It's a Matter of Death and Life: Part 3
It's a Matter of Death and Life
by Camospam, editing by Wendy K,
Cameron opened his eyes and took in the early morning light, the suns first rays streamed through tall windows basking the room in brilliant colours. Outside the windows stood trees whose trunks framed a rugged mountain with snow dappled slopes leading to a sharp peak. Still with his head resting on the pillow he saw a white dress haphazardly strewn across a chair while another chair had a red uniform neatly folded upon it. A lithe arm was draped over his ribs with its hand intertwined with his own, the ring on the dainty finger caught the sunbeams the reflected light twinkled like stars on the ceiling.
He felt himself being pulled into a gentle squeeze and the delightful press of lips on his neck: “Good morning love” was whispered into his ear like a caress.
“Good morning Mrs. Burke” he whispered in response while pressing the intertwined hands against his heart.
Cameron opened his eyes and took in the small space his tent occupied, everything was damp from last nights rain and the air held a chill - a sure sign of autumn’s progression. The sun was not up yet which helped confirm it hadn’t been real, so he lay back into his cot pulling the sleeping bag close and began to deconstruct the vivid dream.
Saturday, September 29, 2007. Whateley Academy
Arriving at Maintenance a few minutes early, he’d greeted the students who worked paying into their tuition, but stood over with the rest of the detentionees awaiting the days punishment.
So far, each shift had been the same story: down into the sewers under Jinn’s direction - clear some nastiness and make repairs. According to Jinn they’d fixed some of the worst sewer problems.
Cameron wasn’t under any delusion, detention was not intended to be fun or interesting - but working with J-Team was at least always entertaining. He hadn’t thought it possible but actually hoped he’d be assigned more of the same tasks: unpleasant as it was.
The day’s crew was divided up and as anticipated Jinn and Cameron were teamed up, along with another kid named Dump Truck who had earned himself some detention. Dump truck was big and liked to throw his weight around, Cameron had seen enough of his type to peg him as a bully - getting some comeuppance.
Dump Truck was in the dumps when he found out his task, and was less than pleased to have to work under Shroud’s supervision. At least he had the smarts to not verbally complain - body language was another thing.
The trio got their equipment and waders together and the they began the descent into Whateley’s bowels, Jinn lead them through the maze of tunnels, past twists and turns that had become confusing a ways back and without much to identify one place from another. After passing bye many access doors they eventually stopped.
Dump Truck sneered at Jinn when she began to explain how to be safe, and identified what risks and dangers this work entailed, the bully wouldn’t outright challenge the ‘ghost’ but had been making an effort to press Jinn’s buttons, Cameron hoped the goof didn’t start something since the bully likely wouldn’t be able to finish it.
Jinn detailed that the section of pipe they would be working at was some of the oldest sewers at Whateley and in worst condition. Cameron was sent to start at one end and come towards Jinn and Dump Truck, Cameron understood the hidden message that he was to recondition the sewer as Jinn kept Dump Truck busy and he appreciated the thoughtfulness to protect his secret.
The sewer pipe was in horrible shape for a long distance, and it took Cameron a lot of effort and materials to restore the surfaces. But being busy meant the morning moved along quickly, but at roughly an hour before noon they could hear reverberating through the underground passageway from a blaring siren.
The three stopped what they were doing and everyone stood still to try and hear better.
A distorted voice was barely heard as it echoed in the confined space as a broadcast was made over the PA system: “Attention - Attention, all students head to muster stations, evacuate all buildings, go to muster stations until given further direction!”
Dump Truck dropped everything but his flashlight and started rushing back to their original entry point.
Jinn called to him: “Hey DT! You’re going the wrong way. Nearest exit is this way.”
The large boy stopped and begrudgingly returned saying: “I knew that.”
Being handed back his tools they all moved towards the access door. Letting Dump Truck take point Jinn walked beside Cameron.
“Can you see what’s happening up top?”
Cameron leaned against the tunnel wall then began a sweep of the area to discern what was happening, Jinn stayed next to him. Cameron described how students were pouring out of cottages and beginning to amass into groups.
“Do you know what’s going on?”
“I’m seeing lots of heat, looks like an underground fire.”
“No … Bunny! She was working in her lab this morning.”
“They actually let someone use Bunny as a code-name?”
“That’s her real name! Why: what’s wrong with it?”
“I just thought there was some kind of restriction on what you could call yourself.”
“Her code name is Bugs.”
“Bugs - Bunny… and there’s no copyright infringement?”
“Like ‘Outlook’ is going to install fear into anyone” insulted Dump Truck who had stepped closer.
Jinn spun on him “Anyone who decides to name himself after the first thing to drive past them is hardly in a place to criticize code names.”
“Hey! It signifies power and toughness and getting the job done!” defended DT.
“And you probable never considered that people might shorten it to Dumpy?” chided Shroud.
“You wouldn’t!” he reeled back in horror.
Cutting off Jinn, Cameron said: “As scintillating as this is, we better keep moving.” At which they continued their march down the pipe. After a short distance he asked: “Can you point to where Bunny would be?”
“It’s easy to get turned around in the tunnels. But I’d say that way” pointed Jinn to just a little off from the direction they were heading.
Focusing in that direction Cameron did a visual sweep.
Dump Truck's frustration built with the two who had stopped again, hindering his progress. He looked back at them and yelled: “Coming or what?” his voice bouncing off the walls.
“Just give Outlook a minute, he’s trying to find out what’s going on.”
Outlook began a full three-sixty scan. Once finished he looked at Jinn.
“Do you want the good news or bad news?”
“I’ll take the good news - you can keep the bad.”
“Sorry, doesn’t work like that.”
“Be that way. What's the good news then?”
“We are currently safe in the sewers.”
“That doesn’t sound like very good - good news.”
“Your right: at least I tried.”
“So the bad?”
“It’s bad! The area you said Bunny was at, it’s on fire.” He waited for Jade to digest that news before continuing “Everything over there is on fire: areas that look like an auto garage and machine shop look to be the worst.”
“So we should backtrack and get out how we got in.” sounded out the ‘ghost’.
“We can’t. The tunnels have bulkheads that have dropped, It seems they’re designed to prevent the spread of fire for containment. But with them down it means the access tunnels are blocked off.”
“Then we go further back and find a place to get out.” reasoned Jinn.
“Jinn; you could make it. But before we could get to an escape hatch or manhole the pipe diameters will have decrease so that Dump Truck couldn’t fit through, and it would be a real tight squeeze for me too.”
“If we stay here, will we be safe?”
“For a little while maybe, but think about it: they will use water to put the fire out - that water will flow into the sewer … “
“We’re in the sewer, we’ll get flooded!”
