At this point, y’all know the draft. ^_~ Although this one is slightly more coherent– mostly because I wrote a lot slower. *sighs* Ah well, I still have this weekend to make up the wordcount! *crosses fingers*
It turned out that Alec had a lot more random gizmos than Kat had given him credit for. Not that she’d underestimated his desire to ‘be like Batman’ but more along the lines of ‘how on earth did he have that many pockets?’. Watching him work was a combination of MacGuyver and the Bat-Belt… there didn’t seem to be any situation in which he couldn’t produce a gimzo -or mordify a gizmo- to fit.
So when they finally hit something he couldn’t overcome in a few minutes it actually surprised her.
“What’s the problem?”
“Other than the fact I’m working from a very limited set of materials and that I’m also working at a disadvantage considering that what we thought they had and what they actually have are two very very different things.”
“Which would be your intelligence gathering folks, not mine.” Kat objected. “Mine we’re pretty spot on as to who they have working for them– at least so far.”
“Well, personnel are harder to change than hardware, at least some of the time.” He wiggled under the machine a little further, trying to get his probe closer to the target wiring. “Although this is a much bigger leap forward than I would have given them credit for. The fact they they are deploying stuff this advanced at a forward location really dosen’t bode well for what they are doing in South Dakota.”
“Well that’s there and this is here, and really, I don’t see anyone doing a lot of traveling once the Veil is down.” Kat eyed the transmitter with disinterest. “What does it matter how good they are if they can’t get at us?”
“Not can’t, they could if they really wanted to.” Alec corrected, “We just need to be as uninteresting as possible so that they never do. Nuclear power is a wonderful tool… Ah there we go.” There was a shart sizzle and the lights on the transmitter swapped from green to a pulsing orange. “With any luck they’ll think it was an electrical short in the wiring. These connectors have a pretty bad reputation as it is, adding in the fact that they’ve got it out here in the elements and they shouldn’t think much further than shoddy quality controls.” He wiggled back out from under the beige box with a handful of curses as his clothing caught on the various rough bits. “Who ever built this crap really did deserve the reputation they got. Never did figure out which factory it was.” he seemed personally insulted by the defects.
“It’s not like it’s got a MegaTech stamp on it.” Kat sighed. “Not everything is going to be built to your standards.”
“But it should be!” Alec brushed off the dirt and tucked the probe back in one of the many pockets. “You might think it was a stupid dream, but I really was out to change the world for the better.”
“So you’ve told me,” Kat rolled her eyes. “Over and over and–”
“And now it’s all pointless.”
“Since when?” Kat gave him a sharp look. “It’s your doohickies that are keeping us alive, and, as much as I hate to admit it, will probably keep your little company towns going long after most folks have faded into the dark.”
“huh.” Alec just started at the now disabled transmitter for a long depressed moment and then shrugged. “I guess.’
“Well guess in the direction of Beacon #4, will you?” Kat motioned towards the next sabatage target, which was a day’s walk over less than pleasent terrain. “We’ve only got two more of these things and time is tight. You can mope later.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Alec picked up his backpack with a sigh. “Time and tides wait for no man.”
“Time, sure, tides– well, we’re in the middle of a desert, tides not so much.”
“More of a mountainous area abutting a desert, but you’ve got a point. Onwards to victory, or some such nonsense.”
[This bit happens before the first bit… I write things out of order a lot. *whistles innocently* And just so you know, I have NO IDEA that what Alec figures out is what happened. My Muses work in mysterious ways. *nodnodnod*]
The crystals swarmed together with a pleasent chorus of chimes half wind and half water, forming the silloutte of a woman in a flowing dress who looked down at them with rainbow eyes.
“Ah, you have come!” She smiled and held out her hands and Kat felt the odd desire to hug her. “I had hoped you would, but the currents carry us where they will sometimes.”
“You know me?” Alec was giving the construct a suspicious look.
“I know -of- you, yes.” The woman laughed, a chuckling noise of rivers and ebbing tides. “I cannot know you, no more than you could know me I think.” She raised an arm, dripping shards of dancing crystal. “I see you, all of you that might have been and might still be.” The shards flew outwards, forming pattern after diminishing pattern before turning to dust. “You see one present, one past.” The dust reformed into a single perfect crystal hovering above her upturned palm. “So tell me, do I know you?”
“You could have just said ‘yes’.” Kat sighed. “Look, I know y’all are a little stir crazy, but really, can we dispense with the giberish for once. I’ve had more than enough of phrophcies for serveral lifetimes.” She made a face and the woman laughed.
“As you wish, young one. ” She smiled, “I shall be as direct as you wish, although you may regret your choice later. Stories are often made or broken on their symbolism.”
“As I’m not seeing us taksed with writing a book report any time soon, I think we’ll be fine.” Kat crossed her arms and looked up expectantly, ignoring Alec’s not so polite reaction to her impetuousness.
“Then I ask only this: When you need a place to hide, remember me.” The walls around her sang in a rainbow of muted light, and it felt as if the whole city had focused in on this one room. “Can you do this?”
“That’s all?” Kat raised an eyebrow.
Kat shrugged, “I can manage that.” She looked over at Alec. “Any objections?”
“No,” Alec paused, and looked as if he was considering quite a few choice words that were discarded for risk of offending the strange crystaline woman. “No, I think I can manage that as well.” He turned to the woman. “And if I was looking for something more– symoblic?”
“When you have lost yourselves in the gray, seek the rainbow’s heart to find your light.” She grinned as Kat rolled her eyes. “I think that would do you just as well, but I have learned better than to pin my hopes on lucky interpreations. So ‘remember me’ will work just as well.”
“The rainbow’s heart, eh?” Alec glanced over at the walls. “So you -are- the city.”
The woman nodded. “I was never meant to be, but the balance was tipped once, long before the recent unpleasentness.”
“Lemme guess,” Kat interjected, “the space squid, right?”
The city’s avatar nodded. “His creation triggered my own– Balance cannot always control the magics we raise, but she can direct them along certain paths. It’s why we do not act with more force within your world.”
“So what did Balance get?” Alex asked, trying not to get too distracted by the dance of the crystals that made up the avatar.
The city frowned. “Nothing. She is Balance, she needs no escalation for she has no opposite.”
“Wait, so you two get more powerful and she gets nothing?” Kat raised and eyebrow. “Then how is she supposed to keep you from breaking the rules?”
The city looked at her in puzzlement. “She is Balance, she -is- the rules.”
Kat looked at Alec who had turned his attention from the crystals to that far off focus point he favored when he was pondering something complex.
“So, no matter how powerful you are, no matter what you do, Balance can still control the game?”
The city nodded.
Alec turned to Kat with his now familiar ‘ah-HA!’ look. “Good didn’t break the game, -Balance- did!”
Now the City and Kat were both looking at him. Kat with confusion and the City with alarm. “What?” They echoed.
“Look, she just said that no matter what they do Balance controls the game because she controls the rules, right?”
Kat nodded hesitantly.
“So the -only- one who could have broken the system would have been Balance. If Good had tried to stop things, Balance would have simple negated the attempt, right?” He turned back to the City who had frozen, the various crystals locked in place. She didn’t look happy.
“Um, maybe you should have kept that to yourself.” Kat pointed out, taking a step back.
Alec just nodded, eyes wide as he followed her lead, putting a little more distance between them and the shards that were looking more like tiny shards of glass and less like parts of greater whole.