The Cellar was quiet when Blue walked in. Some patrons had even risen to their feet in expectation.
The silence broke with Skytex. “So?”
Blue stood in the doorway, speechless. He ran his hand nervously through his hair. “I… I’m not sure what’s going on yet, but it’s going to be big.”
“That’s all you’ve got?” Skytex quipped in frustration.
“For now, yes. I think things are about to get pretty serious. I need to get some more information.”
Foenixz threw his hand up. “What about us? Aren‘t we entitled to some information?”
Decoy laughed. “Are you serious? Come on man, we’re mushrooms; kept in the dark and fed shit. By the time we get any information our boots are dirty and our muzzles warm and smoking.”
“Look.” Blue said, “I don’t even have any information yet. I can’t make any promises, but I’ll try to get you guys informed before anything big happens.”
Crash shrugged. “Can’t make promises because you know you can’t keep them.”
“I know I lose credibility far more so if I promise something that doesn’t come through. Just trust me on this one. I’ll figure this out and get back to you. Right now… I have to go.”
Treysin shrugged. “Where are you going.”
“I need to get some heads together to figure this out.”
Stroth stood up. “I’m coming with you.”
Blue turned to protest, but relented. “Alright. Dwim, get Hikur and meet us on B6, I need to talk to Heretas.” He looked over the room. “Grey, get our guys together. Get them ready, I want them on fifteen minutes to move with everything they’ve got.”
Dwim turned to Tantrum. “You know what to do.”
Tantrum nodded. “Caustic.”
She stood up “Where do you want us to meet?”
Dwim looked at Blue.
“Here, in a half hour.”
“Some are on shift.” She said, referring to the magic users manning the defensive positions of the Tower.
“That’s ok, we can pass information on to them later.” Blue said.
She nodded and left with Tantrum.
Moments later Blue and Stroth waited for the elevator. Blue was concerned, there was tangible frustration amongst the Heavies and associates on what exactly the Five were up to. There wasn’t enough passage of information to the lower ranks on the collection of artifacts and the reasons behind the work being done.
The elevator door opened and they walked in.
“What do you think Heretas is going to give you in terms of information?” Stroth asked as they stepped inside.
Bluemonster fingered the B6 button and the doors began to shut. “Ever since we’ve been collecting artifacts, he’s been working in the lab downstairs. All research and development has been redirected to whatever it is he’s doing. I haven’t even seen anything on weapons armor or augmentations for the magic users since we started collecting the shards. I’m sure if anyone has information about the reason behind this Heretas has it.”
Stroth frowned. “Are you sure? I mean, Heretas is just another heavy, he’s a magic user, but he’s not all that powerful. Why do you think they’d give him any more information than they would you?”
“Heretas is a mathematician, he understands things about magic and this place that your average user wouldn’t because of that.”
“I don’t see how the magic in Syn City has anything to do with math.”
Blue turned to him. “You might not fly much anymore because of your rank, but you used to. You should know more than anyone that math has to do with everything.” The elevator began to decelerate. “Even I believe that, despite the randomness of this place.”
“I suppose you’re right.” Stroth said, mulling it over in his mind. “Wow, this place has changed.”
They stepped out of the elevator on the sixth sub level of the Tower to find themselves in a spider web of hoses and tubes. Power lines and other lines were strung throughout the room in a seemingly arbitrary fashion. An unsettling hum emanated from the center of the room.
“Heretas?” Blue hollered over the noise. “Where are you?”
“In here.” A voice came from within the depths of the tangled mess.
“How…” Blue was visibly frustrated. “Come here.”
“Give me a second.”
“I don’t have a second Heretas.”
“Alright already, I’m on my way.”
Blue and Stroth could hear him making his way through the debris as his rustling got louder with his every step.
“Blue!” Heretas said, nearly crawling from beneath a bundle of tubes. “What brings you here?”