“Right. So we need to move quickly to get ahead of that.”
Jinn could fly so she wasn’t restricted by walking in the ankle deep water, Cameron rushed as best as possible, They then explained the situation while on the run to Dump Truck who also seemed to pick up his pace.
The three passed two access doors but didn’t bother with them since the tunnels beyond were sealed, Cameron called out the temperature every so often as they neared the fire, it was no longer cool in the tunnel - the heat from the fire was penetrating into the sewer.
As they came upon the next access door, Cameron needed to catch his breath and Dump Truck too - though he wouldn’t admit he was feeling the heat. Cameron looked around and described what he saw: this access door was between two bulkheads - this was the section of tunnel where the entrance to what Jinn called the Devisor Labs was located.
“Did everyone make it out?” asked a worried Jinn.
After a thorough scan Cameron dejectedly said: “No.”
“How many?” demanded Jinn.
“I found eleven: sealed up in the Lab.”
“We have to help them?” pleaded Jinn.
“No. we don’t!” shouted Dump Truck “It’s every man for himself.”
“They could be your friends.” reasoned Cameron.
“I don’t have friends.” denied DT.
“But they need our help.” Jinn pleaded and tugged on Cameron to come with her.
“Luck of the draw.” smugly retorted ‘Dumpy’.
“I don’t believe in luck,” added Cameron: “We decide our own futures and fates. I’m going to at least try and help them.”
“Count me in.” voiced Jinn.
“I’m staying in here.” confessed DT, displeased with not getting his way.
Cameron had to repair the access door before it would open, once open the hallway was clear with only a little smoke near the ceiling. Between the sewer door and the entrance to the Lab was an emergency locker loaded full of gear. Cameron donned a fireman jacket, face-mask, and helmet, while Jinn grabbed an axe.
The door to the devisor Lab was slightly ajar. By using the axe the two managed to pry it open further and squeeze through. They walked into mayhem.
The Lab was torn asunder. It was apparent that fires had been present - but orange and green goop was dripping off everything. The scorch marks ran up walls and expended fire extinguishers lay scattered around the floor, and a few places looked to have had explosions leaving tables and shelves rendered useless and twisted from the blasts.
Soot lay thick over surfaces held in place by the remaining wet that had coated everything from the now disengaged sprinklers, it blackened the room. The air was breathable but stung Camerons lungs since some smoke still lingered, and it’s hue obscured the lights.
Jinn ran over to the space between the work areas and yelled “Bunny” as loud as her voice box would allow.
From out of one of the lab areas a blonde head showed itself, the face beneath was stained with soot and streaked with tear tracks, the girl stepped into the open shouting in disbelief: “Jinn?”
“Bunny!” shrieked the animated bone sack and ran to her, there was hugs, jumping, and screaming. Amid the scene others stood and they formed a circle around the rejoicing girls.
Cameron recognized a few of the students, but it was the stocky guy that came over to Cameron and asked: “Search and Rescue?”
“Yes and yes.” replied Outlook.
“I’m Jericho, we had some fires break out in here but managed to put them out, we have three in need of medical help.”
“Nice to meet you Jericho, I’m Outlook. Can you cobble together some stretchers if the injured can’t walk?”
“I’m a devisor, I could ‘cobble’ together a Moon launch - if it would help.”
“Just stretchers and bandages for right now. We can hold off on the rocket.”
Cameron righted a table and set out glasses of water and brought some high calorie snacks from Storage then called everyone over: “We have an escape route through the sewers.” of course that elicited responses of ‘eeew’ and ‘ick’.
“You don’t have to come with us, but with the bulkheads down it could take a long time before anybody else gets to you, and the fire isn’t out yet.” it was discussed among themselves but the consensus was that getting out now was much preferred. “If anyone has open cuts try to cover them up, only take what you can carry. If you have flashlights bring them.”
It was impressive to see the ingenuity of these kids, one had a spray on bandage that closed up wounds, others built litters to carry the immobile, still others had or hastily built handheld lighting.
In minutes they had prepared for their escape.
“It will be single file folks, spread the lights out, don’t try to run just walk slowly” directed Cameron as the group approached the sewer entrance.
Dump Truck had stayed at the access door, and even lent a hand to get people through the door, he greeted a few - so maybe he did have friends. But he made certain to be one of the first down the tunnel enroute to safety.
Jericho was the last of the devisors to enter and he helped Jinn and Cameron close the access door.
“Tight quarters” observed Jericho as they took up the rear of the procession.
“The advantage of being short” commented Cameron.
“I had hoped to wear my RAFE suit, it has great lights on it” admitted the Devisor.
“I wouldn’t say anything powered would be advisable down here.” admonished Cameron.
“And I just had to wear my best pair of shoes.” tsked the wardrobe challenged youth.
“Could be worse - they’re not sandals.” humoured Cameron.
“Those chest waders you have on are quite styling.” admired Jericho.
“You know what they say: A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”
“You met the loud mouthed bass.”
“Shrouds taken to calling him Dumpy.”
“Ohhh! That’s gotta hurt.”
“Hold that thought.” requested Cameron as he sent word for everyone to hush.
The sound of rushing water could be heard splashing in the sewer pipe, Cameron asked Jinn to fly ahead and alert everyone that the water level would be rising - and she should scout an escape spot.
Cameron fashioned some floatation rafts and had them passed up for putting the injured onto.
Outlets that discharged water into the sewer pouring in now, what had only been up to their shins was now approaching knees. The water itself was warm but did help to keep the place cool, however they still felt the heat radiating from around them.
After another hundred feet, the water level had risen to their waists.
When Jinn returned, she said there was a manhole access six hundred feet further, she had gone up and it was safe above: if they hurried they could get out before the water was much higher. They had to pass two more access doors before reaching the manhole.
The pace the group could muster was slow but steady, Jericho pointed out that the first of the access doors was glowing from the heat behind it.
When the line of escapees moved past the second access door, Cameron stopped to do a scan. Jinn floated overhead and Jericho waited with him.
“Have you guys noticed how the water level is dropping?”
“I was wondering about that.” mentioned Jericho.
“It should be gushing in by now.” surmised Cameron “I was just checking - the fire is getting hotter, something's wrong.”
‘What do you want to do?”
“Jericho can you take over and get everyone out - the manhole is just ahead. Jinn: we need to go through that door.” pointed Cameron to the tunnel access.
“Are you sure?” questioned Jinn.
“You can handle the heat, I have an idea on how to deal with it” Cameron desperately needed the 'ghost girls’ help if his plan had any chance of success “Jinn: there are still people in there.”
