19: Trees and Tempests (part 5)

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19.5 Guiding Light

Alternate One: 17 May 2128

"Six weeks," Alec Garter shouted.

"We are fully aware of that," Krista Hartmann snarled back. She was finding it increasingly harder to work with Garter. All of them knew how much time had passed since Morton Fisk's leaving.

Not that they hadn't been busy during that period. Krista Hartmann and Charles Moore had built a world-wide monitoring system consisting of more than ten thousand people that were subconsciously tuned into the state of the planet. With recombination nearing, tectonics were being strained and, already, there had been an upsurge in volcanic and seismic activities. Through a combination of the mental capabilities of sheer numbers of people, they had eased the underground pressures, reducing the impact, helping to oil the friction of landmasses so that they slid rather than jarred their ways into new positions. Mila Galanis and others within the Tree persisted in attempting to make contact with the DTM.

Now, the main players were physically meeting again, as they did at least once a week. This time it was in Paris at the Palacio del Luxemburgo. Alin Yan's eyes flicked between Hartmann and Garter. How long before they came to physical blows, he thought.

Charles Moore tried to inject some calm into the proceedings, but Garter pushed through it, snapping, "If I had been in charge... Ahhhh!"

They all felt it. A flash of brightness that, for a second, blanketed their minds before their natural defence barriers had a chance to come down, shielding them from damage.

"What on Earth was that?" Hartmann said, massaging her temples

Moore's mind raced out to the primary contact at the Tree in London. Mila Galanis answered immediately but his connection with her was far from clear; something was interfering with it. Mila herself appeared confused for a moment.

"As far as we can tell, the DTM has returned," she finally transmitted. "But it is not here in London. It is... wait..."

Moore connected directly into the effort Mila was organising, and added, "We are triangulating. It appears to be approximately fifty miles north of London – either in or somewhere close to Cambridge."

"What's causing the interference?" Garter demanded. "Damn near burnt me out, it was that intense."

"Yes, we are getting reports coming in of several adepts being rendered unconscious when it first appeared," Galanis reported. "They are slowly regaining their senses but the anomaly is still diminishing all of us."

"What has Morton brought back with him, I wonder?" Yan said. He, too, rubbed his temples. The interference was giving him one heck of a headache.

"We are not detecting Morton Fisk's mental signature," Mila Galanis said. "That, though, may be due to the interference – at this stage we cannot be certain."

"I think we need to investigate further," Moore suggested.

"Yes," Garter agreed. "You and I, Charles, should take a closer look." Garter was pleased to see the look on Yan's face at being excluded.

"Remote viewing, just in case it is an attack of some type?" Moore suggested.

"Agreed. Whatever is radiating may be hostile."

"It is like trying to wade through treacle," Alec Garter transmitted some minutes later as their combined efforts of viewing the DTM were thwarted by whatever was blanketing the area.

"I will get those in the Tree to provide some form of shielding. We may yet break through," Moore said.

"Make it so."

Slowly, over several minutes, they were able to make out the fuzzy shape of the DTM lying on a road on a housing estate buried under the usual jungle of spring growth.

"There are four life signs outside the DTM," Moore reported. He was riding a small pyramid of minds that were equally probing and shielding. "All are within the anomaly."

"The anomaly," Krista asked. "Any indication as to what it is? Something new?"

"At the moment we cannot separate it from the life signs detected," Moore replied, his mental voice quavering slightly, showing his exhaustion. "It may be one of them or it could be something separate. Something within the DTM itself. Maybe Fisk is the source. We need to get closer."

It took Charles Moore and the adepts at the Tree more than an hour to come up with a method by which they could improve their observations of the DTM. Moore guided Alec Garter to a position not far from the machine.

"There is a woman there," Garter said. "Can she see me? She has reacted as if she could."

"It may be so," Moore said. "We are projecting so much of ourselves there in order just to observe, that aspects of our physical bodies may be appearing."

"I am prevented from observing the inside of the DTM," Garter continued. "The anomaly may be located within."

"Mila tells me that two of the life signs have departed the area. We may have better success tracking them if they are away from the anomaly."

"Lead the way, Charles."

Garter followed Moore across the jungle. "Ah yes, things are definitely clearer away from the DTM, though it still prevents full access."

"Indeed. Look, the other two – they are entering that ruined tower."

"For what reason?"

"None that springs to mind," Moore said. "However, maybe we can communicate with them and establish who they are. If so, then we may find out what has happened to Fisk."

"That's if this damned interference allows us."

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