Legion of Light
Chapter 2: Light Fantastic
Copyright© 2010 by Sea-Life
We stood on the inner circle, the nine blue crystal spires rising above us. I had jumped us all through to the Seeker planet only a moment before, and I was giving the Legion a chance to absorb the impact of this new location.
Once everyone had a chance to look around and get used to the idea that they were really on yet another world, and an important one in our own story, I got their attention.
"Legionnaires!" I called out. When they were all looking at me, I continued.
"Radiating from this center platform are four others, each dedicated to a purpose. We will not be going to any of them for the moment however. Instead, I think I'll just go back to Meadow and leave you all here, okay?" And as I said it, I moved myself back to Meadow
I reached out with my mind and felt Eru welcome me into his thoughts. I nestled into his consciousness until I was seeing through his eyes and listening through his ears. Sort of the reverse of his old Soul Diver trick of borrowing Pearl's senses.
After a moment of silence, Ginny came to my defense.
"Well, I'm sure this is supposed to teach us something important. Any ideas?"
"If this is intended to make us really feel the possibility of being stranded forever somewhere, its working fine on me!" Felicia added.
"I know Dave" Arden offered. "If there is a way for us to get back on our own this would be the way he'd present it. Nothing helps fix information in your brain as well as fear!"
"Well, he did say we'd learn about using the bracelet later, do you think that might have anything to do with it?" Alicia asked.
"What?" Chet asked. "Are we supposed to grab our bracelets, click our heels and say 'there's no place like home'?" and he mirrored his words with the actions, and poof! He was gone!
I pulled myself back from Eru's mind and smiled at the stunned and speechless Chet.
Welcome home Chet. I didn't know you were a Wizard of Oz fan!"
He stood there with me, wide grin on his face while we waited for the rest of the Legion to appear. It didn't take long. Less than a minute later, all nine of them appeared at the same time. Once the hubbub died, I got their attention again.
"First, despite the enjoyable theatrics, clicking your heals together and employing the phrase 'there's no place like home' is not necessary. Grasping the bracelet in your free hand and thinking 'home' is the actual trigger." I bowed to Chet theatrically, to a wave of giggling.
"The People which the Seekers and Choctowineh became, and who created Con and left us their gifts, did not leave behind a knowledge of how to build machines which can manipulate the Light in an intelligent way. Instead they left technology like this." I held the bracelet up in front of me.
"This device holds a single jump location, permanently burned into it and enough of the Light required to make a single jump to that location. The only way to give a bracelet a charge is for me to focus on it and put that energy and information in." I hesitated then and looked at each person as I went around the table.
"The only way!" I repeated for emphasis.
"Except for Con." I paused for additional emphasis.
"Con is an artificial being, and his creators incorporated the same technology into him with two important differences. The first is that Con generates his own energy. The second is that Con's jump location permanently tracks mine. He can jump on his own at any time, but the only place he can jump to is wherever I am."
"This limitation is intentional, we surmise" Con added "Because we believe my creators were fearful of providing an avenue for us to bypass the thousands of years of learning and growth that the knowledge of this technology represents. The ability to manipulate the energies we call Light came at the peak of the Seeker technological advancement, and even then their use of it was crude and rudimentary before the last of the Choctowineh, with their natural abilities to sense and control the Light, joined them."
"Welcome to the Staging level. By the way. This is where we will assemble the team's gear and supplies that we will take with us on a mission. This is the destination hard-coded into your bracelets. You will notice the well lit area several hundred yards behind me. That is the access well to the main storage area. Let's walk over and take a look."
I turned and led everyone over to the well. It was a 40x40 foot square opening in the floor, with a glowing red strip of lights running around it.
This is not a ride at the amusement park, but please try this for yourself." I then proceeded to jump into the opening. Eight pairs of wide eyes watched me drop like a stone and still land, gentle as a feather, on the floor twenty feet below. I landed in the center of a section of floor outlined with recessed red light strips similar to the lighting above it. Con and Eru watched as well, but their eyes were less wide — they'd seen it already.
"Go ahead!" I yelled up at them. Hesitantly at first, Cyrus and Chet leading the way all ten of them jumped off into the open air, only to find themselves landing softly on the floor beside me.
"Yes, this uses a Seeker variation of the Taluatan Magno-gravitic technology." I walked over to the side of the light strips where I had left a large wheeled cart piled with containers. "Once in the well with one of these special carriers, find and grab the activator handle." I demonstrated each step as I said it.
"The carrier will move up on its own. Keep your hand on the activator and jump up with it." I yelled back down at them as I was now already close to clearing the floor on the Staging level. Unseen magnetic grappling fields moved my carrier and I off to the side and set us down outside the strip that marked the edge of the well. I took my hand off the activator and walked back over to the edge of the well. "Yes, you can go up the down staircase." I jumped back over the edge and was quickly among them again.
"This is the main storage area and below that is the weapons level." I looked at my watch. "We will not be exploring any more of the basement levels today. Questions?"
"Do we have an elevator, access well or other method for moving large items in and out of these levels as well as with access to the outside?" Arden asked.