With a goodbye wave at Jericho since he was taking up the rear guard position and the last to walk down the sewer. Cameron and Jinn stood next to the door, Cameron made adjustments to his energy absorption, and once satisfied with the changes it was possible to see the heat waves coming off the door and flow into Cameron.
Jinn noticed the transfer of heat waves and asked “What are you doing?”
“I’m absorbing the heat and converting it into energy” answered Cameron “I think I’m ready - cause I no longer feel hot.”
After cooling the door they opened it resulting in a gush of smoke pouring into the sewer, stepping through quickly they resealed the door.
“It looks like smoke has spread thru a lot of passages, but the fire seems contained to two main areas.” Reported Cameron.
“Describe them, maybe I can figure out where we are.” supplied Jinn
"One looks like a garage - there’s all types of cars, the other is like a machine shop there looks to be a bunch of fabrication tools. It’s the hottest so I’d say that’s where the fire started.”
“Fabrication Labs, and the Gearhead’s garage.” announced Jinn: “Whats the plan?”
“Fire is a release of energy and dependant upon three things: air, heat, and fuel. I can stop the fire by removing one of those three things. You don’t need to breath do you ?”
“No lungs. What do you need me to do?”
“When I focus at the molecular level I lose touch with what’s happening around me, I need someone to protect me.”
The tunnel they had entered was another of the isolated sections. Bulkheads had dropped and the corridor was filled with smoke: dropping to the ground Shroud slid along the floor where she could still see, as Cameron walked.
Jinn rose up to his face, pointing to a corner and pulled Cameron along.
Kneeling down, Outlook saw what Jinn wanted. A firemen was laying on the floor, his air-pack mask was off and he was trying to breath through a small filter. Cameron filled the air bottle and held the mask to his face. The man greedily gulped at the air and panted heavily. He was far too warm - so Cameron doused him with water from out of his Reservoir and ‘it’ cooled him down.
“Oye, Laddy: McTavish was surely a goner, if’n ye hadn’a come when ya did.”
He said between bursts of breath.
Cameron was shocked: “McTavish! What are you doing down here?”
“An I should be asking ye tat question.” snarked the Security man “Another time perhaps. Gads - what manner be tis bag-o-bones?”
“McTavish, meet Jinn … she’s a ghost, since she’s already dead she’s the best help you could ever want.”
“I’m needin ta ask Lass - how is it ya died?”
“House fire.” replied Jinn trying to act all innocent. For which Cameron gave her a nudge and whispered “That’s not very nice.”
“I’s not be’in instilled wit confidence here.” said the man as he adjusted his breathing apparatus “Have ye no air-bottle boy?”
“I’ve got my own air, and I’m deflecting the heat.”
“Wit ta smoke, ye canna see ta nose on yer face.”
“Got that covered too,” added Cameron.
“Ten ole McTavish ill be stickin close to ya.”
“Access is this way,” called Jinn, directing them down the tunnel.
“Day shut off ta ventilation - it was fannin ta fire” shouted McTavish.
The light from Camerons eyes did little to illuminate where the’d entered,
so Jinn called out “Which way?”
“It’s hottest to our right, and flames are burning straight ahead.”
“Then I’d say the garage is that way” pointed Jinn straight down the tunnel “and Fabrication is to our right.”
“McTavish: which do you recommend? Head to the fires core - or knock down the edge?”
The question became moot when an explosion rocked the corridor, sending a concussive force at them.
“If’n dat be ta garage, I’d say it were a fuel drum wit blew. Best head fer dat first.”
The heat was intense as they gathered outside the massive sealed door that was the entrance to the garage, it was hot enough to burn exposed flesh so Cameron lead them back a few steps then began to dissolve some of the concrete wall thereby making an alternate entrance.
Jinn was the first to enter, motioned the rest to follow by tugging on the lifeline they had tied between themselves. They crawled along the floor, sweat poured down Ian’s face from the heat, still: McTavish was calling out progress reports into his radio.
The garage was immense, apportioned into individual stalls that each contained cars in varying stages of repair, five of the vehicles along the wall nearest to the hot spot were on fire, metal having liquified and was pooling on the floor. Drums of oil were burning in the corner with wisps of flames licking up the spilled combustibles filling the room with black smoke.
Cameron stood focusing upon the flames: amidst the smoke the heat waves could be watched as they drew into the youth making ripples in the air. The flames died down as he approached the ignited oil, the flames retracted as if bowing before the boy and then puffed out of existence and the roar abated. Walking past each burning bay the flames looked to rush angrily at the boy - only to disappear in a whoosh as the fire inside would die. Moving along the stalls in turn each burning car relented and soon the room turned dark as flames no longer lit the space.
Cameron next started a vortex which swirled as it collected the smoke into the glowing blue sphere between his hands, his team seeing the improved conditions also stood and assessed the situation around them - they hurried to give help to the scattered bodies laying on the floor.
A hole in the wall was allowing more smoke to enter the workspace, it was pouring heat in and threatened to reignite the fuels, Cameron manufactured a cover and getting help: he, Jinn, and McTavish’s blocked the intrusion and sealed the hole.
Walking back along the bays Cameron pulled out all the heat from the metal husks which was all that remained of the cars, lastly he took away any remaining heat from the oil containers.
Doing a quick survey of the garage area, he called over to McTavish: “I count eight on the floor, four more holed up in the office, is there an outside door to let medics in?”
“Must be an over’ed door sum where? Ow else did day git ta cars down er.”
“Right, found it! There’s a ramp over here. Let them know its safe to use and start sending in help. I’ll make an opening for them.” called out Outlook.
On his way back Cameron checked over the injured students, helping where he could to ease breathing, block pain from burns and stabilize their conditions, he left a note pinned to those he’d helped to give the medic’s some info on their status.
When the first of the rescuers entered Cameron gathered up his team to return into the tunnel, once again charging up McTavish’s air-pack, noting that Jinn was at about 40% of her signature. All agreed to proceed and they headed back into the corridor placing a temporary barrier over the opening Cameron had made to keep the garage area safe.
Backtracking to the intersection, the group turned to approach the hottest area, smoke was still thick and they crawled along. Looking at his team Cameron noticed that McTavish was struggling, swooning from the intense heat - dowsing the man once more with a shower of cold water Cameron pressed his face against Ian’s mask.
“This is as far as you can go. Give me the radio - go back to the garage.”
“I’ll not be abandon’in ye.”
“You’re not! But discretion is the better part of valour, You can’t take the heat.”
“Yer right: I ka’not go tany further - jest make sure ye come outta tis alive boy!”
“That’s the plan.”
McTavish left the two, his movements laboured and slow as he struggled to return.
Jinn asked: “How are you holding up?”
