Chapter 16

Chapter 16

A Chapter by Johnzo
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The group celebrates the success of Trede's exhibition, while Tenowon gets a surprise visit from Head Inspector Gen.

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Late in the evening, a voice rang out from somewhere at the mountainside laboratories.  “To a grand future, and to all the people in this room and their part in bringing that future about, here here!”  Gragus raised a glass of sparkling yasigin to a small group of people who had gathered in a corner of the banquet hall.  The banquet hall was really the main mess hall, but on such an occasion as this it served a secondary purpose. 

“Here-here!”  Called out all those in attendance, Traz most loudly of all.  It had been sometime since he had attended any sort of proper celebratory engagement, and he was taking full advantage. 

“To the grand future, may the brightest lights lead the way directly towards!  Woo!”  Traz cheered and raised his glass so quickly, he nearly jumped off of the table he was standing on, spilling his drink a bit in the process. 

Gragus who was standing right in front of said table received a small shower down his back.  “Oh my!  Well, at least nothing could dampen my spirit on a day like today…”  He adjusted his shirt and vest with a shrug. 

Rounding out in attendance were Tenowon, Nandiel, Cassidy and a handful of other Lab One inventors whom Trede had just met that very day.  With the toast complete, they group resumed their chatter talking about all the possibilities and potential breakthroughs this research could bring. 

Cassidy turned to Trede and spoke through the noise.  “Congrats!  This is it Trede, we did it!  We really did it!  You were great today, and now we’ll get everything we wanted.  A place in Lab One, and in Cytech’s history.”  Cassidy’s smile was broad as she clinked glasses with Trede and took a sip. 

Trede’s head swirled to comprehend the impact that he might have coming here to the Cytechs, but he could not help but enter into the festive mood.  “Congrats to you too!”  He smiled. 

Just then Traz let out another “Here-here!”  To which everyone turned and responded in kind, including Trede this time. 

“So, I guess that means we’ll be working together for a while then?”  Asked Trede. 

“That’s the plan, I wouldn’t have it any other way!  Besides there’s no way I’d miss out on this.”  Replied Cassidy given Trede a light shove on the shoulder. 

“Good.  I-”  He paused for a moment as Traz began bellowing a song in his native Selahnic tongue.  It may not have been a bad tune, given the proper accompaniment, but as it was currently presented was more than a few paces north of distracting.  “I’m really glad you’ll be with me.”  He continued. 

“What?”  Cassidy strained her head to one side, it was becoming more difficult to hear as the party and Traz’s singing crescendoed in unison. 

“I just… it’ll be nice to be working together, I mean.”  Trede said while avoiding all eye contact with Cassidy. 

“Oh yeah, I can’t wait to start.  It should be a great experience, you’ll be moving up in rank in no time!”  Said Cassidy. 

“Hey Cass!  You’ll never believe what Frezerick said he invented to gain entry to the Lab One, you have to hear this!”  Nandiel called out to her friend from across the party. 

“Be right there!”  Said Cassidy.  “Well, there’s a story I need here apparently.  You know, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to talk to some of these other Lab One inventors you know, you can really learn a lot.  Plus you never know when you’re going to need a friend in the right place.”

“Oh right, yeah thanks.”  Said Trede. 

“Cheers!”  Said Cassidy raising her glass once more. 

“Cheers!”  Said Trede, he smiled lightly.  As Cassidy walked away, he looked across the party to see who else he could talk to.  Traz had just wrapped up a chorus of his song, so Trede approached.  “Here-here!”  He said called out to grab Traz’s attention.

“Here-here!  Yes, a celebration is such good for the spirit is it not?”  Traz toasted his glass once more. 

“As long as you don’t end up celebrating yourself smack face down on the floor.”  Trede joked with a grin. 

Traz roared in laughter.  “See!  The spirit is uplifted already!  To the grand future!”

“To the future!”  Trede said with confidence pushing his glass forward. 

Traz responded with a loud clank as the two cups met. 

