Chapter 4:

Leaks

Aftershock


Issac reclined in his small office, flying a paper plane around the room with his mind. He had depressingly little to do, but the sign on the office window said “paranormal specialist” so not many people were likely to come knocking. His holodesk display was on, an automated message from the city sitting open, warning that the deadline for his autonomy tax was coming soon. He wasn’t worried about it, worst case he could always leave the city. Not like they could stop him. Bookmark here

Issac’s mind wandered in the quiet, picking small unwanted fragments of memories and bringing them forward. Over 27 years Issac had moved around a lot, and not everywhere he’d lived had been as nice as Utoa. He preferred not to think about some of those places, but the more you wanted to forget something the better you remembered it. Bookmark here

His thoughts were interrupted by the opening of the outer office door. Startled, Issac sat up straight in his chair and the plane he’d been flying came to a quick landing on a wall mounted shelf. He put on his most professional smile as a hooded figure walked in.Bookmark here

“Hello, how can I-” words failed him when the woman pulled down her hood, revealing a large black metallic spider attached to the back of her head. While he stared at the dreamer she strode over to him and sat in the chair across from him. The motion was smooth, perfectly human, that unsettled him more than the spider.Bookmark here

“Citizen 201336-LX, Name: Issac.” The woman’s voice was monotone, but smooth, Issac had never heard a dreamer speak before. He assumed that they couldn’t or that it would sound more mechanical. He’d underestimated the creators of this technology.Bookmark here

“Uh yes, that's me” He responded, “If I may ask, why are you here?”Bookmark here

The dreamer nodded and pulled out a small device from a hidden pocket. She placed the rectangular object on his holo desk and pushed a button. The desk display shut off, and a small display on the device read: NO SIGNAL DETECTED WITHIN RANGE.Bookmark here

Issac stood back from his desk, “Excuse me, what do you think you’re doing?”Bookmark here

The dreamer motioned for him to sit, “This message must remain confidential, you are in no danger.”Bookmark here

Isaac took a hard look at the woman, no that wasn’t the right way to think about her. Whatever was in front of him right now was essentially a drone. The person she’d once been was gone, locked in the dream. The humanity she was displaying was calculated by a machine. She probably wasn’t lying though, dreamers were government property. If the government of Utoa wanted to harm him, they wouldn’t check for listening devices. After a pause he sat back down. The woman nodded her appreciation, it was eerie how human the movement looked. Issac closed his eyes and steadied his breath before speaking.Bookmark here

“So, what’s going on that you need to be so secretive?”Bookmark here

The dreamer began, “You are an esper, correct?”Bookmark here

Issac nodded, “Yes, what does that have to do with anything?”Bookmark here

“We require your expertise. All Espers registered within the city are performing other vital functions and cannot easily be made available for this task. Of course you will be fairly compensated for your troubles,” the dreamer responded.Bookmark here

Issac leaned back, processing the request, “Why hire an outside contractor? What are your other espers doing that they can’t be spared?”Bookmark here

“As you know, espers are very rare, and the task they perform is vital, we simply do not have enough hands to spare.” Bookmark here

“But what are they doing?” Issac pressed.Bookmark here

“That information is classified,” the dreamer replied. Bookmark here

“Fine, classified. So what exactly do you need me for?”Bookmark here

The dreamer stood from her seat, pulling a small metal disc from her pocket and handing it to him. “Go to relay seven and scan this at the door. You’ll be given more information there,” She turned to leave.Bookmark here

“Wait,” Issac called, “Is that it? You just show up, say you need me for a secret job, hand me a code disk and tell me to meet you later?”Bookmark here

The dreamer turned, “You misunderstand, the job starts now. This unit has other duties to return to, you will make your way to relay seven immediately.” Bookmark here

Without waiting for a reply the dreamer turned again and walked through the door. Leaving Issac at his desk, holding the disc, very confused.Bookmark here

“We'll,” he said after a long pause. “I guess that takes care of the money problem.”Bookmark here