“No problem with converting the heat, let’s just say it’s a different way to charge a battery.”
The two moved along the tunnel using the far wall as a guide through the thick smoke, but the passage came to an abrupt end as a solid metal door barred any further movement as it completely blocked the tunnel.
“It’s a bulkhead, it dropped down to isolate the tunnel.”
“Can we get past it?”
“Nope, this direction is sealed off - is there another entrance?”
“Not one I know of.”
“Then I’m going to have to make an opening in it. Brace yourself!”
The teens pressed themselves as far as they could against the tunnels wall, Cameron set about dematerializing a small port into the heavy barrier. He’d barely started when the weakened section blew out; the blasts flare caught Shrouds cloak on fire and started to burn up her left side, revealing the metal bone skeleton.
Jinn took off her cloak and stomped on it, putting out the flames. “That was some of my best work” she complained.
Cameron took the cloth into storage, sympathizing: “It looked great.”
Looking through the hole Cameron sized up what was ahead, then increased the openings size so he could crawl through, with Jinn following closely. The entrance door into the lab area had blown clear off it supports and the two peered into the devastated metal shop.
Fabrication Lab was ablaze, anything that would burn was, off on the one side was some kind of kiln, it looked like it was a smelter, but it was easily the single hottest thing in the room.
Being close enough while standing at the door, Cameron reached out and pulled the heat into his battery, he watched his energy level climb as the intense fire dropped a few notches - but didn’t die.
The fire wasn’t willing to return to its cage and wouldn’t be extinguished either, it had all the fuel and air it could want, looking at what fed the beast: Cameron saw a ruptured gas line and manipulated the molecules to plug it off - thereby preventing any more fuel to engorge the flames.
The fire relented as the boy further dropped the temperature, peeling away heat and soaking it up, the white hot furnace visibly cooled as the inferno within ebbed. It no longer roared and the burst seams began to close as it cooled.
Turning to his partner, Outlook was aghast to see Jinn sprawled beside him on the floor, rivulets of molten metal dripping off her form.
“Don’t go to pieces on me now.”
“I’m falling apart, just like Napoleon.”
“Whats that got to do …”
“Bone-apart - Napoleon Bonaparte.”
“Cute, how long have you waited to use that line?”
“That’s telling.” was the last she could say before her voice box melted.
“You’ve gotten me here. I’ll try to cool the place down.” He acknowledged to her.
The metal skeleton gave a mock salute, and collapsed into a pile as the energy signature faded. Cameron picked up the pieces sending them into Warehouse.
Cameron collected the smoke within a whirlwind drawing it into a blue nexus, then began cooling surfaces within the room.
He found a man leaning up against a wall, he had no clothes on but was covered in metal skin, he was unconscious but still alive - even if some of his ‘skin’ had boiled. Looking behind the man Cameron discovered an office, within it lay several unconscious students that the man had dragged to whatever sanctuary the room granted.
Checking that others could now enter, he called on the radio to ask for help. At first only a couple firemen entered through the small opening he and Jinn had used, and once inside he pointed them to the office, their attention focused upon the wounded, and began administering first aid to the victims.
Eventually, a crash came from down the tunnel as a bulkhead was breached allowing entry of more responders. Cameron had been staying back at a distance to not interfere - but did give what help he could; all of the survivors had severe burns with blackened and blistered bodies along with smoke damaged lungs. Doyle would undoubtedly be very busy.
Letting the trained emergency folks do their jobs, Cameron skirted around the orchestrated mayhem and returned to the auto-shop, walking up the garage ramp into daylight. He doffed the fireman jacket giving it a clean before setting it down - then shucked the waders. Off to a side he spotted Jericho helping out a nurse - they shared a wave, he then spied McTavish sitting with nearly a half dozen empty water bottles scattered around him - Cameron approached him. Ian still had the gaze of someone who had run a marathon and was sitting catching his breath.
“Laddy - take a load off.” Gestured the man patting the ground beside him.
“How are you?”
“Ta medic said I’ve sweated buckets, it were hotter en blazes in dare.”
“I don’t know at what temperature Adamantium melts at, but Shroud had to … give up the ghost.”
“Did we lose her?”
“No, but she couldn’t keep holding onto her skeleton any longer.”
“Ow did ye do it boy? It weren’t fit fer mad dogs er Scotsmen down dare.”
“I converted the heat into energy, it only felt warm to me - it was also easy to gather.”
“I’fn ye say so. Did it look like everyone survived ?”
“I didn’t see any fatalities, but burns are very painful, some might be touch and go. I hope everyone makes it.”
“Ye an me boat.”
“I’m supposed to be at Maintenance, I’ll head back there.”
“Aye Lad, if’n m’head t’were n't a spinnen - I’d tak ye dare.”
“It’s okay McTavish, see you later.”
“Gid on ya Lad, Gid on ya!”
Arriving back at Maintenance, Cameron checked in with Mr. Duncan and reported that He, Jinn and Dump Truck had made it out of the sewers safely, after which he returned his gear repairing the damage to it. There was still time remaining on the clock - even if most everyone else had dispersed, a quick look said they’d gone back to their cottages where food was being distributed.
In the shop he found Stan and Morie looking at a wall map and seemingly perplexed. Seeing the boy they asked “How did it go?”
“Fires out, we all got out safe. All the action will be shifting to Doyle.”
Satisfied with the brief report, the two men returned to their previous discussion.
“The undergrounds sprinklers should have prevented a fire from spreading, each Lab has a separate fire suppression system, it should never have gotten out of control.”
“Do you guys know why the water stopped?” asked Cameron: “In the sewers, it had been pouring in but it stopped after a while.”
“The school’s run out of water” explained Morie “The Reservoir ran dry.”
Stan continued the narrative “No water means no toilets and no food. We’ll have to evacuate the school.”
Morie took up the ball next “Students will need transportation to Dunwich, maybe even Berlin for accommodation tonight or longer - that is if we can get this fixed!”
“What happened to the water?” puzzled Outlook.
“The fire emptied our storage, and the wells haven’t been able to keep up with demand of late, its been a losing battle for awhile now” admitted Stan.
Giving the problem consideration Cameron then questioned: “How much water is needed to keep the school running?”
“3 million gallons would get us through the weekend plus a day or two more.” informed Morie.
“What about the lake? Could we use that to fill the reservoir with?” wondered the youth.
“We haven’t the means to move it. We’d need more pumps than Whateley has on hand - even so - it wouldn’t be potable water.” replied Morie
“What is needed to make it potable?” asked Cameron of the now curious maintenance duo.
“Filtration and disinfection.” contributed Stan.
“And permission from the EPA.” added Mr Duncan stepping into the discussion.