Trede turned and looked around at the room.  He saw all the faces talking, smiling and laughing.  This is a good day.  He thought.  He wandered through the small crowd and struck up conversation with a few other inventors at Lab One.  He learned that Ghyut was originally from the Jonin, but was transfered here once his knowledge and experience with dangerous and caustic chemicals became noticed by certain high ranking members.  Ghyut had even created acids that could dissolve solid metal, yet could be transported safely as long as the catalyst agent was keep separated.  Soon after that Trede was introduced to Yeleng and Bastir.  They had returned just in time for the exhibition from a research assignment in Jonin.  They were considered Tenowon’s top assistants at Lab One and would likely be working closely with Trede and Cassidy.  They were both full level inventors and between them had nearly twenty-five years of Cytech experience.  Trede made a mental note to especially remember these two, since he knew he would be seeing them again very soon. 

Trede did his best to keep up in conversation with all the other seasoned inventors.  He acted impressed when someone said something technical that he didn’t quite understand.  He did his best to chime in when something came up that sounded familiar.  For the most part he thought he did very well.  Just a few days in with them, I think it’s working out.  He thought.  Everyone was very nice, and given the mood of the occasion anything Trede said that was a little off mark would’ve been graciously overlooked anyway. 

After another thirty minutes or so of mingling, Trede found him self on the edge of the still humming crowd.   As he stood, Tenowon quietly came up beside him. 

“It’s a very good day isn’t it?”  Tenowon said calmly, standing nearly shoulder to shoulder with Trede. 

“Yeah,” Trede exhaled, “it is.” 

“We’ll start tomorrow, probably keep it light.  Just some general planning, optimize some space in the lab for your project.  This being your first prototype re-factor, we’ll be sure to go over the basics.  It’s not often someone gets thrust into your situation so quickly, so we’ll make sure you’re well equipped each step of the way.”

“Sounds good.”  Replied Trede while rolling back on his heels.

“How do you feel?”  Tenowon asked in an analytical tone, looking intently at Trede. 

“Oh… good.”  Trede chuckled nervously.  “Um, a little overwhelmed maybe.” 

“Hmm.”  Tenowon smiled.  “When I first joined the Cytechs I barely spoke the literal language.  I was instantly thrown into world I didn’t understand, a world where quickly people began expecting things of me.  It was a world I was unfamiliar with.  But we adapt.  I think that’s something we all have in common.  Especially us Cytechs.”  Tenowon casually elbowed Trede in the side.  “Incidentally, welcome aboard.” 

“Thanks Tenowon.  I… I think I can do this.  I just need some time.”  Said Trede. 

“Well the hard part is over, the project is approved.  Time is one thing we certainly have now.”  Tenowon stretched his shoulders back.  “Don’t stay up too late now, save a little energy for tomorrow.  I’m going head out, see you tomorrow at the lab.”

Tenowon announced his leaving to the rest of party.  He was met with hearty cheers from the group, though their fervor as starting to now wane at the late hour. 

Over the next thirty minutes more and more people started to exit, and soon it was only Trede, Cassidy, Nandiel, Frezerick and Traz. 

Traz was practicing doing handstands on a tabletop for apparently no reason other than to keep himself awake and entertained. 

Trede was sitting on a bench near Traz’s table as Cassidy left Nandiel’s table.  Nandiel and Frezerick were still chatting, and she was still busy being overly impressed by Frezerick’s stories, and laughing way too loud and too often for Cassidy’s comfort. 

Cassidy came over and sat next to Trede.  Cassidy’s eyes were starting to droop a bit, and the faintest dark circles had appeared under her eyes since Trede last saw her.  “Ugh, can you believe her?  She’s so enamored with him.  She even laughed when he told her the strongest measurable force in the world was that of man’s love for a woman.  Guh, so cheesy right?”

At the moment Nandiel burst out laughing again, as Frezerick continued, “But wait, that’s not even the best part!”

“They seem to be having a good time at least.”  Said Trede softly. 

“I guess.  Bleh.”  Cassidy did not hold back her disapproval. 

