|"He gave us the name Flint, and said you would recognize him by the silver eyes..."|
Previously: Chapter 5 <Part 1>
Laurel awoke and sat up. A new energy such as she had not experienced in a very long while now coursed through her body. She felt refreshed, clean, with not the slightest hint of the residual wyrt influence that had been wearing her down of late.
Deej and Renata were setting the table for their meager breakfast. Laurel climbed out of bed and walked over to them.
Renata almost dropped the dishes she was carrying when her friend approached.
"Laurel!" she gasped. She looked away in alarm. "Is—is it safe?" she asked.
Laurel laughed and did something she had missed doing for the last several weeks: she hugged her friend.
"Yes, Renata; I feel much better now."
"Ah?" Deej asked, "What brought about this change?"
Laurel looked at him. "Actually, Deej, I want to talk to you about that."
The wise Ewok nodded.
They withdrew to a secluded corner of the Marketplace to confer.
"I saw Ra'dith again last night," Laurel explained. "She gave me this ointment on my head that cleared away the cobwebs and the evil just like the analthraxine used to, only this feeling was much stronger and... cleaner somehow."
"You believe she has healed you," Deej surmised.
Laurel nodded. "And there's something else." She proceeded to tell Deej all about the dream she had. He listened very closely with an even expression, nodding a few times.
"I can't figure out what it means," Lairel finished, "but I think it might help me figure out the antithesis for this pillar."
Deej began to chuckle, "Is that what it means?"
Laurel frowned at him, "What's so funny?"
"Hey you two," Atis called as he walked over to them, "don't you know there's a war on?"
They turned to him. Atis stopped dead in his tracks.
"Wha—Laurel?" he cried. "You're all right?"
"Never been better," she replied honestly.
He peered at her suspiciously.
"Atis, I promise I'm all right!"
"Let me scan your head, just to be sure."
Laurel rolled her eyes but submitted to being braced into the young man's machine as everyone gathered around.
"Is she clean?" Carsius asked him.
Atis studied the scans as they came up.
Finally, he admitted, "Apparently so."
"What happened last night?" the Syndicate commander asked.
So once again, Laurel recounted the events, including a basic summary of her dream.
"Deej and I agree that the dream might have something to do with how to win over the soldiers, but we can't figure out exactly what."
"Could it be that we are supposed to proclaim our message all around the galaxy?" Augustus suggested.
"How can we do that if we can't leave the Marketplace?" Atis pointed out.
"Maybe we stand and fight," Barmier grinned. "Stage a revolt and kill 'em all!"
"Killing has never been our goal," Carsius reprimanded him sternly, "and we will not begin now."
"But what else could it mean?" Laurel asked. "What could we use to turn the soldiers?"
Scander looked up from the deep contemplation he'd been in.
"Brotherhood," he stated simply.
Laurel watched the young man. "How do you mean?"
Scander hearkened back to his early days as a newly-minted soldier. "A soldier, when he is first drafted, begins to think himself distinct from the others, as someone special and above everyone else. Perhaps the Elitinati have twisted this in order to use the soldiers to punish and oppress the people. If we can convince them that they were once common people, and that a soldier's true role is as a servant and protector, not lord and master, then I think it will break the hold on them."
Everyone pondered this. Carsius grinned and nodded his approval.
"I think it will work," he said. "Now we just need to figure out how to sneak Laurel out without being seen ourselves."
"So even though I am no longer weak," Laurel murmured, "I am still a risk for you all?"
"We're not as invisible as we once were," Carsius reminded her.
Laurel's mind instantly returned to one of Ra'dith's statements: "a spark alone is easily snuffed; in the gathering of a fire, it is invisible and flourishes."
"I am the spark... And you all are the fire!" she finished louder as the idea took shape in her mind.
“What are you talking about?” Augustus asked her.
“Something Ra’dith told me last night,” Laurel said, “I think she was trying to let me know that I am not the only one who can push against the mother-mind. You all can help me.”
Carsius glanced at Augustus; it was the same thing they had been wondering the night before. “How can we do that, Laurel? Will you teach us?”
She nodded, “All I do is focus on the mother-mind’s influence. You can help me by concentrating on me in the same way while I do it, supporting me in thinking the same thing I am. In this way, a single flame grows into a large fire that spreads!”
A thrill ran through each of them; would they finally succeed, even against such odds?