—-------------------Bookmark here

Issac waved his hand in front of the man’s face. He had arrived at the relay and immediately was ushered into this side room. There was a man lying on a cot in what was probably supposed to be a storage closet. There were some boxes and shelves with equipment that had all been shoved to the side to give extra space for the cot. The man in question was lying on his back, eyes open, completely still except for his eyes, which were locked on Issac. He was wearing the blue and black uniform of a digital architect, the ones responsible for maintaining the computer systems that ran the city. There were a few other people nearby, one was the physician who had been tending to the man on the cot when Issac arrived.Bookmark here

“So can you help him?” the physician asked, peering over Issac’s shoulderBookmark here

Issac focused the energy around his eyes. Scanning over the man’s arua showed a significant amount of corrosive psychic energy mixing with the man’s regular aura. Bookmark here

“Luckily whatever cursed or poisoned him wasn’t specifically attacking him. I can separate them,” Issac said, “Though there is a lot of negative energy on him, do you know what caused this?”Bookmark here

The others in the room shared a look. “We aren’t sure how much we’re allowed to say,” One of them answered candidly.Bookmark here

So it was something to do with his work, interesting. Issac nodded, “I expected as much. I’ll get started on this guy, the process will be quick but he should rest for a few days afterwards.”Bookmark here

The physician frowned, “Is there any way to get around that?”Bookmark here

“I’m essentially tearing a really thick layer of tar off his skin.” Issac replied, “There’s not really an easy way to do this. In the future you should probably consider not having your techs work near miasma leaks.”Bookmark here

That comment seemed to surprise everyone in the room. Issac raised an eyebrow, “So that is what happened then?”Bookmark here

“Just do the job quickly,” the physician snapped. Clearly Issac had guessed the correct answer to a secret puzzle. Deciding not to press the subject he turned his attention back to the man on the cot. His eyes were moving around the room, his body was rigid and cool to the touch. A side effect of the psychic miasma attacking his body. Issac had never seen it manifest so thickly before, it was like a coating of tar was trying to seep into the man’s body. Usually miasma was a byproduct of some kind of ethereal creature. Issac guessed that the culprit for this was Oneiros, it made sense. The tower seemed to absorb all the negative energy generated by the people of the city, all that energy in one place would naturally give off miasma. Bookmark here

He placed his hands over the man, letting his mind reach out past them and gently take hold of the dark energy. To his surprise it didn’t react to his touch as he slowly drew it up, taking care not to move too fast. He suspended the mass of dark calm energy above the man, condensing it as he drew out more. After a few minutes of this the man started coughing, which was good, he was regaining control. A few more minutes and Issac had drawn out all of the contamination. A dark violet orb hovered above the man who had just started heaving. The physician moved over with a bag and tended to him. The other people stared at the now very visible ball of purple light that was floating in the room. Issac moved it beside him then turned to one of the techs. Bookmark here

“What do you guys want me to do with this?” he asked, “I could destroy it here but it's better to do that outside and away from unshielded people.”Bookmark here

One of them brought over what looked like a glass cylinder with a metal casing. She pressed a button and the cylinder lit up, a small hole opening on its top. She held it up to the orb and the miasma slowly drained into it. Bookmark here

The physician motioned for the last two men to help the patient out of the room, then he turned to Issac, extending a hand. “Thank you, we’ve already sent the payment to your account.”Bookmark here

“No problem at all, I appreciate the money.” Issac replied, shaking his hand. “If you need any more help I’ll probably be available.”Bookmark here

The physician nodded his thanks then left the room. Leaving Issac alone wondering why a software engineer would have been exposed to so much condensed miasma. If the tower was intentionally acting as a focus for negative energy then what could the city be doing with all that energy? These questions plagued Issac's mind as he left the relay building. It's shadow loomed behind him, a large antenna stuck up from the top of the building. Similar to the massive tower that stood at the city's center. Activating his eyes he watched the streams of negative energy flowing through the air, moving in streams towards the tower. Bookmark here

Curious he turned back to the relay behind him. To his surprise he saw two streams, one heading towards Oneiros, the other flowing from it back to the relay. Bookmark here

"What could they possibly be doing with that?"Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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