“Ninety-Five!  Ninety-Six!”  Alarmed Traz, as he toppled over on the table.  “And once more for the record!”  He instantly jumped back up to a handstand.  Nandiel and Frezerick dealt out hardy cheers encouraging Traz on. 

“Well, I guess we should wrap it up pretty soon.”  Said Cassidy slumping forward and supporting her chin with her hands which were balanced on her knees.  She let out a long yawn.  “I guess I didn’t realize how tired I was.”

A moment passed as Traz continued quietly counting. 

“I talked to Tenowon, I guess we’re going to go over the planning and workspaces tomorrow.”  Said Trede to fill the silence. 

“Oh yeah, wow.  All this fun, I forgot we have work to do tomorrow.”  She stretched out her arms with another yawn and accidently bumped Trede in the head.  “Oh, sorry!  I guess I’m partied out, I didn’t even realize how close I was.” 

“It’s ok.”  Said Trede, while starting nervously tapping his finger.  “Well if you’re going to go, can I walk you back?”

“And ninety!  Ninety-one!”  Traz’s volume seemed to increase with each digit spoken.

“Keep it up Traz!  Go, go!”  Nandiel and Frezerick shouted. 

  “Huh?  No that’s ok, I’ll just go with you.”  Said Cassidy. 

Trede pretended what she said had made sense and stood up to go. 

“OK guys, see you tomorrow.  Don’t stay up all night you two!”  Cassidy announced to the diminished crowd. 

“I’ll be back at the room Traz, try not to get lost on the way back.”  Said Trede with tired humor. 

“One-Hundred!”  Traz shouted.  “The record done, now for glory!  One-Hundred-one!”

Trede just shook his head with smile as he and Cassidy exited. 

They made it outside to find barely a light shining anywhere.  By this hour, most of the lights on campus were turned off.  There was just a few path lights over where certain walkways intersected lightly glowing, and the light of the moon to show the way. 

“Yikes it’s dark!”  Said Cassidy.  I haven’t been up this late in some time, and never so here mountain.” 

“Had you been here on the mountainside much before yesterday?”  Asked Trede.

“A handful of times, but as a Junior rank, I’ve spent most of my time on the ground level.”  She sighed.  “But that’s all changing now, thanks to you.  Hopefully, I won’t be a Junior rank much longer.  Then maybe people will really start taking my ideas seriously.” 

“Well you’re not even twenty yet right?  I mean, it’s not like you’re behind or anything.”  Trede was speaking in a low voice, the only other sound was a pair of footsteps lightly tapping on the stone path. 

“It’s not that.  And I know. I mean, it’s not like I’ve let anyone down or anything.  I just… I just expected to have done more.  And Nandiel, she’s earned here own visit to Lab One.  I had to hitch a ride on your invention, nothing of my own…  In a lot of ways I’m jealous of you, ah but-”

“Cass, I wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for you.  I don’t even think I could do this without you.  I… I need you here with me.”  Trede’s tone was very sincere.  Cassidy noticed that Trede’s eyes were were more open more wide than normal, his blue eyes reflected what little light there was. 

Cassidy didn’t respond for a brief moment, which seemed like an antagonizing eternity to Trede.  “Only Nandiel calls me Cass.”  She smiled. 

“Oh, sorry.  I just-”

“No it’s ok.”  Cassidy said.  A few more moments of silence passed between them.  “Thank you Trede.  If you need me, I won’t let you down.  This is going to be a great thing, for both of us.”  Cassidy took a step closer and wrapped her arm around Trede’s midsection and rested her head on his shoulder.  He was just enough taller than her that it was a comfortable position for them both to continue walking. 

Trede felt her weight pressing him to the side and adjusted his step slightly to compensate.  He cautiously reached over with his right arm and placed his hand on her right shoulder.  Trede’s mind raced to think of something to say, but at the same time he just wanted to enjoy the moment. 

