The tremor resided. Jàl’s headache eased. His world remained dark behind closed eyes while he retreated inside his mind. Ribbons of numbers and ensuing calculations scrolled past the backside of his eye lids while he reviewed new theories and endless possibilities. The trajectory of his thoughts, ignoring the pain ringing in his skull and instead chasing the tremors as they withdrew. In the accidental darkness, he searched for an explanation.
The abrupt shaking of his shoulder broke into his trance. Roake stood by his side, levels of concern etched into the wrinkles of her forehead. His eyes swept across her face then shifted to scour the room.
Blinking back to awareness, the fear laid bare on the faces of the visiting socialites settled into focus. Ashen skin surrounded fear filled eyes, the gathered silently pleading for him to act, to save their way of life before it was too late.
Jàl lips formed a nervous smile. The gesture obscured by the bright blue cloth mask draped from the tip of his nose to the underside of his chin. “I’m worried too,” his words sounding muffled through the mask, and then with a dash of confidence, he cleared his throat.
“But, I’m close,” he said louder, projecting his words outward. “Roake Engel. The finest of General Dimitri’s special forces can attest. She’s witnessed the ground breaking program I’m developing. With her guidance, we’ve run a series of trials in mock ups of streets programmed to duplicate the pit where the groundliers live.”
Jàl glanced toward the General. Dimitri nodded. The cloth shielding the General’s lower face wrinkled upward as he returned the smile. Jàl switched gears. “And with your help…and money. Lets not forget, that,” he said to round of nervous laughter. “We will reach beneath the barrier and stop these attacks. Life as we know it will continue.”
Alone in his autonomous car, Jàl sat rigid in the back seat. The worried looks cast his way after the tremor, tugged at his conscious. What had he promised. The breakthrough he spoke of was far from a solution. A twisted version of quantum engineering with an overlap of computer programming coupled with the hybrid implant that allowed him to enter the holographic Mixed Reality game he programmed.
Did he physically enter the 9th-dimensional program or was the overload with the implant forcing his mind to believe in the impossible. And what about Roake. She traveled the holographic game with him, did she not?
“I’m close.” What the hell made him think that he could solve the unsolvable and find a doorway to the groundlier’s city? The question quickly dismissed by his over-sized ego.
Jàl Condor. That’s who. His spirits lifted high above the burden that weighed on his shoulders. The General had sought him out because he was who he was. In the latter part of the 23 century, Jàl failed to think of any one person even lightyears close to his intelligence. But would that be enough? Is this where he failed?
He strongly believed that a person would be able to enter the gateway on the upper level and then transgress through the streets of framework and find a similar programmed gateway exiting onto the Groundliers planet. If possible, one would thus bypass the bio-shield and prevent being incinerated. He began to test the theory by entering the Gateway and exploring the virtual world. With this thinking, a new problem arose. With out actual specs of the groundliers world to built into the program, he lacked real-time coordinates to program a second doorway.
This began the rush to collect shards of information required to replicate the ancient world or at least portions for the algorithms to render streets and buildings. The lack of information was daunting. The archives from the first inhabitants of the planet failed to rise with the influx of progression as the world raced toward the sky.
General Dimitri’s squads ran sorties scouring information depots of the mid-level and bit by bit the information was fed into Jàl’s massive manifold of computers. The program ran day and night to sort and fit and build the pieces of the forgotten civilization needed to develop a working schematic.
That was when the headaches and the tremors began. The fierce pain hammered Jàl’s brain and the towering city of the Sky Dwellers shook. Leaving Jàl and the members of the elite ruling families to believe that the Groundliers had uncovered the Sky Dwellers plans and began measures to stop the intrusion.
The simple fact that any form of contagion survived outside of the earthly levels of the city was unthinkable. The bio-shield’s sole purpose was to eradicate all types of organic molecules to rise above the lower hundreds of ground floors of the Groundliers world. A provision put in place by the Mid-level to eradicate human disease and suffering.
Yet something did. The Mid-Level developed symptoms years earlier and of course no cure was available. The virus climbed to the exalted heights of the Upper-Level of New Market with no known defences to fight the airborne spores, the disease spread. How had the groundliers bypassed the impenetrable shield and set the contagion free? History told of their lack of knowledge, but centuries can bring advances. And why would the Groundliers attempt such an attack?
“AILEN,” Jàl spoke to his Artificial Intelligence Learning Entity. “replay the codes for our last adventure into the Annex mainframe.” He commanded the AI operating system in the car. Jàl closed his eyes. In the dark recess of his mind, a screen flashed to life. Attentively he studied line after line of the passing code. The breaks and dashes forming a life like video of Roake moving about the streets played out in the computers memory.
Jàl marvelled at the sight of the complex screening. The game unfolding vividly behind his closed eyes. The process refined with his latest update to his neural implant. Somehow the combination of neural pulses and his human mind melded. Why hadn’t Roake experienced the same sensation.? He held back from out right asking her but he could tell when they participated in the mock ups, she lacked the ability to focus her mind in the same fashion.
And nor would he tell her. At least not until he figured out why the twinning of the labs computer and his mind synced together. But that was a problem for another day. The question at hand was how far could he travel once he entered the realm of the 9-dimensional substrate. The exit to his lab was programmed but could he also program an exit anywhere he chose?
Jàl’s car docked. The AI interrupted his ruminations. “You’re home Jàl,” the car’s AI pinged his thoughts.
“Thanks AILEN,” Jàl replied as he climbed from the car. The docks lights lit his path to his loft. Jàl’s mind dwelled on the communication with his personal AI. Had he spoken out loud in answering the AI or was the response a projection of his thoughts? He stood gazing down at the car. He hadn’t, had he.
Another by product of the implant, he supposed. A seamless non-verbal connection to his computer. Any lesser person would worry to death about mind poisoning from an errant implant. Not his style. Instead he computed the possibilities and calculated ways to take advantage of the odd situation. How far would his mind control go?
Another question to be answered privately. Not with Roake and certainly not with the General. Too much information in the wrong hands could cause him to suffer unbearable restraints. Something he had no intentions of doing. He had to tread carefully around Roake as he played with the limitations of his new found power.
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