2 of 4 | Chapter 5

 

“The attack happened fourteen days ago,” Karen began. “The whole world is in shock, as usual. There is a steady military presence in the city now, which is a good thing because I have fired the security company.”

“Good,” Steersman agreed, “We'll need someone to replace them, though.”

“Yes,” Karen nodded, trying to think of a way to stop Steersman from thinking too much.

“By the way, how are you?” he asked.

“Fine … could be worse,” she answered shortly. “I don't have to give any interviews, but the investigating officers always seem to be able to find me when I least need them around.”

“Investigating officers, what …?”

“The EBI. They are showing great interest in your unorthodox investigation methods … well, amongst other things. You can count on them appearing here fairly soon. They found some sort of mechanism in your office, completely destroyed of course, but they haven't got the slightest idea what it is. The upper part of the building is in ruins. It looks like the attackers didn't plan on taking hostages.”

“How's the factory going?” Steersman asked, changing the subject.

“We had to stop because of the investigation, but Jim Hols and his team have been working full on since Tuesday. According to him, we can start in two weeks time.”

“Great! I want to speak to him. Could you please send him in tomorrow?”

“Sean, isn't it too soon? I mean, you've only just come round.”

“That's why I need to see him tomorrow,” Steersman said, faking petulance.

Karen shook her head, smiling humorlessly.

“You've done well, Karen!” he grabbed her arm and tried to sit up a little. “I am so sorry to have put you into such a terrible situation. As soon as I get out of here, we'll start again from scratch, what do you say? And pretty soon we won't need soldiers anymore.” He fell back, resting, his eyes closed.

Karen waited awhile, watching him as his breathing grew more regular and he went to sleep. When she was sure he was sleeping, she got up and softly left the room.

*

That evening, the EBI paid a visit to Steersman, who was still lying in his hospital bed. The fact that he was still breathing via machine didn't seem to bother them for even a second. The news of him regaining consciousness had reached them almost immediately, and they needed information. They had waited long enough while he was unconscious, but now that he was awake, no one was going to stop them. Not even the nurses in their tight white uniforms

The two agents were chiefly focused on the unknown device found in Steersman's office and its implication for national security. Even an army of specialists hadn't been able to work out its purpose, and the fact that it was smashed up wasn't helping matters. They had plenty of questions that still needed answering.

“I am special agent Olafson, and this is my partner, special agent Henderson.” Steersman nodded and Olafson continued.

“During the investigation, we took into our custody a device that was found in your office. We'd like to ask you a couple of questions regarding this device.”

Steersman nodded again.

Olafson paused, then asked blandly, “What role did the device play in the terrorist interrogation?”

“None,” said Steersman, weakly.

“How were you able to make him answer your questions, answers he paid for with his life?” Henderson edged in. Definitely the bad cop.

“Why do you think I made him speak?” asked Steersman, looking confused.

“Come, Mr. Steersman. Please don't feel that you need to play us. Just tell us: what was the purpose of the device?”

“It's just a kind of processor.”

“It is a little more than that, wouldn't you say?” Henderson said quietly, changing tack. “Our technicians have already established that it was built with unknown technology and materials. Although we know that, we also know that neither the configuration nor the operation principles are like any computer on this planet. Did you built it?”

“Yes,” Steersman croaked.

Surprise flickered briefly across the agents' face, then disappeared.

“Why don't you help us? If you have a device that can be used to gain information from criminals simply and easily, don't you think it would be fair for the authorities to use it as well? Think about it, what a leap forward it would mean for crime prevention,” reasoned special agent Olafson.

“The device is not capable of anything like that. I have no idea where you got that idea from, but it's simply not true,” Steersman refuted.

The two agents looked at each other, their eyes narrowing. It seemed that this one wasn't going to give in to charm or reason.

“You think you'll get away from all of this? Look at yourself. It is a bloody miracle that you're still alive!” said Henderson, baldly.

Steersman stared back, silently.

“Look, think about it, and we will talk later. We can negotiate, figure something out. Let us know what you want. We are not the bad guys here. We are risking our lives being here and we are on your side … let's help each other out,” said Olafson, simulating resignation. He put a card onto the bedside table.

“Call us when you change your mind,” he said, and both of them went to the door without another word. Then Olafson stopped and turned.

“By the way, I almost forgot to tell you. The leaders of the largest crime organization to ever exist have been arrested, along with fifty other members. They were tried in a special court hearing. Those assholes are going to sit behind bars for a long time.”

Steersman looked up at him.

“Not for long enough, though,” he said blandly.

A muscle in Olafson's temple twitched. He hated it when someone tried to pull one over on him.

 

The place

The hospital staff seemed unusually calm. Cleaners quietly worked up and down the corridors and only night nurses walked past Steersman's window. No one bothered him. He closed his eyes but he didn't want to sleep.

On the contrary.

Steersman's genius came from a place that he had been visiting ever since he could remember. Some of his earliest memories were of that place; of his first visit there. He still had the same feeling of liberation as he did that first time, but there was one side effect he had to take into consideration: he had no concrete memories of his past before his thirties. Then he went there less often and only after that could he remember of his real life.

He did not know anything about how the place had come into existence, or why it was him who found it. This place did not seem to exist under the usual laws of physics; there were no boundaries or limits. The whole place seemed to be constructed from an energy that pulsed with information. He had soon realized that he could found concepts and ideas that he was not aware of at all, therefore, it was not purely a construct of his own brain. It was more that that. He found himself making more and more discoveries as he traversed the unknown.

He called it simply: ‘the place’.

Sometimes he would measure the time he spent there. Each time it was different varying from a couple of minutes to sometimes days. Once, his body had nearly died from starvation while he was there.

 

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CHAPTER 1 | EXCOLOPOLIS
CHAPTER 2 | MACHINES
CHAPTER 3 | A NEW TECHNOLOGY
CHAPTER 4 | ATTACK
CHAPTER 6 | THE SCIENCE CENTER
CHAPTER 7 | UNIVERSITY CITY
CHAPTER 8 | GLIDECRAFT
CHAPTER 9 | SECTOR TWO
CHAPTER 10 | THEY KNOW WE ARE HERE
CHAPTER 11 | GRAVITOR
CHAPTER 12 | INSTALLATION
CHAPTER 13 | ENERGY WAR
CHAPTER 14 | AFTERSHOCKS
CHAPTER 15 | INITIATION
CHAPTER 16 | PREPARATION
CHAPTER 17 | DEFENSE CORPS
CHAPTER 18 | TRUTH
CHAPTER 19 | BEYOND EARTH