Chapter 18

Chapter 18

A Chapter by Johnzo
"

Trede's curse proves that it's still following him, and never lagging to far behind.

"

It was early in the morning at Lab One, but the inhabitants were already hard at work.  “That’s it!”  Said Nandiel.  “Frezerick, that’s genius!”  She and Frezerick were going over the designs for Nandiel’s big project, a new kind of chemically powered kinetic jack.  It was a simple contraption really, but it was the basic premise that was what grabbed the senior inventors attention.  To use the device you jam it under something heavy, say a large boulder, or even the corner of a house.  Then by flicking a switch connected by coppering wiring, a signal was sent to the catalyst removing a connector between two vials of chemicals.  The chemicals combine with such a strong, but stable reaction they expand creating massive amounts of gas.  This gas is then channeled through the device causing it to telescope and expand with considerable strength. 

There were of course limitations to this device, it was a single use only and sometimes it was not feasible to find leverage enough brace the contraption in order to lift what was needed lifting.  What Nandiel, and her direct lab mentor Frezerick, were doing was trying to see if the idea of portable chemically based kinetic energy was beneficial to pursue.  Frezerick had just suggested a design that might do just that, create a sealed replaceable cartridge that contained the necessary chemical elements.  They could be reused in Nandiel’s device, but potentially many other devices built to accept this as a trigger and power source. 

“The chemical compounds you’ve been using are really quite something, I think if we package it in this way you’ll be a rising star in no time.”  Frezerick said, nudging Nandiel’s shoulder with his own.  He was carful not be seen being too publicly demonstrative with Nandiel, it was not generally thought well of for a senior inventor, even a young man as he was, to be too closely fraternizing with junior Cytechs.  Even though they had just met the night previous, Frezerick was clearly rooting for Nandiel’s success. 

At that moment Trede entered the main room of Lab One.  He was tired from having been up so late, but he had at least slept soundly and so was very grateful.  He looked around and saw Nandiel and Frezerick and traded the normal pleasantries.  Up on one of the middle catwalks were Yeleng and Bastir.  They seemed to be looking over a strange metallic and bulbous device with many spikes and protrusions on every side.   Yeleng had a notebook in front of him and Bastir was intently looking at the scaley surface of the device, to what end Trede had no idea.  In any case they were otherwise too busy to be disturbed.  Hanging below the two inventors under the catwalk was a small portable parachute.  It appeared to be small enough it could be strapped to someone’s arm, and very easy to travel with. 

That would’ve been nice to have a couple weeks ago.  He thought wryly. 

Tenowon noticed Trede standing there and came over to greet him.  “Mr. Trede, welcome back!  Let’s get you started, shall we?”

“Morning, right.  I’m ready.”  Said Trede still looking around the room.  She’s not here.  He thought. 

“Right this way.  I’ll have you set up here on the west end of the room.  There’s some spare workbench spaces, and it’s near the main explosive containment chamber, which I hope you’ll be needing extensively.”  Tenowon smiled.  

Trede felt that warranted at least a chuckle, so he tried his best at just that, but in doing so he felt awkward so he remained quiet. 

“I’ve already started a rough diagram of the energy production mechanisms, based on what I’ve seen so far.  Hopefully it should give you a good basis to start from during the prototyping phase.  It should teach you some of the basics of schematics and proper documentation as well.  So… Good.  Here we are.”  Tenowon placed his hand down on the work bench.  It was covered in a lot of the same tools Trede had grown familiar with during his first couple days here.  “I’ve also taken the liberty to find you a few pre-assembled parts.  They seem similar to some of the items in your gunstaff already, hopefully they should be of use to you.  You’ll find them in that box there under the bench.  So when…  well.  I’m assuming you’ve chosen Miss Cassidy as your partner on this project?”

“Oh, yeah.  Well, she was the one that brought me here, so I thought it would be a good fit.”  Said Trede. 

“It’s not uncommon.  I myself teamed with my ‘recruiter’ Bors on several projects in my early tenure, but… where is she this morning?”  Asked Tenowon, his puzzlement bordered on confusion. 

