“I’ll have to show you,” Kals said, but she sent a message through her bracelet to my implant. “I need the footage of Maru talking to Geman and Dalat.”
I sent it to her.
You know how you sometimes know something is wrong, but don’t know why you know? Some people believe it’s magic, and others something psychic. I believe that for most people, most of the time, it’s the brain recognizing a pattern that it can’t put a name to.
It that moment, it wasn’t one of us who had a bad feeling but Maru—or so I assume. Because even as Jadzen blinked and began to look thoughtful, Maru drew a gun. Technically, it wasn’t a gun in the sense we usually mean it—a tube through which a missile is propelled forward by an explosive. It was a shiny oval that stuck to the back of his hand and fired a laser beam.
My implant informed me that the Human Ascendancy’s agents often used laser pistols with that form factor.
He raised his right hand slowly, giving the rest of us time to sense that something indefinable was wrong. Who exactly he intended to shoot wasn’t obvious, but Jaclyn and Katuk both moved forward in separate blurs of silver, Katuk wearing Xiniti armor and Jaclyn the faux Xiniti armor skin on her new League costume.
When it fired, the laser hit both of them, but it stopped instants later. I didn’t how it happened but by the time he stopped firing Maru lay on the room’s floor with Katuk pointing his arm (and the weapon that formed out of it) at him. Jaclyn had Maru’s weapon in her hand, but then she crushed it.
He spoke, and as he did it, I could tell that he was using his voice’s powers on us. I recognized the sound. At the same time, all of our costumes’ protections activated, playing notes near enough to the important notes and overtones to disrupt them (except now I was more aware of how many there were).
Even more interesting, our suits weren’t the only ones doing it. Kals and her mother were also making noise. To judge from the noise, it seemed like they were blocking his voice with their own.
I should have guessed that they could do it. I’d never thought about adding tones that Maru couldn’t counter at the same time that he was countering others.
It struck me that Julie, former member of Justice Fist, was in elementary school by comparison to their college or graduate level skills.
Before I fully thought through what that meant, Maru stopped trying to use his voice, standing still, smiling, his entire body relaxed as if this were a good day.
He looked at Jadzen, “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to betray you, but if I did anything else, I’d die, and I can’t tell you how or who did it because I’ll still die. I’ll understand if you force me to tell you. I know what this colony means to you. I’ve been hoping that you’d catch on or that they’d catch on.”
He nodded toward us. Then he said, “I couldn’t say anything directly, but I tried to make it obvious. I didn’t make it obvious enough because as much as I love the cause, I still hoped to live.”
Over the team’s implants, Jaclyn asked, “Do we have any reason to believe him?”
“No idea,” I said. “He did seem suspicious, but that also works if he’s actually the bad guy.”
Cassie broke into the conversation with, “He’s telling the truth. There’s a bomb in his head. The gun recognized it. It’s a copy of an Abominator device used to keep people silent—either by killing the victim or people around them.”
Jaclyn raised an eyebrow. “A copy of Abominator tech? Is there any chance you could turn it off?”
Cassie shook her head. “It’s a copy. They didn’t copy everything—just the design. Otherwise I would have noticed it the first time we met the guy.”
The gun’s voice echoed in my brain. “A POOR IMITATION—BARELY WORTHY OF THE MASTERS’ SACRED MEMORY! IT MUST—”
“Sorry… I get sick of his rants so I cut him off.” Cassie said, but she sounded more amused than apologetic.
Marcus’ voice came over the connection. “This reminds me of the The Dark Knight. You remember the bomb in the guy’s stomach?”
I barely noticed. I had a feeling that I was on the edge of something.
I started checking Xiniti records about the bomb, learning that the same technology was used for implants, that the Abominators developed implants along with the internal bombs. That led me to the question of who would have the knowledge to plant a bomb in someone’s head. The answer was obvious—someone who knew about implants—the former specialty of Alanna, the colony’s lead tech. I’d discounted her as the mole because even though she’d been around from early on, and was one of the people who used the ansible when we thought the hidden admin account was being used, she wasn’t a motivator.
Except you didn’t need to be a motivator if you could put an explosive implant inside a motivator’s brain and set it to blow at the trigger of your choosing.
I didn’t know exactly why she’d betrayed them, but maybe it had something to do with her breakup with Iolan? All I knew for sure was that if we mentioned her name and it was her, Maru’s head would explode and more likely than not, it would warn her first.
I sent everyone (except for Jadzen and Maru) what I’d just guessed, including my reasoning and my warning.
It all made sense. We could figure out why when we found her.
7 thoughts on “Retreat: Part 4”
Sorry for the wait. I hope the content makes it worth it. On another note, you can vote for LoN on Top Web Fiction…
> Except it hadn’t occurred to me that you didn’t need a motivator if you could put an explosive implant inside a motivator’s brain.
Perhaps the sentence should read ‘you didn’t need to be a motivator …’?
> I’d never seriously thought about how thought about added tones that Maru couldn’t counter at the same time that he was countering others.
Thanks. I suppose I should mention that part of the problem last night was that I kept on falling asleep while writing.
The revelation that is Alanna surprised me. Good work Jim! 🙂
Thanks. I was hoping that wouldn’t be too obvious.
Agreed, great twist! I noticed that more than once one of the girls called Alanna a bitch, but I didn’t tumble that it might be significant.
> I didn’t how it happened but by the time he stopped firing Maru lay on the room’s floor with Katuk pointing his arm (and the weapon that formed out of it) at him
Should it be ‘I didn’t know how it happened’?