Augustus raised his hand, “Um, I hate to be a downer,” he said, “but that still leaves us with the problem of how all of us are going to get out without being detained or mugged by the soldiers.”
“That’s true,” Atis snorted, “at this point, with all the commoners under wyrt-control and all the Novices quartered inside the Temple-University, the soldiers really have nothing better to do than attack us.”
The silence following was broken by the sound of a timid tapping. Atis blinked and checked the monitors.
“Somebody at the door,” he muttered, “but the soldiers are not altering their behavior.”
“What?” Renata cried, “there are other invisible people too?”
Atis opened the audio feed.
“Hello?” a hollow voice whispered. “Hello? Are you there?”
No one dared even breathe as Atis opened the channel and softly beeped twice, the universal affirmative.
“Please,” the man continued, “I don’t know how long we can remain out here before the soldiers start noticing. They aren’t looking in our direction now, but we would like to come in.”
Atis glanced at Carsius, who still stared appraisingly at the speaker, as if the machine were some extension of the man. It was difficult, trying to discern a person’s intention merely from the sound of his voice. The scanners indicated no soldiers in the group huddled against the doorway, so it was not contact under duress.
The man wisely guessed at the reason for the prolonged silence. “You require confirmation before you will permit entrance, yes?” he asked.
Atis beeped twice.
“The one who sent us is a mutual ally. He gave us the name Flint, and said you would recognize him by the silver eyes.”
The man’s use of a masculine pronoun and the name Flint confused the Resistance, but “silver eyes” could only mean one person. Everyone looked at each other and said at the same time,
Laurel noted her use of “Flint” as a code word; a flint ignited the spark (Laurel) that would set the city “aflame” (the Resistance); and she had sent them allies.
Carsius nodded, and Atis opened the door and disarmed the defenses. Very soon, the light above the inner door flashed and Augustus opened it to let in no less than a dozen villagers. They all stared at the Resistance Operatives in awe; some had baskets of food in their hands.
Carsius stepped forward and introduced himself by name. “I am the leader of the Resistance against the Elitinati,” he said. “Who are you, and how did you get rid of your wyrt?”
“My name is Hunter,” the man who had spoken from the outside answered, as Renata introduced herself to the women and ladies of the group and expressed delight at the provisions they brought. “We all thought little of the wyrts, accepting them as the normal way of life. Then our mutual friend appeared out of nowhere and introduced us to a vaccine that released our minds from the control we never knew possessed us. He—“
“She,” corrected a woman. “You keep calling Flint a man, but I’m quite sure she was a woman!”
Hunter shook his head, “Those were man’s hands, Jynna, I know it!”
“But what sort of man has silver eyes and such fine features?”
“Please,” Carsius raised his hand to interrupt the argument. “Anyway; what did Flint do after the vaccine?”
“Gave us more syringes and told us to bring them here, along with plenty of provisions. Apparently we are to help you in some way.”
Carsius grinned, “I think you’ll help us more than you could have ever known.”
“May I see one of the syringes you brought?” Atis asked.
Hunter shrugged, “Sure; I have ‘em all right here.”
He handed Atis several syringes, each with a double-dose of the mysterious vaccine. Atis squeezed a tiny sample out of one of them, and ran it over to his hand-made computer for analysis.
Augustus joined him. “What is it?”
Atis entered data requests and received the information. “Apparently it’s almost exactly similar to the althraxine and analthraxine we use—if the two compounds could be combined in a dual-stage release and heightened with a chameleonation capacity.”
“Chameleonation, the ability of a chemical compound to blend into its surroundings and appear as something else.”
Augustus raised an eyebrow, “Which means…”
Atis chuckled. “It means that to us, it looks like the compound we need, and it functions like a vaccine that both repels and masks against the wyrts.”
“But how come the soldiers didn’t react to these people, and they react to us?”
Atis snapped his fingers, “That’s the chameleonation; to the soldier who has got the wyrt-serum, these people look like they still have wyrts on them.”
Augustus thought carefully over the ramifications. “Atis,” he clapped his friend on the shoulder, “I think we may have just received our diversion.”
“Not to mention the added measure of ‘brotherhood’ to help us fight,” Atis agreed.
The nine operatives set about vaccinating themselves and feasting on the provisions provided by Hunter’s crew. Then the two groups sat around the table and discussed plans for the next day’s mission.>>>>>>>>>>>>>