“I’m not sure.  I haven’t seen her yet today.  I did knock on her door on the way here, but…”  Trede’s words trailed off into a light shrug. 

“Very well, I’m sure she should be in soon.  Let’s take a look at the diagram shall we?”  Said Tenowon.  He unrolled a very tall piece of thin paper filled with numerous pencil sketches.  It had markings of dimensions, both of the entire gunstaff and of certain individual components.  It also had itemized several components and showed how they worked with the other pieces and where the flow of energy followed.  “I haven’t had to to go through each component, but we’ll continue on from here.”

Trede looked over the chart and was marveled at how complicated it all looked.  It’s hard to believe this is all from something I’ve already built.  He thought.  He placed his gunstaff up further back on the work bench so it would be within sight of both of them. 

“It may be helpful to learn a little history of how this all came together.  I know you’re from Smisom, is that were you found all these components?” 

“Yeah, pretty much.  I…  I built the whole thing while I was in Smisom, all the parts I found locally.  But we get a lot of Merkant traders up there, so I’m not sure where some of it’s from.”  Said Trede. 

“Really?  I didn’t expect there to be much technology trade that far north.”  Said Tenowon.

“In a small town like that, all the major building and larger houses have their own um… steam engine powered devices.  Mostly hot water heaters and light generators.”  Said Trede pausing in the middle to ensure he was using the proper Cytech verbiage he had been learning.  “So there’s a lot of call for mechanical odds and ends.”

Tenowon nodded, and began scanning over the plans again, with pencil in hand making slight markings here and there as he went.  He made comments here and there about how a certain piece here would have to be able to yield a certain threshold of thru-put, or this other component would have to be reviewed as a concern of too much heat buildup and other technical that things Trede did not have much of a grasp on.  After several minutes he asked Trede another direct question, but without looking up from the schematic.  “I haven’t yet had a chance to fully look through every corner of the gunstaff, do you know if there’s any older components in the design?”

“I don’t… know what you mean.”  Trede was a bit confused by the question. 

“Anything that didn’t seem to be of recent build?”  Asked Tenowon.

“Well… I guess there were some old pieces I bought second hand.”  Said Trede.

“Not old as in rusty, but perhaps something that didn’t seem normal.  Like perhaps it wasn’t built by us Cytechs?”  Said Tenowon.

“I… I guess I wouldn’t really know.  I was even more novice back then when it comes to this inventing stuff.”  Said Trede.

“Ah, well I suppose that’s a good point.”  Said Tenowon.  “I will be leaving the full and final diagraming to you and Miss Cassidy, but be sure to show me the full component list as soon as you are complete.  I have a theory, that should prove most interesting if true.” 

“Of course.  I’ll make sure of it.”  Said Trede. 

“I’ll let you continue on from here, I have some other matters to attend to in my private office upstairs.  If you need anything, please send me a message via the pneumatic tubes over there on the wall.  One of the senior inventors will show you how they work, it’s a great time saver.”  Said Tenowon. 

“Right.”  Said Trede. 

“Take the reigns for now.”  Said Tenowon handing over the pencil smiling.  “I’ll check back in before lunch, we’ll head to the mess hall together.”  Said Tenowon. 

“Ok, sounds good.”  Said Trede. 

Tenowon left Trede’s work area at the far west end of large open room in Lab One and headed for the main double door that exited back out to the corridor.  As he reached the door he was meet by someone whom Trede did not recognize, but was known to everyone else in the room. 

“Head Inspector Gen, good morning to you.”  Said Tenowon with a nod.  Then lowering his voice he stepped closer.  “Is it that time already?”

“It’ll just take a second.  I just thought I should… introduce myself first off.”  Said Gen, his stocky frame blocking most of the wide door way. 

Tenowon slowly nodded his head in thought, then replied, “Ok, right this way.”

The other inventors pretended to be too busy to notice Gen, it was not usually for good reasons that he came around to Lab One, or to the mountain side laboratories in general.  Even Frezerick and Nandiel grew nearly silent in their discussions on the eastern side of the lab.  

