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CHAPTER EIGHT TEIS’S DILEMMA
“Chief Analyzer, the status of the remaining six stalkers sent to retrieve the escaped mules is at black level three,” the syntechs mechanized voice whirled. “Two logictates infer the six stalkers from pod Traxx in pursuit of two mules are eight standard hours overdue. Shall I continue the progressions?”
Teis shook his head with annoyance. “YES. YES. “Continue until all logictates are verifiable!”
Feeling flushed and somewhat confused, his clarity of thought becoming progressively muddled, Teis rubbed his forehead hard in the hopes it would help him concentrate. “How could the remaining pod disappear, especially with my prototype? This cannot be.”
“Thirteen stalkers out of nineteen from Pod Traxx have returned with twelve dead mules, not fourteen, Chief Analyzer. Logic dictates two mules have escaped the Hunter-Killers and Verifiers. The six stalkers from Pod Traxx that did not return to the complex must have tracked the surviving two mules.”
Desperate for any positive scenario, the syntechs words gave Teis hope, albeit a temporary one as best. “That must be it,” Teis said with a tight lipped grimace. “It has to be . . . the remaining pod has locked on the two mules and is in pursuit. That would explain the lack of readings from their designated sector.”
“The probability factor regarding this scenario is ninety-seven point two against, Chief Analyzer.”
Teis allowed himself to relax for the moment as a deep, encompassing wave of relief washed over him. He didn’t want to think of the logictates earlier conclusion. Satisfied for the moment, he sat back and let out a deep sigh. “Yes, yes,” he said with forced conviction “some additional exercise will do them good yes, it will do them some good,” he repeated, wanting desperately to believe his conclusion.
Sitting as still as a statue, Teis allowed the scenario to ease his mind. Though he knew, as time passed, that without verifiable confirmation, the doubts he had brushed aside so easily would return with a crushing fury seeking answers, answers which would cloud his mind with disbelief and confusion.
Teis stared at the huge black screen through listless eyes, until the syntechs voice broke his concentration. “Logictates now confirm Pod Traxx at black level four, Chief Analyzer.”
Showing no emotion, Teis sat back heavily into his chair and continued to study the screen, chewing slowly on his lower lip, as dull, burning ache slowly spread across his gut. The reality of that one sacrosanct, soothing constant in his lonely existence–the life of his prototype–now balanced precariously on a thin line separating sanity from madness.
Reality began its retarding, painful seep through the cracks within his mental dam, torturing the last vestiges of a man once hailed as the ultimate archetype for all the Kingdom’s Warlords. “It is not possible, Teis said with increasing disdain. “Two half-starved, poorly armed mules cannot destroy six of my stalkers. No, it cannot be.”
“Chief Analyzer, black level four indicates otherwise.”
Teis finding the syntechs voice grating, knuckle-rubbed his face. It made no sense, for the more he listened to its logic, the more mired his thoughts became.
“Chief Analyzer probability dynamic is ninety-nine percent the stalkers have been terminated.”
Jumbled, irrational thoughts flashed through Teis’s mind. He pinched the bridge of his nose hard. Need to mind clear before a head splitter sets in. Teis flexed his fingers over the console then reached down to his right fumbling momentarily with a small compartment before it opened, revealing a sealed flask of white liquid. Carefully removing it, he popped the cap and in one gulp drained its contents. This should help, he thought as he slouched back into his chair to wait for the liquid to take effect.
Within seconds his eyes began to roll back into his head. His skin became wet and hot. Weak, disoriented, his breathing rapid, shallow, he slumped over in his chair in a semi-conscious state then jerked spasmodically, signs he was struggling up through the murky, dark layers clouding his mind. He opened his eyes slowly. He felt nauseous but knew the feeling would pass quickly, replaced by a surge of physical and mental vigor. He inhaled deeply and a faint smile cracked the corners of his mouth. The air smelled sweet, the sign the drug had been effective.
“Chief Analyzer, logictates are now verifiable. All stalkers have been terminated.”
Teis glared at the screen with unadaultered rage, the confirmation of the logictates generating disbelief, anger. “ALL DEAD. Killed by cretinous, puss-filled mules! IMPOSSIBLE.” Anxiety-mixed hatred brutally ripped at his thoughts. Barely able to bring himself to accept the death of six stalkers, he could not do so with his prototype. The one lifting accomplishment among all others that distinguished him as Chief Analyzer of the Atacama complex was now dead.
Teis knew he had to inform Proctor Salazar immediately; it was his duty, yet he hesitated. Already the bearer of bad news, the thought of his position at the Atacama Complex could be associated with failure and disruption ate at his confidence like a Soreiallen bore worm. Guilt, fear and anger played across his face in a kaleidoscope of emotion. He looked forlornly at the console’s red comlink button . . . and pushed it until the message on the screen reflected in his dull gray eyes. Proctor Salazar – CODE ONE – ONE A – PRIORITY URGENT. The message repeated twice more before it cleared revealing a bug-eyed, double-chinned, middle-aged man.
“Salazar present. State priority’s nature, Chief Analyzer.” The Proctor was grim-faced. No acknowledging smile or pleasantries, his voice calm, stern.
Teis cleared his throat. “Six stalkers including my prototype from pod Traxx now overdue eight standard hours, Proctor. All logictates show,” he paused, moistening his lips with his tongue, “termination.”
© 2016, Raymond Tobaygo. All rights reserved.
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