“You and me Trede.”  Cassidy said almost in a daze with her eyes halfway closed.  “We’re going places.  This will be huge.  Just wait and see.  Everyone will take us seriously then…”

Trede gave up trying to add anything additional to the conversation, and they continued walking back to the main barrack hall.  He was experiencing a sensation he could not quite describe, but could only think of it as closeness.  Throughout his life, he had never been very close with anyone.  Growing up on the streets of Smisom, he never had a real family, and before he was too old he was traveling a lot, and never spent much time in one place.  Even his new found friends were an exception to the norm of his life up to that point.  He thought, though not nearly in so many words, this may have literally been the closest to any one person he had felt in his entire life. 

He looked up at the moon which was high over head and closed his eyes.  The walk was over then we would’ve liked, but he enjoyed every step. 

The two entered the main door of the hall.  It’s wooden door with ornate cast iron hinges slowly opened revealing a long hallway splitting in both directions.  A small wall sconce at the entrance provided just enough light to see the rows of doors extending down each side of the hall.  They got inside and stood there silently for a moment.  Trede could feel Cassidy’s weight on his shoulder increasing. 

“Well, I’m upstairs, and I guess you’re down that way.”  Said Trede, reluctant to break the silence. 

“Huh?”  Cassidy lifted her head.  “Oh right.  Um, ok good night.”  In single move she let go of Trede and began down the hall, shuffling more than actually walking. 

“Good night.”  Answered Trede.  He watched her go, again unsure of what emotion he was experiencing at that moment, but he couldn’t bare to leave while she was in site.  She continued down the hall, found her door and disappeared inside. 

Trede then turned and walk a few steps in the opposite direction and opened the door to the stairwell.  He made it to the second floor and walked down to his room.  Maybe I can fall asleep before Traz crashes in tonight.  He thought.  He got ready for bed and laid down.  Staring at the ceiling his mind wandered.  He thought about how different the day was.  It’s like an entirely different life.  He thought.  I don’t want to lose this.  I didn’t have any dreams last night, I should be Ok for a while.  Maybe things will be different here.  Maybe… with her.  Trede touched his shoulder which still had the slightest bit of Cassidy’s warmth lingering on his skin.  He wasn’t even really sure how Cassidy felt, but Trede was finding the more time they spent together, the more time he wanted to spend with her. 

I really want things to be different here.  He thought, closing his eyes.  I don’t want that old life anymore. 

 

 

 

 

Tenowon walked down the path leaving the main mess hall heading back towards Lab One. 

Just a few odd items to check on before the night is over.  He thought. 

He reached the door and began the complicated unlocking procedure.  When he was nearly finished he heard something behind him. 

“Excuse me.”  Said a voice. 

Tenowon turned sharply to see who was there. 

“Master Tenowon, do you have a moment?”  Said the voice. 

“Inspector Gen.  Awfully late for a visit all the way to Lab One isn’t it?” 

Even in the low light, Tenowon easily recognized the Inspector.  He was shorter of stature and a bit stocky, but his round face and short thick black hair and eyebrows were noticeable even in the moonlight.  Gen stood there in his slate grey vest and slacks rubbing his black bearded chin.  “Normally yes, but I didn’t think this should wait.” 

“Really?  And what is this about?”  Tenowon was puzzled. 

“You remember the other night, the attack on the main ground campus?  One of our guardsmen has been unconscious ever since.  We found him on the roof that night, but here’s no visible wound or injury, not even a slight burn.”

“Irregular, but why should that be of any concern?  There could be any number of medical reasons.” Tenowon said.   

“It wouldn’t be worth noting, but for something we found today.  Something that matched the preliminary findings in your review of the gunstaff energy generation project.”  Said Gen. 

“A matching energy signature, how so?”  Asked Tenowon. 

“We believe to have found traces of the new energy type in guardsman Bregsor various examinations.  Of course you can imagine why we would want additional information right away.”  Gen said. 

“The report stated there was quite a firefight, surely there could’ve been some friendly cross fire?  Hardly cause for concern.”  Tenowon was still unsure of where Gen was leading this train of thought. 