Tenowon and Gen approached Trede’s desk.  He was looking over the schematic, still trying to discern the meaning of it all. 

“Sorry to interrupt so soon, but it appears you have a visitor.”  Said Tenowon.

Trede looked up and saw the man standing there, he was noticeably shorter than Tenowon. 

“Hello Mr. Trede.  I’m Head Inspector Gen, glad to meet you in person.  Do you have a brief moment?”

Trede looked at Gen in a mild state of shock, but didn’t say anything. 

“I’d like to ask you a few questions, about that attack on the lower labs the other night.  Nothing too serious I’m sure, there’s just been a few curious findings come up since then… and we want to make sure we have the whole story.”  Gen’s tone was amiable, but very matter of fact.

Trede felt his heart beat quicken to nearly double pace, the room seem to go black around him as he felt his cold shaking tingle down his spine.  He was too shocked and surprised to even process the possible risk of the given situation, but he knew he needed to respond and at least try and act like it was no big deal.  “Ok sure.”  Trede managed in a muffled voice. 

“Great.  Come by the front office at Lab Three this afternoon, I’ll be there.  It shouldn’t take much time at all.  Until then.”  Gen excused himself and began exiting the room.  “Thanks for allowing the interruption Tenowon.”  Gen waved as he passed out of site around the door frame. 

“Well, I’ll leave you back to your work Trede.”  Said Tenowon.  “Remember, I’m just upstairs if you need something.”  He too then exited the room. 

“Right.”  Said Trede staring blankly at the open diagram sprawled across the large work bench surface.  Trede felt sick to his stomach.  What am I going to do?  He thought.  He had spent that past few days in peace, he was hoping maybe the worst was over.  Maybe he had finally run far enough that he wouldn’t have to worry about the curse anymore.  I thought I had finally found it…  a place where I could just be free.  Gen’s quick visit had just upended his perceptions about life and what may have been worth the risk of staying with the Cytechs. 

“Good morning everyone!”  Cassidy entered the lab, unaware of uneasy mood of the room left by the inspector’s visit. 

Nandiel quietly waved from across the room as Cassidy’s eyes scanned to find where Trede was sitting. 

Trede saw Cassidy approaching, but was in too much disarray to properly greet her. 

“Good morning Trede.”  She said as she sat down next to him at the work bench.  “Sorry I’m late.  I guess I must’ve overslept…”

“That’s ok.”  Said Trede, staring straight down at the schematic with apparent tunnel vision. 

Cassidy paused, unsure how to gauge his response.  “I’m sure we can make up the time.  So where are we?” 

“Just trying to find where to continue the diagram.”  Said Trede in a low voice.  His eyes were static and seemingly unemotional. 

“Ok.”  Said Cassidy looking on while Trede traced certain sketch lines on the diagram with his finger.  “Look I’m really sorry I’m late.  I know how important this is to you.”

“It’s fine.”  Said Trede with a hint of snap to his voice.  “It’s just…”  He tapped his fingers on the table in a fast and nervous fashion.  “We should probably try and take off the outer casing so we can properly diagram the remaining internal… mechanisms.”  Trede stood up and reached for the gunstaff to pull it closer. 

Cassidy took Trede’s nervousness for irritation, though she could not think of another reason why he would be upset.  Fine.  She thought.  “Well, let’s just get to work.” 

Trede struggled with trying to pry open a small panel at the base of the blast chamber. 

Cassidy spoke flatly, “you missed a screw there.”  She pointed and handed him a screwdriver of matching size. 

“Oh… right.”  Said Trede. 

The two continued on, talking only as necessary.  Trede tried to bury himself in work, and put off in his mind at least a little while whatever it was that Head Inspector Gen wanted to talk to him about.  But it didn’t remain far from his mind for the rest of that morning. 

 

 

Later that day it was near the end of the midday meal at the mess hall.  Tenowon had already exited, and Trede was just leaving as he was stopped by Cassidy. 

“Hey, where you off to already?”  She said, calling out from a table where she had been sitting with Nandiel. 