“If we had permission, could move and treat water, is there any other obstacle?” counted out Cameron
“The distribution pumps: when air got into them, cavitation likely ruined the impellers, wouldn’t be surprised that the pumps are screwed.”
“Three impossible things … heck - sounds like a Tuesday to me” jested Morie “What's our plan?”
“If I may: Mr. Duncan - can you make a call to Admin and keep then up to date on what’s happening, best to have a contingence ready in case we don’t succeed, then contact the EPA and see about getting permission to use lake water.” the supervisor nodded agreeably. “Morie - can you go to the reservoir and check on the pumps, then get the disinfection equipment ready?” Morie accepted the assignment. “Stan: would you take me to the lake, we’ll see about getting water up to the reservoir.”
Mr Duncan asked “Anything else?”
“I could use some more hands, can we try and find Generator? And do you know of anyone who can control water on campus - that would be a great help” requested Cameron.
Stan drove Cameron to the lake on one of the buggies maintenance used on Campus, he stood on the lake shore sampling the water and got an explanation as to what constituted potable water, Stan quickly explained the parameters involved.
Stan received a call on the radio saying they’d gotten a go-ahead from the EPA, and to proceed with the plan.
Cameron stepped into the lake, wading in up to his chest, the water was cool and took his breath away at first but it felt refreshing. He opened himself up and developed an energy field around himself, once he was surrounded by a blue haze, he then allowed water to flow into his dimensional void that held liquids, he kept his focus on only letting pure water through.
Walking back onto shore Stan wrapped a blanket around him and asked “What was that about?”
“Best way I could think of to move water.”
Stan was puzzled but let it go, mentioning that Jade was found as well as a girl called Riptide - they where on their way. Cameron asked if they all could meet up at the Reservoir. Driving like a crazed man Stan got them to Reservoir on the other side of campus in a hurry, pulling up - Generator saw Outlook and ran up giving the boy an enthusiastic hug.
“Your okay! And soaked - what? You needed to cool off?”
“Long walk - short pier.”
Grabbing a girl who was standing close by - Jade pulled her over “Outlook: this is Riptide, she lives at Poe too.”
“Riptide: Thank you for coming. Can you please explain to me how you control water?”
“Basically I move water to make waves.”
Cameron set Riptide and Morie up to add the disinfecting chemicals, he had Stan and Jade look at the pumps, while he began to empty the lake water from his personal Reservoir into the schools Reservoir.
The wave action Riptide created allowed the chemicals to mix into the dispensed water, at intervals Morie tested the results as the reservoir was gradually being filled, he made adjustments a few times - adding more Chlorine until he said it was a suitable dosage.
It went fairly quickly, but the chemicals and Riptide needed some time to make waves and mix the contents. With the storage tank full and the water checked to prove it was ready to go - Cameron asked what the story with the pumps was.
Generator took Cameron aside and explained what she’d found when she’d sent J-team into the equipment. One pump had seized when it had no water, two others had internal damage and couldn’t pump. The fourth was an antique from a bygone age and hadn’t worked for years.
“How many pumps will be needed to supply the school?”
Stan and Morie looked at each other, they debated the answer but came to the conclusion that two would work.
“Would anything happen if water just started to flow again?”
Stan shouted out “Don’t! You’ll blow the pipes up with water hammer. It’s got to be re-filled gently and then build up the pressure.”
Cameron looked to Riptide: “Can you move water gently to fill the pipes?”
“Well - yeah, it’ll be slow like letting a bathtub drain.” she mused.
“Good. Jade: could you get Jinn to inspect the pumps once I’m done? Make sure I haven’t melded the parts together. I'll just need a few minutes if you can watch my back.”
Standing beside the first of the pumps, Cameron amassed the metal needed to repair the pumps impeller, it had been worn down dreadfully with holes and entire pieces broken off, checking the bearings he also tweaked them.
Asking Stan and Morie to rotate the pumps shaft he checked his work, Jinn went inside and inspected the pumps surfaces and clearances.
Jade reported: “Looks good.”
Moving to the next pump he did the same, and it too came away with a thumbs up.
Riptide reported that she had filled the pipes, and suggested she head out to ensure the water behaved itself when the pumps started.
Stan took her down to the Quad and radio’d in that they were in position.
Morie started the first rebuilt pump and slowly let it build up pressure, Stan called to wait for a minute as Riptide needed to do something with a pipe.
After short while they called back saying to continue.
Morie fired up the other pump and watched carefully as the monitoring gauges showed the systems climb. Morie let out a breath of relief when it reached a certain mark and seemed to hold, he then began adjusting other devices and controls.
“The guys might not be the most expressive fellas in the world, but it looks like it’s working.” commented Generator.
“Glad to hear it.” sighed Cameron as the exhaustion hit and he needed to sit “I’m going to bed.” reported Cameron as he excused himself - stepping out of the control room and headed towards campus.
Cameron more stumbled than walked to his campsite, arriving at the woods edge he stopped. Sitting on the log that overlooked the lake sat a girl, her head was bowed and Cameron was certain he heard her crying. As he approached the sound of sobbing was irrefutable.
Cameron wasn’t sure if he should sneak away and leave her be - or offer help … he remembered Grace’s compassion. Materializing a box of tissues he tapped the girls shoulder with the box and presented it to her.
“Sometimes a tissue is the most important thing in the world.” he offered.
Looking at the gift, she took one and used it to dab the tears that ran down her cheeks. Turning towards the boy he saw the girls puffy eyelids and streaked mascara “Thank you” she said while taking another tissue.
“It isn’t my place to pry, but I think your heart is where mine was a short time ago.”
“What do you mean?” she sniffled.
“Not long ago, I woke up one morning and found out that all my family was dead.”
“That’s horrible.” she lamented.
“I wasn’t in a good place emotionally, friends did their best to comfort me - and I got some professional help too.”
“Did you get over it?” was asked seeking hope.
“It takes time, and I do still get sad. My psychiatrist said there are steps to cope with losing a loved one.”
“I think you're talking about a recovering alcoholic.”
“No, a person really does go through different emotional states when coming to grips with grief. Finding out my family was dead - it was like I died inside too.”
“When Aung died, I couldn’t believe it - couldn’t accept it” she admitted.
“Then you have this whole deluge of emotions and doubts hit: Why did I live? Why did this happen? What do I do now?”
“Aung was training me, she was my coach and mentor … we became very close.”
“She was preparing you to take her place?”
“I was being groomed to become her.”
“Okay - that I don’t understand. Could you explain it a little?”
“She held a high position long ago, and was starting to build back up to resume her title - we would meld and …” she stopped as her emotions broke down.
