Before Midnight: Part 5

Of course, I wasn’t dumb enough to ask that question of the actual, for real, wizards when I met them—which was immediately.

I fell through the tear (or at least it felt that way), appearing in a space filled with marble. While I didn’t see the kind of pillars you’d see in a Greek temple, it felt like a place that should have them. I saw white, gray, and black marble for both the ceiling and the floor.

While the walls were also marble, they weren’t cut by stonemasons unless ancient stonemasons were more competent than I’d imagined. These walls curved outward from the floor and inward near the ceiling—more than ten feet above the ground.

Not only that, windows filled the upper two-thirds of the wall. I couldn’t remember any time I’d seen windows in an all-marble building. I didn’t know off the top of my head when see-through glass became the norm in buildings, but I felt like it had to be within the last two centuries.

What’s more, I couldn’t ignore what was outside the windows. Forested mountains filled the view on one side of the room. On the other side, forested hills gave way to beaches and then the ocean.

Where was I?

I wasn’t wearing the Rocket suit, so I couldn’t check my HUD, but I was wearing a stealth suit in the form of clothes that my implant could access. GPS came back with no answer at all.

If I had to guess where we were, I’d have guessed somewhere outside of time, maybe a pocket universe. Given what I saw at that moment, it seemed possible. For all I knew, this was the basis of the myth of Olympus.

More likely, they’d teleported us somewhere and blocked GPS. That made the most sense but on the other hand? Wizards.

They were subtle and quick to teleport you places you’d never planned to go.

One more thing worth mentioning? I was alone and I wasn’t in contact with Daniel via our short-distance telepathic link or anyone else through the comm system. The comm system couldn’t connect to anything, giving me the message I expected to see in that circumstance—“No network found.”

I considered calling upon the abilities given by the Artificer side of my heritage, but given how Artificers caused anyone who knew about them to freak out, I decided to keep them as my ace in the hole.

Better to have them, but not use them than to use them too early and find out that wizards could do a real-world equivalent to the Dungeons & Dragons “Disintegrate” spell.

For lack of a better idea, I looked around the empty room and said, “Hello? Anybody? You went to a lot of bother to bring me here. It seems a shame  to leave me alone in an empty room.”

No one said anything.

That didn’t surprise me even if it was annoying.

After a minute or two, a disembodied voice said, “What are you?”

The voice didn’t ask who I was, so that was interesting. I wasn’t going to answer back, “What are you,” much less, “I know you are, but what am I?”

The second question didn’t make any sense, but it did pop into my head. Instead, I said, “I’m in the process of figuring that out. What do you think I am?”

The voice said, “I think that you’re more than a man.”

“I think so, too,” I said, “but at this point in my life I’m not much more.”

Then it was the same voice, but different because as of that moment, it became an embodied voice. The man wore a black business suit. He had light brown skin, curly, gray hair, and a curly gray beard.

He used a staff without showing any hint of a limp. As he walked across the room, I remembered feeling a presence once when a spaceship I’d been flying passed the scene of an old battle.

It had been one of Lee’s race, a member of the Destroy faction, most likely, and had been trying to scare anyone with a connection to Lee to reveal themselves. This wasn’t the same. It wasn’t uneasiness or terror, but I felt something.

Without a doubt, this man could make use of what I referred to by various names in my head, most recently, the Artificer Superhighway because the Artificers and Cosmic Ghosts used it to communicate in real-time across interstellar distances.

“You’re one of us,” the man said, “children of the gods or maybe creatures of the underworld? It’s hard to say.”

Deciding it was worth the risk, I drew on the power and Kee’s teaching about how to use it. Nothing about the man changed, but I felt more. Whatever this man had inherited from the Artificers, he didn’t have much of it. If you compared his potential to a fire, he had a small lighter.

He looked me up and down, “There’s more of them in you than there should be. That’s good. You’re not the only one.”

6 thoughts on “Before Midnight: Part 5”

  1. I’m going to take a guess on why ‘Before Midnight’ is the arc title. The Xiniti detect that Magnus has found the artifact, and unless they get it from him Before Midnight, it’s all over.

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