Not feeling like raising his voice to be heard from that distance, Trede walked over to her.  “Oh… I’ve got to…”  Trede trailed off into a mumble, tripping over his own words. 

“You’re what?”  Said Cassidy, slightly put off.

“I just have to… go see Inspector Gen for a bit.  I shouldn’t be long.  I don’t think.”  Said Trede, who seemed obviously distant.  “I’ll see you back at the lab.”  Trede exited without another word. 

Cassidy turned to Nandiel.  “Is that why he’s been so spacey today?!” 

“Oh, I don’t know maybe.  I didn’t really talk to him much today.  He had lunch with Tenowon, and he’s been on the far side of the lab from me all day today.”  Said Nandiel taking another sip of her drink.  “I hate it when the ice clinks onto your teeth, they should really give out straws here or something.” 

Cassidy ignored the latter half of Nandiel’s comment, and looked back out the door.  Trede was out of site, but she still wondered, “Why didn’t he just say something?”

“You know him better than I do, I can’t really say.”  Said Nandiel with a shrug. 

“Why does he have to go see Gen anyway?”  Asked Cassidy, both confused and irratated. 

“I’m not really sure.”  Said Nandiel pausing in mid attempt to take another bite of her sandwich.  “It was right before you came in this morning.  Gen showed up, talked to Trede for a sec and then left.  I couldn’t really over hear anything.  You don’t think he’s really in trouble or anything do you?”

“No, I don’t…  I mean what could he have done?  He hasn’t even been here a full week, and I’ve been with him almost the whole time.”  Said Cassidy, her tone growing more agitated.  

“Well you heard him, he won’t be gone long.  Why don’t you just ask him when he gets back?”  Said Nandiel, restarting the attempt to finish her lunch. 

“But why didn’t he just tell me?!”  Said Cassidy her hand slamming down on the table perhaps just a bit harder than she intended. 

Nandiel looked back at her friend with raised eyebrows, only slightly surprised at Cassidy’s outburst.  “I don’t know!  Maybe he wanted you to ask, or maybe he just didn’t want to talk about it.  I don’t know, did you start a fight last night after the party?” 

“What?  What are you talking about?”  Said Cassidy rolling her eyes. 

“I don’t know, I saw you guys leave together last night.  I mean, is everything still OK between you two?”  Nandiel’s question was genuine, but not really what Cassidy wanted to hear. 

“Oh please.”  Said Cassidy putting her forehead down on the table for a moment.  She let out a good size sigh of exasperation.  “Nandiel, you are so far off.  We’re just partners on this project, and I happen to be his recruiter-” 

Nandiel interrupted, “I mean I’m just saying.  He is kinda cute, and he’s about your age and-.” 

Cassidy followed with her own interruption, “Oh come on!”  This time hitting the table with both her hands.  “Are you being serious?  I mean… he’s kinda sweet sometimes but…  He’s such a mope!  And he mumbles and… I mean he’s… He’s barely a novice inventor, did you know that gunstaff is his only invention?!”

“Ok fine, I mean I wouldn’t blame you for it, I was just wondering.  You did spent quite a bit of time together getting back to Sedenza and all.”  Nandiel tried to conceal a bit of a smirk, knowing full well she had found a very sensitive issue with Cassidy.  She pretended she had something on her glasses and took them off to wipe them on her shirt. 

Cassidy could do nothing for a moment but look off into space shaking her head.  She let out another heavy sigh.  “I just thought since we spend so much time together, he would’ve been more upfront with me.  I mean we have to work together every day now.” 

“Uh-huh.”  Said Nandiel while putting her glasses back on, but with still the faintest trace of a smirk on her face. 

“Shut up.”  Said Cassidy with a scornful glare. 

“Can I eat my lunch now?”  Asked Nandiel, picking up her sandwich once more. 

“Whatever.”  Said Cassidy as she stood.  “I’m going back to Lab One.” 

“Ok.  Let me know how it went after you talk to him!”  Said Nandiel, raising her voice just a bit as Cassidy continued away. 

