Before Midnight: Part 6

I said, “I assume you’re talking about Magnus, but are you saying there are even more than that? Oh, and who are you?”

He laughed, “I’ve had many names dating back farther than I care to explain. For now, call me Uri. It’s nice to meet you finally, Nick, but let’s skip the rest of the introductions. We don’t want to waste time.

“Your friends are talking to other people right now. They’ll cover the same topics, but I wanted to meet you.”

I wanted to ask him why, but he didn’t stop talking.

“Let’s start with your question. You know about the Abominators, the aliens that your grandparents defeated. They decided that human beings had promise as servants, took some from Earth, and turned them into warriors.

“But why did they think humans held promise? I think it was because of other creatures—the beings that left bits of themselves, bits that make you and I different from most.”

Thinking back to when I’d talked to a doctor on Hideaway, a world of refugees from the Human Ascendancy, I said, “That’s not how I heard it. I was told by a doctor in the Human Ascendancy that the Abominators had captured and added in material from the Artificers.”

Uri nodded, “I think I have a wider perspective than your doctor. I was alive when the Abominators came to Earth and were already immortal. I didn’t know what I was seeing then, but I met the results of their experiments. Through them, I eventually found the Abominators’ settlement and laboratory. I saw them taking samples of us and sending the results home. I also remember the new variants they created and let loose here including the day the Abominators disappeared.”

“Oh,” I didn’t know how many years that had been but I did remember when we’d found the book that showed the device Lee had stolen from the Destroy faction. We’d also found cuneiform tablets that Cassie had been able to read through her Abominator gun—who’d presumably been lost in or soon after the era of Sumer.

The tablets had been written by Urin or so my implant said. This could well be the same guy. In his case, I’d have dropped the “n” too. It was far too close to, “Excuse me, is your name Urine?”

“Okay,” I said, “if we don’t have time to waste, my theory is that Magnus, a guy you probably know, has found the device he’s been seeking for thousands of years and now we’re either about to see him rule the world or accidentally attract the attention of ancient creatures that will destroy the Earth along with a chunk of the galaxy as collateral damage—maybe both. I don’t know if you can help us with that, but if you can, we’ll need help finding him.”

He laughed, “Ruthie told us what she told you and what she suspected you’d figured out on your own. Good, but you don’t quite have all of it.”

He looked around the room, pointing his staff where he looked, “Don’t mind me, I thought I heard something. We’re meeting with you in a place created by magic because Magnus shouldn’t be able to find us, but Magnus is powerful. He’s like you. He has a stronger connection to whatever makes us different than most people.

“When I first found him, thousands of years ago, Magnus wasn’t as strong as you are now, but he had more potential than I did. The last time I saw him, he’d grown metaphysically. I don’t know how the two of you would compare.”

“What did you think you heard,” I said, feeling my breathing increase. Less than a day ago, before going out to face the Coffeeshop Illuminati, but actually dupes of the Nine, I’d extended my Artificer senses out around me and been attacked by a creature I speculated might be Magnus.

I couldn’t guess what skills or tools he’d acquired in the thousands of years he’d lived. He might be here.

“Don’t worry about it,” Uri peered past me, “I’ve taken precautions. Even if he’s here, we have protection.”

He didn’t stop looking, but continued talking, “I don’t think he has control of whatever great machine it is, but I think he has partial control. If he had control, there would be more effects than a hum.”

“A lot of protection?” I considered expanding my Artificer senses but decided to hold off. If Magnus were nearby and searching for us, I might attract his attention.

Uri had turned away from me to check behind him. There wasn’t anything to see. It still looked like gray and white marble. The windows still showed forest and mountainous hills.

“Enough protection, but I think we should join the others. We may have to cut the meeting short, but we have something we were planning to pass on to the group of you.”

2 thoughts on “Before Midnight: Part 6”

  1. I spent most of my time writing this update listening to the various members of the Wooten Brothers’ solo work. They’re appearing near me on Saturday–which is great. Victor Wooten’s probably among the greatest living bass players out there.

    Is that relevant to this update? Not at all.

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