“What the hell is going on? I was here a week ago and none of this was here”
“Yeah a lot has changed in a week, that last shard of onyx you gave me was really useful.”
“I need to know why we’re collecting this stuff Heretas. I need to be on the level, we all do, if we’re going to keep risking our safety to retrieve these artifacts.” Blue felt uneasy suddenly. He did not use magic, but even he could feel it coursing through the room. “What is that?”
“It’s Her.” said Heretas.
Stroth stepped forward. “This guys lost it.”
All three turned as the elevator doors opened behind them.
Blue nodded to Hikur and Dwim. “It’s about time. We need you to get Heretas here to explain himself.”
Neither of them took a step outside the elevator door.
“Blue, what’s going on?” Dwim said, peering into the room. “There is an immense amount of energy being channelled here. I…”
Blue had to put his arm in the door of the elevator to cause it to open again. “What’s the matter?”
Hikur started. “Heretas, what have you been doing?”
“I can’t really tell you.”
“What do you mean you can’t tell me?”
Stroth’s face churned with anger. “You’d better change your tune.”
“No, no you don’t understand. I can’t just tell you. I can show you. Come with me.” Heretas disappeared behind the bundle of hoses he had come from. “Come on!”, came his voice from the other side.
“Urgh, somehow I don’t like this.” Blue crouched beneath the hoses and pushed deeper into the room.
Stroth looked back. “You two coming?”
They both uneasily exited the elevator.
“My god.” Blue said as he entered the center of the room. It was cleared with a pedestal of sorts in the center. From the inside looking out, a sense of order could be seen with the hoses and power cords. They all met in the center of the room at the ceiling and hung down in a twisted mass. “What is this?”
“Look here.” said Heretas as he pointed to the pedestal. He moved cautiously and plucked an artifact that was suspended only a few inches above the apex of the pedestal. “This, this is part of her.” He brought it to Blue. “Look, see this right here? This is the key.”
“What am I looking at?” Blue asked, as the others came in from behind him.
“Notice the one smooth side?”
“Yeah.” He looked closer. Every artifact he had seen previous to this one always had jagged edges on all sides. This one was the first he’d ever seen with a smooth side. “What does this mean?”
“Well, that depends. What exactly do you want to know?”
Blue thought for a moment. “What I really want to know is why we’re collecting these, and how the hell do we know where they are and how many exist?”
Heretas nodded. “How many there are is a simple answer.”
“Somehow I think he means simple for him.” Stroth added.
“It’s just math.”
“The smooth side was the key to figuring out exactly how many artifacts there were, but it also helped me uncover some interesting information about how they work.”
“Why is the smooth side so important?” Blue asked.
“Well, two things made it easy to calculate. First was the smooth side, and the second is that every single artifact displaces the same amount of space. They all have different shapes, but are all the exact same volume. You brought this artifact in a few days ago, when you were out in the south side of town with Lee and Mil-Dot.”
“This has helped me greatly. The smooth side has a curvature!” he said excitedly.
The four looked at him with indifference.
He sighed and rolled his eyes. “Come on, it’s simple math! I was able to calculate the curvature and discover the circumference of the sphere.”
Blue shook his head. “Wait, what sphere?”
Heretas looked at them as if they were babbling stooges. “Have you been to school? Do you remember anything about pi?”
“Pi… isn’t it some really long number?” Tantrum said.
“Yes, it’s really long, and it’s a mathematical constant. It has to do with circles. I can tell that trying to explain any further is fruitless.”
Dwim shook his head. “You’re absolutely right, just get on with the explanation of how it’s important to us.”
Heretas nodded. “Using the circumference I deduced from the curve of this artifact and the knowledge that they all retained the same volume I was able to easily discover how many actual shards there are, and that all together they form a sphere.”
“So we’re looking for a big black ball.”
“There’s some really complicated math involved in the energy these things emit. I can cast predictions on what happens when some of them come together, and I know that you’re going to be in for some surprises if you run in to anyone who has matching sets of artifacts.”