Cassidy didn’t even turn around and just sighed again, while she waved her hand behind her to dismiss Nandiel’s comment. 

Nandiel smiled so hard it grew into a light chuckle as she took another bite.

 

 

“Please take a seat, Head Inspector Gen will be right with you.”  Said a guard in customary Cytech uniform as he gestured to the chair in front of a desk in a small room in the Lab Three building.  Trede nodded and entered the room as he stepped out of the main hallway.  The small office barely had enough room for a desk, an extra chair and a large built-in bookshelf that went from floor to ceiling on the right side of the room.  A lone window behind the desk with whited draped curtains let in more then adequate sunlight. 

Trede sat down and attempted to calm his nerves by breathing deeply.  He tried to think of different scenarios of how he could reply to Gen and not find himself in any more trouble.  I’ve had more than enough of that recently…  He thought.  Maybe it’s nothing.  I mean, I’m a Cytech now.  Maybe everything can still be ok. 

A few moments passed.  Trede stared at the window, even though he could only see the dispersed sun’s light shining through the white curtains.  After Trede had almost become unaware of his surroundings, he heard the sound of footsteps approaching.  He turned his head quickly to look back at the door just as Gen came into view. 

“Good Afternoon Trede, thank you for stopping in.”  Said Gen.  There was no specific emotion Trede could determine in Gen’s voice. 

“Sure.”  Said Trede. 

Gen came around to the back of the desk and sat down.  His body blocked a noticeable amount of sunlight from getting across the room to where Trede sat.  “Well let’s get right down to it.  As I mentioned earlier, there a few things we wanted to clear up after the attack at the main grounds a few days ago.  By the way, how is your injury?”

“Oh…”  Trede clutched his ribs.  He had been so busy since coming to Lab One that he hadn’t been giving it much thought.  He stretched for a moment and noticed still a bit of soreness lingering.  “It’s not bad.”

“Good to hear.  Let’s begin at the beginning.  It was mentioned in the report that you had met this mystic before coming to Sedenza, is that right?”

“Yeah.  He found me in Smisom and hired me to bring something to Sedenza for him.”  Said Trede. 

“And what happened to that parcel?”  Asked Gen. 

“It got where it was meant to go… more or less.”  Said Trede, trying to avoid that memory as best he could. 

“I heard the report on your activities before making it to the Guild house, but if you’re sure you didn’t retain any of the mystic’s property then…  what was it that you think he was after?”  Asked Gen. 

Trede paused a moment as the weight of the bleaker memories in his life began reemerging.  I wish I knew.  They probably just want me dead.  They want this curse gone.  Trede closed his eyes for a moment.  But how can I tell him that.  “I don’t know.”  He finally answered. 

Gen looked hard back at Trede.  Gen was an expert on reading people.  He knew there was still something more here, but it was not the major subject he wanted to cover.  “Tell me Trede, where did you get all the components for your gunstaff?  Where they all custom built?”

“No, I bought or traded for most of them back home.”  Replied Trede. 

“And are you aware the origin of all the individual components?”  Asked Gen. 

“Well… no.  I mean I found them all in Smisom, but some of them seemed to be used, but everything still worked.  I..  Why?”  Said Trede.  He was puzzled as to the direction of this questioning. 

“Are you aware that one of the guards injured the night of the attack is still unconscious?  Stranger still, he’s not wounded yet he remains profoundly asleep.”  Asked Gen.  His tone was not accusatory, but he was greatly puzzled. 

The sharp cold feeling returned running down Trede’s spine as he clenched his fists into the tops of his legs to try and keep them from shaking.  Every urge in his body wanted to just get up and run, but he pushed through and tried to remain calm.  After a moment Trede responded.  “No… I didn’t know.” 

Sensing Trede’s reluctance, Gen pursued further.  “To further that point -and I’ll be blunt- we’ve determined that there is a particular type of energy pulsing in Bregsor’s system.  That’s that poor guards name.  Early tests have determined it matches the basic… wavelength same as your gunstaff.  At least Tenowon’s early reports of it.  Now Mr. Trede, and this is important.  Is there any reason you can think that this could possibly be?”  Gen’s voice grew just a bit stern as he trained his eyes on Trede watching for even the slightest reaction. 

