Justice says this is your absolute last chance to surrender. He’s bringing in a task force of supers from across the country. You won’t have a chance, he says.”

I wanted to scream, but didn’t, “Again? I feel like he’s been saying the same thing for days now.”

5 thoughts on “Simple Choices: Part 10”

  1. I spent the afternoon running a Dungeons and Dragons game followed by writing. It’s one of those days where I feel like I spent a lot of the day making stuff and telling stories. I can only hope that helps rather than hurts.

    It was fun at least.

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  2. “I’ll need you to do eight high mind squirts in a row at the same time you to a low mind zug pattern I taught you earlier.”

    same time you do

    It’s enough to make me sympathize when people have a hard time listening to me talk with Chris.

    It was enough

    1. The second one is fine. ‘It’s’ can be the contraction for ‘it is’, ‘it has’, or ‘it was’. All depends on the context of the sentence.

      1. Thanks for your comments. “It’s” was used to stand in for “It was.”

        That said, I did fix the other mistake. Thanks for helping make this a little less full of errors.

  3. “Adam sat at the next the locker room”. I think a few words are missing here, or maybe it should be “Adam sat next to the locker room”?

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