"Good question, Arden." I pointed to the middle of the open room, and while everyone was looking, I moved the cargo container sized building unit that I had originally moved here for Con into the middle of the room. I counted to ten and them moved it back to where it had been. "Just me."
"Anyone else?" I asked.
"What about training, firing ranges, that sort of thing?" Cyrus asked.
"Oh, we've got that covered, you'll see but none of the training or educational facilities are located here. That will be on the agenda for tomorrow's session. Next question?"
No questions came.
"Follow me." I said, and headed to a door in a column in the center of the room. There was a dark gray plate set at an angle coming out of the wall next to the door. I reached in with my mind and triggered the internal activation switch, and the plate was suddenly outlined in green light.
"Ginny, step up and place your hand upon the plate." I said. She did and the light blinked blue for a few seconds and then went out. I triggered it again and called for the next person. We repeated the process until everyone had completed it. I explained that Eru, Con and I had keyed ourselves in shortly after the building was completed.
Once the plate had cycled back to its blank unlit state for the last time, I asked someone to put their hand on the plate again. Alicia had gone last and was still standing there when I made my request, so she reached out and did as I requested. The frame of the door itself flashed blue once and the door slid silently sideways into itself, revealing a well lit normal seeming elevator.
I ushered everyone into the elevator there were four unmarked buttons and I pushed the 2nd button down from the top. Absolutely nothing seemed to happen for several second, and then there was a 'ding', and the door opened. We looked out on another dimly lit level of the basement.
"Tricky! Mike said. "Anti-gravity?"
"More or less." I answered back. I touched a panel on the wall near the elevator door and lights came flooding up. The long wide room had doors along each of its long walls.
"Welcome to the Personal Storage level by the way. This level contains personal storage areas for each of you. Lets take a look at one." I quickly walked over to the nearest one and triggered the internal activator and the palm plate was suddenly outlined in green.
"I know what to do next." Cyrus said without waiting, and placed his palm on the door. The door flashed blue three times and then slid silently open.
"These doors will key to only one person." I said, "Whichever person puts their hand on the activation plate first is the person it will key to." With that I reached out and tripped the activators on the rest of the panels. Everyone wandered off to pick a panel to activate. Once everyone had keyed their panels, they gathered back again at the storage area that Cyrus had claimed. I motioned him in, and had everyone follow. There was plenty of room. Each storage area was an open 20 foot by 20 foot room with three walls covered with storage units of all sizes. The far wall opposite the door contained a single storage unit that was also 20 feet by 20 feet. None of these units were keyed, but as we turned to return the way that we had come in, I pointed to another activation panel in the wall six feet from the open door.
"This panel is paired with the outside panel. Unless that panel has been activated and the door is open, this panel will not function. Cyrus, if you will?" I asked.
Cyrus put his hand on the panel and a small recess opened beside it, and the main door closed. Cyrus reached in and pulled out a white bracelet, similar to the black one everyone now wore.
"This is your lifeline." I said. "Each of you has an identical one of these in your storage area. It is charged, and is permanently set to jump you to the safest place on Earth that I could think of to send you. If anything were ever to happen to me, and you can get to Meadow, this bracelet will take you to the Focus in North Carolina. Use it exactly as you have learned to use the mission bracelet. Guys, this system is as close as I could come to getting you all home safely if something ever happens to me, I hope its enough."
I held out my hand and Cyrus hesitated at first, but handed me the white bracelet.
"you are wise to hesitate. Never let this bracelet leave your control." I put the bracelet back in the opening and the door automatically slid shut. As it did, the main door opened back up.
We walked back out to the main room, and I led everyone back to the elevator. I pushed the top button and we were quickly piling out into a hallway on the ground floor.
Ginny got everyone organized and they took off to pick out their rooms. There were three bedroom suites on the left and three on the right side of the ground floor. Their were six more bedroom suites on the second floor along with a sauna and exercise room. The third floor was the master suite and belonged to Ginny and me. Each bedroom suite was really designed for couples, with their own bathroom and sitting area. Of course we had only three couples so far.
We'd better get out of these outfits before everyone starts coming back, don't you think?" Eru asked.
"Good idea." I said. Unlike everyone else I'd popped my regular clothes up to my room when I'd changed, so I simply popped into the room straight from the patio. I quickly changed into my regular clothes, dropped the mission gear into the laundry chute, brushed my teeth kissing fresh and popped back down to the patio. I grabbed a pitcher of iced tea from the fridge, poured myself a glass, and waited for everyone else to return.
As folks got settled, rooms selected and clothes changed, people began filtering back into the kitchen and patio area.
Eventually, with everyone gathered, there were a few things I needed to find out before we move on.
"I'd like to ask for your input on a couple of things guys, before we go."
Everyone settled down and I had their attention very quickly.
"First, we need to decide if we want to be our own housekeepers, or whether we want to try to recruit some staff to take care of those duties. I'm talking the traditional household duties here, cooking, cleaning, and laundry, as well as yard work and building maintenance. While there will probably be plenty of times when we will be able to do this ourselves, there will definitely be times when we are too busy, or gone for long stretches of time. I could envision us returning to spoiled food, smelly rooms and other annoyances after long missions. Comments or Questions?"