“I haven’t any clue about what you just said” admitted Cameron, and mused for a moment before speaking further: “But I do remember when I was a little kid: my grandparents had such a close relationship. It was funny to watch when one of them would start saying something then the other one would finish it. I wondered at the time if they had read each others script and stolen their lines, but I eventually figured out that they just knew each other so well that they understood the others feelings and thoughts.” Digging through his own emotions he continued: “Someday - someday it would be nice to be that important to … that in love with somebody, that we became that intertwined as our lives played out.”
“I respected and admired Aung.”
“You wouldn’t say you loved her?”
“I don’t know what I felt.”
“But you’re grieving her: that means you cared.” he comforted “I needed to let my family go, accept that they were gone - I still love them but they weren’t there to receive or return it. I really miss them.”
“She’s gone and I’m not ready or fit to take her place.”
“Was it that you would assume her place or that she would assimilate you?”
“I hadn’t thought about it like that.”
“You had said you would become her. Did that leave room for you to still have your freewill?”
“I imagine it would be a co-ownership, I would still be relevant.”
“When you were being trained: was allowance for what you wanted given consideration?”
“I don’t know what your getting at?”
“Did you have a say in what was going to happen to you - is it what you really wanted? Or had you just gone along with the sales-pitch and all the trappings?”
“It was my destiny.”
“Quoting ‘destiny’ is just a way of pulling the rug out from underneath a reasonable argument.”
“That’s not fair!”
“Fair is letting each person decide for themselves who and what they will become and believe - no-one should demand sacrificing a life. That’s stepping into the realm of slavery or forcing somebody to become an automaton.”
“It wasn’t like that.”
“Perhaps not.” he relented “But I do feel that you’re upset because you don’t know what to do now. Which way to turn.”
“I feel lost.”
“That is grief talking, it’s perfectly normal.”
“Then I don’t know what normal feels like!”
“Normal is wanting to be happy, to feel loved and be loved. By losing someone our compass has gone askew - it takes time but we do get our bearings back.”
“All I want to do is curl up into a ball and tell the world to go away.’
“I’ve been there.” Cameron confided, “Believe it or not - there are people who care enough to shine a little light into that dark place.”
“And you just happen to be one of those!” she said giving him a glare.
“No. I just happened to be a guy out walking in the woods, and couldn’t ignore a person in pain.”
The redhead took a long hard look at Cameron, in amazement she spoke “Magic bounces off you, my glamour isn’t effecting you!”
“Now your just trying to confuse me.”
“I have a glamour that forces people to - be kind and friendly… it hasn’t touched you.”
“Imagine your talking to someone that doesn’t know the first thing about magic’y stuff - forget that. I’ll just go with: Huh?”
“There is a magical spell on me that diminishes peoples anger and aggression towards me, it makes most docile and submissive around me.” after a further examination of Cameron she asked “I’m going to cast a harmless spell at you - to see what happens.”
“That doesn’t sound like something I’m any too happy about.”
“It’ll just be a gust of wind, come-on - don’t be a chicken.”
“Being chicken … “ he didn’t get to finish as she did something with her hands - then had a shocked look on her face.
“It disappeared, before it even could form - it dissipated.”
“Does making magic involve the use of energy?”
“Essence: it’s call essence.”
“I absorb energy.” he supplied “I suspect essence is a type of energy.”
“Essence is everywhere, it runs in currents called leylines.”
“Everything is energy.”
“That means … you were being nice to me - not because of my glamour, but because your nice.”
“If I’m not mistaken, there was a compliment in there somewhere: Thank you.”
“I never know if people are friendly because their being compelled to - or desire something from me.” turning on him again she demanded: “What do you want from me?”
“I’d appreciate it if you’d stop crying.”
“No ulterior motive?”
“Nothing I want or need.”
After being scrutinized for a while she replied “I believe you. My name is Fey.”
“Outlook” he paused, “I was going to ask if Faye was your real or code-name, but it’s gotten too crazy to keep straight anyhow.”
Fey handed Cameron back the box of tissues, leaned over and kissed his cheek
“That was for being a gentleman.”
Cameron blushed at the compliment.
Fey then stood and turned to face him, reaching out with her hands she held his head then bent down and kissed his forehead.
“That was for giving me something to think about.”
She hesitated a moment, then ever so gently put her hand under his chin and softly tipped his head back, bending near she kissed his lips.
The delicate touch was like a flower petal being brushed against his skin, the brief contact left a hint of honey as he drew in a slight breath. His lips begged for another taste and an unfamiliar hunger wanted that to happen again.
“What was that for?” he asked - amazed he could make a sound.
“Silly” she said and then tapped his nose with her forefinger “That: was my audition for the role of leading lady.”
Faye danced across the opening by the lake and dashed into the trees. Cameron watched the red hair disappear into the woods.
“Women” he said with a shake of his head “who knew.”
It was only early evening but Cameron was beyond exhaustion, he set up his tent and after giving himself a good cleaning - heated up a bowl of soup for dinner then the boy lay down on his cot and didn’t move for hours.
Sunday, September 30
Cameron checked the time on his SI phone and was amused to find he’d slept for 11 hours, and gave a chuckle: he’d gone to bed feeling tired enough to sleep for a week.
Outlook called up from Warehouse Jinn’s skeleton and commenced conducting repairs to the metal bones, he decided to make a couple alterations that he hoped Jade would approve of: he gave the skull a second face, so that while one was friendly - the other was a skull with deep set lights to add a menacing effect, fixed to the bones were now an assortment of tools like a pry bar and hammer, then to help with the dead theme he made retractable skeletal hands and feet, and finished off by refurbishing Shrouds cloak.
After taking down camp he went to Kane Hall to sign into the day book as he had been dictated to. Then stopping off at Poe, he left Shroud’s body in a gift wrapped box: shaped like a coffin. With still time to kill he walked around campus doing his circuit emptying dumpsters before meandering to Crystal Hall to sit and people watch - while enjoying a hearty breakfast from out of Storage.
Cameron arrived at Maintenance right on schedule, and stood in the line-up awaiting orders. Stan was the senior man on duty and doled out work to the eager student workers, and the equally dreading ‘convicts’ for the days detention. Stan directed Outlook to stay back with him.
After loading up a service cart with tools, he told Cameron “We have a house call to make first-thing today, buckle up!” Cameron was convinced the man was practicing for pole position at the Indy 500 as he raced over the paths.
The little cart nearly ran down a bunch of morning joggers with Stan shaking his fist honking the horn and yelling “Ya bunch of hooligans” while grinning madly before confiding “They love it when we say that” Cameron was bewildered from the near miss, and what he was certain must have been a girl with green hair running in the group.
