Chapter 12

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The Legion activated, this time in another area. Recent sporadic signaling differed from the very first activation which encompassed the entire planet. The Legion were not originally programmed for this. Nonetheless, the signal by definition expressed the will of the architect and the Legion must obey. Enough awoke here to form a network and launched the deadly Swarm.

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[Mora]

A call through my viewer woke me up, pulling me out of a pleasant dream. Since Gan and I reconciled the nightmare that accused me retreated back into whatever recess it hid.

So early? What does Vic want?

I answered. "Vic?"

"Mora." His voice sounded breathy and urgent. "The blight... It hit part of the north settlement. Took out some of the grain fields and surrounding area. And Mora, there were two fatalities."

I shuddered as a chill gripped me. My worst fears came true.

"Mora?"

"Is it spreading?"

"No. It came on hard and fast, but then just stopped. I've never seen anything like this. And whatever killed those two poor souls does not seem to be contagious now."

"Okay. I'll get there as soon as I can. Try to quarantine the blighted areas."

I took no pleasure that Vic had finally come around to the importance of this issue. I called Liz to inform her. We quickly agreed on a course of action.

I banged on Gan's door. The sleep in his eyes disappeared when he saw the urgency in my expression.

"Mora, what is it?"

"The blight struck Zion. We need to get over there." His eyebrows shot up. I knew what concerned him. "Don't worry. I learned my lesson. Liz is sending a flyer to pick us up and we are taking an armed guard with us."

He smiled faintly. "You already know me too well."

After breakfast, I gathered the supplies I wanted to take and walked to the designated air lift pad beside the project offices. Gan joined me a few minutes later with his backpack slung over a shoulder.

As we sat on the ground waiting he took my hands into his. "Mora, we don't know what we are walking into, but just be careful. Okay?"

"I promise."

In a few minutes, the flyer landed in a swirl of dust. It was not much different than a hovercar, but has much more powerful lift fans. A burly man with a sidearm strapped to his belt opened the door and motioned us in. We threw our stuff in the back and took our seats.

On the way over I explained the situation to our security guard, Moshe. It felt good knowing that he and Gan would be at my side.

We arrived at Zion early-afternoon. The dreary overcast sky matched my mood. As we made our way to the project offices the flyer took off again, the pilot promising to return when we called him. Vic was nowhere to be found. Strange that he did not answer my calls. I have not heard from him since his original frantic call early in the morning.

We walked around the greenhouses and past the orchards toward the water tanks. Gan allowed himself a look of satisfaction when he noticed that the tanks were overflowing. His pump still worked.

His expression turned to horror as we approached the crop fields. At least half the fields were lost to the blight, the plants twisted and blackened as if by some ancient curse. The blight extended into the grassland and tree groves beyond the fields and killed everything within its scope. Yet nearby plants in adjoining fields, and even in parts of the same field, appeared healthy and unaffected.

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