Chapter 15.2

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"WELCOME TO THE DEPARTMENT OF EXPERIMENTAL NANOPATHOLOGY, HOME OF AL-KAHF." The Voice was deep and sonorous, but oddly clipped. It seemed to come from everywhere. As it spoke a window opened in each side of the six-sided column. The words appeared in each window, unfurling as they were spoken.

Department of Experimental Nanopathology, Ward thought. DEN.

"Jacob? Where are you?" Nick said.

"RIGHT HERE. YOU SPOKE TO ME ONCE USING A MACHINE THAT COULD THINK."

"The moving book -"

"THIS IS JUST A BIGGER MACHINE. IT WAS NAMED AL-KAHF BY THOSE WHO BUILT IT."

"How does it still work?" Nick said. "Don't machines break down?"

"ONLY WHEN THEY'RE USED."

"Will it run out of power like the other one?"

"IT'S POWERED BY THE HYDRO-FUSION REACTOR YOU HEAR BELOW. THERE IS SUFFICIENT VOLUME IN THE AQUIFER TO FUEL THE REACTOR FOR ANOTHER..." There was a pause, and the windows flickered. "...1312 YEARS, 4 MONTHS, 18 DAYS."

"It's powered by water?"

"IT SPLITS HYDROGEN FROM WATER MOLECULES AND FUSES -"

"What's hydrogen?" Ward said.

Jacob laughed. It was an eerie mechanical sound. The word "LOL" appeared on each of the windows.

"Does the reactor power the doors?" Nick said.

"YES, BUT THEY'RE ON A DIFFERENT CIRCUIT. AL-KAHF DOESN'T CONTROL THEM. IT WASN'T BUILT FOR THAT PURPOSE"

"What controls them?"

"YOU WOULDN'T UNDERSTAND."

"Corvus controls them, doesn't he?" Ward said.

Silence.

"Jacob, I want to meet you face-to-face," Nick said. "Is that possible?"

Lights winked slyly in the dark. "YOU WOULD LAUGH AT ME."

"We're not here to judge you," Nick said.

The windows in the column had gone dark. Had Jacob gone away? The silence was like a curtain.

"Nick, look!" Ward whispered, pointing at the nearest window. In its depths a tiny, faraway pinprick of light had appeared. It was growing larger.

Approaching.


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Look out, it's Caitlyn Jenner!

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