Kai didn't have a clue what to do now...his naive plan to 'save the world' had been to revive a long dead website, and enlist the masses. He had thought it would be like in Star Wars, where Luke changed everything with one well aimed shot from an X-wing into an exhaust chute. He'd delivered his laptops, and had even set them up, but he had no idea whether the true shot had ever been fired, the one that was supposed to cave the short, squat bunkers of mediocrity into themselves, and allow grander designs to reign once more.
The shot had been a simple one. The primer had been to bring protagonize.com up, and keep it running (or bring it up at scheduled times at least) for a week or so. Challenge the world to write again, to share, to create. The casing was simply the laptops themselves, which would eventually be wiped by the attacks sent by the Antagonists. A week would be pushing it...but the propellant, or the payload, if speaking in terms of explosives, rather than a bullet was the important part. And it was that part of things that he had no way of knowing about, no way to tell if it had worked. Kai had not simply recreated protagonize.com, and hosted it on a strong mobile server. A single server, no matter how well built or shielded from attack would succumb to attack. No...the payload was the documentation, as well as a map of internet locations where repositories of tales could be found, not just protagonize, but lesser known older venues, like ficlets, and rpol.net.
The documentation for protagonize, however, could ensure that even a lay person could in theory set up the base server components to create protagonize.com in their basements, due to screenshots and descriptions, scripts that could be copied and pasted, and more. A lay person would of course have a much harder time, and would not be able to troubleshoot any missed steps or difficulties such as hardware compatibility, but the theory was sound that it wouldn't take that supposed infinite number of monkeys on infinite laptops to recreate what he had done. But if his mailstorm never got out, or the server somehow got corrupted before ever getting online, he was screwed. More than screwed. He had the last remaining laptop, with the last remaining VMs on his person. And the laptop, while able to hold the information, could only run two of the necessary servers at once with the RAM available to him. And even that would be pushing capacity.
If Litpol got their hands on his machines, and figured out what was on them, he'd be a candidate for the furnace the moment he was caught. Do not pass go, do not collect your 200 dollars, and most certainly, he'd forego the last meal tradition as well. Not that it was likely the last meal thing was even still on the table, as it were. If you were going to kill a guy for creativity, why take the risk he wasn't going to ask for something like a plate full of jelly belly jelly beans arranged to shape the face of a clown?
And now he was stuck in the middle of a condemned building in Skid Row, Vancouver, trying to convince a near maddened compatriot that he couldn't see his wife. And this, while he so desparately wanted to be with his own. He knew that Dark’s acquiescence would not last long. And while he had no clue as to a next move, he knew he had to make one. And that meant information. With Robyn blind, and Dark nearly frothing at the mouth, that meant the other girl was his best choice. The litpol woman likely knew more, but really, how could Kai trust anything she said?
He found the girl sitting alone, sitting on her bed, staring at a broken pencil still...or again...she’d stopped briefly to point them in the general direction of their current hideout.
“Girl...I don’t know what you’ve been through...or what they might have done...but I need you. Talk to me. I need to know how long we have before they search around here...I need to know how to get out of here. “
She stared blankly, pushing the broken ends of the pencil together, as if fitting the pieces together might actually make it usable once more...with tape, it might, Kai realized, so long as the lead had not shattered throughout. As the old commercial stated, Kai was indeed a true Canadian, and had used hockey tape for home repair. He reached out, and took the pencil from her fingers slowly, only to have it snatched back with a snarl.
“Relax, hun...no matter how broken something looks...it can be fixed. Someone, somewhere, always has a solution...even if it takes a century to find it. This problem, it won’t take a century...”
He took the pencil from her then, and fit the ends together, laying it carefully on the dresser beside her. “Leave it there a moment, I’ll be right back.”
He returned to the room shortly after, and brought with him a strip of hockey tape.
“Pick it up, hold it in place, together as it is.” He told her. She looked at him, a tear in her eye, and Kai knew he was reaching her. She reached out, hands trembling, and took the pieces, but could not keep them together. Her fists clenched, and a sob racked her small frame.
“Try again...all it takes is a steady hand, an open mind...and some help.” Said Kai, softly, placing a hand on her shoulder.
She reached once more, her hands steadying as they approached the two pieces. She picked each up firmly, and manoeuvered them into position.
“That’s it, girl...now hold them steady.” With a very cautious effort, Kai wrapped the pencil with the tape, careful not to bend it.
“There you are...I can’t fix what I don’t see, but if the lead is intact, you can sharpen and write with this again.” He smiled and pulled her chin up from it’s rapt attention to the now repaired pencil.
“Is the lead intact, miss? Think that pencil has something important to share? Maybe even something that comes from the girl holding it? Even a name would be nice.”
She looked at him then, and spoke. “ Lucky to be lucid, lucid to be read, but under no circumstances should you be lucid in the head...”
Kai blinked, unsure of what she spoke. But she continued.
“Confucius say that... Duck with no feet cannot swim...Noone Understands.” She smiled slightly, continuing... “I liked that one. But my favourite was the story you never finished.
'The shadows raced past, as the man avoided each carefully, seemingly without thought. His jogging pace was completely silent, and only ragged breath betrayed his presence.Perspiration had left tracks down his filthy face and hands, but had long since...' "
Kai smiled. “My stories...so you are a Protagonist, then. Do you remember all of them?”
“No...I was once...but I don’t deserve that name now...but you showed me that maybe even that can be fixed. Thanks Kaiser123. As for the stories...yes...to my complete shame, I remember them all now. And I used them against you all...”
“Call me Kai. I'm sure you did it for some semblance of life lost...I know...I turned my back too. For far too long.”
“I was Archi...maybe I can be again.” She said softly. “You’re with Dark, aren’t you? Noone else would be so upsetting to Dru...or so upset upon finding Dru.”
“Yes...and Robyn. She’s blinded by some sort of weapon made by the Antagonists. I need your help Archi...I have no idea what my next move is...here’s what’s happened so far...”