“What do you mean by matching sets?”
“Watch.” He said, running off to a desk on the edge of the cleared space. “Where…” He pushed a bundle of papers off the desk. “Ah. Here watch this.” He came up to them with two shards. “Open your hand.”
Blue placed his hand palm up.
Heretas dropped both shards into it.
“Again, what am I looking for?”
“Nothing, that’s the point, there’s no reaction. But if I do this.” He took one shard and dropped a different one into Blue’s palm.
Immediately they combined to create a larger piece, the seams completely disappeared. It was as if it had never been broken.
“Not as addictive but yes, pretty impressive. Everything changes when this happens, the fluctuations of energy, the dispersion of time, even the level of sinusoidal oscillation in the -”
“You’re speaking chinese.”
“Right, well let’s just say if bad things happened with just one shard, it gets much worse with two of them together, and they’re very hard to separate again. That’s what all the tubing is here for. It’s easier to study each piece on it’s own, so I’ve been breaking them apart again. The thing is, everything changes when they come together.”
“You said that before.”
“I need you to really understand. It’s not just a multiplication factor to what was going on before. It’s altogether different energy. Things can be done with these that you and I can’t even imagine. This stuff is literally the source of all power in Syn City. Whoever holds enough of this can change everything. Whoever holds it all… my math isn’t good enough to foresee what would happen if all the artifacts were together in one place at one time. The reaction alone would probably shake reality itself.”
Blue nodded. “So this is about power. Bruhog said Fiend was trying to resurrect the city. What do you know about that?”
Heretas laughed. “I look at energy and numbers Blue, I can’t tell you anything about Fiend’s philosophical ideologies. You’re on your own with that one.”
Dwim stepped forward. “So you told us how you were able to find the number of artifacts in existence. Now tell us how you know where they are?”
“That.” Heretas said, “Was all Love Monk.”
“Something to do with his mask.”
Hikur stared into nothingness as he thought. “No one knows what it does… ”
“There’s more.” Heretas said.
Blue frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I’ve witnessed things in the magic, things that the artifacts can do. We know about the city obviously, and we know about the Void, but there’s another place.”
Blue shook his head. “I don’t understand.”
“There are things in the void Blue, that can travel from place to place. They travel using shards, using the power of the city. That’s how the creatures you fought with in the dry dock made it here from the void. That’s how the boatman goes to and from that place. But there’s something else, another place, a third location. I’m not sure what it means yet but it could mean everything.”
“Thanks Heretas, that’s all I needed. I’ll be seeing you again soon I’m sure.”
“Why do you say that?”
“We’re going hunting.”
“That’s what they said.”
“Well, then I need to give you one last piece of advice.”
“The boatman is not very different from the things you killed in the dry dock. There are others like him, intelligent beings that want to cross over. Where there are a lot of artifacts there is bound to be one of those creatures trying to squeeze through to this reality using the energy they emit. These things are powerful, you need to be prepared for anything.”
Hikur nodded. “Thank you Heretas, we’ll be sure to keep our eyes open.”
“All three, right Hikur?”
Hikur nodded. “All three.”
As they made their way back through the mess of hoses and wires Stroth stopped Dwim. “What the hell did he mean by ‘all three’?”
Dwim laughed. “It’s a reference to magic users, we see the world with three eyes, two for this dimension and the third for the energies from the void. It’s how we manipulate it.”
“Ah. Sorry, just didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.”
“Don’t worry about it. He had my head hurting with the math.”
“Not the same math I use that’s for sure, mine’s pretty simple; I’m here, the bad guy’s there, this is the angle I need and how much energy my weapons will use and then I push the button and the rest is up to God.”
Dwim nodded solemnly. “With the way things are going, I wouldn’t put to much trust on Him.”
“Maybe, maybe not.” Stroth said as they all entered the elevator.