Stan parked them in front of a four story building which Cameron had determined from his wanderings to be Hawthorne Cottage.
Before entering Stan cautioned: “When we get into the room; don’t stare. Mr Geintz is bout the nicest guy going. He don’t deserve disrespect.”
“Is he - deformed?”
“Watch your mouth! Hawthorne Cottage houses the kids with GSD, they ain’t monsters nor freaks, an they don’t take kindly to those who treat them with pity. They just got the raw end of the meta-gene. So mind your manners!”
The Hawthorne residents seemed to have a heightened curiosity, because once the two from Maintenance entered all heads turned to watch the intruders, Stan was meet with acceptance - Cameron received cold stares set within stern faces. It was beyond his control: the nervous smile etched his face yet again, resulting in scowls from the rooms occupants.
Thankfully they used an elevator to access the basement, the big toolbox Stan had loaded Cameron down with was too heavy to carry far. Just a short distance down the hallway - they entered a huge room, and taking up the majority of space within was a large aquarium.
A number of youth were at work cleaning the tank, the water was a vile green as they scooped out big globs of gunk. When Cameron grunted with the weight of the tools all activity stopped and the stares commenced once more.
Stan moved up near to a machine and began checking it over - asking for tools as he accessed the workings. When he wanted a flashlight Cameron removed his visor and got closer. Then the tension in the room seemed to lessen with a degree of acceptance being granted and the cleaning resumed.
Once Stan had troubleshot the pump he determined the motor was fried, and they’d need a replacement. He moaned: “Always on a Sunday!”
Cameron asked, “Can I take a look?”
Stan humoured him and pointed to the component that had failed saying, “Be my guest.” It took the boy a few moments; but managed to give it a full overhaul, then put a burst of energy into it to check if it worked.
“Thought I’d disconnected the power.” stated Stan.
“You did. I just needed to ensure it was working alright.”
“Same thing as you did yesterday at the Reservoir?”
“This pump is much smaller, less complex, and not as much damage - so it’ll run now.”
“How do you do that?”
“Best description is that I’m a type of manipulator… scratch that - that doesn’t sound very nice. I repair stuff by moving molecules.”
After putting things back together, the still skeptical man turned the machine on - with it humming to life and the rush of water could be heard.
“Damnedest thing I’ve ever seen!”
“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t mention this.”
“You don’t want people to know?”
“I don’t want to be taken advantage of.”
“Only one of you - but theres a billion problems?”
“Bingo! Does anything else need to get checked?”
“Best be inspecting the pipes, ensure there aren’t any blockages."
Stan began feeling the pipes to see if water was moving - Cameron was watching the flow as he stepped up close to the tanks wall. Movement within caught his attention and after adjusting his vision a huge eye was fixated upon him.
The large mass within the tank moved with a jolt - it created a wave. Resulting in a wall of water washing over the tanks lip and the cascade fell on top of Cameron, drenching him.
One of the cleaners; a large hairy hulking guy, shouted at him “What did you do?”
“I didn’t, I …” tried to respond the dripping boy.
The very tall boy that looked like a blonde bigfoot came at Cameron, raising his arm to hit him. Cameron’s reflex reaction was to freeze him. The room hit pause: all activity stopping as everyone else looked at the unmoving flesh statue posed to strike the new kid. The only movement was Cameron who breathed, then shivered and distanced himself from ‘Shaggy’.
After shaking the water off his arms Cameron ran his hands over his head and flung the water droplets off his hands.
“Hello Outlook. Can you hear me?”
Surprised; Cameron looked about trying to figure out who spoke, as it sounded to have come from right beside him.
“Who?” Cameron shifted his sight to investigate and spied an energy tether coming from the tank into the Sasquatch. The body was still suspended mid-motion but his energy signature now had an overlay.
“I’m Louis Geintz, and - I’m the guy in the tank.”
Looking at the tank, the figure inside raised a tentacle and waved at him … it was the source of the tether.
“Do I address the tank or this body?” asked Cameron gesturing to the frozen youth.
“It seems you’re unable to see or hear my psychic manifestation - so I am using Montana as a conduit.”
“You’re a psychic?” asked the boy who then checked the energy signature and was shocked at the strength it emanated.
“Yes, but you have no psychic presence that I can detect.”
“Are you saying I’m invisible?”
“I only saw you physically, that’s a first, so it startled me - sorry about the soaking.”
“No worries, and I apologize for invading your space.”
“Now I know how come I couldn’t find you.”
“You’ve been looking for me?”
“I’ve been wanting to talk with you: but I don’t think now is the opportune time."
Looking around the room at the shocked faces Cameron had to agree. “I could come back tonight, seven o’clock?”
“I’ll see about finding someone who can act as an intermediary.”
“Before you … hang-up: how do you feel?”
“Same way everyone else does.”
“Sorry - no, how are you feeling?”
“Well, I’m congested, tend to sneeze a lot, and have itchy eyes and a runny - nose. Why?”
“It looks like you have allergies.”
When Mr. Geintz withdrew from Montana, Cameron detected a ball of energy, and determined that to have been Mr Geintz’ projection, it positioned itself in front of the angry student and prevented him from attacking Cameron.
It took Stan and Cameron an hour or two to install the modifications Cameron had designed and built for Louis’ enclosure. After having tested a couple environmental conditions he discovered ‘FUBAR’ reacted favourably to the thermocline between fresh and salt water, the pumping system he’d constructed made a salt water zone at the tanks bottom and fresh water on top, then through swirling the streams made the majority of the tank into a climactic region best suited for the man’s physiology.
Stan drove them around to monitor the school’s water wells, Cameron looked down each and estimated the water flows - three of the seven had little to no water coming in. Assessing the situation it looked to Cameron that all the tunnel construction had redirected the natural underground water course.
Cameron volunteered to scout the area and marked new locations that had groundwater present, indicating one site that would tap into an underground stream.
The remainder of Cameron’s detention was spent assisting Stan at the Reservoir and then cleaning up the shop before he could leave.
Sunday Evening: Whateley Academy, The Quad
Cameron stood in the Quad biding his time before heading to Hawthorne, walking aimlessly he was nearly crashed into by a fast moving Dinosaur with tall dorsal spikes who was running down the pathway, at the last possible moment he dodged around Outlook and appeared oblivious to the almost collision. Just a couple steps behind the impatient lizard came Jericho.
Cameron gasped at what the guy was wearing, even with his visor on and his sight not layered catching all the nuances - his clothes were … striking, and not in a good way; rather like being hit repeatedly over the head until you cried ‘Uncle’.
“Hey Outlook!” welcomed Jericho “We were just heading for dinner, Razorback smells BBQ ribs, you should join us.”