“I didn’t shoot anyone, I didn’t…  I didn’t want to hurt anyone.”  Said Trede who’s gaze become locked down to the drab grey carpet.  A fear began bubbling up inside Trede’s chest.  It’s happening again… already it’s happened.  Trede was just as much despondent over the news as he was angry at himself for not seeing it coming.  He knew he had a nightmare of one of the guards on duty when Maej attacked, it should have been obvious that the guard would have been struck down by his curse. 

“So what happened that night?  Honest mistake or not, we just need some answers.  If anything, we need to be able to equip the medical group with the information so they can know how to best treat Bregsor.  You said you didn’t want to hurt anyone, help us help him now.”  Said Gen. 

Trede’s face grew white and grave.  He began speaking in a low somber tone.  “I really don’t know what’s wrong with him.  When Maej was here… I don’t know what happened.  I’m sorry.  I can’t help.” 

Gen sat back in his chair with a bit of a sigh.  “If it’s consequences your worried about, I’m sure Tenowon and Miss Cassidy would vouch for you.  But if there’s something else to this situation, it would be in your best interest to tell me.  I can say for certain it’s better I find out now than later.”  Gen was obviously loosing patience over Trede’s lack of forthrightness. 

The reality of the situation was sinking in for Trede.  He knew he couldn’t explain the true situation -at least as far as he currently understood it- without some serious repercussions.  At the same time, saying nothing was only serving to make things worse.  There was one other thought, that he couldn’t quite bear to acknowledge as the only other option. 

While Trede’s mind raced, Gen pushed on, now getting more irritated.  “You’re not making this easy Trede.  If you aren’t prepared to answer for yourself, there will be consequences.” 

“I feel bad for Bregsor.”  Said Trede.  “But I just don’t know how to help.  Believe me when I say I’d like to help, but I just can’t.”  There was a bit of exasperation in Trede’s voice which rang true and Gen picked up on immediately. 

Gen looked on seeing Trede’s genuine emotion and his mood softened, but not so his sense of duty.  “Very well.  I’m afraid I will have to keep you sequestered here at the Mountainside Labs for the duration.  I will clear with Tenowon to allow you continue on your work, but you will not be allowed to travel back the city.  We will continue our investigation, perhaps soon we can find something to shed a little more light the situation, and from there… Maybe figure out more on Bregsor’s condition.  And please, if anything comes to mind about that night, I need to be the first to now, consider it of the upmost importance.  Agreed?”  Said Gen. 

“Ok.”  Said Trede.

Gen dismissed Trede and so he left the room and walked down the hall back toward the main entrance of Lab Three. 

The one lingering thought in the back of Trede’s mind burned with each step.  He knew what he had to do if he was going to stay safe and to keep his new friends safe as well.  The words emerged from Trede’s mind as he could hold back the burning no longer.  I have to run…  I have to get out of here. 

 

 

 

 



© 2010 Johnzo


Author's Note

Johnzo
I'm still going for speed here (over quality), but I think there are some good character interactions here. The wheels for the finale are starting to churn. (but still another 10+ chapters to go at this rate)

All comments welcome. Likes/dislikes, strong/weak points, anything at all. Anything not making sense or boring?

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Hey, this is pretty good for speed writing! Wording/technical stuff aside, I like the way the story is building... definitely holds interest, increases interest in knowing how this is all going to play out. Gen is a little more likeable in this chapter... the little bit in the other chapter could make you worried he was wanting to take Trede down, but in this one, you see he is really trying to do his job, and was open to the truth. I was a little surprised at Cassidy being so upset as to hit the table, but then in thinking about it afterward, there was probably a frustration building throughout the morning, struggling with his drastically changed demeanor. Maybe that could be shown to build a little more, but maybe not necessary, as you begin editing.

Posted 13 Years Ago



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Added on October 12, 2010
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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