No one had thought that far into the new situation yet, but I didn't want to start making assumptions about what how we organized things. I let them think.
"I assume you have a pool of secure candidates to recruit from?" Chet asked.
"We have two, actually." I answered. "Cyrus will tell you that there are entire generations of McKesson's and McKesson-kin in the area of Chocowinity, North Carolina, that would certainly be secure, and a good number of them are already aware of a good bit of the history associated with what we're doing. They would be our primary pool. The second group is from Eru's world. There are a group of 'faithful followers' who have been maintaining a sacred shrine at the spot of the Focus on their world for the recorded history of the people there. Their entire council of elders saw Eru and I disappear from the shrine in the blink of an eye after thanking them for helping us. We've been back several times, and we are now considered signs of a return to them of the mystical 'Lost Masters'. Since we do not know enough of the 'Holders of the Rehl Stone' as they call themselves, or of their history or legends, we cannot be sure that they wouldn't eventually come to see us as deceivers once they got a better understanding of us and our origins."
"Giving their council members a better idea of our origins and goals is on our to-do list." Eru added. "it has been to our advantage so far in our dealings with them that they have, even more than the average Taluatan, a great deal of reverence for Soul Divers, which they know I am. More importantly, they carry that reverence to even higher levels when it comes to Spirit Masters, and I believe Dave is on his way to becoming one. Several members of the Rehl High Council consider him one now, and are our most important allies in dealing with them."
"Their entire organization is unrecognized by, and completely outside of, the organized Taluatan society and government. To the government, they are merely a group of law-abiding citizens with a common interest." Con continued. "It is probably not a coincidence that this group of potential allies is also centered around the same geographical area as the McKesson candidates, and involved with their version of the focus in a similar, if less informed way."
"While the Rhel Stone candidates prefer to dress themselves in the trappings of a non-technological, close-to-nature lifestyle, they are members of a society that is our technological equal. Their scientists have had breakthroughs in several areas which ours have not, and we have advanced in some areas where they have not." Ginny carried on. "Their numbers are an unknown quantity at this time, but we suspect it will prove to be a smaller group than the McKesson Clan"
"Bottom line, I think its in our best interests to involve the McKesson Clan, and we probably want to do it in as big a way as we think is practical. My grandfather has funded everything we've done to this point, and I expect that to continue, at least for the near term."
"The organization that has developed around the shadow community of the Guardians of Chocowinity are well funded, reliable, and organized." Cyrus took a turn now. "I was at Bull McKesson's elbow for over five years, so I've seen them in action. They are present in all the fields which will impact us, finance, mining, agriculture, engineering, research, manufacturing and transportation. They are the perfect front for our activities on Earth and the perfect organization to maintain the supply line we will need to keep ourselves supplied."
I left it at that and sat, sipping my iced tea while the Legionnaires considered things.
"All in favor of recruiting a staff from the McKesson Clan?" I finally asked.
"Aye!" Echoed 10 voices in the room.
"Great!" I said, checking my watch. "We'd better get moving if we're all hoping to have dinner with our families tonight."
"Wait!" Mike said. "Didn't you say you had a couple of things to ask us? That was only one thing!"
"Well, yes there was a second thing, but it was more of a personal nature." I hesitated.
"Spit it out, goof ball!" Chet demanded.
"Okay, okay." I huffed in pseudo-indignation. "Mike, Chet, Arden, Fred — other than Ginny, you are all my oldest friends. I truly expected that when the day came that Ginny and I got married, one of you would be my best man."
I paused for a moment as they all watched me.
"With that in mind, would any of you be horribly upset if I asked Con to be my best man?"
I had seen and felt Con's tears before. I remembered especially the first time I was able to hug my friend, there on the edge of the grotto in Chocowinity. But this time I watched as this artificial being wept! He sobbed uncontrollably when everyone else in the room said 'Here! Here!' and broke into applause at my suggestion.
When at last he began to regain some control of his emotions, he stood and hugged first Ginny and then me. He held me close to him for a long time, and I could actually feel him shivering, he was so caught up in the emotion of the moment.
"I shall be very pleased to be your best man, my friend. I never dreamed..." He started to say before stepping back from me and turning to face us all. He continued in a louder, but still shaky voice.
"My friends, you must remember, that in the thousands and thousands of years that the machine I was, existed, I did not sleep, and I did not dream. There was no joy or sorrow, no hope or fear. If I had a desire, it was merely to complete my task efficiently."
Con reached out and took my hand and held it.
"The day I first detected the consciousness of young Davey McKesson, torn from his physical body and flung madly into the infinite expanse of the Light with his companion Dare, was the day I first experienced self awareness. The moment when I succeeded in catching and redirecting that consciousness to successfully reunite those two consciousnesses with their bodies, was the first time I knew hope."
Con kissed the back of my hand, still holding me tightly.
"In the instant when I first saw him, as he jumped to meet me that day on the ledge, that instant was the first time I knew joy. The day I threw myself into the maelstrom, the day I hugged Davey McKesson on the edge of the grotto, on that day I knew friendship for the first time. And today!"
Con raised his arms and stretched them out, figuratively embracing us all, and smiled.