“Mr. Geintz asked me to come for a talk, but thanks for the invite. Can I get a rain-check?” Cameron noticed the eager dinosaur bouncing from foot-to-foot in anticipation, acting like a kid in bad need of the bathroom, “Before you go: are you wearing a lime green, orange, and pink plaid kilt?”
“Ain’t it a thing of beauty?”
“We need to talk. See you later,” he called to Jericho who was being dragged away behind Razorback.
Stepping into Hawthorne Cottage’s foyer, he caught the house parent’s attention; with Mrs Savage letting him know that Louis was expecting him and to head on down.
Knocking on the door it was opened by someone unknown to Cameron - but from the signature she was a psychic.
“Hi: I’m Mindbird. You must be Outlook, Foob asked me to speak for him tonight - come on in.”
“Hi, is Mr Geintz going to take you over like he did Montana?” asked Cameron as he checked out the room, it looked like they had been engaged in a chess game prior to his arrival.
“No, I’ll just relay what he says. He’s right thou: you’re standing right here - and I can’t sense you at all.”
Looking at Mr Geintz’ tank, the water was much clearer than earlier, it still had a slight green hue, but it seemed to be a huge improvement. The details of the occupant could be discerned fully and Cameron was amazed that so great an alteration to a human could be survived.
“Foob wants to say he’s feeling better.” remarked Mindbird “He’s inviting us to sit.”
“He’s welcome” said Cameron with a small bow, “May I ask if our conversation will be confidential?” as he took one of the chairs at the chess table.
“Foob is asking me if I would repeat and also swear to an oath: to ensure my discretion.” Mindbird then faced Cameron and spoke: “I give my solemn word that what is said between us shall not be repeated or revealed, it will be kept secret between us. Foob’s words by my mouth - I too swear it” added Mindbird.
“I accept your word” agreed Cameron “What had Mr Geintz wished to talk about?”
“He was in the morgue when you ‘awakened’.” said Mindbird with a degree of surprise at the message she conveyed.
“It was you? I thought somebody was there.”
“It was - It scared him deeply … and he fled.”
“I don’t blame him, I was scared myself.”
“So you know you were resurrected?”
“I clued in, it’s a rather troubling experience; one I’m still trying to come to grips with.”
“Not an everyday occurrence to be sure.” was relayed “Are you real? He’s never not felt a persons presence before. There are some who can’t be read - but never not sensing their existence.”
“Flesh and blood. Ophelia checked me over - I’m well and truly alive.”
There was a moment of private internal discussion that seemed to trouble Mindbird before she next spoke.
“He wants to know if you intend to bring harm to the kids at this school?”
“I’m guessing this is a unique experience for a psychic, not having insight into someone - not reading their mind and knowing exactly what they think or feel. I can only give you my word and let you see my actions to show my intentions, just like I must give the benefit of the doubt that Mindbird will keep her word.”
“That wasn’t an answer.” rebuffed Mindbird
“True, but how else might I answer the question? If I accidentally step on someones toes - I have brought harm to them, it happened unintentionally. I have no desire to hurt anyone - but circumstances are beyond my control.”
“Who resurrected you?” was asked “I’m asking - not Foob” added Mindbird.
“Whom did Mr Geintz encounter?”
“He saw a spirit who's glow filled the room: it stood over you” turning to the tank “Are you certain?” The psychic girl sat back in her chair with a ‘whew’, looking at Cameron she said “Foob says he watched as the spirit removed the bodybag, it then healed your wounds, after which an immense light flashed and you started breathing. The spirit turned to Foob and nodded at him: That so shocked him he lost his projection.”
“Am I to understand that he’s never seen a spirit before?”
“No” answered Mindbird but then paused,“it’s just that it acknowledged him - whenever we visit the astral plane the spirits ignore us - avoid us completely. They only ever interact with humans when inhabiting a host.”
“That’s interesting to know.’
Mindbird was busy speaking to Mr Geintz, but then posed the question “Are you an Avatar?”
“Am I possessed? No! Definitely not.”
“Then what are you? Why a ressurection?”
“I’m human, and my assignment wasn’t finished.”
“What’s your assignment?”
“Some might call me an observer, but I could also be described as a catalyst.”
“Can you explain that?”
“When making bread dough, baking soda is added to make a reaction. That is the role of a catalyst.”
“Does that mean you've come to toy with us, like we’re a game.”
“Certainly no game.” assured Outlook, “But perhaps I could illustrate by using your chess board?”
Mindbird passed along Louis’ permission.
“Chess is an ancient game, its purpose was to teach strategy - was it not?” Looking at Mindbird she nodded in agreement.
“Interestingly the pieces are fashioned after societies structure; you have the ‘King’, the key figure who signifies a lost campaign, he can only move one square at a time - reflecting the importance of his position. Government is held together through him.”
“The Queen however, is also a figure of government that can move about the board with little restraint; it shows another facet of government, how it must react fast at times by word or action.”
“The Bishops obviously represent religion who always ingratiates itself next to government; hence thier station on either side of the King and Queen. Yet it moves diagonally; it signifies that it is untrustworthy - deceitful, you never truly know what motives it really has.”
“Next is the Rook; shaped like a castle. It signifies the physical kingdom: commerce, trade, food. It moves in a straight line, being held to direct paths to bring surety and security.”
“Then there are the Pawns: these are representative of the common people, held of little account and 'oh so' easily forfeited. Each of them can only make small moves, being held under the thumb of those ruling over them: The rich - powerful - entitled ones, the pieces behind pushing thier pawns forward to the whims and winds.”
Mindbird interrupted “What about the Knight?”
"That is the question isn’t it.” pondered Cameron as he picked up one of those chess pieces looking at it, “Throughout history knights have entered battle under the banner of kings, cities or estates, and religion - it too creating its holy warriors. The image depicts that they epitomized noble traits like: justice, honour, and truth.” He put the piece down.
“In the earliest iteration of the game, the Knight was sculpted as a Were. They had been the most highly prized warriors in battle: fearless, tough and cunning. But when the fortunes of war changed and the Were's numbers dwindled, new combatants where fashioned - the meta-gene was formulated and these enhanced humans bolstered the depleted ranks of war.”
“When their lords and masters decreed annihilation of the Were, their place on the board was vacant, only to be supplanted by the new replacements. So the question is: Where does the heart of the knight lie?” finished Cameron.
“Which side are you on?” questioned Mindbird pointing to the opposing pieces set on the board.
Putting both his arms onto the centre of the chess board Cameron spread them outward sweeping all the pieces off. Placing his opened hand flat onto the cleared board he stood and said, “That’s my side!”
End Part 3