“It’s possible, but Bregsor wasn’t even close to where Trede and Maej fought.  It’s just too coincidental.  You can see why we want to question Mr. Trede.  There’s only one other place we’ve seen this energy, we need to at least confirm the events of that night.  But we can’t rule out foul play.”

“Inspector, that seems highly unlikely.  Mr. Trede’s info sheet shows him to be a practically nomadic courier.  If he were to attack one of our own, while this Maej suspect were attacking our facility… the only logical explanation would be that Trede and Maej’s affray would’ve been…”

“Precisely.  Perhaps the whole thing was staged.”  Said Gen, placing his thumbs into his vest pocket. 

“But to want end?”  Tenowon began pacing to the left with his hands gesturing in the air.  “What could the motive be?  Create a facade of helplessness, make it seem like the only safe place for him to be is here on the mountainside…  And to get immediately transferred here close to Lab One.”  Tenowon stopped in mid step. 

“It’s a shame your inventor’s duties keep you occupied, you’d’ve made a great deducing inspector given the chance.”  Gen’s grin was noticeable even in the dark.  His rising cheeks pushing his specs up enough to catch a gleam of moonlight.

“Still though, I’ve been with the young man for two days now.  He seems quite genuine.  Someone with more devious intentions would likely seem too forthwright.”  Said Tenowon. 

“Even a minor possibility deserves investigation.”  Said Gen. 

Tenowon paused.  “Yes of course Inspector Gen.  You are right.  But perhaps…”

“Yes?”

“Could this wait until tomorrow?  It’s quite late now, but he’s probably still back at the mess hall celebrating the exhibition.  Would be a shame to… dampen their spirits so.” 

“We’ll keep a couple guards out tonight.  We know which room he’s supposed to be in, and make sure he gets there tonight.  Expect to se me again by midday tomorrow.”

“Thank you.  It is most appreciated.”  Said Tenowon kindly. 

“Very well.  Until then.”  Gen clicked his heels then began walking off, but then paused to turn and say, “And Tenowon.  If it’s any help, I hope it’s nothing.  Just have to follow proper process is all.” 

“Understood.”  Tenowon nodded.

“I’ll leave you to your work.”  Gen concluded and walked off into the night. 

Puzzling.  Tenowon thought as he finished opening the heavy door to Lab One.  Traces of unique energy, could’ve come from only one known source unless…  As he was walking inside he stopped in his tracks.  “No.”  He said audibly.  “It can’t… actually be.”  Tenowon moved into a straight run.  “I’ve got to find my old files.”  He said. 

Tenowon entered his private office on the second floor of Lab One.  He looked through several file cabinets, but could not find what he was looking for.  Finally in the bottom of one cabinet, out of a file folder and just laying in the bottom of the drawer were some old loose papers. 

Haven’t looked at these in years.  He thought.  As he began reading through the papers he spoke aloud once more.  “This is one possibility I had never imagined seeing again.” 

 

 



© 2010 Johnzo


Author's Note

Johnzo
As we start the second major arc of the book, I wonder if these middle chapters will leave the reader wondering what the point of the story is. I've purposely hidden a lot of surprises, but perhaps too much. Is the direction of the book floundering? I plan to analyze this much further during the editing process.

Otherwise comment away!

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Reviews

great job with the writing about Trede's deepening relationship (on his side at least) with Cassidy! I see what you mean in your note above, about more pieces coming in, that might seem to distract from your main storyline... not sure yet if it's too much until I read further though... my first thought was maybe it's hinting at too many new surprises in one short space, but it might not be. nice combination of relational storyline mixed with the mystery/suspense.

Posted 13 Years Ago



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Added on August 24, 2010
Last Updated on August 24, 2010


Author

Johnzo
Johnzo

Bridgton, ME



About
For more info on my little world, visit: www.echowake.com -Latest post: 2nd Draft Preview My favorite stories are usually ones that have a bigger world behind them, a story behind the story that.. more..

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A Chapter by Johnzo