The Great Engine of Atosa, III

This rough sketch takes place a close to 800 years before Hlau’s investigation of a string of hacks on some computer mainframes. Atosa, being one of the things on his list, is the site of a gigantic engine mainfame complex, built during a period that is comparable to Earth’s 19th century. Jing, the protagonist of this sketch, is witness to some of the early events of the Great Engine Heist. There is a discrepancy in the calendar system and the dates used here and some of Hlau’s stories. I’ll definitely correct it in future drafts. This part picks up from the second part.

Jing took the phone and put it back into its holder on the wall. He had called the local temple – there were no high level telepaths there, but they told him they would call the School of Wisdom in Shusa. There may be an expert there or they could find someone to dispatch. They didn’t tell him something he already didn’t know. Supposedly, some of them could teleport. He hoped one of them could simply think themselves over and caught whoever broke into the system.

All he knew was that the fez-heads were coming and they’d be utterly useless. Police always were.

The local police never investigated computational crimes. Neither did the Tribal Affairs officers – they only came to the Engine Complex if there was a crime involving a Tanesh on the grounds. Some agents and uniformed policemen from the Agency would come soon. They weren’t equipped to handle psychic crimes, though.

The phone rang again. It was the office of His Holiness, a man who spoke in crisp Shusa standard told him to wait, that someone would be there soon. The nearest qualified expert was in Tiago, and he’d be over shortly. This was somthing Jing wasn’t too happy to hear as he had left that city many years ago.

Jing had a very good idea of how frequently the trains took to get to the town near the engine complex from Tiago. He also knew roughly how long it would take for a dirigible to fly from the same arrival and destination. It would take a few weeks on train, a week and a half by dirigible. However, that crisp voice, that sounded like an announcer on the wireless, assured him that someone would be there soon.

He put his hand in his hip pocket to grab his keys. He needed to check the data storage library, which itself was the size of an industrial lot warehouse. He needed to check the area for any sign of break-in before the police got there and to see what the entry and exit logs read. He didn’t want to be caught not having read the clipboards in front of the police, especially the fez-heads. Many of them deplored that they were posted out in this “wasteland” full of nothing but “rejects and cows.” Jing had long suspected that many of the federal cops were rejects themselves – they either couldn’t get a desirable post (such as in Hitonnen or Shusa) for whatever reason, or they may have had such a post but were such problems that the Agency chose to sweep them out of civilization’s harm. Them and the Tribal Affairs police, who weren’t much better. Jing had to be ready for any of them.

He tried to send Zo home, saying that it might be dangerous. Zo laughed and said Jing might be the one who needed some protection. Besides, she had seen the hack happen as well, so she was needed as a witness in any case.

Right before Jing and Zo headed down the complex to inspect the library, they were hit with a small burst of air followed by two priests materializing in from of them. After they unclasped each other’s forearms, one of them vanished just as quickly. It took a moment for Jing to recognize the one remaining. It was Ikaya, the holy man.

to be continued…

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