zero

7 0 0

The train shuddered and rocked.

"We're pulling into the next siding to take off some empty carriages," said Arcady, returning from his quick conversation with the drivers. "An hour after that we'll be at the end of the line. Q, I need to send a coded signal to our friends the submariners."

"If you tell me how, I will facilitate that."

"Then we're going to shut the door and keep it shut until we arrive. Any news," he added, "any urgent news, can come through the drivers."

"Understood. What's the signal?"

"'Nobody is coming to Lincoln Island'. That's all." He gave me an Air address, a string of random characters that would lead the message through a complex series of anonymising services.

As I sent it, I thought of Captain Nemo, who was probably the most famous submariner in literature. His name meant no one in Latin, and Lincoln Island was where he had died. I hoped that wasn't a bad omen. On the other hand, nemo was also Greek for I give what is due, so maybe it evened out.

"The signal has been received," I told them a moment later.

"The response?" asked Arcady.

"One character: a zero."

"Good. That means they'll be ready for us. Time to shut the doors."

"Goodbye, Clair." I wanted to talk about her Mallory theory, but there wasn't time.

"Not for long, Q."

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